Think local: connect with your community to meet new customers

As awareness and urgency around climate change continue to accelerate, interest in renewable energy solutions for homes is higher than ever. With many believing the Government isn’t doing enough to combat the climate crisis, local environmental and activist groups are gaining momentum as they fill the gap.

People Planet Pint

Those who join these organisations and attend their events are actively seeking ways to live more sustainably for the good of the planet, and many report enjoying the feeling of knowing their neighbours and their community.

Being a part of these groups is a brilliant, organic way to make connections over a shared interest that could turn into future business. This presents a prime opportunity for installers to establish and grow their businesses by reaching potential customers who are already motivated to decarbonise their homes.

Remember that it’s not about making an immediate sale, but building relationships that could be beneficial over time.

Some groups to connect with:

  • Local chapters of national groups like PPPastry and PPPint, Big Solar Co-op and Sharenergy, Low Carbon Homes and Retrofit Action Week
  • Community boards and neighbourhood associations
  • Parent/teacher organisations at schools
  • Local governments and committees focused on climate action

PPPasty and PPPint: PPPick up the benefits of local events

We spoke with Adam Bastock, founder of Small99, the company responsible for organising the People, Planet, Pint and People, Planet, Pastry events up and down the country, to give you some idea of what to expect from attending one of these local groups.

What inspired you to start putting on the PPP events?

Essentially, I’d been to a number of workshops and talks during COP26 in Glasgow (where I live) but the conversation was always one directional – talking at the stage or hearing from the stage.

All of these events had amazing, interesting people in the room – from small businesses to big corporates and everyone in between – but no-one was really being given the chance to actually *talk* to each other and, potentially, collaborate.

So, I booked a table in a pub and put together an Eventbrite listing, and we had 30 people turn up to chat at that first event with a variety of backgrounds and experiences. There was clearly something there. From there, we launched our first event 6 months later (COVID restrictions) and, in 18 months, grew to over 90 locations.

What happens at these meetups?

It’s so hard to track the impact of the meetups – the very nature of it being so open to anyone and firmly not a workshop means we sometimes struggle to get an idea of what’s going on in local events. But I’m happy with that chaotic nature of it.

The biggest thing we see is people being able to meet and chat to people they wouldn’t usually be in the same room as. We get landlords, councillors, installers, sustainability consultants all together who then start hearing the other side of the story they wouldn’t usually.

One of our meetings near Cirencester particularly stands out as several members of the council there had been along, and it gave them fresh insights allowing a big roof top solar project locally to get the go ahead. 

We run around 50 events a month, so these serendipitous interactions are what keep me going – you just never know what conversation is going on behind the scenes.

As someone once said: “A public transport enthusiast, a local councillor and an XR member walk into a bar. It’s not a joke, it’s a typical evening at People, Planet, Pint.”

Any tips for installers who might be interested in attending their local event?

Definitely head along to one – the first pint is free thanks to Krystal web hosting, so there’s really nothing to lose. We always host in pubs and venues which are accessible and easy to find (and leave) so you can drop in and out at any time around other life commitments.

It’s about partnership and collaboration, so go with an open mind and you’ll be rewarded with conversations and potential work which you don’t usually find at a sales-first networking event!