The Solar Industry Needs a Massive Makeover. So We Built a Better Way to Shop for Solar

By Eric Doak 

I’ve worked in the solar industry for the past 5 years. And during that time, I’ve had conversations with thousands of homeowners across the country. These were all ordinary Americans who were interested in reducing their bills and shrinking their carbon footprints.

Through these many interactions, I began to notice some common themes, including:

  • Regardless of political affiliation and geography, everyone likes the idea of cheaper, cleaner electricity.
  • Most people don’t understand how solar works. Even fewer appreciate the true value that solar power can provide.
  • To the average shopper, solar companies all look, feel, and sound the same. And distinguishing one offer from another is very challenging.

But strangest of all, the majority of homeowners have misconceptions about solar photovoltaic (PV) technology. And this always struck me as odd since solar isn’t an impulse purchase. People research online and compare their options. They love choices and want to find the right price with the right company.

So how could misconceptions be so commonplace throughout the industry?

Solar Power in the Age of Fake News

Part of the problem is how the solar sales cycle is set up. There is plenty of high-level information online. And while this general education is helpful, it doesn’t answer the underlying questions most homeowners have, including:

  • How much will my installation actually cost (in practice – not just in theory)?
  • How much will my panels save me over the next month, year, and 25+ years?
  • How long will it take for my solar PV installation to completely pay for itself?
  • Why should I choose this panel type or that financing option over the others?

This information is available. But it’s usually locked behind a sales pitch – sometimes several.

And that’s a problem.

The average homeowner needs to rely on experts to help sift through the nuances and complexities. And of course, those experts often double as salespeople.

And this creates a major challenge for the solar industry.

Let me explain.

The solar industry is overly competitive. And this extreme competition encourages high-pressure sales tactics:

  • Thousands of door-to-door solar salespeople across the country are incentivized to close the deal at all cost.
  • Requesting a “free solar quote” instantly triggers numerous phone calls, emails, and mailers from rival companies who are hungry for business (like buying a used car in the ‘90’s).
  • Robo-dialers from off-shore call centers attempt to ram “free solar consultations” down homeowners’ throats.

I know this from first-hand experience, having been a pushy, door-to-door salesperson myself.

But you don’t have to take my word for it:

  • Ask any resident in Riverside, CA how many solar salespeople have knocked on their front door in the past month. 10 times? Really? 
  • Ask any homeowner from Western Massachusetts how many times their dinner has been interrupted by automated robo-callers inviting them to schedule “free in-home solar consultations.” 20 times? 30?
  • Ask someone who has clicked a Google ad for free solar quotes how many companies call them within the next hour? You’d be surprised by their answer. 

Well, people don’t like that.

They simply don’t.

Note that this isn’t an indictment of salespeople. I myself began as a door-to-door salesperson. And I know many incredible people who are still pounding the pavement to this day. In fact, this door-to-door approach is largely responsible for the unbelievable growth solar has enjoyed in recent years.

Salespeople can and do provide value.

But in 2017 and beyond, I believe there is an even better way to get the message out and connect with actual prospects.

Insufficient information and lack of education are no longer the core problems facing the industry. Users have access to the Internet and can easily find most of what they’re looking for.

The one thing in short supply, however, is trust. The average American homeowner shopping for solar wants:

  • An unbiased expert to help them navigate the solar landscape.
  • Home-specific information without sitting through sales pitches.
  • A better understanding of costs and benefits – minus all the hype.

So we set out to build a company to address these issues.

Introducing the Renew Solar Marketplace

At Renew, our goal is simple. We want to make going solar as transparent and enjoyable as possible. This means there are no hard closes or aggressive sales tactics. There are no outlandish claims or unrealistic promises.

This also means that:

  • Whether you want to research solar options over the next 3 days, 3 months, or 3 years, we’re here to provide whatever information you need.
  • We listen first and seek to understand your requirements. Solar technology sells itself. And it’s simply a matter of finding a solution that fits your needs.
  • We trim away the fat and present you with unbiased information that is easy to digest and understand. There are no clever gimmicks or manufactured incentives.
  • We present you with the best possible solar choices – no matter where you live. Even if there are better offers outside of our network, we’ll let you know.

In short, we’re here to serve you – without exception or expectation. By putting your best interests ahead of our own, good things happen organically.

unnamed 300x206 The Solar Industry Needs a Massive Makeover. So We Built a Better Way to Shop for Solar

How the Renew Solar Marketplace Works

Using our platform couldn’t be easier. It begins with answering a few questions about your energy consumption, solar budget, and long-term goals. We also analyze your home’s location and energy-generation potential.

Based on these criteria, we find the best solar deals in your local area and present you with the top 3 to 5 options. Thereafter, we help you understand each proposal so you can make your own determination about the best fit:

  • If you decide to move forward with one of the installers in our network, we guide you through the entire installation process – from start to finish. This level of handholding is essential to our goal of fostering trust and building rapport.
  • If you decide to postpone your solar investment, that’s fine too. There’s absolutely no pressure to move forward. But simply by using our platform, you’ll be a better-informed shopper the next time around.

More than ever before, our planet needs a transparent, user-friendly marketplace that connects homeowners with reputable solar installers.

And given our customer focus, I believe that Renew is that marketplace.

We still have a long way to go. There’s a lot of work to be done. But we hope to play an active role in building a healthier, happier, and more sustainable future powered by the sun.

Thanks for reading.

And if you’d like to learn more about the Renew Solar Marketplace, click here.


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