Turning up the heat on solar competitors

Positioning your business around quality rather than price in a saturated market can be a hard sell to consumers, as solar company Sun Connect discovered in its start-up phase.

Mark Tuke, who founded the business in 2008, has been forced to defend his stance on solar since day one. Tuke says he started the business after recognising a flaw within the industry.

“I knew there was a problem with the model. Everyone was convincing people to go small and quick, so [charging a premium] has been a principle I’ve had to defend since day one,” he says.

“I believe the entire industry in Australia is upside down – it’s all about price. Solar retailers have flooded the market on the back of rebates.”

“A lot of our competitors don’t want to serve their customers. They just want to sell appliances. We refused to go low price and low quality; we pay for a premium for our components.”

While Sun Connect prides itself on its offering, it has faced an uphill battle to secure customers.

“The mainstay of our entire business model and performance has cost us quite a lot of market share and turnover… We probably could have turned over three times as much as what we have, in dollar turnover, but we would have sacrificed our components,” Tuke says.

“We do get a little bit of customer attrition but we explain the benefits of solar power rebates they may be eligible for. Some people still go purely based on price, so we do lose customers to cheaper competitors.”

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