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Going Up When Things Are Looking Down

Aug. 31, 2020
Five ways to stay profitable during tough economic times

Some of the most successful companies were forged in difficult times. Perseverance through adversity is the true test of the fortitude and resilience of a business. General Electric, Disney, IBM, Hyatt, FedEx, and Microsoft all started during an economic downturn. What makes a business tough enough to start or better yet survive the ups and downs of the economy? What common attributes do they all share? Below are five ways my company has learned to rise when everything else seems to be going down.

1. Leadership. Everything rises and falls on leadership. If you don’t have the energy or drive to pull your company through some rough times, then you may want to reconsider your part in the grand scheme of things. Pick someone who is willing to dig in and find a way to make the business survive. As the leader, it is your job to make provisions for the longevity of the business to protect the brand, protect the PNL, protect the marketing plan, and protect your most important asset: the technicians.

2. Marketing. I cannot express the importance of knowing your client and how to market to them. Just because the economy is struggling doesn’t mean your business has to suffer a loss. Breakers still trip, lights still flicker, and outlets still stop working. This means there is still electrical work for you to do. You just have to find it. Sometimes, this means dissecting your marketing plan and looking for open gaps where potential clients could slip through your fingers.

3. Pricing. The life and longevity of any business is based on how they are priced in the market. Sometimes, you can be priced too low to stay in business. Sometimes, you are priced too high to gain new clients. And sometimes, you have to know just how competitive you’re willing to be to get a job. What percentage gross margin are you aiming for? To find this, you must know what labor, materials, and support are costing you. Your gross margin needs to be right, no matter what. Whether your business brings in $50,000 per year or $11 million, revenue means nothing if you are not profiting.

4. Dispatch. Your dispatcher controls more about the direction of the business than you probably ever imagined. Make sure the right person is filling that seat. This one person can affect the morale, flow, continuity, and profitability of your business, no matter how big or small the company is. Make sure to invest time and energy into this person or people. Check in with them several times a day, and consider the mental clarity and emotional health of this group often. Dispatching and call-taking can really take a toll on people. I have found that dispatchers typically cannot work more than 50 hours in a week and still be effective. If this person gets burned out, they may end up making subpar, on-the-fly decisions concerning your technicians.

5. Stay encouraged. Above all, do not give up on your dream of running a successful residential electrical service business.

Talbot is a licensed, master electrician in Georgia, where he was born and raised. He has been in the industry for 19 years and is currently the operations manager for Mister Sparky Atlanta, where he oversees a team of technicians. In his spare time, he plays with his kids, volunteers, and enjoys flipping houses. He can be reached at [email protected].
About the Author

Gerald Talbot | Operations Manager

Gerald is a licensed, master electrician in Georgia, where he was born and raised. He has been in the industry for 17 years and is currently the operations manager for Mister Sparky Atlanta, where he manages a team of technicians.

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