ESI Company Prices Are Killing Me

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aline

Senior Member
Location
Utah
When I saw ESI companies starting to advertise in the phone book and newspapers I thought this would be a great thing. They would raise the standards and pricing in the electrical service and repair business. It sure doesn't seem to be the case though.

They seem to be doing all the ESI stuff. Lot's of advertising, wearing booties, nice well stocked trucks, upfront pricing, etc. But they don't seem to be following the ESI model with their pricing. At least not the company I've been losing jobs too.

Below are some jobs that I bid on that I lost to the ESI company. I was hurting for work when I bid these jobs and bid them as low as I possibly could just to get them. I just couldn't believe the ESI company was this low.

I thought ESI was all about learning your true costs of being in business, providing a better lifestyle for you and your employees and raising the standards for serving the customer. I don't see how they could possibly do this at these prices. I wouldn't think you'd need ESI and do all the advertising this company does to bid and get jobs at the lowest price. This makes no sense to me. What do you guys think about the prices on this basement bedroom wiring?

I really find it disappointing that they're pricing these job so low. I really thought they would help bring the pricing up. I'm always hearing how high the pricing is for these ESI companies. I'm sure not seeing it here.

Basement Bedroom Wiring:
1 Single pole toggle switch
5 Duplex receptacles
1 Customer supplied surface mount light fixture
1 TV Jack
1 Phone Jack
1 Smoke Detector
1 AFCI circuit for power to the bedroom.
1 GE TR2020 twin breaker to make room for the AFCI breaker. It's a $65 breaker.
http://www.pacificcoastbreaker.com/catalog/604

Electrical panel 75ft away and located in a finished wall. Circuit would have to be fished in this wall. The rest of the basement is open.

My price $1292.00
Another contractors price $660.00
ESI company's price $559.00

I don't see how they can possibly pay their techs much at a price this low. You've got to make to trips out to do this job. One for the rough-in and one for the trim-out. Plus you've made one trip out to look at it to give a price. That's three trips total.

These are some other jobs they beat me out on with a low price.

After hours friday night emergency service upgrade: (The guy got the bids that friday morning and afternoon)
My price $2,500 (This was my normal hours price so I really thought I would get it.)
ESI Company's price $1,050
Another contractor gave a price of $900 but said he couldn't get to it for a couple of weeks.

My price on this one included replacing the Federal Pacific panel inside the home and running new SER cable to the panel. The ESI company left the Federal Pacific panel but ran new SER cable so that helped make their price lower. But still $1,050 for an after hours emergency service upgrade? I don't get it.


125amp to 200amp Service Upgrade:
My price $1,300
Another contractor's price $1,900
ESI company's price $1,200

I really thought I low balled this one to get the job but still lost it to the ESI company.

These were all jobs I bid lower than I usually do.
 
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bikeindy

Senior Member
Location
Indianapolis IN
Stop bidding so low, and when you do get one you will make real money on it. In the mean time you will have to wait for ESI guy to go under and he will at those prices.
 

aline

Senior Member
Location
Utah
bikeindy said:
Stop bidding so low, and when you do get one you will make real money on it. In the mean time you will have to wait for ESI guy to go under and he will at those prices.
I usually do bid higher. In a lot of cases when I get the job they tell me they didn't get other bids. I've been trying to stick to my guns and not lower my prices but when I started hurting for work I've lowered them. There's no point in me doing this since I'm not getting the work anyways. I was hoping by keeping my prices higher other contractors would see this and raise their prices. Doesn't seem to be happening though.

I've bid several basement wiring jobs and found out I was two to three times higher than all the other bids. I don't understand how any of these guys are making money.

I had a guy call me the other day. He said he needed some light fixtures installed and a couple other minor things done. When I get there It's a new unocupied home in the process of being built in a new subdivision. The guy pulls up in his Mercedes and shows me around the place. It's a million dollar custom home. He's trying to get a final inspection done and he needs the rest of the wiring finished. Most of it had been done.

I ask him if he was the homeowner and who was the GC on the job. He said he wasn't the homeowner but a homebuilder and he was the GC. So I ask him what happened to the original electrician. He tells me he won't come back and finish it and won't return his calls. He tells me he thinks he is broke and going out of business. So I ask who's wiring all the other homes you're currently building. He said no one he's going to have to find another electrician. I ask him who was wiring his homes before this electrician. He tells me that guy went broke and out of business too. I tell him he needs to find electrician who know how to charge enough to stay in business. He laughs and say I know. He just needs me to finish this one for him right away so he can get a final. He wants me to start right then.

