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Topic Title: Advice on finding work.....
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Created On: 17 August 2012 12:43 AM
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 17 August 2012 12:43 AM
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DavidSinclair

Posts: 1
Joined: 17 August 2012

Hi all..

I have been working for a large housing association for the last 7 years as a sub contractor doing testing and remedial works on there void (empty properties) anything up to 10 a week and have a couple of people who help me out as and when needed.

As of September they are doing all the work in house

This is my fault and my fault only as I have got myself in a situation where I have had all my eggs in one basket...When I went self employed 6 years ago I was doing other bits and pieces but as the phone stopped ringing (noticed a huge slow down from about 2010) I accepted all the work they could give me.....

Because I have had my head buried in the sand it now seems that little people like myself have serious problems getting the good stuff. Buidling sites and renovations no longer seem to have lots of little people and seem to be big companies carrying out the work.

I have tried a few housing associations so far but none have been very positive as I am just another electrician looking to sub contract..they must get loads contacting them now the building industry has slowed down. Three of the five ive contacted have said they do everything in house and the other two said its not worth registering with them....

There are 104 housing associations in Dorset and Hampshire so I am going to try and go through the list.

What do you think is the best approach is when contacting them? I am asuming its best to talk to the contracts manager or similar on the phone, write letters or try and get a meeting etc?

I am NIC approved, all standard qualifications including test and inspection, insured, have asbestos awareness certificate, health and safety policy, method statements, risk assesments, VAT registered, CIS gross status...apart from a lot of luck can you think of anything else that might improve my chances?...I suppose the fact ive tested and brought up to date several thousand social housing properties, understand the schedule or rates etc should go in my favour?

I suppose targeting letting agents and property management companies would also be a good option

Thanks

Edited: 17 August 2012 at 12:50 AM by DavidSinclair
 17 August 2012 07:07 AM
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tomgunn

Posts: 3250
Joined: 25 May 2005

Hello David....

If Cinders wants work then you can! In my limited time as a sparks, over 40 years, whenever I was quiet I used to get my NIC EIC members book out and the thing is do NOT write to anyone as the letter will end up in the dustbin file. So what you need to do is to start from your local area and work outwards and each company, its best to 'feel' out the bigger firms, you contact always ask for the 'contracts manager' and go from there... it may be a bit daunting for the first couple of calls but you will soon get into the grove... maybe an idea would be to create a small list on paper next to you... and work your way through this when you chat with the contracts manager.

The other thing you can do is to go through the Yellow pages.... once again do NOT write to anyone... always phone them... this includes building companies as you may find that most change their sub-contractors quite a lot due to the amount of poor sparks about. Work out what you want to charge per hour but state also that you'd prefer 'price work' and when pushed you require a weekly / interim draw on any monies - no exceptions! If they want to pay you monthly move on... not too bad to accept a week in hand.. but any large works take a deposit and the way I worked was that I preferred the electrical companies to supply all of the materials... KISS, ( Keep It Simple Stupid! ), and that way it makes life somewhat easier!

The next thing that also works is to create a 'flyer' yep I know... but it WILL work... find a good local distributer, ( you can usually find them by looking at the bottom of a recent flyer that you have had popped through your letter box!! ), and send out 1000's and it wont cost that much!

Other obvious thing to do is to put an advert in the local rag... not one that I would use for sparking to be honest but it could be worth a try for a month as you will get a 10% discount.

Another thing to do, and a good one, is to place an advert in your local Sainsburys / other, with a proper firm but always check to see where they place their stands.. if its not by the exit then don't do it also NEVER go with a 'digital' set up... firms that offer digital advertising as it's a complete waste of time and money... you have been warned! The best place for this is in your local Wickes and the best times that I had as a builder was when B&Q, ( by the way B&Q stands for Black and Quayle, (( not sure of the spilling though!! )), ... 2 friends that started the company up years ago... so now ya know! ))), and I had 3 main ads dotted around my local area with them but then a Canadian took over the advertising side and removed everything but wherever you do advertise then it's a MUST to check out where their boards area as with Homebase I found that their boards where either by the customers service area and in one case was actually covered up by some crap laying around so its always best to check but the super stores are a top place to be but you may find that you might not get in to the local ones as they only allow a certain amount per trade to go on their boards.... but it's a defenate goer!!!

Good luck!

regards... Tom

-------------------------
Tom .... ( The TERMINATOR ).

handyTRADESMAN ... haha

Castle Builders

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Edited: 17 August 2012 at 07:16 AM by tomgunn
 17 August 2012 11:49 AM
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mikejumper

Posts: 1824
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Originally posted by: DavidSinclair
There are 104 housing associations in Dorset and Hampshire so I am going to try and go through the list.

What do you think is the best approach is when contacting them? I am asuming its best to talk to the contracts manager or similar on the phone, write letters or try and get a meeting etc?

I think that's a good idea given your previous experience.

Introductory letters are ok if they get to the right person and are followed up by a telephone call very soon after receipt.
It also gives you a starting point in your telephone conversation and is therefore less of a 'cold call'.

Have a bit of a practice or write down what you're going to say on the phone. If they say 'not today thankyou' ask if it's ok to call back in a few weeks in case the situation changes.

With the right approach and that many housing associations, I'd be surprised if you didn't get any new customers.

Good luck.
 17 August 2012 12:33 PM
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stateit

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Originally posted by: tomgunn

... this includes building companies as you may find that most change their sub-contractors quite a lot due to the amount of poor sparks about


Rephrase:

... this includes building companies as you may find that most change their sub-contractors quite a lot due to the fact they don't pay them and then think "We'll move on to the next poor sucker now.", while rubbing their hands with glee.


