Are You Struggling to Attract Commercial Electrical Projects?
What a washed out 20-something computer consultant discovered that any electrical contractor can use to explode the equity value of their business almost overnight without selling your soul to maintenance brokers.
From the Desk of Justin Hitt
How can this rebellious and previously bankrupt -- now business analyst and publisher teach YOU about creating more profits, keeping more customers, and growing your Electrical Contracting business?
It was 1996, I was a 20-something know it all business owner turning around a computer consultancy that I had been running into the ground since 1994 (but didn't know it.) Things were going really good despite being plagued by every mistake you can think of from employee theft to horrible collections practices.
My computer consultancy was a Value Added Reseller (VAR) who in 1996 start expanding its reach by hiring subcontractors, including network installers, electrical contractors, and technicians. Inside services is a 24/7 job. I worked two shifts plus networking events near 7 days a week, even after the TIA stoke I had when I was 22.
This was years after rebelling against my father's blue collar job, running off to college with $25,000 I saved doing computer work, mowing lawns, shoveling snow, and selling the services of others. This was years after apprenticing in Electrical, Plumbing, and Carpentry trades for this same man who was his own General Contractor for our home in Morganza Maryland. Long after being taught how to use an Arc Welder and cut steel with a Torch while in Middle School.
They said I couldn't do it, yet I did for a while
At our peak I had 27 subcontractors working for me across the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States — serving Southern Maryland, Washington DC, Northern Virginia, Baltimore, and even across to the Hampton Roads area. Each of those contractors could have 10 to 100 technicians working on teams serving my clients.
It was my great fortune to work with many business owners, entrepreneurs, and mentors who did their best to guide my arrogant younger self. Many of my subcontractors and clients became good friends. More on that some other time. My little 5 person team in Southern Maryland was pulling the strings on a tiny empire.
The small problem that just kept getting bigger
While some of my clients were slow-pay dead beats who would sue me just to get out of an invoice …
I started noticing how large highly profitable contractors were getting consistent work. This work included commercial projects with all kinds of up front deposits, service contracts, schedules, and even on call opportunities. I tested some of these strategies with success, but thought I was “too smart for the room” to go all the way.
Rounding out the year, while everyone was gonna party like it was 1999 — I get a call for a meeting with the CPA. It was late 1999 and not the party I expected.
One fateful day my CPA, Mary Ann took me aside for a frank conversation about how I was going to be $500,000 (USD) in debt in six-month if I didn’t close the business up today — the only think keeping us a float was the deposits I was getting from new sales from changes made in the last 6 months.
Meanwhile I had an anchor around my neck of $365,000 in overdue receivables creeping up on a year in age — with ramped slow paying accounts for years. This skeleton I was trying to avoid, thinking I could just sell my way out of this mess with new and better customers.
When half of what you do works, How do you know which half?
Yes, my newly discovered sales methods with commercial account could dig me out. While slow play accounts snowballed, cash flow tightened, and somehow I was still letting on enough crappy customers. Maybe working harder would have gotten me over the hump, but at what cost to my health?
With the sternness of a loving mother she encouraged me to scuttle the business to be only $264,000 in debt right then that day.
On the way back to the office I called clients who I had business development contracts with — as well as some active subcontractors. That day I wrapped up my business, turned over many of my contracts to subs, and started my business development consulting adventure. By the end of the week I had a full time technical / part-time business development position with a local Government Contractor.
From independence to a slave working for the proverbial man
By selling out to the man I was able to make between $72,000 to $98,000 a year (in 2000 USD) yet I spent the next five years paying out $54,000 a year in debt. It was my side clients that kept me solvent and sane, living on less than $10,000 a year. Amazingly even with this stress …
I went on to produce $52,000,000 in NEW sales for my clients in the 2000 recession alone. This was a combination of Federal and Commercial accounts — all using the insights that I refused to consider when I was doing it my way as an arrogant kid. This is is because I didn't give up on my dream and desire to discover what works.
While many clients tripled their profits, it was a bit of a struggle personally. My pride got the best of me, I continued to struggle with debt and depression — I won’t go into those details here. While I was bottoming out, my clients kept making more and more money using the business development systems I designed for them.
Book smart yet lacking experience to get paid first
After pissing a bunch of people off by being a prick I got stiffed for commissions. Turns out a 29 year old shouldn’t hard ball a Senior Vice President of Business Development for his 1.5% of a $25,000,000 five year contract. Other clients got tied up in a nasty Bid Protest designed to bind up his cash flow — even while they won, I didn’t get paid on their $7,000,000 contract either.
