A new business model

Its almost the end of December and I am doing what I usually do this time of year.  I am finishing up on my business plan for the coming year.  I start by reviewing my expenses, analyzing the source of my business, and the calculating the ROI. I also analysis ROT (Return on Time) since I do a lot of Social Media Marketing .

After analyzing where I have been, I spend time thinking about where I want to go.  This year I have been thinking about how I can implement a model similar to CenterPoint Energy’s business model for their smart meter.

Smart MeterIt was in February of 2009 that I first learned of CenterPoint Energy’s smart meter.  I was reviewing my electricity bill like I do every month and noticed a new line item charge called “Transmission Distribution Service Provider Surcharge.”  The charge was for $3.24.  It turned out to be a monthly fee to pay CenterPoint Energy for the cost to install a smart meter at my house.

According to Centerpoint Energy, the smart meter along with an in-home monitor will allow me to monitor my usage and better manage my electricity costs. The cost of the in-home monitor is an unknown at this time as they are not widely available but when they are available it will be at a cost affordable to most consumers.  What exactly is a cost affordable to most consumers?  I don’t know that is just what it says on the CenterPoint Energy web site.

Based upon CenterPoint Energy’s deployment schedule, the smart meter is projected to be installed at my house in Spring Texas by June 2012. Over 3 years after the date they initially started billing me for the meter.  Wimpy wouldn’t like CenterPoint’s billing arrangement. Wimpy would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

The technology itself is promising and it would probably get me to change my electricity habits.  Especially if I knew how much it was costing me to stand with the refrigerator door wide open as I wait for the answer to come to me of “What I should make for dinner?”

But it’s the business model that intrigues even more than the technology.  How can I implement a similiar model into my real estate business that allows me to bill and get paid for my services before I provide them?

How about ……  I send every household in my market area a monthly bill for a portion of what my fee will be when I eventually sell their house.   This would be months or even years before I even place the “For Sale” sign in the yard.  I would really be doing the sellers a favor.  Instead of a large fee when their house is sold, it’s a small fee paid over many, many months.

Wild thought. I would never get away with it.  I just better go back to finishing up my business plan instead of dreaming.