How I failed marketing my electrical contracting business…

Let me share with you a quick story of the journey I went on to become an electrical contractor. All the while envisioning being the owner of a successful electrical business.

Where I thought it would give me more free timemoney and control of my life…. really it took over my life.

Why would you start an electrical business….?

Before starting my own electrical business, I worked for an electrical company for five-plus years. I spent so much time there, each week pushing hard to meet the deadlines for the company — truth be told, all my efforts went towards making the owners of the company more wealth. All that I was left with when I walked out the door, was my tool bag and trade experience, none of which I could consider an asset.

If you have read Rich Dad Poor Dad, an Asset is something that increases your wealth.

My thinking was… what if I could turn my skills as an Electrician into an electrical business and make a profit, without me physically being on the job?

This would turn the business into an asset that could potentially set me up to be in control of my time. Time, after all, is one of our most valuable resources, and I wanted to spend it however I liked it!

My short-term vision was focused on having adventures and traveling to different places. Long term, this would allow me to support my family, whilst also giving me the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends.

A book that I find helpful in turning your electrical skills into a business is The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It

In my twenties, I thought, I could have, and wanted both to travel… while having my small electrical business working for me… and I could be working on it from a far…. Well as you might know from experience…. Not all dreams go to plan!

Thinking back on this one of my business partners did have the freedom to work on the business while I was on the ground running the electrical business!

Starting an electrical contracting business

This seemed to happen to me quite a lot… when I was talking to people and they find out, “oh your an Electrician… could you help me with…” something around the home….

This was in the back of my mind going through my Apprenticeship and I found a few mates with a similar goal in mind…. to own a successful electrical business…. which led us to start a new company called Bee Electrical…

Inspired by the Bee Movie we had watched at the time.

Now in Australia, in order to start an electrical contracting business, you need to cover these basics:

  • You must be a licensed electrician. This can be accomplished by doing an apprenticeship for 4 years, under a licensed electrical contractor and passing your final exam called a capstone.
  • From there you need to do a couple of extra weeks further study to get your electrical contractors certificate.
  • Then register for an Australian business license.
  • Purchase some insurance for your electrical business.
  • Once you have all this you can then apply to get your electrical contractor license. Once you have applied this can take a few weeks or months to come through.

Once all the legal electrical requirements are out the way.

With that, we went ahead and got our logo designed, got some shirts made up, and purchased an old Panel van as our first vehicle. The van was not fancy but was big enough that we could throw all our tools and material in there, the only issue was… finding what you needed in a quick manner as everything was just rolling around in the back of the van.

We would have all loved to start working for our own electrical company straight away, however, this was not possible because….

How do you find people who need some electrical work done ? that are not friends or family…

So we started working the few jobs we had on while still working full-time for another company. This was fun for the first few jobs to test out running our business process, however, to make any real money we need to learn how to market our small electrical business so we could grow into the company we wanted to be!

Marketing our first electrical business

In the contractor’s course, they touch on some marketing and talk about doing a SWOT analysis of your competitors. Doing this what we discovered that they all had a bigger budget than us, with their fancy webpages and pay per click advertising on google.

We looked at googles pay per click ads but at around $20 plus dollars per click, we just didn’t see how to make that work! At 5 clicks that would be $100 for 5 people to just go to your website…

Not really sure what to do… our marketing efforts at this point involved putting an ad in the yellow pages, newspapers and other sites where you could list your business. This seems to be an affordable way to go…

We didn’t yet have a website…we did manage to create our Facebook page fan page though… We looked at hiring someone for SEO but this seemed expensive and would take 6 months plus to possibly see some results….

While reading the newspaper at work I came across an ad selling a franchise…. this could be the opportunity for us…

Electrical Franchise For Sale….

We then decided to take the franchise path, while you had to pay the fees to buy into the brand, plus ongoing costs… they had the established brand power. Plus… and this was the biggest selling point for us, they already had customers calling in requesting electrical work to be done… which was our biggest issue at this point…

This franchise had customers waiting for 6 months to get their electrical work done, Talk about the power of a brand!

