Solar Today March 2013 : Page 27

Field meets with Heather Hurley, human resources director, to talk about how to maintain a supportive environment within this fast-growing organization. OneRoof moved into new offices last June, and by September staff were feeling space shortages due to rapid growth. W In January OneRoof raised $100 million in funding toward its 2013 goal of $300 million to support sales and residential leases, in addition to another $30 million in development financing. The firm previously raised more than $65 million in financing and leased more than 2,000 residential systems since its launch in 2011. app works on his iPad. The app enables the sales rep to enter a customer’s address and the direc-tion and tilt of the roof in order to determine how much solar output a panel could gener-ate, and therefore determine if the investment would be worthwhile. Next Field met with Heather Hurley, human resources director, to talk about how to main-tain a supportive environment within this fast-growing organization. OneRoof moved into new offices last June, and by September staff were feeling space shortages due to rapid growth. Experimentation and a willingness to risk failure are key to Field’s management philoso-phy — one he gained through his experiences at startups. The solar leasing industry is in an extremely early stage, he notes. “You really have a paradigm shift in the market, where in many states it’s less expensive to lease a solar system than it often is to buy power from the local elec-tric utility. That being the case, the question is, how do you approach the maximum number of homeowners — and you don’t do that knock-ing on doors selling solar,” Field says. “What I try to encourage, and what I try to lead with, is understanding buying behaviors and market dynamics, and experimenting with alternative sales strategies. And it’s not just on the sales side, but it’s on the project execution side, as well.” Diffe r enti a ting the Business M o d el OneRoof Energy leases solar electric sys-tems through its SolarSelect financing program, with customers saving 5 to 25 percent on their electricity bills. According to Field, “We can deliver most components up to thirty per-cent cheaper than typical integrators, mostly because we’re vertically structured and flexible in our operations.” He shared a bit about the complicated work of getting the financing right for the customer. A lease may include more than 15 documents, including technical specs, purchase orders and financing papers that can be stacked 4 inches high, he says. He has worked to streamline the process of docu-signing, automated title verifica-tion and credit approvals. In this capital-intensive business, institu-tional investors commit financing for 20 years. OneRoof’s investors include Black Coral Capi-tal and Hanwha Group, a South Korean indus-trial conglomerate. Hanwha, which owns solar-panel manufacturer Hanwha SolarOne and Q Cells, bought an $8 million stake in OneRoof in 2011 and invested another $30 million in development financing in January. The latest cash infusion will bootstrap further growth, says Field. The company differentiates itself in two ways from other solar leasing companies, according to Field. First, he says, “When we work with traditional solar dealers that offer our solar leases, we provide them with different support services. We give them, for example, sales leads, we finance their inventory, as well as provide accelerated payments once a lease contract is signed with a homeowner. Those are things that significantly support their business growth, which also grows ours.” Second, OneRoof Energy offers leasing through financial advisors and others that sell financial products to consumers. It began when OneRoof noticed a financial advising firm in Hawaii recommending solar leases to its home-owning clients for the financial ben-efits alone. Says Field, “We found it to be a very effective model for reaching the consumer and reducing our sales costs, thus saving consum-ers more money.” He continues, “What I’m seeing is that this is more like a financial services business, and we’ll see greater growth of this type of arrangement. As more and more financial advisors and others selling traditional financial products see this as purely a savings tool for homeowners, you’ll see more viral sales techniques.” ST Dr. Mary Beth McCabe (mmccabe@nu.edu) is a full-time professor at the School of Business and Management at National University, where she is lead faculty for marketing. Her research is concen-trated in the field of solar energy marketing. She speaks at national solar conferences and is active in social media. solartoday.org SOLAR TODAY March 2013 27 Copyright © 2013 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved.

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