Running an electrical business can be hard work. Simply keeping up with the regulations and making sure your customers are satisfied is a full-time job. In exchange you expect to make a decent return. Benjamin Dyer of Powered Now looks at some of the things that are easy to miss when finding work.
Here at Powered Now we don’t pretend to be able to advise on how to do an EICR or solve any electrical problems. Instead, we talk to lots of people in the trade. From this we try to learn the best practice of running any trade business. It’s in that light I offer the following five tips:
1. Quote quickly
My company’s survey of 1,000 homeowners found that a really common complaint was getting quotes. It really irritates people that quotes either take a long time or never arrive.
In fact, a huge amount of goodwill can be gained by producing your quotes quickly. It means that jobs will often be won, even when you’re the most expensive.
2. Sack bad customers
We all know that the most price-sensitive customers are often the hardest to please.
If you’re winning more business by quoting quickly it gives you more choice. That choice should be used to move on from the people that are hugely demanding but also want a special deal.
70% of all residential work comes from word of mouth or previous experience. If you work with easier to please customers you’ll end up with more work. And it’s more profitable.
3. Price for quality
One of the businesses that we talked to when we first started designing our system had three or four employees. A few years later they have 33 and are currently doing some work on my garden. The owner has a nice place in Florida and takes frequent holidays there.
One of their policies? Don’t be cheap.
The great thing about working with them is that they’re flexible and make sure they do a great job. But it comes at a price. The truth is most people will pay a reasonable premium for a great job.
4. Use a system
Of course, I would say you should use a system, as my company supplies them. But the reason why pretty much every other business sector on the planet is more heavily computerised than the trade is simple. There is benefit in computerisation.
Historically, the trade hasn’t gone this way for a number of reasons. High on that list has been that trade companies are mobile and that software has been expensive and hard to use.
Smartphones, tablets and pay-as-you-go computing have changed all that. Now you can get easy-to-use systems that work out in the field.
Our customers have told us that they save an average of four hours per week on paperwork, plus they can quote faster and look more professional. The result is getting more business and having the free hours to carry out the extra work.
5. Recruit carefully
Once I used a great solicitor for my house purchase. He was good value and always did everything the same day. So, when I needed help with litigation I turned to him.
Nightmare. The work was done by a colleague who was worse than useless. Everything needed chasing and deadlines were never met.
The point of this is that the quality of service you provide is totally dependent on your staff or subbies. They represent the biggest risk to your reputation and quality. These can quickly be ruined by a single bad worker which will lose you tons of work.
That’s why you need to resist the temptation to lower your standards when recruiting, however much you’re under pressure. You also need to take fast action when there is a problem. Again, it doesn’t matter how busy you are. It’s better to delay work than trash your hard-earned reputation.
The bottom line
Being good at the job is the pre-requisite to success when running a trade company. But other factors come into play when it comes to maximising the work you win and the profit that you make. I hope the ideas here stimulate your thoughts and help you in running your business.
Benjamin Dyer is CEO and co-founder of Powered Now. Powered Now’s mobile App aims to take the pain out of paperwork for electricians, as well as other trade businesses.
Find out more about Powered Now by clicking here