Maybe forever. I’ve worked with home performance and HVAC contractors of all shapes and sizes, from under $1 million to $10 million/year companies, and many of them will readily admit they are missing some elements of the business basics. Maybe they have a business plan, but they haven’t looked at it in 5 years. Maybe they’re bringing in $5 million in revenue, but can tell you where their leads come from. Or maybe they’re bringing in 10-15 leads per sales person per week, and they’re only closing 20% of them. Or they don’t KNOW how many they are closing.
I’m in the midst of building out my own business, after years of supporting many companies under the auspices of utility rebate programs. I’m trying to practice what I preach - and this stuff is not easy. I believe it was Cher who said, "If it was easy, everyone would do it.” (Don’t worry, I won’t make a habit of quoting Cher). From the very basic starting point of filing for a business registration, a license, and figuring out whether or not to use and EIN or SSN as a sole proprietor, there are a lot of decisions that will have long term impacts on the business. Some of those decisions are scary, or the “right” answer is somewhere in the grey area, based on the interpretation of various accounting or tax officials.
But getting the fundamentals right gives you a better chance at success. And programs benefit a great deal from giving their contractors access to training and mentoring that helps them get it right. Or course correct. As you’re thinking about business plans or program design, consider what you want the end result to be. Contractors - you want to make money, right? You HAVE to know how much your spending, and on what, to know if you’re making money. Program administrators and implementers - you want your contractors to sell energy efficient home improvements, right? They need to understand how their current business works, in order to add program offerings into their business model without losing lots of money.
I’m excited to be stepping out on my own, and looking forward to supporting contractors, small business, and programs looking to develop the market for home performance, residential energy efficiency, and renewables. I’ll share my trials and tribulations of building a business based on the principles of some of the most notable leaders in the home performance industry - Mike Rogers, John Tooley, and Peter Troast, to name a few. Time to put my money where my mouth is.
PS - the website is still under construction. We'll be up and running soon! In the meantime, please feel free to follow my blog.