As with any business relationship, finding the right partner can mean the difference between a successful project and one that is fraught with miscommunication and inefficiency.
So whether it’s a small-scale rooftop installation or more complex renewable energy implementation, it’s essential that you find a commercial solar company that can understand your goals, deliver best-in-class service, and continue to support your business after the project has been delivered.
In this article, we provide you with 20 conversation starters you may use when evaluating commercial solar partners. 10 of the questions will assist you in developing a clear picture of their experience, values and certifications, and 10 will dive further into the nitty-gritty of their capabilities.
10 Questions to Evaluate Their Business
Before progressing to the ins and outs of their solar service offerings, it’s a good idea to form a good general understanding of their business. The following 10 questions will allow you to decide whether they possess the experience, work ethic and reputation to fulfil your commercial solar requirements.
1. What kinds of businesses do you typically work with?
It’s not always possible, but finding a commercial solar company that has worked with businesses that are comparable to yours in size, industry and energy requirements will give you confidence in their ability to meet your needs.
2. What size is your typical client?
In the early stages of your research, you’ll want confidence that your solar energy partner can successfully deliver a project of your size. Larger projects can extend beyond simple installation to include services like feasibility, monitoring and reporting, so you want to ensure your partner has the resources to fulfil your needs.
3. Do you also do residential installations or are you strictly commercial?
Many solar companies offer both residential and commercial services. However, if you’re seeking a partner with specialised expertise in commercial projects, a commercial-only business could be the best choice for you.
4. How many solar systems have you installed?
While there’s no reason that a burgeoning company won’t be able to deliver your project, there’s no doubting the value of broad experience. At Smart Commercial Solar, we’ve delivered over 1,000 solar systems in every Australian state and territory, which is just one of the reasons our prospective clients trust our expertise.
5. Have you worked with any clients I’ll recognise?
If you’re still looking for absolute confidence in the quality of their services, ask your solar partner about their client base. Big-name businesses on their books could give you the extra convincing you need.
6. Have you won any industry awards?
Industry awards are a further stamp of approval that can help your decision-making process. Accolades like the Clean Energy Council’s Solar Design and Installation Award celebrate the businesses delivering best-in-class services to their clients, which we’re humbled to have won in 2019.
7. Where do you attract most of your work?
Who better to vouch for your solar company’s quality of work than their previous clients? If your solar partner attracts a lot of their new work through customer referrals, this is a powerful indication of their quality.
8. What makes you different from other suppliers?
Whether it’s specific expertise within a particular industry or a forward-thinking project methodology, it can be helpful to uncover your potential solar company’s “secret sauce”. At Smart Commercial Solar, we believe our creativity, sophistication, positive culture and unwavering commitment to quality set us apart.
9. Are you involved in any industry associations?
Involvement in associations is a great reflection of a company’s dedication to bettering their industry, which most often translates to going above and beyond for their clients. Along with being a founding member of Open Cities, an advocacy group for reducing the cost of renewable energy for all Australians, we’ve also founded the One Sun program, which will donate a free solar system to a business that needs it most.
10. What are your WH&S certifications and ISO accreditations?
Work Health and Safety and ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) accreditations don’t only demonstrate a commitment to quality, but they’re also required in many cases. Ensure you ask your solar partner about necessary certifications and compliance standards. Companies that have safety systems and documented policies and procedures are going to be a safer bet.
10 Questions to Evaluate Their Services
Now that you have a strong understanding of their general business, it’s time to evaluate the capabilities of your potential solar energy partner to ensure they can deliver a renewable energy system that meets your needs.
1. Our business doesn’t have an energy strategy. Can you help us from the ground up?
Not all clients will be able to approach a commercial solar energy provider with a clear picture of their requirements, or even how renewable energy will integrate into their operations. If you fall into this category, look for a solar partner that can work with you to build a bespoke energy strategy that accounts for your existing systems and energy goals.
2. What kind of solar system do you recommend for my business?
If you’re unsure how best to incorporate solar power into your business, don’t be afraid to ask for your potential partner’s input. They should be able to recommend a best-fit solution that works for you, whether that’s a rooftop, ground mount or even car shade installation.
3. Can you help me to understand my eligibility for government incentives and rebates?
The Australian Government offers several incentives to businesses looking to adopt solar energy. Your commercial solar partner should be able to walk you through your entitlements and ensure you take advantage of any applicable rebates.
4. Do you offer power purchase agreements?
Solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) can be an effective alternative to traditional finance models, where you only purchase the power a solar system generates, instead of owning, maintaining and operating a solar system.
At Smart Commercial Solar, we provide PPAs that deliver all of the environmental benefits of solar energy with no operational risk to your business operating a solar system.
5. Will I have a dedicated project manager while working with you?
Commercial solar projects can often involve ongoing collaboration and review, so it’s important that you maintain open lines of communication with your provider.
6. Do you offer feasibility services?
Solar feasibility services like energy modelling, solar design, project planning, compliance and procurement can ensure your new energy system is aligned with your business goals, meets regulatory requirements and will be financially effective.
7. What is your solar monitoring capability?
A commercial solar installation isn’t a “set it and forget it” project. Comprehensive solar monitoring can maximise the output and performance of your system, providing you with clean energy for 30 years. That’s why Smart Commercial Solar projects that include our Smart Investment Protection package include three levels of monitoring as standard.
8. What warranties and guarantees do you provide?
After investing time and money into making the switch to solar, the last thing you want is for your solar system to underperform or fall short of expectations. At Smart Commercial Solar, we recognised the need to provide clients with guarantees, which is why we were one of the first companies in the country to provide a generation guarantee.
9. What is your reporting process on how my system is performing?
Consistent monitoring of solar systems is one thing, but communicating this data to the client is another. You should feel confident that you’re staying on top of your solar performance, which is why regular and detailed reporting is essential.
10. What support will we receive after completion of the project?
As mentioned, you shouldn’t ignore your solar system once the installation is complete. It’s important to understand how your solar energy partner is equipped to support your system with monitoring, maintenance and reporting after the project has been delivered.
As you can see, there’s a lot to think about when evaluating commercial solar companies. To learn more about how Smart Commercial Solar can assist your business in making a positive move towards more affordable and cleaner energy, get in touch with us today.