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Solar Quote Sites – What’s The Deal?

If you are entering the solar market there is a good chance you have come across a “solar quote” site. Much like a traditional broker service, these sites promise to get the customer the best quotes possible by running it through a database of competing companies in order to get the best result for the consumer. It is easy to understand the appeal of sites like these because they give you the benefit of doing due diligence without having to do the legwork but just like everything is online these days, a measure of wariness goes a long way.

Due Diligence Is A Must When Going Solar

Before we go any further we think it’s best to point out that doing your due diligence when making the change to solar is always required. Going solar is an investment and comes with a decent price tag so making sure you get multiple quotes from local suppliers is a must. We say local because we feel it’s important not only to support local business but also because it is normally easier to get support from them should something go wrong.

Once you have your quotes the next step should always be checking customer reviews on both the supplier and the products themselves in order to ensure everyone and everything is on the level. We have covered what you should be looking for when buying solar panels in the past so head over to that article to check out more. At the end of the day solar should be taken seriously and any company that does not reflect this is throwing up a big red flag.

due diligence solar quotes

So What’s Wrong With Solar Quote Sites?

The concept of a solar broker website is sound but obscured by the laws of commerce. As a “middleman” service, a solar quote site only survives by charging the suppliers and installers for each lead pushed through to them. For those unaware, a lead is the information a potential customer puts in in order to get a quote and from this point forward we will be referring to solar quote sites as “lead generation” websites because that is effectively what they are.

The issue here is that if the lead generation website was to actually run each quote request through a database to gather the best quote possible from hundreds or thousands of bidders, return the best quote to the client for approval, then invoice the installer for the approved quote it would be a logistical nightmare. In order to reduce the amount of legwork between a quote request and payment from a supplier a lead generation site will set up agreements between them and a few suppliers from each location.

So now you have a site that appears to get you the best quote possible from all solar specialists in your area but instead gives the lead to one of a few selected companies who have paid them the most. This results in smaller, local companies getting squeezed out by larger, nationwide companies that can afford to spend more for leads and contract the work wherever it is needed.

Lead Generation Websites Disempower Local Businesses

Another effect lead generation websites have is the blanketing of online search results. While there are other factors, search engines such as Google like to display sites that have large amounts of traffic as well as links between them and other websites. A lead generation website will have pages for every suburb you can imagine as well as listings for solar providers that feature links to their websites. The result is solar quote sites always showing in the top results no matter what location you enter.

This all acts like a spider’s web of sorts, the aim of these sites being to gather as many leads as possible in order to satisfy their arrangements with the suppliers that are paying for them. These sites effectively disempower local businesses by preventing them the opportunity to quote through limited search results as well as forcing them to pay money in order to get quotes that they normally would have received had the customer searched local suppliers themselves. If they don’t pay up they dont get listed and that might lead to you missing out on the best possible person for the job.

support local business

Ryan Haynes – Owner/Operator of Global Solar

Lead Generation Websites Also Disempower Consumers

The endgame of a lead generation website is to make an industry completely reliant on their website in order to function. What is interesting about this is the fact they operate online, within an infrastructure that already does a lot of the work for potential customers. Search engines enable consumers to view multiple local businesses alongside reviews baked right into the interface. The nature of online communication means that quote forms are only ever a few clicks away and social media makes it easy to check out a company’s credibility on the fly.

All of the information is there and the lead generation website is just hoping you are either too lazy or too intimidated to get the information yourself. They will claim that their site aims to be for the consumer but they are paid by the companies meaning they must act in their clients best interest in order to keep everything running smoothly. This commitment to the hand that feeds them also leaks into other aspects of their website such as company and product reviews.

Praise By Design Is Never Genuine

In order to establish credibility, lead generation websites will often feature reviews of the companies listed on their website as well as solar products such as solar inverters and solar panels. Much like the companies, a middleman will also look to extend the profitability of their website by arranging to “review” products by certain manufacturers. This also extends their reach in terms of search results, making the web even bigger.

This is where the reviews of both companies and products both become murky, as you can imagine someone paying for exposure not being too pleased about getting a negative review. It is extremely unlikely that a company posing as a consumer advocate while getting paid by those with an interest in profiting from consumers is on the level. It is cross contamination and serves to undermine the advantages technology has bestowed on consumers.

fake solar company and product reviews

Carefully curated reviews also prevent consumers from seeing how a local business might handle situations where a job did not go as planned. No one is perfect and not every job goes as smoothly as you would like. Reviews such as those found on Google are shown regardless of whether they are positive or not and give the business an opportunity to respond. How someone handles these situations can actually contribute to you using them.

Reasons Why Choosing Local Business Is Better

While searching for quotes yourself might take a little longer than going through a lead generation website we can assure you the end results will always be better. By finding the right company for the job as opposed to the company that paid the most for your lead you can enjoy peace of mind knowing you made the most informed decision possible and the quality of work you will typically get from true locals is better than those looking to rush onto the next lead.

You will also, for the most part, get better service when it comes to faults or issues after the installation has been carried out. If a larger company is employing contractors in the local area they will have to liaise with them to arrange callbacks and this can lead to disputes as to who should be paying for this extra service. The result can be begrudged contractors looking to resolve issues as cheaply as possible to avoid a loss in terms of labour.

Going local means you help support the community around you because when locals grow they tend to provide support to sports clubs, community projects, as well as events in the area. We have our own community initiatives that we hope to continue to grow which we hope helps our community flourish in the future.

Homogenisation Hurts Free Markets

We live in an era where access to information has never been easier and consumers have the tools to find the right person to carry out any job. This power has changed the dynamic between vendors and consumers for the better as it becomes harder for dodgy companies to hide their poor work from the public and companies need to be more proactive in offering better service to consumers in order to thrive online.

By regressing to the use of lead generation websites we take away this power and leave ourselves content to be served up whatever is best for the supplier instead of the consumer. We forgo the little guy in order to do less ourselves and while this might save you half an hour now, you will be living with your solar system for the next 20-30 years.

Homogenisation hurts open markets

Make The Most Informed Decision

By using the tools available to you and choosing to spend the extra time to perform due diligence yourself you not only understand more about the products you are purchasing but the people installing them. By empowering yourself as a consumer you help advocate for proper business practice which benefits everyone in the market. You also help put more money in the hands of local businesses instead of middlemen who look to benefit from doing as little as possible.

The illusion of choice is a powerful tool and will always be used to take advantage of those looking for results without work. The internet allows us to truly make the choice ourselves and by surrendering your personal information to a lead generation website you give up this opportunity to find the best possible person to carry out your solar installation. Local companies tend to have to earn their client base while those on the teat of lead sites don’t have to lift a finger which leads to complacency in all aspects.

We encourage you to call several companies before making any decisions and talk with the people who will be performing the work. Ask them about advantages and disadvantages to the products they recommend and be on the lookout for those promising all of the upside but none on the downside. When it comes to solar it is imperative you find someone who understands that it is an investment and therefore take it seriously. Make them earn your business because that is your prerogative as a consumer.

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