Lennie Moreno, CEO of SOFDESK, knows first-hand what it means to own and operate a solar installation company and struggle with the challenges that come along with that type of business.
Lennie started his installation business in Nepean (an area within Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) and discovered that there were a few inefficiencies in his business that he knew he could improve. For example, he wanted the ability to design quotes more easily, capture the interest of more homeowners and run his business in a more organized manner but there wasn’t a single tool out there that could support this desire. So, he decided to create the solution he wished existed.
We recently chatted with Lennie, who will be a brand new exhibitor at this year’s Solar Canada conference, about his experience in the industry and what his tool does to support installers around the world.
Lennie, what problems were you facing as an installer and why did you create SOFDESK?
When I ran my solar installation business, I was using multiple tools to move a customer through the quote and intake process. For example, I’d need to draft up the designs in one program, do the quote in another and if a client had changes, I needed to wait until I was back at the office to do up a new quote. After doing this for a short while, I asked myself, “What if I had a software that would allow me to move through this entire process more easily and efficiently?”
I looked at what was available on the market and quickly realized there was nothing that suited my specific needs so I decided to build the solution. So, the need really started as my own and then I realized other people in the industry would benefit greatly from it as well.
At the core of it, I wanted to create a solution that would help current and future solar installers solve their unique problems and challenges. It’s a cumbersome process – calling leads, preparing quotes, following up, making edits – and a lot of solar installation companies run smaller operations of three to six people. These are mom and pop shops and they just don’t have the organizational power of a Fortune 500 company. However, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have a solution that elevates them to that level.
I took everything I learned from the installation business, wrote the software and partnered with the right people to make the entire process of closing solar installation business seamless.
What does SOFDESK do and how does it help solar installers solve their unique challenges?
The software streamlines the entire proposal, financial, organizational and design process. It takes what used to be a two to three-hour process and shortens it to sixty seconds.
Everything is automated and we’ve pre-made tools for our clients that are easy-to-use and operate in a plug-and-play way. We have pre-written e-mails, pricing guidelines, subsidy calculators and more and everything lives in the backend of the software. Our clients don’t need to be tech savvy nor do they need to be tethered to a desk – the program operates on mobile devices and laptops as well as desktops.
Most installers are interested in the same four things:
- Gaining qualified business leads
Gaining qualified business leads
A lot of lead generation software doesn’t provide quality leads. They may churn out a lot of contacts but at the end of the day, those prospects may be of low or poor quality. SOFDESK has a quality assurance team whose job it is to vet each lead to ensure they are qualified before passing them on to the companies.
SOFDESK is mobile-friendly, which means our installers can take it with them wherever they go. The other benefit is that when a company is out doing a quote, they can assess and make changes in real-time, which saves them from having to go back to the office and potentially losing the business.
Time is a finite resource so installers are constantly looking at ways to generate more of it. SOFDESK helps installers gain some of their time back and become more organized. The tool handles everything they need to think about – permits, spec sheets, contacts / leads, proposals / quotes – which gives them more time to do what they do best. Access can also be rolled out to an entire team, which means everyone stays on the same page.
SOFDESK has partnered up with the biggest banks in the US and is working on closing deals with financial institutions in Canada over the next 6-8 weeks. What we do is offer financing directly through our software, which means an installer can approve a client for the credit required to fund the installation project on the spot. Many installers lose business the moment they walk away from a client to go back to the office to process documents. This allows them to stay on-site and increase their conversions.
SOFDESK has recently secured $3M in investment from both EnerTech and BDC Capital. Congratulations! What does this mean for the company and what does the future hold?
We’ve recently developed and filed a patent, which we’re pretty excited about. A lot of our funding goes into research and development – specifically to certain aspects of our software. Building it out, improving its features and adding more value to our customers. As a company, we’re also always looking at adding more high-level talent and savvy salespeople.
We’re also in the roofing industry, as roofers and solar installers share a lot of the same challenges and process flow, which is a larger market so we spend a lot of time and energy attacking that market as well to ensure that our solution can help a lot more people.
Mostly though, we’re excited to see where the solar industry goes and we’re thrilled to have the support of investors like EnerTech and BDC Capital to bring our solution to more installation companies.
Solar Canada is fast approaching. What are you most looking forward to at the conference?
My team will be there, exhibiting, and we’re really excited about connecting with industry professionals and sharing our vision with others. We know that solar installers are looking to decrease their soft costs and make higher profit margins and our software is meant to help them do that so we’re really looking forward to sharing our solution with those who need it most.
Want to meet more exhibitors like Lennie?
Solar Canada is the meeting place for solar energy professionals in Canada. Hear from industry experts and innovators in order to cut through the noise and gain insight into future opportunities. Register today.