I tell him I'll have to contact the city about having my name put on the permit for just the work I'm going to do and get a contract written up and signed before I'll do anything. I also wanted to contact the original electrician before I did anything.

Anyways I try to contact the original electrician but all I get is his answering machine and after calling serveral times and leaving a message I gave up. So I call the homebuilder up and give him a price to finish this job and he says wow that's way over my budget I'll have to figure something else out. There are other subdivision going in in the same area so he probably found some electrician working on one of them to come do it on the weekend as a side job.

You can bet this homebuilder is going to find the cheapest electrical contractor he can find again and have him wire his homes until that guy goes out of business too.

When are electricians going to wake up and charge these homebuilders enough to make a decent profit and stay in business. I've never gotten into the new home wiring business because when I gave these builders a price it was a lot higher than the other bids. I just couldn't see how I could possibly make any money at the price they wanted me to do them for. Doesn't sound like I'm missing out on anything.
 

emahler

Senior Member
bruce...the company bought the system, but they haven't bought into the system, simpe as that...
 

satcom

Senior Member
bikeindy said:
Stop bidding so low, and when you do get one you will make real money on it. In the mean time you will have to wait for ESI guy to go under and he will at those prices.
I agree. just wait until they go under, we have some look alike ESI type companies, they copy the trucks, the yellow ad's and the booties, but they are not real ESI guys, and they panic when the ad money comes due, we have a few copy cats around here.
 

aline

Senior Member
Location
Utah
satcom said:
I agree. just wait until they go under, we have some look alike ESI type companies, they copy the trucks, the yellow ad's and the booties, but they are not real ESI guys, and they panic when the ad money comes due, we have a few copy cats around here.
This company isn't a copy cat. They really are ESI members.
I spoke with the owner at one point and he mentioned he was billing out at aroung $139 per hour. Sure doesn't look like it to me. Their parent company does commercial projects. This is a branch of the parent company.
 

aline

Senior Member
Location
Utah
aline said:
Basement Bedroom Wiring:
1 Single pole toggle switch
5 Duplex receptacles
1 Customer supplied surface mount light fixture
1 TV Jack
1 Phone Jack
1 Smoke Detector
1 AFCI circuit for power to the bedroom.
1 GE TR2020 twin breaker to make room for the AFCI breaker. It's a $65 breaker.
http://www.pacificcoastbreaker.com/catalog/604

Electrical panel 75ft away and located in a finished wall. Circuit would have to be fished in this wall. The rest of the basement is open.

My price $1292.00
Another contractors price $660.00
ESI company's price $559.00
When I called about this job the homeowner told me he was more impressed with my company but wasn't sure what he was going to do.
Apparently he wasn't impressed enough to pay my price. :)
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
aline said:
My price $1292.00
Another contractors price $660.00
ESI company's price $559.00

My price $2,500 (This was my normal hours price so I really thought I would get it.)
ESI Company's price $1,050
Another contractor gave a price of $900 but said he couldn't get to it for a couple of weeks.

125amp to 200amp Service Upgrade:
My price $1,300
Another contractor's price $1,900
ESI company's price $1,200
But do you know what the actual final bill will be, not just the get-the-contract BS low-ball quote?
 

satcom

Senior Member
LarryFine said:
But do you know what the actual final bill will be, not just the get-the-contract BS low-ball quote?
That is the real question, they come in low to open the door, they once the customer takes the bate, they either leave the price open, or do a bill build up like an auto repair, I know we quoted XX but that was before we found YY and now it will cost XXX to finish the job, and many other ways to play it once your in the door. And the customer is sure he has the lowest bid, he turns away all the other bids, and dosent usually find out the real price until the Mr slick gets in the door, and starts the job. Slick knows you will not do that to a customer, so he is home free.
 
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aline

Senior Member
Location
Utah
LarryFine said:
But do you know what the actual final bill will be, not just the get-the-contract BS low-ball quote?
This was on a home that had just been sold and it was covered under warranty. I'm not sure how you would get the home warranty company to pay more after you gave them a price in writing. ESI's straight foward pricing states you'll know the exact price before they start.