From our cheap little van… to a fully decked out brand new work vehicle, we were now very excited to begin, as we could see a real electrical business starting to form and we could now compete with the bigger players in the field.

It was exciting to I quit my job because I had my own business to walk into!

I remember our first job under the franchise banner.

We arrived in a brand new van, all wrapped with the brand’s logo and decked out with a full set of gear, shelves, and material… this time round we meant business!

We had invested a lot of money into this about 60 thousand plus and were only able to do so because one of my business partners was able to fund the endeavor …now we were ready to go… for this electrical job we had decided to charge per hour. Thinking this would make it fare, as we were not really sure how long it would take, however, in hindsight we should this was a bad idea.

The owner was nice but… watching us as we moved….& he made sure to inform us that his dad was an Antenna guy so he knew everything…. & under the pressure, we cracked and made mistakes… more than I would like to admit.

As this was our first job working together. My apprentice was not experienced in small domestic jobbing electrical work at all! We only had one set of power tools and we left a mess behind as we installed each new powerpoint in a slow and disorganized fashion!

After we finally managed to finish the job and were relieved to get out of there… However, the job was not over yet!

This is one reason why customers use and trust the franchises model, They have someone to go to if they are not happy with the work done and this owner was not impressed…

He was a fan of the franchise and we had not lived up to the expectation and he called the franchisor who managed our division and … we ended up having to go back and fix a few things plus offer some additional compensation to sweeten the blow…

Note: Had we just charged a fixed price… this would have made the whole situation different! I’m happy to say that the customer did use us again in the future.

With the franchise we were able to grow the business, however, the main issues we kept running into were:

  • It seemed hard to find some reliable Electricians and the good ones left to start their own electrical businesses! I would wager we went through 10 electricians to find 1 decent one!
  • Keeping a steady flow of work for the team of Electricians we had created was also a challenge even with the franchise.
  • The bigger we grew the more stress there seemed to be… some times I felt that, all I did was run around after the Electrician fixing the mess of f#@* ups that they created.

With that said I also thought expanding was a good idea!

As it happened I had a mate that was also an Electrician that wanted to get out of the electrical business, so I decided to buy it from him and see if I could run the 2 side by side…

It was interesting to see the strengths of how the franchise vs the self-made electrical business worked….

Then, however, my European girl-friend and I decided to move to Europe so she could be closer to her family… this put a spanner in the works and I ended up selling both electrical businesses…

Letting go of this electrical business that I had put so many hours into over the last 5 years was a hard thing to do… Selling the one I had just purchased was much easier to let go of…

How to make a living in Europe…

When in Europe I looked into getting a job an Electrician, however, they paid as much as a cleaner so I wasn’t at all interested!

I had to think creatively, how could I make a living in Europe, where I didn’t speak the local language….

This is when I went and offered a turn-key solution to hosts on Airbnb!

As luck would have it I found someone who owned a million-dollar mansion and only wanted to live in Europe part of the time!

Now, while I managed this listing, I had some spare time to study the art of marketing and learned of something called a sales funnel!

Looking around I found many different people in different industry’s making over a million dollars using the power of a sale funnel.

However, I did not see anyone doing this in the electrical area and that is what I plan to change…

What if.. you could build an automated sales funnel that could help you acquire new customers and make sales for you…. wouldn’t that help your electrical business… so if this is something that would interest you, for your business, this is the podcast you need to listen to!

That being said, I would love to hear what you guys think and if you could leave me some feedback on the idea of this, that would be great….

This would allow me to see if there are other electricians, that would be interested… As I wish I had this marketing knowledge when I was running my electrical business.

If there is interest I will share my journey as I build electrical sales funnels, look forward to hearing from you!

Regards

James

Marketing Secrets For Electricians