Ben Curry, Owner of Electrical Innovations, tells us more about how his company put its time to good use over lockdown and why business is booming as a result.
I won’t lie, the last 12-14 months have been pretty wild for us as a business.
If we cast our minds back to well over a year ago now, when the first lockdown originally kicked off, I genuinely had no idea how business might go for us. My team were furloughed and I found myself at home not knowing if or when we’d ever be returning to work. During this period I decided that I’d make the most of some of the free time I had available and set about working ON the business, rather than IN it.
The next five weeks saw me in the office working solidly on building a new website, recording YouTube videos on our CCTV and alarm systems offering, and ensuring we were not forgotten as a company. I was determined that COVID-19 and its repercussions were not going to beat our company and we would use our time off to grow and develop. Our small, local electrical business has boomed as a result.
Getting the basics right At the start of 2020 we employed one electrician, Colin, along with myself. Brad, our 2nd year apprentice, and my wife Kelly were then tasked with doing our office work and getting things moving with social media marketing.
Social media is a place that we’ve really ramped up our efforts so as to boost our company name in the local area, constantly putting out updates and ensuring the posts are interesting and engaging. We focus on a good mixture of our electrical work, our lifestyles, photos of the team, the vans, along with funny and interesting things we find at jobs. We also make sure our presence is known on local social media platforms.
The part that has really rocketed our business, however, is the fact that we keep to the promises we make in our posts and marketing materials, such as:
● Answering the phone when it rings
● Getting back to customers when we say we will
● On the spot quotes, or fast-as-possible turnaround times
● Highest standards of work
● Communication about all aspects of the job
● Clean and tidy staff who turn up in new, sign written vans wearing proper uniforms
● Insured and background checked.
Nice touches like the ever-present boot covers, face masks, PPE, carpet protectors and company mats placed down before our tool bags go on them are all things that customers really seem to appreciate and value. We ensure that we leave our customers with a clean and tidy home and, as importantly, a standard of work that they’re happy with.
I believe that this attitude has largely contributed to the amount of work we’re now seeing, as we’re constantly recommended via word of mouth or through local social media sites. We’ve also gained hundreds of reviews across Google, Facebook, CheckATrade and other online referral platforms.
Growing the family
By August of last year we found ourselves in the position where we needed some extra assistance in the office to cope with the number of queries we were fielding. Charlene, a part time PA, soon arrived to fill that role and it didn’t take her long to settle into a permanent full time Office Manager position.
Two new electricians joined us a couple of months later, with Harley and Frazer starting on the same day. Ironically, both lads already knew each other from their college studies. Amazingly, we found that we were still struggling to keep up with demand so, just before Christmas, we added a second apprentice to the team.
New year, new challenges
The enforced 3-4 month lockdown that was re-introduced at the beginning of this year obviously brought with it some significant challenges, including team members having to isolate from one another, panicked late night calls from customers who’d had to cancel jobs due to being symptomatic and also having ours and our customers’ homes transformed into home schooling hubs.
That said, we’ve followed all the guidance properly and, as per the first lockdown, we made sure we put our time to productive use by building a new office and purchasing two new vans for the business. It was an amazing feeling to take delivery of a brand new 21 plate Transit Connect and to subsequently pass it on to one of the team. In March we even took on our 9th team member – Sean.
To make sure we’re up to speed and ready to take advantage of new business opportunities that are available to electrical businesses, we’ve signed up for OZEV to install EV chargers under the grant scheme. We’ve also taken on additional training in CCTV, alarms, and further electrical qualifications.
Realising our potential
When I look back to life at the time we originally started the business, the biggest hurdle was finding work and making sure we had enough to keep us ticking over. In the last two years the scales have tipped completely and my biggest challenge now is finding the right type of people to join our team, who share our values and approach to quality.
Over time, I’ve tried to build our company into the sort of place I’d loved to have worked as an employee:
● Local and interesting work, carried out for good people
● Overtime available if you want it, but not expected or required
● No working away from home
● The opportunity to learn and advance in your career
● Use quality brands and products only
● Smart, branded vans, workwear and tools/equipment.
The family has just grown by two more bodies, as we’ve recently appointed a security engineer and an electrician’s mate/adult improver, both of who started last month.
We can always be better
As the business owner I reflect and consider every day how we could do a better job of increasing the service levels we offer, such as faster response times or fitting in a job for a customer that bit sooner, and much of this is based on finding the right individuals that can help to grow the business.
Employing and investing in apprentices is a big part of this future plan. If we were to never hire an ‘experienced’ individual again, and instead introduced two new apprentices to the business each year to replace the ones that are becoming qualified, this would represent a really strong, organic growth in itself.
Obviously it can be difficult for a small business to cover the overheads associated with employing an apprentice, but I strongly feel that they’re required and are going to be so important to the future of not only my own business, but the electrical industry in general.
The last 14 months have clearly been the most difficult that many will experience in their lifetime, and every business will have been affected in different ways. For us, however, that period has ended up being one of the most exciting and prosperous in our company’s relatively short lifetime.