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The BPI GoldStar Contractor Program: Why Home Performance Companies Should Join Professional content

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By Peter Troast - May 28th, 2014

The Building Performance Institute is in the process of rolling out their new BPI GoldStar Contractor Program and we think this is an exceptional opportunity for home performance companies. 

Symbolizing a Commitment to Quality

The big shift from the old Accredited Contractor model is that the new program embraces quality management on the front end as a critical differentiator for companies committed to delivering whole house solutions to energy efficiency, safety and comfort problems in the home. Rather than post-job quality assurance, the new designation is for companies that commit to quality processes at the core of their operations. From our experience working with hundreds of companies in this industry, we can definitely attest that those who understand quality, and translate that into repeatable processes, are the most successful ones in this business. Strong process translates to higher profitability, happier employees and more satisfied customers. In this new era of third party reviews, in which your company's reputation is fundamentally in the hands of your past customers, quality is the best approach to guaranteeing, and amplifying, positive word of mouth.

Differentiating Your Company

BPI is working hard to develop consumer awareness of its own brand, and has invested significantly in online advertising to accomplish this goal. We're supporting this effort and I can assure you that we're making good progress on elevating consumer awareness of what it means to understand and commit to the 'house as a system' approach to residential contracting. Consumers are more educated than ever, and all the data shows that they are becoming increasingly sophisticated in how they select contractors–relying on a combination of credentials and independent reviews to vet perspective companies. We've written in the past about how old school, generic certifications like the Better Business Bureau are coming under scrutiny, and about growing consumer suspicion of advertising driven models like Yelp and Angie's List. As a result, it is our view that more meaningful certifications that speak to real capabilities and processes are the wave of the future.

After All, We're...Contractors

While companies that embrace home performance are a different breed, the reality is we're still contractors. And that means we have to overcome a higher level of general consumer skepticism than many other businesses. Gallup's annual poll of the honesty and ethics of various professions rates "building contractors" above Congress and Car Salespeople, but not by much. Programs like BPI GoldStar Contractor are an excellent way to demonstrate that you are different and trustworthy.

The Value of Trust Symbols

Trust Symbols–signs or badges that you can display on your website and marketing materials–are proven to increase lead conversions. This is well known and documented in eCommerce, and through A/B testing we're conducting for home performance contractors, we're also seeing a meaningful lift in conversion rates from the prominent use of trust symbols. What is important about this is that consumers don't have to know exactly what the symbol or certification actually means. (Do you know the difference between Verisign or Truste?) The key point is that the presence of a symbol like BPI GoldStar Contractor (which is a very nice design upgrade by the way) is likely to have a positive impact on your lead conversion rates.

Key Takeaways

  1. The BPI GoldStar Contractor Program offers a new way to emphasize quality in your business.
  2. BPI is investing in building consumer awareness of their certifications.
  3. As a trust symbol alone, the GoldStar designation will probably produce enough conversion "lift" to justify the cost.

Next Steps for Home Performance Contractors

  1. If you are already an Accredited Contractor, jump on the opportunity to update your website and collateral with the new logos.
  2. Don't hesitate to trumpet your GoldStar Contractor designation, as some smart contractors are already doing.
  3. If you are not a past Accredited Contractor, you should seriously consider joining the new program. Its value to your business in training, credibility and commitment to quality are well worth it. 

Benefits of Becoming a BPI GoldStar Contractor

Frequently Asked Questions 


Comments

This is nothing short of crazy. We in this industry understand that we have already went the extra mile in our business's with enough BPI certifications, this is nothing more than BPI bleeding more more out of contractors. This is ludicrous, money should start being spent by BPI, DOE, Efficiency First, ACI and the likes on educating homeowners and the general public

Posted by Gary Baggett on May 30, 2014 10:32am

"more money out of contractors"...I should have proof read before submitting...

Posted by Gary Baggett on May 30, 2014 10:34am

Thanks Gary. All opinions welcome here. Just to be clear, GoldStar replaces the old Accredited Contractor designation, so isn't really additive. And the cost has declined. 

Posted by Peter Troast on May 30, 2014 11:21am

At what cost.

For smaller contractors like I used to be, the BPI rigamarole could easily add $10K/yr in costs between the certification fee, process additions, QC, etc. I have to weigh costs and benefits.

I did this with BPI certification and chose not to renew. I even corresponded with several folks at BPI to see if they could justify my recertification from a financial standpoint, and they couldn't.

