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#156719 06/12/05 11:20 AM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 135
BobH Offline OP
In the last week I talked to two different owners of "HANDYMAN" businesses. Well, I asked em both point blank what they charge for electrical work. The one was $15 an hour and the other was $20 an hour. They both install services. The first guy told me he gets around $500 for a 150a service the other guy said he would have to see it. I'm in upsate NY, license requirements vary from town to town. No wonder I've been slow. I knew these guys were out there but I didn't know they worked that cheap! And, it's all legal as long as they have 300,000 in liabilty insurance. Makes it tough for us contractors that actually want to have a profitable business with a future. I've also seen in the last few years since jobs are being cut that these guys are everywhere you look and their all advertising electrical work. I don't know, maybe it's time to move or become a handyman.

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#156720 06/12/05 12:32 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 687
Has anyone ever tried working with their local or state goverments to make changes? In my area there are 100's of EC in every phone book. You would think if we just put our voices together we could get somthing done.

I don't know what a JW gets in your area but here it's over $20. If Mr Handy knew what he was doing you could use him as a sub contractor. Maybe at a reduced rate. Tell the financial genius you can sub him out 30-40 hours a week at a reduced rate of say $14 an hour but everything has to be done correct or it's fixed for free. Let em know they do warrenty work for free also. Remind them any damages is on them & their insurance.

How many handy guys are you dealing with? Just a few? You could teach them how to bend pipe with their head. Your probibly above sabitoge their work truck because then they could not get to the job. Setting up false appointments with them using a different phone would be wrong. Have your friends and family call each one out for a free estomate because they love to do things for nothing. You could give them more then a warm welcome if you see them at the supply house.

Relocating may help. But concider this. What will happen to the areas that have better laws for electriccal work? Sooner or later there will be too many EC & things will be slow. If everyone stayed where they were at and tried to fixed the local problems we all may be better off.

Maybe you could also adjust the towns you work in to the ones that have better policies on electrical work. On the other ones that are a waist of time charge for an estomate to get rid of the tire kickers.


#156721 06/12/05 12:48 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,460
Likes: 3
Cat Servant
Welcome to the world of business!

Regular customers are the lifeblood of any business. Rather than seeking an endless supply of 1-shot customers, try to find and nurture a handful of customers who regularily supply you with work- and pay on time! Property managers. store chains, local government are examples.

Do not try to sell on price- you're only running a charity if you do! Rather, sell on service, quality, and being able to do things the other guy can't.
Many times you will have the chance to fix someone else's is your chance to show what a real pro can do! After fixing a few messes, the customer will see the wisdom of calling you the first time.

And- don't forget apperances matter. I was amazed at the difference having a utility body truck made in the way customers saw my business. I was now a "real" contractor! The same goes for clothes, paperwork, etc.

Document the heck out of your jobs...sooner or later you will be asked "do you know where that circuit went?"

Finally, some have been put off by trades that look at the scope of their work too narrowly. Patch your sheetrock holes, clean up your mess, etc. Where possible, have your own tools, rather than relying on the customer to supply the ladder, etc.
Odds are, the local "handyman" just might prefer to do, say, carpentry- maybe you and him can refer each other.

#156722 06/12/05 04:11 PM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,457
The ONLY way to change this is government regulation. In Mass the rules are set a law and nobody should be doing electrical work for hire without a license. I am surprised NY does not have statewide uniform laws on something like this. This is most definately a public safety issue. One of the few times I would actually like to see some action from the politcial schmucks.

#156723 06/12/05 05:24 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 706
In Illinois you need a license as well as the insurance. That doesn't stop the carpenters and handymen from doing electrical work, but it's illegal. That seems to be enough to keep the vast majority of them from doing services.

If these handymen are charging $15-$20 per hour, they're only grossing $30-40,000 per year (if they invoice 2,000 hours per year.) If they are paying for insurance, their overhead might not be any different than yours. That means all their overhead is coming out of $30-40,000, leaving them with $25-35,000 for salary, no retirement benefits, and an aging truck.

Who needs to compete with that? They'll dry up and blow away soon enough.


#156724 06/12/05 07:45 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 65
Who needs to compete with that? They'll dry up and blow away soon enough.
I think a few indians said that when the white man showed up.
I was bothered by the " Handyman" thing,but that was residential and they couldn't legally do service work. Now I have lost commercial business. Same idea but differant name " Maintenance Contractor ". These sneaky fellows have gone in the motels, apartments and some office buildings. They go in and offer a contract to do plumbing , electrical, HVAC and anything else for $20 to $25 an Hr. They pay their people about $9. They do turn key work, change out fixtures, receptacles, switches and at the same time replace the broken tile in the bathroom. I think a lot of electricians are going out of business before these guys do. I went on a job for a realestate investment company 2 weeks back and they had their cleaning lady changing fixtures, recpt.,switches. She had allready been bit once, could easily be killed. These people don't care. $6 an hr. easy to replace. There are still real electrical jobs out there but as the pool drys up, more contractors to compete for the remaining jobs. For every handyman or maintenance contractor that goes out of business two take his place. Remember a lot of these people work under the table and without insurance. What they make, they keep. I have seen some nice new trucks for not making any money. we electrical contractors have always been an independent breed and that's our weakness. No political clout. If all the trades joined togather we might have something but that's not going to happen. You might try the services that screen contractors for homeowners, most of the fly by night outfits can't pass muster.

#156725 06/12/05 09:34 PM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 2,056
Here in PA there is still no statewide licensing. It is brought up before legislature every year or two, but it gets voted down.

#156726 06/16/05 11:05 AM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 197
In MA there is a state licensing requirement however. We have the problem where an unlicensed 'handyman' does electrical work and calls him/herself an 'electrician.' Few customers ask for a license number of proof of insurance and they certainly don't take permits for obvious reasons. Then we have our "discount" contractors who use non-licensed help there-by allowing them to charge rock bottom prices for electrical work. The chances of getting caught are very slim.

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