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Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,429
LK Offline
We were all there. When I ran into this problem I went to another electrical contractor that was sucessful. The advice he gave was intresting. First he said, What type of contract do you use. I told him sometimes none and when i used one it was the one bought at the office supply. He recommended using a legally binding contract.
What an improvement this made in qualifing customers. No contract No work. and stick to it. Second he asked what my markup was, and i
told him. He recommended 100 and 50 percent. Well everyone elese in the area is 50 percent I would not have any work. I told him this was impossible and no one would pay that. He said that his percentage was higher and he turns work away. So I tried 75 percent
and things got better. It seams if you increase your rates, not only can you pay your bills but you attact better customers.
Now my rate is up there and it helps.
We were all there.

Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,457
Phase three burnout is not so bad, but look out for phase four. [Linked Image] Seriously I have been in business for 9 years. I have thought about throwing in the towel a few times, even gone for job interviews. What I do to stay sane is just say no. I work alone, I take on only the work I can handle, I charge a fairly high rate to weed out the yucky jobs as much as possible, and I work FIVE days a week. No faster way to burnout than a bunch of no good employees and to be "runnin around puttin out fires". Life is way to short (especially for you older guys [Linked Image] ) Still get crazy some times but in the end I can get in my car and take the kids to the beach any summer day I want or go out and build a snowman on a nice snowday! That type of freedom makes it all worthwile!

[This message has been edited by Electricmanscott (edited 05-03-2003).]

Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 110
Thank You, 'ElectricmanScott',
You just made my day.


Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 163
I'd like to repeat LKs reply. You start with a strong legally binding contract and add to it.
Every time I get burned I review what went wrong - was it my fault, something I overlooked or something that should have been clarified up front? gets added to the contract...I have a whole page of various 'as applicable' sections that get checked off and initialed by the customer. When I go out to check a potential job I start checking off those 'as applicable' sections I see.

Bad neighborhood where your tools might get ripped off? I check the box that says I will park my vehicle inside their garage! The customer promises to clear the area in front of your work space - 'customer will clear space three feet in all directions around designated work space before the commencement of electrical work. Customer's failure to have workspace clear will cause the rescheduling or work. There will be a charge of 8 hrs. labor for ______ men at a rate of $______ per man hour.' etc., etc.
You get the idea. I too have raised my price and I don't give free written estimates. Yes I've lost some work - but only to those who would have 'ruined my day' anyway.

Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,429
LK Offline
Thank You, DANA The clean out work area is something I forgot to put in the contract.
The last three jobs had about four feet of junk piled in front of the panel.
Targetshooter take your time, and get your contract updated first. The money end will depend on your area and the eco conditions.

[This message has been edited by LK (edited 05-03-2003).]

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,158
I have been an EC for 8 years and am still trying to build up a business between yellows pages phone cel bonding pager liability we have been subsidising these expenses with direct to home satellite installations i know there are threads relating to contract, work orders ,and material templates as a software program may be to expensive for us and we only have had our first computer for about 5 months and it is only a p150 so i dont think i would have the required systems resourses any help obtaining some templates would be very helpful and appreciated by the way iam 46 and only need basic templates as we do residential upgrades and reno work etc

[This message has been edited by dougwells (edited 05-03-2003).]

Joined: Apr 2003
Posts: 48
Clean your truck,update your contract and start fresh. My opinion is STAY SMALL. Just you and maybe a partner. I have been working for a good friend for the last year. We have had steady work, but we also have a bunch of no pays. We run into the same things as you. We have put in the hours and expect to get paid for them and people just scoff I try to always do the best job I could RE (SPENDING ADDITIONAL TIME NEEDED). Last month we had 20,000 owed out on the books and I didnt receive a paycheck. I just received an offer yesterday for another position doing industrial maintenance. I hate to say it but I am jumping ship. I think my partner could work a lot better without the liability of my payroll. We have been screwed by fly by night contractors and even lil ol ladys. I am glad to see its not just us, But I think there is light at the end of the tunnel.Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and Start all over again. I sincerely wish you well.

Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 642
Just adding my note
Am going thru the same B/S. Just told a customer for whom I did several jobs in the past to forget it. Now he has a contract that does not allow me to send a bill for 45 days then he will take 45 days to pay and wants a full lien waver before the first bill is presented. Just said good by to him.
We all go thru these problems. Get a good contract and be in the upper 1/3 of the rates in your area. You will get calls- some will run off when they see your contract or billing rates. Those will be 80% of the jerks you do not want any way. The rest of the callers will at least be serious callers. You may not win a bid but when you do at least you will get paid.
Good Luck

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 54
Hi Target Shooter,

Welcome to the forum, I myself can relate to some of your dissappointments. I am sure all the guys here would agree with me when I say in this line of work We are going to have a lot of ups and downs. How we handle them is what counts. However there is a lot of good advice given here.
I am a Electrical and Plumbing Contractor and I know first hand how a person can get down/burn out with all of what is going on.
You said you were 48, We'll I am just a head of you 50. And now that I have turnesd 50 I can REALLY enjoy working for myself andand others and enjoy living.
Sometimes in lifes dissappointments we have to take a step back and see where we are in life, and where we are headed and decide where we want to go, NOT where Business or people want to go, But US you and I.
The best advice I can give you is to ask God to help you resolve this. I don't want to sound like a preacher, Cause I'am Not, or do I want to preach to you. I am only sharing testimony in my life what has happen.
I asked God to help me in my work and health, I set my business up So I would be working for the Lord. When God is for you, No one is against you. It is great having the best boss in the world and their are no problems that my boss cann't handle and resolve. When a situlation occurs I pray and turn it over to him, its great. He takes care of everything. Sure there are man made problems that will happen,if and when they do he handles it for me, thank the Lord.
I asked for his guidence and direction. Since the first of January to date, I not only have work going on I now have 2 full time employes and one part time secretary. I am now also DEBT FREE< THANK THE LORD.
I like the rest will help you in any way I can. Be patient. We all share some of the same experences, We just choose different paths and we are on different journeys.
God Bless you and good luck.

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 55
you guys are good. wish i'd found this forum before.

most of the reasons i'm in the state i'm in are my own fault. i never knew much about how to run a business, still dont really, and its cost me a fortune.

but with the things i'm learning here i can change that.

what really gets to me are the customers/contractors who make a living abusing sub-contractors. when one wises up, they find another one to work over.

i just hope that what goes around, comes around for them.

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