Roy Tanner and his staff at Five Star Communications, a telecom master agent based in Florida, put on a great four hour presentation in Florida last week for over 20 agents who showed up to learn or expand their knowledge of selling and marketing competitive natural gas and electricity in deregulated markets. In addition to Roy, Joe Miller, Marketing VP of Interstate Gas Marketing Inc. was a key presenter.
Unlike other deregulated energy presentations I've seen, this one went into just the right amount of depth so that the audience really understood that Roy had "met the mark" of showing his audience, "this is how we're different". One left the presentation convinced that Five Star did have an exclusive arrangement with Interstate Gas and that natural gas is the right "carrot" to lead with when looking for the right energy prospect to spend time with.
Three Main Take Aways
The main "take aways" of the training were that ...
natural gas is a lot more profitable than electricity, it's easy to get qualified customers to switch and it makes a BIG difference to savings and commissions if your "energy master agent" is just a "broker of another broker" or directly connected to the energy source.
The other great thing about the Five Star conference is that it really showcased how there are not just one but four ways for telecom agents and channel partners to make money with their existing clients and prospects in the area of energy. TA uses "A,B,C&G" to make the four ways easy to remember.
A - AUDITING While the seminar was not strictly about energy auditing, several minutes were spent explaining that recovering taxes and surcharges that were incorrectly billed to "exempt" customers was possibly the very easiest way to "share savings" with customers - and even if the business was not in a geography where energy was deregulated.
B - BROKERING This seminar was all about brokering energy. The stage was set early that natural gas & electricity is a pure commodity and more sophisticated business energy users know this. Interstate Gas' energy isn't better or worse - it's just priced better - and it works the same as the energy purchased from a monopoly.
The big value energy brokers bring to their clients is the ability to help them lock in a low price before prices go up or getting them "market moving" prices if the prices are expected to drop. In searching the Internet I did find many companies who do quite well in working with a handful of large energy using businesses doing nothing but trying to help their clients stay one step ahead of price fluctuations.
Telecom agent "energy brokers" can do the same thing (with help from Five Star & Interstate Gas) for mid-market businesses that use a lot of energy (restaurant chains, hotels, hospitals, manufacturing, etc.).
The revenue from energy brokering generally comes in the form of monthly commission over-rides. Roy Tanner has positioned himself quite well at the top of the energy broker's food chain with the direct relationship he has with Interstate Gas and others. (TA has over 3 hours of recorded video from the Five Star training that we hope to share with TA members over the next week or so.)
C - CONSTRUCTION "Construction" describes the one-time (or periodic) process of making up-front investments to change a business in some physical way so that it uses less energy. Examples would include retrofitting, better insulation, new lighting or some other change (new walls, lowering ceilings, etc.) that reduce electrical or natural gas (heating) consumption. Energy consultants that specialize in construction include environmental architects and the like. The revenue opportunity for agents and energy brokers is in "lead referral".
When you find a big energy consuming business, simply ask them when's the last time they had a serious "environmental energy audit". The energy broker commission comes in the form of a one-time commission from the construction project margin (and the big warm feeling you get knowing you're helping to "save the planet"!) Five Star is in the process of rolling out an opportunity that will allow their agents to get construction opportunities fully evaluated.
To get an energy construction opportunity background from an experienced telecom pro, contact Stu Johnson of Network Advantage. Click the audio player below to hear an interview I did with Stu in September 2009 right after PAETEC announced they were getting into energy in a big way.
While the construction company Stu was contracted with, NESC, has since been absorbed by another company, Stu said energy construction opportunity would revive in a big way just as soon as businesses could get a construction loan.
Stu Johnson, "Energy Construction" Interview, September 2009
G - GREEN Long through to be just for hippies and movie stars, "green energy" is making select segments of the industry decent money. Like "construction", green energy often involves some sort of physical change if the business customer is investing in some sort of green energy generation like solar or wind. Long-time TA vendor member Fritz Kreiss of Alternative Utility Services (AUS) is the telecom agent and channel partners' "go-to guy" for green energy.
At the Five Star event was another "green guy", Tom Moses who advised that like construction, green energy will again "pop" when a bit of money gets loosened up so that business owners can get the loans required to invest in green energy. The time to get knowledgeable though is now as the "pop" is estimated to occur in just a year or so.
Click the link below to listen to a recording I created with Fritz of AUS last September 2009 on how AUS helps agents earn with energy. For those that want to get all their energy in one place, five Star and AUS are partnered together.
Click player above to listen or click here to download MP3
Over the past several years I've been of the opinion that "energy" was a door opener that led telecom agents and channel partners to a customers's voice and data business.
Now I'm of the opinion that an independent business services consultant (Jay Adams estimates 60% of his revenue will come from energy by the end of the year) can make money brokering energy in one or more of the four ways described here.
Listen to the interviews and webinars TA is recording on the matter and then make a list of energy brokering prospects you have influence with and the simply ask them, "When's the last time you had an independent energy audit?"
The following TA vendor members are involved in competitive energy in some way. contact them to discuss how they can help you make money in the energy field with your customers and prospects.
Every now & then it's not unusual for telecom agents and channel partners to drink too much of their own Kool Aid. to make sure I wasn't just telling myself something I wanted to hear I searched the Internet for people that seemed to legitimately be in the energy brokering business that telecom agents and partners would want to get into. In no particular order I found the following:
Bmark Energy, Veritas Power, RMA Energy, CEP Program, National Energy Marketers Association, Seven Utility (big "energy broker" Google advertiser) & NESC's old web site (the one Stu Johnson worked with - takes a while to populate)
Energy Five Star Tri-fold "Energy Brochure" (3.5 megs)
The Final Word
If Arunas likes energy this much... what else need to be said? (watch the video below)
PAETEC's Arunas Chesonis on "Why Do Energy?" September 2009
Backstory: Arunas is the HMFIC at PAETEC - a pretty big business phone company. I've interviewed him enough in the past to know he's a fairly sober CEO. When I recorded the video above I was quite amazed at the zeal he brought to the topic. It made quite an impression on me.