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#38896 - 06/05/04 09:42 AM Having trouble
Delectric Offline

Registered: 02/19/04
Posts: 33
Loc: Silver Springs, NV
I have gone from Journeyman to Electrical Contractor. I am having a problem underchargeing people. Not so much commercial, but residential is killing me. It's difficult to charge some of the rates that seem to high but I have to past it and charge accordingly. Has anyone else experienced this problem before? If so what did you do. I feel like I'm taking advantage of people but to stay in business I'll have to charge more.
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#38897 - 06/05/04 09:59 AM Re: Having trouble
CTwireman Offline

Registered: 02/07/02
Posts: 839
Loc: Connecticut, USA
It's simple have to charge more. You are not taking advantage of people. You are charging them for a skill and service that has taken years of training and investement. By all means, charge more!! Don't leave money on the table.


#38898 - 06/05/04 10:30 AM Re: Having trouble
hbiss Offline

Registered: 12/16/03
Posts: 893
Loc: Hawthorne, NY USA
I agree with both of you. If I could somehow not charge people anything I would be very happy because I would not have to deal with my conscience or people complaining about prices. But that's not reality. I have bills to pay and there are very few of us who can work for nothing.

Part of being in business for yourself is learning to deal with these issues. You have to "grow a thicker skin" and believe that you have to charge what you do in order to stay in business, support your family, pay your bills and maybe put a little away for retirement.

Now, there is nothing wrong with doing "pro bono" work every once in a while for worthwhile customers, that can be good for business. But you can't do that all the time. At some point you will have to draw the line and refuse to work for those that can't or are unwilling to pay the going rate. You have to focus your efforts where you will make a decent profit.

It's either them or you, and you are entitled to make a living.


[This message has been edited by hbiss (edited 06-05-2004).]

#38899 - 06/05/04 10:37 AM Re: Having trouble
DougW Offline

Registered: 06/08/03
Posts: 1083
Loc: North Chicago, IL
It's tough sometimes - especially when it's a little old lady who needs a GFI replaced, and it only takes you 10 minutes.

I charge different rates - one for co-workers I might call on to assist at a job (painters, drywallers, or just "grunts" ), one rate for "friends & family" and one for "cold" calls to strangers. It's a litle unusual, but it works for me. You might just need to find a method that you're comfortable with.

Remember, though, before I sound like we're all doing this to [soapbox]"selflessly better the world's electrical distribution (puke)"[/soapbox] ie for charity - some of the biggest complaints I've had, or have heard of, have come from "charity" cases, who seem to insist on looking in the gift horse's mouth, and complaining about the condition of the teeth.

In addition, we are a skilled trade. How many years did it take you to get where you are now? Not to sound superior, but most customers I've encountered are primarily of the "flip switch, light works" mindset - they have no knowledge of electricity, and no real desire to know how it works - they just want to know why is doesn't, and how much it'll cost to fix. The fact that you can install and service something they have no clue on isn't a license to rape 'em, but it should remind you that we are pros, and you can't buy our knowledge and experience for minimum wage!

In addition, your insurance, vehicle, and other overhead need to be taken care first of in order for you to be "charitable" with your time...

Good luck!

#38900 - 06/05/04 11:16 AM Re: Having trouble
Active 1 Offline

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 684
Loc: Grayslake IL, USA
It is so easy to under bid nothing jobs. You really have to have 2 sets of numbers in your head. The store price and the customers price. Example a GFI I think is X much. Wait, they just went up in price. They don't come with trim plates. Half the time I resplice the box so I'll need a few wire nuts. I need to pay sales tax. Can't for get mark up to pay overhead and material pick-up and loss. Then I have a much biger number

How long will it take to perform the labor operation and how long will you be at the place are different. You need to figure time to clean up, show the customer what you have done collect the money, and drive time.

Figure all your expences. Don't forget things like truck repair, replacement tools, replacing general inventory, payrole, vacation time, taxes, saveing some for slow times, and proffit.

Break it down to how much you need average each day. Add some and that is what you need to make in a day. Even if it's only a 6 hour job remember that number as a minimum.


#38901 - 06/05/04 11:27 AM Re: Having trouble
Bill Addiss Offline

Registered: 10/07/00
Posts: 4196
Loc: NY, USA

I'd like to recommend the Wed nite Business Chat here. It begins at 9pm EST and goes on for at least a few hours.

This is just the kind of thing that gets talked about there. Give it a shot, there's a lot of people willing to help and share their experiences here.


#38902 - 06/05/04 11:47 AM Re: Having trouble
Electric Eagle Offline

Registered: 04/20/02
Posts: 928
Loc: Alpharetta, GA
I had this same problem, I think we all do when we first start out. When it was just me I could "afford" to go reset a GFI and sometimes not charge or charge very little, but now that I have employees I have to charge the same rate no matter how simple the job is. When I look back on it, I left way too much money on the table. Most of my customers seemed way too happy with my prices and I can now see why, the only good thing is that it gave me a good reputation in the community and the phone rings without advertising. So Maybe I'll make up that lost money in the long run.

#38903 - 06/05/04 11:53 AM Re: Having trouble
OreElect Offline

Registered: 03/05/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Salem,Oregon.USA
In order to be strong you need to charge for your service.
We charge a flat 75.60 per hour +travel+load unload time.min 75.60 service call.also .30 a mile if over 10 miles.
We get the calls to reset circuit breakers all the time. Does your doctor cut you a brake when he says take 2 aspirin and you`ll feel better,no way. You are a trained professional!!

#38904 - 06/05/04 02:18 PM Re: Having trouble
macmikeman Offline

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 718
Loc: Honolulu, Hawaii
Deelectric hare is a good way to look at it. When your computer breaks down , get a load of how much the genius charges to repair it. He doesn't care if it is a home computer or a business computer.

#38905 - 06/05/04 02:48 PM Re: Having trouble
tomselectrc Offline

Registered: 03/14/04
Posts: 50
Loc: warren mi us
i to have the s.ame problem,Im learning that we all have familys to feed.Hang in there,your not alone

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