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Solar panel selling business. What Is Commercial Solar?

Solar panel selling business. What Is Commercial Solar?

    How to Sell Solar Energy to Commercial and Multi Family Owners

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  • By Felipe Alonso May 11, 2019

    Whether you’re already in commercial solar sales, or you are just now looking to add multi family or commercial property owners to your solar client roster, you likely could use some fresh ideas on how to generate targeted leads and successfully convert them into clients.

    In this article, we’re going to show you how to do this by first, building a Hyper-targeted lead list of property owners, and second, crafting a winning solar sales pitch.

    Selling Solar Energy to Commercial and Multi Family Owners

    Easier access to property data and owner contact information in recent years has completely transformed the nature of solar sales.

    For residential companies, it has triggered a dissipating reliance on door-to-door canvassing as a primary driver of new business.

    For commercial solar providers and installers, the availability of more data has made two major things easier:

    • Gathering information and insights on owners and their properties
    • Contacting decision-makers directly

    Building targeted lead lists of property owners and creating incredibly personalized pitches for those owners has become faster and easier than ever.

    Building a Lead List of Property Owners

    It all starts with building your lead list, as first of all, you need to ensure that you are spending time selling to the right prospects. It is nice to know that you are reaching out to decision makers, but also that those decision makers are very likely in need of solar energy.

    Building a Hyper-targeted lead list of property owners is the best way to set yourself up for efficient outreach, and ultimately, solar sales success.

    Solar Lead Generation With Reonomy

    You can use the Reonomy platform to build a list of prospects in need of solar energy services in any U.S. county, and gather details and contact information, including phone numbers, email, and mailing addresses of both individual owners and members of property-owning LLCs.

    You can start building your list by searching for your ideal property type. The platform includes the ability to search for commercial buildings, multi family, land, and many sub-classifications of each.

    You can also search for those asset types based on their size and age.

    Additionally, you should specify your target location. You can search for properties by state, city, MSA, county, neighborhood, street name, or using an exact address.

    After applying the filters mentioned above, you’ll be given a list of all the properties that match your search.

    You can also add filters for specific types of tenants, owners, and sales history (for example, if you are looking to find recent buyers). As a matter of fact, any combination of these filters can be added and removed as you please.

    Once you’ve customized your search to your liking and you’re satisfied with the results, you can export the owner contact information of all of those properties in bulk.

    Within the search results page, click the Export button to export the data to an Excel spreadsheet or a CSV file. If you prefer, the contact information can be broken out into a separate list for easier access.

    Having owner contact information allows you to forego any interaction with gatekeepers, which can make your sales pitch much more effective.

    Creating Your Solar Sales Pitch

    Once you have your lead list in place, you can begin to craft your winning pitch.

    A deal-closing solar sales pitch is one that combines an engaging story with powerful, relevant data points.

    solar, panel, selling, business

    First, you need to research and identify the salient insights that’ll impress your prospects and catch their attention. Then, you need to construct a narrative around those facts and figures, framing your prospect as the Hero of the story.

    Let us explain this strategy in more detail.

    Identify Powerful Relevant Data Points and Insights

    You need to highlight the insights that’ll prove your research diligence and expertise in solar energy. Include specific remarks about the owner’s portfolio as well as nearby properties.

    In your pitch, you can reference:

    • The number of properties they own
    • The asset classes of their properties
    • The property address(es)
    • The size of the buildings and lots
    • The year their properties were built and renovated
    • The purchase date of their assets
    • The tenants in their building(s)

    Furthermore, point out the facts that explicitly prove the value of your offer. Examples include:

    • The number of solar panels or wattage they might need
    • The cost of the panels
    • Estimated savings for a building of their size
    • Total savings based on the percentage of energy coverage and number of panels

    Most importantly, include references to your past solar implementations, using the same data points mentioned above to quantify the success of those stories.

    This tactic would be especially effective if you can reference a past client located near the owner at hand, so you can point out the similarities in the amount of solar power that can be generated, the cost savings over time, and the potential property appreciation in the particular area.

    When highlighting your experience, you can also mention the total square footage of the buildings you have serviced, the number of panels you have installed, and the projected energy savings you have delivered for those owners.

    Bulk Outreach

    Typically, you will be reaching out to a large number of owners at once.

    To save time when preparing your individual proposals, you can choose the data points you’d like to include, and simply plug in the precise numbers for each owner.

    Just as you’d replace the name of the prospect in your pitch, you can fill in building sizes, addresses, dollar amounts, and geospecific tidbits, implementing them into the same template.

    You can easily access all of this information within the profile page of any commercial or multi family property in Reonomy, or in your exported list of property owners.

