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#155905 - 02/22/05 12:17 PM Business Advice  
WhiteRook  Offline
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 48
Republic of Texas
I am new to the forum and would like some advice from you seasoned contractors out there. A little background first. I am an EC, however since I started a few years ago I have really been "self-employed." I work by myself doing small commercial jobs like HVAC hookups, service calls, and for the first three years was lucky enough to get in with a general on a bunch of Domino Pizza remodels in Dallas. Well I finished them and am having trouble finding new work, perhaps I am not agressive enough. I have been thinking about getting into residential to do the electrical and/or structured wiring. I was told that the going rate in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex was about $20 to $25 per drop? After reading some of the posts here, I almost fell over backwards by what some of you are getting. One post said $165 for a 15A duplex within 25' of the panel! Really? I also have read some of the posts about flat rate pricing for residential. Since I don't have the money for those programs, is there anyone who could send me a copy of what they use so I can build one for here in the DFW area? I know the pricing would be different but I don't want to price too low either. Also if you are pricing by the drop, how do you handle 220 outlets, HVAC, services, lights (FBO I assume) and ceiling fans, etc. I know I will have to closely monitor my jobs so I can determine an accurate overhead over time. Is 10% a resonable profit figure?
Also what is the best way to approach the builders since I would assume most already have electricians they have been using. How do you "break-in" especially without a track record of other home builders to use as a reference?
I like doing commercial work, but am hesitant to bid jobs that I can't do by myself because I don't think it is right to hire some help for one job without having some other jobs lined up. If I have to be on the job with the new employees to ensure it is done right (until I can evaluate their work) I don't see how I can look for other work. I know a couple of guys that are excellent journeymen and could run the jobs easily, but they have families and need the steady work. I like to be fair to them and I have always treated the people that work for me(at other companies) like I would want to be treated. Anyway this limits the jobs I try bidding on in the commercial world. Most of my leads are for schools or government projects which are out of my range on bonding, insurance, etc. So I thought I should give residential a go.
This is getting pretty long so if there is any advice you can give or comments you would like to make, please feel free. I will say thankyou in advance for all your inputs.


Business, Office, Estimating, Legal:

#155906 - 02/22/05 12:34 PM Re: Business Advice  
Dave55  Offline
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 697
Crystal Lake, Illinois, USA
First of all, welcome to the forum. You have a lot of questions, and many of them can be answered by searching through past posts on this site. there are also links to some other good business sites. This business section was only recently started, so in the past business posts have been in the General Section.

A lot of what you're asking comes with experience, but your immediate need seems to be the next job. Let your friends, family, church, etc. know you're in business and looking.

The rates seem high because we include our business expenses in our rate. If you don't you'll take a long painful trip out-of-business. If I had a "most important" bit of advice for longevity, it's...surviving the slow spells. You've been busy with a GC, now you have to find your own work. Sometimes having a lot of smaller customers also can carry you through slow times. When you have one big customer and lose their business you lose a large percentage of your income...a tough position to be in. On the other hand I had an 8-month slow spell (with 350 customers) which I attribute to "fear of the economy". If you're not a survivor I'd suggest looking for a job with someone else and picking up a little work on the side until it builds into more than you can handle on evenings and weekends.


#155907 - 02/22/05 02:39 PM Re: Business Advice  
dougwells  Offline

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,140
kamloops BC Canada
Welcome Whiterook

We have a business chat on Wed Nights at9 PM EST Plus most times someone is usually there at about the same time most nights.

[This message has been edited by dougwells (edited 02-22-2005).]

#155908 - 02/23/05 08:29 PM Re: Business Advice  
Active 1  Offline
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 687
Grayslake IL, USA
As far as the numbers per opening you need to look at what type of work is it. For $165 I would expect a service call doing 1 outlet. Cutting finished walls, fishing wires, cleaning up, and drive time. For the $25 it would have to be a job where you are there for some time doing a lot of something. A new construction or open wall remodel. No way can you stay a float doing just 1 thing for $25. The key is you have 30, 60, 100 openings where it makes it more worth your time. We do all pipe so $25 is crazy low around here, about 1/2 of what we want to get.

I can't speak for everyone but the HVAC, service, smoke detectors, oven, whirl pool, etc. are more money makers so we get more. Kinda seems like some things are too cheap and others are more thant whats required but it all evens out. Like when a food store charges less for milk but more for butter.


#155909 - 03/01/05 06:03 AM Re: Business Advice  
acelectricians  Offline
Junior Member
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 1
It is the same here in London, UK. My company has a weekly revenue target per electrician. On a week long project, you can charge a low rate since you are generating revenue 100% of the hours. On service calls, travel time, sourcing materials at the workshop and estimating have to be included in the service rate in order to meet the weekly target, hence the higher rates.
All the best from London,


#155910 - 03/01/05 07:59 AM Re: Business Advice  
shortcircuit  Offline
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 608
ace..why would you figure a lower rate on week long jobs?You still have to travel there each day and setup as you would on smaller jobs. Your overhead doesn't change.


#155911 - 03/01/05 11:34 AM Re: Business Advice  
Dave55  Offline
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 697
Crystal Lake, Illinois, USA
The overhead is the same, but the unbilled hours are drastically reduced. If you have no unbilled hours, there's no difference (and I envy you).


#155912 - 03/05/05 10:08 PM Re: Business Advice  
highvoltageguy  Offline
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 53
Silt, Colorado, USA
Whiterock, I'm also new here and this is my first post, I have been doing work at nights and weekends for past 10 years off and on, started mostly doing remodels and have done several new house's(all legally permitted bye myself)and I am also stopping the part time stuff for full time electricial contracting, if I dont make it in a year I'll just fall back on my High Voltage Substation/Power Plant exsperience.
but from what I do know about bidding, $25 a drop or hole? seems like way to cheap for anything i would do, my example would be 1-duplex recp. figuring about $4.50 in material for box,wire,staples,plate and recp. plus .65MH @$45 hr. I would charge $33.75 !!!!but thats assumming there's another 50-60 recp, to install also plus light openings, switches etc.
But I'm also on this site to pick up new ways, by no means a expert. but wanted to say my .02 and what/how I been doing it.

#155913 - 03/05/05 11:56 PM Re: Business Advice  
WhiteRook  Offline
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 48
Republic of Texas
High voltage welcome fellow new guy. When I said $25/drop, I was referring to bidding a whole house, not just one drop. Maybe I didn't make myself clear on this but I am trying to find out what the best way is to bid residential. First off I don't have the bucks to go out and buy the flat-rate book that has been referenced in this forum, if I problem. I wanted to find out if this $25/drop was about right for here in North Texas and if so then how do you price the range, dryer, A/C, water heater and such. Does the price for a 220 drop double or triple the price???? Does anyone have some sample flat-rate pricing sheets I could look at???? Any help is greatly appreciated.

#155914 - 03/06/05 12:19 AM Re: Business Advice  
highvoltageguy  Offline
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 53
Silt, Colorado, USA
White rock I bought a book called Residential electrical estimating
looks like it out of print I did buy mine along time ago (10 years ago)for $25 but if you search maybe you could find it, I'm sure there is better now days.

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