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#43573 10/17/04 12:16 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 687
I do it too as I am short an electrician. My hats off to you. Myself I feel like my efficency is so low by myself compared to 2 guys. It just seems like if it takes an hour with 2 guys then it would take me 3 hours going back and forth.

There are only so many work hours in a day. Between drive time, supply house, estomates, bids, billing, colecting money, answering/returning calls, job set up, clean up, and truck repairs it leaves me with less time doing electrical labor.

Just wondering how many hours a day and days a week you do the labor side and how many hours you do the business side?


#43574 10/17/04 04:45 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 449
I work alone for the most part. I have never had any employees other than my wife and she wasn't a payroll employee, she is a partner. When I have absolutely needed help for a job I have subbed another sole proprietor sparky for a day or two. I have reciprocated with other sparkys as well. There are about 4 of us around here that work alone and we've pooled our resources from time to time over the years to get each other out of scheduling jams. It works out great.

#43575 10/17/04 06:37 PM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,432
Likes: 3
Yeah Steve,
Majority of the time I work alone during the day.
I've also had situations where I've had to call out a second Faultsman to help get a Fault repair finished.
Any other work that I do usually involves a crew of Linemen.
Can't say that I enjoy working alone, but that's just reality. [Linked Image]

#43576 10/17/04 09:13 PM
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 79
Been reading of the coming(and already here in some areas I hear) electrician shortages around the country. Manufacturers are reading the writing on the wall and a whole new generation of "Labor Saving" tools are expected to hit the market. Hey, maybe us solo electricians can at least get some "cool tools" out of this! lol


#43577 10/17/04 09:18 PM
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 947
twh Offline
Labor saving, like a ceiling fan? They don't put any labor into assembling those.

#43578 10/17/04 09:31 PM
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 830
Steve, I too work alone, and have for about 4 1/2 years now. I have learned to adapt and think of things that have really helped to save steps. Even though here recently I am trying to consider a different strategy. It does seem that if a good supply of work is available, that with at least one helper you can make more money. As it was stated in some of the above post, that one man can only do so much. My experience is that working by yourself, you only make wages usually at the best, not a whole lot of profit. Usually to get a job, you have to cut your price. I do my work, my office work, my accountant work, everything [Linked Image] I have two sons, but they didnt't have an interest when they were young. Now that they're older, and know better now, I can't afford to pay them what they need, being inexperienced. But I like the freedom and with the knowledge I have, it's hard to work for another man, and anyway I can't live with what they want to pay me.
So all said, I keep on trudging alone. My problem seems to be advertising and getting my name out there. Good business usually requires a certain amount of investment. Knowing when and where to make your investment in advertising can make or break you on a limited "capital". If a lot of capital is available, then advertising in the right way can bring your name to the public, thus allowing more work, then the opportunity to hire good help. Of course with more work and employees comes more financial obligations ( taxes, etc. ) I guess the best way to start out would be to "sub" out work, then of course you would be paying out good money to experienced sub's, and you better have your job priced right or you'll be paying him more than you make [Linked Image] I'm sure some of the others that have employees can give us much more information on these areas. So if you have any areas of help, I'm sure it would benefit the rest of us "loners" out here. So anyway, back to the drawing board [Linked Image] I guess that's the risk of being in business. Maybe they could give us some pointers to help our business grow [Linked Image] Some make it big and some make it small. So we do the best we can [Linked Image] So all said again, we keep on pushing right alone. So, next job, here I come. Certainly makes you use all the resources that The Good Lord has given you in your brain to get it to come together [Linked Image]

#43579 10/18/04 07:19 AM
Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 1,044
Tom Offline
I haven't had an employee for 17 years. I rarely miss having one.

I'm fortunate that the contractors I work with understand a couple of things, the first being I'm not going to set any speed records roughing in and if they want their cords & drills & other equipment repaired, they will have to pitch in once in awhile & help on a cable pull. The flip side for the GC is that he knows exactly what he is going to get.

I have also been very fortunate over the years in that my usual punch list is zero items long and I almost never have to go back to fix anything under warranty. Hard to have that kind of record with employees.

Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
#43580 10/18/04 08:13 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,143
I also work alone - of course, I'm just starting out on my own, and have subbed for other EC's when they needed a spare pair of hands for a day, or a week...

#43581 10/18/04 08:22 PM
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 79
There are some other realistic advantages of having an employee. For one thing you become much more efficient with your company time. It means alot more to do a "favor" for free when it's costing you bucks for the employee who's with you at the time. You're forced to pay more attention to the little items that add up. You certainly avoid standing around at the supply house making your list up as opposed to calling it in advance. Oh, and forget about the scenic route to the job.
All in all I think it depends on the work you're doing and where you want your business to go or not go. One drawback for sure is you can stay alot slimmer alone than having to take regular lunch breaks with an employee.

#43582 10/18/04 11:13 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 17
In the last 25+ years I've gone from working with my with just two of us (my late father and myself) to keeping between 8 and 12 employees as the need dictated.

I came to realize that I was running a daycare center for "mis-guided middle aged men". I'd have to count how many guys showed up for work and who was sober enough to drive the trucks. Add to that the expense of tooling them up and maintaining the tools and trucks.

I've since heeded the long ago advise of an accountant to "keep it simple" and am doing it solo again.

I've also rethought my daily routine and the type of work I was after and have stepped back for a while and am regrouping. I've gotten tied up with a builder and am doing a house a week for them along with a service or something else to fill the week.

Although I'm putting in some longer hours I now find myself anxious to get to the job rather than dealing with anxiety once I get there.

I also catch myself whistling while I work, something I haven't heard on the job since my dad passed away in 1982.


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