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Be careful here, though. It's important to continually test new messages and different vehicles to adapt to a changing market, changing competitors, and changing conditions. Is some vendor approaching you about a new Web advertising scheme? If it works, do more of it! To help capture what's working you want to record information somewhere. A napkin by the phone in the kitchen probably isn't the best tool for this. Very few contractors use a lead form see p. All contrac- tors should. The lead form allows you to do several things. First, its help you collect all the important customer contact information.

Our specialized testing systems are used in over 50 countries to measure air leakage in homes and high-rises.


Run a complete automated test protocol from a laptop if required. Includes Retrotec's exclusive rapid set up hard panels and a high-power 2hp fan, with the same automatic control. Retrotec Energy Innovations, Ltd. This systems is ideal for measuring leaks or pressurizing high rise buildings for infra-red diagnostics.

Due-Tester Test any residential duct system with this purpose built calibrated fan. We call this the "lead source". The prompts can also help you gather details about the customer's concerns so you're better able to respond to them when you get to their home. By participating in the Home Performance with Energy Star program, contractors have ac- cess to helpful marketing tools, such as a lead form. The lead form can be electronic, and that certainly makes analysis easier, but even a paper-based system can be very useful in a smaller business.

Track, Measure, Evaluate, and Adjust It's very important to track information so you can measure how well you're doing and where you need to make adjustments. This is important with respect to marketing; you want to know whether your new TV commercial is working, if your new direct- mail piece brought in any jobs, and how much business you're writing from the Yellow Pages, for example. But the importance of tracking is not limited to marketing. You want to be able to look at all aspects of your business, see what's on track and what isn't, and make adjustments in as close to real time as possible.

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Here are some examples of the questions you should be asking: If it was high or low, why? Any pric- ing or production adjustments needed? Having an integrated customer relation- ship management CRM and accounting system makes this easier see p. There are a variety of off-the-shelf products that target residential contractors. But a smaller company can use simple spreadsheets or a simple database to automate much of its business.

What is important is that you col- lect the data, that you organize the data in such a way that key trends are apparent, that you look at the data frequently to make sure things stay on track, and that you adjust your activities as needed. But even if you have the data, how do you know you're on track? For that, you have to measure yourself against something. You'll need to set key performance indicators KPIs, benchmarks that you measure yourself against and targets against which to com- pare your actual performance. To do so, you must first deconstruct your business, so you understand how it runs.

To get started, it's often helpful to think in reverse order. Given the size of your business whether actual or with targeted growth , you determine how much revenue, margin, and profit you need to sustain yourself. This should translate to annual, monthly, weekly, and daily produc- tion targets.

Of course, to hit production targets, you first need sales. Remembering that some percentage of sales never make it to produc- tion because the client couldn't get financ- ing or cancelled the order, adjust your sales targets accordingly. Now to get a certain dollar volume of sales, you'll need X number of sales based on an average of Y dollars per sale. Number of sales and size of sales become two more KPIs to measure yourself against.

Going back one more step, you know you need to run a certain number of appointments and close a certain percent- age of these appointments. This gives you two more KPIs. Next, to run appointments, you need leads. Now the calculation gets more complicated, since you generally want to maintain steady and steadily increasing production throughout the year, so you'll need to build in adjustments if you experi- ence seasonally in your marketplace.

You'll need increased sales during busy months to carry you through the slower months. This balancing act can get complex, but even a simple analysis and structure will help you to understand where you're at, and help you to decide how to market your services, whether your crews should be working overtime, and whether you should buy new equipment to rush through production or save your cur- rent production backlog for several weeks down the road.

While we capture and store our data in a structured query language SQL database, we use a series of Excel spreadsheets that read the data in real time, so our dashboards and KPIs always display up-to-the-minute results. The beauty of this is that we can often ask ad hoc questions and tease out S10 Home Energy j www. Discover GreenHomes America With a passion for quality, standards, and technology, GreenHomes has reinvented the home performance contracting industry by making America's existing homes more comfortable and energy efficient, while helping the environment.

Our unique business approach, advanced systems and procedures, comprehensive training, and industry expertise allow GreenHomes to deliver innovative, whole home solutions and quality service to every customer, every time. Whether you are looking to grow your residential business, going for the "green" in your market, or want an exciting career in the home performance industry, GreenHomes is for you.

Contact us today to find out about lucrative franchise and employment opportunities nationwide. So how do you determine a fair price? Is it the typical price: Not unless you don't have to market, sell, or assume any responsibility for your work. Not unless your tools and equipment don't wear, and you don't care whether you make any profit. A smaller business can build similar reports right from its spreadsheet or database. The key is to summarize your various reports and metrics into a single view or dashboard, so you can see at a glance whether you are above, below, or on target.

