What We Learnt From Organising Our First Training Event
On Wednesday 2nd May we held our first training event covering the topic of commercial solar installation. The event was a sell-out and we even managed to squeeze a couple of extra participants in; we are already gearing up for our next installation course on July 18th.
The process of setting up the training programme was a learning curve for the whole team; we knew we had a great product, however, convincing others to give up their valuable time and money and give us a chance was a big hurdle we knew we were going to have to overcome.
Why we decided to incorporate training into our services
Whilst building Greenwood Solutions we noticed that there is a lack of credible training resources available from industry experts that have hands-on experience in developing commercial projects.
To us it makes logical sense, when learning about a subject, to gain that information from someone who does the task on a daily basis and knows the industry inside out.
The move from domestic to commercial projects happened a long time ago for the team at Greenwood Solutions. However, as a relatively young company, we still had obstacles to overcome along the way whilst establishing ourselves as a business in the commercial sphere.
Essentially, we have done the hard work so you don’t have to.
Our experience in the industry has resulted in us ironing out all the small details of managing a commercial project and developing solid processes which provide the greatest ROI and the smoothest turnaround.
A negative trend we have seen in the solar industry over recent years is the slashing of prices to compete. This technique, however, it not sustainable and whilst it may be compelling to homeowners, often businesses are not simply looking for the cheapest option.
We believe, despite the solar market being saturated with installers, that there is enough work for everyone with the rise of renewable energy use over recent years.
It is our intention to give installers the tools they need to be able to compete in the market without having to undercut themselves; too many companies are going out of business due to costly mistakes taking away their profits.
Hosting training events not only benefit attendees but help us to develop important business connections with local installers. Greenwood Solutions has grown rapidly over recent months and often we need reliable contacts to reach out to when we require extra hands.
The training events are a great opportunity to speak to like-minded people and build relationships, whilst providing participants with the opportunity to gain experience on a commercial project.
The importance of having professional speakers
Veli Markovic, our main speaker, started working for Greenwood around three months ago, with the main task of developing our training division. Veli has almost two decades of experience in the renewable energy industry and has past experience hosting sell-out training events.
The speakers you use at a training event can be as important as the venue, topic and timing of the event. Veli is a very confident public speaker and this shines whilst presenting, unlike many of us, he says he is most comfortable whilst in front of an audience.
In addition to Veli, we included four separate presenters. Firstly our director, Eddie Greco, who has been in the industry for almost a decade and is passionate about distributed energy systems and helping the industry as a collective move forward. Both Eddie and Matt, Greenwood Solution’s Project Manager who has a strong background as an A-grade electrician, discuss the difficulties of AC on large-scale commercial systems and give real-life examples of how they have overcome challenges.
David, our resident engineer, raises the importance of attention to detail at our training sessions. Being meticulous, David agrees, doesn’t come naturally but over time becomes an essential asset in ensuring works are completed to a high standard and with minimal setbacks.
Guest speaker Colin Goff, Senior Electricity Distribution Network Controller, joins us from Ausnet Services to explain what they expect from a solar network application and how to make the process as easy and cost-effective as possible.
During our professional careers, we have had to sit through a number of painful presentations and all too often we are faced with boring and passionless speeches with text dense powerpoint slides.
Here at Greenwood Solutions, we strive to make our training events interactive and enjoyable for all of our attendees by including active participation and an in-depth question and answer sections. All presented by people who are truly passionate about having a positive impact on the solar industry.
The main issues we faced
The main issue we had to contend with was time; we only gave ourselves three weeks to get the event in front of our audience and build their trust enough to buy a ticket.
We understood that, due to being a start-up, we don’t have a household name to rely on, however, the fact we are accredited for 40 CPD points by the Clean Energy Council gave a good indication of how thorough and worthwhile the course would be.
Despite the lack of time, we were surprised to see that most attendees actually bought their tickets the weekend before committing to a day off work.
For our next event, we have allowed ourselves around ten weeks to advertise and plan the event; tickets have already started to sell, but it will be interesting to see if this trend continues.
It is hoped over time we will be able to build up our reputation as thought leaders and educators and establish ourselves in the industry in order to provide more frequent and varied training sessions.
The feedback we received
92% of customers from our first training sessions said they would highly recommend the course to colleagues or friends. With 82% saying they felt confident to run a commercial install after attending the event.
Overall, we had an overwhelmingly positive response from attendees and have since been contacted by a number of people enquiring about our services and future training courses.
When developing the training event we thought about all of the small details; from the food and drink to the stationary provided. We didn’t want to provide a disappointing buffet selection so partnered with a local cafe to provide barrister made coffee, fruit platters, snacks and a sit down hot meal.
An additional detail we also included was providing attendees with $200 off their first injection test or grid application service with us. Helping to lessen the financial burden of a commercial project and to aid in the execution of the project.
Feedback on course content was that the AC side was the most helpful, yet as this is a complicated subject, attendees wanted additional information on the topic.
Therefore, for the next event, we are including additional information on grid applications: requirements from AUSNET services, Jemena, United, and Powercor, secondary protection: cabling requirements and AC cabling calculations.
Our top tips for making your first training event a success
- Start planning early
- Develop a solid advertising and marketing plan
- Build up a strong database of customers and potential customers before you start promoting your event
- Think about the little details – providing high-quality food and drink made a huge difference to customer satisfaction
- Use professional speakers who have experience in the industry and are passionate about what they do
- Email campaigns are a great tool for ROI
- Get on the phone and build relationships with potential customers
- Socialise with customers during the event
- Encourage active participation and include a question and answers section
What’s next for our training division?
We are currently planning our next commercial installation training event on July 18th. Tickets are now available on our Eventbrite page, so make sure you check it out today to take advantage of our early bird offer.
In addition to install training, following the feedback from the day, we are also in the process of planning a sales and marketing event for commercial solar.
There will be a free webinar happening in June which will be announced on our Facebook page soon. The webinar will provide an in-depth demonstration of how to use the PV sell system to win big commercial projects. The PV sell system quickly turns leads into sales by creating well-designed, winning solar proposals in minutes.
The webinar is not endorsed by PV sell, we simply want to offer our customers useful content that will complement our training services and help them to establish themselves in the solar sphere.