Get More Referrals And Reviews For Your Business
Updated: Dec 27, 2022
You might notice a pattern if you track your various sources for leads and closing rates. Typically, customer referrals have much higher closing rates than other sources of solar leads. Also, you might realize you are spending less time answering questions and earning their trust before they return a signed proposal.
For most solar companies, customer referrals are the best leads, hands down. Your existing customers have likely already spoken highly of you, helping earn their trust. They’ve probably already explained how their system works and perhaps even given them rough pricing information.
Word-of-mouth advertising usually brings in highly qualified leads that are likely to close. Your existing customers will understand that referrals would need to be homeowners wanting to lower their electric bills and reduce their carbon emissions.
A thriving referral program helps bring in a steady stream of these highly qualified new leads. In addition, it can help reduce some of your marketing costs elsewhere and maintain a consistent source of new jobs. In fact, an effective referral rewards program might be the single most crucial ingredient in a successful marketing strategy.
What Is A Solar Referral Program?
A customer referral program is a formal initiative that encourages happy customers to refer their friends, coworkers, neighbors and family to you. Typically, your company would offer some compensation if the lead closes and also some support to make submitting referral leads easy.
How To Get Referrals For Your Solar Business
Many customers might be very excited about their solar power system due to the cost savings and environmental benefits and encourage their friends also to go solar. There are many ways to get referrals, and you can try different approaches to learn what works best for your existing customers. Leveraging a happy client’s passion can help your business grow.
For example, you may ask if past customers would like to host a solar open house with friends and family. They can show off their solar system, and a sales rep from your company can answer all their questions.
Some solar companies offer talks on a specific solar topic or host a solstice party. Then you could publicize this event with past customers and encourage them to invite people. Using social media can make it easier for them to spread the word.
Remember, there is also marketing value to being on people’s minds, even if they don’t attend the event. Your existing customers are more likely to refer friends if they’ve been recently thinking about your company because of an invitation. It’s all about past customers feeling valued and creating a buzz.
Here are a few other ways you can boost your referrals.
A thriving referral program starts by earning the trust of your customers, so they want to spread the word about your company. So, it’s critical to show you are a reliable solar company they can depend on. Thus, earning trust is vital.
For example, make sure the price of their project stays consistent unless something major comes up, like a change order. Don’t install different solar equipment than was specified during the site survey and on the proposal. Ensure there are no billing issues and that your customers are invoiced accurately.
Provide A Great Customer Experience
It is essential to provide excellent customer service if you want your clients raving about you to friends and family. This starts with the initial site survey and includes any possible service calls after the system is operational.
A great customer experience starts with good follow-up after the potential customer first reaches out to your company. Having effective customer relationship management (CRM) software can help keep track of all your leads and keep them organized. Once they sign a contract, getting the permitting process moving forward is critical to keeping the job on schedule.
When you are ready to install the system, have the solar installers arrive on time and with all the required equipment. Some customers may be wary of having people they don’t know tinkering around with their electrical panel or traversing the roof. Having a personable crew that introduces themselves, is knowledgeable about solar energy and shows respect for the home is critical. Encourage crews to maintain a tidy worksite and clean up fully at the end of the day.
Communication And Transparency
Ideally, all contact with the sales team, solar installers and office employees is cordial and professional. If any issues arise, speak directly and frankly with the customer instead of hoping they don’t notice. For example, if the solar panels you intended to use are backordered, let the customer know you need to change equipment or delay the installation process.
Having a formal referral program that provides a referral bonus to customers is extremely helpful. For example, many solar companies offer between a $200 and $500 incentive, either as a direct payment or in gift cards.
Although this may sound a bit steep, the cost of acquiring customers through other channels is often greater, and referrals tend to have higher closing rates.
One company, Sungevity, offers $500 for the first referral, $1,000 for the second, and $2,000 for three or more. There is a webpage where people can submit the contact information of the person they are referring, including their phone number.
Make Referring Easy
Make sure you actually pay out the referral bonus when you complete a job. There are different ways to achieve this, depending on your company's size and sales process.
At larger solar companies, it might be helpful to have a way to track solar customer referrals online through a submission form. If you are a smaller company, having the referred customer mention it when they first contact you might be sufficient if you have a way to record this information. Having a referral field in your CRM software makes it easier to track referrals and offer the bonus when appropriate.
Spread The Word
It is essential for your customers to actually know about the referral program to take advantage of it. So often, companies create programs but do not market them enough to customers to be successful.
Incorporate the referral program into communication with past customers. When you complete a solar installation, let your satisfied customers know about the referral program. If you send them a welcome or thank-you note, drop a link or QR code to your referral program to make it easy for them.
Send out a special email newsletter a couple of times a year just for existing customers and highlight this program. You can also include valuable information to your customer that might make them even more likely to recommend you to family members and friends. For example, you can remind new customers to take advantage of the solar tax credit at the beginning of the year before filing their taxes.
Supercharge Your Referral Strategy
If you haven’t received as many quality solar leads as you would like lately, it’s time to supercharge your customer acquisition strategy. As your solar business grows, you might need to scale up your process and implement digital strategies that make it easier to track referrals and bonus payments.
Brainstorm ideas with your sales and marketing team on fresh approaches. If you’ve already had a successful referral program, examine what’s worked in the past and keep pushing forward.