State of the Solar Job Market (And Where to Focus Your Resources)

By Chris Crowell March 20, 2023

We’re extending The Buzz online! In this new video discussion series on our YouTube channel, we’ll be putting our two cents per kWh on residential and commercial solar storylines. In Episode 1, Jeremy Belej, Strategic Success Manager at Aurora Solar, discusses…

0:38 – What do solar installers say about the job market?1:06 – Does solar have an advantage over other trades? 2:10 – Where do solar installers need the most help? 2:41 – Why focus on the sales department4:14 – Pitfalls when onboarding and training salespeople6:36 – In-home vs. virtual selling and remote vs. in-office positions7:31 – Examples of cross-departmental Training8:32 – Eliminate departmental inefficiencies10:24 – Tips for starting a solar business in low demand areas11:43 – Providing “careers” instead of “jobs”13:02 – What is the ONE department that solar installers are now investing more resources in should?

Be sure to watch the entire 14-minute chat here. You can also skim part of the conversation below:

Crowell: The trades have a hard time finding enough workers. What are you hearing from your installer customers about the labor market?

Belej: We’ve heard that the demand for solar systems continues to grow, and many people face the challenge of keeping up. There are projects and willing customers, but installation deadlines sometimes get longer because there’s just too much work to do.

Crowell: It seems to me that in the future, solar might have an edge when it comes to attracting workers over traditional crafts because maybe it’s a cooler, tech-centric, forward-thinking industry.

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Belej: I also think that training in these traditional professions is well established. While at solar, [training courses] are still trying to keep up and evolve to ensure demand is met and that we have the right education and training programs in place. I don’t know to what extent community colleges have programs for solar installers, but once you see those, I think you’ll see much greater growth.

Crowell: In my opinion, the easiest department to onboard new hires to is in that sales and design area, at least theoretically, because it requires software instead of ladders and tie rods. But maybe that’s just me because I’m a soft sweater-wearing guy.

Belej: At Aurora we would agree. Selling is such a growing part of the industry because you need that sale to get projects installed and it’s super easy for people to get on board with the software that makes it a little bit easier. Then it’s all about finding motivated prospects and getting them to get involved. This can be difficult to navigate properly.

Obviously integrity plays a big part in making sure people are reselling the right things and selling a solution that works for the home. Our software helps with that, but I think part of the business is becoming more mature and a bit more standardized.

Krowell: Definitely. While it might be the easier way to get a new hire in the door, there’s a lot that can go wrong on the sales and design side, right? The accuracy of this offer and this sales pitch is critical. What are the keys to training personnel on the sales and engineering side?

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Belej: There is usually a learning curve with any software, and the key is taking the time to ensure the reps and sales reps who will be interacting with your sales workflow understand it from start to finish. Explaining “why?” is important. People can skip that and then you just try to get to as many sales meetings as possible. Really where we see the people who benefit the most and who are able to do this over a long period of time understand why and how to talk to homeowners to build trust and you can through accurate tools doing this can show you why a particular array was designed a particular way.

Crowell: Sometimes the work problem can just be a company problem, I think. What inefficiencies in departments or workflows can result in a contractor wasting hours that could be better spent elsewhere?

Belej: There are areas in the customer lifecycle or sales journey where you can improve. Qualifying leads is a key thing. Once someone puts their hand up and says, “Hey, I’m interested in learning what solar energy could do for my home,” and getting advice on reviewing those designs — the shorter you do that, the better.

And then one of the big things you’re going to hear in the solar industry is change order reduction. This is an important key to ensure that a project is ultimately installed and that customers are satisfied. The more you can hopefully reduce these to zero, the better the experience for the customer, the quicker it goes from sale to installation and, at the end of the day, the more likely it is to actually be installed on the roof and connected to the grid .

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Pick up the conversation right where we left off!

Listen to more in-depth conversations on Solar Builder’s YouTube channel

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