One of the hurdles that many homeowners face when considering home energy upgrades is how to pay for them. Contractors, as program partners who work with homeowners face-to-face, are in a unique position to help them address this concern by suggesting financing offered through the program. Many residential energy efficiency programs have found that training contractors on available energy upgrade financing products fosters greater understanding and uptake of those loan products. Working with contractors to integrate financing into the home performance sales process not only makes undertaking an upgrade more financially feasible, but also avoids making financing another complicated decision point for customers.
Successful programs often organize contractor trainings, answer their questions, address their concerns, and facilitate homeowner relationships with participating contractors. Following are a few approaches that programs across the country have taken to train contractors, allowing them to better leverage their unique position to increase demand for home energy upgrades.
Put Financing in Contractors’ Curriculum
Clean Energy Works Oregon, now known as Enhabit, provided its contractors with business coaching, peer mentoring, business development classes, accounting, and sales training, services which were considered key to the program’s success. Training covered the program’s loan offerings, participating lenders, and ways to use financing to drive sales. These trainings received high marks from contractors and helped them improve their business processes, making them more profitable. Between its launch in March 2011 and December 2013, the program’s work with contractor partners resulted in the completion of more than 3,000 upgrades.
Make Affordability Part of the Pitch
EnergyWorks of Philadelphia recognized that contractors can have a significant influence on homeowner decisions regarding energy upgrade financing. The program trained contractors on how to integrate upgrade affordability into every assessment and sales proposal. Contractors also learned how to better utilize special financing and monthly payment plans to increase both their closing rates and overall market penetration for home energy upgrades. These trainings contributed to EnergyWorks’ success between 2010 and 2013, when the program helped finance more than 1,900 residential upgrade projects totaling more than $17 million.
Educate Contractors on Available Loans
As part of the ShopSmart with JEA program in Jacksonville, Florida, the Jax Metro Credit Union (JMCU) held regular meetings and “lunch and learn” opportunities to educate contractors on the available loan options. JMCU’s outreach to contractors and their associations in the community recognized that the contractors play an important role in selling benefits of the loan product. It took nearly 14 months for the relationship between the credit union and the contractors to fully develop, and the investment proved worthwhile. From 2010 to 2012, 183 homeowners completed more than $1.2 million worth of energy upgrades in the community, and JMCU financed nearly 90 percent of those upgrades.
The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (GCEA) recognized that the best way to drive demand for home energy upgrades was to involve local contractors. GCEA identified, trained, and mentored contractors on selling the program’s home energy loans. Between program launch in 2011 and November 2013, GCEA issued 127 residential loans totaling more than $1 million.
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Discover more lessons learned on educating contractors on home energy financing options by visiting the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center Financing – Develop Implementation Plans handbook for step-by-step guidance and program examples.
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