How an industry-wide focus on soft-cost reductions is changing residential solar business models. How software tools have changed the industry landscape and how smaller solar companies can take advantage of opportunities to streamline and optimize their business practices. Several solar business software platforms that can help residential installation companies automate routine business processes and focus their resources on providing quality customer service and installing quality PV systems. The US residential PV market of today is more competitive and cost sensitive than it was 10 years ago. Of all the solar market sectors, residential solar has experienced the steadiest growth since 2008. This rising tide may not float all boats equally
Solar eCRM featured in "SolarPro" Magazine
Mounesh Badiger established solar eCRM, a new entrant to the US market, in 2012 to fully manage solar businesses in the low-margin, high-volume Australian residential market. Badiger who is also the company’s managing director, has extensive international business management and information technology experience. He has been offering ser-vices and solutions to the solar industry since 2008.
One of the defining features of the Solar eCRM platform is that its developers specially structured it as an end-to-end business solution—an enterprise-wide CRM tool.
As such, the platform is a viable alternative to CRM platforms such as Salesforce, yet it also automates PV system design and proposal activities.
Compared to most of the business platforms developed by or for the US market, solar eCRM is less focused on creating customized system designs and communicating complex financial propositions. Instead, it focuses on streamlining business processes and creating continuity in the customer experience. In this sense, solar eCRM has a lot in common with the proprietary business management platforms that the top US residential solar providers use. Because it is a full-featured CRM tool, it allows users to interact with prospects or customers.For example, users can conduct email marketing campaigns and track results from within the platform. The company even offers outsourced inside sales lead generation and appointment-setting call centers as separate services to subscribers. The Solar eCRM user interface features a dashboard with customizable graphs that allow users to track the sales pipeline at a glance. The platform is very scalable and adaptable, supporting inside sales, channel sales, franchises, dealers and other enterprise models. Solar eCRM includes extensive post-sale project management capabilities. It uses a customizable task notification system to keep projects on track, sending out email alerts to sales personnel or managers during the customer acquisition process, for example, or to crew leads, project managers and business administrators to identify milestones during project delivery. The platform also manages documents during project fulfillment and can generate sales and portability reports.
Solar eCRM is ideal for solar installation companies looking for a whole-business management platform. It is also well suited for companies with multiple offices or franchises that are looking to streamline operations. Since the company is still customizing its software to fit the unique and fragmented needs of the US solar market, solar eCRM currently lacks sup-port for the complex landscape of incentives and utility tariffs commonly handled during quotation. However, users can manually enter these data as needed to model estimated energy production and financial performance. Companies looking to model production and financial savings in more detail could pair the CRM and business management tools in this platform with a dedicated production-modeling tool from OnGrid Solar or PVsyst, or with NREL’s free Solar Advisor Model (SAM).