Its Russell French from Energetic Consulting. Today, I want to…
Energetic Consulting has a sister business called Sunfluence which helps support solar businesses with automated marketing.
In this video, Sunfluence co-founders Russell French (Energetic Consulting) and Warwick Johnston (Sunwiz) discuss all the elements of what makes a great solar business.
⭐️ The 6 Key Aspects of an outstanding solar business
⭐️ The trends we’re seeing with great solar businesses now
⭐️ What incredible solar businesses do differently
⭐️ What you can do to become a better solar business
Don’t forget to check out Sunfluence: https://www.sunfluence.com.au/
And see our Solar Customer Email Autopilot product to deliver fully automated email content to your solar customers: https://www.sunfluence.com.au/email-autopilot/
Here is the transcript from the video discussion:
Warwick [00:00:10] Hey there, everybody. Warwick Johnston with you here today. I’m here with Russell French, my co-founder in a company called Sunfluence. You might know Russell, who’s run a successful solar retail business, and has helped some other retailers, many of them, I think. As well as many solar manufacturers. Rusty, great to be with you here today, you’ve had an illustrious career. But today we’re talking about some Sunfluence, not what about you and me. Look, there’s been a lot of interesting happenings in the industry with businesses getting bought and sold. There’s more to come, and I see that on the rumour mill. Tell me Rusty, what does an outstanding solar business look like, the one that’s going to get sold?
Russell [00:00:49] Yeah, thanks Warwick. It’s really interesting, right because some businesses tend to thrive during challenging times and other businesses tend to fall behind. And really there’s some key stand out points for what makes a business great. Great businesses have a tendency to create raving fans. They do things that other businesses don’t do. They go above and beyond in their marketing and communications, in their messaging. And really they have a hell of a lot of integrity about their customer service. And that creates raving fans because the customer is held at every point of the journey. Great businesses are growing, they’re profitable. They make sure that they’re extremely efficient in their backend systems and processes. And so therefore they know their cash flow and then they can use it in the right direction, and they run a tight ship. They have great staff, they hire staff well, and they have loyal staff. They treat them well and they create a great culture within their business. Even if it’s a small business, even if you’re talking about a man in a van with two employees, they treat them incredibly well and create a great culture. And they keep innovating. They keep on trying new things and finding their niche in the industry. They don’t need to be all things to all people and they played to their strengths. They they know what they’re good at and they hone in on that, and they stay in their niche and keep innovating in that space. I think that’s what makes a great solar business.
Warwick [00:02:28] Look, as you’re saying all that I’m thinking in my head, this sounds exactly like Andy from Gippsland Solar, now RACV Solar, who just recently bought another company to add to the RACV flock – that kind of legend status. And for me what makes a business that is worthy of being sold, or bought more to the point, is that it’s got that brand that people are attracted to. It’s it’s established everything you just talked about.
Russell [00:02:57] Iconic.
Warwick [00:02:58] Yeah, exactly. I think one of the things that you see as solar businesses to get to that point, they really have to invest in stepping off the treadmill and stepping off just matching price, and just trying to keep up, and they do something different. And what I say, these leading businesses doing different, that actually helps reinforce their own sort of velocity, but also makes them saleable, is the systems that they employ in the business. And particularly those that are more about integrating and automating their business so that they’re very efficient to operate. Which means that they can then generate more, you know, bottom line profit to reinvest in their growth. So along that trend, what are you seeing that solar businesses are doing differently that makes them stand out in particular, above all those companies that have to compete on price?
Russell [00:03:54] This is something I talk about a lot with with my clients and our clients, which is there’s an education process that unfolds. They double down on education. Educating their customers about all the aspects of what a great solar system is and why not why they should not take the risk of a cheap and nasty system, and what that what the difference is. For instance, they will educate on what their installation will look like, the aesthetics, the layout, exactly where the panels are going, the inverters. They’ll explain to the customers extremely well about how a company cuts corners with a cheap system – how can it be so cheap? The cables aren’t tied up neatly. Things are done rough. Maybe the equipment is sub-par. And here is the difference with great quality equipment. They will also then go into the warranties and explain that well. So there’s an education piece that’s done. I think businesses that that really differentiate themselves tell a great story. They know themselves well, they know what their niche is, and they can effectively tell that. It’s like their elevator pitch, their unique selling proposition and their value proposition. They can speak to that really succinctly and effectively, and I think that makes them stand out. They create a lot of just simple video content, and blog content. They’re getting themselves out there. So they’re different, and it doesn’t matter if it looks rough. They just get it done and keep moving away from perfection and get some video out there, put it up on the on the internet and get moving.
