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Old 11-17-2008, 07:09 PM   #1
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Default How to get work starting out???

Hey guys, I was curious if you may be able to help me figure out how to get more business just starting out as an electrical contractor. Any ideas you may have would help a ton!!! Thanks!

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Old 11-17-2008, 07:38 PM   #2
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Click here.

And here.

And here.

Unfortuantely, you've picked a real bad time to strike out on your own.


Best advice I can give:

First and foremost, you need to create, and then spend the money on, an advertising budget.

Join your local builders associations. Attend the meetings and other events.

Visit home shows and expos, with a wad of business cards in your pocket. Don't be shy about introducing yourself. And don't give out cards one at a time.... give each person 3 or 4: they're cheap, and you don't know who those people know!

Get on your local Craigslist site. Look for builders and handymen there who advertise "It's OK to contact them with other services or commercial interests." (This will be at the bottom of their listing) Drop them a short, simple email to introduce yourself. I've gotten one builder, two remodelers and two house-flippers this way!

And my favorite method: whenever you go to the Big Orange, Big Blue, or even the local hardware store (Ace, True Value, whatever) look for the trucks and vans that have "Fred's Home Improvement", "Handy Dave, Dan's Older Brother" or "Quality Construction" on them. And not just 'builders', .... landscapers, painters, roofers, drywallers, plumbers.....ANY construction trade lead can pan out. Stick a business card in the drivers window. The worst that can happen is they throw it away.

Real estate agents are another 'forgotten' source. Many people who buy an existing home immediately want to change it, so if you buddy up with realtors you can be 'first in line' when it comes to the new homeowners' upgrades.

If (or should I be more positive and say when) you do find a builder, remodeller or flipper, be sure not to forget the person or people who are paying them.... the owners. Make contact with them, introduce yourself, and by all means, give them a card.

Want to start doing commercial? Drive around town and find all those little strip malls and see if there are any empty bays. Contact the name & number on the sign (after all, it is for rent, isn't it?), and find out who owns the property. Contact that person, introduce yourself, and simply ask if it would be possible for you to submit a bid when a new tenant is found.

Many local stores have bulliten boards you can put a small print ad (easy to do today with computers and printers) or a busniess card. It's free, and you never know.

Be persistent. Be sociable. Be friendly. You will not get every lead, you will not get every bid. And you will need to learn to deal with rejection.

But most important: create an advertising budget. And stick to your advertising plan. If one method doesn't seem to work, drop it and spend your money on other ideas. Business cards are the cheapest form of advertising, and the easiest to use. They fit in your pocket, so there is no excuse for never having a card to hand someone.

It WILL take some time, but if you do quality work at a reasonable price, you'll keep busy. And by reasonable, I mean fair and profitable. DO NOT try to comptete on price alone. DO NOT promote yourself as Wal-Mart Electric. If you do, you WILL fail.

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Old 11-17-2008, 08:06 PM   #3
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Thank you very much for your advice! I actually have done a few of the things you listed off. Unfortunately here, not too many homeowners have discovered Craigslist yet, but I am sure that will come with time. New construction is pretty down around here, but not dead like it is most other places, but that tends to keep the familiar guys around since there is no competition. Those reasons are why I was basically thinking about having the first step be doing commercial service. I think this would be a good idea to fill the gaps in my schedule.
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Old 11-17-2008, 08:08 PM   #4
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One other thing: If you ain't workin', you should be promoting.

Don't just sit around moping, wishing the phone would ring.

Go out and kill it and drag it home if you want to eat.
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Old 11-17-2008, 09:43 PM   #5
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Congrats. I dont really think this is the worst time to start up a new buisness,its just not the easiest time. I agree with 480 on joining your local home builders associations , or something like that. thats a great way to meet builders, and various buisness owners.
One thing I do is stop at any new construction, and find the permit. I then chase down the builder / owner and get a dialoge going. Whether they already have an electricain or not, get talking .
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Old 11-17-2008, 09:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph View Post
Congrats. I dont really think this is the worst time to start up a new buisness,its just not the easiest time. ..... .
Ok, maybe the worst time was 1930 or so.

But it's gonna be real tough to break into the business world when so many other ECs are laying off good help for lack of work, and many of those people are going to hang out their own shingles as well.
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Old 11-17-2008, 09:55 PM   #7
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True. I just think that this economy kind of levels out the playing field. The guys that have been cranking it out now have much less work( but still a bunch of overhead ), and the people they have been working for are watching their walletts , and their electrical prices. I have been bidding alot for new builders that are doing just that. I have landed acouple of nice jobs, and keeping my overhead low probably helps too
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Old 11-18-2008, 06:41 PM   #8
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ad in your local paper's business section, website can help, introduce yourself to GC's and small time renovaters and everyone in between, make a pamphlet with business card attached introducing yourself and send it to property management companies and comercial and industrial establiments (that don't have full time maintainance staff) get cards out there, any place you can place them, hardware stores, lumber yards.
As a last resort to pick up work you can also contact other electrical contractors as occassionaly some may need an extra set of hands on a job for a few days and may be interested in subbing, you won't be able to charge full rate more than likely about 60 to 70%,I have done that a couple times, easier than hiring for just a week or 2, I have a few friends that are also my competition, and we will help each other out when one is slow and the other needs an extra set of hands for a day or 2. or if the other guy does not want to lay someone off for a week, he'll make a couple calls and see if someone else can give his guy some work for a few days.
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Old 11-18-2008, 08:27 PM   #9
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Yeah, as far as the other contractors go around here, there is actually a bit of a shortage of electricians that actually posess a license. I see lots of scabs and handyman services, which really rubs me the wrong way, but in this city, there are really only about 3 or 4 contractors of any kind of size that handle the needs of new construction as well as service for 50-60,000 people as well as all the businesses that are located only inside of the city limits. There are also lots of people who live just outside the city, but strangely enough, anytime I get an electrical call, it is in Knoxville, which is 25 minutes away. Basically, I just want to get my fingers into some of the stuff these other guys around here are overcharging customers for. One buddy of mine who built his house before I moved here actually agreed to have an electrician wire his house on a "cost plus" basis. Silly! The things people agree on.......

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