Improving Uptake in Home Visit Retrofit Programmes (2012)

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This report by Waterwise sets out to better understand the factors influencing the uptake of home visit and home retrofit projects and reviews recruitment methods that were deployed successfully and unsuccessfully in previous programmes. Evidence was collected through a literature review focusing on information available for the UK and phone interviews with people closely involved in the recruitment process. The research elicited crucial insights about common methods including letters, phone calls, and door-knocking, when, where and how to use them, but also identified knowledge gaps for future research.

Executive Summary

Introduction

Home retrofits and home visits are a growing component of the delivery of water savings by water companies. Uptake in water efficiency home visit retrofit projects has varied, ranging from 6% to 60% in the projects included in the Evidence Base1. This report sets out to better understand the factors that affect uptake in these home visit projects and will review recruitment methods that have been employed both successfully and unsuccessfully in previous programmes.

Methodology

Evidence was initially collected through a literature review. For the purposes of this study material included was:

From the UK only;
Focused upon home visit retrofit programmes, where the customer opts in;
Used a range of methods (both qualitative and quantitative);
Of suitable quality in terms of robustness and relevance to the research question.

A systematic data gathering process was also undertaken, drawing on available information from previous water efficiency projects, specifically relating to recruitment. The project collated relevant information through the WaterUK Water Efficiency Network, the Waterwise Newsletter, the Waterwise „Water & People‟ bulletin and the Evidence Base Steering Group, Peer Review Group and Working Groups. Informal discussions were carried out with water efficiency practitioners, within water companies, and consultants as a means of identifying suitable literature. In addition, the UKWIR WR25c database was used to identify other potentially relevant projects.

Telephone interviews were then carried out with individuals that have been closely involved in the recruitment for previous home visit retrofit programmes, providing insight and detail beyond what can be gained from literature. Interviewees were then provided with a summary of the key points discussed during the interviews in order to ensure their views and opinions were accurately recorded.

Findings

Letters – These are generally the first method of contact in a project. In order to increase the likelihood of uptake, the letters should include clear messaging that considers important factors such as the target customer, the time of year and the aims of the project. The letter should also be branded appropriately – including partner logos where applicable. There should also be an easy response method included, such as inclusion of a Freepost reply envelope. The most popular and successful example is a tear-off slip which can simply be posted back by the customer. Follow-up letters should be designed using the same branding to facilitate project recognition; however, the message and format of the letter may be changed in order to attract those customers who did not respond to the first mailing. Response rates are usually increased by promoting it as a limited time offer.

Telephone Calls – Telephone calls should only be used as a follow-up after a letter is sent. Cold calling alone is unlikely to achieve a high uptake rate, partly because the customer may not have heard of the project and so is likely to be unreceptive, but also because many people find cold calls annoying.