Price to Stay in Business Too much of the residential contracting in- dustry is a low-bid race to the bottom, hurt- ing both quality and the ability to profit and scale. If you want to stay in business and help more people fix more homes, I encourage you to choose another way.

Charge a fair price for your work. And by "fair," I mean a price the delivers good value to the customer and allows you a profit for the risk you take in a business and to fuel growth in your business. This generally means delivering more than your competitors, and charging more for it, too. Let's look at an example. Obviously, the bet- ter solution costs more. And unless you've got a large trust fund to draw down against, you've got to charge more to deliver the bet- ter solution. But if you can show customers that they'll be more com- fortable throughout their home, that the leaking ductwork won't reduce IAQ, and that they'll save energy and money in the long run, they'll very often be willing to pay more.

To learn about Home Performance with Energy Star, go to: For more on GreenHomes America, go to www. Now take it a step further and add in whole- house diagnostics; combustion safety; and comprehensive projects, such as air seal- ing, insulation, and lighting, on top of that furnace, and clearly you're talking about wildly different price points. The prices work in the market, if you educate the homeowner and build value.

For more on pricing, see "Pricing for Profit," p. Not unless your tools and equipment don't wear, and you don't care whether you make any profit to reinvest and grow your business. Value pricing allows you to charge a fair price that recognizes all your costs, and rewards you with a fair profit see Figure 1. And this isn't a recommendation for a naive cost-based approach to pricing. You need to explore and understand what the market will bear which is itself in part a function of how well you build value. Remember what I said above under Market Effectively, and do not limit the customer value part of the discussion to energy efficiency.

Here are two important related thoughts. If you don't offer folks more, most folks won't ask for more. Most of them won't ever think to ask for more com- prehensive and more expensive projects. But many homeowners will be happy to take on these bigger, more ex- pensive projects if you've done a good job of explaining the benefits. Sometimes you will be surprised by how much they ask for.

Some people will want to go much deeper than you're used to. If this is what they want, you don't have to talk them out of it. And you don't have to talk them out of larger projects that are less cost-effective from an energy perspective. People buy sofas and granite countertops without calculating' cost-effectiveness. I bought a hybrid car even though the payback period may be longer than I'll own the car. As long as you're up front and honest about the benefits, includ- ing the relative cost-effectiveness, feel free to offer the costliest package that people choose.

Your customers will get what they want, we'll all benefit from the energy sav- ings, and you'll make enough money to live another day and fix another home. Home performance contracting is vital to America's energy future. Permanently fixing the structural and construction-related de- ficiencies in a home provides the foundation for far more long-term energy savings than simply replacing an old, inefficient air condi- tioner with a high-efficiency unit of the same size.

There's never been a better opportunity for home performance as a business. If you treat it as a business, you're likely to succeed, and we'll all win that way. That is why more energy auditors, contractors, weatherization agencies and utilities choose Fluke tools to help them do their jobs better and improve their profitability everyday. Fluke is committed to provide high quality training and service to support you before and after the sale.

All Fluke tools are designed, engineered and tested in the United States. Keeping your world up and running. Specifications subject to change without notice. How will home retrofitters keep pace with explosive demand? By Matt Golden DOE is calling for American homes to be retrofitted for energy efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions at a rate of 10 million per year by Right now, in , we are starting from an annual total of roughly , residential retrofits nationwide.

Clearly the home performance retrofitting industry has a long way to go. To keep pace with this unprecedented spike in demand, industry leaders will have to identify and pursue effective business practices that, in combination with appropriate public oversight and incentives, will allow us to scale our activi- ties in short order. The road ahead is sure to challenge old ways of doing business. Creativity, ingenuity, and thinking outside the box will be key. But we also must stay connected to the lessons we have learned from years in the field dealing with real houses and real customers.

No matter how you slice it, this job demands dedicated people, hard work, and a fo- cus on never cutting corners. Nor have we proven that the integrated whole-house model for which I am an advocate can scale. On the other hand, we have never been faced with the pressing issues and rapidly evolving regulatory environment that are now driving us forward. For years we have been asked to compete based on quality in a market that is defined by the lowest bid.

But with global economic, political, and environmental concerns looming large, any business model that cannot produce significant widespread reductions in fossil fuel consumption is doomed to fail. Various scenarios have been proposed to address the scalabil- ity problem, many coming from people with little or no actual field experience, or from people experienced in weatherization and other sectors that do not translate directly to the broader home performance market. While I wholeheartedly embrace the need for change, I am acutely aware of the dangers inher- ent in fundamentally reinventing our industry overnight.

