I have a new business in North Carolina, and have been following this forum for several years off and on. One thing that concerned me was hearing about the general contractors not paying and deadbeat customers. I decided after working for other people here in the Wilmington NC area, that I had to go into business to survive. Contractors will not pay a decent wage down here. I am retired from Uncle Sam, and get benefits and a small pension, which helps me through the lean times, but my aim is to make enough contracting to earn as much as I was when I was working up north. I specialize in residential service work. Home construction is cutthroat and I have no established business connections anyway, so I signed up as an electrical installer with a major home improvement chain. The work is easy, and I usually earn 50 to 75 dollars an hour for the same jobs that I was paid 12 dollars an hour for working for a local electrical contractor. The work is sporatic, and I can't rely on it to pay the bills yet, but when the jobs pick up it may be a goldmine. The other contract I have is for an electric company doing home wiring service work, as well as surge protection equipment installations. Customers have the option of paying 3.95 a month added to their electric bill, and most of their wiring is covered. This involves troubleshooting and repairing bad recepticles, breakers, and switches mostly. I have a set price per hour that I invoice the company for payment. The company then deducts the payment from the customers allotment. The customers are grateful that the service was free to them, and some would not be able to afford an electrician without this service. Non covered services are paid by the customer directly to me, and I insist on them using a major credit card for payment if they seem shakey financially. I have been told that my business will grow to the point where I will need to hire help. After experiencing the quality of the workers available here, ex-cons, fly by night guys that take off after they get paid, drug users, boozers, thieves, and malcontents, I decided that I will only hire pre-screened IBEW members. I have to have a background investigation as well as drug testing for myself as well as any employee of mine to work for the electric company, and pay for it myself too. I also want employees that are experienced as well. I just signed a partnership agreement with the local here. They will assist me with providing quality help, as well as possible business contracts, and I can help them by breaking the ice down here by going with union labor. They have a new program that allows the union workers to get paid for piecework . No set hourly rate, but a percentage of the profits as determined by square foot building costs. This seems like a win-win situation for all involved, and I will try it if I can get some home construction projects. For now though, I will stick to service work.
Don't take this the wrong way but it sounds like you jumping in the deep water quickly.
If you don't have much work lined up I can't see taking on another person yet. It is great to have the best emploiees but you also need to pay top dollar.
As far as your rates you should refigure your costs and adjust your charges. Don't forget insurance, benifits, etc. It could be possable that the $50-75 your getting from the home center will not cover your costs with a new JW. Remember it is totally different if 2 JW bill 8 hours each at $75 ($1200) or 4 hours at the same ($300) in a day.
Are you allowed to do work in the field as a union owner?
If contractors don't pay a good wage in your area do they charge low also? Some areas may be hard to make a good living no matter where your at in the food chain.
I don't know what your background is but you may find better paying jobs doing non residential.
It's hard to find good help in many places. You may ask yourself what you have to make good people want to work for you. Also how to keep them with you and happy. Money and benifits is one factor. Working conditions, attitude, organization, and providing what they need to get the job done are also a big factor.
Best of luck. Tom
Re: Partnership#158013 03/12/0609:10 AM03/12/0609:10 AM
I messed up my leg pushing a double oven up a set of stairs Sunday. Then it wouldn't fit and I told the customer to call a woodbutcher to cut the space out. Part of the job involves delivery of appliances that I install. Hard wired stoves and range hoods require a license to install. I am pissed at the store for not verifying the size of the oven opening. They offered to pay me 30.00 extra, but my leg is still torn up. I can still work, but have to limp everywhere for a while. These jobs are hit or miss, sometimes 3 or 4 come in at once and sometimes a couple days go by without anything to do. I sure don't have the ability to hire someone yet, but if I get enough business I will have to, just to get the jobs done. Today I feel like the MAYTAG MAN, waiting for a job to come over the fax machine. Good thing I am already retired, and can deal with the slow pace. Some of the guys I worked with were bums, and some were great electricians. The problem is that they had worked in the trade for years, knew more than I will ever know about this trade, but for some reason, never had the desire to take the license exam.Or, they had taken it and failed and became discouraged.Either way, it is a shame to see good employees have to work for shitty wages, and have to work with the bums who drag down the whole business. I don't trust general contractors after hearing the horror stories here about their business practices. My former boss even told me how he had been ripped off by GC's, one time for 8,000.00!
Are you delivering & installing double ovens by yourself? I thought it was a 2 person job. Sometimes we might have a 3rd if available help just to line things up.
One differance about working for yourself is if your hurt you may be on your own.
Being ripped off can be part of the cost of doing business. There are some things you can do to protect yourself but if you ask for too much it could also hurt your sales. I worked for a company that claimed to loose about $75K a year in bad debt. It seems excessive but it was really a small percentage of the years sales.