Qa With Mark Cannella Founder Of Pro Energy Consultants
How was Pro Energy Consultants originally conceived/started?
Pro Energy was started in response to a need I saw after working for more than 15 years in the HVAC industry and I saw firsthand that customers were having home performance issues not addressed by any company or industry. So in 1995, I started Pro Energy Consultants in Cleveland, OH to help homes and businesses improve their comfort and energy use.
What was your original vision for your company? How has that changed over time?
My original vision was just to "fill the gap" in service, and help people identify issues that would increase their comfort and knowledge of their home. That idea has expanded to helping both homeowners and businesses pinpoint opportunities to save energy and money, but also opportunities to improve health and safety, and even help them with some of the low cost improvements that make a big impact.
What do you believe is the single most important factor when choosing a franchise?
Potential franchise owners really need to understand the sales/marketing/lead generation model for the franchises they are considering. As an entrepreneur, you need to make a fundamental decision between the two macro types of sales/marketing models that exist for a business: (a) a high cost/capital model for a lot of paid placements that hopefully make the phone ring, or (b) a low cost but activity based model geared towards establishing relationships that generate recurring lead flow. Each has its pros and cons and an individual may be better suited for one versus the other.
Why should someone choose your franchise over other similar franchises?
Pro Energy Consultants has the benefit of being the oldest and largest energy assessment franchise, which makes us the recognized leader and the most experienced in the industry. We also have a diversified service suite that includes residential and commercial building assessments. While our competitors use assessments to sell other products, questioning their ethics and whether they have the consumer's best interest in mind, we are completely objective and rely on science and our tools to tell you what will work best to make you more energy efficient and comfortable.
What makes your industry attractive?
Our industry is part of one of the hottest trends right now, and it is a trend that is only growing as the general population learns more! Specifically:
- The continuing rise of energy costs has both homeowners and businesses constantly trying to find ways to better control utility bills.
- We're spending more time indoors than ever before, prompting concerns about indoor air quality and its effect on the health of our families.
- The "green" movement continues to grow, promoting the responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment.
Our business is to help people Save Money, Save Energy, and Save the Environment, and our franchisees find that incredibly rewarding.
What types of qualities do you look for in potential franchisees?
We want someone with drive, determination, energy and a 'go-getter' attitude - the type of person who can naturally accomplish in a day what others will take a week to do. Our extensive training programs will teach someone the technical aspects of the business and we provide a very detailed sales/marketing plan. If we combine our know-how and programs with the motivated individual, the result is a recipe for success.
What do your franchise fees and royalties cover?
In a nutshell: everything. New franchisees are provided with extensive training; a launch marketing campaign; equipment including an infrared camera, blower door and smoke pencil; industry certification; one-on-one coaching and more. Ongoing, our franchisees receive technology, sales/marketing tools, training and one-on-one support to help them grow every year. We don't believe in add-on fees for every little thing there are no surprises.
How do territories work for your franchisees?
We award very large territories 450,000 people (there are an average 2.6 people per household in the US, so this roughly equates to 173,077 households).
Why has your franchise model been successful?
We provide owners with not only the technical know-how, but also the business and marketing support necessary to establish themselves in their local markets. And, we don't sit comfortable on past successes. We're always looking for the latest technology, marketing practice, service line, etc. that will keep our franchisees positioned as their market leader.
Where do you see your franchise in 5 years and 10 years?
With energy costs are forecasted to only rise in the future, Pro Energy will continue to be the leader in educating homeowners and businesses on how they can improve their energy use. Our service suite will expand as the general population's interest grows and knowledge increases. Pro Energy will also enter into more international markets as interest and knowledge increase abroad.
What is your favorite advice for new franchisees to help them succeed?
Whichever franchise you choose to join, FOLLOW THE SYSTEM! Pro Energy's parent group, Merrymeeting Group, Inc. (MMG) has worked with many franchise systems throughout the years and regardless of the business, the top performers have one thing in common they do all the outlined activities, participate in all the available programs, and take advantage of all the support and resources available.
What would you tell potential franchisees that may be nervous about the financial burdens of starting a franchise?
First, if you weren't nervous, you wouldn't be normal. Starting any business is both exciting and scary. The first key is making sure you've analyzed your personal expenses and working capital, and determined you truly are financially fit to start a business. The second key is to minimize your risk by keeping your business overhead low. And finally, follow the franchisor's launch plan it's designed to get you out-of-the-gate and generating positive cash flow as quickly as possible.
Can you explain your financial assistance (if applicable)?
Our low, all-inclusive initial franchise fee of $24,900 makes it very easy to start Pro Energy Consultants business compared to other franchises with high initial investments. Most franchise owners use a combination of personal savings, 401k, etc. to fund the startup and launch of their business. We may be able to offer additional assistance to very well-qualified individuals who meet our requirements.
On average, how long does it take to start a new franchise from the franchisees point of view?
Typically, a new franchise owner completes their training program within 30-45 days of executing their Franchise Agreement, and is fully launched within 4 weeks or less after that.
What was your background and experience before founding this franchise?
I worked in the HVAC industry for more than 15 years, and saw customers making the wrong improvements to try and improve the comfort of their home, or they would do nothing and simply suffer. I initially developed a division within my company that specialized in handling these situations, but when the company was bought out, the new ownership did not see the benefit in supporting that division. That was when I decided to start the business that eventually became Pro Energy Consultants.