Hometown Connections Performance Management
The staff of Hometown Connections is in high demand for expertise in utility best practices. Hometown Connections’ services include strategic planning facilitation, board governance and development, market research, coaching of RP3 program applicants, and the popular Check Up series.
Products & Services
Utility Management Consulting & Research Services
For advice from professionals who have worked with more than 900 APPA members, bring in the consulting team from Hometown Connections. Hometown Connections staff and industry colleagues help public power systems improve organizational, operational, and marketing effectiveness.
Hometown Connections offers a variety of integrated consulting services for public power managers and governing officials:
Strategic Planning Facilitation, Training and Development
Public power managers and governing officials must combine attention to daily operational issues with establishing long-term plans and guidelines on which to base budgets and priorities. Through onsite facilitation, workshops and follow-up consultations for municipal utilities offering electric/gas/water/wastewater/CATV services, Hometown Connections covers the principles of effective strategic planning and reviews the roles and responsibilities of the staff and governing board in the planning and implementation process. The Hometown staff works in depth with the utility board and staff to develop a realistic, step-by-step blueprint for adapting to specific market conditions, regulatory changes, and the complex expectations of customers. Hometown can also facilitate the updating of your existing strategic plan.
Utility Governance Training/Facilitation
To be effective, today’s public power governing boards and city council members should maintain a clear understanding of complex issues, including new federal regulations, new technologies, volatile wholesale energy markets, state and local government budget pressures, and the need to attract younger workers with the right skill sets. They also need to understand their roles and responsibilities as stewards of the electric utility. Hometown staff briefs governing officials on industry conditions and offers training on how to work with, and guide, the utility staff.
Customer & Employee Research
Hometown Connections & GreatBlue Research, Inc. are partnering to deliver actionable customer intelligence, under the Hometown Connections umbrella. The firms are combining Hometown’s deep knowledge of public power utility management best practices with the research design, analysis, and reporting expertise of GreatBlue Research. Together, the firms are closely integrating customer & employee research with Hometown’s strategic planning, facilitation, organization assessment and other consulting services. Many organizations collect information from their constituents yet struggle to make meaningful business decisions. This service helps APPA members identify and support the needs of public power communities through reliable research.
To help APPA members maintain a talented and motivated executive workforce, Hometown Connections offers a Compensation Studies service. APPA members work with Hometown Connections to determine the market value of senior executive positions through compensation studies that are specific to the electric utility industry and region of the U.S. With the support of the energy workforce experts at MFP-Connect™, Hometown Connections arranges for a certified compensation consultant to conduct a custom survey of executive compensation packages—collecting data and analyzing the results.The final report includes a comprehensive market analysis and salary recommendations for review by the governing board and senior staff of the utility. The process enables APPA members to determine how much other utilities are paying for specific executive jobs. Surveyed positions include general manager and director of engineering, as well as senior managers for power supply/transmission/regulatory policy, IT/information systems, and finance/accounting.
Organization Check Up
An organization-wide assessment of all aspects of utility operations, including customer service, administrative and governance. This two-day check up explores the effectiveness of current practices and how well organizational functions integrate into a seamless whole.
Governance Check Up
This one-day check up works with the governing board and senior staff to assess the effectiveness of policy-making, strategic focus, communications, and prudent oversight of utility operations.
Customer Service Check Up
Competitive rates and high reliability are not the only drivers of customer satisfaction. Well run customer service and billing operations are critical in building strong relations with customers. This one-day check up will explore the many different customer interfaces and review the organization’s efforts at delivering excellent customer service.
Distribution Check Up
Guidance/tools to examine and document elements of maintaining a safe, reliable, and efficient electric distribution system. Topics include system design and maintenance, deploying new technologies, tree trimming, safety & environment regulations, and budgets.
Finance Check Up
Determining the fiscal health of the organization can be challenging with the large volume of financial data and uncertainties about how the utility’s financial operations compare to others. This one-day check up by Utility Financial Solutions zeroes in on the most significant barometers of fiscal health and how they compare to the industry.
Cybersecurity Check Up
Designed for power utilities, the Cybersecurity Check Up by AESI-US, Inc is ideal for utilities requiring a starting point for a cybersecurity program or a quick health check of an existing program. AESI conducts a survey-based assessment, a review of the representative set of existing cybersecurity-related policies, standards, and procedures based on the survey results, and remote testing of high-risk web applications. The outcome is a path to becoming more cyber resilient.
RP3 Check Up
Help applying for designation by the American Public Power Association’s Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3®) program. Being recognized by the RP3 program demonstrates a utility’s commitment to excellence to community leaders, governing board members, suppliers, service providers, and investor services.
Through each of the Hometown Connections Check Up services, public power utilities receive an expert assessment of vital areas of utility performance by a neutral third party. These time- and cost-efficient Check Ups provide clarity, direction, and realistic blueprints for improvement.
APPA’s Customer Service Manual
To help public power utilities build a strong customer service culture, the APPA Product Store has released Customer Service-Building a Strong Infrastructure For Your Utility. This 38-page manual, written by Steve VanderMeer of Hometown Connections, examines the critical role that customer service plays in the public power industry. It’s a must-read for those directly involved in customer services, as well as general managers and policymakers, because those at the top of an organization set the standard for customer service excellence.
Steve VanderMeer Teaches “Strategic Planning for Long-Term Utility Effectiveness”
APPA’s National Conference & Public Power Expo 2013, Nashville, Tennessee