You don’t need to spend all day working on roofs to see the impact of solar energy in the United States. But if you are in the industry, it’s almost impossible not to notice the opportunity of pairing solar and roofing services together.
As home solar adoption rates continue to rise, your roofing customers may already be asking for recommendations or assistance with solar energy services. While it can seem like a daunting undertaking, there are many reasons to add solar energy services to your roofing company’s offerings, the most important of which is that solar can boost roofing business revenue.
Roofers are uniquely well-positioned to expand into solar services, and this guide will outline the steps you can take to efficiently incorporate solar energy products into your roofing business portfolio.
How to add solar services to your roofing business
While there is no single solution that works perfectly for every business, adding solar services to a roofing company involves many considerations to effectively launch, market, and grow in the renewable energy space.
Assessing your roofing business
First things first, as a roofing company, you have to look internally and evaluate where you stand right now. What resources do you have on hand (equipment, personnel, etc.) and which solar services are you hoping to provide in-house?
Outside the walls of your business, it’s also important to assess the demand for solar services in your area. Are there a lot of companies already doing great work? What about your competitors? Are there any other solar and roofing companies near you that you may be able to partner with?
If you are a roofing company or a contractor looking to get started installing solar, there is a considerable amount to learn. While taking the steps to offer solar services, continuously evaluate what you can do to make your offerings more efficient and valuable to your customers.
Researching solar service providers
No matter how long you’ve been in roofing, starting a solar business is no easy task. To start offering solar services, you need to consider the entire installation process from end to end, as well as everyone (and everything) involved.
When researching solar service providers, create a rough map of how you plan to scale your solar and roofing business within your organization. While you’re still getting your footing beneath you, outsourcing certain tasks may be an effective way to provide customers with the best experience.
For each new solar customer you win, you’ll need to find a timely and cost-effective solution to:
- Design the solar system, including the exact equipment included
- Draw up a contract and finalize the payment method (cash or loan, etc.)
- Apply and obtain the proper permitting with detailed engineering drawings
- Install the solar energy components and interconnect the system to the grid
- And provide after-installation services or maintenance
In evaluating the quality of your solar partners’ and vendors’ equipment, products, and services, there are many variables to consider. For example, while getting a deal on low-priced equipment can translate into further customer savings, poor-quality products that don’t last can lead to bad experiences and consequences for your company’s reputation.
Knowing this, product and service warranty periods are one of the most important things to pay attention to while choosing the equipment you will be installing on your customers’ roofs.
Partnering with solar service providers
Considering the exciting growth of the solar industry in the US, roofing companies have the luxury of potentially partnering with a large pool of solar service providers. Many solar providers offer partnerships, dealer programs, and other agreements to help roofing businesses scale their services.
While evaluating programs and partnership agreements, look for years of experience, certifications, and a proven track record as the most important indicators of potential success. When contacting solar service providers, remember that this partnership will be a two-way street and that you should not be afraid to negotiate your contract terms.
As no two companies are structured quite the same, finding a service package that integrates well with your business model can help you effectively expand into the solar market. Whether you’re looking to strictly source equipment or want a sub-contracted team to handle entire installations, strategic partnerships will be integral to your success.
Training and certification
Before a single solar panel can be laid on one of your customer’s roofs, there is a significant amount of training and certification necessary for your installations to be both safe and legal. In the US, a certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is the most widely recognized seal of approval for solar professionals.
Most NABCEP certifications require testing and previous experience in the field, so this may be more of a long-term goal for solar first-timers. However, in some states, a NABCEP certification may be required to obtain a solar business license or help customers apply for rebates.
Under the NABCEP umbrella, there are several different certifications and levels of accreditation, all of which have varying timelines, training courses, and benefits. For more information, we recommend reading the NABCEP FAQs.
Building a solar services team
Whether you plan to hire skilled solar technicians or train your existing roofing staff for PV (photovoltaic) installations, building a solar services team will be necessary to fulfill new business orders.
With attention to detail, safety protocols, and best practices at every step, a successful solar service team must be able to walk customers seamlessly through the sales, design and installation process.
If you choose to outsource any of these functions — for example, using expert solar design services — you can focus your energy on fulfillment. This lets you spend more time in the field installing systems, talking to new customers, and scaling your roofing (and solar) business.
Marketing and promoting solar services
Once you’re ready to take on new projects with the right team, there are many ways that you may be able to drive attention towards your solar offerings. To start, if you have a history of satisfied customers, there is no harm in reaching out to past clients and letting them know that you now offer solar services.
No matter what marketing mix you choose (whether it’s online advertising, social media, home shows, canvassing, etc.), be sure to have a dedicated web page or section on your website where prospects can learn more about your solar services.
While you may entice leads with the idea of saving money and adding home value, your solar sales pitch needs to answer several questions to capture their interest and sell your services. In talking to customers, you’ll need to let them know:
- Why solar makes sense for them
- Why your company is the best fit
- And why right now is the time to go solar
Obtaining necessary permits and approvals
For each new solar installation, you will need to know the local regulations and permit requirements for every project. In most locations, compliance with building codes, electrical codes, and utility regulations are all necessary for grid-tied solar systems, which involves applications and approval both before and after an installation.
Getting started with solar permitting can be difficult if you serve a wide range of cities and counties, as each new locale may have its own guidelines for things like setbacks (space between the panels and the roofline), aesthetic guidelines, and engineering requirements. Using Aurora Solar Plan Sets, your roofing and solar team can generate permit-ready solar designs with a few simple clicks.
Offering solar financing options
Although you may already offer financing, when scaling a roofing business with solar services, it’s important to explore other options that may be better for your customers. First and foremost, you have to become an expert in your customer’s solar options and know the differences between PV system ownership, power purchase agreements (PPAs), and solar leasing.
Tools like Aurora Solar Sales Mode can help you walk your leads through all of their financing options, comparing total costs and value in an interactive presentation.
Launching your solar services
When it’s finally time to launch your solar services, we recommend approaching your new line of business without any false pretense. By opening with a soft launch or pilot program, you can keep your inaugural customers’ expectations on track and offer them special treatment as the first of many solar installations for your roofing company.
To ensure smooth project management and execution, you can then slowly expand your solar marketing efforts and take on more jobs. While building your sales funnel, remember that with each new customer lies an opportunity to collect feedback, improve your services, and earn your share of the solar market.
Providing ongoing maintenance and support
Much like roofs, solar panels can last for 25 years or more. Knowing this, you must be prepared to address customer inquiries and resolve ongoing issues if anything were to go awry post-installation. By developing a dedicated solar customer support program and scheduling regular maintenance inspections, you can establish long-term partnerships with your customers that will solidify your status as a reputable roofing and solar business.
Scaling and expanding your solar services
In business, sometimes the only constant is “change.” This is especially true in solar. This means that constantly adapting how you run your solar department is a must if you want to scale and expand your services. In analyzing the ongoing success of your marketing, sales, and installation efforts, you can identify opportunities for expansion and develop the strategies that will help your unique solar and roofing businesses scale effectively.
Recap and next steps
Adding solar services to your roofing business can be a very involved process, but may well be worth it if it means more sales, revenue, and growth for your organization. With the right team, partnerships, tools, training, and execution, solar can help you scale your roofing business with high-quality sustainable services for new and existing customers.
Dipping your toes into the solar pool as a roofing company? Let’s chat. Schedule a quick, personalized conversation to get your questions answered.