Near the end of any build project before the walls go up, there is a very important step that must happen. Someone needs to decide where all the outlets go and how to get electricity to them. That someone is you, the electrical services contractor.
Whether you’re bidding on a job in the commercial space or working directly with the homeowner, the job of the electrician is one of the most important and detailed in the project.
To land the bid as an electrical services contractor, you will need to perform an excellent walkthrough for your prospect.
What goes into a successful electrical installation walkthrough? What tools will you need to do the job well? How long should it take to complete, and afterwards, how do you draft a proposal?
This article aims to shed some light on the complex world of electrical service walkthroughs. By utilizing these tips, you’ll be performing better electrical walkthroughs that land you more bids, time and time again.
To begin, you’ll want to have adequate supplies for the tour. An electrical installation walkthrough can take one to two hours for a home and much longer than that for a large commercial space. You want to make sure you are conscious of the time. You may even want to time your walkthroughs to get a feel for how long it takes you to do the job well.
Some tools to bring on the electrical walkthrough are:
- Measuring tape
- Blueprint/electrical layout markup sheet
- Several different colored markers
- Camera (your phone is fine)
- A way to capture notes- preferably digital
If you have everything you need, let’s get started with the tour.
Beginning an Electrical Service Walkthrough
Once you arrive at the construction site, you will meet with the owner or building contractor. Take a minute to get set up. Unlike a cleaning service walkthrough, you’re going to be doing a lot of measuring and marking, so get your electrical layout sheet or blueprint and markers out.
This is also a good time to set up your notes. Taking notes is an extremely important part of any walkthrough, but especially so in an electrical walkthrough because your work will provide one of the most functional elements of the space.
Since you will be making mark-ups by hand, you may want to take notes digitally. This is why we designed the Walkthrough Builder tool in the Route app. Instead of trying to piece together handwritten notes later, the Walkthrough Builder compiles everything you gathered during your tour in one place. It also allows you to add pictures, videos, floor and wall dimensions, and special areas of concern. These are all crucial to landing the bid for electrical services.
Now it’s time to start the tour. When performing an electrical services walkthrough, you will want to ask a lot of questions. Some questions that might be relevant to the walkthrough are things like, where the furniture is going to go, if there are going to be any wall-mounted electronics, such as TV's or projectors, or where the light fixture placement will be. Any part of the building that is going to have electrical supply needs to be carefully addressed and recorded in your notes.
Labels and Markups for Electrical Service Walkthroughs
When conducting your electrical service walkthrough, you should have a blueprint or electrical layout sheet of the space on hand. Ask the builder to provide this for you beforehand. As you tour the facility, get out your markers. You’re going to draw in all the lighting and electrical outlets.
You will want to draw a key off to the side of the blueprint and establish a labeling system. You may want to label outlets as a black dot, overhead lights as a red dash, hanging lights as a blue line, and electronics as a green square. This is just an example but you can do whatever makes sense to you.
Draw in all the appropriate electrical components in each room. Then in the Walkthrough Builder tool in the Route app, record additional notes about each room. Some important things that might be useful are the number of outlets there are, if there are door swings, where the breaker box is, and how many wall-mounted electronics there are.
These are the details that are going to be extremely important later, but you don’t want them on your blueprint because it will make it unnecessarily cluttered. Using a platform like Route will greatly simplify your mark up and note taking process.
Other Notes to Improve Your Walkthroughs
We have been talking about the importance of streamlined notetaking a lot because the details are a huge part of landing the bid. In the first section of this article, we gave a broad overview of general questions you should always ask on an electrical service walkthrough. In this section, we are going to go a step farther and talk about some more advanced questions you should ask to truly set yourself apart as a top electrician.
While conducting an electrical service walkthrough, every question you ask should be recorded in the notes section of your Route app. You will never lose a single note again and you can access them any time you want.
We started out by talking about wall-mounted TV’s and light fixture placement. In the same vein as those topics, you might also want to ask about whether the lighting is going to be overhead only, or if there is going to be perimeter lighting around the ceiling or walls.
When it comes to outlets, how would they like the outlets facing? Some people like them vertical, some like them sideways.
You may also want to know what type of work or activity is going to be done in each room. Is there a need for USB ports in a workspace or office? Upsell your services. See if you can suggest smart solutions that will benefit your prospect and you alike.
Some other things that not all contractors might think to ask are:
- Are there going to be outlets in closets?
- What lights are going to be on what switch?
- How many switches are needed?
- Have the dimensions of the lighting fixtures themselves been measured?
- Does any part of the building require higher voltage, or are any of the electronics going to have a high electrical draw?
If you take the initiative to ask these questions, you will stand out as advanced in your field and prepared to handle every electrical ask that comes your way. Remember that all of these notes should be recorded in the Walkthrough Builder, not your blueprint, and also remember that the addition of any electrical element will change the price of your bid when you write your proposal.
Writing a Proposal for Electrical Services
After you’ve completed the tour, it’s time to write a proposal for electrical services. Along with the blueprint you requested from the builder there should be some general notes. All blueprints should have this and if yours doesn’t, ask for it.
The general notes include bidding specifications and information like permitted worktimes, permits and fees. All of these things could end up adding thousands of dollars in the end so read them carefully.
Next, calculate your supply and labor costs using Route’s Estimator. This tool within the app is powered by real-world data that provides extremely accurate electrical service bids based on your type of labor. All the hard work is already done for you with our algorithm-based software.
To understand what information you’ll need to input, you’ll want to know the hours it will take you to do the job and the hourly wage you pay your employees, plus the total square footage of the space. Remember, commercial jobs often require an electrical specialist so don’t forget to add that in. You’ll also want to add in any fixed costs. Electricians often submit a price-per-square foot bid so all of these details are necessary to come up with an accurate number.
Another thing you should consider when writing your proposal is adding a budget cushion. This is to cover any costs that might arise during the electrical service installation. A budget cushion addresses things like:
- Electrical permit costs
- Overtime hours for employees
- Changes to meet OSHA standards
- Electrical specialists for certain areas
The budget cushion will vary from bid to bid but many of the same situations will apply. Look at the price of other contractor bids for similar kinds of work to get an idea of what other people are charging for similar projects.
After you have assessed all these points, use a proposal generator, like the one available on Route, to quickly draft a proposal in minutes. The important details have already been calculated so all you need to do is import them into a template of your choice and send the bid to your prospect. Route also allows you to customize your proposal with your client’s logo or other imagery and automatically fill in your company’s standard legal verbiage. Writing a good proposal for electrical services has never been more simple.
Electrical service work is an enormously important task for any new construction project. To do an excellent job in this field, you must be organized, prepared, and a good problem-solver.
This type of walkthrough is highly detailed and will take longer than other types of construction tours. You will want to ask for a blueprint ahead of time so you can mark up where individual electrical elements occur.
Notes are extremely important when doing the walkthrough. To avoid getting too much clutter on your blueprint, use an app like Route that allows you to compile all your notes in one place.
Don’t forget to ask many different questions and to be creative in what you are asking. You may be able to upsell your client or solve problems for them they didn’t realize they had by offering innovative electrical solutions as you conduct the tour.
Lastly, be sure to take note of all permits, fees, and extra costs that might occur before submitting a final bid. Using a budget cushion will help account for these unforeseen costs and prevent underbidding.
Landing a bid as an electrical service contractor is a huge accomplishment and one you should be very proud of. Keep this article as a resource for your walkthroughs and before you know it, you’ll be lighting the way for others as a standout in electrical service excellence.