The stakes are high, folks, so let's approach each new business model with a healthy dose of caution. Any busi- ness model we pursue must be capable of delivering high marks in all four of the following areas: Are we solving real problems for our customers? Are we saving energy and reducing residential carbon emissions? Are we making a profit while conducting quality work? Can we grow our business and the industry to meet future demand? With these questions in mind, let's examine five of the most prominent business models that have been floated both within the industry and in public policy circles.

In this model, homeowners hire an indepen- dent rater to analyze their home and draw up a set of recom- mendations. Homeowners then have the option of managing the remediation work themselves, or hiring a specialized home performance contractor to complete the job.

The goal here is to isolate the diagnostic role from the im- plementation phase, so homeowners can feel confident that the rater's recommendations have not been influenced by the con- tractor's profit motive. Using third-party raters can also bring prices down by allowing homeowners to seek competitive bids from multiple contractors. While this approach appears to offer obvious benefits for consumers, the model delivers low customer adoption rates and provides little accountability for results.

First, certified raters are generally not qualified to provide ac- curate cost estimates or make specific recommendations about equipment and feasibility. Due to the resulting confusion and long sales cycle, homeowners have been shown to undertake retrofitting work at significantly lower rates than can be achieved with more integrated models. In addition, when homeowners seek low bids from different specialty contractors for individual improvements recommended by the third-party rater, there is no one in place to oversee the S14 Home Energy.

All too often, this translates into retrofits that fall short of expected results. This model targets whole neighborhoods with homes of similar age and type. Contractors design standard remediation packages, and retrofits are implemented without the need for individual audits. The benefits are obvious: Homeowners don't have to schedule an audit or make difficult decisions about their retrofit, while contractors save time and money through job standardization.

The trouble with this cookie cutter approach is that inconsisten- cies from job site to job site make standardized pricing unreal- istic in most cases. Theoretically, bulk pricing could make sense in a fully sub- sidized program where clients pay nothing out of pocket and the contractor can average costs over a large number of homes. But in the real world, homeowners who need relatively minor improvements will balk at paying the same price as a neighbor whose house requires significantly more work.

This model combines a home performance audit with some basic remediation in a single contractor visit. The idea is that while workers are testing a home, they can seal air leaks, install insulation, and implement other easy fixes that can be completed on the spot. One of the reasons I got into this business was to promote the benefits of addressing a home's most glaring inefficiencies before investing in higher-cost improvements like solar energy or high-efficiency HVAC systems.

Fixing simple problems as you find them might seem like a fast and affordable way to upgrade a home, but does it really make sense to reach for low-hanging fruit before taking stock of the whole tree? In a market-based environment, the test-and-fix model re- quires homeowners to make a financial commitment before the contractor can assess the scope of the work or estimate what the final cost will be.

This puts contractors in the difficult position of going in blind and selling the service up front at a rate that covers a day of construction and testing, and does not create a situation where time and budget constraints get in the way of generating real, measurable results. There are logistical concerns as well.

Anything more compli- cated than swapping incandescent bulbs with CFLs will require the contractor to set up the house for dirt and dust control, locate electrical and gas cutoffs, pay attention to combustion safety and other issues, and carry an extensive inventory of materials and tools to every job site. These factors will lead to high overhead and labor costs for relatively modest returns, making it difficult for the contractor to turn a profit.

In this model, a govern- ment program or public utility performs all home audits and hands the results off to private con- tractors for remediation. In some cases, the audit reports include cost estimates that stipulate how much a contractor can charge for each task. One obvious red flag here is the assumption that program auditors will have adequate train- ing and expertise not only to assess the house, but also to prepare a reasonable work scope with no serious omissions for the contractor to un- cover in the course of the retrofit. If the official audit report turns out to be flawed or incomplete, or if the third-party estimates don't reflect the true cost of implementation, the contractor will have a hard time making changes or getting ad- equately compensated for the job.

It is the retrofitter, not the pro- gram or the independent auditor, who signs a contract and is held accountable for the results. And because this approach effectively turns con- tractors into a commodity, the most profitable businesses will be those that cut corners and slash costs while providing the bare minimum of service required by the program. Adoption rates in such programs are shown to be extremely low, and the private sector has no incentive to invest in building a sustainable business or improving the quality of service.

The last model places testing, analysis, im- plementation, and verification in the hands of dedicated home performance contractors who are qualified to manage all phases of the home energy retrofit. The process begins with systematic testing and analysis of the home, and a walk-through with the homeowner to discuss specific concerns.

