Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

From previous experience in domestic solar, Huon Hoogesteger noted that solar panels had become cheap enough and electricity expensive enough for people to move away from traditional energy sources.

Through his work developing feasibility studies and producing business cases, Huon realised that he could install solar free of charge, bill for the power produced at a very low rate and, over time, give the system back to the building owner for free. “So we invented ‘pay-as-you-go solar’,” he says.

Huon Hoogesteger on a solar panel

Operating across Australia

Huon started Smart Commercial Solar in February 2012 and it now operates across New South Wales and beyond, with its headquarters in North Sydney and satellite offices in Ballarat, Dubbo and Port Macquarie.

“There are two sides to the product we offer to our commercial customers,” says Huon.  “First we look at the financials and second, we look at the energy. We need to understand the value of the energy they’re paying for currently and what the value of solar is going to be,” he adds.

Huon is extremely proud of the integrity of the processes established by Smart Commercial Solar.

 “For me and our sales team, being able to promise something to our customers and then deliver it, means a lot,” he says.  “It contributes directly to our growth and makes the business a long-term viable proposition. We are passionate about what we do, and that passion drives our decisions to win the right jobs and do them well.” 

This approach has helped make the company more profitable and Huon estimates that revenue has grown by about 400% in its second year of operation.

The business now has seven salespeople, two analysts and two operations managers.

To service clients located mostly in regional Australia, Huon needed to forge a strong relationship with a telecommunications provider with robust, reliable mobile network coverage.

“We have projects in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, Kununurra in Western Australia, the City of Yarra in Melbourne, Victoria, and over a hundred in country New South Wales,” says Huon. 

Best telecommunications option

Best Telecommunications OptionTelstra’s good reputation and the strong performance of its mobile network in rural and regional Australia prompted Smart Commercial Solar to partner with the provider. “Reliability is what we sell and it’s what we need in our suppliers,” says Huon.All of Smart Commercial Solar’s salespeople use mobiles, tablets and laptops to deliver sales presentations. The firm requires them to send the presentations to head office to be updated with data from the analyst team, and receive the newer versions back while on the go.The salespeople also need to access a web-based monitoring and measurement system for existing clients to demonstrate Smart Commercial Solar’s post-installation services to prospective customers. These salespeople may be frequently travelling in rural locations and they rely on the Telstra Mobile Network. Huon believes Telstra’s Mobile Network and remote work capabilities have saved the business time by allowing its salespeople to successfully complete these tasks in the field.

Reliability is what we sell and it’s what we need in our suppliers.

- Huon Hoogesteger

A high calibre of service

Smart Commercial Solar is a service-oriented business and it expects a high calibre of service from suppliers, such as Telstra. “We’re happy to pay a little more if we are going to get a reliable service,” says Huon.

Huon finds it considerably easier working with one provider. By using Telstra’s web-based platform, he can see the details of any account at any one point.

“Dealing with one provider makes business much easier and I can spend more time on managing customer relationships,” he says.

Relationship integral to success

The business views its relationship with Telstra as integral to its further success. “Pay-as-you-go solar is a key growth area and we are able to service more customers because of its risk-free nature,” says Huon.

“The quality of the solar we install is the highest in the market — there’s nothing in our entire system design we want to be low quality,” he adds. “The same goes for our communications.”

“When we select Telstra to be our provider for data, we’re doing that because our data service needs to be reliable and needs to be high quality,” Huon concludes. “Without reliable data and visibility of our systems out there, without reliable communications with our salespeople, our business wouldn’t be where it is today.” 

Insights from Telstra's Director of Business Mobility

Smart Commercial Solar is particularly relevant to the Australian commercial market given the high power costs affecting almost every business, Tim Webber says.

“Huon’s establishment of an elite team, which develops sophisticated monitoring and analytical processes to support business solar installations, is paying off,” he notes. “The business grew 400% in a period when 230 other solar energy businesses failed.”

The business relies on Telstra to deliver dependable communications across urban and regional Australia. 

These mobile communications, in particular, allow the solar business to provide support and a centralised service and save its salespeople considerable time.

Learn more:

Construction businesses can cut costs by 20 per cent if they use mobile technologies. Read more here. 

Find out more

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