Growing Your Solar Installation Business: Part 2, Marketing to Home Builders

We’ve been talking about how installers and how they can grow their business.  Last week we discussed gearing your business toward small systems for RV’s, boats, and remote power needs.  Today let’s talk about marketing your services to home builders. 

I know what you’re thinking, you would love to sell to builders but most of them are pretty much out of business right?  Contrary to popular belief there are still companies building homes and you can bet every single one of them wants to build green.  Its an obvious market, but many installers take the wrong approach with builders.  They only see the potential for selling large quantities of complete systems.  With home buyers pinching pennies these days, maybe that’s the wrong approach.
Offer A ‘Solar Ready’ Package
Have you thought about offering a reduced package to builders?  What if you went in to their homes during construction and simply made them ‘solar ready’?  Don’t you wish that every home you went into was ready for panels?  I bet you could think of a few ways to make a home ready for a solar power system.  Maybe it’s putting conduit in the right place, inverter wiring, roof support/access, or even installing mounting components.  Chances are it wouldn’t take much but it would get your foot in the door and make you the contractor of choice when it comes time to install a system.

How are you marketing to builders?

Showing Off Solar
Builders that can’t afford a system on every home still want to look green to customers.  Many of them have subdivision entrances, model homes, and signs that offer a perfect opportunity to use photovoltaics.  You could offer solar sign lights, solar fountains, or even power a guard house with panels.  And of course the panel could be prominently displayed to show prospective buyers that the builder is forward thinking and eco-conscious.  How about a display in the model home that shows the panels connected to a watt-hour meter and a graphic showing how much money the system can generate?

Street and Parking Lights
Now with LED lighting widely available and dependable, you could power all of the street and common area lights with solar.  What says ‘built green’ better than a panel mounted over every light in the development?  The city planners will love them as there are no power costs and developers will love the green cred they get.

Modular Home Manufacturers
In the near future the majority of homes will be at least partially built in a factory and then shipped to the site.  In fact, modular builders are now building multimillion dollar mansions and apartment buildings on a warehouse floor and then assembling them on-site like Lego’s.  Contact your local modular builders and work with them to create an upgrade package.  Or you could work out a referral program where they get paid for leads or systems you sell.  Take a look in the NAHB’s modular manufacturer directory for builders in your area.

Log Home and Cabin Kit Makers
People who are looking to build log homes and cabins are looking to get away.  Often times that means building where there are no utilities.  This is where you come in.  You can offer custom-built off-grid system that will save the customer from the expense of installing power lines.  There are solar power kits now that are completely self contained with panels, batteries, and system components.  It’s as easy as pulling it on a trailer to the site, making the connections, and training the homeowners how to use it.  Look in the log home directory for builders near you.

Marketing to Other Trades
Do all the electricians in your town know you who are?  Chances are they have been asked if they offer solar power systems and are thinking about getting into the business.  If they had a reliable alternative, they might just refer or subcontract the work to you.  What about roofing companies?  You can bet they’ve been asked about solar and maybe you can step in and help them before they become a competitor.

In Part 3 we’ll talk about marketing to homeowners, are you using every tool in the tool box?

Kriss Bergethon is a writer and solar professional from Colorado, for more information visit his site at Solar Power Kits.

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Hello, I am an engineer and now design and sell solar power kits and systems. I actually got my start working for large mining companies and worked in coal mines for a time. After seeing the enormous environmental costs of carbon-based fuels firsthand, I decided to take a different path. I got involved with green construction and eventually found myself building my own green home. I now live off the grid with my wife in the mountains of Colorado.

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