Based on this infor- mation, the contractor develops a customized solution that will deliver measurable results in terms of comfort, energy efficien- cy, and indoor air quality. A specialized retrofitting crew then implements the plan to exacting installation standards, with fol- low-up testing to ensure that the installation meets the targeted goals. A percentage of jobs are then retested by a third party to ensure that quality and standards are maintained.

Using the lessons of applied building science, we can be cer- tain that our work solves real problems and achieves real energy savings in every home we touch. Now, a new release: The ZipTest Pro2 software package includes: Karg Associates Meadow Rd.

Before we scrap it and place our bets on new and un- tested strategies, we must first give our current model the tools it needs to grow, and give the market a chance to step up. Specifically, the home performance industry will require three additional components to succeed on a large scale: First, we must launch a performance-based incen- tive system with enough bite to trigger rapid transformation of the nation's residential construction industry.

Targeted finan- cial incentives are the best way to promote widespread adop- tion of building science-based home retrofit methods among mainstream contractors who currently take a less systematic approach to home energy improvements. In today's tight credit markets, many homeowners are not able to get financing for home performance upgrades even when paybacks are clear. Dedicat- ed financing programs for cost-ef- fective energy efficiency improve- ments will jump-start consumer demand for our services.

Finally, contractors and consumers alike can benefit from regulatory policies designed to ensure quality and propagate widespread adoption of industry For more information: To learn more about Sustainable Spaces, go to www. For information about BPI, go to www. We should leverage the federal Home Perfor- mance with Energy Star program as a standard model, including third-party verification, and equip DOE and EPA with adequate resources to prescribe, promote, and implement a viable mar- ket for home performance retrofitting.

In addition, we should mandate national contractor and auditor certification through the Building Performance Institute BPI or other independent accreditation agencies for contractors and diagnostic energy auditors, and through the Residential Energy Services Network RESNET for raters. A regulated, performance-based market for home retrofit- ting, with incentives and financing to encourage adoption, is the only economically sustainable solution that will deliver real re- sults and can scale to meet the enormous problem we face.

There is no silver bullet, but given hard work and the right set of market-based tools, our industry will meet the challenge. Founded in , the company acts as a full-service re- source for homeowners to improve the comfort, health, and effi- ciency of their home. Prior to founding the company, Matt worked as an energy consultant developing solar power systems for hom- eowners and businesses.

S16 Home Energy www. The tanks, ranging in size from to 1. OOO gallons, can be installed easily underground and last for decades. The only visible sign is a small dome above ground for refilling and servicing. Propane cooktop, furnace, fireplace, and water heater inside, beautiful yard outside.

See how an underground propane tank can add to the enjoyment of your home at usepropane. When successful home performance contractors were asked "how do you simplify the home performance marketing message? My survey of 14 of the nation's leading home performance contractors revealed a mix of low-cost, innovative guerilla mar- keting tactics, as well as strategic use of paid advertising and direct mail. This ar- ticle presents the results of that survey, and offers advice that you can immediately put to use.

Applying these proven marketing tactics can set your company apart from your competition, set you apart from tradi- tional contractors, and will enable you to increase your profits. Contractors around the country who used to be HVAC, insu- lation, or solar installation companies are successfully reposi- tioning themselves to become leading-edge home performance contractors. There is no category for Home Performance in the phone book, yet these "invisible" nontraditional home perfor- mance contractors are closing larger installation jobs with in- creased profit margins.

Getting Across the Home Performance Message Fishermen go where the fish are, and home performance contractors go where the homeowners with perceived problems are. Few people wake up one day and decide that they need a com- prehensive home performance analy- sis. But lots of people wake up to broken furnaces and air conditioners or decide that they've lived long enough with their drafty, out-of-date windows.

For this reason, successful home performance contractors respond to what customers think they need and thus are look- ing for that is, a new furnace or new windows with a home performance message grounded in building science but directly responsive to the customer's stated needs. Mike Rogers of Green- Homes America tells the story of a GreenHomes home energy advisor they don't call them auditors who arrived at the home of a prospect who wanted new windows, and explained that be- fore he could give the man a quote, he would need to conduct a combustion safety test on his furnace.

The homeowner said that the other windows salesmen didn't pretest to see if replacing the windows might make the home too tight. That, my friends, is the "aha! And they stick to the plan. For example, Matt Golden of Sustainable Spaces says that his company won't go to a home where it knows that another con- tractor has already submitted a bid, because its extensive sales lead tracking shows that it rarely wins those bidding wars.

