This is really geared toward electricians in residential service with a few years experience. If you don't have that experience, start keeping track of the time it takes you to do jobs. For projects with plans, I try to get people to fax prints, or send plans. This minimizes the 2 hours travel & talk (this is my year to reduce unbilled hours).
1. Know your cost of doing business (covered at length in other posts). 2. Have a business plan and budget. 3. Use 1 and 2 to figure your hourly rate, which you will be using in the flat rate sales book. You will probably discover that you haven't charged enough in the past, which is why you don't...advertise, have a decent salary, a decent truck, decent tools, a retirement plan that will actually allow you to retire before you'll need back surgery, knee replacements, wrist surgery...whatever. If you call around to charge what the other guys are charging, you'll be in the same boat as they are (many on their way out-of-business).
4. Create pages (categories) for your sales book...mine has... Breakers Ceiling Fans Dedicated Circuit-EMT and AC Devices-Maintenance Devices-New Exhaust Fans Exit and Emergency (ok, I have some commercial) Lighting-Exterior Lighting-Interior Power Cords and Whips Service Charges Services and Sub-Panels Services-Exterior Smoke Alarm
This isn't a complete list by any means, but a good start for me. Any suggestions for additional pages would be truly appreciated.
Re: Flat Rate Pricing---Create Your Sales Book#156223 04/07/0512:08 PM04/07/0512:08 PM
5. Create items with prices on your sales book pages. Use your experience and time sheets to help you with these items. For instance in Service Charges I have a list of towns in the area. I considered the distance from the office in time. Towns further away have higher Service Charges. This works in perfect with my business plan to work close to the office. If someone wants me to work 30 miles away, they're going to have to pay for my time. I also have on this page a troubleshooting charge, a charge for getting permits, bonds, and registering with local departments. A special charge for doing paperwork for real estate closings, and a charge for my time to run for supplies when they aren't on the truck (which I usually don't charge if I should have it on the truck).
Re: Flat Rate Pricing---Create Your Sales Book#156224 04/07/0512:23 PM04/07/0512:23 PM
To give a more "electrical" page, these were items of consideration on the Ceiling Fan page.
Power wiring to nearest attic power or switch Power wiring to additional fans (same job) Installing ceiling fan bow with access... without access Install switch wiring Install fan and balance Install Light kit Install control Install remote control
I also have items which consider distance from scuttle hole to work, height of attic space, first or second floor, change plaster ring, moving a ceiling light junction box with conduits, high temperatures (after 2 hours in an attic in August, I take a shower & change before the next job).
As with any experience based estimating, break the job down into the smallest piece and estimate your time. Add all the little pieces together for the item price in your book. Think of all the misc. things like...the switch may only be 50 cents, but you run to the store to buy 20 of them at a time, so add that time into the cost of installing a switch. Add some extra for those wonderful times when you have to tap out the threads in the mud-ring, etc.
This is time-consuming, but you can either do it now, or after you spend $2500 on a flat rate system that requires "adjusting for your area and experience".
Re: Flat Rate Pricing---Create Your Sales Book#156225 04/07/0512:43 PM04/07/0512:43 PM
6. Put all your pages together in something professional looking. I put mine in plastic protector sheets in a zippered portfolio.
7. Have a professional presentation using your flat rate sales book. If you don't have good salesemanship skills, learn them. When you see the job, add up the items from your book to get a total for the job. If you don't have an item listed, use your experience and add the cost in. You can do this in front of people, but I find they usually aren't interested and leave me alone. Sometimes I do it in my truck.
I think seeing someone who returns calls, shows up on time, is clean and presentable, getting prices from a book sets me apart from the crowd. My best customers use me because they trust me, not because I'm the cheapest. This same trust is the basis I use to hire an accountant, lawyer, etc.
8. Have the customer sign to approve your work sheet, or draw it up into a contract proposal. In any case, get an autograph.
9. Do your best work, while enjoying your new, higher rate.
Remember to do all the other good things, like return calls. Work hard to keep a "Customer For Life".
Re: Flat Rate Pricing---Create Your Sales Book#156226 04/07/0501:00 PM04/07/0501:00 PM
If I was familiar with Excel, I'd be using it. I'm just printing the sheets out with Word. My sheets are very basic, but they are working very well for me. The most professional sheets I've seen to date are from Les (LK), who uses Excel. Please don't let software be an issue for you.
The main idea is to encourage those of you who don't have $2500 laying around to make the transfer to flat rate pricing if you feel (like I do) that it will help your business.
I don't have any interest in selling this. I'm trying to help the other ECs here improve their business. Isn't that what we're here for?
Re: Flat Rate Pricing---Create Your Sales Book#156230 04/08/0507:57 AM04/08/0507:57 AM
Thank you Dave for all of your efforts to "raise the standard" for all of us trying to squeeze a living out of some of these people who think we do this for a hobby!
I have read your previous posts where you are focusing on "billable vs. non-billable" hours for this year. I know that when you sit and take the time to post all that you have, it costs you, simply 'cause it is non-billable hours. It takes time away from your family and other things you would rather be doing, in efforts to help out others. I personally applaud your efforts that are self-less and encouraging to the rest of us. I have accepted the fact that Bill Gates is not looking over his shoulder worried I'm going to catch him in Forbes magazine. But I am confident that if I keep chewin' on this, I might get it down where I can handle it and make a decent living for my family. Our families deserve it don't they? And then, like you are already doing, pass it on. I believe as soon as you teach someone something, someone else will teach you something on a higher level. If you learn something, give it away. I appreciate what you are doing Dave. Finding something that works and sharing it. One of my favorite sayings came from Ted Williams. "Just keep at it, everybody gets better if they just keep at it."