Maybe it’s the relatively high salary, maybe it’s an interest in all things electrical, maybe it’s the on-the-job training. Whatever the reason, becoming an electrical contractor in California is a wise decision for many.
If you aren’t already a licensed electrician in California, you’ll need to get your license first. Luckily, the California state website has a lot of information on the Electrician Certification Program. They even have a handy guide on how to become an Electrician Trainee. The process takes approximately four years to become a licensed electrician in California.
If you are already licensed, then the first thing you should do is read our checklist for starting a contractor business in California. The following tips will not only help you out as you get started, but can also help you out during lean times, too.
Prepare for managing customers
Obviously, any business will have customers and getting a plan in place on how to handle them is the first step.
Have a professional website
Without a doubt, customers have become more and more web savvy. In order to give a professional appearance, having a website that has easy navigation, a clear call to action (aka. schedule an appointment), and a way to easily contact you through a form or email.
Have a customer database
Make sure you have a central location to manage all of your contacts and customers. Having a bunch of unorganized lists of contacts in different places will impede your business process. There are numerous customer relationship management (CRM) systems available. Find one that fits your company’s needs now and in the future.
We also highly recommend building customer reporting into your normal workflow. Having a report of when each customer was last contacted, future contact recommendations, and new contacts will help you keep leads in the pipeline. The time it takes to organize your customer database now (before your company is booming) will pay off in the future.
Build Your Contact List
You may be the best electrician in town, but if you don’t have customers, your business will not thrive. Once you are at the point of opening your own business, you should have built up a fair amount of contacts. Even if work is steady, it is important to continuously build your contact list; you never know when a downturn will hit until you’re in one.
Contact General Contractors
Set up meetings with general contractors that you’d like to work with. Even if you have a fancy new office, it is better to go to them so that they are more comfortable. Recommend a mid-morning meeting when people are still fresh, but not side-tracked by urgent business that came up over night. It also gives you an opportunity to take them to lunch, if the situation permits.
Contact Real Estate Businesses
Contact real estate businesses in the areas in which you’d like to work and offer your electrical services. Electrical work is often needed to get a home ready for sale or to close a deal as required by a city inspector. Commercial agents often need electrical services before leasing a property. Even if the agents do not need your services, may provide referrals to colleagues and clients.
Create a Customer Retention Program
The best businesses are ones that are built on repeat business. If you’re working with a general contractor (GC), chances are you may not have much direct exposure to the client. One way to get to interact with the customer directly and to keep the GC happy is to offer a warranty period. By guaranteeing your work for a certain amount of time, you will have the opportunity to introduce yourself to the customer and ensure that the end-user has all of your contact information should any problems arise. Hopefully, if you’ve done your job well, there won’t be and they’ll be calling you or referring you when new work is needed.
If your electrical business is in California and you are interested in getting a construction surety bond or general contractor insurance, please fill out this form and we can get a thorough, cost-effective construction insurance and surety bond estimate to you.