COVID-19 update: Home solar sales still down, but process improvements show results

sun peeks through clouds

The results of Solar Wakeup‘s poll of solar installers this week shows a continuation of lower sales levels compared to prior year numbers, but there is definitely some positive momentum coming through, or at least some evidence of companies that have adjusted better to the new reality.

Here’s an overview of the results:

Residential Solar Survey Results

  • Sales are down 39% in the week of April 13th versus average February week (pre-covid)
  • 57% are closing via video chat
  • 46% via phone/text
  • Storage attachment is in the 15-20% range
  • Leads are up 18% compared to average week in February
  • Top sources remain referral/organic
  • Social media is becoming greater source of leads
  • 25% report leads are greater than pre-covid
  • 17% report increasing leads but less than pre-covid
  • Delta is those that have shifted to restart of investment in lead flow (i.e. paid social media)
  • 42% report customers have canceled a project
  • 45% report growing backlog (sales happening faster than installations)
  • A third of the respondents report more than 50% now have digital permitting however, 45% report that none of them have remote inspections
  • 64% have delayed payables
  • 77% have had customers delay payment
  • Working capital sentiment is cautious to pessimistic

Overall Market

When do you forecast return to pre-covid levels

  • June 17.5%
  • July 22%
  • August 12%
  • September 22%

Did you receive or pending receipt of PPP

  • Yes 71%
  • No due to funding depletion 13%

Leads are increasing

That could be due to higher investment by companies anticipating lower close rates with virtual sales or, could be based on the fact that consumers are home and more present online

Here’s the most optimistic outlook

  • Sales process becomes Digital allowing for two things to happen
  • Sales force can be remote
  • Sales force can double or triple meetings with consumers–both drive down the cost of acquisition
  • Building departments are moving into a digital realm where personal encounters are not possible
    • Digital/instant permitting either through local implementation or legislative action
    • Remote inspections using continuous video, geotagged photos or video conferencing
  • More efficient permitting could shave weeks and months off the installation process. (This is the highest soft cost in residential solar, up to $1 per watt).

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