The Supply House Vortex

Have you ever noticed that when you walk into the counter at an electrical supply house there are always one or two electricians sitting at the counter sipping coffee, eating a doughnut and chatting with your competition?? Do you ever think about your electricians doing the exact same thing? Your van is sitting outside running to keep warm or cool and your journeyman and his apprentice are inside hanging out while the job site sits untouched since yesterday at four o’clock. Your electricians have just been sucked into the supply house vortex. Talk about wasted money! I was an electrical contractor for almost 15 years, a journeyman before that and an apprentice before that. I have seen my share of supply house time, but it wasn’t until I became an electrical contractor that realized how much money it costs to send someone to the supply house. Lets take 5 of my 10 years in the field as a journeyman and put the math to it. We will use today’s average journeyman rate with burden at 1.5 hours per week to make the equation. The hours reflect time at the supply house plus travel time to and from the job site plus time to get restarted once at the job site. Believe me that 1.5 hours is light!

$45.50/hr x 6/hr = $273.00

2 gallons fuel consumed @ $2.75 per gallon x 4 trips = $22.00 (average 10 miles per gallon @ 10 miles distance from job site)

$273.00 + $22.00 = $295.00/month

$295.00 x 12/mo = $3540.00/yr

$3540.00 x 5/yrs = $17,700.00

This does not include apprentice wages, longer distances to and from the job site, wear and tear on your vehicles and no more than one trip per week. It also does not factor in purchasing material that you already had sitting on your shelf. $17,700.00 for one journeyman!! Imagine if you have 4 journeyman, 4 apprentice and 4 vans – unreal. Now imagine if you could invest that $295.00 per month into marketing, estimating software, a new vehicle, retirement or just back into your pocket.

So… How do you get out of the vortex? You use an electrical management system that, as you estimate, it also builds a comprehensive material list for that specific job. You assign that job to your journeyman on the job calendar and they see the job live on their mobile app. This gives them time to check the shop and vans for material, then place an order with the supply house to have the material dropped to the shop or job site.

Boom – Lower costs and higher profit!

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