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Energy Efficiency and Demand Response: It’s No Longer an Either/Or Decision

February 01, 2017 Kevin McDonough

Historically, energy efficiency and demand response services are implemented as separate programs. For many reasons (engagement, expertise, resources, program design, technology), it seemed like that was the only way. But should we change this way of thinking? We think so. 

Advancements in technology combined with the industry’s focus on customer experience means the time has come for energy efficiency and demand response as the preferable one-stop solution.

Siloed programs are not as efficient, impose on the customer, and more than anything, limit potential. 

Still, overlapping DR and EE programs can lead to increased complexity. What’s the solution? An integrated demand side management implementer that has the expertise to deliver all around:

  • Kwh and Kw from the same customer transferred to the right place
  • Customer experience enhanced by education and an intuitive digital customer journey
  • The foundational improvement in cost effectiveness
  • Program design scaled for future integration of emerging storage and renewable sources

There have been barriers to keep integrating these programs, but we continue to look for opportunities and find better ways for delivering our solutions. That’s why, we’re joining forces.  

Franklin Energy, GoodCents and Resource Action Programs will cover the demand side management gamut as Franklin Energy Group. There’s no better time or opportunity to deliver on our shared vision that EE and DR can work together. Our integrated approach will benefit the utility and their customers in efficiency, choice and results.

Read GoodCents blog: Evolution – It Makes GoodCents®

  Click to learn more.

 

5 Steps to Making Your Event a Success

January 25, 2017 Meghann Goddard

Want to pull off an event? Plan it out – down to the very last detail. Whether it’s a trade show, community event, convention or training, the stuff you miss is likely to be what goes unmissed. As the old adage goes, you have one shot to make a lasting impression. The thing is, that is so true.

But no worries, we have five easy steps to make your event planning a success!

  • Know Your Audience – No matter the nature of your event, it’s most important to understand who you’re communicating to and why they might be interested in what you’re saying or marketing. Every event coordinator has the number of attendees and overall demographic in his/her back pocket. Ask for it. This will let you know what kind of marketing collateral to bring with you in order to effectively get your message across. Knowing your audience ahead of time is key!
  • Don’t Spare the Details – Details, details, details – yes they matter. If you’re wondering what you’re missing as you’re finalizing plans, it’s a good trick to put yourself in an attendee’s shoes. What would you want to know as an attendee? What would you want to get out of the event? Run through your event document. Keep a checklist of pending items to ensure tasks are being met in a timely fashion and nothing is left out. And lastly, don’t be afraid to walk the floor and hear what potential customers are asking competitors.
  • Grab Their Attention! – See what I did there? No, don’t yell at them, but stand out in a good way. Signage, giveaways, demos. Stand out and offer something different than other vendors. In the case of a trade show, you’re up against numerous other companies who want the same time and attention as you. Make sure you have a way to hook attendees’ attention (and keep it). Other than marketing collateral, swag or sweepstakes are effective draws. It can be simple as candy or a large ticket item for a lucky winner. But as mentioned, it should be different, make sense with the environment and promote your business. Take advantage of your space without causing noise and clutter. Banners, signage and brochures should serve a purpose and fit neatly within your spot. Be clear and concise. You don’t want to waste time to get to the point.
  • Touch Base Often – Keep everyone in the loop. There are a lot of moving pieces and plenty of stakeholders involved in company events. Schedule reoccurring touchbases to get in front of issues and plan more effectively. It’s also helpful to have one shared document outlining dates, time, location, booth location, conference map, session schedule and contact information. Go over logistics. Make sure all involved parties have a copy and understand where they need to be and when. Use this as a time to solicit questions and check that everyone is on the same page.
  • Wrap Up & Follow Up – The event is over. But, before you celebrate, collect attendee contact information and follow up with a sincere thank you email (especially for meaningful conversations). Also, send a thank you to everyone involved on your end. Survey your event team to gather feedback for future events. Sites like Survey Monkey can be easily added to your team email, as a clickable link (plus it’s free!). Questions should cover pre-show processes, as much as day-of execution. Send any photos or fun facts from the event to your clients. Determine lead generation and deliver a report to appropriate stakeholders. Finalize all payments and provide your client with a budget report if applicable. It’s also smart to send an email to the show staff to receive their feedback and thank them for their assistance throughout the prep process.

