Bobbi McKibbin from Solar Integrity discusses the integrity of the solar installation industry. She addresses the ethical considerations of providing a 10-kilowatt system to an old lady based solely on the size of her shed to maximize profits.
Bobbi emphasizes that reputation is paramount for their business and they are committed to selling solar systems honestly. She rejects the use of deceptive practices, such as using cheap components but presenting them as high-quality during sales.
Instead, she advocates for eliminating these unethical practices and promoting proper solar installations. She encourages viewers to prioritise quality over price and directs them to the "yourenergyanswers.com" website for finding trustworthy local installers.
Today I interviewed Bobbi McKibbin. Bobbi’s got a company called Solar Integrity based in Albury-Wodonga. So I thought, let’s test Bobbi’s integrity.
Markus Lambert: Giving an old lady a ten-kilowatt system because she’s got a big shed is a good idea because, you know, you can make more rebate and more profit as an installation company. I mean, you’re an installation company and makes you more money. Why wouldn’t you do that?
Bobbi McKibbin: No way. Our reputation is absolutely paramount for us because we work on a lot of return customers and word of mouth as far as our new customers and everything coming in as well. So if we sell you a system and we tell you it’s going to pay back in four years, But in actual fact, when you look at it, it’s 7 to 10 years. How’s that going to look to me reputation-wise?
Markus Lambert: You’re telling me you’re selling solar – honestly?
Bobbi McKibbin: Yes, and very proudly, I’m saying that, Markus. Very proudly.
The good old solar tricks
Markus Lambert: Because I heard from somebody all the tricks of how you can make the solar cheaper, you know, So you’re on the rail, you put a few less clamps, so you save the money on the clamps. You buy the cheapest panel., but in the sales process, you sell it up and make it look like it’s really good. So that’s how you then sell the system for more profit and make more money. Would you want to go to a course to learn all that?
Bobbi McKibbin: No, not a chance in hell. I want to design the courses that stamp that out. Thank you. I want to really see our industry turning to the best possible outcomes they can for the customer, because ultimately that then helps your business as well. I saw a post on crap solar last week and there was no rail, there was no nothing. It literally just looked like the panels were sitting on the roof.
Markus Lambert: Yeah, but they used the double sided tape or something.
Bobbi McKibbin: I’d hate to see it in the cyclone area. I don’t know where it was, but imagine if that was in Townsville or something like that.
Markus Lambert: There’s a level of innovation about finding another way to cut the salami even thinner.
Bobbi McKibbin: At some point., at some point there’s a NO to be had.
Markus Lambert: Just trying to look after your profit margins. So you want to do things properly?
Waste in our industry
Bobbi McKibbin: Yeah that’s right. Oh, the people we collaborate with in the industry, we all have that same shared value. So we all want to see things done the right way for customers. And the environment is another thing. You know, there’s a massive issue around waste in our industry. So there’s a lot of businesses out there that are in it for profit. But then there’s also a lot of us in here for the right reasons. So in the fact that we want to help educate customers around electricity usage and all that sort of stuff, but also positive environmental outcomes, because let’s face it, so far we’re screwing it up.
Why should I go with a local business?
Markus Lambert: I’ve got two companies to give me a solar quote. One is a local company, they’re just down the road, 2 minutes down the road, but they’re about 1200 dollars more than the sales company from in your case, maybe Melbourne, who’s going to drive somebody in and maybe do five or six systems in one go. Why should I go with a local business?
Bobbi McKibbin: So we’ll have a chat to customers about what it means longevity wise, because the solar system is an investment, and a solar system is something that you don’t want breaking down, like an old Datsun 180 that you might have sitting in the garage. So you want somebody who’s going to be there to help educate you and help you learn and understand your solar system and how to get the maximum benefit out of it. You’re not going to get that, if you go to a city based company and you live three or 400 kilometers away. its too far for them to come back.
Particularly for people that haven’t had an experience with solar before, if the inverter fails and all that sort of stuff, you need to know that you’ve got local support when you need it. They also use tend to use a cheaper product as well. So about four or five years ago we could have actually employed paid one person full time for three months doing inverter replacements
Markus Lambert: So you’re saying get a local business to give you long term support, even if you pay a little bit more initially?
Bobbi McKibbin: Absolutely. It’s worth it in the end, absolutely.
Markus Lambert: Thanks, Bobby.
Bobbi McKibbin: Thanks, Markus.
Markus Lambert: So in summary, when it comes to a local regional company in competition with a large city based sales juggernaut, my recommendation is always -Go local. Those big Australian slickest, fastest publicly listed companies with the married at first sight celebrity, I’ve seen some of them take up to three months to attend to a simple inverter warranty repair and all that time while you wait, you get no renewable energy. Naturally, they’re not all like that. But there is a risk. I personally would always go local because you’re more likely to get timely aftersales support.
You can call them with any questions you’ve got. Any time you can go back to the shop. What’s the best way to add a battery, for example? And when it comes to the time when you might be thinking of expanding the system and the city company’s not around anymore, then you turn for the local, for the support. Well, that’s can be a bit embarrassing. You weren’t really good enough to install me in the first place, but can you now save my day? So, if one system is significantly cheaper than the other, make a comparison that everything is the same. Maybe one uses the cheaper inverter. Make sure you compare apples with apples.