Crossing the Home Performance Chasm

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." —John F. Kennedy

February 02, 2018
Spring 2018
A version of this article appears in the Spring 2018 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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Over the past four decades we have trained people and given them the knowledge, skills, and ability of single and holistic measures to ensure that homes have been retrofitted to the highest standards set forth by the home performance industry. We have achieved the development and delivered the best building science knowledge that could be hoped for. Today we have unsurpassed diagnostic equipment to assist in the development of superior work plans and to give us immediate feedback to guide our work and to improve.

Many people have labored countless hours in pursuit of a sustainable company only to awaken each day to the struggle to make ends meet. Such dedication must be preserved. We know how to do our work right, but few of us know how to manage a company in a way that creates less hassle, less expense, and less human effort. We must develop solutions that help solve this dilemma. There is a very close relationship among the quality of products and services, the marketing of their value, persuasive selling, closing contracts, customer and employee satisfaction and loyalty, and a company’s profitability.

John Tooley John Tooley recently retired as a senior building science consultant for Advanced Energy.

There remains a deep and dividing chasm yet to cross—a chasm between knowing how to deliver superior products and services and building a business foundation that will support a lasting company. This by far is the more difficult transition because the value of holistic business management typically goes unrecognized. Many very good companies have failed to cross and have fallen into the chasm, never to return. Standing at the edge considering our approach will require great courage. The question is whether to take a big leap, or to try baby steps across. Making big decisions means taking the big leap; small steps won’t work and have been the downfall of many. Just like taking the leap to learn and implement building science, business science requires the same level of commitment to take the big leap.

The chasm between a struggling company and one with less hassle, less expense, and less human effort is wide. Business science is a superior management approach having four essential parts. It’s like a four-legged stool. Each leg characterizes management in one of four essential areas: operations, quality, marketing, and sales. Without each we are destined to struggle at the edge of the chasm between us and a flourishing company. Our conferences, trainers, and training centers have focused on building science, and we are thankful. However, it is time to cross the chasm that separates us from achieving the skills that will help us to run successful agencies and companies. These four areas interact to form an essential whole; they cannot be separated, because they are the engine that runs a superior business. Management in each of these four areas must be delivered with an understanding of the home performance, rater, and inspection industry.

We are in a very exciting and interesting time with the bringing together of our many industry support organizations. A closer, unified partnership among these organizations will establish a firm foundation for our entry into the future. I feel strongly that this is also true of the merger of building science and business science. Both cases ensure that our industry is not doing the same old things year after year expecting a different result, or driving looking only in the rearview mirror. “Well, it worked last year” is a rearview mirror statement.

learn more

Quality Without Tears: The Art of Hassle-Free Management, by Philip B. Crosby. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1995

Out of Crisis, by W. Edwards Deming. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1982

The Bottom Line-Necessity of Training Your ManagersHR Professional Magazine.

As professionals, we have a purpose. That purpose is to deliver a healthy, safe, durable, comfortable, energy-efficient, and environmentally responsible home; a home that provides its occupants with a higher quality of indoor life.

Our purpose demands our continual improvement. It is time to chart the course of professional development for this industry. We are the future and must provide those who come after us with the skills to create and manage a prosperous business. This will require a sound understanding of both business science and building science. Our young managers of today will become our leaders of tomorrow. It’s time to invest.

I envision a day when we have rich offerings in skills targeted to our specific needs—skills targeted to customer and employee relations, finance, quality, operations, marketing, and sales; when we have strong communication skills, and skills targeted to strategy and tactical plan development. The success of all of the workers in all of our businesses depends on management’s ability to orchestrate the delicate balance of the four areas described above. This must be our promise. Let’s join together and make it happen. We can build a solid foundation that ensures a bright future for our industry.

John Tooley recently retired as a senior building science consultant for Advanced Energy.

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