How Washington Company Puts America to Work on Clean Energy with “Uber for Solar” Platform - Smart Energy Today, Inc
The world's first turnkey system to connect homeowners and local installers through a network of independent sales people.
Where is solar going in 2017 and beyond?
Publications such as Solar Power World predict that 2017 will be a pivotal year for the rebound of long-tail solar companies, which consist of small solar contractors that are localized, trusted and customer-focused. These smaller players are seeing 24% more annual growth year over year than the five biggest solar companies in the US, which means that the playing field will be leveled for new and smaller solar contractors thanks to lower solar costs and innovative financing options.
In the face of a slowdown for the overall solar market this year, Greentech Media claimed that residential solar will continue seeing growth due to "nationally diverse demand, continued lower prices, and solar-friendly state policies." Despite the layoffs announced by larger solar companies, this can be a silver lining for former solar employees who have dedicated their lives to increasing clean energy usage in their communities. As the market trends have proven, there is an incredible opportunity for those who are passionate about making a difference for their customers' homes and energy bills to join the long-tail and build their own local solar businesses.
But how does a small solar contractor, a former PV technician or a solar sales leader get the resources needed to build a strong and competitive business from the ground up? This important question now has an answer in the form of a one-stop shop of technology and expertise from leading Washington-based solar company, Smart Energy Today (SET).
An Uber for Solar Platform
Anybody who has tried starting or scaling up a business would agree that there are multiple challenges to be faced, such as a shortage of resources, low buying power and insufficient knowledge on how to market, sell and execute projects efficiently.
This is no foreign territory to SET, which was once itself a small solar company. Today, they are recognized in the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing private companies and run multi-state residential PV installation operations with the goal of helping their customers become energy independent.
As reports of layoffs rolled in, SET decided to be a force for positive change by using their accumulated experience to support solar entrepreneurs. The result is a new platform and program that enables both new and growing solar companies to access the tools, expertise and resources they need to drive their businesses forward—quickly. The model is similar to that of Uber, the ubiquitous transportation company that provides self-employed drivers the opportunity to earn money on their own terms using an established common platform.
"We know what a difference it can make to the customer's experience if they go through a local contractor directly. By providing this platform, we are easing the journey of these budding solar contractors by taking their minds off of things like operational efficiency so they can focus more on customer satisfaction," said Yumi Schade, Chief Operating Officer of Smart Energy Today.
Small California solar providers that join SET's program can access a whole set of resources, including back-office functions like financing, access to state-of-the-art tools and training to arm themselves with the power of bigger players. By pairing up each participating company with their own dedicated project manager, SET ensures these solar providers have the support they need to operate effectively.
"Small, localized solar contractors often don't have the purchasing power to buy components or get access to industry leading tools at volume rates, nor do they have the resources to attract customers that large solar providers do," explained Schade. "Our dream is to make clean solar energy mainstream by empowering small solar providers to strike strong relationships with their clientbase, while having the network and power of large providers."
Over the past year, SET has researched and selected a powerful set of technologies that are now helping them deliver this unique platform for growing solar providers. One such strategic partnership has been with Scoop® Solar, a technology leader in the solar space that provides an advanced mobile cloud-based software platform focused on automating field and office processes.
In this partnership, SET combined its deep expertise in the solar space with Scoop's app builder technology to create a set of highly efficient solar work apps. These apps are utilized by the participating companies to increase efficiency and reduce costs, delays and risk of errors for new employees through standardized mobile procedures. SET is also using the apps to provide effective continuous on-the-job training with access to industry best practices. By taking out the guesswork in performing pre-sales, installation or maintenance services, participating solar contractors can easily minimize their operational inefficiencies.
"Scoop Solar has been a great technology partner and we foresee working closely together with them to bring increasingly more value to the scaling efforts of solar companies," said Schade.
Through this initiative, SET aims to create more employment opportunities for Americans, especially in light of the recent rounds of layoffs from large-scale solar providers. Positive findings from the Environmental Defense Fund show that 70% of Americans who work in energy efficiency belong to small businesses, which demonstrates that the time is ripe for local solar providers to flourish.
If you're a small solar contractor based in California that is looking for resources and support to grow your business efficiently, get in touch with SET today!