But he admits that not every com- pany can afford to turn down a sales opportunity just to stick to a plan. They are 1 Treat ev- ery home as if it were your own; 2 Sell the truth; and 3 Don't install anything that doesn't solve the problem. Matt takes the celebrity audit to new heights, having performed one for Ellen DeGeneres on her syndicated television talk show. Matt is committed to happy cus- tomers. If he installed it, he fixes it. In Texas, Larry Taylor of AirRite is not involved with an Energy Star-sponsored program, but he is committed to providing whole-house services, and he is a founding member of Texas Home Energy Rating Organization, a not-for-profit professional organization that promotes the benefits of energy conservation initiatives and monetary incentives to homeowners, homebuilders, and businesses.

Larry emphasizes trust and solutions; he provides ongo- ing service agreements and a guarantee that makes cus- tomers comfortable to ask him back for additional work. He utilizes tried-and-true marketing techniques, includ- ing talking yard signs, flowers or chocolates delivered to the customer's workplace when the job is complete, and prizes free housecleaning to customers who provide at least ten referrals. Become Your Community's Home Performance Expert A key success strategy, according to the contractors I in- terviewed, is to become a home performance expert in your community.

Look for nontraditional, free opportunities to mar- ket yourself in the media. These might include writing newspaper or magazine articles, appearing on radio or Makeover Contest entrants meet with trade allies who made improvements to the winner's home in local library. Larry Taylor at AirRite uses this puzzle to help their customers understand how a house works as a system. Doing a portion of the work will leave a hole in their home!

Makeover contest entrants listen to author Ed Thomas explain the before and after conditions of contest winner's home. Emphasis is on energy savings as well as non energy benefits. TV talk shows, and hosting workshops and seminars for hom- eowners. Workshops can range in time and scope. More-demanding and broader- based seminars could be held in conjunction with other events, such as trade shows.

These seminars might run for one or two hours and be held on such topics as Whole-House Improve- ments: For the truly ambitious, or those who are affiliated with utility efficiency programs, a full-day Home Energy Makeover Work- shop with minute presentations on energy efficiency edu- cates consumers and connects them to the contractors who can best help them. The following organizations may sponsor your workshop in one of their weekly or monthly meetings: Script your presentation with plenty of customer stories. Gather attendee information through sign-up sheets, evaluation forms, and door prizes.

You can use these later as leads! Free media coverage is better and more believ- able than ads, and it's easy to get. Provide reporters and show producers with stories that sell. High-cost marketing tactics to avoid include news- paper and magazine ads that don't include a direct cus- tomer testimonial or a "call to action," and telephone directory ads. The Yellow Pages are the last bastion of companies that rely on fresh-meat customers, rather than on testimonials from past customers.

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Traditional marketing tactics have their place. Home shows are a prime showcase, if you prepare customer testimonials and article reprints; a clipboard with lead sheets; video clips of you working and interviews with sat- isfied customers; and clips of live radio interviews. Don't forget to bring your appointment book! Team up with the contractors you use as subs to maximize cross-telling and cross-selling So- lar?

Home Performance is the First Step. Bring your Home Page up on your laptop for people to browse. A well-designed Web site educates the consumer, and highly visible digitally printed vehicle wrap or "car skins" give brand recognition. In the midst of the meltdown on Wall Street, you wouldn't expect the winners of a home energy makeover contest to make headlines in Southern California.

The young couple had bought a starter home, planning to keep it a few years and then move up. Thanks to the energy makeover, they are now so comfortable that they plan to retire there. Organize a seminar by first drafting a brief description and flyer for the group to use to pro- mote your appearance. Recom- Ed Thomas has over twenty years of energy utility industry experience in sales and marketing management in many seg- ments of the energy services industry. Even in this challenging economy, companies marketing and selling green products and services are succeeding by offering affluent consumers environmental choices that fit their personal philosophy and lifestyle.

Forty-six percent of homeowners who submitted requests for home improvement projects indicated an in- terest in making the project green. Consumer interest in building green projects is increas- ing every day, and successful building con- tractors are taking advantage of this trend. Building Your Business Through the Internet Homeowners are going to the Internet in ever- increasing numbers to find assistance for their home improvement projects. The stats are staggering. That means that figuring out an online marketing strategy is no longer an option but a mandatory part of doing business in today's world.

What that means is that the vast majority of consum- ers do not have a preference for a specific company or product brand when they begin their search. A simple plan of attack on building an effective profile can enable you to establish a competi- tive advantage online. Social Network Marketing The Internet is creating virtual communities that didn't exist before. Internet sites where users are able to offer a public comment or review of your work are becoming increasingly popular. Make the most out of this opportunity and avoid common pitfalls by following these simple suggestions: Provide great service to your customers, and then ask them to write a review of their experience.

