Women in Building Performance: Danielle Putnam
Danielle Putnam is the president of The New Flat Rate, a menu selling system developed to bridge the gap between 21st-century customers and the service industry. Putnam has experience in everything from business development and management to operations and technology. At The New Flat Rate, she handles the day-to-day operations, marketing, advertising, and quality control.
Lindsay Bachman Flickinger: How did you get started in the energy efficiency industry?
Danielle Putnam: Women often say they ‘fell’ into the industry, but I like to think of it as it was the next step in a line of progressive learning. Naturally I’m not incredibly mechanical or mathematically smart. But when opportunity presents itself, I strive to jump full in, which is how I became introduced to energy efficiency. I grew up as an HVAC, electrical, and plumbing contractor’s daughter. I left the trade industries and went to school for marketing and found myself working in Southern California at the height of the social media craze in the early 2000s for a technology company that went public in 2007. Because we were a small startup, I wore multiple hats and picked up the phone to drum up business, next thing I knew I was the Director of Business Development flying around the country pitching stock brokers and partnership ideas to Fortune 500 companies, very much outside of my comfort zone, but learning daily.
Ultimately, the taste of “entrepreneur” was on my tongue and the talk of starting The New Flat Rate had been lightly chatted about with my father. It only took one serious conversation and I was back on the diving board. Shortly after having the serious discussion with my dad, I moved back to Georgia and spent the next two years developing what is now a thriving and exciting company.
LBF: What has been your greatest accomplishment so far? What are you most proud of?
DP: My husband and daughter. I’m honored to be the president of The New Flat Rate (TNFR), which I co-founded with my dad in 2011, where we have contractor members in all 50 states and 4 provinces of Canada. Our menu pricing system consistently doubles and triples the average service repair ticket, so contractors can grow from a position of strength with cash in the bank. Growing up in a contracting family, I know all too well what it is like to struggle. Our main goal in starting TNFR was to bring success to other contractors. We are seeing so much success in our network, and that accomplishment goes well beyond just having a successful company…we are making dreams come true.
As honored as I am to be growing this company, my husband and daughter are my most proud accomplishments. Marrying the right man was key to my success. He has fully supported me while I juggle being an entrepreneur, wife, and mother. Learning to raise our 2-year-old daughter together has been the most fun and hard work that has ever crossed my path. They are the true joys and my biggest accomplishments that I’m most proud of.
LBF: When you started out, what were some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome these?
DP: A lack of skillset! As a 15-year-old working in my dad’s office answering phones and attempting to dispatch, I was clearly a fish out of water. But I didn’t let the unknown and lack of skill stop me. I did everything I could to learn everything within the office and the field from delivering parts to the job sites, visiting with the vendors and suppliers, tracking inventory, and cleaning the warehouse on 100 °F Georgia summer days. Industry knowledge and skillset is developed over time; I chose to be a learner, to ask questions and be the best at every position I worked in so I could grow each and every day. I started out not knowing what a compressor was, not knowing about moldy basements, energy efficient homes, or even solar panels. But when someone is willing, time develops the appropriate skillset and expertise.
LBF: What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
DP: The daily feeling of growth and accomplishment. We continue to grow and become more and more progressive in our industry, which is incredible to watch.
Most women I know live by checklists. Our industry is full of project planning and management checklists. So as a woman, what a great place to be, where you can have that constant sense of accomplishment.
LBF: In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges for women in this industry?
DP: Our own minds. Yes it’s true, there may be people and stereotypes that still haven’t come fully around to women being in our industry, but from my personal experience, it’s rare. Becoming an expert in your field awards you the privilege of being respected in your industry, regardless. So focus on saying yes to opportunities and choose to always be a learner, learning more today than you did yesterday to better move your skillsets forward.
LBF: What advice would you give to a woman starting out in the industry?
DP: It’s not about gender, so don’t get sucked into believing it is. It’s about opportunity! And being a woman in our industry is a fantastic advantage because you will be a minority, so there’s more room to be noticed and opportunity to forge your own career.
You can follow Danielle on Twitter @DanielleKoop.
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