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Are you shopping for solar without IMPARTIAL representation? Solar brokering...a tale of two buyers.

Solar broker shopping experience… a tale of TWO buyers.

It’s not uncommon for my average customer to be that of a small to mid-sized business owner who cannot afford to hire an energy consultant to represent his interests.  But the REAL peril is that he can’t afford NOT to have competent representation.   The average price my clients may spend on a solar equipment investment will range between $100,000 to $4 million, yet most of them have no representation in sight.

Case in point #1

I had a medium sized business owner call me about representation in a solar purchase, where he had shopped for three bids on his own two years prior.  All went well; except for he could not make a final decision on which solar company to go with due to in-congruent estimates he sensed were red flags.  Essentially, he was getting different return on investments, payback periods, internal rates of return and cash flow projections; to the point he didn’t know who to trust and abandoned the project altogether.  Add to that, he was exhausted from the sharp learning curve.  While it was an educational experience, it took more of his valuable time to learn about the world of solar power, and it cost him precious time he could have committed to nurturing his business; all tolled three months worth, and about 100 hours.  One Hundred hours!   When I asked why he did not seek the help of an energy consultant, he told me:

  • He did not know of them at the time
  • He may not have been able to afford the fees @ $110 to $175 an hour.
  • He became jaded over the experience and eighty-sixed the project to the back burner.

This is the story in my business, and it’s exactly why I started solar brokering to help put an end to the consumer confusion and needless ignorance that is no fault of the consumer; it’s just that NO ONE is there to competently and afford-ably represent buyer interests.

Case in point #2:

I had a business owner call me in on a large solar estimate project that had gone in so many directions that he didn’t know what to believe anymore.  What started with one bid, soon became seven bids with seven different solar companies… all making recommendations for different solar panels, inverters, warranties and roofing contractors, as well as different finance structures.  By the time I’d reached him, he and his family of decision makers were off in three directions  researching their options and comparing estimates; they didn’t which solar company to trust, but mostly, they couldn’t trust themselves to make the right decision.  Suddenly they were taming a seven ring circus of solar companies, all of who were courting them at the same time and pressuring for an answer to buy.  This owner had gone through an average of 24 meetings over four months and couldn’t reach a decision because of the magnitude of information overload and conflicting recommendations.  It was time to put this insanity to an end.  

Fast forward:

When I started my solar broker business, I did so with a mindset to help my clients make informed and well reasoned decisions with the involvement of an experienced and impartial advisor on their side of the table.   I set out to locate seasoned former solar sales professionals who understood how to perform competent site evaluations and analyses.  These former consultative closers had been in the sales trenches and had a unique perspective from the inside looking out, which I found valuable to lend to my clients.  Why?  Because I knew from whence they came, they would have an even “empathic” perspective on what it could be like to be on BOTH sides of the deal.  These sales people had witnessed the long sales cycle and ensuing confusion when too many estimates muddied the water; driving the buyer into fear, distrust and indecision.

Solar brokering… a welcome relief for solar companies:

I started developing my business in 2007, and what’s been refreshing about my business model is that MOST solar companies have been highly accepting of its premise.  It’s no surprise.  When I interview solar companies as to how many competitive bidders they go against in the average bid for one project, they tell me it can range from  five, seven or ten bidders!  Now guess what happens to their enthusiasm and their bottom line?  With so many fish biting at the same piece of bait, there’s really no incentive to participate and little profit margin to go around, plus the cost of doing business, (this way) is ultimately passed on to the customer.  Add to this, the ultra long sales cycle due to the fact that my customer, cited above in “case #2”, is inundated while entertaining 24 appointments, seven solar companies and creating a mass of confusion for himself.

The point of this article:

Solar brokering reduces the pool of competition for the buyer to where the cream rises to the top, and eliminates “bottom feeders”, who will cut quality to win the job and lose profit for themselves in the process; nobody wins.  By working from a list of pre-screened affiliates, I’m able to ensure my buyers of competency in a controlled and rationale atmosphere of experienced and impartial energy consulting.  It’s here the feasibility, due diligence and analytical process is ushered through in a timely manner, with little interruption and confusion to my buyer. Because solar brokering handles the shopping process for the buyer, we lessen his experience of fear, inconvenience, loss of time, and confusion over shopping alone.    

No risk shopping with a solar broker:

Solar brokering is well worth the effort that is put forth on my buyer’s behalf because I do not charge them for my services.   Solar brokering is well worth the effort that is put forth on the solar companies behalf because I only charge them for my services if a sale closes, and that’s simply a shared split of their sales person’s commission.

Overall, the cost of doing business is radically reduced and the sales cycle ushers through with less stagnation, fear, and uncertainty.  This remains true in ANY business model; when a client is being properly and impartially represented, then we have just served their best interests in transacting business.  

 

Article written by Jennifer Coleman of Sun Source Solar Energy Brokers, providing solar broker and energy consulting shopping services in Santa Rosa, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano and San Francisco Counties.


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Sun Source Solar Brokers
525 East Cotati Avenue, #220
Cotati, California 94931
707-888-7046

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