I feel Gold Star falls in the same category, but with an even tougher uphill battle in my mind. Is it worth $10K for something consumers MIGHT care about?

I always managed to sell plenty of jobs by listening and caring.

I do appreciate that BPI is working on being relevant, but it's insistence on slogans like 'Build Confidence That Quality is Profitable' without some actual backup frankly pisses me off. I went out of business trying to do a good job with a standard business model and high quality. I couldn't do both.

The market pushes for lowest common denominator. There is not a race to the top, but rather the bottom. Just having a 'gold star' means nothing. What about a rating among other contractors based on measurable metrics like blower door predictions and actual reductions? Or energy savings? How can you actually tell someone is better?

Sorry to be a downer, Peter, but I've seen enough from BPI now to look on their programs as not being beneficial to me and not justifying their cost. This seems like another one of those.

Posted by Nate Adams on Jun 1, 2014 8:52am

BTW, I looked at the BPI website with a 200 mile radius from me. Every certified contractor was in NY, which essentially requires BPI certification, so there is a gun to the head. No contractor in Ohio saw the benefit of becoming a certified contractor.

Most of the certified professionals in Ohio are WAP companies. And a few guys like me that give a damn like Walter Money and Fred Skillikorn - who also both deal with weatherization...

Social proof. Please, BPI, stop saying something is good for me without backing it up. Think about people like me as your client, not the state programs, then you'll be much more likely to get uptake rather than having to ram certifications down contractor throats like in NY. Ask what can make my job easier sitting at the kitchen table with a client - something that will make me more likely to get the job over my competition and not create any additional friction in the process - we have enough stuff working against us as it is (witness the sharp falloff in project count and job size with NYSERDA).

I REALLY want an organization like BPI to succeed. The industry needs it badly - relevant certifications are key. I have ideas for BPI, if they have interest...

Posted by Nate Adams on Jun 1, 2014 9:06am

Nate--as always, thanks for the thoughtful comments. 

My starting point for this rests on a few thoughts:

  1. BPI training and certification has done more to seed and promote the "house as a system" concept than anything else I can think of. (On a very personal level, Energy Circle would not exist were it not for a Building Envelope training class I happened to stumble in to.) I fully acknowledge that there is a wide range of expertise and commitment within BPI ranks--not everyone will embrace these concepts as deeply as you--but it is the gateway drug. 
  2. As contractors (or whatever home performance biz model we each choose) committed to whole house, we need differentiation. The typical homeowner doesn't separate us as 'home performance' companies the way we do as an industry. We're in the soup of contractors doing work on a home, and inherent in that is the reality of contractor distrust. Separating whole house companies from the vast sea of regular contractors is critical.
  3. I think the idea of whole companies embracing home performance (versus we have a guy with a BE certification) is important. 

Building real consumer understanding and awareness of any particular certification at a national scale is, of course, a massive and expensive task. Within reasonable bounds of our industry's size, BPI's effort is real and serious. 

But in the end, particularly in a state like Ohio that hasn't embraced, the value of BPI is in how you choose to leverage it. We know that trust symbols, regardless of whether they're understood, provide conversion lift. Aggressively communicating how your company is different, and using a third party like BPI as a proof point, is a choice. In my opinion, it's a smart one. 

Posted by Peter Troast on Jun 3, 2014 8:49am

Peter, I agree wholeheartedly about the training being critical, it introduced me to a whole world as well.

At the same time, though, the training is separate from the business accreditation. While I am thankful for the training, does that mean I should spend money on an expensive accreditation in thanks?

Can you walk me through the business case for the Gold Star certification?

Posted by Nate Adams on Jun 3, 2014 10:34am

Given your model, Nate, I'm not sure it's for you. As a quasi-consultant model with a network of trusted subs for installation, I think your individual credentials are the most important thing. Your customers are trusting you to make the right diagnosis and corral the best resources to get the work done. Quality processes are critical, obviously, for managing your network, but it doesn't feel to me like a fit.

Posted by Peter Troast on Jun 3, 2014 10:54am

Obviously, I agree with you on that for my business.

I meant more generally, who would it be a good fit for and what would be the business case for them?

Posted by Nate Adams on Jun 3, 2014 11:19am

Incentives performance. Let the cream rise to the top. If contractors performance were "awarded" with certain "trust labels" and perhaps BPI benefits, well, that contractor would grew, continue to do good work, and further spread the BPI message (not to mention more than likely train and employee more BPI-certified workers).

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