Your best customers are your best advocates; this has always been true. Visit popular sites regularly and read what customers are saying about your business and your competitors. Listen carefully to what they are saying. This is often one of the best ways to learn what you can do to make your customers exceptionally pleased with your work. When you see something negative and at some point you will , do your best to ask rather than argue. Follow up with the cus- tomer personally. Ask the customer what you can do to make the situation better. If you can remedy the problem, try to do so, and then ask the customer to update his or her review.

If the customer is not responsive, many sites will enable you to post a response to a customer review. Post a response clarifying any points that may have been confusing or incorrect in the customer's original post and publicly ask the customer what you can do to help make the situation better for him. This will go a long way toward helping potential fu- ture customers understand that you want to provide great service. Whatever you do, don't argue with the customer publicly on the site. You may be right, but being ar- gumentative is not the image you want to present to potential future customers.

Social network marketing will allow you to cultivate customer evangelists by creating a community on your Web site. At the same time, by joining and participating in social network communities, you have opportuni- ties to interact with potential customers, and can create an avenue for customer feedback and experience.

Market Position & Business Model – Overview

Customer interviews and online discussions are a valuable way to collect customers' opin- ions to improve your service and product. Think of it as the 21st century version of word of mouth. Successful contractors build a sales pipeline of tar- geted leads and measure their return on investment.

More than ever, it's becoming impera- tive to develop a good marketing pipeline. Remodels Generating Online Leads and Referrals When beginning to work with Internet-based customer leads and referrals, it's important to learn how the Internet shopper thinks. Understanding how to work effectively with Internet- based referrals is key, if you want to convert these shoppers into buyers.

Here are some tips to be more effective when responding to Internet-based referrals: There are several com- ponents to an online business profile that will actually win you business. Things like project photos of your past work, profes- sional credentials, license and insurance information, and customer ratings and re- views are important elements to include in your profile. Customer ratings and reviews are referrals that will be seen by tens of thousands of homeowners interested in Garages Doors.

In order to build up this pipeline and ensure it doesn't dry up, you need a consistent and predictable source of prospective customer leads that are relevant to the services you provide. Brevan Adams, a successful design build contractor in Denver, Colorado, says "working with online leads is kind of like going fishing. You don't always catch a fish, but if you catch a couple of fish in 20 or 30 casts, that's a pretty good day. You can target leads by the type of service or job and also by geographic area, often down to a specific list of zip codes.

To know whether an online lead ser- vice is working for your business, set up a spreadsheet or similar tool to capture the cost of the leads and the total income generated from these leads. Keep track on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. In fact, this tool is helpful for any advertising source and allows you to compare different advertising methods. Just because homeowners aren't ready to start a project right away, or are still in the planning and budgeting phase, doesn't necessarily mean that they are tire kickers. Provide homeowners with a reason to use your busi- ness when they are ready to start their project.

Turning Prospects into Customers Because you will encounter ho- meowners in these same situations as you begin an online lead program, the next three tips are proven methods for creating a follow- up system to turn prospects into valuable customers. It can be very beneficial to cap- ture a consistent flow of homeowners who are in the planning and research phase of a project, if you have the tools to convert these prospects into future clients.

Capture homeowner information into a contact database. One of the first steps in managing leads is to create a list of homeowner contacts on the computer. Whether you use a spreadsheet or a database program, collect all of the informa- tion you receive about a homeowner, includ- ing name, address, phone, e-mail, and project notes, so you can follow up regularly. Remodeling With a Woman's Touch Address: Immediately respond to leads, and follow up consistently with those homeowners, even if you don't talk to the homeowner initially. With Internet leads, one cliche rings true: The early bird gets the worm.

You can never tell what is going on in the lives of homeowners at the moment you are trying to speak with them. Consistently follow- ing up is a necessary component of working with Internet leads. Build value by providing tools home- owners can use. Become a resource for prospective cus- tomers as a way to develop a long-term relationship. I have heard great examples of things professionals have done to show homeowners that they care about them and their project. Send a note to the neighbors inviting them to use the dumpster.

This is a great way to generate additional referrals. You will decide what works best for your business, but these simple things can help you gain the added credibility of be- ing a trusted expert who cares about your customers. To recap, here are the steps you can take to find success with leveraging the Internet for online lead generation: Don't be discouraged if the first few leads don't pan out.

Learn how the system works and create a plan that works for your business. Your pro- file should include license and insurance details, along with photos of past projects and homeowner reviews. You can choose to receive leads to your cell phone, e-mail, or both. These ratings and reviews are one of the most important considerations prospec- tive customers look through when decid- ing which professional to hire. This will generate more sales from homeowners who are in the earlier stages of beginning a project. Keep track of how much the leads have cost, and compare that cost to the total income you have been able to generate from those leads.