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 17 August 2012 01:13 PM
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broadgage

Posts: 1358
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If that does not work, try approaching public house companies.
Not individual publicans, but companies with a number of pubs, bars or restaurants within reasonable distance.

Most pubs have dodgy wiring and need several call outs a year to repair faults and carry out minor improvements.

If going for this type of work, be aware that lot of it involves refrigeration systems. If not familiar with refrigeration works it is worth learning a little about this, only the electrical aspects though.

A friend does quite a bit of work like this, both call outs to blow ups and breakdowns, and planned works*.

If the pub manager is satisfied with the work, you may get more by word of mouth.

*A recent example was to REMOVE RCD protection from ring final circuits, and then to replace each socket with an RCD type.
The idea being to avoid tripping the whole circuit, rather than one socket.
Another one was a grossly overloaded ring final in a pub kitchen, someone had already uprated the MCB from 32 amps to 50 amps, and it still tripped. Had to be replaced with AFAIR 6 radial circuits, each supplying only 2 twin sockets.
 17 August 2012 03:49 PM
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tomgunn

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Originally posted by: stateit

Originally posted by: tomgunn



... this includes building companies as you may find that most change their sub-contractors quite a lot due to the amount of poor sparks about




Rephrase:



... this includes building companies as you may find that most change their sub-contractors quite a lot due to the fact they don't pay them and then think "We'll move on to the next poor sucker now.", while rubbing their hands with glee.


Hahaha! Exactly... and thats why you must keep the money weekly!

Tom

-------------------------
Tom .... ( The TERMINATOR ).

handyTRADESMAN ... haha

Castle Builders

Why did Nick Clegg cross the road? Because he said he wouldn't!

I can resist anything..... except temptation! ( Karl Gunn ).
 18 August 2012 07:15 PM
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davyn1

Posts: 2856
Joined: 01 August 2004

accept all the little jobs others turn down this is where you make the money,as these people tell there friends and you get a regular customer base
just my opinion??
davy

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just because i'm paranoid doesn't mean theyre not out to get me
 18 August 2012 09:03 PM
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circle143

Posts: 220
Joined: 19 July 2007

I thinks its true for most places and definitely for my area - its not what you know but who you know. I try not to be pushy - but I find the best way to get work is by networking through word of mouth, just letting literally everyone know that I provide an electrical service at a reasonable price, and good news does spread!
 19 August 2012 09:16 AM
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JZN

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Joined: 16 November 2006

I found that advertising in the obvious places is largely a waste of time. I once had a few months in the local weekly paper and also about a year in a local "trust a trade" type mag. Lots of calls along the lines of "can you come and quote me for changing a couple of light fittings". I know oak trees come from acorns but it really was a waste of time and money.

If advertising try targetting a bit more. I used the local branch of the National Child Birth Trust a few years back. Dead cheap. Not a massive circulation list but i got a few juicy jobs from it. They have lots of upper-middle-class-with-a-bit-of-cash types as members so if you turn up on time, look respectable, are well spoken and nmake the effort not to make a mess in their nice houses and don't take the mick when billing, then you are on their list of tradesmen for keeps. They also tell their friends and family.

I also found the Parish magazine in some of the local villages was worth while for the same reasons.

Best of luck
John
 19 August 2012 02:49 PM
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GJH

Posts: 501
Joined: 24 January 2008

Marketing and advertising your business takes time.

I used to do loads of subbying work, mainly for one company. Thinking the same as you about having all eggs in one basket, last November i decided to go out and promote my own business and try and get more of my own local work.

I joined a local networking group just to meet other local businesses and to get my name out there. I advertise on their website, and for the first month/6 weeks i got nothing from it. I kept going just to give it a go for a bit longer and now i am getting 2-3 calls a week from it.

I have done about 10 days subbying since January, the rest of the time has been my own work. Its not a fast track thing, but as your name gets out there and you grow a reputation the work will come.

An advert in the local paper for 2 weeks wont get you much - if anything. And its expensive for what you get.

Get on Facebook and twitter and use social media aswell, the likes of yell.com, thomsons etc didnt work for me.

Leaflets are good - i get 5,000 delivered every 3-4 months and get about 20 calls of each drop. That costs me about £200. Need to be good quality leaflets though, i used to send out black and white ones on a piece of A4 and didnt get a sniff.

Good luck!!!
 19 August 2012 05:01 PM
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sparkingchip

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From a personal point of view I would say keep well away from BT Website Solutions or any of their related businesses

Also keep away from away website where people can leave "feedback and reviews" on you, as a plumber I know will testify you only need one troll to start trying to give you a bad name to mess up a lot of hard work.

Andy
 21 August 2012 11:00 PM
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sparkingchip

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How did you get the work you are now losing in the first place?


Andy
 22 August 2012 06:34 AM
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Jaymack

Posts: 4789
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Originally posted by: GJH
Get on Facebook and twitter and use social media aswell,

I've thought about this, but how does advertising on Facebook and T*itter etc. get you work? How do people find a company on a "Follow Me" exercise?

Regards
 22 August 2012 09:02 AM
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tomgunn

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Personally I think those types of places, twitter, are a void on the net where its just an absolute waste of time.... that my own opinion.... go for if you wish... but i would guess its a load of talk about nothing.

Tom

-------------------------
Tom .... ( The TERMINATOR ).

handyTRADESMAN ... haha

Castle Builders

Why did Nick Clegg cross the road? Because he said he wouldn't!

I can resist anything..... except temptation! ( Karl Gunn ).
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