My name is Noah and I am new to both this site and energy auditing and retrofitting.This group seems great, and I was just wondering what's everyone's take on how they market themselves and to who particularly? Property Managers, Landlords, obviously home owners....
I am a little further north than you, also have a BPI cert, have a business mgmt degree (from Eastern) and have been working as an auditor for about 3 years now. Listen to the responses - audit only is not a good business model. Relying on existing energy company rebates is not a good business model (but might be a good avenue for introduction of your full-service line). Receiving a revenue stream that does not cover all your business costs and also provide you income is not a good business model (it is a "jobby"-a job that is more like a hobby). New construction in Central PA is still weak, but even when it was strong there was little interest beyond building "code houses" (Woodhaven Contractors being a notable exception). Hundreds of thousands of existing homes around the Central PA area and most/all need some work - even those relatively new. If I were you, I would concentrate on existing home remodelling - adding advanced building science techniques to improve comfort and save operating costs; using energy audits to show where other projects would be beneficial (and have quick payoffs/benefits). Network with your existing base of customers to market additional sales (permission marketing emails, etc.); obtain referrals from your previous customers; keep working on your networking (assuming your former customers are well pleased) rather than falling for all the blind sales gimmicks offered by the big name advertising firms. Let your company name be a well-regarded presence in your geographic area.
Hoah, Noah, my names Joah, little borther of Noah from the olde Testament.. :) I too am a BA from BPI, but like Bud poll, I go back a bit in the energy efficiency business - 1979 to be exact. this is one fine hunk of hand-me-downs, a passing on of fishing holes and recipes. And it is rich in heart. Back in the early daus when energy conservation was in the formative stages - when oakum packed caulkable oversized cracks before stuffit or backer rod rolled out, when candles lit our way and cobwebs said where the drafts are in the crawl spaces before blower doors. You young-ins get these incredibly cool science apps to app away away with. And science out on!
We stand on shoulders of giants, and still we wonder where's the money in our pursuit of the right thing and a living threshold of legal tender to accompany our life work.
In a recent audit, my client, who is a world-class photographer AND a proud new owner of a seattle classic home circa 1925, found the IR fascinating and asked to 'drive' around the house after he and I had discovered oddities, anomalies and hidden features. The quality of information and focus on a mutual sharing of perspectives seem to highlight the home performance business, not just here on these electronic pages, but in the ACI conferences, community organizations echoing the early bastion of energy conservation - the CAP agencies, etc. that attempt to provide services to folks, I get the drift that it's NOT the money that motivates either the providers or many of the recipients of these upgrades.
The company I am working with as an auditor/ consultant is also a general contractor providing a few in-house specialties -Air-sealing and insdulation- and then , following the model you describe, subs out specialties- windows, HVAC, asbestos, etc. Our community based program has integrated utilities, contractors and community groups. With a broad based community approach our outreach has a presence at Remodel shows, home Shows, fairs, community events, Farmers' Markets, etc, and like Bud says, a tiny presence is not worth while - Go big or stay home, but your number one brand feature must resonate with knowledgeable and reliable, and your people will come to you for value, for integrity and for answers to very thought-provoking issues that may be difficult to discover and unravel. Education and communication are your constant companions, and the ability to see through those client eyes is how you find happy customers telling neighbors, falily, friends and co-workers.
We provide a steady flow of audits and bids, do a steady and growing business, but we have to mark our jobs up. A good FLIR, blower door, tools, website, outreach, QA, HR, benies, etc , well you have the bus degree, you know overhead when you bump into it - we ain't cheap - and we need to charge for value added. and there is where the rubber hits the road. The deliverable in our business is sensible and sustainable. And marketing is more than $ savings; the best customer wants YOU to handle ALL the details. Find their pain, show them the plan and make a date to start. Never overpromise.
One of the best models out there is Dave robinson who won the Tony Woods award last year. he buys foreclosures, does deep energy retrofits, dresses them up with new Energy star appliance, minisplit heat pumps etc and then turns them over. He also has a good website and offers training on his model.
Ooops, said too much. My best to you.
David Eakin is basically right in what he is telling you.
I am in a similar situation in New Jersey... I have a BPI BA and Envelope Professional certification as well as the Installer certification... I would recommend getting the Installer certification, because if you're going to offer insulation and air sealing (obvious services to offer), you may as well have the BPI cert for it. Don't forget the contractor license!
I promote myself and my services by having a web site that describes how you can save money, be more comfortable, and save the planet at the same time (corny, I know, but it covers all the bases). I have a web guy doing search engine optimization on it and I'm actually getting calls from people asking about spray foam for their houses. Usually they are people who are doing gut rehab's and want to get good insulation.
I do lots of other inspections (I am a licensed home inspector, a mold inspector, a termite inspector, and a bunch of other things).
Whenever I do any kind of inspection for anyone, I throw in some info relating to how they could make their houses more energy efficient. Some people blow it off and others want to know more.
I use my infrared camera for EVERY inspection.... It makes a GREAT prop. People are nearly always very curious about what it is showing.
When they see a "big blue blob" on the screen (a big air leak) and ask what that is.... That's when I tell the homeowner to "hold your hand over here, and tell me what you feel". When they feel the cold breeze from the bottom of the fireplace or wall trim or wherever, their next question is "what can I do about that?".
I am more than willing to provide an answer to that question. If you've done any audits, you know the areas to point the camera at to find those big blue blobs.... For most of them, you don't even need the blower door running. Once the homeowner feels the cold air blowing into his home, the rest is figuring out how to seal it up for him (preferably without sticker shock) and still make a few bucks on the job.
Strictly Business Energy