Blue House Energy, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, is a leading provider of online training resources to companies, managers, and employees in the residential energy efficiency field. They have been a Firmwater client for over a decade.
Blue House offers courses on basic building sciences, construction technologies, green building practices, HVAC equipment operation, quality assurance, and related topics. Many of their courses are designed to prepare students to pass NRCan examinations needed to become a certified Energy Advisor or earn continuing education credits to further their careers.
Blue House Energy courses are certified by multiple construction organizations in both the USA and Canada, including Built Green Canada (BGC), British Columbia (BC) Housing, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and others. Blue House uses Shopify to present and sell their online courseware to customers, and all content is SCORM-compliant.
Blue House started as an idea; just an answer to the question, why isn't there a centralized, web-based training resource for construction professionals to further their education? So, Shawna Henderson (CEO) and Hal Richman (COO), Blue House Energy co-founders set about building one.
Hal had previous career experience in learning management system (LMS) procurement on behalf of other organizations but had never done it for himself; that is, develop eLearning content and use an LMS to host, sell, and deliver it.
After conducting extensive research, Hal selected Firmwater to host Blue House content. The LMS checked all his boxes with simplified administrator and user interfaces, an intuitive workflow for assembling content from multiple sources to build courses from scratch, the ability to set up multiple client sites, and SCORM compliance and support to serve content to a customer's LMS. But Firmwater also offered two elements Hal didn't realize would be so critical to Blue House's online success at the time: Shopify integration and the Firmwater team's dedication to customer service.
It took Blue House a few years of trial and error to determine their market, but it is now a thriving eCommerce business and a recognized training provider for housing and construction organizations across North America.
One of the first things that attracted Blue House to Firmwater was the platform's ability to create an unlimited number of portals customized to each client's brand. Other solutions Hal investigated offered customization but did not scale as effectively. This immediately provided unmatched flexibility while elevating Blue House's image as a provider of high-quality eLearning content. Blue House was instantly able to access and assemble modules into complete courses using an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, and then infinitely customize and update them as needed for different user groups while maintaining control over all content.
When a change is made to a master SCORM-compliant module, the updates automatically trickle down to all the customized modules, eliminating repetitive updates and the opportunity for manual input errors. And because Blue House uses courseware authoring tools that publish to SCORM, compatibility errors are minimized, and testing and reporting activities are streamlined.
Another key element in the Firmwater value proposition is seamless Shopify integration. Blue House LMS integration with Shopify – plus expert support on the eCommerce solution from the Firmwater team – allows Blue House to easily assemble and sell LMS-hosted courses in minutes from a well-designed online store. One Shopify integration feature Hal found particularly compelling is the automatic redirect to the LMS after a purchase, as it limits the number of clicks and shortens the time it takes for customers to access the product. Fewer clicks mean a simpler user experience for more sales. Other useful features include the ability to specify how long customers get access to each course, and to send email reminders to users to complete course(s) before their access expires.
But mostly, the decision to partner – and stay – with Firmwater has had more to do with their dedication to client support and the willingness of the Firmwater management team to educate Blue House on eLearning technologies and truly partner with them to create modern, enjoyable remote training experiences for their customers. Blue House values the agility and personal attention through a single point of contact they simply cannot get from larger LMS providers.
"During the 10 years Blue House has been a Firmwater client, the relationship has evolved into a partnership in which Blue House proposes ideas to grow their business and the Firmwater team works hand-in-hand with them to develop a solution."
Today, Blue House is one of the leading sources for continuing education and eLearning programs in the North American residential construction market.
Shopify integration has allowed Blue House to be more flexible in how they sell courses online. In addition to enrolling students in single courses, Blue House is now able offer course bundles and provide access to multiple courses through the LMS immediately. Customers can purchase a single seat license to a course for themselves or buy multiple seats and invite learners to take the course via email. This allows Blue House to market to larger businesses that need to train multiple employees, increasing the average order value.
Blue House is now able to set different pricing options and discount codes for each client, and maximizes upselling opportunities by intelligently offering similar courses, prerequisites, or making suggestions for the student's next step in the educational process.
During the 10 years Blue House has been a Firmwater client, the relationship has evolved into more of a partnership in which Blue House proposes ideas to grow their business and the Firmwater team works hand-in-hand with them to develop a solution.
Hal recalls many instances over the past several years in which Blue House staff spent countless hours on the phone with Firmwater support personnel until a problem has been resolved. Firmwater takes the time to sit down with their clients to understand what they need and help them grow to their full potential.