Should You Collect More Data in Your Retrofit Audits?

Lewis Hughes | Aug 7, '19

Should You Collect More Data in Your Retrofit Audits?

The first step in creating a lighting retrofit proposal is to conduct an audit of the facility in its current state to understand the existing lighting strategy and identify opportunities for cost and energy savings.

Most auditors bring their own personal approach to conducting audits. However, in my experience, auditors typically focus on collecting three buckets of information:

  1. The types of fixtures present, along with their locations.
  2. The number of fixtures.
  3. The average burn hours for each fixture.

These data points will drive all the calculations that will go into the retrofit proposal and will ultimately translate into factors that clients care about, such as energy savings.

But is this enough to tell the whole story?

The Devil Is in the Details

Yes, clients invest in retrofit projects that save them money and reduce their energy usage. And yet, experienced retrofitters know there’s more to closing deals and building lasting client relationships than pure bottom-line impact.

For starters, clients value retrofitters who are organized and professional, who can complete their projects on time and within budget, and who know how to do their work with minimal disruption to the client’s ongoing business operations.

In other words, details matter in the retrofit business. And the best way to manage those details is to go that extra step during the audit.

Consider what happens if a client raises questions about the audit? Or what if a specific detail determines whether a rebate is applicable? An auditor who recorded voice notes and even video footage during the audit will be in an immensely better position to make a great impression with the client than the auditor who has to return back to the audit site to validate the information at hand.

Collecting more granular details in an audit enables you to smoothly manage the project from end to end. It’s like going into battle: You can avoid surprise attacks by first taking the time to learn the lay of the land.

How to Expand Your Data Collection Strategy

With the old pen-and-paper approach to auditing, auditors had to work hard simply to collect the basic data on fixtures, quantities, and burn hours. Anything they recorded by hand had to be transcribed later and imported into a spreadsheet. This cumbersome process introduced many opportunities for error.

The pen-paper-spreadsheet method also inhibited flexibility. If there were any data discrepancies, client questions, or requests for changes, auditors would have to return to the site to double-check their work or record new information.

It’s no wonder that most auditors chose to stick to the bare minimum of data collection. It simplified things all around.

Today, though, lighting audit software makes it easy to move beyond pen and paper, forgoing the spreadsheet for a 21st-century technology solution.

A modern lighting audit software package (such as SnapCount by StreamLinx) enables auditors to move efficiently from room to room and site to site, using a mobile device to sync critical data to the cloud, where the data can be shared, adjusted, and expanded upon with ease. Even better, there’s no need to interpret chicken-scratch handwriting or manipulate awkward, slow-loading spreadsheets.

Perhaps most importantly, lighting audit software helps auditors collect the additional details, or attributes, that can make or break a retrofitting proposal. Helpful attributes can include:

  • How a fixture is mounted and the fixture type.
  • The style and size of a lens.
  • Voltage information.
  • Controls information.
  • Wattage.
  • The necessary height for a pole light.
  • Ceiling and fixture height. (Height measurements are especially crucial for warehouse or exterior lighting.)

Is collecting data on these attributes an absolute requirement? No. Will collecting data on these attributes enable you to add color and specificity to your proposals and improve your ability to manage your projects? Definitely.

Choosing the Right Audit Software

As a new generation of digital-native auditors enters the field, lighting retrofit software is becoming more popular. But not all software solutions are the same. They do not all enable the level of detail I’ve written about in this article.

Many software applications stop once the proposal is created. But as an auditor, using a tool that allows for a project to be managed end-to-end can enable a more seamless transition from proposal to delivery. This can minimize errors, enable you to work more efficiently, and potentially help you identify more rebate opportunities for your clients.

Some auditors (like myself) even go so far as to require clients to use a specific software solution, to ensure that everyone involved is equipped to capture the full efficiencies of the solution.

In my audits, whether I need to capture room, fixture, or control details, or more complex information such as energy conservation measures, mechanical, or HVAC savings, SnapCount is the solution I prefer to use. The level of detail I can capture with SnapCount enables me to tell the whole story of a lighting retrofit audit in my proposals, and it’s made an enormous difference in my business. Click here to see SnapCount in action.

How It Works - SnapCount Demo Video

Lewis Hughes

Written by Lewis Hughes

Lewis Hughes is the CEO of Innovative Lighting Auditors located in Southern California. With over 25 years in the lighting industry he has experience in construction, installation, project management and auditing. Using SnapCount, a cutting edge data application for auditing, provides customers with accurate details, a little or as much as they desire. His background in construction and installation helps him see possible challenges the customer may come up against. He travels throughout the country to provide auditing services to major companies such as USC, Cincinnati Zoo, University Medical Center of Arkansas and Verizon.

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