Are You Wondering How To Find a Solar Installer?
Finding a good solar installer should start with a quality solar consultation. Here are the steps that consultation should involve.
Joe is a solar consultant in Florida and through these chats, we’ve really been able to outline a lot of the challenges that a homeowner can go through when it comes to getting solar. Navigating all that confusion and getting through some of the different questions that homeowners have. Joe is helping us to navigate that rocky road and today we’re going to talk about the ways that he works through a meeting with a homeowner that is initially considering a solar installation.
Steve: We’ve been having a chat with Joe from joedoessolar.com
Welcome Joe, thanks for joining us… I think this is super helpful for homeowners looking into a solar installation.
Joe: Good morning, I’m glad to be here. I’m glad to help.
Steve: Now, let’s talk about how a homeowner would navigate this… what kind of questions should the consultant be helping them with what questions should they have? That’s where can start, I just called you up and I said hey Joe I’m thinking about getting solar installed on my home here in Orlando.
Joe: It would be a little bit different process than somebody if somebody just called me directly but let’s just assume that it’s not going to be me because nine times out of ten I mean you know I’m in Orlando. I’m in Central Florida you could be looking into solar anywhere, it could be anybody. I would like to think it would be me if you are and I would very much appreciate that. I’ll take real good care of you. Typically what happens is you fill out a form on the internet or you call a company and they say, okay let me send a rep up well the first thing you want to know is who is the rep?
What’s their name and then go on Google and go read the reviews how many reviews does that rep have?
Are they good reviews are they bad reviews? Are there no reviews? That would indicate that they haven’t been with that company very long which might be a red flag. Are they just jumping companies telling people whatever they want to tell them and you know running out of dodge? Also, check the BBB as well. Are there any derogatory entries in BBB on that rep? They told them one thing and they got something else. So it’s amazing how many homeowners don’t do their homework. I’ve got hundreds of five-star reviews and you know maybe ten percent of the homes that I walk into actually took the time to know who they’re going to be dealing with before I walked in the door. So that would be my first tip.
Steve: That’s a great point you know just because somebody can tell you whatever you want to hear. Reputation is everything and today you just can’t hide your reputation. That’s one of the great things about technology.
Joe: The first thing that should be occurring is for the rep to make sure that you completely understand how solar works and if you don’t fully understand how solar works there’s a great website to understand how solar works it’s called joedoessolar.com. You want to make sure that the customer really has an understanding. What it’s going to do, what it’s not going to do.
Some interesting changes, if we were doing this video back in October one of the things that most customers would have to understand then is when the power goes out unless you invest in battery storage which I’m not a fan of, you’re not going to have any power. There are new inverters right now out by Enphase that will allow you to have power as long as the sun is shining. Like 110 nothing crazy like your central ac but you know lights, phones, fans refrigerators. It’s absolutely remarkable what that technology will do. So that’s one of the new things that come into understanding how solar works because it is getting better every day from a technological standpoint
The one word that you said or two-word phrase that resonated with me is you’re walking into a sales presentation. Right, if you feel like you are walking into a sales presentation in your own house run because that’s exactly what it is. I mean if the guy whips out an iPad and starts showing you a PowerPoint presentation of all the savings that you could have.
And they’re just showing you exactly what they want you to see and nothing that you don’t. A consultation should be just that, it is an exchange of information, it is conversational. I need to know first off what are your goals. From a power standpoint which is kind of what I just kind of touched on.
Hey, I’m good with no power when the power’s out because our power rarely goes out because I’m on the same grid as the hospital. Okay, then not a problem.
The other thing from a goal standpoint…
What are your financial goals?
- Do I want to pay this off as fast as possible at a low interest rate?
- Do I want to just be happy with the fact that for the next 25 years I’m locked into today’s price of electricity?
- Do I want to pay this off in the next ten years and enjoy another decade or two of my own energy production?
It’s a bill that I plan on having anyway and you know that may be a win. It’s more of a monthly budget goal you have to take the time to understand what that person’s trying to achieve and also educate them on what they don’t know. Well, have you considered this?
Then were you aware that you could consider this? A good rep will always answer many questions that the customer doesn’t even know how to ask. Doesn’t know enough to ask yet but fill in the blanks and that’s where the honesty and transparency really come out.
Steve: I think that’s one of the challenges… As a homeowner we don’t necessarily know what the questions are, we’re not the expert and we don’t know what we don’t know.
Right so that’s something may sound really good and then three months later you find out wow. So really after that… after discussing what the goals are…
Then we have to really take a deep dive…
- What do we have to work with?
- What’s going on in your home?
- How old are some of your major appliances?
Your water heater other things that are large energy drains. Can they be replaced in the project in a more cost-effective way than just by going straight solar? That’s where a gazillion factors come into play.
All whittle down to the end equation but if you’re not taking these things into consideration you’re not getting that customer the best outcome because you’ve just broad-brushed over everything else with your canned presentation.
Steve: As far as the major energy drains that you mentioned. Is this where we’re talking about water heaters, air conditioners, you guys are using your air what, six months out of the year? Probably pool pumps, that sort of thing?
Joe: Absolutely, those are those are all energy drains and the question is based on the age and the efficiency of those. Is it more cost-effective to replace those things as part of the project or let them go for a little while?
If you’re going to let them go for a while and you know that years from now which actually brings me to the next point is after you see what you’ve got to work with, address whatever concerns… there’s a lot of hidden areas where things could be a concern that you may not think about.
There are some solar statutes in Florida where if your system exceeds a certain size you’re required to have a million-dollar liability policy in case your great big solar array damages the utility companies’ grids. Which I’ve never heard of ever occurring.
