Broker Online Exchange is publishing a series of interviews featuring its client brokers. This interview is with Carlos Garcia of 1st Energy Choice Inc. located in Tampa, Florida. Click here to visit his business website.

What did you do before you became a broker?

Carlos: I have always been a broker of some sort from electronic components, 3M Film, CNC software, to energy conservation products. I have a degree in desktop publishing graphic arts, & 3D video.

What attracted you to the energy brokerage business?

Carlos: The fact that deregulation will be the single largest transfer of money from big corporate business to small business owners in history, not to mention we are dealing with a commodity.

How long have you been a broker and how did you get started?

Carlos: I have been an energy broker since 2004. I started working for CES (Consumer Energy Services) in Clearwater, Florida.

Do you have employees? If so, how many and in what roles?

Carlos: I have a team of 5 brokers that work independently with a common vision to build a commercial energy call center in the near future.

What have you found to be the most important experience and/or skills necessary to run your brokerage?

Carlos: Learning various markets and product knowledge is key combined with relentless prospecting and follow up. Being able to be fluid in conversation based on their current market conditions and historical data. Creating a long lasting rapport w/customers based on integrity, value and savings.

How do you like to describe your business to people outside the industry?

Carlos: My industry will always have a residual supply & demand based on necessity in order to operate. We are dealing with a commodity that is traded on the stock market daily, like gold & silver. My industry allows the common business owner to have the power of choice with deregulation.

How do you market or make people aware of your business?

Carlos: We prospect via telecommunications, emails and target marketing based on potential savings.

How would you describe your best customers?

Carlos: My best customer is knowledgeable, aware of deregulation, supply & demand and their duty to be advised of current market conditions before making an educated decision when selecting a supplier. A customer that understands the industry therefore only having to provide value and savings when renewing their contract building a strong relationship as their energy consultant.

Why do your customers typically choose to purchase their energy from you?

Carlos: I feel our customers choose to remain with our company because of our industry knowledge, consistent integrity, benefits and value we have provided them throughout the years. We’re always personable with them in conversation and are able to offer them a non-biased energy supply options.

What are the biggest challenges you face when running your brokerage?

Carlos: The biggest challenge I have is being able to reach the decision maker as their contract expires. We work to create a constant flow of new prospects that will be considering a supplier in the near future.

What do you like most about being an energy broker?

Carlos: I know that there will always be an everlasting demand for energy as a commodity product that is a necessity in order to live and operate a business. I will always be able to provide a savings to my prospects and customers.

Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years?

Carlos: I see our company growing from a small outfit of 15 to 20 agents in the next year to a online empire of brokers that work from all over the nation in various energy conservation markets.

How has your partnership with BOX impacted how you run your business?

Carlos: It has allowed me to be a non-biased energy consultant providing the customer with all the tools needed to make an educated decision based on current market conditions. Not to mention the real-time support I have experienced working alongside BOX as been second to none. Awesome!

What advice would you give a person who is thinking about becoming an energy broker?

Carlos: Make sure you take time to learn the industry:, regional matrix pricing, which areas to target market during certain times of year, etc. Develop an innovative way of marketing to reach out to the customer that is outside of the box from conventional ways. Be relentless with constant prospecting and follow-up. Don’t ask for the sale; direct, tell and control the sales process as a trusted, knowledgeable consultant that will provide the best options available. Timing is everything.