ORLANDO, FLA. — Drawing from three of his business and management books, author Chester Elton told about 1,110 marine industry professionals Monday night at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo that good business hinges on motivating employees so they become emotionally engaged and excited about their jobs.
“Emotional connection is extremely important,” Elton said in his keynote speech, “All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture That Drives Big Results,” which is also the title of one of his books. Marine businesses should strive to “get employees to believe in what they are doing — even to love their job.”
The four-day MDCE began Sunday and runs through Wednesday at the Orange County Convention Center. The event has at least 11,000 registered conferees, more than 100 exhibits, more educational sessions and two keynote speakers this year, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas president Matt Gruhn said this morning.
“We listen to what the dealers want every year and respond,” he said. “And what they wanted this year was leadership [education and training], so we are concentrating on leadership business in all facets of the event.”
Elton has published several books that stress the importance of leadership and other facets of management. Elton is the author of “The Carrot Tracker,” described as the “ultimate tool for motivating your employees with recognition;” “What Motivates Me: Put Your Passions to Work;” and “All In.”
Elton used multiple anecdotes and pointed to case studies to back up his main points. He believes employers need to “engage, enable and energize” their employees. He played the song “That’s What Friends Are For” as a segue to tell the audience that studies have shown that “people who are highly productive at work have a best friend at work.”
Great brands lead to customer loyalty through emotional attachment, Elton said. Brands such as Southwest Airlines, Amazon and Disney find success because customers believe in those companies.
“How do people feel when they see your logo?” he asked the audience. “Is there an emotional attachment?”
Elton listed some of the top brands — including Disney, Amazon and Southwest — and asked the audience whether anyone “loved” one of them. An audience member responded and said he had visited Disney 30 times. Elton said the man was “a great ambassador for that brand,” but he also poked fun at the high number of visits to the theme park. “There’s probably a help line for you. … Maybe you shouldn’t tell me any more.”
Elton also pointed out that “it’s a lot easier to work for a boss who really loves [his or her] job” and that successful leaders “enable” their employees, empowering them to make quick customer-service decisions. He used an anecdote about a young Apple store associate who dropped a customer’s iPod on the floor while examining it. The associate within seconds decided that the correct business action was to quickly replace the iPod for the customer — no questions asked.
“I would have gone back there the next day with my laptop,” Elton said, generating hearty laughter from the crowd.
Elton said employees that go the extra mile often evoke emotion in their customers. That’s what a Saks employee did when Elton went to the high-end store to buy a suit. He was assigned a “fashion consultant” who told Elton that “it’s not the suit that makes the man, but the man who makes the suit.” The comment struck an emotional chord with Elton.
“The next time I want to buy a suit, who am I going to buy the suit from? That guy!” he said.
The author asked the crowd, “Are you really selling boats? Not really. You are selling emotion. You are selling memories.”
Elton has sold 1 million copies of his books worldwide, including the “The Carrot Principle” and “The Orange Revolution,” which was the No. 1-selling business book in the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal. He has appeared on CNN, ABC, NPR and “60 Minutes.” He is a consultant to major brands such as American Express, CIGNA and Avis.
MDCE By The Numbers
275,400 sq. ft. in MDCE Expo Hall
41,550 sq. ft. of MDCE Exhibits
25,300 People employed by MDCE Retail Attendees
1,100 Registrants as of today
548 Retailers registered as of today
264 Hours of MICD Continuing Ed Credits available
99 Exhibiting Companies
31 All-New Educational Sessions to learn from
30 Boatbuilders on display
24 Expert Speakers
18 Hours of dedicated Networking Time
7 Pre-Conference Workshops
4 Educational Tracks
2 Keynote Addresses
1 Mobile App to help you keep track of it all