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Customer Financing For Contractors

What Is Customer Financing for Contractors?

Customer financing, also known as in-house financing, is when contractors offer their own payment plans and financing options to customers instead of requiring full payment upfront or having customers secure outside financing. This allows contractors to provide more competitive pricing and payment terms that fit each customer’s unique needs.

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Reasons for Customer Financing for Contactors

Flexible Payment Options

With customer financing, contractors can offer flexible payment schedules – from short-term options like 6 or 12 months to long-term plans of 3-5 years. Customers can choose plans with low monthly payments, longer 0% APR periods, or shorter terms to pay the balance quickly. These tailored options make home improvements more affordable and accessible to customers.

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Higher Sales and Profits

When you remove financial barriers for customers through in-house financing, you open your business to more potential sales. Customers who can’t pay lump sums upfront or don’t want to take out a loan now have a way to move forward with your services. This additional revenue and the interest earned on financing plans can significantly impact your bottom line.

Stronger Customer Relationships

Providing customer financing helps build trust and loyalty with your customers. By offering payment terms and options tailored to their needs, customers feel supported and valued. They also stay engaged with your business for the duration of their payment plan. These long-term relationships lead to more repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals.

Benefits of Offering Customer Financing

Offering customer financing for your contracting business provides several advantages.

1. Increase Sales

When customers have more payment options, especially the ability to pay over time with little or no interest, they are more inclined to move forward with a project. Financing removes the barrier of high upfront costs, allowing customers to get the work done now and pay later. This can lead to an increase in sales and jobs for your business.

2. Higher Profit Margins

Since financing provides customers a way to pay the total cost over months or years, you are able to charge the full price for your services. You earn the total revenue upfront while the customer pays over time. This allows you to maintain higher profit margins on jobs. Without financing, you may need to discount prices to overcome budget objections, eating into your profits.

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3. Repeat Customers

Financing also encourages repeat customers and referrals. When a customer has a good experience with your business and financing makes the project possible, they will likely use your services again in the future. They may also tell friends and family about their positive experience, leading to new referrals and jobs. Repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals are effective ways to grow your contracting business over the long run.

4. Competitive Advantage

Offering attractive financing gives your business a competitive advantage over contractors who do not provide financing options. Customers today want convenience, flexibility, and the ability to pay over time.

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Types of Financing Options for Contractors

Choosing the right financing tool for your needs can help set your business up for success.

1. Lines of Credit

A line of credit allows you to borrow money as needed up to a maximum amount. You only pay interest on the amount you borrow. Lines of credit are flexible and can be used for various business needs like covering operating expenses, purchasing materials or equipment, or financing contracts. The interest rates are often lower than credit cards. However, lines of credit typically need to be secured by business assets.

2. Term Loans

Term loans provide a lump sum of cash that is paid back over a fixed time period, typically 1 to 5 years. These loans have fixed interest rates and payments that allow for predictable cash flow. However, term loans require collateral and strong credit.

3. Business Credit Cards

Business credit cards are a convenient way to finance smaller purchases, but the interest rates are often higher than other options. They are unsecured, so no collateral is needed, but your personal credit may be required. Credit cards should only be used when other, lower-cost options are unavailable or impractical for very short-term needs.

4. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding platforms allow you to raise money from many individuals to fund a project. People invest in your campaign in exchange for rewards like products, services, or equity in your business. Crowdfunding does not require collateral or interest payments. However, you do need an innovative idea or product that attracts lots of interest from potential backers. It can also take a significant time commitment to market your campaign and raise the target amount. For contractors, crowdfunding may be an option to finance development of a new product or service.

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How to Set Up a Customer Financing Program

Here are some of the ways to set up a customer financing program;

1. Find a Finance Partner

Work with a third-party finance company that specializes in contractor financing programs. They handle all the logistics like applications, approvals, billing, and collections. You simply refer customers to them, and once approved, the finance company pays you the full contract amount upfront. Popular options for contractors include GreenSky, Bread, and PayPal Credit.

2. Promote the Program

Educate your customers on the financing options you offer. Explain the benefits like lower monthly payments, little or no down payment needed, and installment plans that fit their budget. Feature financing prominently on your website, in email newsletters, and on social media. Your sales team should also proactively bring up financing when meeting with customers.

3. Make it Easy to Apply

Have information on your financing program readily available and links to the application on your website. The easier you make it to apply, the more likely customers will follow through. Some finance companies even offer a paperless application process that can be completed on a mobile device in minutes.

4. Follow Up and Provide Support

Check in with your customers during and after the financing process to ensure there aren’t any issues or roadblocks. Be available to answer any questions they may have about payments, terms, interest rates, etc. Provide phone and email support to guide them through the application if needed. Follow up calls or notes after a project is complete can also help build goodwill and loyalty.

Conclusion

Offering customer financing is a proven way for contractors to boost sales, strengthen customer relationships, and gain a competitive advantage.

While it does require an investment of time upfront to set up, the rewards of a successful program make the effort worthwhile. Make financing a key part of your marketing and sales strategy and you’ll soon reap the benefits.

FAQs on Customer Financing for Contractors

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions and their various answers;

1. What is customer financing?

Customer financing refers to loans offered by contractors to their customers to pay for home improvement projects, construction work, or other expensive services. Instead of paying the full amount upfront, homeowners can pay over time with interest. This makes big-ticket items more affordable and can increase your sales.

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2. How does it benefit contractors?

Offering financing opens your services up to more potential customers. Those who can’t pay the full amount immediately may be able to pay over time. It also allows you to charge a higher total price since the payments are spread out. You’ll get paid a portion upfront, and the rest over the life of the loan with interest. Some financing companies also provide marketing support to help promote your financing offers.

3. What are the options for offering financing?

You have a few options for providing customer financing:

  • Partner with a third-party financing company. They provide the loans and take on the risk, while you get paid upfront. Popular choices include GreenSky, LendingClub, and OnDeck.
  • Offer in-house financing. You provide and service the loans yourself. This allows you to keep all the interest but also means taking on the risk if customers default. You’ll need strong underwriting and collection processes in place.
  • Create a line of credit or credit card. For established contractors with a good credit history, a business line of credit or credit card may be an option to fund customer financing. Interest rates are often higher but it provides maximum flexibility.
  • Crowdfunding. For smaller loans, you can consider crowdfunding sites like Kiva or Funding Circle. Individual investors provide the funds and you repay them over time. Rates may be lower but the process can be time-consuming.

4. What do I need to get started?

To offer in-house financing or credit, you’ll need:

Strong credit score and financials. To qualify for a line of credit or business loan to fund loans.

•Underwriting process. To determine customer creditworthiness and appropriate loan terms.

Loan contracts and documentation. Spell out the terms of the financing for your customers.

Billing and collection process. To automatically charge payments and follow up on late or missed bills.

Possible licensing. Some states require licenses or permits to offer commercial financing. Check with your local regulations.

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