You'll posi- tion yourself as a trusted expert and will increase the chances that those hom- eowners will reach out to you when they are ready to begin. The tips included here are valuable in- sights, but they are not really rocket science. The number of homeowners using the Internet to find local products and services is grow- ing, and by following this advice, you can be successful finding work by leveraging the Internet. A David Lupberger draws on more than two decades of experience in the residential remodeling field, working with remodel- ers developing proven business systems.

Through his work in the remodeling industry, he hopes to redefine the way the remodeling industry operates so that the trust between quality remodelers, their customers, suppli- ers, and trade contractors can be leveraged and improved. His experience in managing customer expectations led him to write a book called, Managing the Emotional Homeowner, which has become one of the bibles of the remodeling industry and helped hundreds of remodelers improve the level of service they provide clients. He has spent nearly 4 years writing the Remodelers Turnkey Program.

This series of manuals is a basic how-to text on running a remodeling company. From his base in Colorado, he now con- sults with both remodelers and industry companies such as General Electric and American Express to maximize customer service relationships between all the industry partners. However, most government energy savings performance contracts and utility energy service contracts to upgrade efficiency in government buildings are separate from the primary purchasing agencies, according to the Department of Energy guide.

Federal contracts are awarded through a competitive bid process. The bids are announced on an agency's website and publicized through solicitation lists; a business is advised to sign up for the lists of agencies most likely to use its product or service. To enter the federal government's consciousness for closed bids or regional projects, join the Business Partner Network , a central source for federal agencies to access vendor information.

Greening the City's Rooftops. As the field of green becomes saturated, the Small Business Administration advises differentiating your business by becoming certifiably "green. Federal agencies are required to look for businesses that can provide services with the most energy efficiency, and in some cases will specify in bids that those companies will receive preference. Many states have their own standard of green certification. The Oregon Energy Trust, for example, has more than 1, "trade ally contractors"—contractors, manufacturers, and installers the organization supports as providing energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy products or installation in a responsible manner.

Hammer and Hand is an allied contractor, and is also affiliated with 14 other organizations that certify the business. Semke says the certifications—ranging from Building Performance Institute to Energy Star—"prove we know what we're doing. It's an advantage to have a third party vouching for quality work," he says.

Aside from state- and region-specific certifications, there are national certifications for contractors: Residents, businesses and government are all shifting toward green, and more and more assistance is breaking down financial barriers and making green energy widely available—giving it profit potential for your business.

You're about to be redirected We notice you're visiting us from a region where we have a local version of Inc. Enter your email to reset your password. Or sign up using:. Sign in if you're already registered. Straight to Your Inbox. As the international race to efficiently use renewable energy escalates, more money is being thrown at making green energy widely available.

Here's how to break in and find your niche. Renewable energy may evoke images of the wind farms spanning acres, but manufacturing those products requires serious capital investment. See a full list of all common search topics. If you have suggestions for additional topics, please tell us. A business model is comprised of an organization or business's motivations and revenue generating opportunities.

Typical business models for providing energy efficiency products and services have been documented for utility and non-utility program administrators, remodelers, HVAC heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contractors, home performance contractors, home inspectors, utilities, energy service companies, retailers, and others. The five most common tests used by public utility commissions are: Incentives are tools to motivate potential or current customers or stakeholders to take a prescribed action by lowering risk and decreasing upfront costs.

The incentive can be financial e. Loan underwriting is the process performed by a lender to decide if an applicant should be approved for a loan. Energy efficiency programs provide identifiable benefits beyond energy savings, such as health and safety improvements, job creation, economic development, avoided emissions, and water savings. Policies and regulations - such as energy efficiency targets, utility cost-effectiveness tests, and financial regulations - influence how an organization can provide energy efficiency services.

Funding for organizational and program activities can come from a variety of sources including, but not limited to, ratepayer funds collected by utilities, grants federal, state, foundation, etc. In many cases, individual revenue streams will have specific requirements on how the funding may be spent as well as specific reporting requirements. Public, private, and non-profit organizations often seek to work in partnership with investor-owned and municipal utilities to provide energy efficiency services.

Utilities may already offer energy efficiency services that other organizations can enhance or promote, and utilities typically have access to energy consumption data that helps track program success. Skip to main content. Better Buildings Neighborhood Program Business Models Guide is a resource for those interested in entering, or expanding their services in, the residential energy efficiency market. The guide also aims to enhance understanding of critical market players as organizations identify partners for long-term growth.

