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Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,462
Likes: 3
Cat Servant
Another thread, about "Craig's List," got me wondering ... how do the customers tell the difference? When do that decide they need to call a "real" electrician?

Is it the presence of a fat tool belt? A shiny utility-body truck, with lots of ladders and strange tools? A spiffy uniform and pretty paperwork? An impressive name?

Let's imagine what lil' Miss Customer might be thinking:

A) "He has all those tools and a big truck, he must know what he's doing"

B) "I don't need the expensive fancy guy, I just need a ceiling fan put in"

C) "OH my ... look at the price ... do I feel 'honored' to have the best - or am I supposed to fear I'm being soaked?"

We complain about hacks and the guys who charge $200 to replace a breaker ... what are they doing right? Are we driving our customers away from us - and into their arms?

Last edited by renosteinke; 12/20/07 03:43 PM.
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Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 32
Junior Member
I guess it depends on your customers, and your goals.

My dad hired a guy to move some dirt for a barn. The guys truck broke down, It sat in my dads driveway for about 3 days then the guy came back and fixed the truck. I honestly thought the guy was going to leave it there for my dad to deal with. My dad said he did a good job. He charged $100 for the job. I bet that truck part was $100. He spent 8 hours easy at my dads house. He also dug 2 big stumps out.

"If your going to be stupid, You gotta be tough"
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 47
The issue is the same one that the legitimate EC (and their employee) applies everyday when on the job site.

98% of what we do is something we have done 200 or 2000 times before with few variations and based on what the AHJ in our area will pass (or what the GC/specs call for) and usually well within the bounds of the NEC.

The problems happen when we get into something the actual mechanic doing the work doesn't have experience with. (whether a J-man or Master/EC none of us knows it all)

Do we 'fess up' and get the info we need or do we just try to fake it? Look at the violation pics to see what some will do.

The "we's" on these forums generally will know when we are approaching the deep end of our experience; but too many out there won't. This applies to too many EC's as much as it does to the kid trying to make some side job money.

FWIW I'd suggest separating the discussion between the issues of job competence and job legality.

On the other issue:
The property owner is presumed to have the largest stake in making and keeping their investment sound and safe. Caveat Emptor applies to them when they CHOOSE to hire someone who isn't legal/insured/licensed to work on their property or to take on doing something themselves.

If safety was perceived to be the real issue with permits and inspections (vs tax hikes) more of the bad work would be found before the fire dept is called.

Design-Build isn't supposed to mean design *as* you build.
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,390
Likes: 7
OK, I feel it's time to vent....
Over the years I have come to see a lot of 'jobs', as an EC and for the last 6 years as an AHJ.

As an AHJ, I see work by "homeowners" that ranges from out & out brutal, to 100%+ compliance. I see "homeoewner" work that was NOT done by the HO, but by a 'wanabe' under the HO permit; ranging from brutal to OK. The HO usually blows the cover when they say...'he did it'. I also see and occasionally catch the non-lic. guy doing work for $$$.

As to the 'other hacks'....YES they do exist here. Guys with a Lic. that don't check/supervise the jobs; don't have a clue about the job; don't bother to do a walk thru before any inspection, rough, service, or final.

Three inspections to pass a 'rough' or a 'service' or a 'final' for really dumb violations is (fill it in)

'Others' who take responsibility (for $$$) for work that was done without permits, call for inspection, and expect a 'punch list' from the inspector! He 'checked out' the completed work, and expects a punch list of violations??

And 'others' who routinely hand signed/sealed blank permit apps to builders....then say...'what job???' if an inspector calls with a question! "Oh, we didn't do that job!"......why do I have a signed/sealed permit in my hand??

I could go on, but it's Christmas.....

It's only a few.

The majority are professionals, both in the execution of the work, and the operation of the business.

Rant stopped.

Merry Christmas and stay safe!

Joined: Apr 2003
Posts: 362
I think most customers are looking at appearance and demeanor. When one shows up on the job they should look like an electrician, talk like an electrician and have manners like a professional. I personnaly go out of my way to help customers feel at ease. Ask them questions answer all there questions, explain the job and the approach(s) I will take. The first or second thing out of the truck is the drop clothe, depending on the job of course. I have been awarded jobs being the high bidder just because I could/would explain and answer all the questions. If I don't know then I say I will find out. I once worked for a builder that gave me this quote " I only work for nice people,if they are not then" the price goes up". I have found this to be very true and try and abide by it. If you don't like your customers then how can you due your best work for them. By the way 90% of my work is word of mouth. The advertising budget last year was about $200. mostly charity things.


Choose your customers, don't let them choose you.
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,337
I agree. Customer service is all but dead. There are still many folks who are still willing to pay a "premium" for work providing there get what there pay for. Yes there are anal retentive retards who want it all and do what they can to save a buck. Send them towards your competition. smile Answer all the customers questions no matter how silly they may be. Be honest. Give an occaisional Freebie on the little stuff. They will remember you. Sell the customer what they need, not what you can sell them. I have a customer who is a local businessman who is planning to expand. Due to the site layout, it would require relocating the service which would be expensive. I work with for 15 minutes and not the whole service will not need to be moved saving him $$$. Yes I gave away some business however I am the one he calls for work, pays me on the spot, and refers everyone else to me. I have another friend who is also friends with local EC's in his town. If I am willing to travel, he would be throwing work at me left and right. He likes my professionalism and quality of work. He is willing to pay extra and so would several of his customers. Invest in your customers and they will invest in you.

"Live Awesome!" - Kevin Carosa

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