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Tough question to answer.
Knocking on doors won't do. GCs won't even let you bid without proven experience, job completions, references, proper insurance, safety programs, etc.
If you bid jobs on bid exchanges, you are bidding to people who don't know you, and you don't know them. If you do "win" one of those jobs, you're too cheap. Any GC that would sign up an unknown low bidder, probably won't be able to pay.
If you are a contractor, you almost need to have friend who is a GC that might give you some small jobs you can start and complete, and start building a reputation.
If you are not a contractor, go to work for a commercial company for a few years and start building experience and relationships.
 

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I work for the biggest commercial outfit in the city, 20 years ago the owner was a one man band resi guy, little steps then putting it all on the line for the big one when it comes.
 

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Work as a sub for more commercial, industrial, or institutional contractors when slow or after hours.

Offer other contractors in other fields that you problem solve issues with permits,etc... Example tree people or roofer/siders always damaging the electric panel or lines.

Offer fire code violations for businesses and rental properties. Certs for electrical conditions.

Electric motor repair and welders installed connected, troubleshot. Paint Booth wiring....etc...

Have a real webpage, professional email address, and a Linkedin profile. Always have business cards on you to hand out.

Take a course in PLC, Pnuematics,or hydraulics.
 

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Be prepared to buy some real tools, not the kind you drill holes into wood with, or bend 1/2'' EMT.

Hand benders go to 1-1/4'' and you cannot always rely on sissy bar, er, I mean unistrut and factory bends. Sometimes you have to saddle or kick , so a good Cyclone or Chicago bender is basic needs. So is good rotary drills and 35 - 50 lb concrete breaking hammers. And maybe scaffolds or a man lift. Concrete saw , Rigid threading machines - pony's are fine up to 2'' if you have a good tripod and pump bucket to go with it. All different size of ladders. Stud punch or two.

Finding the work is only step one. Doing the work is the other step. Most good size cities you can rent most of that stuff, but not all cities or areas.
 

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Be prepared to buy some real tools, not the kind you drill holes into wood with, or bend 1/2'' EMT.

Hand benders go to 1-1/4'' and you cannot always rely on sissy bar, er, I mean unistrut and factory bends. Sometimes you have to saddle or kick , so a good Cyclone or Chicago bender is basic needs. So is good rotary drills and 35 - 50 lb concrete breaking hammers. And maybe scaffolds or a man lift. Concrete saw , Rigid threading machines - pony's are fine up to 2'' if you have a good tripod and pump bucket to go with it. All different size of ladders. Stud punch or two.

Finding the work is only step one. Doing the work is the other step. Most good size cities you can rent most of that stuff, but not all cities or areas.
I have to agree 100% with this gentleman. You need some real tools to get in the game. Also need a way to get them to job site and a way to store them at the jobsite. Not very practical to drive a work van or service truck to a 6 month long commercial job site. Oh wait, what happens when you have two (2) commercial jobs going at the same time, you need two (2) sets of these expensive tools. You may think "well I will only take on one (1) commercial job at a time". Dosen't work like that . I can take 3 to 6 months minimum to get a commercial project started so you always need to be bidding work so you have a backlog. So be prepared to invest at a minimum $25,000 for tools & equip. Last but not least, how are your cash reserves? You need about 50-100K in cash or a good line of credit because your gonna wait (if your lucky) 60 days to get paid. And that is a good payer in the commercial world. Good luck
 

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I am the manager/partner for a small electrical company that specializes in working with insurance companies on fire/water restoration projects. We currently do a lot of service based work (two trucks), and rewire damaged homes. but... I wanna break into the commercial biz. I receive invitations to bid small projects every so often. Unfortunately i always come in "too high". I fear the residential/insurance bidding technique is causing this.

Two questions; #1 When receiving an invitation to bid that includes drawings (in an e-mail), how do you print them out to view? Printers are very costly dont want to invest in one just yet?

#2 Are these e-mailed invitations from GC's that i've never worked with before, a big waste of time.
 

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Ubersparky said:
#1 When receiving an invitation to bid that includes drawings (in an e-mail), how do you print them out to view? Printers are very costly dont want to invest in one just yet?
Put it on a flash drive and take it to Office Depot or Kinko's to have them print it out for you. A couple bucks per sheet.
 

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I remember asking this question over and over again when I first went into business...

All of the commercial I do now I can trace back to doing residential for someone who owned or had say in a commercial property. Start small. Grow slow. Best advice I can give.
This is hands down the best answer. Eventually, it starts coming in more and more. And this ^^^ is what it all started from.
Be prepared to buy some real tools, not the kind you drill holes into wood with, or bend 1/2'' EMT.
I almost always listen to what Mike says, but I disagree here. You don't really need any different tools for small commercial work,other than maybe a stud punch and a few other things which you can pick up at Harbor Freight for a good price.

Big commercial jobs, yeah. But small scale commercial, no way. Heck, you can usually get away with wearing sneakers and no hard hat on 95% of the small stuff, even new construction. :thumbup:
 
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