Sure you can upsell but I don't think you'll get the home warrany company to pay for it and I don't think the customer was interested in paying for anything extra. He said he was sure glad it wad covered under warranty because he sure could not afford it. He said it was all he could do to afford buying the house in the first place.

I was trying to upsell by replacing the FP panel but the warranty company justed wanted the bare minimum done. I stopped by the following week, looked at what had been done and talked to the homeowner. Thats how I knew the FP panel hadn't been changed out. I tried to convince the homeowner to have me change out the panel but he just wouldn't go for it.
 

aline

Senior Member
Location
Utah
satcom said:
That is the real question, they come in low to open the door, they once the customer takes the bate, they either leave the price open, or do a bill build up like an auto repair, I know we quoted XX but that was before we found YY and now it will cost XXX to finish the job, and many other ways to play it once your in the door. And the customer is sure he has the lowest bid, he turns away all the other bids, and dosent usually find out the real price until the Mr slick gets in the door, and starts the job. Slick knows you will not do that to a customer, so he is home free.
How do they do this when all their advertsing states with their straight forward pricing you'll know the exact cost before any work is started. No Suprises! This is the main idea for choosing their company. I could see them trying to upsell other items but not changing the written contract.
 
aline said:
How do they do this when all their advertsing states with their straight forward pricing you'll know the exact cost before any work is started. No Suprises! This is the main idea for choosing their company. I could see them trying to upsell other items but not changing the written contract.

If you assume 1) That they have given their **complete** price in their quote and 2) that they have their 'system' sorted out then it comes down to operator error. The 'tech' looked up the wrong item(s) or wrong price.

Maybe their "system" is set up wrong and that $500 figure was their cost and not their sell numbers and no one knew better?
 

bikeindy

Senior Member
Location
Indianapolis IN
aline said:
When are electricians going to wake up and charge these homebuilders enough to make a decent profit and stay in business. I've never gotten into the new home wiring business because when I gave these builders a price it was a lot higher than the other bids. I just couldn't see how I could possibly make any money at the price they wanted me to do them for. Doesn't sound like I'm missing out on anything.
Never I think there is always some moron waiting to do work for a loss, beats me.
 

aline

Senior Member
Location
Utah
BryanMD said:
If you assume 1) That they have given their **complete** price in their quote and 2) that they have their 'system' sorted out then it comes down to operator error. The 'tech' looked up the wrong item(s) or wrong price.

Maybe their "system" is set up wrong and that $500 figure was their cost and not their sell numbers and no one knew better?
I didn't find out what they did the job for until the following week when I stopped by and talked to the homeowner and saw a copy of the bill. So unless this is some time of elaborate scheme to keep me from knowing what this job went for it was $1,050.

The contractor that was $900 for the service upgrade was the contractor that usually does these for this home warranty company.

The $900 doesn't suprise me. I've heard this price before when giving estimates for service upgrades. I was giving a price to a guy who owns apartments for a service upgrade. Before I even quoted a price he told me the electrician he usually uses said it would be between $900 to $1200 but wouldn't be able to get to if for a couple of weeks. When the guy saw my price he said he'd wait. :)
 

Thomp

Member
"ESI Company Prices Are Killing Me" This probably what they are trying to do. Once enough companies has lost work to them the price will go up. Old ploy for businesses moving into a new area. Stick to your guns and remind your customers how you have always been there for them. Continue to do good work.
 
aline said:
The $900 doesn't suprise me. I've heard this price before when giving estimates for service upgrades. I was giving a price to a guy who owns apartments for a service upgrade.
$900 is a side jobbers price for a simple heavy up & 200A panel.
No permit. No inspection. No License. No meter seal.
Don't ask me how I know ;)
 

aline

Senior Member
Location
Utah
BryanMD said:
$900 is a side jobbers price for a simple heavy up & 200A panel.
No permit. No inspection. No License. No meter seal.
Don't ask me how I know ;)
The $900 doesn't include replacing the panel inside the home.
It's for replacing the outdoor meter with a meter/main breaker combo and refeeding the existing indoor panel. Usually the power company requires the new meter/main to be relocated to within 10ft. of the front corner of the home.

