By Ben Peterson, Former CEO
Prior to working at Blue Raven Solar, I worked at McKinsey & Company as Management Consultant. McKinsey has a long and rich tradition around its mission and values. Shortly after I joined the firm, I remember learning about mission statements and value statements. They are not two ways of saying the same thing, but they serve different purposes.
Mission Statements = Why
A company mission statement describes “why” an organization exists. A good mission statement captures why employees should come to work each day, and why they should care about the hours they put in.
Values = How
Company values, on the other hand, describe “how” an organization should go about accomplishing its mission. Values are the guardrails or “instruction booklet” guiding decisions and behavior along the way and telling employees how their daily work is going to uphold the mission and keep the company in a healthy, productive place.
The Original Strategy & Approach
When I joined Blue Raven Solar in 2015, we were a fledgling startup, with a simple idea, a few salespeople, and goals to bring clean energy to people. We wanted to give homeowners a different solar experience than we had seen. We also wanted to stand out within the industry as pioneers of a new way for homeowners to go solar. We wanted homeowners to benefit from the entire value of going solar instead of capturing tax credits for ourselves and monetizing them like most solar companies who work with leasing and power purchase agreements (PPAs).
Our initial strategy was to acquire customers and sell the projects to installation companies for them to build. The idea seemed simple enough, but it turned out installation companies prioritized their own customers over ours. Homeowners were upset due to poor quality and missed deadlines, and we were burning through cash to finance projects not getting installed.
I remember thinking there were three priorities for our team in the early days: (1) do not run out of cash, (2) figure out a way to get projects installed, and (3) develop a coherent mission statement and set of values. Because the first two priorities were paths toward the same destination and one would assist the other, articulating our mission statement and values stood atop the list of next steps.
Behind Blue Raven Solar’s Mission
Creating a mission statement might not seem like a difficult task, but we wanted to make sure it encompassed every part of what our company stands for. Anyone can easily throw together “We want to install solar panels,” but that was not the root of our company. Installing solar panels may be one of the services we provide, but it is not at the heart of Blue Raven Solar. So, after months of brainstorming, patience, and a solid group of dedicated experts, our team eventually agreed on the following mission statement:
Our mission is to make homeowners’ lives better by reducing their energy bills, by increasing their reliance on clean and abundant renewable energy, and by providing a world-class customer experience through a reliable sales process and a speedy, high-quality installation.
Making Homeowners’ Lives Better, One Install at a Time
Our mission statement is to make homeowners’ lives better. Unlike so many products in the marketplace, we ask our customers for permission to put more money in their wallet instead of asking for more share of their wallet. When customers save tens of thousands of dollars, they would have otherwise paid to utility companies, their lives are tangibly better in ways we can all easily dream of—we hope for a nice vacation, new flooring, or even a bit of extra in our saving accounts.
We are proud to be a part of this. To date, Blue Raven Solar has installed almost 30,000 systems, enough to save homeowners millions of dollars which otherwise would have been paid to utility companies resulting in expensive electricity.1
Giving Homeowners Access to Clean Energy
We also make homeowners’ lives better by giving them access to clean energy. Customers tell us repeatedly that going solar “feels great” because each installation tangibly impacts the environment by reducing carbon emissions.
To date, Blue Raven Solar has shifted more than 2.6B kWh of energy to clean renewable solar energy, which is the equivalent of ~3.2 million metric tons of carbon emissions.2,3 This is the same as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from over 700,000 cars for a year or reducing gasoline consumption by over 369 million gallons. We are proud to be impacting the planet in a positive way and we know our customers are too.
Our Customers Experience Superior Service
Finally, we exist to provide a world-class customer experience. We provide a great experience for a complicated and labor-intensive project with all the intricate details, involved parties, and complex equipment and technical processes.
There are too many examples of poor workmanship, project delays, and even fraud in the solar industry, and we refuse to be part of those trends. We take pride in being a brand customers can trust, striving to never give anything less than superior service.
Blue Raven Solar’s 3 Values
In pursuing this mission of “why” we do what we do, we agreed we would abide by three main values to help us with the “how” we do what we do:
- Develop a High Trust Culture
- Be Efficient
- Continuously Improve
Trust is our first value, and the foundation for the rest of our values. Without a high-trust relationship between the company, employees, customers, and partners, we cannot deliver on any other part of our mission. We must do what we say and say what we do.
Our employees put their time and knowledge into making Blue Raven Solar a better place. They must trust they will receive the best kind of support, feedback, and teamwork so they not only can provide for themselves, but feel they are a vital part of our operations.
Our customers trust us with their homes, their money, and their overall experience while switching to solar energy, and we do not take that lightly. Solar is likely one of the largest purchases a homeowner will make, and we know we have a responsibility to make this investment worth every penny.
Efficiency is our second value. As we save money and pass along cost improvements, our customers’ lives are improved. Residential solar is still a relatively new technology with market penetration only around 2-3%4 of homes. Every cent we can save per watt is a win for the company and for our customers.
Any company that values its customers’ time automatically gives the customer a better experience and helps them see more benefits. We know our customers are busy and have lives of their own, so we do everything we can to be as efficient and straight forward as possible.
Continuous improvement is our third value. The solar industry is changing, solar technology is changing, our company is changing, and the world is changing. Complacency is antithetical to achieving our mission and inconsistent with our first two values.
The mindset we are seeking across our entire organization is a drive to never be satisfied with the way things are done. We can always improve, and not just in our work, but in who we are as people. If we stop improving, we begin to collect dust, and we will soon be surpassed by others who found ways to better themselves. We refuse to be left behind—in fact, we are dedicated to being on the front lines of the solar industry, paving the way for others to follow our example.
Blue Raven Solar is a Positive Change for Good
Without our mission and values held close to each of our process steps and operations, we would not be where we are today, and we would not have the momentum we have. Blue Raven Solar is still a relatively young organization, but we have already installed thousands of solar systems on homes across the United States and we will continue to install many thousands more. Homeowners are waiting to make the decision to switch to clean, renewable energy, and we will be there when they are ready to take the first step.
We are proud to be making a meaningful impact on our customers, employees, and on the planet. As we continue, our fierce dedication to maintaining a high-trust culture, being efficient in every way possible, and improving in all areas of our business continue to set the standard for great solar experiences for all homeowners.
Our Values and Sub Values at a Glance
1. Develop a High Trust Culture
- Keep commitments to homeowners, sales reps, employees, installers, technicians, vendors, and investors
- Close the loop – report back to each other
- Respect and empower one another
- Disagree constructively
2. Be Efficient
- Produce results that are worth more than they cost to deliver
- Obsessively reduce cycle times in every area
- Keep the sales and field experience simple (even if it means adding complexity elsewhere)
- Stay lean – eliminate unnecessary costs (even through periods of rapid growth)
3. Continuously Improve
- Gather data to make decisions
- Follow the Blue Raven six-step problem solving approach
- Try new things and fail quickly
- Be go-getters
 Data based on findings from Jan 4, 2022.
 Total dollars saved depends on what you believe about future electricity prices. Based on historical averages in our markets, we project an average of 3.5% increase in utility prices per year. Over its lifetime, a Blue Raven Solar system saves an average of ~$40,000 in cost avoidance.
 Blue Raven Solar systems generate ~8,500 kilowatt hours per month; carbon emissions offset conversion calculated from https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator