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Old 02-27-2015, 04:55 PM   #1
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I have an online work request form on my website. Today I got this and was looking for some feedback for a proper response. Whenever I don't know what to do i try everything until I find something that works. You know, like formal proposal and language contained in that email.

So this is what I got today:

Good Afternoon, A couple of light switches in my home flicker and sometimes take a long time to turn on when the light switch in positioned to the "on" position. Would you please advise what might cause this and the estimated cost to repair?

In addition to the above, I would like to get a estimated cost of install a separate breaker box for the common areas of apartment building. Would you please advise an estimated cost? Thank you.

And this was my response:

Hello Ma’am,

I get asked this question a lot. “How much” is a tough question to answer without having actually seen the work.

Kind of like buying a new ‘used car’. No one would offer a price without first seeing the car. Right?

So, what we’d like to do is come out and meet with you and see the work you’ve requested.

There is a $60.00 fee and it will be deducted from the final cost if you choose to have us do the work.

Please let me know if you’re available Saturday afternoon (tomorrow) so we can come out.

Thank you.

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Old 02-27-2015, 04:58 PM   #2
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Seems like a legitimate response to an illegitimate question to me.

I wonder if you'll ever hear back from her.

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Old 02-27-2015, 05:33 PM   #3
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Although we would like to reply with "couple switches $350" "new sub panel $3700", we know this response will weed them out almost instantly.

You did the right thing by offering to come out and getting the chance to "sell" yourself so as to extract as much work as you can from this customer.

Your response was a little grough, but hey it's NJ. She feels ya.
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Old 02-27-2015, 06:57 PM   #4
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I constantly get people asking "how much" on the phone and via e-mail or website message. I always tell them that I can't say for sure and I would be happy to come out and give an estimate, but some of them still push for a "ballpark" price. Those people are usually the ones who are contacting 15 electrician and going to pick the one with the lowest ballpark price, as if it means anything.

As for your exact e-mail, I would first ask if they own that apartment building or are the agent of the owner and have written consent to contract work.

Then I would explain that the problem with the switches need to be diagnosed and I would give the troubleshooting prices.

Thirdly, I would inform them that while I was there on the service call for the switches, I would be happy to check out the panels and give an estimate to upgrade them.
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Old 02-27-2015, 07:14 PM   #5
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Welcome back man!
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Old 02-27-2015, 07:31 PM   #6
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The couple of switches was the real question.

The house panel question was the carrot-on-a-stick come-on to entice you to do the switches for as close to free as possible in the hopes you'll get the real job which is never going to get done because nobody will do it for what they're willing to pay.
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Old 02-27-2015, 07:55 PM   #7
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Yeah, I agree on the "carrot on a stick" theory no the panel thing.

Me, this is NJ and Linden isn't the nicest town (it's not that bad, though) and I'm smelling a few old fluorescent light fixtures/ ballasts as being the problem on the switches.

The owners panel could be seriously complicated if the house is really old because all of the circuits would have to be isolated and possibly rewired during the process.

She actually emailed me back and we'll be going to look at the work on Tuesday (pending approval date and time).

So, 1 for 1 with this "new" technique.
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Old 02-27-2015, 07:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete m. View Post
Seems like a legitimate response to an illegitimate question to me.

I wonder if you'll ever hear back from her.

Pete
She replied back.

Now we'll see if we can convert them to a sale!

And if not, at least I didn't waste my time.
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:03 PM   #9
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Have you been charging for estimates for a while or is this a new thing?

You get a credit card over the phone or ask for a check when you go there?
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Have you been charging for estimates for a while or is this a new thing?

You get a credit card over the phone or ask for a check when you go there?
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Old 02-27-2015, 10:09 PM   #11
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That's it. I want Cletus back too. Vote yes for Cletus.
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Old 02-27-2015, 10:22 PM   #12
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Let's try to keep this on topic please.
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Old 02-27-2015, 10:46 PM   #13
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O yes please. It'd be one of the few.
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Old 02-27-2015, 11:00 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Let's try to keep this on topic please.
Hey!

We missed you
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Old 02-27-2015, 11:05 PM   #15
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welcome back, Hax. stay cool, man
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Old 02-28-2015, 09:46 AM   #16
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Magnettica, years ago you said that when you did a job that required a permit you mailed the permit application to the customer and let them take it to the building department.

I'm about ready to do that, I am so sick of wasted hours driving around the block in some town's center trying to find a parking spot, paying the stupid electronic meters, then waiting behind some homeowner asking why her deck built out of 2X4's won't pass inspection.

When you send the permit application tot he customer, do you send just the 4 copes of the electrical permit and let get the permit sleeve (the folder) themselves and fill it out at the building department? Or do you fill out the sleeve yourself and mail it to the customer?
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Old 02-28-2015, 05:44 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HackWork View Post
Magnettica, years ago you said that when you did a job that required a permit you mailed the permit application to the customer and let them take it to the building department.

I'm about ready to do that, I am so sick of wasted hours driving around the block in some town's center trying to find a parking spot, paying the stupid electronic meters, then waiting behind some homeowner asking why her deck built out of 2X4's won't pass inspection.

When you send the permit application tot he customer, do you send just the 4 copes of the electrical permit and let get the permit sleeve (the folder) themselves and fill it out at the building department? Or do you fill out the sleeve yourself and mail it to the customer?
I send the permits directly to the building department, not the customer.

As for the payments.. a check is suffice but I should be asking for a credit card ahead of time.

Is this what you do?
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Old 02-28-2015, 06:32 PM   #18
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I don't charge for estimates. I may one day when I get busy enough, but for now I'm still looking to build. I know that a lot of my best customers would've never paid for an estimate and I would have lost them. A lot of contractors have success with charging for estimates and I hope to be one someday.
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Old 02-28-2015, 06:44 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Magnettica, years ago you said that when you did a job that required a permit you mailed the permit application to the customer and let them take it to the building department.

I'm about ready to do that, I am so sick of wasted hours driving around the block in some town's center trying to find a parking spot, paying the stupid electronic meters, then waiting behind some homeowner asking why her deck built out of 2X4's won't pass inspection.

When you send the permit application tot he customer, do you send just the 4 copes of the electrical permit and let get the permit sleeve (the folder) themselves and fill it out at the building department? Or do you fill out the sleeve yourself and mail it to the customer?

I know this is about NJ, but we have the same antiquated permit system here, right down to the lack of parking. There's usually one person at the town office who handles them and you have to wait in line behind all the other trades and homeowners who might be in there. You fill out a paper form which the clerk manual types into a computer…could that process not be handled ahead of time?
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Old 02-28-2015, 06:50 PM   #20
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Everything else that the state is involved in can be done through a website. Paying income tax, paying sales tax, registering the company yearly, etc. There's no reason why we shouldn't be able to go online and pull a permit and pay for it right then and there on the website. New Jersey has a uniform construction code for every municipality anyway so it would be very easy to implement.
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