Remember, planning makes perfect. Keep perfecting your skills and improving your success rate by paying attention to detail, taking feedback into account and using proper etiquette.  

NYSEG Event Photo.pngEvent: NYSEG /RGE | NYS School Facilities Manager Conference | Saratoga Springs, NY | October 2016

Outreach: Know Where to Go for Program Growth

January 09, 2017 Zoë Bottger

If general marketing generates program awareness and sprouts possible leads, it is outreach that actually nurtures engagement and pushes participant through the pipeline.

Outreach is organic and intrinsic. It requires face-to-face conversations, along with supporting communication pieces. Making it the dynamic, yet personalized, touch point spurring life into every program and keeping momentum growing with every interaction.
Outreach_Infographic_CTA

Hesitance to actual follow through with outreach generally stems from not knowing where to go. Not knowing where to find your potential participants or how to appeal to them. Below we’ve outlined how to get your programs out there (so to speak). Each event has its own demographic and its own influencers.

 

1_RESOURCE_HEALTH_FAIRS.png1. Resource and Health Fairs

These customers are already seeking out resources, which makes them an ideal place to promote direct install programs. Resource and health fairs reach senior citizens who are more likely to be homeowners, have outdated technology and are generally receptive to free assistance opportunities.

 


2_RADIO_STATION_EVENTS.png2. Local Radio Station Events

Radio stations have different demographics. The goal is to align the right station with your target audience. This means you can be more selective in who you chose to target. You should seek out specific stations, depending on your program goals. For example, if you’re running a residential program and want to target homeowners, you may want to partner with a radio station that reaches areas of mostly single family homes. 


3_EVENTS_BY_ELECTED_OFFICIALS.png3. Community Events Hosted by Elected Officials

In many communities, local elected officials are the first place people go for resources. These leaders advocate for their communities and have built trust with their constituents. By partnering with elected officials, you establish legitimacy in your target area almost instantaneously. Additionally, local elected officials have strong networks for spreading the word within their communities, from hosting well attended events to print and digital publications. This should be your bread and butter when approaching any new market.


4_HARDWARE_STORES.png4. Hardware Stores

Hardware stores are the homeowner’s mecca. Home improvement and cutting costs are always bonded goals for these customers. You can capture their interest with free direct install and rebated upgrades, while they are already in the right mindset.

 

 


5_CHURCH_EVENTS.png5. Church / House of Worship Events

For many people, churches or other houses of worship are an important aspect of life in their community. This is another type of partner where trust is typically already established and people will be receptive to your message if you are vouched for. You’ll also find a mix of demographics, including homeowners, multi-family building owners, and business owners, creating a variety of program opportunities.


6_NEIGHBORHOOD_FESTIVALS.png6. Neighborhood Festivals

Neighborhood festivals are a great way to reach individuals that you may not see at the local elected events or resource fairs. These events also provide abundant opportunities for brand presence. This may not be an event where 100% of the attendees are your target demographic but the sheer number of attendees make for numerous of opportunities to engage people.



7_HOMEOWNERS_MEETING.png7. Block Club / Homeowner Association Meetings

Here is where you hone in without question. This is the homeowner homerun. Block club and homeowner association meetings are one of the best foot-in-the-door outreach possibilities for residential programs. With homes on their minds, these customers are open to receiving resources. It is even easier if someone in the neighborhood has participated in your program, a good recommendation from a neighbor can inspire whole blocks to participate! 


8_SENIOR_EVENTS.png8. Senior Fairs / Events for Senior Citizens

Historically, senior citizens are a favorite market when it comes to energy efficiency program participation. They are likely to be homeowners, and they’re likely to have outdated products and equipment. They are more likely to talk to their neighbors about the program – creating more organic growth.

 


9_BACK_TO_SCHOOL_EVENTS.png9. Back to School Events

Family households consume the most energy in residential markets. It’s essential to teach kids the importance of sustainability. These best practices can spark a lifetime of behavioral change and awareness. Even more, parents appreciate the lower water, gas and electricity bills simply installing free energy-saving products, like showerheads. It gives parents one less thing to worry about.

