Posts tagged ‘job’

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2011 June 30 11:12
tags: ,
by roma

Asking Homeowners Questions


Michael, one of the other canvassers has had success with a shortened version of the spiel that gets homeowners to talk about themselves. The key is to present the crucial information only at first, and then turn the tables and start asking questions. This is one thing that I overlooked in my June 17 post.

I have been experimenting with Mike's spiel this week.

2011 June 21 10:23
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by roma

Week 2 with RS Energy


On the morning of Monday, June 20, I went around houses to talk to homeowners in southeast Portland, around where I live. The overwhelming majority of the people were not home.

In the afternoon, I met up with Koa Hester, who does too many things to name back at the office (calling our leads, setting up areas for us to work in, briefing us before our shifts). We started out canvassing together. Koa listened to my spiel and gave me very valuable pointers. Like some of the other guys in RS, he has been on a Mormon mission, and so has loads of experience in knocking on doors.

It was mostly due to Koa's smarts that we made an appointment with one particular gentleman. I'm gradually understanding how to counter various objections homeowners throw out there and will continue to refine my approach.

2011 June 17 10:09
by roma

Week 1 of Beaverton Canvassing Roundup


Knocking on doors for the rest of the week definitely became a routine. I stumbled many times, talked to quite a few people and began to work on refining my spiel.

One thing I noticed is that the script SunRun is very well thought-out. Practically every phrase in there has a specific purpose. For example, given that the deal is almost too good to be true, we repeat this fact almost right after introducing it to get the prospect focusing on the right things.

I noticed that people would interrupt my spiel if I gave them a chance - if I left a pause for them to but in. Once this happened, the conversation was over. You must remember that I am knocking unexpectedly on someone's door without an invitation. Even if the prospect has good intentions, they have other things on their mind. The only way to counter this is to plow through giving them the little information that we give with our 1-minute spiel.

I decided to challenge myself by going through the spiel and not giving people a chance to interrupt me. I would see prospects' attempts to but in, but politeness is a powerful concept. Throughout the week, it would indeed be rare for anyone to interrupt me, unless they genuinely needed to. I could usually tell this myself by their body language. Then I would stop and ask them if it was an inconvenient time.

A person going from house to house knocking on peoples' doors quickly realizes the power of the human mind. Canvassing is a perpetual exercise in reframing. Got shooed away by some old lady who doesn't want to open up? Her loss. Homeowner told you that you are in fact soliciting, even though you're just talking to people? Look at the beautiful flowers and fresh air that I get to call my office.

This teaches you to persevere.

2011 June 13 21:35
by roma

RS/SunRun Program Real Cost


In order to justify possessing an economics degree, I want to analyze the real costs of the SunRun lease program. We must take the time value of money into account in order to do this.

After shelling out six grand for the system, the homeowner is eligible to receive a $1,500 tax credit from the state of Oregon for four years. First, it must be noted that the homeowner must have a tax liability higher than $1,500 in order to benefit. For someone who has $6000 in cash this is likely not a problem.

Let's say the homeowner shells out the $6000 for the system on April 16. One year later, they are able to pay $1,500 less on their state taxes due to the credit. It must be noted that $1,500 in a credit is not the same thing as cash in hand. But even if we discount this, $1500 today is not the same thing as $1500 a year from now. What is $1,500 a year from now worth today? It's worth the amount of money we'd have to put in a bank in order to get $1,500 at the end of the year.

According to bankrate.com, a 1-year CD from MetLife will get us a 1.29% rate. That $1,500 in one year is worth $1480 now. A 2-year CD will get us a rate of 1.54%. That $1500 two years from now is worth $1454 now. 1.79% for a 3-year CD. The $1,500 in three years will be $1422. Bankrate didn't have 4-year CD's, so I'll just use the 3 year rate ($1397 dollars for $1500 in four years).

-6000 + \frac{1500}{1.0129} + \frac{1500}{1.0154^2} + \frac{1500}{1.0179^3} + \frac{1500}{1.0179^4} = -244

If one were to get higher rates, the present value of the future payments would go down, and the system would be more expensive.

As it stands, $244 gets you 20-year use of a solar array that offsets around one quarter of the average electricity bill. Not bad at all!

