It has been a great run for the solar industry for some time now. Increased awareness of the need for sustainable energy sources, combined with government incentives for converting to solar, have made the last decade or so kind of a gold rush time for solar companies. But, just as it was in the literal gold rush, more and more competition has been moving into this highly lucrative field, leaving less market share for each solar company.
To further add to the challenges facing companies like yours, we have to remember that solar panels and their related hardware fall into a category generally known as “durable goods”, meaning that these are purchases that last a long time. So, unlike items that we buy frequently, like food, or even gasoline, solar is typically a one-time purchase. And since your customers will be making their own electricity, they don’t need to maintain an ongoing relationship with you. Almost all of your customers will be basically new sales, and a host of other solar companies are also after all those buyers. What can one solar shop do to ensure a solid market share?
Customer Referral Programs
It’s a difficult conundrum, but there’s a saving grace: the referral. Today’s savvy consumers do significant research before making major purchases, but they also tend to value personal referrals even more. A Nielsen study reported that 92% of people trust referrals from people they know. That puts you way ahead of another solar company who is effectively cold calling a potential customer. But how to get those referrals?
Enter the Referral App
Part of the challenge for a solar company when looking for referrals from your existing customer base is the fact that solar is generally a one-shot sale. Unlike so many other products and services, which involve an ongoing relationship with the supplier, most people will install their solar unit and let it run. You need a way to keep in touch with those customers, and get them to refer their friends. In order to do so, there are two things you need to do: provide your past customers with incentive to send referrals, and make it easy for them to do so.
The incentives you offer can be cash, gift cards, or anything of value that would encourage your customers to spread the word to their contacts. You might choose different levels of incentives for simply providing a name for you to contact as opposed to those referrals that actually turn into closed sales. But most important is to make it easy for your customers to make those referrals.
Our app serves as a great tool to facilitate management of the entire referral program. Almost everyone has a smart phone these days, and most users spend the overwhelming majority of their time on their phones using apps. The app makes it easy for them to refer their contacts, and to track the status of their referrals and rewards. For management at the solar company, the app provides an interface through which you can oversee the entire referral process.