Finding the right windows can a daunting task for building owners. To help with this process, the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) provides retailers and sales professionals with information on the energy performance of windows, doors, and skylights—also referred to as fenestration products – so customers can make an informed purchase decision that best meets their needs.
In the last 10 years, NFRC’s Retailer Program has connected with more than 300 companies and their sales associates to give them unbiased, third-party validated data to compare a product’s performance. Owners want fair, accurate, and credible information from a trusted source. Salespeople who use NFRC’s label have a tool to show customers the energy performance of windows, doors, and skylights.
NFRC conducted a survey to ask salespeople about their challenges and needs when trying to close a sale. The survey asked retailers how well they understood the NFRC energy-performance label and their ability to explain it to customers. According to the survey, the three main findings are:
- Understanding energy efficiency is not the biggest sales challenge, but still is an issue for some.
- Nearly all customers ask about price and about half rank this as the number one factor in making a purchase. However, 62 percent said they consider energy efficiency important and 22 percent say this is the most significant factor in buying windows, doors, or skylights. Additionally, energy efficiency ranked in the top three by most (64 percent) of retailers.
- Retailers say that their biggest challenge is understanding and explaining the overall differences between the various fenestration products. However, a third (36 percent) say that explaining energy performance can be difficult. At the same time, more than half of respondents (59 percent) say they currently use NFRC’s energy-performance label when selling windows, doors, or skylights.
- Retailers overestimate their understanding of the NFRC energy-performance label.
- Most retailers say they feel confident that they know the various parts of the energy-performance label and understand NFRC’s ratings. Further, 77 percent of retailers said a product’s energy performance is easy for customers to understand. Yet when quizzed on whether it is better to have a higher or lower number for U-Factor, less than half (45 percent) responded correctly that the lower the number, the better a product is at keeping heat in. U-Factor measures how well a window keeps heat from escaping from the inside of a room during colder months.
- Survey respondents also reported confusion on the best value for the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, which measures how well a product keeps heat out during summer cooling season. Only 27 percent correctly said that a low number is better.
- Virtual training and videos are the best ways to deliver information to retailers.
- Most retailers said they are interested in increasing their knowledge of NFRC’s energy-performance label, which would enable them to improve their ability to share information with their customers. Respondents prefer virtual training (82 percent) over in-person (66 percent) training. To meet this need, NFRC unveiled a training webinar to explain the various ratings on the label and demonstrate how to access certified products in the organization’s vast database of windows, doors, and skylights.
This survey shows that NFRC’s Retailer Program has a tremendous opportunity to reach a captive audience with training for sales professionals to have the tools to compare products and help customers better understand energy performance. Additionally, NFRC educates retailers about the value of the organization and why the label’s ratings are essential. Through improved outreach and education, retailers and sales professionals can overcome some of the challenges with selling windows, doors, and skylight as well as make customers feel confident that the products they are purchasing perform as indicated.