    You can now use all of the information you gathered to build a story-driven sales pitch.

    Build a Story-Driven Script

    While facts and figures can serve as the backbone of your pitch, it’s still important to tell a poignant story that keeps your prospect at the forefront.

    In your pitch, build your prospect up to be the Hero of the story, while backing up the narrative with data and real-world examples to validate your points.

    Your pitch should be their story and in that story, your role is to simply be a helping hand in guiding them along the path to success.

    They are the ones making the decision to save thousands in energy costs, and they are the ones saving the environment in the process.

    Let’s look at a more specific example.

    The biggest selling point for solar sales reps is typically the energy cost savings.

    Instead of just telling a property owner that you can save them a ton on their energy bill over time, frame it so that they are consciously making the decision to do so.

    Your prospect, a property owner, has an issue—they’re paying way too much in energy costs, and their building is producing high levels of emissions. Yet, they’re the only ones that can change that, with just a little bit of help from you.

    And again, to make sure you’re harnessing the power of your research to full capacity, be really, really specific.

    Tell them how much you can save them, and tell them how you’re going to do so.

    Solar Energy Franchise Opportunities

    According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), solar energy installation has been growing by an annual rate of 33% over the last decade.

    “Thanks to strong federal policies like the Solar Investment Tax Credit, rapidly declining costs, and increasing demand across the private and public sector for clean electricity, there are now more than 130.9 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity installed nationwide, enough to power 23 million homes,” the association writes.

    A main factor in the increased use of solar energy is a decrease in cost. Per SEIA, the cost to install solar has decreased by over 60% in the last 10 years, which has made solar more competitive with other power generation methods.

    However, by some estimates, only 1% of the potential solar market has been reached so far. But adaptation is picking up quickly with solar projected to become the source of at least 30% of electricity generation in the United States by 2030. The jump is expected to occur quickly because the cost declines in solar installation are beginning to become more prevalent in residential applications.

    As with all new technologies, adaptation goes in a cycle. First to get it are the early adopters, who have the money to access the technology when it is at its most expensive to acquire. But as time passes, the cost of producing the technology decreases. In addition, more people become skilled at providing the technology. Eventually, the technology reaches a tipping point where it becomes more financially and physically accessible to the masses – and that part of the cycle is where many consider solar energy to be close to, if not entering now.

    According to SEIA, “The biggest cost-decline opportunity in residential and small commercial solar exists in soft costs, which includes installation labor, customer acquisition, and permitting/inspection/interconnection.” And it’s in these areas of residential and small commercial – especially installation labor and customer acquisition – where solar energy franchises mainly operate.

    Over the past decade, especially, a number of franchise opportunities have built their own programs allowing prospective franchisees who want to be a part of the solar energy industry an easier path into the field than going at it independently.

    And if you’re hesitant about considering a solar energy franchise because you don’t want to or cannot do the installations, don’t fret! There are options that don’t include doing the physical installations.

    There are many solar energy franchise opportunities that are white-collar in nature, meaning franchises are only responsible for bringing in the customers, then the corporate office takes it from there. As Arvo Solar states, “As the franchisor, Arvo Solar does all of the heavy lifting! We handle all designs, permits, utility approvals, arranging for all equipment, and installations! You are responsible for everything on the front end with regards to customer acquisition.”

    But if you want a more hands-on approach, you have that option as well. For instance, here are the three options given by the Solar Grids franchise for operating its business:

    • Focus on installations only. With this franchise method, you as the franchisee work with the company’s direct sales team for you do the installs with its “virtual sales centers.” The corporate wing of the franchise with the permitting, utility approvals, and equipment.
    • Focus on sales only. In this franchise method, you would FOCUS on the administrative side and work with one of the company’s installation franchisees to do the installation jobs you bring in.
    • Do both.

    And don’t forget about cars as a factor in the growth prospects of the industry.

    While solar cars aren’t a thing, the number of drivers with electronic vehicles has been steadily increasing. Some electronic vehicle charging stations run off of solar energy. Not only do these stations need to be installed, they will also need maintenance and repair as well.

    Initial Investment and Opening Costs for Solar Energy Franchises

    The amount necessary to open a franchise varies depending on the unique business system and execution requirements for that particular franchise. The initial investment required for a solar energy franchise can range widely, mostly dependent on if an office outside your home will be needed.

    For solar energy franchises, it is wise to factor in the lease or purchase of a vehicle to your initial budget estimates. Also, factor in what it will take to properly outfit that vehicle, if necessary.

