What Are You Planning for 2021? Contractor Answers from Our Webinar Panel
These early days of 2021 may not be drastically different than 2020—but we are already seeing at least one thing return to pre-pandemic norms this year (we’re looking at you, Tom Brady…). And while the Energy Circle team, alongside our CEO Peter Troast, love to make predictions about what the next year will hold for the better building industry (have you seen our webinar or heard our podcast about our 2021 predictions?), it is equally, if not more important, for business owners in the home performance, solar, and HVAC industry to hear what other contractors throughout the country are actually planning for this year.
Here are some of the highlights from our recent webinar panel conversation with Scott Needham, Keith O’Hara, Matt Hargrove, and Peter Troast about how they are planning for 2021.
“What are you carrying forward into 2021?”
Of course, no two businesses were affected the exact same way when the world seemed to hit the brakes last March. But nearly everyone was impacted in some manner—and our panel members are no different. Peter, Matt, Keith, and Scott all had to reckon with remote working, and some took it better than others. In the webinar, Scott answered that one thing he took with him through 2020 and into 2021 is the utilization of his integrated IT system. “This allowed us to transition to remote working without skipping a beat.”
Matt Hargrove didn’t feel so lucky, and had to quickly adjust once the phone started ringing in his Eastern Shore offices:
Similarly, Keith O’Hara was initially disheartened that he could no longer claim to have never had to cut any of his employee’s hours after his home performance business came to a standstill. However, sometime after he was forced to lay off a large portion of his workforce, the phone started ringing again and he was on fire to meet the new demand for his services in the Bay Area (more on this later). A passion for growing his business is what he plans to bring with him into 2021, so he never has to cut anyone’s hours again.
Peter underscored the impressive nature of how the better building industry has rebounded, and how business owners in our industries have been able to pivot their strategies to help grow homeowner awareness around topics like healthy homes and indoor air quality:
“How has the pandemic affected your 2021 planning?”
A recurring theme for all of the panelists was the whiplash that 2020 dealt our industry. The world stood still at the end of Q1 in 2020, and then as things opened up, contractors were forced to adapt very quickly to meet the high incoming demand. For this reason, all four answers involved planning for growth. Scott Needham made a convincing argument that there is plenty of evidence 2021 is going to be a growth year:
Matt is also planning for more growth, but explained that his phone is now ringing so much with homeowners looking to finally take care of their languishing indoor environments that he wants to make sure his company diversifies and expands in a responsible way:
“What COVID practices and processes do you think will stick around?”
Keith has been in a constant state of hiring since he had to let some of his employees go last year, and even the hiring process has changed in the wake of 2020. Some of this may be for the better, though, as Keith is able to utilize tools like Zoom for his interviewing process. And there are a few other online tools that have helped make life a little easier for contractors, like online permitting:
Scott can sum up how many extroverts may be feeling this year: “I hope the handshake comes back someday.” Though both Scott and Matt made reference to hoping that the world can eventually get back together in a face-to-face kind of way, Scott also says he was surprised at how efficiently his employees were able to work from home:
“Do you think consumers’ perspectives about their homes have fundamentally changed?”
Matt is convinced, based on conversations he has had over the last year, that many more homeowners are staying in their homes for extended periods of time and wondering how their home is affecting their health. He stated that “now is the time to get in front, and explain to these people” who want to invest in their homes, but want to invest in a way that will make their everyday lives healthier:
The increase in awareness around home health and perhaps ventilation isn’t just unique to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Keith mentioned that all the way over in the Bay Area, he has installed more ERVs this last year than ever before for his business:
“Share a memorable customer story from the past year”
We always love hearing stories from contractors, from the bizarre to the heartwarming to the unbelievable. But Peter shared one of Matt’s stories from this past year that would put a smile on nearly any marketer’s face:
And this story from Keith underscores how special it can be when a homeowner takes hold of healthy home and ventilation concepts and turns a routine job into several weeks’ worth of work for a highly qualified team:
What Are You Planning for 2021?
Whatever your plans are for this next year in the better building industry, you’ll need to be able to market your business online. If you are looking for a hand in setting up the digital foundation of your HVAC, home performance, or solar contracting business, you are already in the right place. Take a look at our white papers, webinars, podcast episodes, and other in-depth digital marketing articles to learn more about the latest in digital marketing best practices, and if you have questions, feel free to drop us a line.