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Old 02-07-2020, 04:21 PM   #1
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Default Approaching new contractors.

Hi, I was wondering what the most effective method everyone has used to break the ice with a cold called prospective customer.

The business has been ticking along OK for the last couple of years now, but the kids are getting older and don't need quite so much attention so I'm starting to think OK is not that OK any more.

I've always relied on some light advertising and then word of mouth between contractors to pay the bills but this year I want to start expanding more heavily.

When contacting prospective contractors, what method do you find to be the most effective in resulting in qualified leads? I'm sure many will say do it in person, but the customers I want to court will, most likely, not have the time to speak with a stranger walking in off the street. What if I prepared an introductory package to email to them? What sort of thing would you include?

Thanks for your time.

M.
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Old 02-07-2020, 04:52 PM   #2
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Most of us here qualify general contractors exactly the same way.
EC: So, your a general contractor, Eh?
GC: Yeah. My previous electrician won't return my calls
EC: Don't ever fücking call me again!
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Old 02-07-2020, 06:00 PM   #3
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To the OP: YOU pre-select GC candidates. If you can afford it: pull a Dunn & Bradstreet on them.

There are rules:

1) You'll find it VERY difficult lobbying GCs outside of your generation. Too old, too young, either way -- you won't connect.

2) You're a seasoned EC. You're most unlikely to be happy with a green GC regardless of his age.

3) Scale. You're -- apparently -- a small shop if not one-man shop. Until you flesh out your talent pool -- it's VERY risky to expand your business. You no longer have the energy and drive of a young man.

3a) As a sole-proprietor I rather doubt you've spent time training idiots. But that's what you're likely to experience when you hire fresh 'talent.' By your standards, all the youngsters will be idiots.... It takes a thick skin to hire on such living anchors.

3b) As a direct consequence of your talent expansion, you'll entirely revise your quotation calculations.

3c) In my direct experience, you'll end up hiring 20 and firing 19 to uncover one decent trooper.

It's for the above reasons that many small ECs refuse to expand.

They can't absorb the expense of finding Mr. Number Twenty -- and loathe firing losers.

Are you up for it?
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Old 02-07-2020, 06:01 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by uberdog View Post
Hi, I was wondering what the most effective method everyone has used to break the ice with a cold called prospective customer.

The business has been ticking along OK for the last couple of years now, but the kids are getting older and don't need quite so much attention so I'm starting to think OK is not that OK any more.

I've always relied on some light advertising and then word of mouth between contractors to pay the bills but this year I want to start expanding more heavily.

When contacting prospective contractors, what method do you find to be the most effective in resulting in qualified leads? I'm sure many will say do it in person, but the customers I want to court will, most likely, not have the time to speak with a stranger walking in off the street. What if I prepared an introductory package to email to them? What sort of thing would you include?

Thanks for your time.

M.
It's all about timing. Many good contractors work with the same subs for years. Hearing that a sub is retiring or having problems is the right time to meet them.
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Old 02-07-2020, 07:19 PM   #5
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Contractors would rather put some smuck on the payroll for $15/hr to do things three times than pay you $100/hr to do it once.


Stay away from GC's and find work for the end user.
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:00 PM   #6
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GC’s can be okay, depends on the GC.
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:12 PM   #7
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To me, asking this question is like asking what is the best way to get cancer.
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Old 02-07-2020, 11:22 PM   #8
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GC's are NOT the only option here guys!

-plumbing companies need someone to wire up their tankless WH, sump pumps, sewage pumps, recirculating pumps, etc.
-HVAC companies ALWAYS need electricians. Always.
-sign companies need someone to bring power out to them
-crawlspace encapsulation companies need wiring for dehumidifiers
-irrigation companies need electricians

The list goes on. You'll find much higher profit margins with these guys. They understand that we all gotta make money. GC's don't always share that thought process.
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Old 02-08-2020, 01:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uberdog View Post
Hi, I was wondering what the most effective method everyone has used to break the ice with a cold called prospective customer.

The business has been ticking along OK for the last couple of years now, but the kids are getting older and don't need quite so much attention so I'm starting to think OK is not that OK any more.

I've always relied on some light advertising and then word of mouth between contractors to pay the bills but this year I want to start expanding more heavily.

When contacting prospective contractors, what method do you find to be the most effective in resulting in qualified leads? I'm sure many will say do it in person, but the customers I want to court will, most likely, not have the time to speak with a stranger walking in off the street. What if I prepared an introductory package to email to them? What sort of thing would you include?

Thanks for your time.

M.
The real question is; who can be a better salesperson for your work?
I’ve done just over a million dollars with GCs in the last couple of years and I’m still licking my wounds. It wasn’t that we were not making money but, the return on my time and money was what I would consider a hardship.
We are used to making speciality trade money but, to a GC, we were just a tool they needed to get an end result. COs for one contractor were a piece of cake but, the margins dictated in the contract were too small for us. The other contractor, COs were considered an insult to the owner and the GC was trained by them to either dismiss them or drag them out forever.
They ask us to take another job every week and I laugh at them and literally hang up the phone.
I have zero trust in a 3rd party managing my business and will never do it again.
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Old 02-08-2020, 05:32 AM   #10
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GC's are NOT the only option here guys!

-plumbing companies need someone to wire up their tankless WH, sump pumps, sewage pumps, recirculating pumps, etc.
-HVAC companies ALWAYS need electricians. Always.
-sign companies need someone to bring power out to them
-crawlspace encapsulation companies need wiring for dehumidifiers
-irrigation companies need electricians

The list goes on. You'll find much higher profit margins with these guys. They understand that we all gotta make money. GC's don't always share that thought process.
Damnit, this is why I always said you were the best business brainstormer and now I am going to demand you get back into business and keep posting about it here.

