Smart Solutions

T.H. Eifert Closes Over $400,000 in PM/Projects in First 12 Months with BuildingAdvice

T.H. Eifert uses the Energy Savings Potential report from BuildingAdvice to make a clear case for energy-saving projects and PM based on real user data.

Just one year after investing in the BuildingAdvice Energy Services Delivery platform, T.H. Eifert Mechanical Contractors has generated in excess of $400,000 in new preventive maintenance (PM) contracts and pull-through sales, providing a sizable, early return on investment. The energy assessment and tracking tools from BuildingAdvice help T.H. Eifert make a solid case for installing and maintaining energy-efficient products.

Measurement Is Key

“Measurement is the key to overcoming inherent customer skepticism. Our clients are tired of hearing providers constantly making unsubstantiated claims regarding energy savings,” said Jeremy Harrison, T.H. Eifert general manager. “We now use measurement throughout our sales and fulfillment process to build credibility, even measuring savings after completing projects or PM work. Our customers are far more engaged, and it’s showing in the pull-through work we are getting.”

With BuildingAdvice technology, T.H. Eifert can generate reports efficiently using client data. “Prospects really appreciate the way the information is presented. It’s clear, concise, and understandable,” said Justin Jensen, T.H. Eifert energy manager.

According to Justin Jensen, energy manager at T.H. Eifert, his team uses the Energy Savings Potential (ESP) report to discuss energy consumption with prospects and to close new PM sales that include energy savings as a measurable goal. “Prospects really appreciate the way the information is presented. It’s clear, concise, and understandable,” said Jensen.

T.H. Eifert uses the Energy Savings Assessment (ESA) to graphically demonstrate sources of waste and discomfort with existing PM clients. By placing wireless sensors throughout the facility, T.H. Eifert can record the building’s actual performance when occupied and unoccupied. Typically, buildings have issues with occupants overriding controls, cleaning crews leaving lights on, and, due to over-engineering, too much fresh air being introduced on a 24/7 basis.

Clear Data Make the Case

Thanks to BuildingAdvice, T.H. Eifert can demonstrate the impact of its efforts, even tailoring data to reflect recent weather patterns. T.H. Eifert General Manager Jeremy Harrison said, “Our customers are far more engaged, and it’s showing in the pull-through work we are getting.”

Jensen gave an example of the ESA’s effectiveness. “We had been working with a tier-1 automotive client for a year-and-a-half to justify a comprehensive PM program, but couldn’t get it over the finish line. We explained a lot of the issues and did some studies. But no decision. Once he saw the ESA report, our client said he now had what he needed to go upstairs and convince his boss. That resulted in a $76,000 PM and $50,000 in pull-through work.”

Now, T.H. Eifert is using SavingsTracker to track energy savings results at the facility. “Being able to document the impact of our upgrades on their energy consumption is huge,” Jensen explained. “BuildingAdvice actually captures and inputs the utility bills for each month. The utility data automatically populates a web-accessible dashboard that the client can also access. Reports can be generated periodically so we can sit down with our clients and analyze our results.”

Jensen also appreciates how SavingsTracker customizes the data. “One nice thing is the data can be normalized for weather and a number of variables, so we are getting a real apples-to-apples comparison to the baseline BuildingAdvice created for us,” said Jensen. “In this case the client added over 40,000 square feet, and the model took this into account. Having started with the ESP, using the ESA to identify actual waste, and now using SavingsTracker to continuously monitor our progress, we are definitely walking the talk. Our clients’ reactions are really building our confidence.”

In another case, T.H. Eifert assessed a LEED-certified medical facility that was also Energy Star-certified in 2010 with a score over 75. By the time the T.H. Eifert team was invited in by the client, the building’s score had dropped to a 4. The ESP and ESA reports documented that the building was operating quite inefficiently. The ESA showed that the incumbent contractor converted the entire building to a 24/7 schedule to accommodate the operating theater’s schedule.

“We now use measurement throughout our sales and fulfillment process to build credibility …and it’s showing in the pull-through work we are getting.”

—Jeremy Harrison, General Manager, T.H. Eifert

Using the customer’s own data, the T.H. Eifert team educated the client about how their HVAC and lighting systems were losing so much money in energy and utility bills. “They had no idea that the systems our industry installs, maintains, and controls could be such a significant source of waste,” said Jensen. “Rather than inundating them with engineering surveys and calculations, we were able to use simple, understandable graphs to educate them. Once they got it, we had no problem engaging them in implementing our program.”

Jensen continued, “BuildingAdvice enabled us to isolate the largest sources of waste, document these sources in graph form to the client, and provide a clear path to correcting the issues. This generated a new PM worth $46,000 and another $160,000 in projects closed. Because we measure, we win these types of projects.”

Tools for a Changing Business

T.H. Eifert gathers data from wireless sensors placed throughout the facility that record the building’s actual performance during occupied and unoccupied times. The Energy Savings Assessment tool from Building Advice gives a graphic display of energy waste—for example, showing temperature dips and spikes when the building is unoccupied.

While new tools and processes can slow down a sales process, Harrison noted, “BuildingAdvice is actually shortening and streamlining our sales process. Their clear process for approaching building owners and operators positions us as partners that can help measurably lower operating costs. They aligned well with our existing sales process and gave us the tools we needed to overcome the objections and questions that traditionally derailed us. They automated so many steps that we can now efficiently generate reports using client data making the information tangible and believable. This has been the breakthrough.”

Asked about the timing of incorporating energy services into their business, both Harrison and Jensen indicated that the threat from some of the global and national players made it a necessity. Harrison said, “Our customers are getting more savvy; they expect us to be able to partner with them to lower their costs. They know the systems we install, maintain, and repair can be the biggest consumers and wasters of energy. So, we knew we’d either have to step it up and compete with the big boys or watch them take our customers.

“It’s sort of becoming an arms race. With BuildingAdvice we now have the tools to compete with the larger service companies that have all the corporate resources,” Harrison observed.

In addition to BuildingAdvice, T.H. Eifert has invested in technology to continuously monitor their clients’ facilities through real-time information from the control system. Continuous monitoring helps to not only drive new savings opportunities, but also ensures that savings that have been generated in the past continue to grow and don’t regress.

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