Energy Auditor & Home Performance Business Models Webinar

Tue, 2011-06-07 22:49

On June 7th, I spoke on a “Getting Started with Home Performance Contracting” webinar Session. There were over 745 participants which is a very impressive turn out for Efficiency First, Everblue Training Institute, Saturn Resources, and the Department of Energy. During the class a few polls were conducted and the audience was as follows: One third were energy auditors, one third were looking to get started in the industry, and the remaining third were either NA or already a Home Performance Contractor. I find this to be remarkable participation for a webinar that was really only advertised for one full week. The entire session was about the business models of home performance and energy auditing.

Anyways, here are my notes from each speaker.

Jared Asch, Efficiency First, Introduced Efficiency First – Introduced Efficiency First as the energy auditor and home performance contractor trade association. He also explained the resources available to contractors.

Ely Jacobsohn, US Department of Energy – Trained & Certified (Energy Auditors / BPI Building Analysts) individuals systematically evaluating and improving a home’s comfort, health, safety, and efficiency. Average home spends $2400/year on home energy. Typical home performance contractor saves a home 20% (almost $500). Home Performance contractors have increase credibility, have happier customers (= more sales), and adding home performance services to HVAC replacements leads to high margins due to more sales without increasing travel and home owner interface costs.

DOE aims to retrofit 1,000,000 residential homes by 2013. 600K WAP, 170K Better Buildings, 130K Home Performance with Energy Star, and 100K other activities. Significant focus on whole house retrofits from the highest levels of government. Grow the Home Performance With Energy Star.

DOE’s Medium Term Goal: Make Home Performance Improvements business as-usual for consumers and contractors. Make “high performance” the norm. Turn rigorous quality assurance into a sales tool that adds credibility to contracting companies.

Jon Boggiano, Everblue Training Institute – I spoke about three business models: Energy Auditor, Energy Retrofit Contractor, and Home Performance Sub-contractor. I will type up my notes as a separate post since I want to get this up quickly.

Chris Dorsi, Saturn Resource Management – It rarely works to build a home-performance company from scratch so use your existing expertise (it is your best asset)! As a Home Performance Contractor you will have to learn new methods and materials, so dive in carefully.

Tip: Tell your story to your customers. Whole house troubleshooting is a service that few companies offer.

If you are not successful in your existing business then it will be tough to also be tough in this market. Coming into this industry without consumer awareness is a big challenge that you will have to be on your game to really make it work.

Big jobs are where you can really make money. $3000-$5000 jobs are a lot of work for the effort whereas $30,000-$100,000 are large enough to cover the operating costs. It seems like big numbers but they are the ones that allow contractors to be successful.

Easiest to turn HVAC into Home Performance instead of the Insulation professional. Duct upgrades are one of the easiest high dollar upgrade items. Shell items (windows, siding, insulation, roofs, and roof coatings) are easiest upgrades. Deep Energy Retrofits include doing windows, siding, etc.

Do not try to compete on price, there are too many other people who can do it for less. Home Performance is a quality of work.

It’s very hard to do exclusively Home Performance work so upgrade kitchen/bath remodels, window replacements, HVAC replacements. You will have to pull the sales and not just wait for the phone to ring. You will have to sell Comfort, Safety, and Economy!

Steve McKenna, Murtha Construction – Added Home Performance in 2006 with 25 years’ experience in residential contractor. Home performance has been a nice steady industry. It changed their entire business and the way that they looked at houses. They wanted to start right away so they had 4 employees become BPI certified and got the business BPI Accredited. Not unusual to be sitting on $100-$150K in incentives. It is essential that your company has a strong administrative process and infrastructure to move large volumes of small jobs! Production capability and efficiency is essential – you have to get efficient at getting the work done quickly and right. Rework will kill you!

Utilities will drive program size. For them it is $4-$10,000 home performance work.

When they started off, they got about $10,000 of training investment and it was an 8 week commitment plus a $22,000 equipment (blower doors, IR camera, Van, etc.) investment. They got involved with LIPA!

Previous customers are their best sales success. Many contractors do not want to call former customers because there is a risk that there is something wrong. They find that calling customers their word of mouth goes through the roof. They do fix issues quickly! Good website, emails, direct mail all work for them. Cold Calling does not work. He’s surprised by home much people know about them when the phone rings because people do their research.

They now have a full time sales representative which represents a $100,000/year investment in customer acquisition. They probably should have done this sooner to build the business sooner. In the beginning they were all customer acquisition specialists. However, having someone dedicated to it definitely helped their sales.

Stick to the 4 pillars: Technical expertise, strong administrative process, production capability, and infrastructure.

If you are looking to get started with Home Performance or Energy Auditing, I recommend starting with our BPI Building Analyst Certification course. BPI Training & Certification will provide you with the basic building science and energy audit procedures necessary to get started in the industry.

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