I never thought of going directly to these types of companies to work out some type of referral deal. I've always promoted myself directly to the homeowner, but having the other trades offer up my company as a referral would bring in lots of new business. And I can directly control which type of work it is. Power for mini-splits is a good example of profitable work that I would like more of.
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Old 02-08-2020, 07:36 AM   #11
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I did several mini splits last summer and enjoyed working with that group. I ended up hiring the service guy to come work on my boilers. The state said lately that the wiring between the condenser and inside unit had to be done by electricians so the scope of work has increased.
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Old 02-08-2020, 11:55 AM   #12
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And you want to work for GC's why?

https://www.electriciantalk.com/f6/b...actice-278562/
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Old 02-08-2020, 11:58 AM   #13
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Damnit, this is why I always said you were the best business brainstormer and now I am going to demand you get back into business and keep posting about it here.

I never thought of going directly to these types of companies to work out some type of referral deal. I've always promoted myself directly to the homeowner, but having the other trades offer up my company as a referral would bring in lots of new business. And I can directly control which type of work it is. Power for mini-splits is a good example of profitable work that I would like more of.
We do this with a painter. We refer work to him for patching and painting, which always turns into additional work for him. He then refers us to people before he starts a project "Hey, did you think about changing X or Y? Did you want to add some recessed lights before we do this?". Which inevitably turns into even more work for him.

It is the absolute best win win.
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Old 02-08-2020, 12:23 PM   #14
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I haven’t been screwed financially in five years except for one guy and he was an HO. I suspected he was running out of money and kept up with change orders, progress payments, deposits, etc. The hit was minimal.

You should have a set of rules to cover your ass regardless of who the customer is. I have had very successful runs with GC’s. If it’s profitable business, it’s profitable business. To make blanket statements about GC’s makes no sense to me.

If the OP is looking to get more GC business, I would suggest approaching them for smaller jobs, service calls, etc. That tells you what kind of people they are, how they pay, etc. If they look good, you have your foot in the door for meatier business.
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Old 02-08-2020, 12:40 PM   #15
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The way to meet contractors is to start bidding on Federal , State, large city , Municipal projects. There will be ten to twenty bidders at each mandatory job walk. Put in bids on several of those or just don't bid but show up interested and you will be making contacts. After a bit of time you get to know just about all of them on a first name basis and have traded enough cards to make good connections.



I picked up 2 large and one small one day jobs last year doing that at a Federal resort hotel. It led to two other commercial jobs with one of the competing contractors I met while attending bid openings for another project where I bid electrical for another general contractor. Walk the walk and talk the talk.


I had walked away from those types of projects for a long time, because of family, but now the kids are grown up and on their own , I started going after Federal projects again. Big money. I did very well last year.



Edit to add: Changes take a longer time than I'm used to , but I got paid for every single one. Same for the payments at the end of the job. I'm still waiting for one more retention pymt due in Feb. The government doesn't let the GC's get away with the usual robbery tricks on subcontractors you find them engaging in out on the street. It's pretty tightly controlled. Downside is wearing long pants , hard toe shoes, hardhat, bla bla bla...........
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Old 02-08-2020, 12:43 PM   #16
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If it’s profitable business, it’s profitable business.
Very true. But is it always profitable? Or is it often a losing endeavor? How often? Enough to make it more worth while to find other avenues?

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To make blanket statements about GC’s makes no sense to me.
This is true, not all GC's are (or will become) bad to work for. But a large portion of them are. And even more will become terrible once they hit their own snags.

Many people can walk thru a tiger cage without the tiger killing them, but it's fair to say that it's not a good idea to do it.
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Old 02-08-2020, 12:57 PM   #17
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I don't officially take no work with GCs but I have a policy that's close to the same outcome.

I structure the payment schedule so that the down payment is heavy, milestones are normal, and the final payment is icing on the cake. Change orders are paid in advance. Late payment is work stoppage and lose your spot in the schedule.

Discuss the schedule in advance so you don't waste money bidding for people that won't work this way. There's no sense being coy about it, if they have a brain in their head they'll know what you're doing. Just tell them you're stretched thin already waiting for other contractors that are behind and can't finance anything for them.

You'll get rid of the bottom feeders immediately and some of the good ones too but I think it's better than saying no thanks, I am not interested in your work.
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Old 02-08-2020, 01:01 PM   #18
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Very true. But is it always profitable? Or is it often a losing endeavor? How often? Enough to make it more worth while to find other avenues?

This is true, not all GC's are (or will become) bad to work for. But a large portion of them are. And even more will become terrible once they hit their own snags.

Many people can walk thru a tiger cage without the tiger killing them, but it's fair to say that it's not a good idea to do it.
I have a GC I have done four jobs with. Profitability has been okay but it’s the kind of profitability that has to be hit and run with fast pay. He’s kind of a whiner, there are always complications and now he’s dragging out the final payment on me. He doesn’t check off all the boxes so, after this, I’m done with him.

I will take a new GC for a spin but won’t expose myself financially. If he doesn’t work out, I can always say goodbye, the same as he can say goodbye to me if he wants.
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Old 02-08-2020, 03:00 PM   #19
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I never thought of going directly to these types of companies to work out some type of referral deal. I've always promoted myself directly to the homeowner, but having the other trades offer up my company as a referral would bring in lots of new business. And I can directly control which type of work it is. Power for mini-splits is a good example of profitable work that I would like more of.
HAX, you and I are cut from the same cloth my man. This was the funniest part for me about business too, the detective work.
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Old 02-08-2020, 03:02 PM   #20
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I will take a new GC for a spin but won’t expose myself financially. If he doesn’t work out, I can always say goodbye, the same as he can say goodbye to me if he wants.
I'd say this sounds pretty legit.
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