Challenge For A Cause 2020

I am raising money for the Electrical Industries Charity who help people in the electrical industry by completing the Challenge For A Cause 2020 – Inca Trail.

The ECA challenged me! I accepted! In September 2020, I will be undertaking the huge challenge of trekking through the Peruvian Andes to Machu Picchu to support the Electrical Industries Charity and I’m asking for your support so I can support the work the EIC do! The Electrical Industries Charity (EIC) are a charity specifically for people in the electrical industry.

That means the EIC look after anyone who works within the electrical or energy sector whether you are retired, an apprentice, a relative or an employee. Think of the EIC as a charity which can assist with almost every issue from every walk of life, the only qualification you need to seek assistance is to have worked in the sector for over three months. If you know of the EIC you will understand some of the incredible things they do. If this is your first-time hearing of them here’s just a little list of some of the cases the EIC have.

  1. Freddie, a two-year-old boy, undergoing chemotherapy and his family are receiving financial aid from the EIC and have enjoyed a trip to Peppa Pig world, Freddie’s favourite place funded by the EIC.
  2. Retired couple the Smith’s, who had worked on a regional electricity board, now have a warm house after the EIC helped to fund a new central heating boiler.
  3. Emma, who suffered with addiction and anxiety, is now on the road to recovery after the EIC sourced and funded both a counsellor and a rehab facility.
This is Freddie’s story. A two year old undergoing chemotherapy who the Electrical Industries Charity have been supporting.

These are just some examples of the over 10,000 people the EIC help each year. It is because of the incredible work they do to support our sector that I am trekking the Inca Trail. Over five days I will be trekking up to 12 hours daily to reach the famous wonder of the world, Machhu Picchu. I can expect to battle high altitudes and scale dizzying heights of 4000 metres above sea level.

If you can, please donate to my trek, any amount helps and support my journey to support the EIC and the incredible work they do. You can donate using the link below to my fundraising page:

SPONSOR ME! CLICK HERE


Alternatively, why not make your company the star of the trek by sponsoring a flag emblazoned with your company logo for me to display when I reach the incredible Machu Picchu. When you sponsor a flag, you are supporting the EIC and all the assistance they provide. In return for your sponsorship I will take your flag with me across the Peruvian Andes and towards the ancient Inca civilisation of Machu Picchu where once we have reached the perfect vantage point, we will unveil your business to the world. To take advantage of this incredible opportunity contact the charity directly who will arrange your company flag: fundraising@electricalcharity.org

Thank you for your support!!!

You can check out more what I have to say about the challenge below.

Winner of the 2019 ECA Power Players

ECA Power Players 2019

Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer is the winner of the 2019 ECA Power Players.

Two outstanding individuals in the electrotechnical and engineering services industry have won this year’s ‘Power Players’ initiative, recognised at a ceremony held yesterday (2nd October 2019) at Aerospace, Bristol. The initiative was supported by leading industry business Schneider Electric.

ECA Power Players Winner 2019

Dan Jackson, also known to many as ‘Dans The Engineer’, impressed the judges with his sustained advocacy and support for small business owners. Having previously run an electrical business, Dan is now a business coach for tradespeople and business owners. He has also become a successful YouTuber, raising awareness of fundamentally important issues such as mental health, fair payment, and work-life balance.

Policy analyst Nadia Smith of the Renewable Energy Association, and business mentor Dan Jackson were selected by an independent panel of industry experts, who judged entries based on five criteria: social impact, industry impact, collaboration, innovation and leadership.

Outside of work, Nadia is a part of the South East London Community Energy Cooperative, which helps install solar panels on schools and community buildings and uses the funds to tackle fuel poverty. Nadia has also just returned from Ghana, where she taught students practical business skills through the ‘Dream Renewables’ programme, which she co-founded.

ECA’s energy advisor Luke Osborne, who was on the judging panel, commented:

“Many congratulations to Dan and Nadia, and indeed to everyone who entered this year’s Power Players initiative. Both winners this year were able to show huge commitment to making significant contributions not just to their employers or within the industry, but to wider society.

“Once again, Power Players has recognised excellence from young people who have already made their mark in our industry.”

Nadia and Dan have won several prizes, including participation in a forthcoming fundraising initiative with the Electrical Industries Charity, a business trip to Schneider’s facility in the French Alps, and lunch with business guru Sir John Parker.

