Another Clueless Customer

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aline

Senior Member
Location
Utah
Customer said:
I really appreciated you coming to look at my house. I thought the price was too high for a day’s work of running copper through a few 2x4s. I will probably do the work myself. I’ve determined all the hardware will cost under $400 and a weekend or two of my time. If someone would come and perform the labor for a day’s pay and let me provide the hardware, then I’d be willing to discuss another estimate. Would you be willing to give me an estimate for the labor, if I provide the hardware?
Thank you very much for letting us know you thought our price was too high for a day's work.

We do everything we can to try and eliminate mistakes, however in this case we have reviewed the numbers and cannot find where we may have went wrong with calculating the price. Therefore we would appreciate your help in this matter.

Could you please assign a dollar amount to cover a day's work to each of the items listed below so we might better be able to determine where we went wrong with calculating the price?

Could you then please add in the appropriate profit and let us know what the correct price should have been?

We would really appreciate your help with this.

Business Cost List

Building
Building
Warehouse Space
Trash Removal
Lawn Care
Snow removal
Upkeep & Repairs

Office Expenses
Computers
Stationary
Copy machine
Fax machine
Forms
Printing
Software
Office Equipment
Computer maintenance
Files
Postage
Office Supplies

IT
Internet service
Email accounts
Web site
-Initial creation
-Updating
-Maintenance
GPS services

Benefits
Vacation Pay
Holiday Pay
Uniforms
Uniform Maintenance
Unemployment
Bonuses
Incentives
Retirement Plan
Christmas Party

Taxes
Property Taxes
Tangible Taxes
Pay Roll Taxes
Income Taxes
Sales Tax

Training
Management Training
Office Training
In-House Training
Tech Training
Mfg. Training
Training Equipment
Safety Training
Update classes
License testing

Insurance
Building Insurance
Liability Insurance
Employee Insurance
Life Insurance
Business Insurance
Workers Comp.

Utilities
Gas
Electricity
Telephone / Fax lines
Internet Service
Toll Calls
Telephones
Pagers/Cell Phones
Radio Maintenance

Vehicles
Vehicle Maintenance
Ladder Racks
Interior bins
Fuel
Truck Signs / lettering / vinyl
Tires

Financial
Accounting
Loans
Tax Preparation
Interest
30+ Day Receivables
Bank Charges

Travel
Hotel
Meals
Airline / vehicle

Unique to the electrical trade
Permits
Licenses
Bonds
Inspections
Trade Association
Subscriptions
Memberships
Dues
Retainers
Safety PPE
-Lock-out/Tag-out kits
-Fall prevention harness
-Arc-flash clothing
-Hard hats
-Safety glasses
-Hearing protection

Tools
Company Tools
Safety Equipment
Ladders
2-way Radios
Test Equipment
Replacement Parts
Parts Storage
Damages
Tool Replacement
Job site storage

Misc.
Trips to Supply House
Theft
Uncollected Money
Collection fees
Un-billable Hours (Estimates, Etc.)
Commissions
Call Backs / Warranty work
Shortages
Bad Checks
Delivery
Credit Card Sales
Drug Testing

Legal
Legal advice
Law Suits
Incorporation / LLC fees

Advertising
Marketing
Business cards
Signs
Radio / TV
Newspaper
Flyers / brochures
Material Purchases
Inventory

Labor
Apprentice Electrician Wages
Journeyman Electrician Wages
Master Electrician Wages
Dispatcher/Office Worker Wages
Estimator's Salary
Owner's/CEO's Salary
 
Last edited:

jmsbrush

Senior Member
Location
Central Florida
Aline, Most consumers have no clue what it takes to be in business, Unfortunately even worse, Many EC's that I know, do not know there cost as well.
How many contractors do we know that are still charging $65 or $75 dollars an hour?
I know one that charges $40.
I have tried to educate him but have had no luck.
Our industry as a whole will get better if, ALL who don't know, simply reads your last post on business expense's and charges appropriately with profit.

