Renovate America and Modernize partner to provide better access to home improvement loans

solar contractor success

Modernize, a home improvement lead generation services company, announced a strategic partnership with home improvement financing leader Renovate America to give homeowners ready access to simple and effective new financing options through Modernize’s network of contractors.

Modernize’s mission is to facilitate the best connections between homeowners and contractors, and this partnership will enable more of those connections to turn into funded projects. Modernize’s research reveals that nearly half of homeowners seeking home improvement quotes feel insecure about their project budget, and 85% want to finance their project. The new Renovate America offering will provide Modernize’s contractors with easy-to-use tools while providing a simple process for homeowners to get the financing they need.

“While the majority of homeowners are looking for financing, we know many contractors aren’t able to help with that crucial part of the process,” said Jason Polka, CEO of Modernize. “Our partnership with Renovate America will bridge that gap.”

Renovate America offers an online tool that contractors can use in their proposal meetings with homeowners. Contractors with no background in financial planning will now be able to easily show customers an array of financing options for projects up to $50,000.

“Our partnership with Modernize is grounded in the belief that the most value is created by better meeting the needs of both homeowners and contractors,” said John Maslowski, Senior VP of Strategic Partnerships for Renovate America. “The decision to partner with Modernize was an easy one, and we’re confident that, together, we’ll help more homeowners complete their renovation projects.”

— Solar Builder magazine

How to predictably scale and grow your solar installation business

ladders and rocks

Even as the residential solar installation market continues to grow, most solar businesses are looking for ways to lower the cost of acquiring new customers. How can your residential solar contracting business manage customer acquisition so that you have the right amount of business through each season without over-spending on sales and marketing? The answer is to get better at acquiring new customers using the newest trends in marketing.

The holy grail of marketing is knowing whether you’re wasting your time or money, and whether your efforts are generating a positive return on investment for your solar business. When companies generate a consistent ROI for each dollar spent on marketing, they have created a predictable model. That predictability is what makes your business scalable because once you know that if you spend $1, you’ll get $10 back, you can increase your marketing spend and revenue with confidence. Once you’re confident in achieving a consistent return on investment, you can scale the channel to achieve the volume required for optimizing your ROI. In addition, once you have the ability to get customers when you need them, you can grow comfortably, increasing your spend to evenly distribute your jobs over the year to suit your needs.

When a solar contractor manages to generate new customers and contain customer acquisition costs, this creates a sustainable, predictable model. Then, it’s just a matter of defining how many customers your business has the infrastructure to serve in a given period of time and investing in getting them on board. Sales growth is predictable and customers can be acquired at an optimal rate.

The predictability problem

Since 85 percent of all solar installation inquiries now start online, the most measurable lowest cost results will come from digital marketing. However, the home improvement industry remains behind the curve in digital marketing. According to a study by G/O Digital, 77 percent of all contractors have no marketing plan. With so many homeowners turning to the internet for information about solar panel installation, digital marketing has become crucial to maintaining market share.

The path to getting more customers is typically measured by the following:

  • Cost per click. How much does it cost to get a prospective customer to click on your ad or your content to learn more?
  • Cost per response. After a prospect clicks, how many will respond by getting in touch with you? And what is the cost for each of these?
  • Cost per appointment set. How many potential customers for your solar installation business are qualified for your services and will agree to a sales visit? And what is the cost for each of these?
  • Cost per sale. How many potential buyers convert to a sale? And what is the cost for each of these?

Most solar businesses don’t have the resources to invest in developing capabilities to expertly manage this within their business, nor do they have the interest in managing it on a day-to-day basis. So, they take the new customer calls as they come, without any ability to control when they come, or whether the calls they get are from the types of customers they even want to serve. Worse, most solar companies have no tracking of lead sources, so they’re unable to determine which channels and campaigns are worth investing in and which they should discontinue.

Five paths to predictability

There are five ways solar businesses are improving the predictability of their marketing so they can grow at a controlled rate.

