I certainly relate to your situation. I also started out doing a ton of resi work and had the same exact issues. I can offer this advice. GET AS MUCH COMMERCIAL WORK AS POSSIBLE. your labor rate will be able to be increased by about 10 to 15% or so. and you can do things like charge minimums. EX> 4 hr minimum for service calls @ $95.00 per hr. even if it takes you 25 min. to do the job. 1.5x after 5:00 pm, 2x weekends and holidays. remember your dealing with huge corperations. try that with a residential contractor and you will be sitting home with no work. the profits are greater. Also most commercial retail jobs will be tennant supplied fixtures, lamps, power poles, Energy management systems, etc..as far as Fire protection. Find a company to bid with you / thru you. when you get drawings, call him and get him his drawings out to him. just figure on your men pulling wire, terminating devices, and hanging panel. he handles supplying Specified system delivery and panel terminations and fire marshal walk thru. Good luck. Oh yea, the worst part of the commercial bidding is the damn time frame you have to bid. My first question is WHEN IS THE BID DUE. USUALLY 3 TO 5 DAYS FROM RECIEVING PRINTS.
Also you can pretty much forget about recieving deposits. thats why you cannot stop residential work. Most Commercial work pays between 30 to 60 even 90 days after completion. TOUGH ONES TO FLOAT. like anything else getting started is the most difficult part.
[This message has been edited by northstar (edited 05-05-2005).]