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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
To make a long story short, my electrical contracting company has made some mistakes in the past and managed to rack up a large dept over the last 3 years and a big portion of the debt is personally guaranteed. Seems just enough comes in to cover the bills and sometimes not, it's a real struggle. I don't know what the answer is, I try to jump up rates and bid higher but then don't seem to get enough work. I can only seem to keep enough work coming in to run one 2 man crew. I am willing to do or try anything (legal) to make things turn around. Have any of you come back from what seems to be a dead end? How did you do it? We do anything including residential, commercial, farm work etc... any suggestions or ideas would be appreciated
 

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datafan said:
We do anything including residential, commercial, farm work etc... any suggestions or ideas would be appreciated
Are you in a big market or a small town?

If you are not in a small town the first thing I would recommend is stop trying to do everything and concentrate on one thing and be the best, do everything you can to become the go to guy in that niche, even working for free if that is what it takes, you will have to figure it out, but as bad as you need the money right now, you need the reputation in that niche much worse, after you get known for what you do, the money will follow, and lots of it!

Think like the US military - overwelling fire power concentrated in a small area!
 

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It sounds like some mistakes were made in racking up the debt. I'm not sure how an electrical contractor can do that, but I believe that you managed somehow to do just that.

Are you a working owner, or do you let your crew do most or all of the work? If you're not doing much of the work yourself, you need to start going out and personally meeting people and getting that work. You need to drum up anything, even crap low profit work if that means the difference between solvency and bankruptcy. Apartment rental companies, management companies, real estate agents, small shop owners, restaraunts, landlords, ...anything. Start meeting people personally on a non-stop basis. If you can swing a newspaper ad in your market, run a "$999 200 amp service upgrade special" or something along those lines. That generally makes the phone ring. Door hangers are another way to drum up business in target neighborhoods. If you want to wire more new homes, start driving to developments and meeting GC's personally or find out where their offices are and who's building what. Ask to bid on their plans, even if there's no house currently under construction for that plan. Be a non-stop bidding machine on reams of plans if you have to. At one point, I even posted flyers and door hangers inside Porta-potties on jobsites with a certain amount of success. Contact all the plumbing, heating and air conditioning companies (in person) and offer your price on service upgrades and branch circuits for new air conditioner/heat pump/water heater installs. Some of them can be pretty steady work.

When work is slow, all you can do it get out and meet, meet, meet; and sell, sell, sell... in person.
 

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I have felt really beat up by business. But, no matter what, you have to stay ahead. Don't buy new tools if you really don't need them. Repair, and paint the old van instead of purchasing a new one. Put good signs on your van and drive it often. Go door to door. Do what it takes to stay ahead of the game. Don't take out any more credit. Refinance you house to pay off the old bills and don't start any new ones. Get up early and do your paperwork after 9pm. Pay cash at your electrical supply place until you get on your feet. Aways keep a zero balance. If you are in debt to your suppliers pay extra on every visit.

Taking out a new loan makes things worse. Just say no and work really hard. Do a home refinance to help, if you can.

Don't give up. They say, if you can reach the 5 year mark, you will be ok.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
All sound advice, Thank You

When the going gets tough the tough get going, right?

Great ideas on drumming up business, I will be trying them, you got me thinking more positive again. Thanks!

Find one thing and specialize in it, I like that. Believe it or not I have considered specializing in hog barn maintenance! These hog operations have money, and not many others seem to do it, either they don't have the experience (or can't stand the smell)!

Now we have to try to haul every electrical do dad under the sun around with us because we never know what we will be doing one day to the next. Never fails you drive to tim buck too and don't have something critical in the truck anyways. Also to try to stay busy we have been working every town for about a 75 mile radius, not good, too hard to recoup travel time and expense.

I really only have one choice, Keep on keeping on and plugging away at the debt, little by little. The bill collectors can really take their toll on a guy after while, you get so you don't even want to answer the phone anymore.

thanks to all for the good ideas and advice
 

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datafan said:
To make a long story short, my electrical contracting company has made some mistakes in the past and managed to rack up a large dept over the last 3 years and a big portion of the debt is personally guaranteed. Seems just enough comes in to cover the bills and sometimes not, it's a real struggle. I don't know what the answer is, I try to jump up rates and bid higher but then don't seem to get enough work. I can only seem to keep enough work coming in to run one 2 man crew. I am willing to do or try anything (legal) to make things turn around. Have any of you come back from what seems to be a dead end? How did you do it? We do anything including residential, commercial, farm work etc... any suggestions or ideas would be appreciated
Personally gauranteed?did you go out when you got paid sometimes and acted like mr bigshot?I have b-4 and it has gotten me in a world of hurt,monetarie wise and pride.I came so close to losing it all,all you can do is work more and NEVER let the system break your heart.It is these times that will seperate those who have succeeded and those we see sitting at the barstool at 60 years old saying I had this and that.Do not let yourself be that man!A dream is a desire,every time you feel overwhelmed look in your wifes eyes and smile at your children and you will find strength and realize what has to be done no matter what.Good luck and god bless.
 

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datafan said:
Find one thing and specialize in it, I like that. Believe it or not I have considered specializing in hog barn maintenance! These hog operations have money, and not many others seem to do it, either they don't have the experience (or can't stand the smell)!
I would work towards a specialty over time. Even better is to be good at something nobody else wants to do. Ever hear of a dog poop pick up service? These guys pick up the dog crap in your yard for you!

A combination of - customers with money, nobody servicing that market = lots of money.

Good luck
 

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ppmc said:
every time you feel overwhelmed look in your wifes eyes and smile at your children and you will find strength and realize what has to be done no matter what.
excellent words my friend.
 

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I managed to get myself in some steep debt. I took me 5 years to get it paid down. Breaking my akle didn't help any. Not being able to work is what mothballed me. Around here most "framers" need a baby sitter. These are also the lil F's that end with T. That bring the wages down. Which is a double edged sword.

Any way I didn't file a chapter 7 or 13 and did it myself. Now I have cc's and loan officer wanting my stack I tell them to get off me. I pay in cash.
 

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Your dead lost if you don't know how you racked up the debt. Spend some money on an accountant and have him tell you what to do. If you don't know what the problem is, how can you fix it?

My guess is you need to control your overhead. That's my problem. So much to buy when starting a new business it's hard to keep above water.
 

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Keep your work withing a 2 hour radius of your central location. If you don't have any work there, then move to where the work is.
 

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It took me two years to find out I was flat broke when I ventured out to be a foundation contractor. I did not have an accountant and tried to wear too many hats. I declared bankruptcy (personal, no suppliers harmed) and sold my house. I walked out of the closing with a check for $32,000 and immediately wrote a check to the IRS for $28,000. I was broke, and with a wife and four children.

My mistake was in not hiring an accountant/payroll service, over-paying my help, working them overtime and bargaining from a weak position (which was "poor me" attitude).

But I survived, and my life experiences are enriched by it. My point is that if you cannot learn from the wisdom of advice, there's nothing like the education you get from running head-first into a brick wall. :)

I came out okay because I still had my knowledge and capability. That value was not diminished by my solo venture failure, but rather enhanced. I learned and grew from failure, just like I do everyday in smaller ways.

Bottom line is to know how your business is doing in as near real time as you can. Cash flow is for dogs chasing their tails. Monitoring individual jobs is more important in evaluating performance of your people and your company.

Datafan, if the market won't support your cost of business, you have either to reduce your cost or increase your value.

Sorry about your hard times. I got the tee-shirt.
 
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