    A vehicle purchase is becoming more of a norm because of the trend in many industries of moving away from traditional storefronts, if possible. “Let’s face it, the way business has been done in the past will not be how business will be conducted in the future,” Sean Cochrane, SuperGreen Solutions founder and managing director, said when the franchise introduced its mobile showroom van concept in 2019. “Bricks and mortar is changing, some people don’t want a five-year lease, that’s why we’re introducing this.”

    Our franchise profiles will present you with a basic range for the initial investment or minimum cash required to open a franchise. But when it comes to finding out the details of an initial investment, the franchise disclosure document (FDD) is the best place to look. Franchisors offer itemized estimates in their FDD based upon their experience establishing, and in some cases operating, units.

    Keep in mind these estimates are just that, though—an estimate. Prospective franchisees should review the figures presented with a business advisor, taking into consideration their unique circumstances, before making the decision to enter into a franchise agreement.

    Ongoing Costs for Solar Energy Franchises

    Don’t forget about the additional costs required for nearly all franchise businesses. This includes expenses such as royalty fees, marketing fees, software fees, training fees, and more.

    The most common is the royalty fee. Royalty fees are assessed for the continued use of the franchisor’s trademarks and patented processes, along with certain types of operational support. In addition to regularly assessed fees, other fees are charged on an “as needed” basis such as audit fees, or costs for additional, non-mandatory, training.

    It’s important to note that while many initial and ongoing costs are detailed in the FDD, there are some costs inherent to business ownership, like employee wages or utility costs, that aren’t.

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    Solar for Business in 2023 – How Can You Do It?

    Businesses across the U.S. are actively pursuing clean energy options to fuel their operations. Solar power in particular is more ingrained in our daily lives than ever before — even in your coffee! If you’ve visited a Texas Starbucks recently, you may have enjoyed a hot and steamy cup of solar-powered joe. In April 2019, the coffee company inked a deal to power 360 stores in the Houston and Dallas areas with solar energy.

    And that’s just one example.

    Several factors influence the decision to use solar energy, whether it’s to become more eco-friendly, meet investor demand for sustainable energy, or cut costs and increase profits. As more companies start seeing the switch to solar as a Smart business decision, they must determine how to best achieve those green energy goals.

    You don’t see solar panels atop your local Starbucks, so how is it powered by the sun?

    To answer that question, we want to show how businesses – including yours – can adopt solar power as part of their green energy strategy.

    How Businesses Get Solar Power: 3 Methods

    Today, businesses have a plethora of options and tactics available if they want to become more environmentally friendly, but it often starts with an investment in solar. While solar panels can be a good start (since you have the available real estate on the roof of your building), they aren’t the only way to harness the power of the sun’s rays. In fact, your business has three main ways to make the switch to solar power, and they’re divided into two categories:

    • Offsite solar. This is the method used by Chariot Energy to provide solar to homes and businesses. By developing utility-scale solar farms that add solar-powered electricity to the electric grid, it does involve the production of SRECs.
    • Onsite solar. This electricity is generated onsite and directly powers a facility. Since it isn’t added to the grid, it doesn’t involve the production of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (also referred to as SRECs), that are often traded in special markets.

    First, let’s dig into the details of offsite solar, as this is the strategy most companies pursue.

    Offsite Solar for Businesses

    It’s pretty simple: If a business claims it uses solar power and it doesn’t have panels feeding electricity directly into its facility, then it’s using offsite solar. This form of solar power involves the buying, selling, and trading of SRECs. As we discuss in a related blog post, these credits represent all solar power that solar energy generators, like Chariot Energy and our affiliates, generate and add to the grid. For companies who are looking to substantiate their reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and become a more environmentally conscious company, SRECs are a real, tangible way of doing so.

    While there are many ways to buy, sell, and trade SRECs, the three most popular are as follow:

    • Tax equity investments
    • Power purchase agreements (PPAs)
    • Rooftop solar panel installations
    solar, panel, selling, business

    The latter of which is arguably the most popular form of investment in solar.

    solar, panel, selling, business

    Solar Tax Equity Investments

    Solar tax equity investments are an unorthodox investment, but nevertheless just as effective as other options for corporations. It’s a means of investing in specific solar projects, including the ones we work on at Chariot Energy. In fact, this is the type of deal Starbucks sealed with a solar power generator in April 2019.

    Because of the intricacies of financial agreements, these investments can quickly become complicated. Thankfully, we’re here to help! Using our Starbucks example, here’s how solar tax equity works in a nutshell.