  1. Reduce risk by outsourcing part of the process. By eliminating the need to execute each step, you will save time and improve results. By outsourcing lead generation, for example, the cost per raw lead is defined and doesn’t vary from month to month. All you’ll focus on are the last two variables in the process: appointment setting and sales.
    “Utilizing purchased leads, as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy, is a valuable tool in growing a solar business,” says Amy Olsen at Wells Solar and Electrical Services. “Outsourcing lead generation leaves the responsibility to the experts. Paired with an efficient model of processing leads, it can ultimately expand a referral network.”
  2. Respond to leads quickly. The best results go to the contractors that respond to solar leads in five minutes or less.
    “To stay ahead of the competition, you need to have a marketing and technology infrastructure that can react to new solar leads instantaneously, coupled with capable and knowledgeable solar sales staff, or you have lost,” says Justin Jordan, VP of marketing at Sungevity. “There are many ways to measure marketing success, but it all starts with the ability to react quickly and effectively to new leads coming down the pipeline.”
  3. Be persistent. Success rates are shown to be optimal for those who place up to six follow-up calls for their residential solar leads.
  4. Capture permission to stay in touch. Even if a lead isn’t ready to set an appointment or buy, gain permission to add them to your database as a contact. If you nurture them over the period of a year, a certain number will convert to customers when they are ready to buy.
  5. Deliver a quote promptly. Your ability to respond to residential solar leads with a quote will be interpreted as an expression of your overall quality of service. A quick response portends quick service, which will take a winning position against a competitor that takes longer.

Measure the results

The rigor of tracking and measuring will pay off. This allows you to see where your processes are weakest, so you can then focus on the appropriate efforts to make improvements.

“The key to success is understanding the process and the metrics,” says Bob Brunson, SVP at Zoi Solar. “Once you understand those, you can work to improve the inefficiencies.”

Olsen agrees. “It is very important to track leads, meetings and contracts. Each of the steps in the sales process defines the efficacy of the lead source.”

Ultimately, if you get your cost per raw lead to a predictable number, all you’ll have to work on is the cost per appointment and the cost per sale.

Don’t let marketing people tell you this isn’t possible. It is, and it’s done every day by savvy solar contractors who want to grow strategically. There’s no reason to let your business fall behind because you’re not able to take advantage of the new technologies and services that provide the ability to market in a way that takes the mystery out of the process. You deserve to know what your marketing dollars are generating for you in terms of new customers and to enjoy the benefits of growing your business in an intentional, deliberate way.

Jason Polka is the CEO of Modernize.

roof top reportDownload the new Residential Rooftop Report to heat up your solar sales

The Residential Rooftop Report for the first quarter of 2019 is now available for download. The theme is “Heating Up Sales,” and we’ve teamed up with report sponsor Aurora Solar to examine ways for residential solar installation companies to lower customer acquisition costs, close more leads and overall run a more streamlined, efficient local solar business. Just fill out the form below to access your free report.

— Solar Builder magazine

This survey shows the power of educating, communicating with your customers to close solar sales

homeowners select contractor

Modernize, a provider of home improvement contractor lead generation services, has released its latest Homeowner Index, a quarterly research study that measures sentiment among thousands of U.S. homeowners currently considering windows, roofing, solar, or heating and air conditioning projects. This particular study covers how homeowners educate themselves about the improvement projects they are interested in, how they find and choose what contractors to work with, and how they think about paying for those projects. The findings seem particularly relevant for solar contractors.


The latest wave of the study found that 51 percent of homeowners utilize online articles as the primary source for research on their home improvement project. And they spend substantial time in their research, with 35 percent of homeowners spending between 1 and 5 hours investigating their project before submitting a lead and a full 28 percent spending more than 10 hours researching on their own.

Then, when they’re selecting a contractor, homeowners shun bad communication skills, with 23 percent listing that as a factor that would prevent hiring a contractor; by contrast, only six percent listed “Ego” as a factor that would prevent a hiring.

