Why are women needed in the solar industry?
You’re fit and strong, and so is your installation team: jy skrik vir niks – heights, heavy weights, wiring a DB Board!
But how do you feel about making that first contact with prospective clients: are you able to present your solution in terms they will understand? Are you listening and understanding what they are saying to you about what their system needs to deliver? What about “difficult” clients – do you have the patience to persevere with them and get to their root concern preventing them from signing on the dotted line?
What about after the installation – how often do you pick up that phone to find out if the client is satisfied, confused, or if they’ve just been badmouthing your company to anyone who will listen, saying “well I had a system installed and all I can say is, solar doesn’t work…”
Lack of aftersales service is very likely the number one factor that your business isn’t growing, because that bad word of mouth goes viral faster than Covid. Organisation is also an important part of growing a successful business. Keeping track of your clients, following up after completing your work, managing your resources properly, and maintaining good administration are integral parts of growing your customer base and keeping your current customers loyal.
What are soft and hard skills?
Did you know there is a huge pool of people who generally naturally exhibit what are known as soft skills, or people skills? They make up more than 50% of the world’s population. And we call them women.
Soft skills relate to your emotional intelligence and natural ability to interact well with others. They are useful across all industries and job types. Hard skills are technical skills or other job-specific expertise that are learned through education or training.
The soft skills in high demand in the solar industry are the same skills in high demand in other sectors. This is because people don’t just buy your product, they buy YOU! They buy the overall customer experience, and will never forget how you made them feel before, during and after the installation of probably the most expensive item they have ever invested in – their solar system.
According to a recent study by Dr. Michael Obiyoh from Marsella University in Kenya, the following are the most sought-after skills by employers:
- Communication and Interpersonal Skills
- Problem-Solving Skills
- Collaborating or Teamwork
- Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking
- Digital Skills or Technology Skills
- Other Generic Skills like Patience, Punctuality etc.
And for the most part, you are going to find many of these attributes in a demographic you may not previously have considered, and that is amongst females.
Collaboration of skills strengthens a company
Now we aren’t saying that all women are the same and that every woman will have the same desires, skills, and career path. Each woman is an individual. While there are certainly more adventurous females who want to put on a harness, gloves and hardhat and get stuck in with the physical labour involved in mounting panels and there are others who would rather be behind a desk, for the most part, women will want to put their knowledge of solar system operation to use in other areas of your business. Such as sales, marketing, bookkeeping, financing, client satisfaction, system monitoring. And when you bring in these soft skills to complement your technical (or hard) skills, wonderful collaborations happen.
A good balance is needed in a solar company, an industry that relies on communication with clients and clear client administration. Clients are diverse and the tasks are diverse, so you should have a diverse team that will help you to excel in every field.
According to research done by the Korn Ferry, the preeminent global people and organisation advisory firm, women can more effectively display competencies that correlate with leadership and management, and score higher on emotional intelligence competencies.
This means women are opportunity experts, networking professionals and customer relationship experts. These are all aspects that would give an incredible advantage to a solar business in a growing industry where competition is starting to get fierce.
A diverse team is an agile team that can deal with any client or project
Welcoming the right women into your business can only create more opportunities for your business to become more flexible and customer friendly. For example, when you visit a client, go with a team: one for the technical side and one for customer relations. You can even tailor your client visits depending on the nature of the client, leaning more towards the technical or relational side as needed. Brainstorming and business planning can become more versatile if you start including a woman on your planning team. And there are many more aspects of your business that can be improved through diversifying your team.
A good leader knows he needs a team that can meet any need a client may have. Be a good leader and make sure you are prepared for anything the solar industry may throw at you.