While the solar industry is growing and enjoys a positive opinion from the public, operating a solar installation or distribution business has the same pitfalls as other businesses. In order to ensure they achieve their goals, successful business owners must start by setting milestones and expectations for each aspect of their company. As time goes by, a great initial planning and the ability to adapt to new trends quickly ultimately leads to a successful venture. Implementing the same principles and guidelines during a growth phase will also help to provide optimal results.
In short, like any type of business, trying to grow your solar business by neglecting the planning step could result in loss of revenue, valuable resources and potential customers. The following article will help you make an effective planning in order to operate a thriving solar business.
Tips to Grow Your Solar Business
1. Know the Product
The easiest way to turn away a potential buyer is by not providing the right answers at the time he needs to hear them. You don't have to memorize all the ultra-precise specifications (even though it can be useful), but making sure you are aware of all the general aspects of the solar industry, that you have great products knowledge and that you have the resources to help you find specific informations at hand are the best way to operate a successful venture. In order to expand the business in a professional way, provide your staff with an easy to navigate knowledge database (facts, important data, company procedures, etc.) to help them answer customers' questions in a timely manner.
Without the knowledge required to make and repeat sales on a regular basis, the expanding venture may not succeed. With all the myths surrounding solar power, potential buyers may be nervous about purchasing solar products for resale. The failure to address these concerns may result in lost sales, because the buyer can simply leave and purchase solar products from a competitor who can make him feel safe about it. So, accurate and up-to-date solar products knowledge directly prevent this undesired buyer behavior. To make sure you are a trusted resources for your potential customers, you should:
- Be aware of all the changes applied to any product currently being sold in the solar business.
- Read about current changes and trends within the industry to aid in addressing myths about solar power.
- Keep the company’s website updated by refreshing its content frequently.
- Provide a question and answer section on the website; often more than one person would ask the same question.
- Install a contact widget on the website to allow customers to ask questions directly via a contact form, email or phone.
- Follow up online questions immediately with accurate and up-to-date information.
- Answer negative comments with tact.
- Write a blog to introduce new products and news within the solar industry.
- Use social media monitoring tools.
Remember that even the smallest effort may produce huge results, so take the time to know your product in depth in order to answer all questions to the fullest. Last thing, when you speak with your potential buyers, focus on benefits, not features!
2. Research the Market
Growing your solar business may be the next logical step for you, but is the market ready for it? Market research can give you insights about the potential success or failure of an expansion. Carefully consider each of these questions prior to an expansion:
- Who are the potential buyers?
- What are the current market trends regarding solar energy products?
- What are the different demographics surrounding the potential buyer?
- Which geographical location is the best to prospect new buyers?
- What types of solar products can really drive growth?
Every piece of research enables the business owner to develop a marketing plan for the future expansion needs. Without proper research, a business owner can spend numerous amounts of resources and funds failing to meet the buyer’s needs.
3. Develop a Strategic Marketing Plan
Developing a strategic marketing plan based on the collected data will be the next step. Given the fact that multiple myths surround the solar industry, your marketing plan should focus on getting the right product information out to potential buyers. The following aspects could be covered, depending on the analysis of the previously collected data:
- Advertising campaigns including print and digital options.
- Introduction of loyalty programs to attract new customers and encourage repeat purchases
- Bulk buying options.
- Launch or expand the company’s website with interactive options.
- Use online tools to help with lead generation.
Each part of your marketing plan requires research, resources and a strategic implementation for the best outcome.
4. Target Other Markets
Expanding a solar business may require the owner to target other markets. If your current market is local, consider offering statewide or countrywide options. By serving a larger market, your solar business may tap into an area without any or minimal types of competition. Another possible outcome would be to benefit from economies of scale.
If your only targeting private SMBs, can you try to obtain government contracts? The successful completion of one contract bid or sales may provide the business owner with future contract referrals and even if it doesn't, government contracts show the professionalism level of your company.
5. Build a Recognizable Brand
The smallest sale has the potential to reach thousands of future customers, so always provide the best service for each type of transaction. Indeed, building a reputable brand requires establishing and maintaining the highest quality of service in each step of the selling process, but a consistant brand identity is also a must.
Make sure your logo, strategy, website and other promotional content are all aligned with your unique value proposition! That way, potential buyers will easily make the associations between your brand and excellent customer service (or any other value proposition).
Only you can decide if your business will focus on growing, but the market will either make or break your efforts. The right amount of market research and strategic planning may greatly help your company to yield a positive return on investment...or to avoid some pitfalls that would undermine your efforts.