So you feeling pretty pumped to get out in the community and strike up conversations? Just remember a program’s outreach success is only as good as its plan. (Tweet it!) Download our infographic on how to create an outreach strategy that works or reach out to see what Franklin can do for you.

Download Our Outreach Infographic

Safety Knows No Bounds

December 12, 2016 Tim Kaddatz

Safe travels. It’s the sendoff before we board a plane or hit the road. Well wishes so common, it’s almost like a reflex, a saying we utter out of common courtesy rather than assigning literal meaning.

And yet, it’s a sentiment we should stop to think about. Every day, we make decisions to keep ourselves safe and on track of our obligations. A recent flight reminded me just how much safety comes into play at work, in transit and on our own clock.

Soon after lifting off, the plane flew over a long line of thunderstorms.  In anticipation of the turbulence ahead the captain left the seatbelt sign on until we had safely passed beyond the line of storms.  We flew above 35,000 feet, well over the storm, for approximately 45 minutes.  The captain flipped on the plane’s seatbelt sign and announced a safety warning, just as we entered some turbulence.  As we flew through the “danger zone” the crew made several announcements over the intercom. Each message served as a reminder of why the seatbelt sign had been turned on, and detailed the expected timeline of when it would be turned off. 

The captain was also mindful of the flight crew, requesting them to buckle up, instead of tending to meal and beverage service. Grumbling stomachs and comments wouldn’t take precedence over the captain’s evident better safe than sorry mindset.  

The point is this: Safety is not just avoiding or decreasing risk, but rather reminding everyone to be safe no matter what they are doing. (Tweet it!) I found comfort simply in knowing the captain was concerned about our wellbeing and had a plan in place. Whether we realize it or not, plans keep us calm during the storm. They keep us moving forward, instead of panicking or delaying because we don’t know how to proceed.

Whether it be in the office, in transit, at home, or anywhere in between, safety doesn’t stop. Every training we have at Franklin Energy covers it. We educate and adhere to OSHA requirements, but we plan for our specific business and for our employees. How can we reduce accidents from occurring? Where can we increase awareness and put plans in place?

I ask anyone reading this, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, think about safety. Think about what affects it and think about ways you could be better prepared.

Have a plan. Stay well and stay safe!

Pain Free Customer Assessments with Efficiency Clipboard

November 29, 2016 Miranda Smith

In an ever-changing world that demands more, better and quicker solutions daily, it’s essential to have the right equipment. You need a technology solution that supports customers’ expectations, as much as program needs. An effective energy assessment tool should have capacity and flexibility to adapt to the fluidity of the marketplace by design. No add-ons. No missing links.

Energy assessment and reporting tools, like Efficiency Clipboard, seamlessly guide clients and customers through the energy efficiency journey. (Tweet it!) As a part of Franklin Energy’s Efficiency@Work software suite, Efficiency Clipboard allows auditors to electronically assess energy usage at a customer location. Its many customizable features can facilitate more production and more satisfaction mutually for auditors and customers. Simply stated, Efficiency Clipboard takes the pain out of doing more. 

Request a demo of Efficiency@Work and see how the expert suite of technologies easily adapts to your programs and applications.

With Efficiency Clipboard the energy efficiency assessment process can be tailored to meet unique customer interactions with both quantity and quality in mind. Appropriately named, this reporting tool streamlines the assessment process by allowing the auditors to report inventory of energy consuming equipment, recommend incentive saving measures, record energy and cost savings for upgrades, provide annual energy usage data, and summarize next steps to becoming energy efficient.  All of these functionality possibilities can be adapted for ease of use with various program requirements, and work hand in hand with database tracking and reporting, as well as appointment scheduling software.

Let’s not forget customer satisfaction is king for utility clients. Teeing up a product to provide interactive and a long lasting impression on the customer goes a long way. Providing the customer with a canned report does not engage the customer or move the JD Power needle toward greater satisfaction. Efficiency Clipboard gets customers acquainted with their building by enabling them to accompany the auditor during the assessment. Efficiency Clipboard encourages customers to take ownership of their energy efficiency potential, so they can be invested in energy efficiency decision making. (Tweet it!)

