The Elevator Pitch – Why Solar Ascent?
What’s your “Elevator Pitch”?
I was having an interesting conversation with a potential client a few weeks back. At this point I’ve had probably a thousand or so similar conversations about the benefits of solar energy adoption, and I’ll admit they can get a bit repetitive, despite my passion for the subject.
This one was different. The potential client was engaged and engaging. He had done his homework and asked great questions. He was an excellent communicator and I was really enjoying it. Typically it’s a 30-45 minute conversation and we were at the 70 minute mark already without even noticing.
As the conversation wound down and we covered all the relevant topics like savings, Efficiency Nova Scotia rebates, Greener Homes financing, solar panel warranties, installation timelines, production monitoring, etc., he asked one final question:
OK, I get it. It’s a great proposal, you know your stuff, and I understand why solar power is beneficial, but I’ve gotten 3 other proposals from other solar companies that are all good too. Why should I choose Solar Ascent? Give me your elevator pitch.
I had to pause and think for a moment. Surely I knew our pitch, right? I founded this thing, I know better than anyone what we’re all about. I take pride in how we differentiate ourselves from other solar companies in Nova Scotia. My mind went immediately to our brand promise: We Make Solar Simple, definitely. We Help You Live Lighter, 100%. We’re the Responsible Choice for Your Forever Home, without a doubt.
I take a lot of pride in our ability to live these promises, but they aren’t really a differentiator. What this client was after was something a bit different and more intangible. What sets us apart from the rest?
Solar Ascent: A Stoic Company
I wish I could say I had the perfect answer at that moment, but that wasn’t the case. I rambled on about how good we are at the actual thing that is a solar installation. Being a carpenter and renovations contractor by trade, I founded the company coming at it from the Operations side of the business. We really excel at turning all the widgets to get you from the desire of wanting solar, to having it functionally up and running as efficiently and painlessly as possible.
While that’s all true, I think it only tells part of the story.
With a bit of time to reflect on this, I’ve realized that the thing that sets us apart is also the thing that holds us back:
We’re really, really good at what we do, and we hate talking about it.
In a way, we’re a company that embodies some of the key tenets of stoicism. We quietly and calmly move forward, trying to get better every day. We don’t get too high at the highs, or too low at the lows. We talk less and listen more. We’re patient, humble and hard working. We’re driven by the duty of helping make the world a little bit better each day, and that is reward enough.
While I think this is a noble trait in a person or organization, it also means that not many people are hearing about us, or learning about our story or what sets us apart from the pack. Sure, our clients tell their friends so we get lots of referral business. We’re not good at asking for reviews but some of our clients have left us great ones which helps a lot too.
We’re at a stage where we have a pretty good pipeline of work, with both commercial and residential solar projects, but we really do have a hard time getting noticed in the now crowded industry that is solar installations in Nova Scotia.
Can a Stoic Company Be Successful?
In the age of social media, reels, videos, Tik-Toks and whatever else, is it possible for a company to quietly go about mastering their craft and be successful? We think so. That being said, we’re going to try and do better at sharing the knowledge that we’ve learned over the years, and providing it to people that are wanting to learn more about solar.
There’s no question that the solar energy industry in NS is a crowded one. It’s hard to stand out from the rest, especially for those who let their actions speak for themselves. It takes time for the signal to cut through the noise, but we’re OK with that.
We’ve taken a real hit this year as our costs have all dramatically increased as the COVID supply chain woes have finally hit our industry. Typically there is a large gap of time between when a client signs off on their project and when we can actually get started due to the approvals process. For some projects the price of the equipment went up by as much as 15% between signing off and ordering the equipment.
This dramatically affected our bottom line. Could we have passed those cost increases off to our clients? Maybe. That would help in the short term for sure, but what would it mean for our reputation in the long run?
Our preference was to maintain our commitments and honor our contracts. Due to this, we took a financial hit this year. This investment to our reputation is more important than turning a profit at the expense of it.
We know that we’ll never have an in-your-face sales process. We know we’ll never compete for Google’s top paid advertising spots in the renewable energy industry. The reason why to go with Solar Ascent is that we’ll do exactly what we promise. Our sales process provides the information you need to understand the benefits of solar technology. No more, no less. Your system will produce how much energy we say it will. Our team will show up when we say they will. It will cost you what we said it would. Everything will work exactly as we say it will and you expect it to.
If for whatever reason we fall short at any one of these things, we’ll move mountains to fix it (not literally – but we will take any mountains into account for the shading factor in the first place).
I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve built, and the great team we’ve put together. We’ve worked with some amazing people and families in incredible spots all across our beautiful province. Our systems help to contribute over 2 Gigawatt-hours of energy a year to the electricity grid. We provide great jobs, training and a living wage for our staff. We’re comfortable with who we are and the path we’re on to become the most respected solar installers in Canada. We think we can help Nova Scotia be a leader in North America when it comes to green energy solutions. We’re here for the long term and we think you’ll be starting to notice us a bit more in the future.
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