For employees: This gives you an idea what it cost us every month to stay in business and provide jobs.
Many of us operate on only 10% profit or less. After checking monthly P&L statements we find we don't even do that well.
 

bradleyelectric

Senior Member
Location
forest hill, md
I had a guy that wanted me to install something like those recps. for audio equipment in a small basement with a drop ceiling with a bulkhead through the middle of it. He assured me he wanted 8/2 romex run to the panel about 30' away to feed the 20A circuit. He must not have liked my price. I never heard back from him.
 

aline

Senior Member
Location
Utah
Your price must never exceed the amount the customer paid for the item being installed.

I had a guy call that wanted a ballpark price to install a chandelier over a stairway with a 40ft. ceiling. When I gave him a ballpark price he complained that he didn't pay that much for the chandelier.

How many times have you heard that one from the customer? :)

Yes. We price all of our light fixture installations based on how much you paid for the light fixture.
 

480sparky

Senior Member
Location
Iowegia
...........When I gave him a ballpark price he complained that he didn't pay that much for the chandelier.

How many times have you heard that one from the customer? :)...........
I've had that very same thing happen..... "But I only paid $15 for the fixture!"

My response was, "Well, I guess you didn't spend enough on the fixture now, did you?!" :grin:
 

macmikeman

Senior Member
Myself, I sorta love clueless customers. They are a godsend when they don't know the true cost of business, and what an electrician should roughly get for a day. Then I need a wheelbarrow to haul all the money off the job.:grin:
 

Dnkldorf

Senior Member
Who is more clueless?

The contractor who markets his services to the wrong people, or the people who take advantage of him because of it?
 

wptski

Senior Member
Location
Warren, MI
Myself, I sorta love clueless customers. They are a godsend when they don't know the true cost of business, and what an electrician should roughly get for a day. Then I need a wheelbarrow to haul all the money off the job.:grin:
Every customer should be able to read a post like this!:rolleyes:
 

Article 90.1

Senior Member
Aline,

I see your issue with this customer as a communications issue. Why, because it was an email conversation. Personally, I encourage my customers, suppliers, and team members to communicate in any way that is efficient and accurate, but we follow the following order of importance:

Face to face - phone call - email - Post Office Mail - fax - text - video/audio chat - smoke signals! Seriously, I do add the line about smoke signals as a joke, but when it comes to that either us, or the customer are already in trouble, or both!

What I'm trying to say is that email is a great communication tool, BUT with email you can not:

Understand the tone of either party.
Understand the inflection.
Confirm receipt, and return transmission.
Control the delivery, landing, and understanding of the communication.

I've seen more business deals go sour because of poor email management. Once this customer replied to your email, I would have taken it up a notch and picked up the phone, or payed them a visit. Sure this takes more time, but the CUSTOMER SERVICE you are providing is better than shooting emails back and forth that are getting either party no where. Either way, you will probably thank the customer for calling on you, but by improving the communication, the referral they give to their friends and families may be better than the referral you will receive with an awkward email communication.

This post is a perfect example, I'm having a hard time conveying what I'm trying to say, but if we were here talking, or on the phone it would be more coherent.

I like what your SBA coach said, "Why would you want a customer like this..."?

Good luck, and let us know what happens!
 

SegDog

Member
Location
Philadelphia
comic relief

comic relief

I enjoy reading about customer relations conversations. After working and bumbling for more than forty years, I now find these humorous. I have the money to walk away from work, which is a huge advantage.

All confrontations can only go in one direction, that is down.

All good lawyers know the answer to their questions. I asked a guy recently if when he's talking to someone at work, is he getting paid? Most say yes, and of course, I say that I'm not when giving advice and information. One guy said to me that "no, he works on commission". I responded that I sort of do the same thing, but I'm also the billing, accountant, safety officer, designer, installer, driver, scheduler,etc. So, I have fixed costs up-front. He understood better than anyone else, because he had un-reimbursed expenses. We got along swell.

The more money they have the bigger jerks they can be. Gotta love it.

Dog
 

ceb58

Senior Member
Location
Raeford, NC
The more money they have the bigger jerks they can be. Gotta love it.

Dog
I disagree with that statement I have found that people with MONEY are some of the nicest people to work for. It's the ones that THINK they have money that are the jerks.
 
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