We've all been there. You're about to close a nice big kitchen remodel when the homeowner asks if you offer financing. You glance down at your boots and clear your throat. And you realize you're not gonna get the job.
Long time Networx customer-service rep, Adam King, says that contractors complain about jobs that got away because the homeowner asked about financing and, well, "they're not a bank."
While financing may be nerve-wracking for all involved, it plays a major role in the home improvement industry. Let's face it: The average kitchen remodel costs $54,000. So unless a homeowner has been putting $225 into the bank every month for 20 years, they're gonna need a payment plan.
As a contractor, don't let a homeowner mentioning financing be a deal-breaker. Here's how.
Get a Bank Guy
Adam says he talks to plenty of contractors who have a "bank guy." Take some time to visit your bank and sit down with their loan representative. Talk to them about their home-improvement loan options and the idea of sending homeowners in need of financing their way. Carry loan brochures with you to meetings with prospective customers so you have something to show them when the topic of financing comes up.
The thing with banks is that the lending process can drag a while. It can take more than two weeks before a loan application is approved and it can take another week before the money is actually lent. Most banks also require the loan applicant to already do their banking with them.
There's an entire industry dedicated to personal loans. The upside of these companies is that they approve loans even when an applicant's credit is weak. Also, while some companies charge an "origination fee," there usually aren't any fees other than the interest. There's also a pretty quick turnaround - a borrower can get a loan in a day.
Networx has recently teamed up with Prosper, one of the original personal loan companies. Prosper can lend up to $35,000 for small home-improvement projects. APRs begin at 5.99% for the most credit-worthy borrowers, who can choose to repay over three or five years. Rates and fees are clearly disclosed and easy to understand, and the lending process is typically faster and less stringent than it is through big banks.
Even Home Depot has joined the party and offers a very sensible Project Loan that allows you to borrow up to $55,000 and pay it over 84 months at just an 8% interest rate. That could be a good backup plan if Prosper only lends up to $35,000 at a time.
You're So Money!
Ultimately, the homeowner still needs to be approved for the loan. However, now you'll be able to point them in the right direction and, hopefully, you'll close more jobs because of it.