Marketing 101: Put your EnerGuide labels to work

Getting your homes EnerGuide rated is a way to demonstrate your commitment to quality building and energy efficiency through independent validation.

But if you're not making use of the EnerGuide label, the final piece of the rating process, you're missing out on a marketing opportunity that can increase your buyer's satisfaction and help build future sales.

Make a house call

The EnerGuide system provides the homebuyer with a report showing the home's rating. The label stays with the house permanently. But often, it is overlooked.

"Certified Energy Advisors submit their rating test results to their service organization [licensed by Natural Resources Canada to provide the rating service]," says Doug Overholt, representative for BC Hydro's Power Smart New Home Program.

The service organization, on behalf of Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) produces the numbered labels for the home, and sends them directly to the builder. "I have heard from a few builders that they actually told the [energy advisors], 'I don't want them. Mail them directly to the homeowner,'" says Overholt. "It's a disconnect, from a marketing point of view."

Overholt says mailing the label to the homeowner may mean it is not understood, never affixed in the home, or worse, may get lost in the shuffle of mail at the front door. He recommends builders see the label as an opportunity for post-sales, relationship-building instead.

"If you look at the key builders and developers now, they are totally into after-sale service, to the point where they utilize tools like blogs and Twitter. Other builders say, 'Every time I talk to them [homebuyers], they have some problem.'

"But that's an opportunity to fix the problem before it gets worse, and to establish more of a relationship with them. It's a question of evolving. Everything's all about the relationship now."

Don't fear contact with the homeowner

Overholt says personally delivering the EnerGuide label — or at least, writing a note to go along with it in the mail — is a way to highlight the home's energy features at the point when the homebuyer is most interested.

"Sure, during the purchasing decision, buyers are focused on style and layout," he says. "But once they're living in the home and start paying their bills, energy efficiency is more relevant and top of mind.

"Underlining the meaning of the EnerGuide rating at that point can help raise their awareness of the value the builder has delivered — and reinforce their purchase decision."

And in a market where word of mouth and personal referrals are important sales tactics, it's an opportunity not to be missed.

One builder's approach: a welcome package

Overholt remembers one Power Smart builder who packaged up the EnerGuide label with energy efficient light bulbs into a "welcome to your new home" package. Some follow through and offer to install the label where it's supposed to go — in the electrical utility room or on the electric panel.

Savvy builders, he says, are always seeking more ways to inform their buyers about the quality that's built into their home.

"I was just talking to an independent builder who's implementing EnerGuide under the Power Smart New Home program," says Overholt. "The builder said, 'I heard the building code was delayed but I thought I'd better get to know about this stuff. It's still coming and I want to make sure.'

"Then he said, 'I've always done the right things to build efficiency in and I'm always doing the right thing. But I didn't have a way to tell my customers about it. With EnerGuide and the Power Smart program, now, I have a way to tell them.'"