Business development is a hot topic these days. Many electrical contractors often think about how it can improve their bottom line. For those who don’t, now is the time to start.

Exploring emerging markets, such as energy efficiency, energy storage, renewable energy and data centers, is part of business development. To foster growth and innovation, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) sponsors events throughout the year. NECA also provides several products and services to assist members in accomplishing their business goals. 

For example, by seamlessly integrating best-practice project surety, project finance structuring and project funding solutions into the development process, NECA’s Energy Conservation and Performance Program (E-CAP) enables members to implement energy-retrofit projects. E-CAP provides contractors with turnkey access to best-practice surety and financing solutions for energy projects. Using third-party insurance and project investors through this program, members can provide their customers with investment-grade project performance guarantees and performance-based financing.

Another option is NECAWORKS, a web-based screening tool. The NECAWORKS website offers the fundamental tools and information links to “screen” a project. Using data supplied by the contractor and his or her client, it determines a benefit/cost ratio for projects they intend to bid. A benefit/cost ratio is a calculation—based upon the project’s costs, the customer’s electricity bills and other applicable factors—that serves as an indicator of the project’s worthiness of “next step” decision-making and should be used to rule out projects that have a low probability for success. It can also highlight projects that may pass a client’s return-on-investment objectives.

NECA also has several new and recurring business development events on the calendar. This year, NECA is launching a new meeting called the NECA Energy Study Mission. Because the energy landscape is changing rapidly, the Energy Study Mission will educate members on new technologies and opportunities for work in the energy sector. It will feature exclusive tours, seminars and group discussions about cutting-edge energy projects or research facilities across the country. It is scheduled for June at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. As always, information on the Business Development Meeting at NECA 2016 Boston in October is forthcoming. 

With all of this, NECA members benefit from a wide range of opportunities to learn more about the industry and grow their business.

Speaking of learning more about the industry, NECA recently started a monthly business development newsletter to help get the word out. It will provide NECA members and chapters with up-to-date information regarding association business development activities, resources and upcoming meetings. We will include industry news and events that either affect the electrical contracting industry or represent a new business opportunity for our membership. I encourage all NECA members to get the most out of everything we have to offer.