Now they’ve gotta go out and spend another 40- 45 bucks a month for a liability or umbrella policy that’s not right to the customer.-Joe Nash
It’s just it’s another monthly cost that a homeowner, especially when you have a homeowner that’s has told you, “listen my biggest concern is I just want to get my monthly expenses down” and then you know their solar array is just a little bit over that cutoff point and now they’ve gotta go out and spend another 40- 45 bucks a month for a liability or umbrella policy that’s not right to the customer. I mean you say you’re solving their problem. Are you really solving their problem?
Or you just you’re not because you didn’t tell them everything that goes into that again that’s where this big honesty and trust thing comes into play.
Steve: Doesn’t it, yeah so all those little details… Gotta ease them out get everything on the table so you can make an educated decision about it.
Joe: Exactly, how would I want to be treated you know if I knew everything and that’s basically if I’m doing a consultation I take all the variables that you’ve expressed to me and how would I work this if this was my home? What would Joe do? It’s funny the last couple of customers, they’ve been thinking about it. Well that’s what joe did so you know what I think that’s what Joe did I think that’s probably smart… I’ll stay in that lane, I’ll do the same thing.
It works. After that, it really becomes a numbers game. This is what we’ve got to work with here are the possible solutions this is what you said your goals were here are a couple of options for you.
From a financing standpoint, how much are we gonna save over time?
What’s important to you and going over all the financing options because after we understand what your goals are after we understand what we have to work with we need to discuss what are the concerns regarding the things that we have to work with.
If let’s say we’ve got a pretty inefficient air conditioner but it’s only about six years old and you plan on keeping it around for probably 10 years life span or so.
Well, is it better to come up a little bit short right now on your power production? Knowing that in four years you’re going to replace your air conditioner and that the equation’s going to get in line? Because if I just sell you a solar enough to cover what it is right now, when you go replace that air conditioner now you’re going to be over-producing and these are the things that reps will never get into- because it gives a customer too many things to consider and it’s not just railroading you down a path to sign right here and get what’s you know all in likelihood, not your best solution.
Steve: Thinking down the road a little bit, thinking ahead and seeing what’s coming in the future I think that’s great.
Questions to consider:
- Do you have kids that are going to move out? They may be draining your electricity.
- Are you planning on getting an electric vehicle in about four years? I’m planning on getting an electric vehicle.
- Upgrading energy draining appliances in the coming years?
I do want to size my system appropriately so that when that happens I’m covering that. I’m not paying the utility company for that as well? Right, these are the things that are never going to get really precipitated out unless there is a very good candid conversation about all of these factors going on in that individual’s home and that’s really where the problem-solving steps in.
It’s easy to train a solar rep and say hey here’s a PowerPoint presentation just say these things, here’s a couple of things they may throw up as objections or whatever and this is what you tell them.
Let’s face it what I’m just covering right here you know I would guess 90 out of 100 homeowners that have sat for a solar consultation that never happened for them and that’s a shame.
- All the the financing options…
- How long is it going to take to install?
- What’s the install process going to look like?
- Can your rep actually walk you through all the steps that are necessary to to get to an install?
Can they? No, the office handles all that… they gotta pull a building permit there’s a lot that goes on. Do they know the granularity of that because if you don’t know what’s required to actually install it, should you be selling it?
Steve: I don’t know exactly how it works, the way I imagine it working is that you have the guy doing the sales presentation and might have great intentions and think they’re doing everything they can because they’re doing what they were taught to do.
I would imagine this the consultant or the salesperson gets through the presentation with you and then when you, the homeowner starts asking all those questions about the actual installation and getting into the nitty-gritty of it, that’s when it likely gets handed off to a closer. Get somebody on the phone at the company that is going to take all of those questions because they’re buying questions and just and turn them into a sale.
I love the way that you’re doing things because this is how people want to solve their problems. Now you know people don’t want to be sold to. They love to come up with a solution to their problem and that essentially is what happens in a sales meeting. Being the consultant and working through all of those details with them just makes it a better experience for the homeowner.
That’s really what we’re doing here is just trying to make things easier, a more streamlined experience for somebody to get the solution of their problem. Which in this case are electric bills going out of control. As you were saying before… a four percent increase on your electric bill every single year.
Imagine where you’ll be, you can do the math. In ten-fifteen years when you could have your solar array paid for, you’d be paying double what you’re paying now on your electric bill. So all of the particular questions that somebody will have we’re not going to do it all right here. That would just be too much information at once but we’ll dive into all these specific questions that a homeowner is going to have to find a solution to their problem. The answer is going to be different depending on somebody’s situation.
Joe: Somebody could take those questions and know what to ask. As we said, you don’t know what you don’t know. So if somebody helps you come up with the questions then you’re a step ahead of the game right and really in essence since I started the website, especially since I’ve been working with you and some of the topics that we’ve covered…
I don’t have to think about a topic to cover because all I have to do is listen to my customers. I’m sitting with dozens of customers a month. There are a lot of commonalities what do they not know, why do they not know it, and how do I provide them the information where it’s easy to find and fix. I mean as we all know you can go try Google some of these answers and you’re gonna get through three pages of ads before you actually get to the answer that you’re looking for. In a lot of cases, it makes it very frustrating from a consumer standpoint and you know the point is to have a one-stop-shop where somebody can get all these answers and concerns dealt with.
It’s great, I love it.
Well, I’m looking forward to that next one, the twenty questions or whatever we’re gonna do that’s gonna be a lot of fun. Yeah, that sounds good all right so till then keep on doing your good work and helping out all those Florida homeowners and we’ll talk again soon. Thank you!