In last month’s article, I discussed the three stages of building integrations. As you may recall, the three stages are:
- Stage One: Define the Business Outcome;
- Stage Two: Use Templated Plans; and
- Stage Three: Research Interoperability.
This month, I’m going to dive deeper into stage one, and, honestly, this article could not have come at a better time. The coronavirus has taken all of our common business outcomes and turned them on their heads.
Strategies and technologies, like analytics, remote operations, and IAQ, have become increasingly important to facility executives.
The intermixing of these technologies combined with a loss of business revenue has shifted how traditional consulting engineers service building owners. The need for specification design is decreasing. Companies are not going to be constructing as many buildings as they were for quite a while.
However, a new opportunity to serve building owners is being created. This opportunity comes in the form of operational solutions that provide operational, not capital, cost reductions and efficiencies. Those who understand this will find themselves positioned to provide the services their customers need.
Let’s take a look at a few of these services.
How many building owners know how to turn their buildings back on?
There are a lot of buildings that were simply turned off. Turning these buildings back on will not be as simple as flipping a switch. Building owners will need a professional who can help them to turn back on equipment without mechanical failures or peak demand surges.
What about your critical environment customers?
I was on the phone with a data center provider recently who told me how now, more than ever, his facilities are valuing online services like remote monitoring and analytics. The problem lies in finding providers who can work with their IT groups to implement these solutions. This is another perfect opportunity for you to step into.
IAQ has become a big issue for many buildings. It is my belief that as we exit this crisis, we will see a slew of new IAQ related standards and guidelines. As a consulting engineer, you can guide your customers through the retrofit and/or redesign of their systems to meet these new guidelines.
Environmental safety is a term that hasn’t been used very frequently in our industry. But, think about it. If you have to choose to work from home, where you “know” you are in a safe environment, or go into an office that might be “infected,” which would you choose? I foresee strategies like whole building air flushes and increased air changes becoming increasingly important.
By this point, you may be wondering what any of these items have to do with business use cases?
Well, my friend, they have everything to do with business use cases. If you approach an executive and start talking about particulate count or air changes, you will most likely lose them. But, you might find executives much more responsive if you talk about how the perception of the health of their buildings can have a potential impact on re-occupancy rates.
And that is the point here.
You need to identify your customers’ potential fears and demonstrate how new strategies and technologies can solve this.
An adequate business case provides a perfect formula, and, in order to build such a business case, you should consider following this prescription.
Potential problem’s cost – solution = outcome.
For example, this is a message you could and should convey: “Your tenants are scared to come back to the building because they think they may get sick. This may cause you to lose revenue. By increasing your air change rate and improving IAQ, you can reduce the risk of infection and provide a safe environment for your tenant.”
In this simple example, I’ve demonstrated awareness of a specific fear “lost revenue,” and who had the fear, “the tenants.” Then, we provided our solution: “increased air changes and improved IAQ.” This led to the benefit of “a perceived safe environment,” which leads to stabilized revenues.
Now, I admit, not all use cases will be this simple, and I’m sure your customers will want more than a blanket statement, like, “Improved IAQ leads to tenant satisfaction.” The point is, now more than ever, your customers are reacting based on emotion. You must not only understand that emotion but use it to tell a story that clearly demonstrates your awareness of their fears and solves them. If you are able to do this, you will find your business doing well for months to come.