2011 June 13 19:43
by roma

RS Energy / SunRun - Day 1


Today was my first day going from house to house signing up people for RS Energy's solar program. Finally, a job!

RS Energy has partnered with SunRun to offer a 3.24 kW system at an upfront cost of $6000 to the homeowner. RS Energy installs the system, while SunRun owns, insures and maintains the system for 20 years. After the initial cost, the homeowner is able to offset the cost with an annual Oregon tax credit of $1500. For four years! In nominal terms, the system is 0 dollars (check the next post for an analysis of the real cost).

RS and SunRun are able to do this because of the federal tax incentive, as well as the $1.00-$1.25/watt Energy Trust of Oregon rebate (depending on the utility). This IS the program that will start getting solar on the roofs of everyday, non-environmentalist folks.

We convened at 10 AM at RS Energy's offices in Tualatin. Kristin Stringer and Kellyann Lamb of SunRun came at around 10:30 to train us. Kristin and Kellyann, both very thorough and patient, worked hard to instill confidence in us in the pitch. By about lunch, each of us took turns roleplaying the spiel while the others ate pizza.

We headed out to southern Beaverton on our first mission after lunch. Kellyann, who manages SunRun's account managers for the western region, paired up with me to go door-to-door with the pitch. A mom and her daughter were unloading their car in the driveway of the first house we came up to. I stumbled a little at first, but got the ball rolling with the pitch. The woman immediately reacted with, "Solar in Oregon?" Before we had the chance to collect our thoughts on how to counter that after saying "Yes", she said "I wouldn't want those ugly things on my roof." Here Kellyann thanked the woman for her time and asked her to contact us if she ever became interested in installing solar panels.

The next couple of houses had no response. We then came to a house where a woman listened to me and simply said, "I'm not interested." Kellyann thanked the woman for her time. After a couple of more houses with no-one home, we came to a house on the corner. Nobody was home, but a man was getting out of a parked car as we were exiting the driveway. I didn't react, but as we rounded the corner, Kellyann asked me whether the man was coming into the house. Kellyann started out by saying that we were a solar energy company and asked if we could talk to him out on the front porch. Great, smooth transition.

The homeowner was very receptive to solar. One of the elements we are qualifying in this program is a monthly electricity bill over $60. We actually need the electricity bill in order for the solar energy consultant, who will meet with the homeowner, to draft a customized sales proposal. The homeowner said his wife would be e-mailing them to us. I scheduled an appointment with him. I was so excited that I forgot to ask his wife's name, as well as the phone number. Overall, though, great going.

Another couple of houses with nobody home. Then a young Asian lady opens up. I could see she was having trouble understanding me. I started to speak slower. About halfway through the spiel, she said she doesn't know English. I asked her what language she speaks. She said Japanese. Without thinking I asked her what time her husband is around. She said he leaves home early and comes home pretty late.

It was a great opportunity to practice Japanese. I did miss asking if the weekend would be okay. Then again, there was no way I was going to be able to give her our program description on the fly in Japanese. Of course, something to work on in the future.

We rounded the corner again and happened upon a house with a bunch of tools and an electronic drum pad out in the front. The homeowner opened up. He was quite receptive. Upon hearing that we were there to see whether he qualifies for the solar program, he said he didn't. I thought he was just brushing us off, but he knew that his roof was too old. Good lesson for me to assume less. He said he was actually thinking of re-roofing relatively soon. Kellyann didn't skip a beat and asked him to consider us after he had replaced the roof.

We reconvened at a local Starbucks to talk about how everyone did. All in all, pretty good for a first day. I'm looking forward to getting the sales pitch down and doing my share to change how energy is generated in the US.

On that note, I must say that one of the very important things I took home from the NABCEP course was how having solar panels changes homeowners' energy consumption patterns. Homeowners are naturally curious about how much energy their array produces. Once they have the modules up, their energy production capability is limited by their array size. But they can increase the share of energy they've produced by limiting consumption. In this sense, I truly believe residential solar has tremendous potential to change energy consumption patterns, more than other energy efficiency measures! It's nice knowing I will be doing my small part to make this change.