Clipboard has benefits for customers, clients, and auditors, with its ability to:

  1. Pre-populate customer energy usage history and account profile details into the assessment report.
  2. Instantly assist with energy management by generating an onsite assessment report immediately after the assessment.
  3. Display customized program incentives specific to each customer’s business processes and building equipment.
  4. Drive customer satisfaction with two-way face-to-face interactivity in the comfort of their own business location.
  5. Quantify immediate savings from products directly installed during the assessment and/or resulting from potential future upgrades.
  6. Track precise customer equipment inventory for pipeline lead potential to consider with future utility offerings.

When it comes to the customer journey, why not take the easy road. Efficiency Clipboard navigates energy efficiency assessment and reporting continuously and seamlessly. 

Request a Demo

Energy Efficiency Isn’t Learning on the Job, Anymore. It’s Starting in the Classroom.

November 16, 2016 Ed Carroll

We’ve all been there. You’re at a backyard BBQ or career day at your kid’s school. The usual question is popped: “So what do you do?”

You respond, ready to receive a stark contrast of either 20 questions or blank stares (especially depending on the age of your kid’s classroom). You explain the energy efficiency business and what it means to be an implementer. 

(Silence…) “Why does a utility pay you and its customers to reduce sales of its own product?”

I love it when I get this question.

Solid energy efficiency programs provide an energy resource at a fraction of the other available options like conventional coal, gas, nuclear or even renewables. A recent report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy outlines the history of utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs and forecasts its future. And guess what…that future is bright.

One reason for that actually takes us back to the classroom.

Universities across the nation realize the demand and are creating paths for students – essentially a running start out the career gate. Programs offered at UW Platteville and UW Madison pave the way for interested scholars. These students are becoming subject matter experts in the energy efficiency industry in the classroom and their head start has the potential to shape where we go.

It’s pretty cool to think that young professionals entering the workforce are problem solving almost immediately.

I take pride in what we do at Franklin Energy, every day. But I’m even more excited for what is possible from the next generation.

Franklin, as a whole, places emphasis on talent and development. If you know any students focusing in engineering or environmental sciences, tell them about our Energy Efficiency Experts of Tomorrow Scholarship. The scholarship is open Nov. 16 – Feb. 16.

Iowa Takes on Statewide Program, City by City, Project by Project

October 25, 2016 Jason Parker, CEM

Backstory
Our City Energy Management Program work in Iowa required us to essentially start from scratch. It was a statewide initiative. With the scope and granule details, there was no prototype to follow, no wheel to reinvent.

Iowa’s state officials made energy efficiency a goal. They applied and received a grant from the Department of Energy to help its cities make a difference in the way they consumed and viewed energy. However, I don’t think any of us had an idea just how many people would get involved and how much of an impact it would make within each community.

Nineteen municipalities took advantage of the funds and pooled expert resources to establish individual energy-saving plans for each city’s unique challenges. No two cities shared the same tale – everything varied from the stakeholders on the planning committees to the type and number of efficiency projects implemented.

Every city included benefited from this statewide program and made the most out of the opportunity. The results went beyond just energy savings. The program sparked greater awareness, behavioral change and positive community engagement. (Tweet it!)


Plan of Action
Nineteen municipalities. 919 energy efficiency projects. Looking at the City Energy Management Program from a bird’s-eye view could make your head spin. We definitely had to take a step back before we settled on a game plan. We knew we could find success by breaking down efforts and honing in at a city-by-city level.

We allocated funds based off of utility tracking and equitably distributed for each designated municipality – always working with the Iowa stakeholders to make sure everyone’s best interest was met. Each city formed an energy planning team and worked alongside one of the program’s Regional Energy Managers (REM).

As pointed out before, there was no standard plan of action; no rulebook to follow. Some teams were made up of utility workers, others were city officials, while some even had community member involvement. The beauty of this type of program, is that it had never been done before. Still, it seemed to fall into place organically with support from people who cared and were open to learning and working together.


Snippets of Success
With the statewide reach of CEMP and countless moving parts, this blog cannot do the justice of Iowa’s efforts. So in an attempt to bring it to light, here are some anecdotes that make up a small, yet most characteristic, part of the picture.

Hedrick’s Waste Water Plant
After its energy assessment, the program team and utility company discovered energy-saving opportunities aplenty for Hedrick’s Waste Water Plant. First, the ventilation louvers were improperly installed, which could cause safety issues. The exterior lighting lacked motion sensors and the interior equipment was outmoded.