Define your vision, mission, and goals Your vision, mission, and goals provide the overarching direction for your organization and should form the basis of all strategic and tactical decisions related to your residential energy efficiency program. Identify partners You will need to identify strategic partners, clearly define their roles, and engage them early on to ensure you build common understanding and strong support for your business model. For example, an organization can administer an entire program or multiple, distinct programs or outsource part or all of program administration functions and operations to private businesses or non-governmental organizations NGOs.

Organizations can be funded through utility ratepayer funds, public funds, fees-for-services, or a combination of these and other types of revenue sources. Lastly, there are three pieces of on-going work which you will want to consider to help ensure the success of your organization: Develop resources Developing organizational resources e. Assess and improve your processes You can improve the effectiveness of your organization by evaluating and analyzing data sets, which will help diagnose organizational strengths and weaknesses.

Communicate your impacts Communicating organization-level impacts is critical to sustaining long-term stakeholder support. These handbooks provide more detail on designing and implementing a cohesive and balanced residential energy efficiency program. Assess the Market Survey existing and potential demand for energy efficiency products and services based on an understanding of policies, housing and energy characteristics, demographics, related initiatives and other market actors.

Identify Partners Identify and engage organizational partners in your business model design. Develop a Business Model Define your business model, including market position, products and services, type of customers, financial model, governance structure, and the assets and infrastructure your organization needs. Develop Resources Identify and develop needed resources to position your organization in the market and maintain a viable business model. The following tips present the top lessons these programs want to share related to this handbook. This list is not exhaustive.

Adapt your business model to fit your external environment To develop a successful business model, Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners found it critical to have a strong understanding of the external environment within which they operated. When the New Hampshire Better Buildings program began, there were numerous energy efficiency programs operating independently in the state e. Customers were often overwhelmed trying to determine which programs they qualified for, how to fill out all the required paperwork, and which contractors they were able to work with. N2N expected that contractors would convince customers to take advantage of rebate programs to complete home energy upgrades; however, over the first two years of the program, they saw many of the leads they generated stall after the assessments.

N2N realized that they had limited influence over the contractor network with this approach and that the HES program design did not incent contractors and customers to complete upgrades. They shifted their business model and focused marketing and outreach resources on new strategies, such as direct lead acquisition, in order to acquire customers who were more likely to proceed straight to completing upgrades.

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Consider a diversity of funding and revenue sources and make selections based on local opportunities when planning for long-term program sustainability In order to craft a sustainable financial model, organizations need to identify long-term sustainable revenue sources. They evolved through a multi-year process into a certified community development financial institution CDFI focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades for the residential sector.

They targeted low and moderate income populations that had been especially affected in Florida by the economic crisis in The change meant that SELF no longer had access to capital from investors seeking highly secured and profitable investments through PACE; however, becoming a CDFI allowed SELF to diversify its products and receive new types of support in the form of grants for technical assistance and loan capital.

For example, in the last year of operating under the Better Buildings grant, SELF contacted faith-based foundations that seek to make socially responsible community investments. Under their business model, SELF faced some challenges limiting their ability to attract capital. The new CDFI business model allowed SELF to become self-sufficient by providing a platform to offer financial and non-financial services that could generate diversified revenue streams. These revenue sources include interest and fees earned on their investments; fees from off balance sheet portfolios such as commercial PACE; and fees from partnering with other financial institutions to sell their financial product and other activities such as contractor training.

How to Break Into the Green Energy Business |

The Better Buildings Program San Jose leveraged local, well-known organizations that delivered non-energy services to low-income residents to help the program reach interested homeowners. Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church and the local Boys and Girls Clubhouse offered the program space for events where they could meet with homeowners, teach them more about the program, and schedule home energy assessments. This partnership helped PGW enhance its own energy efficiency programs by applying the knowledge learned about home energy upgrades from EnergyWorks.

EnergyWorks found that by the end of their Better Buildings Neighborhood Program grant period, they had identified a successful formula of marketing, outreach, and contractor interface. They wanted their lessons learned to be useful in the future continued working with the city-owned utility, Philadelphia Gas Works PGW to develop a new utility-run energy efficiency program.

This program built off and mirrored the design of the EnergyWorks program by incentivizing comprehensive, whole-home residential energy efficiency projects. PGW was able to provide bigger incentives than EnergyWorks could. In addition, PGW benefited from increased customer satisfaction by offering the program, so the program evolvement and partnership was a win-win for everyone involved.

For more information, see the U. To learn more about the effort, see the interview with program leads: Examples The following resources are examples from individual residential energy efficiency programs, which include case studies, program presentations and reports, and program materials. Department of Energy does not endorse these materials. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Southern California Edison Company. Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Turning Around Your Residential Program: