We got a chance to speak with Div de Villiers, the founder of ALLSOLAR recently and wanted to find out what it takes to build and sustain such a well-known and trusted business and brand in the market. If you have a solar energy company and/or looking for a reputable company to set up your solar system then this article is for you.
Who is ALLSOLAR?
“ALLSOLAR is the largest group of independent Renewable Energy specialists in Southern Africa and was founded in 2012 by Div de Villiers. We currently have 34 branches nationwide, including a branch in Madagascar, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Our mission is simple but important: To make affordable and realistic Renewable Energy Solutions available to South Africans of all walks of life, relative to their specific requirements.
Over the last eight years, the ALLSOLAR brand has become synonymous with excellent technical support, fair pricing and quality products. We are authorized and accredited distributors and installers of major brands like Victron, Freedom Won, Blue Nova and Geyserworx. We were recently listed as the preferred installers for Nashua SA and Investec. We are longstanding members of reputable organisations like SAEEA, AREP and Agri SA.
The ALLSOLAR group does not merely sell products, we primarily provide complete Renewable Energy solutions on all levels of application. This ranges from simple 12 Volt systems to large scale commercial applications. The design of successful solar PV systems firstly requires excellent product knowledge to ensure that the correct components are prescribed. Secondly both theoretical and practical experience is necessary to ensure successful design and implementation. Our branches all undergo rigorous technical training in all aspects of Renewable Energy and benefit from continuing technical support on a national level.”
Visit the ALLSOLAR website for more information: www.allsolar.co.za
Clearly establishing such a well-known business with a large footprint isn’t easy and requires a blend of skill and leadership amougnst many other requirements. Time and dedication being essential elements.
What does it take to create and maintain a successful solar energy business?
“I could write a whole chapter on this subject ,but to keep it short, the first and foremost requirement is superior technical knowledge and competence, followed closely by product knowledge. Ours is a technical field, and with so many product offerings of varying quality on the market, understanding what the component can do, how it should be successfully implemented and trusting the brand to keep doing its job is key to building and maintaining your solar energy business.
What is one of the most important things you have to do to get a new client? You have to gain his trust! Once he trusts you, price becomes secondary. How do you gain his trust? Through showing him your superior technical knowledge and competence in a trustworthy manner!”
Trust from the client and delivering on that trust is a major concern at the moment in the market place. There are many people offering solar solutions which provide sub standard systems and/or give the wrong advice to consumers.
What have you found to be the keys to great customer service?
“Client education and solid advice
- Quality products at competitive pricing
- Superior service
- Honesty and integrity
- A passion for the industry
Building a rock-solid reputation through the above is the bottom-line of customer service. It might be a cliché, but word of mouth advertising remains the best, and great customer service will ensure endless referrals!”
Essentially the basics win the match here. Customer service built on trust, reliability and quality products make for a good business model. With so many products now available in the market place you need to make sure its of high quality, backed by a reputable company like ALLSOLAR and the people installing it have sufficient technical knowledge.
I often wonder what the next five years will look like in the solar energy market and I had a chance to ask his insights on this. With so much product offerings on the table what does that mean for client service and support.
What is more important in the coming years, products or service and support?
“Service and support always! Personally I cannot install a product that has not proven itself and which does not have rock solid supplier support behind it. With every installation, my reputability is at stake and I certainly don’t want to sell a liability! The greatest product will mean nothing to me if I have no support behind it and cannot trust the supplier to honour the warranty in years to come. With so many new products of varying quality flooding the market, service and support from the suppliers becomes even more important. From the client’s perspective, the surety of good service and support is (or should be!) numero uno, especially considering that solar systems are a sizable investment with an ROI stretching over a period of time.”
Many solar installers and consumers focus solely on the price point of equipment without factoring in the warranty and design life of products. With solar energy being a sizeable investment, its worth making sure you’re protected years down the line.
Lastly I wanted to get his insight into the growing energy culture in South Africa and find out if there is indeed one growing or if we still have a way to go.
Do we have an energy culture yet or are we still developing one in SA?
“I have certainly seen a huge improvement over the past years, but we are still pretty much at the tip of the iceberg. I do believe that we are now entering a time where a “solar energy culture” is rapidly developing. We can thank our friends at Eskom for that!”
As the South African energy culture begins to take shape it needs professional installation companies, reliable consumer advice and a focus on customer support to allow a booming market to keep growing in a healthy and steady direction. Companies like ALLSOLAR that dedicate themselves to energy independence, quality products and strict customer focus are prime examples of this.