    • Starbucks enlisted the help of the U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation (USBCDC) to facilitate the transaction in order to power its Texas stores regionally with solar power.
    • With the assistance of the USBCDC, Starbucks invested in the development and construction of two solar farms to power 360 of its stores in the Houston and Dallas area.
    • In return for its investment, Starbucks received SRECs to indicate its reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as well as offset its tax liabilities.
    • By choosing this option, Starbucks intentionally invested in local solar infrastructure without putting panels on all of its stores.

    In essence, companies that select solar tax equity as an investment opportunity receive a two-fold benefit: not only do they buy green power in the form of SRECs, but they also help build local solar energy infrastructure.

    Solar Power Purchase Agreements (SPPA)

    The definition of an SPPA lies in its name: Companies agree to purchase solar power in the form of SRECs. The difference between PPAs and tax equity is that, rather than directly investing in the construction of solar projects, portfolios, and/or farms, power purchasers only buy the product (i.e. electricity) of solar power generators.

    There are two types of PPAs: Financial PPAs (FPPAs) and physical PPAs (PPPAs). Here’s the difference:

    • With a Physical PPA, your business actually receives the solar electricity purchased via your regional electric grid.
    • With a Financial PPA, your business does not receive the actual solar electricity purchased. It’s added to another electric grid that’s not connected to your business.

    Why enter a Financial PPA if you’re not actually receiving the electricity you buy?

    It boils down to the SRECs and their ability to verify emissions reductions. While companies don’t actually receive any of the energy they buy, they’re still reducing their Scope 2 Emissions. These are the greenhouse gas emissions created by the generation of electricity needed to power a business’s facilities. Thus, the purchase does represent a substantial reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions via SRECs, which they must retain.

    Weighing Your Options

    As you can tell, you have lots to consider when you begin investigating solar power for your business. And so the question remains: Why do businesses choose one form of solar over the other? Actually, they don’t have to choose just one! Companies can implement a variety of these methods to lower their carbon footprint all the while reducing their operating expenses.

    Are you a Texas business seeking to work with a Texas power company that uses green energy? Contact Chariot Energy today, and we can walk you through your complete set of options!

    And hopefully, next time you get a coffee, you’ll think: This better be sunshine-brewed…

    Residential vs. Commercial Solar Panels

    Solar panels do the same thing for both residential and commercial applications—they absorb sunlight and transform it into clean energy. However, that is where their similarities likely end.

    Due to the sheer size of some commercial properties, there are more ways and places to install panels. Since a commercial enterprise needs far more power than a typical residence, commercial panels will most often be larger and/or more powerful than those used in residential applications.

    The average solar panel for a home will have 60 or 72 cells, while a commercial solar panel will have 96 cells or more.

    THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT EDITORIAL CONTENT. Please note that we do receive compensation for any products you buy or sign up to via this advertisement, and that compensation impacts the ranking and placement of any offers listed herein. We do not present information about every offer available. The information and savings numbers depicted above are for demonstration purposes only, and your results may vary.

    Compare Quotes From Top-rated Solar Panel Installers

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    Best Commercial Solar Companies

    Solar power is still an emerging energy source. Some commercial contractors do offer their services in all 50 states, while some FOCUS on particular regions of the country. The variety of options you will have may very well depend on the region where your commercial enterprise is located.

    According to Solar Power World’s national ranking of solar contractors, here are the top 10 largest commercial solar companies in terms of the number of kilowatts they installed in 2021:

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    THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT EDITORIAL CONTENT. Please note that we do receive compensation for any products you buy or sign up to via this advertisement, and that compensation impacts the ranking and placement of any offers listed herein. We do not present information about every offer available. The information and savings numbers depicted above are for demonstration purposes only, and your results may vary.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    How are commercial solar panels installed?

    Commercial solar panels are typically installed using heavy weights (ballasted racking) to secure them on flat roofs or with roof-penetrating hardware (attached racking) on sloping roofs. Given the size and the nature of these installations, trained professionals are required to put them in place.

    How do you size a commercial solar system?

    Though commercial solar systems are complicated to install, figuring out how large a system you need is actually not too difficult. To do it, multiply your business’s hourly energy needs by the number of hours of peak sunlight in your area. Then, divide that number by a panel’s wattage to determine how many total watts you’ll need for your commercial solar system.

    How many solar panels do I need for commercial use?

    Once you figure out how large your commercial solar system needs to be, you can divide the total wattage by the wattage of the individual panels. Depending on the size of these panels, this will determine how many of each you will need.

    Is there a difference between commercial and residential solar panels?

    Commercial and residential solar panels are similar in that they both absorb sunlight that is transformed into energy. However, like most commercial products and applications, everything is done on a larger scale than those for residences. Commercial panels will likely be larger/have more wattage than residential solar panels.

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