Utility-scale solar is booming, and residential solar is on the rise, but the small commercial solar market is still largely unrealized, despite wide open potential for growth. It's clear that moving into this space holds a lot of opportunity and potential for business growth, but how do you get started? In this three-post series, we're covering the basics of what you need to know to take the next step. This post is based on information presented by Josh Baston of ReVision Energy in our small commercial solar webinar.
For a smaller residential solar company, making the leap into small commercial solar installations can often be intimidating. Here are a few key tips to help you transition into this new sector.
Small Commercial Client Acquisition
Acquiring new clients is the first step towards expanding your business in the small commercial sector. When thinking about how to bring on new clients, it's important to take the long view--think quality, not quantity. Building long-term relationships with a few key players is far more important than acquiring a large number of partners who you aren't as invested in (and who aren't as invested in your success). Identify the benefits of those relationships beyond just building an array: ongoing partnerships can yield unforeseen business growth, present new opportunities, and provide you with allies who will work with you to help you push through project roadblocks.
Small Commercial Solar Challenges
Because it's such a new and untapped sector, there are some challenges associated with moving into the small commercial solar space. One of the biggest is getting businesses to look past a 3-4 year ROI--these projects are created for the long term, and their value will not be apparent unless you're considering ROI over a much longer period of time.
Another key challenge is getting businesses to think about solar in a different way. Often, it's not just about dollars and cents--the decision to go solar is about being a contributing member of the growing sustainable community, and taking a stand as an environmentally-friendly business.
Finally, in states where there are no incentives for going solar, small commercial solar can be a tougher sell. That means the emphasis for you as the dealer is on relationship building; this becomes the key to growing and sustaining your business.
Moving into the small commercial sector is a natural growth opportunity for smaller companies. You can make this a seamless transition by using a scalable product, something you are used to installing, but doing it on a large scale. Consider using a solar solution that will allow for future expansion, and one that simplifies your process (one pallet-shipping solutions make it easy to store and deploy in less time on-site). Make sure that the product you use is terrain adaptable and has a high electricity production value for highest ROI.
Keeping Costs in Check
The key to keeping your costs low is planning! Research the most efficient solar solution for your needs, and consider one that offers training or support to maximize installation efficiency. Hire a project manager and electrician to walk through the whole project and order equipment prior to the mobilization of the entire team. Have a list of tasks to be completed, so that if you encounter roadblocks, your installers can be re-deployed onto something else and you won't be losing time (and money).
Want to learn more about the ins and outs of small commercial solar development? Watch our webinar on Small Commercial Solar: Growing Your Business With This Untapped Sector.