Benjamin Dyer, CEO of Powered Now, looks at the most common mistakes that electrical business owners make and why they could be costing your business money.
When you’ve run a business for a while you probably do most things right. But it’s also hard to admit the few mistakes you might make. In my experience there tends to be seven areas where electrical contracting businesses will make mistakes:
1. Not dealing with problems quickly
According to research, customers who get issues sorted out fast and efficiently are the most loyal – even more so than people who never had a problem. We all know that things go wrong from time-to-time and all reasonable customers understand that. What they won’t understand is if you don’t make fixing issues a priority. Do it right and you’ll gain a customer for life.
2. Being slow off the mark with quotes
One of the top gripes that potential customers have about tradesmen is the real difficulty of getting quotes out of them; that’s why producing quotes quickly is the easiest way to impress your prospects. You then need to remember to follow them up after a day or two. If you don’t, you run the risk that your competitors will be finalising the business while you’re still fiddling around at home.
3. Missing new opportunities
When you already have plenty of business, it’s tempting to let new opportunities lapse. If instead you slightly raise your prices, you’ll have more chance to pick and choose the best customers. That will make you much more profitable in the longer term, simply in return for being more diligent in churning out quotes.
4. Billing every penny
We know it can be a hassle to raise small invoices for the extras that you’ve agreed with your customer, but if you don’t bill for everything you’re entitled to then you may as well be burning money. A few years ago I talked to the CEO of an invoicing system used by millions of small businesses in North America. He said the biggest benefit his customers told him was making more money – that’s because they invoiced for every little thing. He didn’t promote this as a benefit because he thought that no one would believe it!
5. Dealing with customers that are too tight
Some customers are both incredibly cost conscious and also very picky. Despite getting the deal of the century, they still expect Rolls-Royce treatment.
Unfortunately it’s an equation that only has one solution: you end up making a loss as well as having a horrible time. The best thing is to walk away from these types of customers. What they want can’t be delivered so it’s best not to be the one trying to do it.
6. Not reminding customers of things they really need to remember
This is another mistake that means you miss out on some easy business. There’s a special opportunity with landlords in particular. While it’s true that there’s no annual requirement for an electrical safety check as there is with gas appliances, there is a duty of care. It’s generally acknowledged that regular check-ups are an important protection for both landlord and tenant. The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985 states that electrical installations must be ‘safe when a tenancy begins’ and ‘maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy’, so sending gentle reminders every year or two can yield useful work.
7. Rejecting new things too quickly
If we’re to prosper in business then we need to be open to new ideas, even though most will need to be rejected. My company showed a video on our Facebook page which included a genuine customer talking about how using our product – Powered Now – enabled him to win more business. There were many positive comments but one said: “What a load of rubbish!” I doubt if the person saying this had thought before they posted, let alone actually investigated. Instead, they’d closed the door to the opportunity before they’d even looked at it. If you say ‘no’ to everything new you may well save some time and hassle but you also run the risk of missing out on critical opportunities and advances.
Powered Now’s mobile app aims to take the pain out of paperwork for professional electricians and other trades.