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Counterintuitive technique to grow your solar compamy

Updated: Jan 31, 2021

Simply put: try to disqualify (DQ) projects. 😱😱😱😱😱😱!!!!! - Sales. This goes against the grain in many ways. It’s not positive thinking. It goes against the company mission. And yes, it may send customers to other installers. Why on earth would anyone WANT to DQ projects?

DQing projects isn’t as crazy as it sounds. A DQ is a project that is unsafe to build on in its current state. Most DQs can be re-qualified once repairs to the site are made. Some can’t. Wasting time and energy on impossible projects is poor business practice.

But sales will freak out.

At first, yes. Sales is an emotional profession. It sucks to have a sale fall through especially when you’ve already put months into it. It sucks to lose a sale period. Your sales team loves winning though. Make this a challenge or have it be part of your policy and sales will adapt. Incentivize through metrics or compensation and they will adapt. DQs should be found as soon in the process as possible. Your sales team will appreciate finding out earlier.

But it’s not positive thinking.

Oh, but it is positive thinking. It is reallocating your resources to the projects that can be installed without risk to the company or to the site. It is determining whether a property owner is committed to going solar (and making their homes/sites safer). It is committing to projects with fewer headaches.

But it’s against mission.

At first glance, it might look that way. By choosing not to install solar somewhere, it leaves many of us with a nasty taste in our mouths. Your mission is some version of installing solar. Choosing NOT to install solar would go against that . . . until you look at the long-game. You want to install solar. This allows you to get to the buildable projects sooner, quicker, and safer.

Installing projects on risky sites is risky. Yes, there’s that whole the-higher-the-risk,-the-higher-the-reward thing but that’s the thing about risk: you won’t win all of them. When a project goes sideways, it REALLY goes sideways and could take the profits from several projects with it. There could be lawsuits, injuries, or worse in addition to the cost of repairs and lost revenue. The damage to your PR and reputation could ruin your company.

But it may send customers elsewhere.

True but you don’t want those customers. You should be DQing a site because you are not suited to build there. By sending them to a competitor, you remove the risk from your portfolio at the same time as, ironically, staying on mission and giving the project to a company who can build on that site.

Why else should you look for DQs?

Before we go into that, let’s talk about why companies DQ projects. Projects get DQed because of risk and ultimately safety. Installing a project on a site that doesn’t meet code won’t get passed for one thing but also opens your company up to the liability of owning a substandard system. Any fire or tripped circuit is your responsibility once you touch it.

What makes a site risky?

  • The site has an unsafe characteristic

  • I.e., roofs >45° or asbestos siding or insulation

  • A site characteristic often results in lawsuits

  • I.e., water or fire damage

  • The site’s roof is old or already has significant water ponding

  • It’s your responsibility once you’ve worked on it. New roofs are thousands of dollars.

  • There’s inadequate structure

  • The weight of the array might collapse the structure or tear off with strong winds.

  • Existing damage

  • Holes in roofs, burnt rafters, burnt electrical panels

Isn’t it good to take risks?

Each risk that you take should have some calculation behind it. YOU WILL LOSE A LOT OF MONEY IF SOMETHING FAILS and if you make a large portion of your assets risky projects, the probability of losing money goes way up. Lawsuits are mostly avoidable and are a total loss. Maybe your insurance policy covers it but it definitely doesn’t cover the damage to your reputation or the damage to the solar industry. What if your bet kills someone or an entire family? That’s not a PR scenario, I would want to deal with.

How do I determine the risk of a project?

DQs usually fall into two categories: repair possible and repair impossible. Most DQs aren’t impossible to repair, even asbestos. Repairable DQs aren’t really DQs. They’re more of a pause on the project. It just needs an owner who is financially capable and committed to their site’s safety.

How do I implement something like this?

Projects can get DQ’ed at any stage of the game. Late-stage DQs are more expensive in that there has already been labor put into the project to get to that stage. DQs at install happen. Imagine how upset a client would be. Clients want to know their property needs work earlier in the process too. There are a group of things that you can do to catch these risky projects earlier in the process:

Clear policy

Design your company for where you want it to be in 5 years. You don’t want a portfolio filled with ticking time bombs. If you have tracked metrics and see a much greater risk in certain types of projects, establish a policy there. Whatever it is, make sure the policy is in writing and everyone on the team understands it. The clearer the policy, the better it is. If the company policy says it’s not buildable, there will be fewer challenges. Establish who has the final say on DQs.

Better training

Have the earlier-stage teams train on what situations DQ a project. Your salespeople, surveyors, and designers should receive training on policy and how to recognize those failures.

Make that policy understandable to field teams

Everyone learns in different ways. Some people need words. Some people need diagrams. Make both available to your team so no one is left out. (There’s even some risk in not doing this)

Incorporate looking for failure-points into your process

Use a software solution like Coperniq to enable your team to proactively look for those failure-points. Coperniq lets you create a repeatable process for your teams in the field and in the office. With Coperniq’s customizability, you can remind them to look for asbestos, or leaks, or fire damage. To see how Coperniq can help you reach that 5-year goal, click schedule a demo.

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