We must have hit a nerve

On January 12, 2011 a webinar was presented through the co-sponsorships of ForRenovationPros.com and Qualified Remodeler (Cygnus Business Media) and MarketSharp as part of the Business Growth Webinar Series. I had the honor of presenting “Navigating the Lead Safe Maze.” The focus was on how to operate your business successfully in light of the changes required to comply with RRP.  We covered topics including overall business operations, managing sales and marketing, and handling the changes in installation and service. The content of the webinar was developed from more than 12 months of speaking with renovators, suppliers, trainers and others. But mostly, we tapped into the success strategies used by the contractors who have been doing Lead Safe Work practices for more than 10 years in states such as Massachusetts, Rhode Island who have had a similar law in place for a long time. We had over 1,000 registrants. You’d think that most firms and renovators would think this was old hat. Not so. Even though 89% of the registrants were certified, they still had questions on how to make the rule work for them, not against them. We knew that those who registered were doing so because they were either “feeling the heat” or “running toward the light”. As we expected, most were feeling the heat. Hopefully at the end of the webinar more of them saw the light. There is a reasonable way to approach RRP and there is a reasonable expectation that it can add to your business, not just encumber it. Each registrant was asked what their primary question was, and overwhelmingly the following were the three top questions: 1.    How do I price RP and how do I compete (higher prices and contractors who don’t use RRP)? 2.    What about Record Keeping? 3.    How will the EPA enforce RRP? The webinar attempted to answer each of these questions head-on, and for the most part, had the information needed to clear up the uncertainty. For example, when faced with pricing and competition issues two strong points were offered to help – Create a Service Identity (much as Broadview Security does to handle a home’s vulnerability to break-in and robbery); and tap into the available monies (to date $210 million allocated at the federal level) distributed by state and local agencies for lead safe practices, and to inform customers where tax advantages will help pay for Lead Safe Work. The point was also made that because you are now skilled and prepared to do RRP, new or offshoot businesses offered new sales and profit opportunities. As for record keeping, the point was made that while the EPA cannot look over everyone’s shoulder while they do the work, they can check your records with a simple request to see them. We stated the obvious: if your records are complete and up-to-date, your worries will be less. Speaking of the EPA checking records, the current wisdom is that this will be their major thrust in enforcement. The point was also made that maybe the larger problem is the heightened possibility of litigation as contractors uncover lead and homeowners will hold them accountable. Again records are the antidote, but maybe the concern over litigation should be more than EPA fines. From the comments received after the session, the overwhelming majority rated the session with a 4 or 5 (from a 1-5), and personal comments showed some hot buttons. The most common was regarding the topic of Pre-cleaning. We know it helps because the EPA used pre-cleaning to set a baseline to reduce existing lead to non-toxic conditions in their test homes. Pre-cleaning also creates efficiency and savings because cleaning the areas where you will work can save time and effort and money when using RRP for the actual renovation. It was my personal pleasure to share the information with the registrants because our goal is to make this rule clearer to our readers, present the most accurate and useable information possible. And to this end, we will discuss in detail some of the content on these pages in the coming weeks. If you attended, please email us with your thoughts. If not, make the attempt to watch and listen to the webinar. Follow this link: http://www.screencast.com/users/MarketSharp/folders/Growth%20Coach/media/aefb89f2-9c86-4649-9f54-e0bac4963d9b