Solar Builder

JAN 2018

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

Issue link: http://digital.solarbuildermag.com/i/926667

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24 JA N UA RY / F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 8 Here's the No. 1 way to avoid purchasing problems ASK A DISTRIBUTOR: What are the common problems distributors see when it comes to purchasing systems to install? There are a few quick, solvable issues — stuff like reviewing the details of an order before signing off on it or avoiding last minute purchases. "Plan ahead and inspect shipments to avoid/mitigate mix ups and ensure fast and timely solutions when needed," McShea says. "Waiting three weeks until install to say something is missing and you need it now is not effective." But all of that feeds into the advice that resonated with us the most: Seeing the distributor relationship as a two-way street that adds value to your business. According to the distributors we talked to, the more often you communicate, the more the distributor knows about your business, the easier it is for them to help. "Valuing price over loyalty and the quality of the relationship with a distributor, I think, is a mistake," Schoder from Civic notes. A simple step up in communication will not only solve a bunch of issues but could create additional value for your business. "Good communication and transparency are always the best remedies for doing good business and mitigating potential errors," Dufrenne says. "Everyone is busy and going to make mistakes, including distributors and shipping companies. When all parties pay attention to detail and plan accordingly, deliveries and installations seem to go more smoothly." And it's not just an exercise in mistake avoidance. Keeping everyone on the same page, forecast-wise, can only make the ordering process smooth- er for everyone. "At least one call a week to plan upcoming jobs would help avoid sup- ply chain issues," Kyler says. This ensures all orders and forecasting align with expectations. There's also the training aspect. "Manufacturers are constantly offering training, quite often through their distributors," Bailey notes. "Yet we still see many installers deal with headaches for hours which they could have learned to avoid by going through some quick training on the product features and installation." Purchasing Think about kits Ordering from multiple suppliers for a given residential job can leave more room for error, such as damage during shipping, incorrect parts arriving or a delayed delivery, all of which length- ens install time and increases costs. "The best solution I've seen yet for lowering soft costs is to have one to two standardized kits which the sales team and installation crew are both very familiar with," says Leone with Civic. "This mitigates both sales and labor costs. We recommend having multiple kits to protect against upstream challenges such as availability." "Ordering from one supplier and having the experts kit the equipment per job before shipping to the jobsite or warehouse can reduce most mis- takes that cause delays and additional labor/ mobilization costs," Dufrenne says. Sticking with brands also avoids the hassle of resubmitting permits with different equipment types or brands.

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