Power Players winner Dan Jackson said:

“I feel so blessed to have won ECA Power Players 2019 amongst many amazing people who entered. It is fantastic to be recognised by the judges, who are industry leaders, for my efforts towards the electrical industry which I am very passionate about.”

Power Players winner Nadia Smith said:

“I’m really proud to be part of the Power Players this year, and very thankful to the ECA team for their hard work in pulling this together. It’s great to have initiatives that celebrate the work of young people in the sector, not only to support their growth, but to also attract further talent into the engineering services sector.

“ECA do a sterling job of showcasing excellence in engineering services and I’m excited to see where else the generous prizes from Schneider Electric and the ECA’s industry partners take me on my career path.”

The judging panel, led by FETA’s Russell Beattie, also included: ECA’s Luke Osborne, EDA’s Anne Vessey, SELECT’s Alan Wilson and Tessa Ogle of the Electrical Industries Charity.

You can watch Dan Jackson ECA Power Players video entry here:

The original ECA article can be found here.

EICR Before A Consumer Unit Upgrade

EICR before a consumer unit replacement

Do You Carry Out An EICR Before A Consumer Unit Upgrade?

Let’s talk about the real world, what really goes down in the day to day life as an “electrician”.

There are typically two methods many electricians use when upgrading a consumer unit:

  1. Carry out an EICR beforehand, identifying any defects and ensuring the cabling is all okay to connect to the new consumer unit. Fit the new consumer unit and testing again to verify the circuits are compliant.
  2. No test beforehand. Upgrading the consumer unit and test once complete.

Option 1 is advised by many technical publications produced by recognised trade bodies. The downside is that it tends to cost a little more for the client.

Option 2 is risky for both contractor and client because you may find defects on the installation which you then have to charge the client more or if they refuse to pay, leave the installation unsafe.

In my opinion, we should always strive for high standards and ensuring everything we do as professionals to ensure client installations are safe (without money as a factor). Option 2 provides can leave a client at risk due to a unsatisfactory non-compliant electrical installation.

Watch my video

What do most electrician’s do?

When I was contracting, I often had enquiries regarding consumer unit upgrades. I would always ask why they believe their consumer unit requires replacement and often the answer is that someone told them so.

When I explained that we need to carry out an electrical installation condition report before we upgrade the consumer unit to assess the condition of the existing electrics, the customer was often wondering why I would suggest such a thing because 3 other local electricians said that they just take the fuseboard off the wall and fit a new one.

Let me explain why that is wrong from the perspective of both parties. It increases RISK.

Replacing or upgrading a consumer unit is not a minor alteration, it is a large change to the design of the installation. You may be introducing RCD protection, different types of circuit breakers and SPD’s. When a consumer is replaced, often is due to age. The IET wiring regulations BS7671 are regularly updated so British Standards are constantly evolving along with user trends and technology. It is an opportunity to ensure that the main earthing and bonding meets current standards and other basic electrical principles to ensure SAFETY.

What is involved replacing a consumer unit?

When we carry out electrical work on any circuit, we are to ensure that the basic electrical principles are met. Sometimes this requires upgrading parts of the electrical system that we are not physically altering because we have to ensure all connected parts function how they should do to meet BS7671.

Changing a fuseboard alone will likely increase the safety of an installation but I have seen recently instances of replacements being made but the installation has no main earth! In this situation safety is still being compromised.

The Electricity At Work Regulations 1989

When you work on electrical systems you must always remember that the Electricity At Work Regulations 1989 is statutory meaning it is the law and must be adhered to. If you don’t meet the EAWR 1989, you could face fines and/or imprisonment.

Regulation 29 applies only in criminal proceedings. It provides a defence for a dutyholder who can establish that they took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to avoid committing an offence under regulations 4(4), 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 or 16.

Extract from the Electricity At Work Regulations 1989

Have you done everything you can to take reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to avoid someone getting an electric shock which could cause injury or death or cause a fire?

The above statement is the first principle anyone working in the electrical trade should be working to.

Electrical Safety First Best Practice Guide

Sections 4.2 and 4.3 of the Electrical Safety First Best Practice Guide 1 advises that existing circuits do not need upgrading to current standards when the consumer unit is upgraded, but if any circuits provide any immediate or potential danger, they must not be re-connected to the new consumer unit.

