I would like to start a new series of threads on the subject of "business integrety;" that is, the responsible and ethical ways of running a business. This is inspired by an article, and quiz, in "Power Outlet," tha magazine distributed by Rexel Pacific ( a wholesaler). They, in turn, got it from the American Society of Architects.
The first question is: Before you give a price, do you first make sure you can do the job?
Good question. I sometimes bid several jobs all at once realizing that if i get all of them, depending on when they want to start, I might be in trouble.
Making sure you can do the job, (I am assuming you mean that schedule is the issue, and not skill, knowledge or expertise) can often be something that is very hard for you alone to control. By definiton our role is that of a cog in a larger machine, and often times our inability to keep a schedule is entirely everybody's fault (and not necessarily everybody just on that job).
When it comes to integrity, I think the lack thereof has everything to do with how you sell. I think the biggest mistake that people make when selling is telling people what they think they want to hear just to win favor and trust and close the sale. I don't think it is even necessarily on purpose either. The fact of the matter is that people generally are insecure and care what people think, don't want to make them mad, want to be liked, etc.
When it comes to sales, it is about your ability to convince the other party to see things the way you do. As a person of integrety it is your duty to make sure that your view is the most accurate, realistic, informed and honest view.
I like challenges, I love doing the job I've never done before. And sometimes I will "buy" my way into a job, just for the experience of having done it. I need to do this. If I stuck myself to do only what I have done in the past, I would still be installing cieling fans or programming Allen Bradleys.
That would get old.
I have to always tell myself, yes, I can do that, even if I know in the back of my head, this is going to get tough.
Please feel free to interpret this questions as broad as you want....even changing a light bulb can be a problem if the bulb turns out to be two foot higher than you can reach with your highest ladder!
I would love to be able to schedule all my different projects such that I alway's could give an honest answer as to whether or not we can do the job in the time frame alloted or start up the day they say we need to be there. Unfortunatly all the other general contractors I work with think they are the only thing in the universe so they never bother with informing me when they are going to be ready for electric or worse yet they call us in way too early when they do not even yet have the framing all completed. In short the people who pay to have us come in and do wiring for them are not helpful to us at all for scheduling .
The classic connundrum for the small business- the need for a constant flow of work. You must quote for jobs to keep that flow running. You will only get acceptances for a certain percentage, an unknown quantity. Now, here's the rub: * Quote for 'x' number of jobs * Get too many acceptances, = can't cope. * Get too few acceptances- = idle periods. * Take on help- and next month- no orders!
A lot of small outfits realise that customers will only wait for a limited time for their services, ( would you wait 9 months for a plumber?), so to avoid too little work they take on too much and flit from job to job doing a bit here, a bit there and peeing off the consumer in the process. I bet a lot of the referrals to 'part completed' works are where the customer just lost patience and parted company with the electrician! Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this problem, you will be either working 8 days a week 25 hours a day or looking for a maintenance job when the next recession hits. Unless you know a better way?