The commercial lighting retrofit industry offers an estimated market opportunity in excess of $200 Billion in the US alone, with industry-wide LED lighting technology market penetration still below 30%. In 2020, the global pandemic introduced a myriad of challenges that temporarily slowed growth while the industry recovered.
With the pandemic on the wane, the retrofit opportunity has never been better as more retrofit service providers prepare for the explosive growth ahead. Read on to learn how an industry leader re-tooled their operation to remain on the cutting edge of growth.
AN INDUSTRY LEADER RE-TOOLS FOR GREATER SCALE
A lighting-focused engineering firm, Eco Engineering has delivered leading edge lighting system upgrade solutions since 1993, which result in ideal energy efficient and visual environments precisely matched to the unique needs and budgets of their clients. Offering services ranging from standard LED lighting retrofits to a fully integrated IoT systems, Eco Engineering has historically conducted its project services using an internally built software platform.
In 2020, Eco Engineering sought to utilize a commercially developed lighting retrofit software application as they had outgrown the capabilities of their internal software. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Eco Engineering optimized their internal operations and ultimately made the switch to SnapCount lighting retrofit software, as it created the most natural transition from their internal software and offered the most complete solution for Eco Engineering.
A full turnkey lighting retrofit provider, Eco Engineering takes great care in conducting detailed building audits, engineering best-fit lighting solutions and implementing projects with speed and precision. To accomplish this, they utilized an internally developed, web-based software system to automate their tasks. The system was developed over multiple years through a number of different development iterations, redesigns and working out bugs through actual field usage. “Our software was developed by us in-house and we were pretty happy where it was from a development standpoint. however, it didn’t possess the power needed to meet the expectations of our company’s new direction”, said Brad Dulle, Director of Engineering at Eco Engineering.
In early 2020, the Eco Engineering team, led by CEO Tom Kirkpatrick, established a new vision and goals that would transform the company around 4 strategic drivers:
1. Standardize: Adopt more standardized process and methods to improve efficiency and reduce the time-wasting one-off exceptions.
2. Digitize: Re-engineer core business processes away from manual to automated/digital methods
3. Decentralize: Move decisions to the point of execution so they may be executed with more precision and autonomy
4. Collaborate: Enable more fluid interaction with team members and partners to enhance the quality of outcomes
Strategic drivers in hand, the Eco Engineering team evaluated each internal system and process in light of their enhanced operational imperatives. This included a review of their internal retrofit software, as growth and new functional needs were testing its limits.
The Eco Engineering team was faced with the decision to continue to invest in their in-house software platform or partner with a commercial provider that would better align with their vision and goals. Also considering the expense and maintenance associated with maintaining an internal software, they ultimately decided to investigate third-party providers.
“One fundamental question we had to ask ourselves was ‘Does Eco Engineering want to be a software developer and own that process? Do we want to reinvent the wheel that third-party solutions had spent years developing?’” said Frank Agraz, Director of C&I Engineering at Eco Engineering. “There is a risk with gambling that we could play catch up with something that was equal or better than software packages that were made by actual software developers. It made perfect sense to make the leap.”
EVALUATING SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS
Eco Engineering began the evaluation of software solutions with three potential providers. Requiring a solution that would provide increased functionality over their in-house system and bolster their project management capabilities, Eco Engineering conducted a deep dive of each contender.
Ultimately, Eco Engineering chose SnapCount as the solution most capable and aligned with their vision and goals. The team moved forward with SnapCount because of its robust functionality and the operational improvement it offered over their in-house solution. “I was paying attention to all the players within the market throughout the years. Some of them are no longer with us today, and so not only is the decision to build versus buy, but if you do decide to go third party, which one of those providers is most likely to be with you in the long term? SnapCount, as it turns out, has the lion's share of the market and has the platform and the vision to be a long-term partner. That was also a very important decision point of who to pick”, said Dulle.
As a full turnkey retrofit platform, SnapCount’s operations module provided the functionality that Eco Engineering required to execute projects with the required digital speed and precision and propel the organization to the next level of performance.
Given the goal to achieve exponential growth, SnapCount’s track record of innovation and market leadership factored heavily on their decision. As Dulle stated, “As we focus on standardization, simplification, and automation at Eco Engineering, SnapCount is the only software that I could see us moving forward with a clear path to do just that.”
Additional factors that the Eco Engineering team considered in selecting SnapCount included the SnapSource Service Marketplace, a service connecting retrofit players to extend their core teams when resources are tight. The marketplace would also enable Eco Engineering employees to become certified in various aspects of the software. Eco Engineering also valued the SnapSource Product Hub, a service digitally connecting them with lighting suppliers for product information, pricing quotes and order submission. “While we looked at three total platforms, SnapCount was the only company that did everything we wanted and never said ‘it’s coming soon’. It was an easy choice to make the leap of faith to SnapCount given all of the features it possesses” said Dulle.
20% Increase in audit speed: Compared with the more traditional data collection method, SnapCount empowered the Eco Engineering team to complete audits 20% faster, while collecting more data with improved organization.
100% reduction in post-audit organization: In the “old days”, the traditional audit method typically included several hours of “post audit” organization before the completed audit was ready for proposal development. Now with SnapCount, the auditor can sync a completed audit to the cloud that pushes all project data and media back to corporate for immediate processing.
1 Week auditor training & onboarding: SnapCount’s standardized method of data entry, coupled with hard and soft required fields forces auditors to collect data in a very methodical way. On-boarding times for new auditors have improved due to the intuitive nature of the app, which enforces process adherence without weeks of training. The auditor can focus on gathering quality data instead of trying to understand how to correctly fill out a form.
ECO ENGINEERING REACTION
“While we were evaluating the choice between updating our in-house software or switching to SnapCount, we needed to make sure that we were comfortable with taking the leap of faith. While our legacy system was good, SnapCount gives us infinitely more functionality at a fraction of the fully loaded cost of a long-term in-house build, and we still wouldn’t have had everything we wanted” said Dulle.
"In the end, SnapCount was the only option that met the requirements of the leadership team as well as the engineering team and bolstered the functionality that we could acquire. I think whether you’re a large or small organization, software like SnapCount is a no-brainer, and if you’re not moving forward with a software like SnapCount you’re being left behind”, added Dulle.