Anyone have any good marketing strategies, specifically how all of you have structured your pricing and packages? I'm curious if there is a kind of industry consensus, or if it really varies.....I'm leaning towards doing it a certain way - but wanted to start the discussion so I can get some feedback on if it makes sense to those of you who have been doing this a while. Thx...
You bet Johnny......in fact, I'm in the process of simplifying mine as we speak. I agree that the clearer and easier it is for a customer to understand, the higher the chances of them buying your service. Good advice, thanks.
Hey Patrick......honestly, I've not thought about HVAC outfits, but am in the process of working out some kind of partnership with a couple local realtors (finders fee) and contractors that do mainly retrofit / remodel work. The HVAC partnership seems like a very good idea and I will definitely explore that.
How would that dynamic work exactly? You as the "energy auditor" would recommend the service of the HVAC shop in the event that one of the deficiencies on the customers "action item list" was HVAC related or mechanical in nature? Which is good for the HVAC shop....but I'm just trying to figure out they could help us energy auditors?
What nobody has mentioned so far (maybe because it is slightly off-subject regarding the initial question) is that all of the publicity you hear about energy audits is how the government gives them to you for free with this program or that program, or that the utility company will do one for you for $100 or so.....
Which is great if you are the homeowner but not so good for us. I offer full a service energy audit according to BPI standard procedures for $400 - $500, and spend a minimum of 4 hours in the house (often longer).
I often get a response from the homeowner of "I can get that for $100 from the utility company", or "Isn't that supposed to be free?"
Needless to say, I don't "sell" a lot of audits.
What I figured out to do is to get a contractor license, offer the audit cheap, and do the upgrade work (mainly insulation and air-sealing) on their house. I make a decent buck on the upgrades that way. I tell them the audit is $300, but if they hire me to do the work, they get the price of the audit back. That seems to work at least some of the time.
A number of you are going to end up wanting to shoot me after you read this, especially those who are strictly independent energy auditors, but I ask that you take a moment to hear what I am saying here, and it might just help you gain revenue with your current business model by making a few adjustments.
My background is home improvement marketing, and when I began my home performance contracting business back in 2009 we charged $349 for a non-CAZ audit and $449 with CAZ included. Now, it did not take long to figure out how many challenges we were going to endure...both as an auditing company here locally and as an industry as a whole. We endured three major challenges:
1. The general public has been conditioned for decades to expect a "free estimate", and while we who partake in this industry are providing a larger value and more effective service to the homeowner, it is still only an estimate to them.
2. Local utilities all provide a "free energy audit". Now the homeowner does not know the difference between the clipboard non-evasive assessment the utility performs versus what we provide, but they already are familiar with their power company and believe that they are looking out for their best interests.
3. A homeowner has not a clue of what an energy audit is, and I will submit that a good number of them quiver when they hear the word "audit". Some, I am sure equate us with ransacking their financial records. My company no longer does energy audits, we perform energy analysis.
4. The window manufacturers (of which I used to be representative of) have done a fantastic job of marketing the value of their products for years, and the general public has eaten it up as being an end all, be all to energy savings. We understand that this is not true most of the time, but it is still a major challenge that needs to be overcome in the market as it takes opportunities away from our companies.
Knowledge is power, and the more opportunities we create for ourselves to provide this knowledge to our prospects and customers the better off our businesses are going to be. With that in mind, we moved to a free diagnostic energy analysis model, and our business has gone through the roof. We already knew that over 70% of the prospects we audited went on to do contracting work with us, so the numbers worked out perfectly. Obviously, we account for the added labor time of doing the audit and reporting in our contracting price.
Our tagline? "Why Pay for a Recommendation when You Can Pay for the Solution?" The bottom line here is that we offer solutions to our prospects. It is our job to create the sense of urgency with our homeowners once we are in their home and set ourselves apart from the average home improvement contractor who is giving free estimates and providing cookie-cutter product lines to sell.
Remember, we sell an experience, not products. If McDonald's sold hamburgers, they would be out of business (their hamburger aren't that great). They offer the experience of the drive-thru, the playgrounds, the speed of service, etc. We have to look at our businesses the same way...we are different from everyone else in the market selling windows to everyone they see, regardless of whether the homeowner needs them or not. Create for yourselves every opportunity you can to get in front of everyone you can. I promise, it will grow your revenue exponentially.
Hate to add to the chagrin this may cause some of you pure auditors (God bless you), but such a model has worked very well, and continues to do so, for my company.
Offer a free walk-through assessment, and if they want to play ball offer them the full diagnostic audit.
Also, audit can be a dirty (or dangerous) word to HOs, assessment or analysis is the right way forward.
The independent auditing business model does not have much staying power, plus there is not enough profit dollars in it to sustain yourself long term.
Besides, using this model, I would argue, unless one expands into additional offerings (radon testing, asbestos, mold detection) there is no way to effectively diversify yourself with additional revenue streams.
Taking into account all the feedback I've received on Home Energy Pros, as well as from others I've talked with in person, I've also come to the conclusion that offering just an independent energy "audit" (yes I agree that analysis or assessment are a better choice of words) just isn't going to cut it, at least for me in this current economy. Maybe there is potential for it and sounds like it has worked for some of you. As for me, I am looking into becoming an authorized dealer and installer of some energy efficient products (cellulose insulation, radiant barriers) which allows me to offer homeowners a no cost "assessment" while still selling my comprehensive energy analysis service through a network of realtors. Thanks for all the advice, I hope the topic and feedback helped you as much as it helped me.