Then a combination of the recession and Military Base Realignment Closures (BRAC) put me in Virginia Beach VA on my brothers couch. My now past clients continued to bring in millions of dollars in contracts using artifacts created during my time with them. They harvested steady flows of new work from leads I generated — and a few of my clients were paying residuals. Most of them started hiring public relations and advertising agencies until their money ran out.
Of course, they had to USE THE SYSTEMS I created. Advertising agencies especially didn’t like my methods. And the public relations firms could spin a much sexier story. At this time Internet marketing started to twinkle in every marketers eye — only my most loyal converts continued to use what worked.
There was nothing I did that you couldn’t do. In many cases I really just realigned the resources they already had. Perhaps improved communications, or created artifacts that let technical staff market — like dog-n-pony shows designed to generate leads. It was my good fortune to have a few mentors who helped along the way.
Even though I had to deal with many useless twits. I could have been easier to work with, less offensive, and not gone out of my way to show up those around me. It took the expense of experience to get the arrogant kid out of my personality.
The Parable of the Lost Son
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. (NIV, Luke 15:13-16)
Good thing about being poor is you have lots of free time
All that time trying to find myself my business development systems kept plugging away for clients. On my brothers couch I had time to think, documented much of what I learned. When I got back into the game I was adding cost savings, process improvement, and stacking principles to the value I was delivering.
Over the years I’ve supported a number of Government Contractors, Internet Hosting, Petroleum Services, and Fortune 100 companies providing profit building solutions. Each unique businesses, all with the same bottom line needs. Solutions include Lead integration services, Systems management, Business development, and Logistics services.
Each of these solutions I boil down into Business Analyst work designed to extract hidden profits from their business. Here’s why all this matters to you!
What this humbling experience means to your bottom line
During this time I was hiring electrical contractors (plus many other kinds of integrators and developers) who didn’t have a clue. They didn’t know how to keep customers coming back — at least not like my clients who were growing quickly. Many stepped over dollars to pick up dimes — especially when it came to how they secured new customers.
It didn’t seem a single one of them had a system for getting customers or keeping customers happy — and that didn’t bother me because I had a system to replace them when they dropped the ball even the first time. In fact, my system for hiring was so good that I had an unlimited supply of service providers so I could drive down prices while increasing quality by design.
You might be on the short end of this stick. Procurement professionals beating you up on price. Maybe you stand in line begging for contracts through a bid process. The things that some contractors go through to get work can leave a bad taste in their mouth.
The expense of experience is the hot forge of individual refinement
What makes me unique is that I’ve had each technical, selling, and procurement experience — I’ve seen what the contractor does from every prospective. This doesn’t mean I know everything. Just that I have a unique insight about getting things done now that most marketers fear.
Having a few family friends in the electrical trades growing up, plus the opportunity I believe that is available for electrical contractors — I’ve narrowed my client and newsletter focus. While what I have to show you about growing your business works for all kinds of commercial contractors I just don’t have the time to serve everyone.
While my availability is strictly limited, I have put together a number of resources here that can help you. My team of researchers, marketing coordinators, and concierge assistants will help you use what I provide for my exclusive clients today. You can benefit from my insights on the back end — but unlike most of the so called consultants you’ll find on-line I’m NOT waiting around for you to call.
For the sake of transparency most of the content produced here is from hundreds of hours of recorded consultation call, work journals, training materials clients paid me to produce, and work flows designed for teams that have worked for me over the years. Little or no effort was made to make any of this pretty — just to make it as functional as possible so you get results quickly.
Why and how I can help you get what you want
There is a huge amount of personal satisfaction gained seeing $1,000,000+ electrical contractors race towards $10,000,000 and more in gross revenues. Especially when margins finally let Principals earn all the money they want while enjoying a lifestyle they have always dreamed about.
There is more to learn from my mistakes than I can ever hope to each from my successes — truth be told — my failures are my own making, my successes are those of rightly aligned teams. I've always had Mentors along the way, it was my choice to ignore most of them. What I do is help you turn business relationships into profits guaranteed — write in with your questions, I’m always interested in hearing about what is working for you.
P. s. I setup a toll-free recorded message where you can call with your questions about creating and keeping profitable customers. Leave your voice message 24/7 by calling toll-free +1 (877) 207-3798 ext 221 — you can also fax questions toll-free to +1 (877) 486-8461. Be sure to leave your contact details so a recording or transcript of my response can be mailed to your office.
P. p. s. I’m exclusively engaged from a service prospective with a Fortune 100 financial services as well as a few private clients solving big problems and having a great time doing it — if you have a specific need, please fax in a one page synopsis for a project manager to make a referral. There is also a waiting list if you qualify. Otherwise, fax your questions which I slate a few hours a week to answer. Thanks.
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