When an electrician starts out on his own, he takes pride in doing everything himself.
This electrician—let’s call him Paul—runs his own social media and website while cobbling together a DIY system of one-off tools for online reviews, phone calls, and bid requests. Eventually, Paul grows enough to hire techs to step back from service work and start thinking bigger.
“Finally,” he thinks, “I can focus on growth.”
But now he spends his spare time on payroll, scheduling, dispatch, field management, and the growing cost of parts and labor. Time he hoped to spend on bids and developing relationships with GCs or big-name builders is spent assigning service jobs, cutting checks, or cutting costs. He’s winning more business, but it’s getting harder to manage.
He gets a call from people offering to set him up with CRM software. It sounds useful, but he doesn’t want to spend money on anything new unless he grows faster. He turns them down. “When I have more revenue,” he promises himself.
Instead, Paul hires even more techs to give himself breathing room, but his overhead is catching up to his profits. More techs means more grinding. He feels like he should be a commander overlooking the whole battlefield, but he is stuck in the trenches more every day.
Thankfully, his work is solid and his reputation spreads. There’s a problem, though: while his business appears to scale well, revenue can barely keep up with costs. The margin is shrinking.
Then, it finally happens: a major contractor invites Paul to bid for a major project—the sort of project that could launch his business to the next level. But, as he crunches the numbers, he realizes that there’s simply not enough time in the day; he can’t hire more techs without losing profits. He’s caught in a trap and didn’t see it until it was too late.
Changing the Story
What if Paul hadn’t tried doing it all himself to save money? What if he’d built himself a sturdy launchpad that gave his business the room to grow 5x, 10x, 20x bigger without getting lost in the day-to-day? What if he invested in the infrastructure of his business instead of scrambling to make a parachute while in freefall?
The fact is, your best competitors understand what every high performer eventually learns: you’re only as good as your system.
The Challenges of Running an Electrical Business in the 2020s
Payroll eats up a third of electrical business revenue. Aging electricians and low numbers of young people entering the trade mean competition for labor is fierce (and expensive). Even if you can find techs, how many of them know their way around a panel AND can talk to customers well? Fixed costs are rising while bids for residential and non-residential projects alike are getting more competitive.
To claim a larger share of big-ticket contracts, electricians are learning they need to think beyond nickels and dimes. At the same time, they need to make sure they’re investing their capital in the right places. It’s not like when our dads or granddads were running things—there’s no room for wasted dollars any more.
These are the critical questions an electrical contracting business needs to answer today:
How do you ensure your techs spend less time driving and more time earning?
How do you improve your online reputation 24/7 without sacrificing hours of your day?
How do you increase value without increasing payroll costs?
How do you identify and develop relationships with your highest-value clients?
How do you turn a promising contact into a lifelong source of business?
Implementing and leveraging the right system gives you the power to answer these questions by maximizing the one resource you cannot replace: time. Time to set a vision, time for high-value calls and meetings, time to uncover new insights about where you’re headed next—that’s what your struggling competitors are missing.
Unlike Paul, you can get out of the trenches and into the war room.
Get Straight to Business
The latest business data shows CRMs have an ROI of between $10 and $30 per $1 spent. But the typical CRM is like a nice sports car—you might get somewhere faster, but you’re still going the same way as everyone else.
The biggest difference between the most successful and fastest-growing electrical contractors and the rest of them who are stuck in rush hour traffic is this: the most successful owners found a way to escape the spiral of working in the business. Instead, they chose to make the time investment to optimize and automate as many processes as possible. They chose to make the time to stop doing things that could be done by systems instead of people.
They chose to start by freeing up enough time so they could start working on their business instead of always just working in their business.