Electrical contracting is a challenging field. On the one hand, the Bureau of Labor Statistics sees the demand for electricians growing 20 percent by 2022, or faster than average for other occupations. When construction falls off, however, so does your workload -- and profit margin. To survive, you must become adept at spotting opportunities before your competitors do. Some methods to find work are less obvious than others.
Cultivate New Relationships
According to "Electrical Construction and Maintenance" magazine, referrals are still the most effective way to get new business. Work hard to develop relationships with contractors, facility managers and vendors in your industry, so that they think of you when they need to hire an electrical contractor. Assign an employee to network, if necessary. Regularly sit down with your staff to discuss current and past projects. Sharing ideas helps you identify contacts that you may not have considered.
Follow Up With Customers
Poll current and former customers regularly to see how well you're handling their needs. Start reaching out during the warranty process, when customers identify problems that need correcting. Ask customers to complete performance surveys, but notify them of any policy changes that you make -- such as in your company's billing practices, for example, or your complaint-resolution process. Your willingness to provide outstanding service will pay off in word-of-mouth referrals from customers who've had good experiences.
Keep Up with Technology
Stay relevant by capitalizing on new technology and looking for opportunities to grow your business. Take the time to learn about green construction practices, for example, to meet other types of contractors. This may lead to new business relationships and expand your pool of available projects, according to "Electrical Construction and Maintenance." Still, don't overlook traditional sources of income -- such as repairing and maintaining equipment in aging facilities, which should provide additional opportunities for electricians, the BLS states.
Subscribe to Construction Bid Boards
Develop further job leads by subscribing to bid boards and services like the Dodge Reports website. You'll generally pay a monthly or yearly fee to browse local, regional or national ads -- which you can then filter by category, keyword or location to find suitable projects. Consider your coverage area before committing yourself, however. There's no need to pay for multiple listings if you serve a specific area or state. Also, take advantage of trial offers, if available, or recommendations to see how well a service works.
Don't overlook any avenue that may boost business. For example, the federal government often designates projects for female, minority or veteran business owners who meet its criteria, according to "Electrical Construction and Maintenance." These initiatives are commonly called "set aside programs." Consult state or national procurement websites like www.setasidealert.com to determine whether you qualify for this type of assistance.