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Feb 18, 2022

Change is Good: Why Adding Energy Efficiency Services to Your Business Makes Sense

The Building Performance Association has created a guide for businesses considering adding home performance services to their current offerings. Home performance services refer to improving the energy efficiency and comfort of a home, including insulation, air sealing, and efficient appliances. The guide suggests that change is necessary to keep up and stay alive in business, but it can be difficult due to effort, inertia, emotion, and reactance. By actively listening to customers and contractors, identifying stumbling blocks, and finding common ground, businesses can successfully transition into offering home performance services.

By: Zave Walter

Man in protective clothes poses for the camera as he's taking notes on an HVAC unit.

The Building Performance Association (BPA) has created a quick guide for those of you thinking of adding home performance services to your business. You can download the guide, “Adding Home Performance Services Into Other Trades” here.  

Change is Hard, But Necessary

Change is one of the hardest things for humanity, but the catalyst for all things great. It is also one of the most important things we can do in business to keep up and stay alive. If you’re a business owner, educator, or administrator in the trades, you’ve likely heard of the term “home performance.” Home performance is used in its respective industry as an umbrella term for all services done to a home that make it more energy efficient and comfortable. This includes insulation, air sealing, new ductwork, efficient appliances, and much more.

You may even be considering adding home performance services to your current offerings. I know it’s scary, but trust me when I say that’s a great idea. Identifying the aspects of your business that include energy efficiency will increase profits and improve your overall job quality.

So, why are so many people adverse to innovative ideas and reluctant to take advantage of better things? Traditionally, most companies try to sell on cost, quality, and reputation. They believe if they sell hard enough and conflate the most value, the consumer will buy. This can snowball into throwing value over value on top of a sale, and eventually drowning out the voice of the customer. Then, when all else fails, the reaction is to head straight towards the price in a race to the bottom. 

Think about it: Less than 20 years ago, nobody ever imagined that they would be carrying around a little computer in their pocket capable of instant communication and unlimited access to information. Ask anyone that ever lived through the Great Depression if they thought someday you could walk up to a wall on the side of a building and get cash out with the click of a few buttons, they would think it was crazy. Change is inevitable, and it often leads to great things—more efficient things.

The sales and services landscape and its corresponding customers have been turned upside down the past couple of years, and many things are different. Maybe now is the perfect time for a change in your business.

Why Change is Hard

Why is it so difficult for service-related, residentially-focused businesses to add additional products to their offerings and crews? It is often a result of the perspective related to effort, inertia, emotion, and reactance of change. The individual asks themselves “Is the effort worth it?” After doing the same things over and over, will it be worth it to the individual to denounce what they have practiced for years and change that trajectory? Knowing what we know, it isn’t often comfortable to convince ourselves that maybe we didn’t know everything or that there might be a better way. If one path has been successful, it is difficult and scary to think that it may no longer work. Especially when we talk about major life influences that have resulted in prosperity that we love.

Communities transitioning from a life of fossil fuels see an engrained benefit from that local economy. It is often assumed that by changing course, we are somehow admitting defeat in a lifestyle that has proved successful. Customers like their old fired boiler that has run well for 30 years. There is an inherent focus and familiarity on the past, and admission of future success is in direct competition to that history.

It’s About Listening

In an effort to understand a person’s propensity for evolution into new behaviors, products, and opportunities, there needs to be a shift from conviction to active listening. Customers need to be given the chance to be heard, and contractors must value the opportunity to do better. The world around every community is driving change inward at various speeds, and the ability to react to those demands lies within the occupants and contractors on the ground.

Factors at play include not only emotions, but also supply and demand. What may be feasible often trumps the opportunity for growth, despite the best of intentions. Advocates for change must identify these stumbling blocks, and work to resolve them before attempting to deliver innovative solutions. We cannot sell a thousand heat-pump systems when there are none on the shelves at the supply warehouse. Thus, requiring something different for a team to do, or shifting roles within a team itself. Also affected is the consumer wanting the heat pump because they currently have no heat. What can we do in a catch-22?

Properly listening to where the layers of friction lay at both the consumer and business, we can then begin to identify why innovative solutions are rejected. Typical gaps in information often include time, fear, and comfortability. If a contractor has reached their peak profitable production levels or has no succession plans, they may be less likely to add more to their plate. If it is identified that the contractor would like to eventually sell or pass on that business, they need to prepare for that transition. There is a difference between wanting to change and needing to change.

There is a defined understanding of price embedded into society that is heavily focused on the sale, ignoring often ongoing financial or inherent costs or benefits. Where the educator places the focus can determine the outcome of the learner. Assuming what those ideas or outcomes might be can dilute effectiveness, especially when we insert inherent preconceived bias towards individual perceptions. The change required is often hampered through past experiences, or lack of understanding related to culture and diversity. Just because something didn’t work before, doesn’t mean it will not work now. Communication can be difficult when trying to convey a specific topic when there is a language, cultural, or lifestyle differential between parties. The simple answer is to take more time asking questions and listening for the pain points and providing solutions that create mutual comfort.

Taking That Step

Finding common ground and realistically identifying needs and opportunities, while respecting current ideas or beliefs, can soften the blow of change. We must meet people where they are at, not necessarily where we think they should go. Honoring the past can help define the future, but we cannot ignore things that factually make sense for the present. Change is complex, scary, and not required at every juncture. Connections and conversations that are open, inclusive, and productive will be the greatest catalyst for market transformation. 

As they say, to get people to change, you have to make change easy. So that’s what we at the BPA decided to do. To help get you started, we’ve created a quick guide, “Adding Home Performance Services Into Other Trades.” This 2-page guide does exactly what its title alludes to, concisely laying out exactly how you can add home performance services to your existing business and make more profit.

View the guide here. The BPA will be here supporting you the whole way.

Zave Walter
State Outreach Coordinator

Zave Walter is the State Outreach Coordinator for the Building Performance Association. Zave has more than a decade of experience conducting energy audits, air sealing, and whole-home retrofits under the Home Performance with Energy Star Program. One of his greatest passions is helping others understand the value of making homes more comfortable, safe, and efficient.

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