Updated: Sep 27
Switching to OpenSolar
Before OpenSolar, we definitely lived in BC (the dark ages). It was all Google Sheets. We had other design software as well but nothing really comparable to OpenSolar. The fact that homeowners can navigate through proposals in real time is a huge win for us. The fact that they can apply for loans directly from the app by themselves is a huge win for us. The fact that we can control OpenSolar directly... you get it. OpenSolar is free, but that was never why we went to OpenSolar.
We went to OpenSolar because it was the only tool out there that literally had everything we were looking for: NREL-validated design accuracy, interactive proposals, over 70 partners fully-integrated, etc. When we found out that they pair and integrate with Dividend, that was another huge attractor for us just for simplicity's sake; offering the finance application and checkout experience from start to finish all in one place.
Making the switch to OpenSolar was actually exciting. I'm definitely a strong believer in automation. Transferring over from the Stone Age to today's technology was a big win for us. I'm always trying to find opportunities with software that can kind of automate the process from A to Z.
Saving time and working smarter
At the end of the day, we all work really hard, but I think we also have to work smart. With other software, we would have to build designs and then go into Adobe and make edits, and then sales reps are calling me to make those edits and setting it on over, and getting it into a different platform for signatures.
There are just so many steps of the process when it comes to the sale that are really behind the scenes, but it doesn't have to be tedious.
Training and support
Training with OpenSolar is pretty simple. One of the things I love most about OpenSolar is when you do have a question, you don't necessarily have to make a phone call.
Getting in touch with an OpenSolar support team member is very easy. It's as if maybe you have their cell phone number; they're kind of always there.
When you need an answer extra quick, the Help Center is the place to go. There's just a question box on the top of the page, just like with the Community Forum, and it's as simple as typing in your question. Finding what you're looking for is really easy too. OpenSolar has training videos and weekly webinars, too.
Speed and accuracy
Previously, it would take anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes to design. With the previous software, we also didn't have shading aspects involved, and so production numbers might have been skewed. We were inflating system losses back in the day by 14% just because we felt like that would cover any sort of production-related issues throughout the year, so we weren't necessarily having 100% accurate production.
Having the setback-related options and jurisdictions, I mean, those kinds of things are all huge wins for us. Whereas before:
It would take 15 to 20 minutes to design
Then you would have to download a proposal
And then if you wanted to make edits to the proposal and add additional panels, you had to create a second proposal.
If you wanted the homeowner to see it, you'd have to download that proposal
And then you have to email it over to them just so that they have a PDF
If they want to make adjustments, you have to email them another proposal
Now, it's all in one page. It's all in real time. Honestly, it's super attractive for our homeowners, too.
All in one place
We've got a lot of positive feedback especially with the QR functions, and the copy links, and being able to not only email your proposal to the customer but text them in real time. You can keep them on the phone, text them over the link, wherever they're at, they can jump right in to your proposal. If you have to make adjustments, just have them refresh that link.
It’s just a lot easier now.
Your customers are in control
Our customers feel like they're in control because they're putting in their own information and you're not putting it in for them. I feel like the more that they can play with their quote, the more in control they feel.
Fully integrated financing
The finance integration is a huge win with OpenSolar versus the Dinosaur Age, as I'll continue to reference it, because it's literally a leap forward. It’s huge, not just on the customer aspect of simplicity, but it's also huge on the sales manager standpoint too, of overseeing the cost.
When we had the other program, we had a simple price per watt option. It was just like, "There's your general price per watt and just charge this." Because trying to train somebody to come in and look at this dealer fee and price, this specific price per watt, and if there's any adders, put this in here and then inflate your system cost, but not actually break it down, I mean, it was just really tough to really give accurate pricing.
I think that now, since we can integrate Dividend (and Sungage, Mosaic, Sunlight) we're able to play around. The dealer fees automatically get integrated in. OpenSolar is always working with the banks to keep their systems up to date by the minute. When I have rate changes, it automatically changes in OpenSolar. Those dealer fees are already there. You're getting actual true pricing at the end of the day. You're able to actually give somebody a quote that's not just a default, for example, $4 a watt across the board for every option.
You can actually give them cheaper options based upon what that dealer fee is. Up until about three or four months ago, we never had that. It was just "this is what we charge." I think with that integration, specifically, we've saved homeowners money and we're able to explain dealer fees in a way that's not scary. It's just created more honest conversations, open transparency.
I think homeowners really like that, especially because we're in a world where the solar market's very saturated. We're normally up against four or five other quotes before they actually make a decision. I really train our team just to be as transparent as possible and, hopefully, that doesn't hurt the deal.
Closing deals quickly and easily
Closing deals faster was a big draw for us to switch to OpenSolar, like the fact that they can get from A to Z in five minutes or less. Click the button and you're done. Sign some documents and you're out of there. I think that's really important. I love the customer activity notifications too. Before OpenSolar you’d just toss some PDFs in a folder and send it off in an email, you never knew when they opened it. You never knew when they were looking at it. You never knew when they were ready to act. You just hoped that they opened it.
Now that we’re on OpenSolar, I could probably count 12 to 13 deals that we closed from somebody just clicking a green ‘Apply Now’ button while we were sitting on the couch watching a cartoon with our kids.
We just get alerted that, "Hey, this customer's ready to move forward." They got pre-approved and we're right over to our computer to close the deal. I mean, at the end of the day, money's great and many of us are in the industry to make money, but for me, I value balance so I can have a good quality of life.
If you're not using OpenSolar, you're spending a lot of tedious time doing everything else. With OpenSolar, you can pull open the app on your phone and make quick edits right then and there. You can take control and make edits right then and there. You can help sales reps directly from your phone. I've never had that before. I mean, it's been life-changing for me. Seriously, try OpenSolar. It's free, it's friendly, and it's simple.