Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Branding Update
December 11, 2013

Holding an Annual Efficiency Summit

Since most utilities are part of municipalities or are public agencies, people are often suspicious that they are not very efficient. This categorization occurs for a variety of reasons, one being that most utilities are monopolies, so they don't have a strong competitive incentive for increasing efficiency. Utilities do pay attention to efficiency, but it's difficult to benchmark. And having the lowest rates does not mean you are the most efficient. A "you're not efficient" brand is definitely a problem when it comes time to propose higher rates.

So, utility managers need to demonstrate to policy makers (and anyone else who is paying attention to the utility's finances) that efficiency is a core commitment of the organization. A good way to do this is to hold an annual efficiency summit. This meeting/workshop should focus on the status of current efforts, brainstorming new ideas, and setting goals for the upcoming year. This approach has several benefits. It helps to ensure that the organization is expending sufficient effort on efficiency improvements. It institutionalizes the process of increasing efficiency, which communicates the organization's commitment. And it will be a breeding ground for efficiency case studies. The summit should be billed as one of the year's most important events. This will generate publicity, and publicity builds brands.

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