You have to be a legal electrical contractor to do these. You cannot touch the power companies wiring in any way. You are not allowed to cut their meter seal. This is a very serious offense. Ask me how I know this. :) Ask my wife about this. She thought she was going to have to bail me out of jail when I cut a meter seal one time. They have to come out pull the meter and diconnect there lines. They will not connect it back up until they receive a call from the inspector. You are not allowed to reconnect it yourself. Sometimes it can be a challenge to get it done, get it inspected before the inspector goes home at 4:00pm and get the power company back out to connect it up all in the same day. The power company workers quit at 3:30pm and they tell you if you don't call by 2:30pm there's no guarantee that it will get connected that day because their troubleshooters would have to do it after 3:30pm and it depends on how busy they are.
 
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Rewire

Senior Member
I find that when I loose a bid it is usially because the other guy was not doing it like I would ,why buy a 2020 breaker when you can just slip the wire under the breaker next to it.I bid a job to repair damaged wires and conduit for a roof A/C I priced a splice box and fittings to make the repair as it was damaged about ten feet from the diusconnect and it was a long run to repull to the panel lost the bid .When I stopped to look at the other guys work he had simply removed the damaged conduit but spliced the wires and slid a new conduit over them.
 

aline

Senior Member
Location
Utah
I'm convinced I'm the highest priced electrical contractor in town. I really don't have a problem with this as long as I can get enough work but lately I'm having a bit of a slump. The other day I called a guy about the hot tub wiring estimate I gave him. He said I was the highest. My price was $998. Here's the latest one I found out today that I lost. I feel I priced this plenty low. Lower than what I'd like to have. She got six estimates. How many freakin estimates do people need! :) She went with the lowest bidder. (Not an ESI company by the way)

The Job:
Reclocate electrical service from south back corner of home to north front corner of home as required by the power company. Service riser needs to be 2in. RMC conduit and extend through the roof. New service to be a 200amp service.

Install new 4/0 SER cable 100ft. from the new meter/main location through basement to the existing panel location located on the south side of the home.

Replacing existing panel in the home with a 200amp panel.

Install a 20amp dedicated circuit to the laundry room.

Trench 100ft. from the home to the detached garage and install 240v 100amp power in pvc conduit.

Install a 100amp panel in the detached garage.

Trench 100ft. from the detached garage to the barn. Install a 20amp circuit in pvc conduit to the barn.

Install two duplex receptacles in conduit located at each end of the barn.

Install three vapor tight light fixtures in the barn stalls in conduit. Each light to be controlled by it's own switch.

Install two outdoor flood lights located at each end of the barn in conduit. Each flood light to have it's own switch.

Remove old electrical service and old overhead wiring to the detached garage.

The bids:
My price $7,320
Contractor A $7,200
Contractor B $6,700
Contractor C $6,300
Contractor D $5,500
Contractor E $4,200 (Got the job)
 

Rewire

Senior Member
aline said:
I'm convinced I'm the highest priced electrical contractor in town. I really don't have a problem with this as long as I can get enough work but lately I'm having a bit of a slump. The other day I called a guy about the hot tub wiring estimate I gave him. He said I was the highest. My price was $998. Here's the latest one I found out today that I lost. I feel I priced this plenty low. Lower than what I'd like to have. She got six estimates. How many freakin estimates do people need! :) She went with the lowest bidder. (Not an ESI company by the way)

The Job:
Reclocate electrical service from south back corner of home to north front corner of home as required by the power company. Service riser needs to be 2in. RMC conduit and extend through the roof. New service to be a 200amp service.

Install new 4/0 SER cable 100ft. from the new meter/main location through basement to the existing panel location located on the south side of the home.

Replacing existing panel in the home with a 200amp panel.

Install a 20amp dedicated circuit to the laundry room.

Trench 100ft. from the home to the detached garage and install 240v 100amp power in pvc conduit.

Install a 100amp panel in the detached garage.

Trench 100ft. from the detached garage to the barn. Install a 20amp circuit in pvc conduit to the barn.

Install two duplex receptacles in conduit located at each end of the barn.

Install three vapor tight light fixtures in the barn stalls in conduit. Each light to be controlled by it's own switch.

Install two outdoor flood lights located at each end of the barn in conduit. Each flood light to have it's own switch.

Remove old electrical service and old overhead wiring to the detached garage.

The bids:
My price $7,320
Contractor A $7,200
Contractor B $6,700
Contractor C $6,300
Contractor D $5,500
Contractor E $4,200 (Got the job)
I would have went with contractor C
 
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