The best solar companies are those that take some time with customers to understand their needs, give them enough information to know if they are a good prospect for solar, and make recommendations accordingly. Lead generation businesses contact Yes every day, always with a new plan for how to hook consumers and get their contact information. Only a small percentage of those leads are qualified, and the cost per lead ranges from $29 to hundreds of dollars. Like any business, there are few shortcuts to buy growth that don’t compromise quality.
Unfortunately, all businesses now must invest in Google Ad words and search engine optimization to make sure they get some paid results near the top of the page, since consumers tend to look at those first. But the results below the top are the organic results that come from actual presence and activity, not those that a company has bid top dollar for. Yes Solar Solutions prides itself on an 80% increase in our organic results in year to year comparisons. We generate leads through participation in consumer education events (like home shows, lunch and learns and Solarize information sessions), and support of solar industry associations and event sponsorship. The Solarize community grass roots solar programs have also been a boon to lead generation, where the non-profit sponsor does the outreach and passes the leads to the installer.
Having heard 1-800-MY-SOLAR ads on the radio (and having been approached in 2013 by the lead generation company that runs the campaign), I decided to call to see what service and value they offer. My call was answered by a call center employee, who told me she needed to ask me some questions in order to give me any information. I answered the first 10 or 12 questions and then asked if I could ask some questions. I asked her if the the installer would be an employee of 1-800-MY-SOLAR and she confirmed it would be (not true). I asked how much the federal tax incentive was and she said it varied by state (not true). She then asked about our annual household income and what my credit score was. When I said I didn’t know she prompted me with, ” is it above 650? Is it closer to 750? Would you estimate 700?”
Again I asked if I could ask some questions, about what products they install and could she give me local references? She reassured me that the person who called me back could answer those questions. I asked about the state tax incentives and she told me there were none (not true). All together, I probably spent 20 minutes or more on the phone and got no information, but provided a great deal of it. I did get a call back two weeks later from an installer who left a voice mail. I called back about a week later, and found it was an installer located about 150 miles from my home, who didn’t even know about 1-800-MY-SOLAR, as he was an appointment setter for the installer.
I was disappointed in the process which purports to make solar simple, as it only made it simple for 1-800-MY-SOLAR. It offers no education or information to the prospective buyer of solar until a substantial investment of time and information has been made by the consumer. It is expensive to the installer, running to tens of thousands of dollars to be the licensed 1-800-MY-SOLAR company, driving the cost up to the consumer. And it tarnishes the image of solar energy. The consumer deserves at least as much information as he or she gives.