Achieving Building Performance or adding insulation… What’s better, volume or margin?
I suppose that depends on your business model. Volume is a good model when money is flowing in the market, but when the economy pulls back, it can really hurt a volume-based business. When it comes to margin, everybody wants it, but commodity type selling rarely offers it. There’s a whole world of higher margin business out there in the world of insulation/building performance for those who want to go after it. The problem is, it’s more involved and takes on a different business model.
When someone calls for you work on their building or home, do you just give them a bid for what they want, or do you diagnose the building? Why just add insulation when you can make a bigger difference? I like to call this, Testing instead of guessing. A better question might be “Why just add insulation when doing more offers bigger rewards and happier customers?”
Most people want healthier, better performing homes. Studies show that over 80% are willing to pay more for healthier homes. They want less dust, even temperature rooms, better indoor air quality. It might surprise you how many of them would love to understand their homes better. More than that, if you uncover and show them proof of actual problems, they will want to have you fix them. Not only will you be first in line, but they will also see you as the doctor who diagnosed a problem other contractors didn’t even know about. In any business, fixing verifiable problems pays more Money, and finding them gains Referrals.
A business based on simply adding insulation to buildings often winds up missing out on attic hatch covers, air-sealing, baffles to prevent wind-washing, & so much more. Without testing, buildings can get treated like they are all the same. But, to someone who uses a blower door and infrared camera to evaluate a home, buildings may have similarities, but their problems can be vastly different. A blower door and infrared camera highlight problems and verify where a structure is in dire need of air sealing. Showing this to a homeowner is very motivating. This moves the sale from saving energy to fixing a problem. It raises the level of importance. The best part… Now the project doesn’t have to pay for itself.
Generally, Testing opens up the scope of work. At the very least, it moves the conversation from energy savings, to comfort and building science. Now you are discussing holes in the ceiling and stack effect. (heated air rising and leaving the building, thus forcing the occupant to pay to heat new air and let it happen all over again) Once the building owner understands stack effect, they want you to prevent it. Stack effect is most often cited as the greatest cause of pressure difference and air leakage in a building. Without testing, will a customer truly understand the magnitude of their issue? This is why testing is much better than guessing. As an example, take a look at the infrared pictures in the video of the attic hatch cover. One thing for sure, if the attic access is inside the home or structure, it tends to be the largest hole in the ceiling. If you showed your next 10 customers how badly their attic hatches leaked, how many would want you to fix it? Attic hatches are just one example in dozens of different things you can uncover and share with your clients. The more you can teach them about their building, the more they trust you to fix it. Naturally, the next line of reasoning is; the better you are at fixing their home, the more people they are going to tell about what you have done.
Take a look at this video and consider what testing and installing some of these products may do for your business. If you have additional questions on testing or building performance products, reach out to your local IDI branch or contact us here at the corporate office. Our goal at IDI is to be a resource to help you profit and grow. By doing that, we look forward to earning your business every day.