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#28656 - 08/27/03 11:06 AM How to get work?  
frodo  Offline
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 129
louisville, ky usa
I am looking for advice on how to get electrical work. I have an ad in the phone book, an ad in the paper, tools, license, insurance, vehicle, shop and live in the 16th largest city in the US.

i have subscribed to the job report but never did any good with that.

i get very few calls from the yellow pages and mostly minor repair calls from the newspaper. hardly enough to support the business.

i am a sole proprietor and have no employees.

i appreciate any suggestions.


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#28657 - 08/27/03 11:58 AM Re: How to get work?  
Bill Addiss  Offline
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 3,878

If there's a Contractor's association around it may be a good idea to join it (and attend the meetings). Getting to know the local GCs and other types of contractors could help you get business or referrals. It could also help you to get group rates on your insurance policies which would more than offset the yearly (tax deductable anyway) dues paid.


[This message has been edited by Bill Addiss (edited 08-27-2003).]

#28658 - 08/27/03 02:27 PM Re: How to get work?  
straightedge  Offline
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 86
Mesa, AZ

You sound exactly like me about three years ago. Except I started out of my home instead of in a shop. I am still in my home.

It is fun to find out which newspapers work the best and which ones get no response. I don't waste any advertising money in one particular newspaper any more.

I remember nailing and taping paper flyers all over an area that I wanted to get some work from. that alleged to about two jobs. But I give a business card to every new customer that I get. That is the first thing I do. Sometimes even before I shake their hand. I still do work for one of those customers from the paper flyers.

Do a good job, be polite and friendly, and try to be a friend. Act like thier electrical problem or job is the most important thing to you. They will call you back and reffer you to their friends. Don't ever get argumentative with them.

The way I met the General Contractor that I do the most work for is. I was on the same residential remodel job as this Framer Contractor. He asked me if I was interested in doing a new Peter Piper Pizza. I said yes. He said, well this General Contractor is looking for an electrician, come met him at the new job. So I dressed up real nice and went. The framming Contractor told me that the last electrical Contractor bid the last job for $35,000.00 which was simmilar to this job. So I looked, I felt confident that I could do the job for $35,000.00. Keep in mind I had no estimating experience. I came straight out of the field. I used my best judgement, my educated guess, and a little common sense.

Well now I am about to build my Fourth Peter Piper Pizza. And I am bidding them at $55,000.00. This General admited to me at first that his fist impression of me was that I was just some punk kid trying to start a business. Now he is glad he took a chance with me. He doesn't get any other bids.

My advise is "Don't ever give up". Be creative in your advertising. Have Fun. You are your own boss now.


#28659 - 08/27/03 02:46 PM Re: How to get work?  
HotLine1  Offline

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 6,862
Brick, NJ USA
Back when I hit out on my own, I was FORTUNATE enough that a few customers from the EC that I worked for jumped ship & came to me.

BTW, Bill's advice is very good, and you should consider it.

I gave up on the Yellow Pages & papers. I got around a lot, dropping in a real estate offices, plumbing contractors, and businesses. I handed out a 1 page flyer, and got some results.

Over the years, I found that referals are the best. Plumber intro to sign guy, sign guy intro to real eastate guy, real estate guy to GC, GC to GC etc. Also, get to know your AHJ's, they can be a good contact also. First year vol was about $35K, last year was about $590K Gross.

I have 4 guys, at 45 hrs a week, and it's been steady since '86.

Don't get down, get out & knock on doors, introduce yourself, give out cards and ANSWER ALL CALLS. I use a 800 beeper, an office #, and a cell number, and respond 7-24

Nuff said.



#28660 - 08/27/03 04:37 PM Re: How to get work?  
targetshootr  Offline
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 55
that reminds me of when i started.

i made the same mistakes (yellow pages) and did the other things that have been mentioned also. so much that i eventually had 6 fulltimers (stole me blind), health insurance, bought rental properties, turned over lots of business, never took a day off, forever beaten out of money. woke up one day and realized how much i hated it all. lol.

now i'm back to square one and remember what i used to enjoy; the work itself. if it cant be done by me and one part-timer, it wont get done. period.

#28661 - 08/27/03 11:20 PM Re: How to get work?  
Electric Eagle  Offline
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 914
Alpharetta, GA
The above posts all describe the way I got going also.

Take it from me and the others, avoid yellow pages except a basic listing unless you want to spend all your time chasing dead end leads. You'll get mainly price shoppers looking for low price and free estimates for jobs that never happen.

One thing I did that was embarassing, yet highly proffitable, was to post signs on telephone poles saying "Ceiling Fans installed, Electrician, and my #". I gave good prices and built a very good customer base. The fan jobs were really just the way into the customers house, then I might suggest they add rescessed cans in the kitchen or something like that. Probably 50% of the jobs ended up setting up another appointment for more work. Other would tell their neighbors. But as Straightedge said, you need to be polite and friendly, also BE ON TIME and be neat and don't make a mess or at least clean up.

If you do use signs, get them proffessionally made, they only could $2 or $3 ea. I put out 20 and couldn't answer all the calls. Now I don't need them.

#28662 - 08/28/03 09:48 AM Re: How to get work?  
frodo  Offline
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 129
louisville, ky usa
Thanks for all of the great replies to my post. I am baffled at why there is not much residential work to be had. Most folks hear the price and they decide to shop around for a deal $100 less. I would settle for wiring houses if I could find them.

I have wanted to get into small industrial types of jobs. I have the tools and experience. I would like to do expansion or retrofits on a small scale. Lighting, power, controls, automation, security, motors, transformers, basic equipment you would find in any plant.

It seems to me that a guy should be able to locate a few jobs like that. I am wondering how to find work like this? I hate spam and just feel like that if you do direct mail it would not be effective.

Do most contractors bid on jobs from the job reports? I also think there should be a general contractor out there who would like to get a cut of the electrical portion of the project and be interested in joint ventures.

I am going to look into my local building association and see if I can get any leads from there.

Thanks for the advice.



#28663 - 08/28/03 01:46 PM Re: How to get work?  
targetshootr  Offline
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 55
when i had to find new customers, i would also go through the phone book and call contractors who needed the kind of electrical work i wanted to do. they are the repeat customers. homeowners can be repeat customers, but not regular enought to depend on.

i also wired houses just to have work until better things came along.

basically, if you keep at it, it wont be long before you'll have more work than you can handle. i went from hanging ceiling fans to wiring an entire business park in a few short years.

#28664 - 08/29/03 08:32 PM Re: How to get work?  
Trumpy  Offline

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,222
SI,New Zealand
There's some really good advice in these replies.
Do a good job, be polite and friendly, and try to be a friend. Act like thier electrical problem or job is the most important thing to you. They will call you back and reffer you to their friends. Don't ever get argumentative with them.

That's probably the best advice I've heard in a while, as in, look after the customers that you have got at the moment.
Even just little things, like cleaning up after you have finished the smallest of jobs
(Get the vacuum cleaner out), just makes all the difference to a customer. [Linked Image]

Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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