All you electricians out there, what do you think makes a good electrician?
Not an easy question to answer when you consider how many hundreds and thousands of you are plying your trade worldwide. Difficult to find a common denominator among self-employed contractors, small outfits with 10 employees, or big ones with a 100, and between emerging and mature economies.
The electrician I want to talk about is the kind working in the home and small buildings. Chiefly, those of you who work in the mature economies, with regulations and mandatory standards. The trade is a highly skilled one, where quality brings added value and where there’s not much to choose between the good and the best.
Is electrician a trade like any other?
Well, yes and no. Take a salesperson in a shop. The more they sell, the more they earn. Up to a point, you could say that’s true of you electricians, too. But what about shops that do brisk business in tacky goods because they’re well situated – like a souvenir shop in a touristy area?
But electricians can’t afford – either ethically or commercially – not to deliver good goods. The best build their customer base through work that’s well done. Like a chef in a good restaurant. When he or she is outstanding, the cuisine is more than good – it bears the chef’s special touch. Which brings in the patrons. Who tell their friends who tell their friends.
That’s how it goes with you electricians, too, how you build their business. When your expertise and professionalism exceed customer expectations then the customer passes it on.
What’s good electrical work? And what’s the best?
The comparison with a chef is nearer the mark. You electricians build trade by word of mouth because you’re good. And, actually – but I’ll talk about that later – because you use the right “ingredients”, too.
So … what’s a good job? It’s safe, proficient, efficient, well finished. The fittings – outlets, switches, lights are well placed. Practical, convenient, comfortable. And the installation stands the test of time, of course. No shorts, no surges, no sockets coming unstuck, no fizzing light bulbs.
The good electricians don’t have to come back and they leave you with something extra. It might be energy efficiency to save you money and help you do your bit for the environment or a comprehensive protection system against all electricity-related hazards.
In a word, the best contractors exceed customer expectations.
But isn’t a good job one that’s just to specification?
Yes, of course. But, it’s not the best. Take surge protection devices. Often national codes don’t require them to be installed, so it’s up to customers whether they want them. But do they know what a surge protection is? The best contractor will explain and motivate. He’ll convince a customer that additional protection is not superfluous protection.
He’ll charge more of course, but quality comes at a price. Customers have to pay more, but they’ll be getting full protection and peace of mind for years.
In this competitive age don’t contractors have to be cost-conscious?
Whether they’re fitting a new installation or retrofitting old ones, the best contractors cut no corners either on time, materials, or quality. Theirs’ is business with a focus on delivering outstanding quality. And that’s worth paying for.
They don’t just take any job that’s going. By agreeing to do lots of small jobs at a cut price they lose their commitment to quality and they earn less. They take on only work where their expertise comes into its own, where they exceed customer expectations, and add that value that is their trade mark.