Should You Offer Financing with Retrofit Projects?

Dave Ingram|Nov 10, 2020

A version of this blog post originally appeared on SnapCount’s website.

You’ve carefully assessed your potential client’s needs and have spent hours putting together a comprehensive proposal that, if agreed upon, will be the first step on the path of transforming that client’s lighting efficiency.

It should be an easy win. But right now, even the most well thought out and desperately needed projects are met with hesitation.

Cash flow is on everybody’s mind. And if your clients are worried about their cash flow, your proposals may get shelved or even turned down completely.

One way to solve this problem is to offer financing as part of your proposal, allowing the client to minimize the cash flow impact of your project by spreading payments out over a fixed period, at an affordable interest rate.

Let’s Explore How Retrofit Financing Works

Before diving into how retrofit financing works, it is important to clarify the meaning of some commonly used terms:

  • Residual value is the estimated value of an asset at the end of its financing term.
  • Balloon payment is an outstanding lump sum that is due at the end of a loan or leasing period, instead of the full debt being completely paid off throughout its sequence of regular payments.
  • Lessee is the company receiving the lease.
  • Lessor is the company or organization providing the lease.

In general, when companies get financing for their retrofit project, they typically pursue one of two avenues: debt financing or lease financing.

  • Debt financing is a loan or line of credit that an organization may get directly from a bank. This type of financing is relatively straightforward but may be difficult to obtain during periods of volatility.
  • Lease financing is an option that retrofit companies can offer to clients. Typically, retrofit lease finance is implemented as a capital lease.
Dave Ingram
Dave Ingram
US Commercial Lead
Clean Technology
Offering financing as part of your proposal allows the client to minimize the cash flow impact of your project by spreading payments out over a fixed period, at an affordable interest rate."

With a capital lease, the lessor and the lessee sign a lease agreement, at which point the project is financed. A capital lease is recognized on your client’s balance sheet as an asset and liability.

The lessee makes equal, pre-determined payments spread over the life of the lease, which is typically between 30 to 72 months in the retrofit industry. There is no balloon payment or residual value at the end of the lease. The last payment is equal to the first and completes the lease in full, and your client owns their investment outright at the end of the lease.

Why Bundle Retrofit Financing into a Project?

There are multiple benefits—for you and your customers—to offering financing options.

First, it creates much better cashflow stability for the client. Building owners may not have the cash available for a lighting retrofit. Or, they have their cash earmarked for a rainy day or another major expenditure. Instead of having to put off the project altogether, financing allows them to get their retrofit done without dipping into their cash.

Additionally—and very importantly—lease financing may result in a net cash zero or even net cash positive scenario if the monthly savings created by the retrofit exceed the monthly lease payment. If you are accurate about costs and potential cost savings, and amortize the lease accordingly, you can very easily create a no-brainer “win-win” decision for a customer.

Providing this turnkey solution creates a very appealing option to customers, who may not have the time or credit history to secure financing from a bank. You’re immediately removing a major obstacle from the path toward “yes,” resulting in an easier time closing deals and positioning yourself as a trusted partner.

Lastly, it can be particularly advantageous to have regular, predictable monthly payments coming in from clients instead of the feast-famine cycle (interspersed by chasing down big invoices) that is so common to the industry. Instead of having to wait 60 or 90 days for payment, payment is rapidly received once certain project milestones are met.

How to Add Financing to Your Retrofit Contracts

Fortunately, adding financing to your retrofit contracts does not require you to have expert-level knowledge of the mechanisms and regulations associated with lease financing.

Instead, you simply have to do the same thing you ask your customers to do when they turn to you: rely on the experts. By partnering with DLL, we will answer all your questions and ensure you are comfortable with any terms and conditions. We will also provide the resources and support you need to educate your client on their options and help them make a confident, informed decision.

Offering financing helps you create a strong case for ROI with potential customers and hopefully position your retrofit projects as cash-flow positive. Helping your clients solve their cash flow issues will go a long way toward keeping your own cash flow healthy and growing.

DLL can help you simplify the process and offer retrofit financing options. Reach out to us to learn more.