Smart Energy provides affordable, clean energy solutions to households and businesses across Australia. From its beginnings in Byron Bay in 2016 with a pallet of solar panels and an airbed, Smart Energy has expanded rapidly. The company is led by Elliot Hayes, founder and Managing Director, Jasper Boyschau, partner and Operations Director, and Beau Savage, founder and Sales Director. They now have 130 staff and seven offices covering Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and have plans to expand into the Northern Territory and New Zealand this year.
Despite the main business being residential solar panel installation, Smart Energy has taken advantage of the latest advances in technology. Whether it be systems to monitor customers’ electricity usage or the latest in batteries, Smart Energy harnesses technology to offer customers the best possible support and knowledge.
As the business has grown, it has embraced cloud technology including Slack, Salesforce and Google Cloud for Business, as well as developed online learning to train its field specialists. Staff communicate online to create a customer ‘paper trail’. The resulting database enables the remote inbound call centre to respond immediately to customer queries with all customer information in one central location.
Co-founder Elliot says, “When we see a big problem, we know there must be an opportunity to solve it.” With Australian households and businesses tired of soaring power bills, he sees a “strong opportunity” to offer cheap, clean energy solutions.
These are tailored to each customer’s energy usage and priorities – be they data, warranties or safety. “We help them to understand how they use electricity and make it transparent,” explains Elliot. It is a very different experience from receiving quarterly power bills that don’t explain the high charges.
Smart Energy incorporates Lean methodology and data-based learning as part of its approach of moving fast and adapting to what is happening around it. Jasper says, “we make decisions quickly, observe what is happening, collect data and use it to inform decisions.”
In its bid to create an independent workforce, the team seeks, above all, employees who are self-sufficient. They must be experts in their field who are confident making their own decisions without escalating things to management. “It is one less decision we have to make and that allows us to move faster,” says Elliot. “That ties in with our management philosophy and our move to a decentralised structure. We give them our 100% trust.”
That requires empowering employees. The management team must first perform the task themselves to understand any problems. They then build processes that prevent employees from making mistakes that could jeopardise the business but allow them to iterate.
No matter their field of expertise, all new recruits start in the customer service centre. This way, “they understand customer pain points and how we are solving them,” says Elliot.
Staff don’t always know where their strengths lie so management observe staff and see how they interact with their role. If employees can’t adapt, new hybrid roles are created that suit their particular abilities.
Employees are encouraged to work remotely to ensure they can work away from their desks. “Life can get hectic. It is important our business can continue when that happens,” says Jasper. “We are trying to create a freedom of workplace and have a distributed workforce.”
He adds, “We teach people to identify their repetitive daily tasks and develop processes to automate or delegate the work to a new resource. This creates a level of efficiency that enables the business to handle change and growth.” It also frees staff to apply their expertise to developing new solutions for Smart Energy and its customers.