The team proceeded with retrofitting LED lighting replacements, reducing the headworks room temperature to a minimum set point, installation of weather stripping at all exterior doors, installation of a motion sensor for the front door lighting and reinstalling the ventilation louvers correctly. Since the facility is completely electric, including heat, payback (totaling $10,000) will be reaped under two years. The plant will save 125,000 kWh in energy each year.

Randy Crow, community member, stated, “We’ve strengthened energy conservation awareness in public facilities and experienced direct monetary savings from changes made by recommendations from the program’s Regional Energy Manager.”

City of Independence
Independence is your typical small city – a main challenge being funds and resources to make big projects like energy efficiency possible. However small, the city is mighty by way of its local utility, Independence Light and Power. This is rare.

With the assistance of provider WPPI, Independence took advantage of a zero interest loan for a city-wide LED street lighting initiative. The utility installed more than 900 new LED street lights inside the utility’s service area and replaced all city-owned high pressure sodium street lights with new, efficient LED lights. The result of this installation is a reduction of 331,000 kWh per year and a projected annual savings of more than $41,000 in energy costs.

Kevin Sidles,
general manager, Independence Light and Power, stated, “This project is a great example of what can be done to reduce energy consumption and lower our carbon foot print in a very cost-effective way.”


For the full pilot program success story, download our City Energy Management Program whitepaper. You’ll learn about the challenges, problem solving and hard figures statewide. 

  Download City Energy Management Campaign Whitepaper

5 Things You Missed at Franklin Energy’s Multifamily Summit

October 11, 2016 Brody Vance

Two days of presentations, panels, and open discussion on the best ways to run, and continually improve multifamily programs. There was no shortage of excitement and interaction during the first ever Multifamily Summit in Chicago. With over 50 attendees from 13 states and 17 utilities, participants were able to walk away with valuable multifamily best practices and ideas and innovations for where this unique market is going with respect to energy efficiency and demand management.

Not able to make it? Don’t worry. Here’s a breakdown of the top 5 things you missed out on.

  1. National Level Networking

It’s amazing what can happen when you get everyone in the same room. Whether it was at the welcome reception or during breaks, leaders in the utility industry were able to meet and mingle. It was information sharing at its finest.

  1. Multifamily Musts from our Experts

With 12 unique sessions, short presentations and expert staffed panels brought something for everyone. Want to get a peek into the presentations and discussions? Click below to download all the content you missed out on.

Download_MF_Summit_presentations

  1. Collaboration

We put our expert heads together for some of our most popular sessions. Collaborating with small groups and workshops, attendees were able to share ideas and solutions as well as suggestions for program innovations and future evolution.

  1. Overcoming Participation Challenges

Multifamily programs are some of the toughest out there. Working together is key to spurring participation in this diverse space. Working in small groups, attendees brainstormed the newest approaches to some of our most common challenges.

  1. Dinner with a View

It wasn’t all work and no play. We couldn’t bring everyone to Chicago and not show them one of the best views out there. Dinner at the top of the John Hancock is on anyone’s Chicago bucket list, and it did not disappoint.

Sad you missed out on all the fun? Stay tuned to learn about upcoming Franklin Energy events!

Phone Consultations Don’t Have to Be a Nightmare

September 21, 2016 Jay Boettcher & Penelope Gabor

Contact centers are supposed to back your services. To support customers at an instant whether via text, calls or emails. This is the whole point of a contact center. To be there. To answer questions. To help customers order a product or sign up for your program.

So why do they have such a nightmare reputation? Because, many were a nightmare to deal with in the past – a time suck that led to dead ends, a cold voice on the other end, or endless prompts. (Please hold, while we shake our heads.)  

But, businesses are getting smarter and contact centers are now the new dream team. A team of locally trained professionals well informed and willing to help. And they don’t just know how to help customers, they care about helping customers.

A significant driver behind this shift comes from a growing customer base who have grown accustomed to receiving answers in an instant. In addition, contact centers can be a much more productive and cost-effective way to provide quality service on-the-spot.

However, even though the process feels simpler to the customer, it isn’t necessarily that way for businesses. If anything, it is more complex. That’s why the contact centers of today need trained professionals who can usher solutions, filter through questions and funnel raised hands into the pipeline – all backed by sophisticated technological solutions.

