At this point in the solar industry’s lifetime, the current landscape is inundated with all kinds of tools that claim to help you grow your business and increase your sales. Some companies have stubbornly chosen to stick to the traditional way of quoting and selling - think spreadsheets and PDFs - some are thriving with all-in-one solar proposal software while others are using third-party services to generate and send out their solar quotes.
While the idea of using a third-party service to create and send your quotes sounds like a great idea on the surface (who wouldn’t want to have someone else do all the work for them?), these services could actually be slowing you down and affecting your bottom line. Here are four reasons why third party solar design and proposal tools will hurt your business.
1) There’s a lot of unnecessary downtime while you wait for your proposals to be created
In theory, it seems like a great idea to simply make a request with a third party to prepare a quote for you while you sit back and relax or get other work done, but in reality, doing so is just costing you business. Most third party companies state a waiting period of anywhere from a few hours to a few business days to complete your project and that doesn’t even include any changes or revisions you need to be done to complete the process.
The time you’re spending waiting on your proposals could seriously affect your odds of closing the deal since homeowners generally shop around for more than one quote and they could be receiving handfuls of proposals from your competitors while you’re still waiting for yours to be completed.
Additionally, there’s no space for real-time feedback with your leads/clients. What you get back from your third-party is what you have to show your client. If they have any comments or requests to change anything about the proposal, you have to go right back and order a revised quote, adding hours or even days to the process.
This also means that you can’t negotiate or make any quick changes or final touches to the quote during your meeting with the client that could entice them to pick an option and sign on the spot. A sales team with the means to add to or change any aspect of the proposal on a whim has infinitely more wiggle room with even the most difficult homeowners than someone who needs to request a revision or a new quote from somewhere else.
2) Third-party tools can get pricey
Companies that offer proposal services often work on a pay-per-quote business model, meaning that you have to pay for each proposal created by their team/software. On top of that, there is usually an extra, smaller charge for any revisions and a final fee to have the proposal sent to your customer.
If you’re handling more than a few new projects a month, this can get really expensive, really fast, and could be preventing your business from growing. Solar panel software/design tools, like Solargraf, on the other hand, charge a flat rate for a monthly subscription with the ability to create unlimited system designs and proposals. This means that you know exactly how much you’ll be paying monthly/yearly no matter how many quotes you need to send out.
The ability to create as many proposals as you want means you don’t have to pay extra to quickly email out a few quotes to cold leads on your downtime that could potentially result in a sale. Only paying to quote the most interested homeowners could be seriously costing you sales!
3) Your company must work around your chosen service’s hours
Third-party proposal creation companies are businesses just like yours. This means that they too keep regular business hours, usually Monday through Friday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm depending on your timezone. While these hours are fine for a large percentage of the working population, they might not work for you, or they may impede your ability to work.
If you run a small company where you may fill a few different roles throughout the day (i.e, salesperson and installer), you might want all your quotes sent in the morning so that you can head out on-site in the afternoon either to install or meet with homeowners. Involving a third-party can seem like a timesaver if you’re already busy enough, but it also requires a lot of extra planning to make sure you have your quotes done and sent out when it’s best for your schedule.
You don’t want homeowners inquiring about your proposals and calling you while you’re up on a roof, because they only received their quote that afternoon when it would have been better for them to see it in the morning when you’re more available to get back to them and close the sale.
Generating your own quotes for your company opens up the freedom for you to choose exactly when you set aside time to create proposals. It also helps you to better plan your day, since you know how long it takes you to get them done and sent out, and it’s much easier to make any revisions that may be necessary (without costing you anything extra).
4) If the service goes down, so does your business
Of course, service blackouts happen in any technological industry. Servers go down, bugs pop up, human error happens and sometimes things just don’t work as they should. This should be something to keep in mind if you choose to use a separate company to help you run your business.
If you promised a homeowner a quote by Tuesday at noon, and your chosen proposal creation tool happens to experience any downtime throughout the process, you may not be able to have your quote sent when you need it. This could not only be frustrating, but also make your company look like a less professional option to your potential customers who may not be as understanding as you may be with your third-party service.
Having the knowledge and tools to create your own quotes ensures that you will be able to deliver on your promise to the homeowner, no matter the circumstances.
Superficially, outsourcing your proposal creation duties to a third party seems like a great way to save some time but in reality, it could be costing you sales and much more money than you would expect.
With Solargraf, anyone on your team can generate beautiful quotes in minutes, with no designer or special training required. With powerful team and project management capabilities, integrated financing options, affordable permit/stamp orders, HD satellite imagery, fully customizable proposals and a one-of-a-kind virtual site assessment feature, Solargraf is the most reliable and easy-to-use solar software on the market. Book a demo today to learn more about how to use Solargraf to take control of your proposal creation and save time doing so!
Article by: Christine Hannivan for Solargraf.