CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Discussing what many in attendance believe is the industry’s best kept secret, contractors from all around the country traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the third annual Building Performance Forum, presented by ACCA and The NEWS.

Efficient Facilities

The event kicked off with general session speaker Louis Foreman. Foreman is a prolific inventor and created the television show “Everyday Edisons.” He explained to those in attendance how building-performance companies need to re-energize their efforts towards innovation and toss out the old-school way of thinking about the business.

After the opening session, contractors broke into Learning Labs taught by other HVAC contractors who have successfully implemented home- and building-performance contracting into their businesses.

Andrew Oser of CroppMetcalfe Inc., Fairfax, Virginia, shared tips on creating a home-performance contracting division. CroppMetcalfe has been profiting in the home-performance sector for 18 years.

“I was our first tester. We have been doing this a long time,” Oser said. “We are not perfect, but we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to figure this out.”

Oser said the company shut down its home-performance program four times over the years because it just didn’t seem like it was going to work.

“I claim responsibility; I’ve failed four times at this. I finally went to the owners and said, ‘Unless you hire me two testers at the same time, we can’t do this.’ They said, ‘Yes.’ Now, we have a third tester on staff.”

One key lesson Oser’s learned over time: Be sure to charge for the energy audit. “I would do the thing for free if I could get the customer to pay attention to us and buy into it. The only reason we charge is to get their attention and get them to walk around the house with us,” Oser said. “We are not trying to do four audits a day. We don’t run out just to turn audits out and get the occasional sale.”

Oser further stressed the importance of explaining problems in easy-to-understand words and teaching service techs to look for big problems so they can generate a sales lead.

All Aboard

Rob Minnick, CEO and president, Minnick’s Inc., Laurel, Maryland, discussed the process of getting everyone, including technicians, on board with the home-performance philosophy.

Minnick’s is another business that has been doing home-performance contracting for awhile. They perform what they call a Total Energy Solutions Audit, which is both an energy audit and an HVAC audit.

The technician creates a list of items that need to be done, and the company becomes the general contractor. They perform what they are capable of doing and subcontract the rest.

“We do this during orientation, where we explain to them exactly how we do things,” Minnick said. “We have them come in and work a day first so they know exactly what they are getting into.”

The contractors in attendance received a lot of information to take back to their businesses. “The speakers were very knowledgeable about the industry and the networking with other contractors gave me a lot of good information to take back to my company,” said Robert Kanofsky, president and COO, G+S Heating Air Energy Services in Kannapolis, North Carolina.

Service Manager Forum

The event was immediately followed by the Service Managers Forum. This event, in its seventh year, saw its highest attendance levels.

The event kicked off with leadership expert, Mike Hourigan, explaining how service managers can be great leaders by using both art and science.

There were also 12 learning labs, two of which were repeated, covering a variety of leadership and management topics created especially for service leaders, including motivating your employees, creating consistent procedures to improving communications, and understanding basic human resources issues.

“There was great consistency among the messages among being presented during the sessions,” said Jay Monger of Excel Heating and Cooling in Harrisonburg, Virginia. “The focus was on learning to be a good leader, implementing positive change, and empowering employees to correctly implement our company’s policies, which were the right messages to move us forward.”

Publication date: 12/15/2014

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