SA Franchise Brands welcomes Shaun Allbon, Franchisor of Solartech Energy Technologies.
What has been paramount to Solartech Energy Technologies’ success?
Quality, Quality, Quality. It is in everything we do, from our product offering to our staff and business systems.
What challenges do you face at present?
Currently our major challenge is the lack of understanding and education out in the market. This applies to the actual quality of product and the difference between the offerings in the market place and how this can affect clients return on investment. It also applies to the concept of renewable energy – how it can help and how sustainable it really is. This allows inferior products and solutions to find their way into clients’ homes creating a vicious circle. Lack of understanding leading to poor product/system choice resulting in failure which results in unhappy clients who then question “Solar Energy” and retain a lack of understanding.
With a network of 26 franchises nationwide, how has your franchise model worked in favour of Solartech Energy Technologies?
Well the quick answer is that we have been able to create a national footprint to engage the market. We have been able to vastly improve the quality of our service levels and build a highly respected and visible brand.
What are some of the attributes required from franchisees?
This is a great question! You will get many different answers but for me the one attribute that is required for our network is “passion”. As a head office we can provide all the tools to assist and guide our franchisees to be successful but I can’t give them the passion and drive. So for me that is the one attribute we cannot do without.
How would you describe the overall relationship between the group and its franchisees?
Strong. We have an intimate approach and working relationship with our franchisees. This has proven vital for us, as we transfer a huge amount of technical knowledge. This requires a huge investment of time and energy from both parties. We might not always agree with each other, but at the end of the day we make decisions together that allow the group as a whole to become stronger.
What kind of training and support can franchisees expect?
Initially the training is quite intensive. With three courses prior to trading. From there we hold bi-weekly continuous improvement groups. Our head office staff offer continuous support to help assist our franchisees, we have fantastic business systems that cover every aspect of day to day trading. Remember the stronger our franchisee the stronger the group as a whole.
Which factors are paramount for sustained future growth within Solartech Energy Technologies with specific reference to its present and future franchisees?
We are very fortunate to be a leader in one of the fastest growing industries in RSA. The trick now is to ensure we stay ahead of the curve with regards to applied technologies, engineering and industry specific legislation. Couple that with continuous improvement and the ability to adapt our business systems to maximize returns for all parties involved.
Where to from here and into the future?
We are the current market leaders in the space of residential and light commercial Solar Water Heating and Photovoltaics. Our immediate goals are to grow our network to 50 strong franchises nationally – improve the understanding of renewable energy with the public and cement our brand. Renewable energy is the future for all of us. We are three years away from a tipping point in this country in this industry…..we intend to be ready to cater to the market when this happens.