Contractor's Guide to Success

Select the section applicable to your current situation, depending on whether you have an existing contracting business ready for growth or are just getting started.

Growing Your Business

Explore: Chapter 4. Starting Work & Quality Control

Chapter 4. Starting Work & Quality Control

4.1 Good Business Practices

This section will help you think about how to support your business as a weatherization contractor. Some of the examples here are good business practices that aren’t specific to the Weatherization Assistance Program. This includes billing and invoicing, managing money, keeping good records, using tools to manage your work, managing your workers, and getting the word out about your business.

Building strong relationships is essential for a successful weatherization contractor. First, you want to get along well with your Weatherization Assistance Program administrator, their staff, and auditors so you can work together smoothly and follow program rules. Having good relationships with your suppliers is also important. And, of course, don’t forget your clients—building a good relationship with them is key to getting more jobs and keeping your business strong. So, in the weatherization industry, being on good terms with staff, suppliers, and clients is a big part of being successful.

It’s very important to set up a system for sending invoices and getting paid quickly by the Weatherization Assistance Program administrator. Ask the administrator to make sure to explain exactly what should be in each invoice and maybe even show you an example to make it as clear as possible. This way, both sides can keep the money part of weatherization projects working well, so they can focus on doing great work for clients.

Making sure you have a system to handle your business’s money is crucial. By keeping track of the money that comes in and goes out of your business, you can plan for essential tasks like buying materials and paying workers. This way, you can take on more jobs and grow your business without worrying about running out of money. 

It’s very important to keep good records, which includes saving receipts, contracts, and notes about your projects. These records help you stay organized and remember all the important details for each job. If there are ever questions or issues, you can look back at your records to find answers and make sure everyone understands what happened. Plus, if you ever need to show proof of the work you did or how much money you spent, having clear records is a big help. 

You might want to consider using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software program to help you keep track of your clients. This type of software can be very helpful for managing your client information, such as names, contact details, and what work you’ve done for them in the past. It makes it easier to stay organized and provide great service to your clients. Plus, it can remind you of important things you need to do, like following up with clients or scheduling appointments.

To be successful as a new weatherization contractor, it’s important to manage your team well. This means creating a positive and welcoming workplace, keeping skilled workers, and making sure everyone is ready to do great weatherization work. You also want to have a system for finding and hiring new workers, have an onboarding system in place, and break down any barriers that might get in the way. It’s crucial to make sure everyone feels safe and comfortable at work, no matter where they come from. This helps ensure your weatherization business is ready for success.

Green Workforce Connect has template job descriptions available for key weatherization positions. 

To become a well-respected Weatherization Assistance Program contractor, it’s important to let people know how good you are at your job. You can start by making a professional website and social media profiles to present your work and skills. Share pictures that illustrate how you transform homes for the better. It’s also a good idea to ask satisfied clients to write reviews online to boost your reputation. And don’t forget about traditional ways of getting the word out, like business cards and flyers, especially in your local area. When you have a strong marketing presence, more people will notice your skills, and you’ll become known as a top Weatherization Assistance Program contractor who does excellent work.

4.2 Business Management Training

As you begin growing your business, it’s a great time to boost your business skills and knowledge. Take some time to explore the topics below and identify places in your community where you might learn more. By continuing to learn and improve your business skills, you’re taking a big step forward in your journey as a successful contractor. Your local Small Business Administration office or Workforce Development Board might have courses or resources covering the following:

Business Basics

Foundational knowledge for running a successful contracting business.

Marketing & Branding

Strategies for promoting your services and creating a strong brand identity.

Project Management

Skills to plan and execute weatherization projects efficiently.

Leadership and Team Management

Learn how to better lead and manage your team effectively.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Understanding and adhering to laws and regulations relevant to your industry.

Financial Analysis and Decision-Making

Techniques for analyzing finances and making informed business decisions.

Advanced Business Strategies

Advanced strategies to help your contracting business thrive and grow.

Workers who like to learn and grow are often your most valuable employees. Offering your staff opportunities to advance their professional skills is an important way to keep them satisfied, engaged, and loyal to your company. Keep in mind that the suggested certifications below, offered by BPI, can be earned over time, in a way that’s right for your business.

4.3 Optimizing Your Weatherization Business

In this section, we’ll explore different ways to improve your operations. There are many organizations you can connect with to learn more about home energy performance and weatherization. 

Join a Professional Network

To become better at weatherization work, you should keep learning and talk to other weatherization contractors. Learning about the newest ways of doing things helps you do a great job for your clients. Also, being part of a group of other weatherization contractors lets you share what you know and learn from them too. It’s like being on a team where everyone helps each other get better. The Building Performance Institute and the Building Performance Association are both organizations that support contractors in home energy performance and weatherization.

Follow the Standardized Work Specification System (SWS)

The Weatherization Assistance Program has clear and concise Standard Work Specifications (SWS) for weatherization work that must be followed by contractors performing this work. Each state also has field guides for the Weatherization Assistance Program that must be followed (see examples from Texas and Oklahoma). When your workers have clear, step-by-step rules to follow, it makes their work easier and more organized. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory also has job aids for weatherization tasks and even offers a badging system so you can determine worker competency. These resources provide a toolbox so you and your workers can quickly find the right information to perform their job. Having a good system helps both the business and its workers, helping weatherization projects run smoothly and be successful for everyone.

Invest in Quality Assurance and Quality Control

An internal quality assurance process is a special system to check the quality of your weatherization projects. It’s a bit like a trusted friend who checks your work to make sure it’s perfect. It helps your team complete projects correctly, reduces time spent on expensive callbacks, and ensures satisfied clients. So, having a quality assessment system is a smart thing for any weatherization contractor to do.

Adopt a Customer Service Protocol

A customer service protocol is a special guide that tells everyone on your team how to treat clients the right way. This protocol ensures that every client gets the same high level of service and care. Think of it as a map that leads to happy clients who trust your work. When you provide excellent customer service, you are more likely to get additional weatherization contracts. Having a clear customer service protocol helps build a strong and trustworthy reputation for your business.

Employ Project Management Tools

A project management tool or app, often used on mobile devices or tablets, is like a helpful assistant that brings several benefits. It keeps everything organized, streamlines your work, improves communication, reduces mistakes, and maintains detailed records. These tools allow contractors to update information in real time, making projects more efficient and successful, which benefits your business. There are many different types of solutions for contractors, and it might take some time to find the best fit for your business. For example, you might consider whether you need something that will integrate with an existing computer or accounting system that you are already using. 

Ensure Compliance with Weatherization Assistance Program Guidelines

Staying up-to-date with Weatherization Assistance Program guidelines is crucial for weatherization contractors. It ensures that your work aligns with industry standards and regulations, guaranteeing quality and compliance. One important website to follow is the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program page. This site provides valuable resources, program updates, and guidelines, helping contractors navigate the program effectively. You should also remain connected to your local weatherization program service provider and be familiar with the program requirements that may be unique to your state or local area.

Visit the Green Workforce Connect Resource Hub

On Green Workforce Connect, you’ll find many other resources designed to help contractors learn about the Weatherization Assistance Program and program operations.

Visit the Green Workforce Connect resource hub to learn more; under Filter by Organization Type, select “Contractor” to view sources relevant to your contracting business.