“The continued prevalence of homeowners’ online research for information and guidance on their home improvement projects points to the importance for contractors to communicate and make connections online,” said Jason Polka, CEO of Modernize.

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When it comes to kicking off their home improvement project, many homeowners are nervous about their understanding of costs and want help. Eighty-six percent of homeowners surveyed had not created a budget for their project, and of homeowners who paused their project, 58 percent did so because it was too expensive. Across all trades 42 percent of homeowners would like to finance up to half of their project, and 19 percent would like to finance the entire project.

“The homeowner’s lack of knowledge about costs reinforces the need for contractors to educate customers about financing so that homeowners can have more confidence,” said Polka. “Homeowners go online to get quotes and find ways to pay for their home improvement projects. Contractors should capitalize on those needs by having their websites educate and inform homeowners on the financial options.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Modernize: 41 percent of homeowners select contractors based on website recommendations

homeowners select contractor

Contractor lead generation service Modernize released its latest Modernize Homeowner Index, a quarterly research study that measures sentiment among over 2,500 U.S. homeowners. The study was created to help home improvement professionals better serve the market by providing key homeowner insights as they relate to home improvements. This new study focuses on how homeowners educate themselves about the home improvement projects they are interested in, how they find and choose contractors to work with, and how they think about paying for their projects.

Homeowner research

The study found that 75% of homeowners will do some level of research before beginning a project. Up to 64% of homeowners educate themselves through online research. Though 17% learn how to plan their project through home improvement websites, 54% of homeowners will go to Google as their main research resource.

“The fact that so many homeowners search online for information and guidance on their home improvement projects points to the importance for contractors to have a robust online presence,” said Jason Polka, CEO of Modernize.

RELATED: Three tactics for better solar designs under time of use rates

Since 67% of homeowners feel less than “very confident” in their understanding of the cost of their project, it makes sense that the study found that almost 1/3 of them are looking for budgeting help online. The Index discovered that financing is important to homeowners, and up to 2/3 of homeowners surveyed considered financing their project.

Selecting a contractor

When it comes to selecting a contractor, the study found that 41% of homeowners said they would depend on website recommendations, and 29% would depend on online search results.

“The homeowner’s use of online resources reinforces the need for contractors to show up in search results and on key websites so that homeowners can learn about them,” said Polka. “Homeowners are going online to educate themselves on their home improvement projects and to find the help they need. Contractors need to capitalize on that trend by having their own site show up in search results or connecting with homeowners through trusted third party sites.”

This new study is part of an ongoing research project. Modernize is dedicated to educating home improvement contractors so they can better understand customers’ needs and preferences in order to make sound business decisions. Each quarter, Modernize surveys thousands of American homeowners interested in solar, roofing, windows and HVAC projects.

— Solar Builder magazine

Modernize Appointments is a new marketing tool for small solar contractors

modernize sales tool

Modernize, a home improvement contractor lead generation company, has launched Modernize Appointments, a new national offering designed to support smaller contractors who want to grow their businesses. Modernize Appointments provide contractors with requests from homeowners for in-home appointments at specific dates and times. These requests are delivered via email to contractors, who then evaluate the requests and confirm the appointments that fit their schedule. This offering will allow small contractors to scale their revenue growth in a predictable way without incurring the costs of traditional marketing methods such as canvassing or calling leads.

“Small contractors often lack both the marketing infrastructure required to generate customers who need the services they provide and the sales infrastructure to work leads produced by marketing services,” said Jason Polka, CEO of Modernize. “Our new offering gives contractors, especially smaller ones, the opportunity to capitalize on digital homeowner demand at the best time for their business regardless of their marketing and sales expertise.”


Since the new Modernize Appointments service delivers homeowner appointment requests to small contractors, they can eliminate the time and effort it takes to create the lead and set in-home appointments themselves. This gives contractors the freedom to focus on revenue-generating activities.

— Solar Builder magazine