So, how has this new breed of contact centers come to be – and how affordable are they?

We’ve got your answer right here. See how a large Midwestern utility expanded its services around this demand for its energy efficiency programs – without overextending its resources or budget.

 

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Develop a Program Operations Manual that Provides Clarity, not Clutter

September 07, 2016 Laurie Lensmire

In the trenches of running an energy efficiency program, it’s easy to get lost chasing after several seemingly unrelated tasks – such as standard operating procedures, production plans, project checklists, process flow charts, and key performance indicators. We forget in the day-to-day that all of these elements are actually interconnected – working together to drive the program to a singular goal. So how can we keep sight of the bigger picture, while making progress on the critical details each and every day?

Program operations manuals. An integral component to running efficient and effective programs, these central documentation systems compile operational procedures, administrative requirements and work plans to demonstrate how all program activities contribute to the larger goals. Program operations manuals assist in providing clear, consistent training across all team members, and serve as a comprehensive, organized resource for regular reference by program staff.  

Sounds great, but how do we get there? Here are four steps to developing an effective program operations manual.

  1. Assign a project manager.

Though the manual will likely require input from multiple sources, assigning a project manager to oversee the development and revision phases is critical to the manual’s quality, consistency and completion. This person should have a thorough understanding of the program, an ability to communicate clearly verbally and in written form, and the knowledge to delegate tasks appropriately for essential documentation.

The project manager will be responsible for compiling the materials, managing approval workflows, and completing updates on schedule. The project manager should help decide who will write which sections, provide deadlines for deliverables, and make sure the deadlines are met.

  1. Create a structure.

Before the actual writing begins, decide what needs to be included and create a clear, organized outline, with relative topics grouped. While it may feel appropriate to incorporate all of your knowledge into the program operations manual, resist the urge to turn it into a data dump. The more succinct the information, the easier it will be for program staff to absorb – and the more likely for them to come back to it when they have questions.

In terms of order, start with the information that will be referenced the most. Ask yourself what the most important items someone inexperienced with the program would need to know – and place that content at the beginning of the manual. Procedures that will only be referenced by a few can be located toward the back of the manual.

Finally, as you construct the outline, keep in mind the primary goal behind the program operations manual is to clearly communicate – to anyone in the organization – what needs to be done in order for the program to succeed.

Recommended topics include:

  • Customer Eligibility and Types Served
  • Definitions of Commonly Used Terms
  • Program Offerings
  • Program Goals
  • Reporting Requirements
  • Production Plans
  • Key Performance Indicators
  • Organization Charts and Contact Lists
  • Application Processing Standards
  • Marketing and Outreach Plans
  1. Develop the content.

Looking at your outline, assign a writer to each section of your manual. Clearly communicate your expectations with regard to the level of detail needed and the turnaround time. Share any templates you’d like them to reference or follow.  

Also, while using clear, concise language is important, feel free to explore other communication methods – such as diagrams, infographics or flow charts. These can be especially effective at communicating the sometimes complex procedures of a program’s operations – particularly those that cross multiple roles. Include checklists for functions that have basic, repeatable steps. Overall, simplicity and clarity is key. If the information isn’t easily understood, it simply will not be used.

  1. Train, and train again.

It won’t matter how clear, concise or insightful your operations manual is if the team doesn’t know how to use it. That’s why this last step – training – is the most critical.

According to studies, the average person needs to hear, read and/or review something five to seven times before it will be retained. As such, it’s important to remember that developing an operations manual will require more than writing and organizing content. You will also need to commit to regularly coaching people on how to use it, as well as advocating for its value.  

In-person trainings are a great way to introduce the operations manual to the team. After that, review sections of the manual at team meetings. Share updates and revisions to the manual so everyone knows what, when and why changes have occurred. Schedule annual in-person trainings to reinforce existing policies and procedures, along with communicating key revisions.

 

While it requires time and energy to develop a well-executed program operations manual, the return on your investment will be priceless – saving you time and energy as you drive toward your program’s goals.

Want help developing an operations manual of your own? Contact Franklin Energy to learn more about our operations approach and how we can bring your programs to life.

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