Lessons Learned from our Midstream Webinar
We recently hosted a webinar with Enbridge Gas to discuss their HVAC and kitchen equipment midstream program in Ontario, Canada. Our discussion included an overview of the program design, key challenges this program has faced and how they have addressed them.
If you were unable to attend or want a refresher, here are our top takeaways:
1. Distributors are active stakeholders and key to effectively administering the program.
Identifying a strong value proposition for your distributors and getting buy-in from all levels of the organization is essential to a successful midstream program. While the value proposition might vary depending on the size of the distributor, the customer base or the number of locations, ensure your distributors are on board and motivated to help deliver the program. Providing added benefits for distributors, like allowing them to keep a portion of incentive dollars to use for marketing or operations, also helps with active participation from your distributors.
2. Collaboration with other utilities can lead to a better customer experience.
Enridge Gas worked with Ontario’s local electric provider, IESO, to provide both electric and gas measures under their pilot midstream program. This joint effort allowed customers to apply for both gas and electric measures under one program umbrella and create cost savings programs like joint marketing and distributor engagement.
While this approach may not be right for all utilities, finding opportunities to collaborate with other stakeholders in your market can be positive for distributors and customers alike. More incentivized products also keep the program top of mind for distributors and have a better chance at success.
3. Use sales data along with qualitative feedback to develop program forecasts.
Confidentiality and bringing together multiple sales reporting methods can be a major challenge in midstream programs as many distributors have their own unique approach. Some distributors are hesitant to share past sales information. For those that do, the reports may not reflect efficient versus inefficient sales outcomes. These challenges can make program forecasting and expectation-setting difficult. Instead of unit-level forecasts, focus on trends and volume overviews with participants.
Distributor or manufacturer surveys can also give you a sense of what equipment they have in stock or sell frequently while maintaining sales data confidentiality. Marrying a quantitative and qualitative approach to understanding distributors’ selling habits is the best path toward understanding the impact your program will have.
4. Combat supply chain issues by starting conversations early.
While long lead times to get stock equipment can be frustrating, it provides an opportunity to change purchasing habits. Many distributors are used to purchasing inefficient equipment as a routine. Taking advantage of delays and offering efficiency programs can guide those distributors to stocking energy-efficient, qualified equipment instead. Market assessments and feedback from distributors and manufacturers will help you better understand purchasing habits and guide long-term program strategy as well. Additionally, formalizing relationships with manufacturers and encouraging them to manufacture or certify higher efficiency products can get more incentive-qualified products on shelves as your program matures.
Check out our full webinar, Midstream: Beyond Lighting, to learn more about midstream innovation and ensuring program success.