Warwick [00:05:38] Some wise business sage said, don’t let perfect be the enemy of prolific. Just get it out there. I’m hearing what you’re saying and thinking, for so many businesses you speak to, the leader is on the roof doing the work. It’s like they’re working nights to try and just keep up with operating a business, and that sounds like a hell of a work that they don’t have the time to do. And what I’ve seen that makes the difference here is investing in efficiency and investing in tools. Say if you’re a large company, you’ve got the time and resources to be able invest in this and do it yourself. But if you’re a small company, you want to have something handed to you that basically does it for you and then can deliver that same dividend that those big companies do. And that’s why my whole career, and particularly what we’re doing with Sunfluence as well, is about bringing those tools used by the big companies and making them just really easy and accessible for those small companies. I don’t want to go into too much about what we do or ram it down people’s throat, but we have automation of customer engagement with Autopilot.
Russell [00:06:54] Yes, Solar Customer Autopilot, Email Autopilot.
Warwick [00:06:57] That for me is essentially systemising that process about getting customers to be educated and educated to buy from a good company at the right price and don’t burn the house down and all that sort of stuff. Nuanced marketing message there right. That is about converting more jobs at a higher price. And each job that you can get at a higher price generates the dividend that you can invest into customer service. And some of this is even automated by our platform, particularly at the back end. How much can we get in terms of referrals and reviews by delivering value to customers that say, they’re reminded of the good job this company did. And yes, I want to give them a referral and the review. And you start this virtuous loop and cycle happening because you’re getting this referral business. You don’t have to compete on price again.
Russell [00:07:52] It’s that enhanced customer capture, you’re capturing all that great information and then it just keeps feeding back. And doubling down on referrals. You’ve got this great information. You’ve got your testimonials, your feedback, your reviews, and then you’re getting referral customers as well. And it’s that typical 1.4 multiplier for every customer you get a 0.4 of another customer through referrals. That’s the lowest hanging fruit. And these great solar businesses, they make sure that the majority of their business comes through referrals.
Warwick [00:08:30] Exactly. We hear that in excess of 70 per cent of their business comes from referrals. And that’s the mark of a good company. And then, to the extent to which you integrate this into your solar software system or CRM or even your spreadsheet. So it’s pretty much just integrated into your business and set and forget. That’s what we call it Autopilot. Rusty, great to have a chat with you today. First of many to come. And we welcome solar businesses to check out Sunfluence and what we’re offering there at www.sunfluence.com.au.
Russell [00:09:02] Thanks Warwick. So we can keep on delivering you great content. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel, like the video and hit the notifications to get the next upcoming video. We’re here to help and support your solar business.
You can listen to the Soundcloud recording below:
If you need help with your business or marketing needs, contact Energetic Consulting today and start creating raving fan customers!
Article by Russell French – Founder of Energetic Consulting Australia
Russell is a veteran of the Australian renewable energy industry of 17 years and an innovative business leader with a proven track record spanning over 20 years. Alongside Warwick Johnston of Sunwiz, and Donovan Craig, he is the co-founder of Sunfluence and Solar Guide, which are solar business automated marketing platforms and services to help solar retailers win more business.
He is also the Founder of Solar Social, a new and innovative meet-up bringing together like minded businesses and professionals to discuss innovation and the latest technology developments.
He has served as a Director for several well known renewable energy companies like:
- Enphase Energy as their APAC Director and Australian Country Manager and brought the business to Australia and setup their operations in the region
- Sungrow ($2.2B, world largest solar inverter manufacturer in partnership with Samsung SDI) as their Marketing & Strategy Director
- Sun Empire as Founder and Managing Director. Sun Empire was a founding company member of the Clean Energy Council of Australia.
Russell has also worked in the award winning Sustainability Strategy team for the City of Melbourne developing the city’s renewable energy and solar program, and helped develop the new Solar & Storage division for one of Australia’s largest energy retailers, Red Energy which is owned by the iconic Snowy Hydro.
He served as the Secretary & Convenor for the Melbourne Chapter of the Smart Energy Council of Australia (formerly Australian Solar Council) for 5 years.