Setting Your Business Up for Success
Two traits of successful contractors working in the HPwES Program are being organized and exhibiting good communication skills. Prior to starting your first HPwES project, it is recommended that you outline a process for how you will handle each stage of the job. Over time, this should be refined as you better understand the Program and how to best utilize your employees. To help promote internal communication within your business, each person involved should understand what his or her job and responsibilities are. Typical tasks in the process include:
- Customer Intake/Scheduling/ Project Management
- Audits/Work scope Development
- Energy Modeling
- Installation/Quality Control
- Test-out/Quality Assurance
- Customer Follow-up/Referrals
Below is a list of suggestions for making each stage of the project run smoothly for all parties involved:
Communication, Communication, Communication: This is key to every step of the process. Good communication often eliminates issues before they have a chance to cause serious problems and helps maintain great customer service.
Scheduling / Project Management: To help ensure success with multiple work sites, you must find a way to organize and track your projects. Customer Relationship Management software can be used to achieve this; with the growth of the home performance industry, there are now a wide variety of industry-specific applications in the marketplace. Alternatively, two low-cost options that has proven successful for many businesses are spreadsheets and dry erase boards. HPwES contractors can also track status of their customer’s projects in the NY HP Portal.
Customer Intake Forms: This should be an integral part of your process as it allows you to qualify your leads and prioritize scheduling. Interviews, forms, or questionnaires allow you to set the customer’s expectations while enabling your auditor to arrive at the dwelling prepared to address the homeowner’s concerns efficiently. Examples via Google
Energy Modeling: Establish an audit routine so that your visits are efficient and all of the necessary data is collected. Many successful contractors create or use a data collection form that will enable you to collect relevant information without entering the data into the software at one time.
Workscope Development: Think about the services that you will offer and create a price sheet for each improvement. This will enable you to price out your jobs so that you cover your costs and make a profit. Be sure to refer to the Eligible Measures list (CRM Section 6.3) and include incentives and financing options (see Incentives and Financing Options). Your price sheet can be adjusted as you learn from experience. Your contract must conform to New York State contract law and meet HPwES Program requirements. Refer to CRM Section 8 for more information.
Marketing: As a contractor in the Program, you have exclusive access to a variety of marketing materials. This includes promotional and educational tools that have been designed to help you grow your Home Performance contracting business – all at no cost to you. For full details, please refer to CRM Section 12.
Sales: Decide how your company will be presenting the workscope to the homeowner. Some contractors have a one-step process and ask for the customer’s business at the time of the audit. Others use a multi-step process and sell the project after another consultation with the customer. This additional consultation could be in-person, over the phone or even sharing a screen for an interactive presentation. There are sales trainings available that are specific to the home performance industry. To request a viewing of the CLEAResult training titled “Proactive Service: A Customer Service Training for Energy Efficiency Contractors,” please contact your Account Manager.
Installation / Quality Control: The installation crews should have clear, written instructions describing what improvements are being done in each home. The installation should be in line with the NYSERDA Home Performance with ENERGY STAR & EmPower Programs Material and Installation Guidelines. It provides participants with the materials and installation requirements for installing energy efficiency measures in NYSERDA’s residential Programs. Additionally, all Contractors must perform their work in compliance with all applicable codes, regulations, laws, and standards in the jurisdiction where completing work. In instances where this manual may conflict with state and/or local code, code must take precedent.
Prior to starting, the crew should confirm the work with the customer. If questions arise, the crew should be able to contact the office for guidance. After the work has been completed, the crew should ask the homeowner if there are any questions about the installation. In the unfortunate instance of damage occurring to the home, there should be a transparent process that explains what will be done to make repairs. Develop standard operating procedures that clearly state what should be done on installs (e.g. drop cloth use, no smoking, branded shirts) and what is expected of the installation crew.
Customer Follow-up/Referrals: A happy customer can lead to new business. Provide them with clear directions on what you would like from them (e.g. referrals, testimonials). Check in after work is done – this builds loyal customers and also provides an opportunity to fix something if there is a problem.