Energy Secure Solutions Lives by Word of Mouth

Dealer touts the labels that highlight its skills, experience
Christina Lewellen
October 20, 2010
SPECIAL FEATURES | Operations, Channels, Close-Ups


Getting the Word Out

Excellence in Marketing

Energy Secure Solutions

Brownsburg, Ind.

  
 Steve Butner of Energy Secure Solutions doesn't believe in paid advertising. He's built his company based on his reputation and certifications, letting word-of-mouth marketing drive growth.

For a company being recognized for excellence in marketing, Energy Secure Solutions doesn’t do much, well, marketing. At least not in the advertising/home shows/brochures kind of way.
Instead, the company has built its marketing approach around its commitment to green building products, exceptional customer service and industry best practices.
Owner Steve Butner founded Energy Secure Solutions more than 20 years ago to serve the Indianapolis and surrounding Indiana markets. His approach to provide great service and reasonable pricing on window and door, siding and roofing projects has led to plenty of word-of-mouth marketing, but the company also puts its best foot forward with a slew of industry certifications and a reputation as an environmentally-conscious company. For example, the company focuses on marketing its Alside products adorned with the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval and a variety of “green certified” logos are prominently displayed on its Web site.
This knowledge- and experience-based marketing is resonating with Indiana consumers. “What this portrayed to me was an interest and a commitment to the industry,” says homeowner David Post, a recent Energy Secure Solutions customer. “Anyone who actively participates in professional organizations within their industry is very interested in what they do every day. The certifications also portray a certain level of knowledge and training. So for me, this did provide a level of trust and [their] experience and commitment.”
Butner and his team believe in the certifications and labels the company has obtained, and focus their marketing efforts on communicating to potential customers why they should be concerned with the experience and knowledge they represent. “Those labels are very important,” Butner says. “They’re not just there to take up space on the Web site.”
SERVICE BEFORE LOGOS
Early in the company’s history, Butner knew he wanted to create a company that would live or die by word-of-mouth marketing. He came from another company that didn’t have a strong focus on customer service so he decided when he opened up his own shop that his reputation would be his only form of advertising. “We’re all human in this industry, so there will always be issues,” he notes, “but it depends on how you handle it.”
The service mentality at Energy Secure Solutions starts with pricing. While he acknowledges that all businesses must make money, he believes strongly that this can be accomplished without “gouging the customers,” he says. “I will not do that. I’m here to make money and provide for my family, but there’s room in this industry to make a good living and still give a fair price.”
 
A dedicated Alside dealer, Energy Secure Solutions believes that companies should have the ability to conduct business successfully while offering customers a fair price. 
This fairness-in-pricing philosophy has been spreading virally among Indiana homeowners, giving Energy Secure Solutions a foundation for building a long-term business, Butner says. “I don’t do any advertising, but by giving a fair, honest price, the business has really taken off,” he says. “I want something for my sons to step into after college, either to work with me or take over, and that won’t happen unless we give a great window and at great price with exceptional customer service.”
As simple as Energy Secure Solutions’ pricing approach is, so too is Butner’s game plan for service. Simply put, he describes great customer service as just being available, for whatever might pop up. “I want my customers to be able to get a hold of me, the owner, if they need me,” he explains. “There’s no voice mail or recorded answering here. If they call, they’ll get me on the phone.”
The customer service priority reaches to all employees in the company. Many of Butner’s family members are involved with the operations of the company, and he has several in-house crews—about 35 craftsmen in all—to handle window, gutter and roofing installation. While all of the staff is trained to provide great service, the buck stops with Butner and he personally signs off on every project the company completes. “Each home we do, when the job is done, I’m the one doing the walk-through,” he notes. “I do the sign off sheet and make sure the customer is 110 percent satisfied with the product we put in.”
LABEL BABY
Butner says that he’s always had an environmentally-conscious streak running through him. Long before being green and sustainable became buzz words, his customer service mentality reached far into the realm of not only offering customers products that would benefit their health and lifestyle, but making business choices that did not impact the environment.
As his business matured during the last two decades, Butner found that communicating his dedication to the environment was its own form of marketing—not necessarily an overt message crafted and pushed to an audience, but more like a statement about what Energy Secure Solutions stands for. The company’s team encourages customers to look for ways to be energy conscious and environmentally responsible.
“We try to approach the world with a green mentality,” says Devon Wright, an Energy Secure Solutions customer. “Steve Butner was most helpful in pointing out various aspects of our building where we could save on energy consumption in the future.”
Energy Secure Solutions’ team goes out of its way to recycle, regardless of whether its customers are interested in that aspect of a home improvement project. “I believe in recycling and we do what we can to help our homeowners out in that realm,” Butner says. “If we go into a home and there’s a material that can be recycled, if the homeowner’s not going to do it, we’ll do it.”
This policy extends to commercial and multi-family projects as well, Butner explains. “We were on a commercial site with aluminum windows and they weren’t going to recycle them,” he says. “So what we did was take them for recycling and we subtracted what we got paid [for the aluminum] from his bill. I just didn’t want them to go into a dumpster and get thrown away.”
While energy savings is a big part of the company’s message to buyers, being green goes far beyond low-E glass options and argon gas. The company was also quick to get lead-certified to comply with the new EPA rules, and visiting its Web site demonstrates immediately the company’s philosophy on green.
“The certificates, references, etc., all helped us with the ‘trust’ factor,” says Wright, recalling his impression of how Energy Secure Solutions presents itself.
MORE LOGO MARKETING
In addition to very clearly touting its green commitment, Energy Secure Solutions promotes its other affiliations and certifications as well. In addition to displaying its EPA lead certified logo prominently on its Web site, the company also highlights its NFRC, UL, AAMA, Energy Star and Good Houskeeping Green affiliations.
Energy Secure Solutions has an A+ ranking with the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana and has not had one complaint registered in a three-year reporting period. “People want to have somewhere they can go to check you out,” he says. “I think being a member of the BBB is crucial. I’ve never, not one single time, had a complaint. I won’t let it happen.”
The logos and certifications may catch a customer’s attention, but those designations are only as strong as the customer service mentality that exists behind them, Wright notes. “In all honesty, it was more Steve Butner that instilled the trust in us. He is a very upfront and honest man, and once we saw that he was keeping true to his word, we have never had to question his integrity or his work.”
The bottom line is that without spending money on traditional marketing plans, he has found success in encouraging the company to be its own form of marketing. “I’ve actually grown in this economy,” Butner says. “Most people in this business will agree with me that there are always months where you slow down, but I’ve actually gotten busier in this economy.”
 
Click here to see our other 2010 Dealers of the Year.

 

Contact Christina Lewellen, senior editor, at clewellen@glass.org.