13 Secrets to HERS Marketing Success
Experts at the 2018 RESNET Conference detailed how marketing HERS scores builds business, plus details on the resources RESNET offers to make it easier for you grow.
“A fundamental I have been preaching is that the vast majority of RESNET raters are good at what they do, but not as good at running a business,” presenter Matthew Cooper of Patuxent Environmental Group (PEG) said in his portion of a marketing presentation at the RESNET spring conference.
RESNET wants to help solve that problem. For starters, the HERS Index itself is a no-brainer marketing tool that can get attention from both builders and home buyers. After all, illustrating a home’s energy efficient superiority compared with neighboring homes is a great selling point. Or so you would think.
Unfortunately, as Cooper pointed out, a surprising number of building professionals are not marketing RESNET HERS scores to the utmost, making a clear case for the importance of a HERS score, or even leveraging the building science skills and education they already have to grow their businesses.
So how can RESNET raters grow the market? By paying more attention to marketing. Here’s a quick marketing primer gleaned from Cooper and fellow speakers that will get you up to speed in 10 minutes:
1. Know what other builders are doing. “Do you know where building permits being pulled? Where builders are digging land?” asked speaker JoAnn Spence of PEG. “Most builders use to find out where their future customer is and the RESNET site to see what the market is doing.” Spence also encouraged raters to ask: “What are my competitors HERS scores? What is the average overall HERS score by market? How about the annual average age of resale home and purchase price data from MRIS?” She suggested reading industry publications to keep up with what is going on.
2. Keep up with building codes. “Changing codes is the gateway drug to your services,” advised Cooper. “When codes change, builders need help. This offers you a chance to talk about the value you can provide.” Reading CodeWatcher, joining the Green Builder Coalition for Executive Director Mike Collignon’s code reports, or simply connecting with your local network of involved code officials can get you started.
3. Leverage RESNET materials. Kleist advised raters to use the resources RESNET has created to improve marketing performance. “Add links to videos RESNET has created. These hit main points and give potential buyers enough information to ask questions. Target both builders and consumers with these. Remember that consumers force builders to ask questions which in turn prompts builders to hire us.” Kleist also uses RESNET infographics, ads, and handouts. “You can use the infographic of the benefits of a HERS home on a builder’s website. It breaks down information on performance code compliance and HERS ratings, which helps the builder with upsales.”
4. Educate about total cost of ownership. While a new home price tag may be higher, maintaining and paying utilities on an older home could be more expensive over time, according to speaker Nate Kleist of Energy Diagnostics. Ekotrope, a cloud-based HERS rating software provider, created a great app that shows the difference between new and existing homes. “This could be on a builder’s website or an ipad in a model home,” he explained. “The sales people can walk home buyers through putting the details of the house they are considering in the software to compare with other homes in the area.” In the presentation Kleist used an example of a resale home that was $50,000 cheaper than a new home, but cost $272 more a month to own.
5. Talk to code officials. Find the code officials in your area and send them email blasts offering education or information they would find useful. “We go to as many code official meetings as we can,” Spence said. She also advised that raters build their own database of code officials, which is as simple as pulling names off county websites. Kleist seconded this idea. “We go to code trainings and talk to municipalities about performance code and then how ratings work, and they get interested. For offer sales training with builders to teach them; when they see it working they talk to other builders.”
6. Assist in branding. “You want builders to need you, so identify who the champion in the organization is–the person that gets you and sees the value in what you offer,” Cooper said. “Work with a builder’s marketing and sales staff to understand and message their brand. They often want a hands-off approach to marketing HERS, and it’s easy to take RESNET’s collateral materials, such as infographics and videos, put the builder’s logo on it, and use it in marketing efforts.”
7. Hold workshops and offer training. “Once a month schedule something with customers–not just the project manager or field manager, but also sales and installers/trades,” Cooper advised. “In-field training during construction isn’t revolutionary. We do something at rough-in and final. We do it to educate them so they can educate the buyers. They like muddy boot tours, and you can co-brand these tours and offer to bring food or coffee. While you are there, you can talk to prospective home buyers.” On the construction side, offer trade training on topics such as air sealing. “Show them where it is hard to air seal and when air sealing should be done,” Cooper suggested. For the sales team, stay away from technical. “Sales people don’t usually like technical training, but they love certificates and free training. Get them into the RESNET associate certifications program where they will learn what it is you have to offer.”
8. Offer free modeling. “By being familiar with all the potential in the RESNET approved software programs and by understanding cost parameters of key methods and materials for your builder, you become a great asset,” Cooper noted. “Perhaps you can provide free modeling on their top model and show ways they can comply with above-code programs. Show them what their competitors are doing and what they can do on their homes that will net the most return on investment. Remind them the path of least resistance is in building prescriptive, and that’s the most expensive.”
9. Know green programs. Stay educated on green programs. “Familiarize yourself with and use the Appraisal Institute’s green addendum or look into Pearl Home Certification, which has a DOE relationship,” Spence noted. Build a database of appraisers, lenders, and other green professionals that you can refer.
10. Know products and help value engineer projects. “Teach builders to think within the strengths of purchasing and proficiency and avoid a stubborn adherence to antiquated thinking and aversion to change,” Cooper emphasized. One way to do this is to keep up with new code-compliant products that can help builders save money while meeting code. Websites such as CodeWatcher, Green Builder Media’s Hot 50 Products, Resilient Design Institute, and Building America can help you stay on top of the latest code-compliant, sustainable products so you can be a resource for your builder clients.
11. Be the go-to person for programs and rebates. You need to know the opportunities for incentives before builders do (utilities, states, manufacturers). Once you’ve identified incentives, offer to complete their submissions. A great resource for this is DSIRE.
12. Use targeted social media. It is important that you maintain social networks such as Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook, Spence emphasized. “You need to post blogs and articles and then track who is reading them because they could be potential business. Make sure to follow builders and your competition on these networks to keep up with trends.”
13. Never stop marketing. “One place raters fail is that they are focused on the building science side,” Cooper drove home. “You need to be in contact with whoever is making decisions, whether that is procurement, marketing, construction, sales. Just because you land a builder you can’t stop selling to that builder. You need to reach into every part of the company and become more than a commodity.”
Cati O’Keefe edits CodeWatcher, your one-stop source for all code-related content. Sign up for a free quick-read, twice-a-week newsletter on the home page here.