29 Apr Basking in the Sun of Customer Satisfaction
Solar Energy World is a contractor that focuses on customer satisfaction. One spin-off from this: It sought a certain type of company when it sought a solar supplier.
Geoff Mirkin owned a successful roofing/siding company, but at one point no longer felt that it was the business he wanted to be in. He sold the company, and started looking around for some other type of business to dive into. At about the same time, he decided to get some solar panels installed in his home.
“Problem was, no one ever called me back,” Geoff says. “I couldn’t believe how careless these companies were! The customer service was awful. I thought, ‘This business needs a much more professional way of selling.’”
So Mirkin decided to bring his own considerable customer-service skills to the solar energy business. He rounded up some partners, and in 2009, founded Solar Energy World (SEW) in Maryland. He is now the vice president of the company; his strongly held beliefs about treating customers well have ensured the venture’s success so far.
Customers: About 75% residential, the balance commercial. Much more than installing panels. While customers are welcomed by any business these days, SEW doesn’t simply go in and slap down some solar panels just anywhere and point the client to the tax credits. “We look very carefully at whether or not installing solar energy is going to be good for the customer,” he states. In addition to several other criteria, a building must be “solar-eligible” . . . there must be a viable place to install the panels.
“It needs to have a good southern exposure and not be shaded,” remarks Mirkin. “Each case is different, and must be analyzed. We look at the utility bills and go over the economics. “Savings depend on several factors, including how long the person will be in the house or commercial facility. Depending on these factors, the client can purchase, lease, or finance the installation.”
Finding a supplier/partner Mirkin also wanted to partner with a vendor that had the same commitment to excellent customer service as does SEW. Result: Solar Energy World buys many solar components from CapitalTristate.
Brad Henderson, solar specialist at the company, calls CapitalTristate a “one stop shop for the solar contractor. Solar Energy World can order anything they need one day, and have it the next day,” Henderson says.
Sun Run, a company that provides leasing of solar energy systems, led Henderson to Mirkin. Henderson approached SEW and explained the benefits of working with the customer-oriented staff at CapitalTristate.
“Brad Henderson has the same commitment to customer service that I do,” affirms Mirkin. “When I get a call or an email from a client, I take it seriously. I make certain to get back to that person right away. CapitalTristate is the same way. “Brad makes sure he locates what I need, even if he has to check several warehouses. It costs us a little more, but we make it up in greatly reduced downtime, which means better customer satisfaction. I know my needs have a high priority when I call Brad,” he finishes.
The alternative to buying direct Part of the success of this partnership is that Henderson keeps an eye on what his customers need, and makes sure he stocks what they are selling. “We purchase solar racking, modules, conduit, and wiring,” states Mirkin. “CapitalTristate can deliver it to our job site, or more often, they deliver to our warehouses. “We used to buy direct from manufacturers, but we ran into so many problems with getting inventory, we switched over to CapitalTristate.”
Adds Henderson: “Solar Energy World does things right. They are top-notch, honest people. I know any job they install is going to be done right, cosmetically appealing, and safe. “Furthermore, they are the only solar company in our market that has solar installed in their own building! They really walk the walk!”