If the installer offers the first year of monitoring for free to every customer, we have found that around 90% of people renew the next year, establishing an ongoing annual relationship that didn’t exist before.
Generating Recurring Revenue with Active Monitoring of Solar Systems
Q&A with Joey Crane Founder/CEO | Sun-o-vision
Tell us about yourself and why you founded Sun-o-vision.
I’ve dedicated my career to solar and have filled all the roles you can imagine. During that time, I saw a lot of people with problems post-installation. The customer who owned the array forgot to check on their system regularly and frequently found that their system had been down for months with nobody noticing. They were mad they lost all that money! And the installers, who don’t have the time or staffing to be looking at a large fleet of small sites all the time, found themselves in a pickle between an unhappy customer and trying to have a profitable service team. So I founded Sun-o-vision in order to ensure all systems are being watched and nobody is losing out on valuable production.
What problem does Sun-o-vision solve for solar installation companies?
We enable them to offer a new service, Active Monitoring, which generates recurring annual revenue. They are collecting money from their existing customer base, but Sun-o-vision is doing the hard work of watching the systems every day.
How can an installer best support customers after installation? Can this be done profitably?
If the installer offers the first year of monitoring for free to every customer, we have found that around 90% of people renew the next year, establishing an ongoing annual relationship that didn’t exist before. Because the installer is charging a small amount to many customers who are willingly paying, they don’t need to worry about sending a Time & Material charge the customer may not want to pay. Their customer stays happy, and the service team is profitable.
How can you ensure your fleet of solar arrays is producing everything they should be?
We gather a lot of system data such as size, tilt azimuth, shading reports, historical info, and put it into our proprietary software which gathers real-time weather and sun data. We estimate what the system should be producing and find the differences.
What does Sun-o-vision provide support wise for a solar installer?
We can do remote troubleshooting with, or without, the customer’s involvement. We generate detailed work orders with the available data we have so installers are walking into the most efficient service visit they can.
We also provide monthly or quarterly basic analysis reports to provide peace of mind to the customer that, 1. We are truly keeping an eye on their system and 2. Their system is performing as they’d expect. This customized report offers a marketing opportunity to maintain a relationship and build trust with their existing customers. They are more likely to read these reports given that they contain specific information relevant to them.
Are customers willing to pay an annual monitoring service fee? Can you share any real world examples.
Yes! People love knowing that they don’t have one more thing to watch. Soon every appliance in our house will have an app, and not everyone wants look at 100 apps every day. In our experience, 90% of people who had the service sign up and pay the next year. We are monitoring around 450 systems and all of them are people who pay an Annual Fee.
What future opportunities can this customer support bring solar installers, how can they capitalize on having a program like this?
When customers know their system is doing well and they are covered in case of an fault, they are happier customers. Happy customer refer more customers!
About SUN-O-VISION: Easy Monitoring for Solar Arrays to Maximize Uptime
We provide the tools and services for you and customers to spend time doing what matters, and not worrying about whether your solar arrays are working as promised. Plus: When installers offer proactive service, they open the opportunity for ongoing customer interaction and recurring revenue!
About Joey Crane
Joey is the Founder/CEO of Sun-o-vision, a company dedicated to maximizing array uptime and ensuring the long term success of solar service teams. He has been working in solar since 2007, performing all roles including installation, crew management, sales, design, solar thermal, and monitoring/maintenance. The last 7 years of his career have been devoted to O&M and finding the best way to get the most out of solar arrays. His company currently monitors/maintains over 400 systems totaling over 60MW.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag
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