Top 3 Solar Mistakes Made by Solar InstallersKimroy Bailey
In my five years of solar installations I have made a lot of solar mistakes along my journey to grow my solar instalation business at Kimroy Bailey Renewables. I want to help you get over the learning curve much faster than I did and that is why we created the Step by Step Solar Installation Training Course to help you confidently install a profitable solar panel system. In this article I will highlight three rookie solar mistakes installers tend to make in the early stages of their business.
Solar Mistakes #1: Leaving Money on the Table
When you’re a rookie in the solar installation business your tempted to offer customers cheaper prices to win the job over your competitors. However, after 5 years in the business, I can tell you this only works in the short term. I’m not going to knock you for doing it to get a foot in the door, but it’s not a sustainable way to grow your business.
You should be fair to your customer but you also have to ensure that your profit margins are equitable to sustain your business operations. I have completed numerous installations where I have had to sacrifice compensating myself in order to cover staff and operation expenses. Additionally, if your customer is paying you in two installments, ensure that the first installment is sufficient to cover the cost of equipment, material and contingencies and the final installment should contribute towards labour and profits/business operational costs. This normally works out to about 70% for the first installment and 30% for the final installment. Some customers may insist on 50% first and 50% upon completion, in that case, ensure that you have sufficient inventory of solar items or access to capital to procure items not covered in the payment for the first installment because it is unlikely that 50% will cover all your solar equipment, material and labour needs.
Solar Mistakes #2: Overcommit or Making Unrealistic Expectations to the Customer
You will meet with many customers who want all the bells and whistles but they lack the budget. Your job in this scenario is to be very clear in your communications with the customer about the solar energy system’s capabilities. What exactly do I mean? I will give you an example: You size an off-grid system for a washer and dryer with specific kWh consumption. Midway through the job the client upgrades to a bigger washer and dryer with the expectation that your system will still be able to handle the load at the agreed price. Or once you’ve completed a job and you’ve provided an electrical subpanel with all these appliances hooked up to solar, the customer hires an electrician or a friend to hook up additional appliances to the system.
My tip is to clearly communicate and ensure that you have all deliverables and any changes requested by the customer documented in writing via an agreed upon solar proposal, a signed contract, email conversations/facebook conversations etc.
Solar Mistakes #3: Poor Planning
As a newbie in the Installation business, your aim is to become as efficient as possible with the limited resources you have. The major areas you need to have fine-tuned are team member logistics ( whether it’s a two-man team or more)-who is in charge of what? The next area is the delivery and storage of the solar equipment-solar panels and the other equipment are pretty large, having these onsite the day before the install really helps. Finally having the proper working tools such as hard hats, harness, tool belts, drills, hydrometer etc.
One tip I would love to offer and that I use in my business is that I pre-assemble major solar components. Solar components such as the inverter, the charge controller, DC ( direct current) connection box, circuit breakers and the surge protectors are inter-connected at the office before leaving out to the customer’s home. I then encase these system components in a neat box which can be quickly screwed to a wall. I also find that usually, the homeowner may have other works being done to their home when they are considering solar. If there is electrical work being carried out at the same time you’re hired to install the solar, get the electrician to run your wires in tandem with their electricals. Hey, they were going to do the same steps with or without your electricals.
I really feel great when I can share these insights and tips with our students at Step by Step Solar. There is a wise advice that says”if you run with the wise you become wise. As a rookie, I had to learn many lessons from hard experiences especially since the solar installation industry is still young and non-standardized. You can absorb much more awesome content in video form when you register for the Step By Step Solar Installation Training Course. This course will ensure that you jump past the hurdles of trial-and-errors and get to the good part of confidently installing profitable solar energy systems.
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