A contractor needs a distributor if they are going to run an efficient business. The distributor acts as the single point of contact for all of the things the contract needs to install a solar system. They provide access to modules, inverters, racking and all the ancillary services necessary. Some distributors even provide some design and engineering assistance. Distributors stand between the manufacturer and the contractor. They are in a unique position to gain knowledge which they can then pass on to the contractor. You can use this knowledge for long-term strategic decision-making. By establishing a business partnership with a distributor, the contractor gets access to tools and knowledge they need to give them a competitive advantage.
What exactly with which, can a distributor help?
The main service distributor will provide everything to the contractor. In Australia, there is a number of reputed and trustworthy distributors such as Euro Solar Australia. They act as a fully managed warehouse for everything the contractor needs; they usually also deliver equipment on site and job by job. They are also usually the contractor’s first point of contact with new equipment, product innovations and if they provide design support they also generally provide help with permit preparation as well. One other service that people do not usually expect distributors to provide, but they often do, is that they can be the source of referrals. It can lead a contractor, with the help of distributors, to get many more project opportunities as well. Most good distributors will also keep contractors aware of local policy changes and be on top of any market forces that could be about to impact both businesses.
The ultimate beauty of such a partnership is that, as the partnership grows, both businesses tend to be able to reduce their risks. It also increases their sales along with their profitability and grows in their confidence to compete in the local marketplace effectively.
Just how do you choose your distributor partner?
According to eurosolar case study by Weboptimizers on behalf of Euro Solar Australia, most distributors will be looking for new customers to support, and that will probably be your initial contact with them. The first thing any contractor should do is their due diligence on the distributor. You can just about guarantee that the distributor will be doing the same to the contractor. The contract should also do their due diligence on the distributor’s product range. The biggest thing both businesses must provide here is transparency. Without any transparency, the partnership has no chance of succeeding. Part of the selling process is that contractors provide confidence that their home and business customers can rely on them to do the right thing. A contractor must look to his distributor partner for the same instilling of confidence.
Needless to say, any quality distributor is going to have a proven track record of delivering quality equipment and services. Also, he will have the ability to set and fulfil accurate expectations and its partners. If a solo contractor is pursuing a partnership with a distributor, they should go in with an excellent understanding of what they considered to be valuable and important for the future of their business. Make a list of all your so-called pain points. Also, you need to work out any value adds or business driven questions before the initial meeting takes place. Having always questions answered satisfactorily fulfils your needs.
Both the contractor and the distributor should have and share some very straightforward thoughts on how they can both add value to each other’s businesses and set their expectations accordingly.
What you will need to have ready in advance
If the distributor is serious about becoming a contractor’s business partner, they will expect the contractor to provide them with certain documents that show how established the contractor’s company is and how its future seems to be. Some of these documents are pretty basic but necessary.
- Any licenses and certificates that you must have to carry on the businesses
- As much financial information as you can provide both past and projections
- If you have them any credit references and current lenders references
- Customer references or project references. These have to support any figures supplied for the amount of work done both in the present and past.
If you’re relatively new in the field, this tribute will probably also ask for other information to help them understand both your ability to carry on the business and that you have a sound financial base. You always have to remember that any partnership has to benefit both partners. Contractors should expect more certainty and greater consistency with every transaction while enjoying the support that such a relationship with a distributor can give them.