Q. Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.
A. Complete CAD drawings, full load calculations, design and installation from simple to complex. Following up with any maintenance or repair needs, if they arise.
Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. Ask your friends who they have used and REALLY liked. Do not take client contacts from those you are requesting work of, they will only provide you with names of clients whose jobs happened to work out well. OR, get a list of several of their clients and then blind contact a few. Also, look at how long they have been in business. After over 30 years, I could never have raised a family if I was doing things wrong, nor would I be working for the clients I now work for.
Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. That the license number is an indication of how long a person has been doing what they do. Coupling this with referrals from friends builds a strong case for getting a great job done. The trade should be licensed, bonded, insured, and in good standing with the Contractor's State License Board.
Another thing is that you typically do get what you pay for. When you promote work without a permit, you open the door to shortcuts, code violations, hazards to your home and family.
Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?
A. How long have you been in business?
Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
Do you have a referral list?
Do you maintain confidentiality with respect to who you do work for?
What steps do you incorporate into your work process to insure my home or business is protected during the process?
Have you explained to me all of my options so that I may decide whether I want to pursue a particular path or not?
Will you be completed in a timely fashion, when?
Q. What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?
A. A concise scope of work, what they really want done. So often the expectation is that we will develop this concept for them and that we will bear all of the costs to do so.
Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. Over 30 years of electrical work within the greater SF Bay area, 28 years as a California licensed electrical contractor. Certified State of Washington Electrical Administrator. Specialty in full design, install, troubleshoot, repair. Savant Systems Lighting (Litetouch) Lighting certified.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. Seeing that it works and works well.
Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A. How much? - Depends on scope. It is amazing how many job postings there are on here with zero detail. Thumbtack should have a check-off page for you. Here is an example:
"Need ballpark cost to install fixture"
What we need to know:
1) Is it replacing an existing fixture?
2) Who is providing the fixture?
3) What is the make and model ?(we need to get the weight)
4) How high is the ceiling?
5) Is it over stairs?
6) Are you securing a permit?
7) Will the load be supported by the circuit?
8) Who will dispose of old parts/materials?
9) Who will do cleanup?
10) Does there need to be dust control?
11) Do you have pictures?
12) Are you willing to pay for a site visit?
11) There are typically many other questions relative to a requested task
Q. What do you wish customers knew about you or your profession?
A. That I love what I do. If I cannot do it right, I would rather not do it. I have been called to many homes/businesses after someone else has done an installation or a repair only to find that not only was it a poor job, but that it also violated the NEC, making the installation unsafe for both the property and the users.
Q. Tell us about a recent job you did that you are particularly proud of.
A. I designed and installed a landscape lighting control scheme using Savant Systems, spanning three properties in Atherton. I built three custom enclosures for remote modules and allowed for control over the internet via an IPAD/IPOD application. The clients are very happy and the controls work GREAT!! Yes, we also incorporated hardwired controls in the event of the internet access being down.
The Savant System lighting control may easily be incorporated into a whole-home control because Savant Systems can interface with Audio/video/HVAC/security and pretty much anything you would like to control via a singular user interface.
If you have a need, a desire, or just want to learn more about it, give me a call or shoot me an email!
Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?
A. I am a certified Washington State electrical administrator as well as a California licensed electrical contractor. As an administrator I am required to take continuing education classes to maintain certification. The state of California only mandates classes for certified electricians, so an electrical contractor does NOT have to take classes and you will find that most do not.
I take classes to keep up with the latest electrical code changes and safety issues, as well as classes to keep up with controls and integration protocols, and though I already have a college degree I take general classes at a local community college,
Q. If you have a complicated pricing system for your service, please give all the details here.
A. This is a great field to present to potential clients. So many post a job that contains next to no detail that we are forced to develop a somewhat complex pricing scheme. At the same time, most people would never expect their employer to ask them to come and work for free, but there is often an expectation a service person will come out for free to look at a small job.
If a job is large, or is right next door, looking at it at no cost to the potential client may be feasible. Otherwise, it is necessary for us to recover the costs associated with getting up, starting vehicles, driving, reviewing and helping to define needs, and then giving an estimated cost to perform the work. Given this typical venue, we charge for initial site visits a flat rate of $250 for a maximum 1.5 hours on site.
The result of the visit will minimally provide you with a complete written scope of work that you may use to solicit other bids, if you feel the need.
Q. If you were advising someone who wanted to get into your profession, what would you suggest?
A. The State of California has made it difficult to "break" into the electrical field, A person must be in a state approved training program just to get hired. Advice: Find a training provider, get enrolled (harder than it sounds) and start seeking employment (even harder).
Q. What is your greatest strength?
Q. What are you currently working on improving?
A. Ability to retire
Q. Write your own question and answer it.
A. What questions may arise when someone wants a chandelier installed?
These are the typical questions, often cared for by the first site visit, to plan the installation of new chandeliers or the replacement of existing.
1) What is the weight of each fixture involved?
a. Most electrical boxes designed to suspend fixtures will hold a maximum of 70 pounds. Anything over this will require different suspension methods, sometimes even requiring an engineer’s calculations.
b. Some installations may require scaffolding
2) What is the make and model of each fixture?
a. We need this to gather dimensions, any necessary assembly or handling instructions
3) Will they go over any stairs?
4) Will the suspension method provided be long enough and of a type that will meet your final elevation needs?
5) Are there any items that must be moved in order to facilitate installation?
6) Do you have the bulbs (if necessary)?
a. LED fixtures often come with the “bulb” integral to the fixture
7) Will the existing means of control be sufficient for the new fixtures?
8) Will the existing circuit accommodate added wattage (if any)?
9) What type of protection will be required for surrounding items/areas?
10) Who will care for disposal/storage/or relocation of existing fixtures?
a. There are companies you may donate the fixtures to and receive a tax credit
The above questions may not be exhaustive for your particular needs, but hopefully my asking them indicates to you that we have dealt with fixtures for quite some time. We wish to make sure you are happy with the outcome along with everything leading up to that.
Gary Fuller - PLE
Q. Write your own question and answer it.
A. Can you help us figure it out? - Absolutely, but there may be a cost to you for us to come out to review your needs. Helping someone develop a concise scope of work can be costly. Does your employer not pay you until you come up with a cost to do something? No, you get paid just to look at it. Here are the costs to us if we do it for "free":
1) Time away from our families
2) Wear and tear on our vehicles
4) Lost "other" jobs because we are looking at yours
The time away from families then may follow us home where we spend time developing a written scope of work. Then, after we do all of this, some cheap handyman comes along and does it for 1/3rd the cost.