The Independent Solar Difference: Beyond Just Solar Panels — Prioritizing Customer Satisfaction and Quality – The Arizona Republic

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In recent years, solar energy has emerged as one of the most popular (and promising) sources of clean energy. Unfortunately, transparency and customer satisfaction have not historically been a primary focus in the industry. Randy French — the owner and founder of Independent Solar — is aiming to change all of that. 

Randy points out that because so many solar companies make the sale without clearly explaining what to expect, many customers end up prematurely canceling. “Independent Solar’s cancellation rate has never gone over 20%. And that’s at a month, maybe 17 or 18%,” he says. “There have been whole years in our history where we only have a 2% cancellation rate.” 

With the passage of laws like California’s NEM 3.0 — a billing-credit adjustment that reduces solar-power savings — Independent Solar has found that it’s more important than ever to cultivate meaningful relationships with customers and help them navigate the often-confusing world of solar energy. 

Ultimately, Randy believes that the key to lasting customer relationships is honesty. “We are immensely proud of our high level of compliance and disclosure and transparency,” he says. “That’s our narrative. In a sea of confusion, our customers are well-informed. We hold their hands. There’s a huge amount of customer satisfaction.” 

Independent Solar’s focus on customer trust isn’t the only thing that sets it apart. The company has been in the solar business for more than 20 years. That’s virtually unheard of in a business where many (if not most) companies pop up quickly with a primary goal of capitalizing on the solar zeitgeist.  

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Since its inception, solar power has rapidly evolved. And because it’s been in the game longer than most companies, Independent Solar has learned how to best adapt to ongoing changes and become a stronger company as a result. “There are very few companies doing solar that are 20 years old and that have never had a complaint with the Registrar of Contractors, that have a Better Business Bureau A-minus rating, that have four and a half stars on Google with thousands and thousands of installs,” Randy says. “We’re a very special company.”  

Independent Solar is a standout in the field. But it’s understandable that new customers would be wary of solar power — an evolving form of energy that they know little to nothing about. Randy makes it a point to walk customers through how much electricity they’ll typically use, their utility company’s reimbursement rate for unused power, and how much the customer will owe the utility company if their usage goes over a certain amount. 

A common concern among customers is that of savings. Customers want to know whether their lowered power bill will make the cost of purchasing and installing solar panels worth it. Notably, Independent Solar even includes a performance guarantee — something you don’t always see in the industry. 

That might all sound complicated, but Randy says he has it down to a system. “I think reducing it to sizing a system and making a system compatible with your home and your family’s usage is the single most important thing you can do in selling solar,” he says, “and very few people do it.”  

He adds that in many cases, customers who see underwhelming savings have incorrectly sized systems. For example, a too-large system costs more to install and can take a significant amount of time to pay for itself. A too-small system, on the other hand, won’t offset enough of a customer’s bill. 

Thanks to misconceptions about solar power and the energy savings it may afford, customers are understandably hesitant about taking the plunge. Logically, you might think that solar companies are starting to feel the squeeze of the impending market contraction. However, Independent Solar’s focus on value and customer satisfaction has proven to be a way to help it weather these challenging times. 

Independent Solar is already expanding from Arizona into Texas and Nevada, and that’s only the beginning. “And now that we’ve conquered Nevada, it’s time for us to expand into these other markets,” Randy says. “So, we’re very, very excited about 2024.”  

Randy expects the brand’s next rollout to have a sweeping reach into North Carolina, South Carolina, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, and Georgia. 

It might sound like Independent Solar has been wildly successful from the start. But Randy notes that the company’s story is far from a fairy tale — the success he now enjoys is hard-won.  

“The first four years was a dogfight,” he says. “I mean, we couldn’t get good financing for our homeowners. I was upside down to my business partner, Mike. And we laugh now, we say, ‘Boy, did we go to Solar University those first four years, but what did we learn and come out of that?’”  

“It was never say die,” he says. “I can’t quit. Now, our internal company motto is ‘Help People, Have Fun, Make Money!’ In that order!” 

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