What constitutes reliability when deciding on your solar installation professional?
Is it the number of installations they've performed? The net worth of their company? The ratings awarded by their clients? The number of years they've been in business? The certifications they carry?
How about all of these factors combined?
When choosing an installer to come into your home, alter your place of residence, and potentially the landscape of your life, you can never be too diligent in conducting your research. McClintock Electric is passionate about ensuring that you feel safe with all of our professionals, and reassured about the level of competence they bring to the work you need completed.
That's why we've compiled a list of the 5 Questions To Consider When Choosing A Solar Installer so that you have a framework of inquiry to help you begin your search for a dependable, competent, reliable team of professionals to install the solar array you've been dreaming about without all the hassle and headaches that go along with unexpected surprises.
Take a look!
5 Questions To Consider When Choosing A Solar Installer
1) Are They Licensed/Certified and Insured?
Believe it or not, it's not a given that folks will look for certified and insured professionals before hiring them on. The integrity of a professional isn't just about what they charge, how they present, or what their past customers are saying. Realistically, anyone can pose as a past customer and say they've gotten amazing service. What you want to determine is whether the professional in question is certified/licensed in their chosen field, and insured against potential damage or accidents.
A solar installer, for example, should be a licensed electrician who's qualified to work with your electrical wiring. To look up whether your solar installer is licensed in Ohio, gather their name/business name, license information, and click on this link!
They should also be able to provide a certificate of liability from their insurance provider that you can use to call the insurance company to verify.
The responsibility for choosing a qualified professional is yours, the customer's. Doing your research into what constitutes an educated professional in the field of service you're seeking will not only ensure that you find a reliable installer, but also give you peace of mind that you did your very best to minimize potential liabilities. It isn't just the professional's job to ensure that nothing goes wrong. The decisions about who to bring in always begins with you!
2) Are You Within Their Service Location?
How close is/are the installer(s) to your service location? This consideration may make a difference. Some installers may charge you for travel time/costs, and if you're looking to minimize the amount of capital expense that goes into your installation then you'll want to consider how far away from you your preferred installer's business location is situated. It may not make a difference to some installers how far away you are depending on the size of your installation, however others will take travel into account.
Then again, if the installer you prefer is highly reputable and you simply must use them, the extra cost may be worth it. This is another piece of the puzzle to elucidate on your research journey before coming to a final decision.
3) Have You Compared Cost/Estimates?
Shopping around for the best price isn't rocket science. It begins with looking up the installers in your area who perform the service you're seeking, making sure the installers you find are certified/licensed and insured, and working with them to schedule site visits, or sending the appropriate information their way in order for them to work up an estimate of the services you're requesting.
Keep in mind: You get what you pay for.
Do we all want the cheapest deal? Absolutely. There's nothing wrong with budgeting, or poking around for the best deal possible. However, business owners are in business for a reason. They need to make a profit as much as you need a service performed. It wouldn't be to their benefit to provide an estimate with the cheapest possible materials that wouldn't last long and would require frequent maintenance. Respecting that they are already most likely providing you with the cheapest options they can for the most reliable products they can acquire goes a long way towards establishing mutual trust and confidence.
Alternatively, if you prefer the most budget-friendly options, discuss that with them prior to receiving the estimate so that they know how to meet your expectations, or explain the reliability of the materials you're requesting so you have complete picture of what you're really wanting.
Ultimately, the cheapest price does not always boil down to the most reliable option. It can potentially translate to less durable materials, more finicky technology, and less competent support after the job is finished.
So keep all of this in mind before aggressively probing for discounts. While there's nothing wrong with asking your professional if there are equally reliable materials at a lower cost, assuming they haven't already quoted the least costly options, or that they quoted higher-priced materials simply to gouge you, may send across the message that you don't trust their expertise, and when it comes to business relationships that involve construction in and around your home, trust is an enormous factor in successful relationships!
4) How Important Are Reviews/Reputation?
How do you vet your service providers? Yelp? Better Business Bureau (BBB)? Facebook? Consumer Reports?
However you do it, vetting can take a lot of time and effort depending on how many providers you're considering and how deeply you prefer to go into the rabbit-hole of customer reviews. Ideally you already did a basic vetting process before contacting providers for estimates.
A basic vetting process is essentially eyeballing how highly-rated a provider is via their star rating (i.e. 5 stars, 4.5 stars, etc.) before requesting a quote or estimate. We all want the most highly-rated providers, but it's important to be open to providers with slightly lower ratings also since it's possible they may be more readily available on shorter notice and/or provide more sensibly-priced products and service.
Remember: A lower rating doesn't automatically denote lower quality service. Consumers can sometimes be fickle or have overly-idealistic expectations, and often perfectly good providers get trolled with bad ratings that have nothing to do with their products, service, or their business' potential for success. Only you can be the judge of how important having the most highly-rated provider is to you, but also understanding that there are diamonds-in-the-rough can help lower-rated providers who may deserve higher ratings get the exposure and opportunities they deserve to prove that they can compete with what is considered the best.
Once you have your preferred price points narrowed down, you can use the same online resources to look more deeply into the providers who gave the quotes you're considering. Check out their customer reviews, or ask them for references directly. Ask them about their qualifications, verify that their licenses or certifications are current, seek verification of their insurance information, and look into the products they're suggesting to find out if they're aware of the most current or efficient materials.
Researching, while not always fun, can save you loads of headaches later. Don't be someone who regrets not being more diligent! With a little bit of cunning, we all can make the best, most informed choices about who comes and makes alterations to our homes.
5) Does Personal Rapport Matter?
Ever hire a service provider and wish you could thump them on the forehead?
Who knows why some folks communicate or act as they do, but one thing is for certain: personal rapport with anyone who comes into your home is one of the most important factors in determining your overall comfort level with having them back again. In business we all know the phrase "customer service" and when service is bad, the customer will let us know it.
But how much does personal rapport really matter? Are you someone who wants to be best friends with your service providers, or are you wanting a detached, ultra-professional rapport that makes you feel like you're the boss?
Everyone is different. In this regard, knowing what you expect of your providers helps you communicate that expectation to them prior to their engagement with you. Without the communication of expectations it's harder for a provider to give you the service you expect and you're more likely to be dissatisfied when they can't read your mind. A good service provider may be able to intuit customer expectations, but they can't read your mind!
When everyone has the tools they need to be successful, success is far more likely to occur to the satisfaction of all parties involved. Give your provider the vital information necessary to know how to serve you, and a good provider, in turn, will know how to utilize that information in order to provide.
A customer-provider relationship is still a relationship, and in relationships we all know that communication is #1!