Get insights to help utilities empower & scale their trade ally network & see how tools like EVOLVE Partner Plus can help.
As utilities transition to clean energy and sustainability, they rely even more on the trusted relationships they’ve built with trade allies to bridge the gap between energy customers and clean energy programs. The strength and depth of trade ally customer relationships, combined with supporting tools and resources that utilities provide, drive program success.
We can see the impacts these relationships have on helping customers achieve their energy management goals. Trade allies play an especially crucial role in gaining early adopter buy in and igniting momentum around energy programs.
DNV GL has established long-term partnerships with trade allies across North America. Because we have worked diligently toward understanding their needs and empowering their success, trade allies value their relationship with us and recognize the benefits to their business. This market-driven model provides trade allies opportunities to pursue expanded work with a partner they trust in the utility. In turn, the utilities that work with us benefit from our thriving network of trade allies.
Trade allies play a crucial role in supporting utility customers to improve their business’s energy performance. As markets change it is critical to think about how we support trade allies to meet changing needs. Below, I share six tips to help utilities empower and grow their trade ally ecosystems and optimize these crucial relationships to strengthen program success.
1. Streamline the application process to recruit more contractors
Depending upon a utility’s internal processes, applying to be a trade ally can be cumbersome and time-consuming, involving paperwork, multiple steps, and even in-person visits to the utility. Busy contractors may not have the time or see the value to their business in becoming a trade ally.
Simplifying the application process is an important recruitment strategy. Make it easy to find and complete trade ally applications digitally on your portal. Make the requirements clear and ensure the vetting process is as short as possible. And be sure to use your portal to promote the benefits of becoming a trade ally. Highlighting how utilities support trade allies to improve their business outcomes is a critical motivating factor.
2. Prioritize trade ally engagement in non-metro areas
Customers in rural areas typically have the same needs as customers in cities. The same can be said for contractors. It is important to engage contractors across an entire service territory including in less populated areas to help them maximize the benefits of energy programs.
Putting your application process and other onboarding materials online is essential. Helping trade allies leverage utility branded sales collateral can make them more credible in the sales process. Additionally, providing leads on sourcing materials through distributors and efficient technologies can help them get access to competitive pricing and ensure quality products are installed.
3. Provide relevant training and resources to keep trade allies informed
Keeping abreast of industry trends and new energy programs can be difficult for busy contractors. Ease this strain by providing on-demand, digital access to trainings, insights, and videos relevant to their specific field of expertise. Provide them with news around industry trends, technology updates, and new innovations. This kind of support can be especially helpful when trade allies hire new employees who need to ramp up quickly. Trainings like these range from sales best practices e.g. speaking in the customer’s language to more complex trainings that help their teams to learn new technologies.
4. Prepare trade allies for what’s next
Many variables factor into the transition to clean energy such as renewables, managing greenhouse gas emissions, and the timing of energy use. Utilities depend on trade allies to understand what’s happening from an industry perspective. As the industry transforms and new technologies emerge, trade allies need to be prepared to evolve their businesses.
Give trade allies access to the training and resources they need to adapt their business models for the future of clean energy. Provide informative marketing resources that trade allies can share with customers. When trade allies understand the shifting energy landscape, they can build customer awareness and lay the foundation for change. We find that customers who are informed are more trusting and willing to embrace change.
5. Simplify trade allies’ connections to expand their opportunities
Make it easy for trade allies to connect with partners that have complementary areas of expertise. This not only expands their own business opportunities, it also enhances the customer experience. For example, if a lighting trade ally has a project with an HVAC component, they can provide a better customer experience by partnering with an HVAC trade ally that is familiar with utility rebates and is using same system.
Make it easy for trade allies to find other trade allies by segment and geography. Be sure to give them easy access to customizable marketing materials to help them secure projects.
6. Empower trade allies with EVOLVE Partner Plus
Building and enabling a flourishing trade ally ecosystem requires time and diligence. It also requires digital transformation. The EVOLVE Digital Suite helps energy providers to unlock the potential of clean energy by streamlining program management and connecting them, their customers, trade allies, and distributors to the insights, resources and incentives needed to drive impact.
Specifically, EVOLVE Partner Plus is an automated, self-service tool that simplifies trade ally recruitment and applications and empowers trade allies to incorporate energy programs into their businesses. Developed with inputs from trade allies, Partner Plus enables utilities to quickly scale their network while empowering trade allies with self-service tools, training, and marketing materials. Features include:
- Customizable trade ally portal with energy program resources
- Rebate estimation to help sell projects and demonstrate the return on investment impacts
- Online application with power features to store commonly used specifications and copy projects with similar scopes of work
- Central repository for utility marketing collateral and training
- Trade ally database and with a look-up tool for customers to find providers
- Payment automation
- Online chat for real-time support