Solar Pros Who Care Speak Out in #SolarChat
The topic of EcoOutfitters.net’s #SolarChat for 2/8/12 was “Ways to Grow Your Solar Business.” Throughout the chat, one thing was clear: It’s rare to find a community of professionals so dedicated to their customers. The conversation evolved into a team of top solar installers and industry pros talking about ways they can better serve their customer base.
We’d like to thank our panelists, Glenna Wiseman, VP of marketing for HelioPower; Aaron Fowles, corporate communications manager for SANYO North America; and Chris J. Hillman, sales manager of the Renewable Energy Department of Allied Business Schools, as well as all the Twitter “Solar Tribe” who attended #SolarChat. We couldn’t do it without you!
The hour-long #SolarChat offered several key takeaway points for industry types and the solar-curious:
1 – The consumer-facing staff of solar installation firms must be passionate, knowledgeable and professional.
@SungreenSystems summarized this neatly: “Sales and Project Management are very important to a good delivery, but installers are key to leaving a lasting impression.”
@HIT_Solar added: “Sanyo panel installers who meet the public on a daily basis are most important to our business.”
2 – Passion alone is not enough — proper training is mandatory.
3 – While fieldwork experience is a benefit, solar companies are looking to hire people who have a formal education in solar.
4 – Because the solar industry is new and growing, solar installers represent not just their own firm, but the entire industry.
5 – Creating a positive customer experience is a true team effort. The salesperson is the point-person, but everyone, from the manufacturers who provide a quality product and on-time delivery, to the field workers who install the panels and leave a clean work site when they are done, play a part in creating an experience that solar customers will share with their friends. That’s what growing the industry is really all about. As HelioPower’s Glenna Wiseman noted, “There is certainly the need for consummate customer service skills throughout both sales and operations.”
The Importance of Education
One point that was repeated by our panelists again and again was the importance of training and education. Solar installers, and especially sales staff, must be knowledgeable not only about the technology, but about incentives that are available for their state and for the various municipalities Customers just don’t realize how much they can really save with solar unless solar professionals educate them!
Many chat participants provided a variation of @HelioPower’s sentiments: “The in-house discipline to track incentives is very important.”
Where Installers Find the Best People
@SolarPlanet noted, “The right people can come from many different places. We aspire to keep our eyes open ALL THE TIME.”
With that in mind, many participants revealed that they turn to local universities to find job candidates with the right training and credentials already in place, who are on the road to earning certifications once they put in the fieldwork. Companies also reach out through LinkedIn and other social media sources to find those passionate about renewable energy.
As @KendraHubbard stated, “Training for the work is easier than training to have a great attitude for the work.”
Need a Solar Installer?
If last week’s #SolarChat showed us anything, it’s that passionate, trained, knowledgeable solar professionals exist in every state and region. As a solar customer, you have a right to the best treatment. You deserve solar professionals who speak your language, educate you about the money-saving possibilities, and treat you as more than just a business transaction.
Remembering One of Our Own
On a very sad note, we would like to pay tribute to a very special person Heather Andrews, or as most know her @PVAddict. Heather passed away after complications from brain surgery on the day of this past #SolarChat at the tragic age of 33. Heather was a genuine, passionate, enthusiastic solar advocate and an amazing solar role model. I met Heather in California at the solar tribe’s @SolarFred TweetUp, where we discussed the importance of talking up solar everywhere and every way. She absolutely loved the concept of #SolarChat.
Heather, I hope we are doing you proud — you will always remain in our hearts and souls and every time we speak solar, you will be apart of it. Rest in peace sweet angel; may the sun always shine bright on you. XO, Raina