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A Day in the Life of an Electrician

A Day in the Life of an Electrician



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min read

For a view of the  issues facing electricians, we talked with Dave White, Managing Director of  DWE Services, an electrical contractor and electricians in Haverhill, Suffolk. Here he gives us an overview on how the business is changing, and  what electricians across the board can expect to face in the coming years.

As an experienced  electrician and company head, how has the business changed?

Today, it’s about  much more than just traditional services. You have to take on multi-service  packages, such as fire alarms, TV systems, lightning protection – basically,  people want full packages.

What are the main issues regarding employees today?

One issue is  skill sets. A lot of people lack skills. Unfortunately, they can enter the industry with fewer skills, because there is so much  work available. The industry governing bodies could do more, but it seems that they are more concerned with pushing  people into the industry so that they do their courses.

What has been  your management style?

We try and push  people to get the right skills. I am very hands-on in my approach – it’s  about quality, and giving the client what they want. It’s best to walk away  knowing that you have done your best for the customer.

What are some of  the main problems you face?

Payment for jobs  done is a big issue. There are jobs where you wait 60 days for payments, or  even 90 days. In this business, it can be difficult to get the money.

What kind of  innovative changes has your company adopted to adapt to challenges?

We always try to  “recruit to suit” – that means getting the right people. We take on some  apprentices and they are placed with the senior employees so that they get  the right training on the job.

What are the  qualities needed by a managing director?

You have got to  be thick-skinned because you are constantly dealing with difficulties. You must be good at finance and also technically minded. Creating and  maintaining relationships both upstream and downstream is also required.

You have to know  how to manage your credit well. In this job, you see a lot of money floating  around the company account, so you have to be  sensible and prudent with keeping things under control. Cash forecasting is  key – I look at my forecasts twice a day.

You must keep an  eye on the work situation so that you can see when there may be gaps and take  on jobs even if you cut rates and the profit is low  because you have to be always earning money and bringing in cash to make sure  you can pay all the ongoing costs and expenditures.

Which part of the  job has given you the most satisfaction?

Doing a good job  and walking away knowing that you have done the best possible work. Taking care of  relationships and delivering the projects despite the many challenges. It’s  key to find – and work alongside – good builders, because there are not so  many of them.

Man management is  important because there are a lot of egos to deal with – electricians see  themselves as above the other workers in construction.

You need someone  who can make decisions and who has the right attitude; it is really important  to have staff who are positive and helpful, and who can help the team and can  adapt quickly to new situations. As a business owner, you don’t want staff  who are not supportive.

Do you need to  recruit electricians with different skills to deal with a wider range of  issues than before?

Sometimes we have  to use specialist sub-contractors when we  work in new-build housing or industrial building. It’s great if you have employees who can do that work, but it’s rare. Not everyone can adapt,  so it is more efficient to bring in a specialist to provide the elements that  we cannot do.

Do electricians  use digital marketing, such as Google and Facebook adverts and other social  media platforms, to promote themselves to potential clients?

I have found that  a lot of work comes through building good relationships with people I have  worked with in the past. We have an employee who does our business development. We realise the importance of marketing to  bring in work all year round, to make sure we don’t have any gaps in the work  schedule.

Have electricians  been willing to invest in new company-wide software?

We have a lot of  ongoing projects so we don’t need a day-to-day management system; it's not  something that we have invested in.

How do companies  deal with keeping ahead of all the changes to taxes, regulations and new standards?

We rely on having good people. We have an excellent accountant who  advises us. My business partner deals with tax changes, and we have an external adviser to advise on health and safety. We also belong to industry organisations which provide information.

How have clients’  demands changed over the years?

It depends on the market that you are dealing with. Clients expect you to work honestly and efficiently, and to do  everything that you promise.

How will  electricians’ work change in the years to come?

I would expect  that in the coming ten years there will be a big move to dealing with smart  homes and other new technologies. As a result, electricians will need to  enter completely new areas of expertise.

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