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Solar Spotlight: How fintech can boost solar company margins and ROI

In this special edition of Solar Power World’s Contractor’s Corner, solar installation business management platform Blu Banyan and bank-to-bank payment software firm Paystand talk about how financing technology can help boost solar company margins and ROI. Listen to the full episode here or on your favorite podcast app.

How does the SolarSuccess platform from BluBanyan drive reductions in soft costs?

Jan Rippingale, CEO, BluBanyan: We are looking for mostly error reduction and an automation of tedious tasks. This includes calculating commissions that will properly account for the adders that you have, calculating how you’re going to pay your installers and tracking that as the project changes over time. For example, if you’ve got a different roof size than you initially spec’d, you’re going to have a different number of modules. That changes the system size, which changes all the math. Having that change automatically reflect and flow through the entire system is what helps us to reduce those errors and reduce those soft costs.

Then, we connect with partners like Paystand to bring in that extra juice to make sure that we can minimize the soft costs as best we can.

How does Paystand technology fit into the SolarSuccess program?

Rippingale: The SolarSuccess program is built on NetSuite as an accounting platform and Paystand also integrates with NetSuite as an accounting platform. If you’re a SolarSuccess client, we’ve got the email templates that you need for solar clients and the basic structures that you need for Paystand setup initially, so you can benefit from them immediately.

When installers choose a fee-free, bank-to-bank transaction via Paystand, they’re saving 9¢/watt on that subset of clients in addition to being able to reconcile and make other kinds of back-end processes run more smoothly for everybody else.

How can Paystand’s payment technology improve ROI for solar companies?

Mark Fisher, VP of marketing, Paystand: Many solar businesses have razor-thin margins, so it’s challenging to gain meaningful ROI. Solar companies really are looking for novel, creative ways to boost their ROI. Paystand as a technology can really help there. You can think of us as a Venmo for businesses, making that payment transaction seamless, easy, intuitive, and much, much cheaper. We believe that the payment process should be feeless, so we’ve built a bank-to-bank payment network that allows payers to simply connect their bank directly to the solar company or the merchant in the same way that you or I would pass money via Venmo, with modern security standards that are robust.

Rippingale: If I could just emphasize that, Mark —they can choose to do these bank-to-bank transactions that have no credit card fees. It is something that takes solar installers aback on a regular basis.

Fisher: We think the payment infrastructure as it exists today is a hindrance to businesses. It penalizes them for growth — the more that businesses charge, the more they pay in transaction fees. We believe the business model should be different. Our bank-to-bank network is entirely zero-fee. We can eliminate that 2.5-3% credit card fee from every payment, and that is a game-changer. Our entire business model is subscription-based, so in the same way that as a consumer, you used to go to blockbuster and pay VHS or DVD per-transaction fees, then Netflix came along and eventually just charged a flat fee every month to stream as much as you want — that’s how we operate. You subscribe to the Paystand platform, and within a certain volume tier, you can process as many payments as you want.

That’s the first way we boost ROI for companies. The second way is we’re big believers in automation, so we automate a lot of the manual processes out of the finance cash cycle. Finally, we speed up time-to-cash. Time-to-cash is critical for every company, but especially in this industry where margins are so thin. Having that money to invest back in the business and more strategic projects is key.

This podcast is sponsored by Paystand

To learn more about how the Paystand + SolarSuccess solution can boost solar company margins please download this pdf: SolarSuccess White Paper Series: Supercharge Solar Soft Cost Reduction With Automated Payment Processing