Value 2A: Produce Results that are Worth More than They Cost to Deliver
By Ben Peterson, CEO
At Blue Raven Solar, we have three values helping us stay on track to achieve our mission statement:
- Develop a High-Trust Culture
- Be Efficient
- Continuously Improve
Watching and being part of Blue Raven Solar’s growth over the past few years has been a whirlwind, to say the least. We have grown at a rapid rate, so rapid our growth has been nationally recognized by several different organizations, and we are continuing that pattern.
I am confident we have experienced this level of success because our mission and values set us apart from other solar companies. As I dive deeper into each of our three values, I only see more evidence we are on a path to continual success and growth through accomplishing our mission. Having these values clearly applied to our work is an important part of how we can give our customers a world-class customer experience, and with that success, continue to grow and change the world.
We have seen Value 1 expand into four more specific parts to more easily apply to our teams and specific industry, we have expounded upon Value 2 as well.
Value 2, “Be Efficient,” means four things to our team:
2A: Produce results that are worth more than they cost to deliver
2B: Obsessively reduce cycle times in every area
2C: Keep the sales and field experience simple (even if it means adding complexity elsewhere)
2D: Stay lean – eliminate unnecessary costs (even through periods of rapid growth)
How this Value Contributes to our Bottom Line
Value 2A is another way of defining a sustainable business model. Traditionally, if a company produces a product at a cost less than a consumers’ willingness to pay, the difference between cost and revenue is value created, or profit. Without profit, a business is not considered successful and cannot afford to continue forward, much less to expand. Blue Raven Solar has been fortunate enough to see profits and expansion, rather quickly, too.
In our case, we are disrupting an industry that has been around for over 100 years. If we are to succeed, we must reduce our costs and provide solar at a price point more attractive than the status quo. In fact, we need to offer significant savings to overcome both the real and perceived switching costs of making the change over to renewable energy. Many homeowners are nervous about going solar because the cost can be intimidating, and for some, impossible. So, to get around that, we need to do it in a way to still sustain our business.
Revolutionary Financing Products and Plans
We managed to get around daunting down payments by creating financing products that have not only produced results worth more than they cost but they have also changed the solar industry and the way other solar companies present their exclusive products and services. We take pride in this and believe we can be pioneers of our industry for the benefit of the earth.
At Blue Raven Solar, we are hyper focused on reducing costs; cost is measured in cents per watt in our industry. A reduction of even a tenth of a cent per watt is cause for celebration!
How It Applies
More personally, we talk about how each of us must put more value “on the table” than the value we take “off the table.” At the end of every week, I have a ritual I follow to help keep me engaged and honest with respect to Value 2A. I review what I have accomplished during the week and ask myself if I added more value to Blue Raven Solar than the company paid me. This is one of the ways I have incorporated this value into my professional life—though it shows in many other ways throughout each week.
Candidly, there are weeks where I can only conclude my work product did not measure up. In these cases, I explore why I was unproductive and write down what happened. I then plan the following week by writing down my priorities by blocking off time on my calendar to focus on what matters the most. By repeating this process every Friday afternoon, I set myself up for success to produce results worth more than they cost to deliver.
Habits Created to Establish Responsibility and Accountability
This practice has been passed down to each employee at Blue Raven Solar through weekly reports. Each member of the Blue Raven Solar team is responsible for prioritizing tasks and given time and space to be reminded of plans for the week, to reflect on how far they have got on those goals, if they could have done better, and to plan how they will go about continuing or completing the tasks in the upcoming week. We have found, over the years, this is an incredibly effective way for people to self-evaluate and push themselves, with help and guidance from their supervisors or team leads.
I love the saying “we should leave things better than we find them.” Bringing our best work to the drawing board can change the trajectory of a project, especially compared to everyone’s worst work. We need to remember our best work adds value to the company and to the people around us. We need a high standard, so we are constantly creating new solutions that are simpler and more efficient.
We asked employees how they experience Value 2A at Blue Raven Solar. Here is what a few of them said:
I see Blue Raven Solar constantly working with customers to make sure the experience is better than the cost. Solar is an expensive investment but the amount of work and customer service that goes into each customer is greater.
Processes are looked at and tweaked to provide quality services, keeping the price low, but ultimately keeping the same quality.
I see this a lot in the Permitting department. We are always trying to reduce cycle times and make sure we look for the most effective way to permit without cutting any corners.
All of our company values, when applied together, contribute to us giving the customers a great experience… This makes our product worth more.
The engineering team has developed methods to automate many of our design processes at Blue Raven Solar. This creates accurate deliverable which are install-able and avoid rework!
Here in supply chain this seems to be a big part of what we focus on. We are constantly trying to reduce cycle times and build a relationship with our suppliers to get the best bang for our buck.
I think setting goals is a great example of this value. When we set goals, we are on track to producing results that are worth more than they cost to deliver.
The way we work to reach our specific goals as a company (work queue throwdowns, huddles, period check-ins, etc.) is proof that we are working every day to produce results that help us come out on top.
I feel a lot of Blue Raven Solar is working to help the customers have an easy time and maximize the benefit they receive. A lot of what I do in Customer Operations is helping them with this, and I feel the department exemplifies this value.
Blue Raven Solar espouses an attitude of getting the most out of each employee. Given this attitude, problem solving comes from every level. By solving problems as the rise future problems are adverted. The whole process is built around getting the most value for the lowest cost.
Being a pleasant human being does not cost anything. Yet it does wonders for creating a great work environment as well as customer experience. Blue Raven has done a good job in creating and maintaining a positive, fun, and sincere environment which is transmitted through teamwork and our communication with our customers. This translates to a higher quality of work and a better customer relationship which in turn results in higher sales and customer satisfaction. I am sure there are costs involved in maintaining this environment that I do not understand yet, but they cannot be higher than the results.
I have seen how data driven the sales development side is and I am impressed with the scrutiny of cost to operate and what we are producing from every investment.
Efficiency and the Connection to Reducing Costs
When it comes to efficiency, reducing costs is almost always an important principle included. Finding ways to reduce costs may be difficult and slightly time-consuming. The returns are worth it though, especially if they are in an area that needs significant improvement.
As Value 1’s supporting statements are built on each other, the pattern continues into our second value. Without a high-trust culture, we would likely not be in a position to consider efficiency. With our commitments kept, loops closed, respect and empowerment, and constructive disagreement, we can look into efficiency as a way to continue creating the best customer experience and solar journey possible.
If we did not encourage constructive disagreement built on a foundation of trust and respect, we might not prioritize efficiency or produce results worth more than they cost to deliver. Alternatively, we might be stuck at a point where no one wants to disagree or suggest change. We rely on each other and our different perspectives to see new directions to achieve our desired results, and one of those directions could improve our efficiency!
Our Mission and Commitment
Blue Raven Solar’s 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.
While keeping efficiency a priority, we continue to accomplish our mission and continue to find ways to make it even better and more cost-conscious for Blue Raven Solar and, of course, for our customers.
Since 2014, we have strived to bring the best products and services to our customers and to maintain a standard of quality. Everything we do is to accomplish exactly what our mission statement states. Whether it is discussing the best ways to go about a process step or bringing more experts onto our team, it is all about serving homeowners and helping them make the earth a better, cleaner place.