4.2. BS 7671 does not require existing circuits to be upgraded to current standards in order for them to be connected to the outgoing ways of the replacement consumer unit.

4.3. However, circuits that are defective or noncompliant with the requirements of BS 7671 in a way that would result in immediate or potential danger must not be reconnected to the consumer unit

Section 6 of the guide advises that an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) is recommended to highlight any immediate or potential dangers. Of course, we cannot make the customers have this carried out and if they do not wish for a report a survey must be taken out BEFORE replacing the consumer unit to ensure the existing circuits are free from immediate or potential danger.

The pre-replacement survey consists of:

  • making enquiries with the user as to whether there are any known defects, faults or damage,
  • an internal visual inspection of the existing consumer unit to determine, amongst other things, the type and condition of the wiring system used for the installation,
  • an external visual inspection of other readily accessible parts of the installation,
  • a measurement of the external earth fault loop impedance (Ze ),
  • a test of circuit protective conductor continuity at the end of each final circuit,
  • a test of earth fault loop impedance at readily accessible socket-outlets and
  • an insulation resistance measurement of the whole installation at the consumer unit, between the live conductors connected together and the protective conductor connected to the earthing arrangement.

Does the above sound familiar??? It sounds like an Electrical Installation Condition Report!

What happens in the ‘Real World’?

The truth is, what really happens in the real world is often an electrician quotes a consumer unit upgrade without a survey. They turn up in the morning, rip the existing consumer unit off the wall, slap on a new consumer unit, turn it on and hey presto. They will then do a couple of Zs readings, calculate the R1+R2, count the number of points on each circuit if they can be arsed, take the RCD readings with minimum effort and produce an Electrical Installation Certificate. Often this certificate will say >299 M ohms insulation resistance readings because well, the RCD’s are okay so the IR readings must be fine. Jobs a goodun.

The above is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

It is a complete risk for both contractor and client. If the electrician finds an issue once the consumer unit has been upgraded, they client is then in a position where they may need to spend quite a lot of money to rectify any immediate or potentially dangerous items. Worst still, they don’t have the money, so they are left with a non-compliant dangerous installation without any certification.

Is it likely an electrical installation will have defects?

I can count on two hands how many domestic properties my team have tested in 10 years that were satisfactory and had no code C1 or C2 items out of hundreds and hundreds of properties tested. Unless an installation is fairly new and was installed to a high standard, I do not believe many consumer unit changes do not need additional works to rectify any immediate or potentially dangerous items. I have carried out an EICR before and all cabling under the floor was VIR and damaged throughout, but someone had joined it in modern T+E so visually it all looked okay. You cannot accurately assess the safety of a circuit without calibrated test equipment.

From a business perspective I also think this is financially risky carrying out option 2 because quoting a job and then asking for more money often can breakdown relationships and part of ensuring payment is maintaining good relationships (check out my post on Top Tips To Prevent Non-Payment).

Therefore, in my opinion I would always advise option 1 is undertaken and an Electrical Installation Condition Report is strongly considered BEFORE replacing a consumer unit to reduce risk to you as a contractor and business owner and for public safety.

You can download a FREE guide – Electrical Safety First Best Practice Guide 1 – Replacing a consumer unit is a domestic premises

Written by Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer in Essex, United Kingdom

Disclaimer: All content within this blog post are the opinion only of Dans the Engineer and should you choose to take any of the advice or information given, we accept no responsibility for any loss you may occur.

Best Bank For Business And Sole Traders

Best bank for business and sole traders

Best Bank For Business And Sole Traders with Starling Bank. I have found an amazing bank for business and would love to share why I reckon you should consider using them for your business and personal banking.

Starling Business Banking
Starling Business Banking

Best Bank For Business And Sole Traders… I have finally found a UK bank that keeps up with the times and makes banking simple, easy and enjoyable…. Yes, I used the words banking and enjoyable in the same sentence!

Starling Bank is here, and I am so glad to have stumbled across them.

I found Starling Bank when I was preparing to leave the UK and was googling the best travel debit card. Starling popped up and when I looked into them, it sounded a little too good to be true; no charges for cash withdrawals or card payment abroad.

Opening an account is easy… Scroll down to find out how

To apply for an account, you just download the Starling app on Android or iOS, enter your phone number and click on the verification code that’s sent via SMS. With this, you’ll be able to create your account by filling some personal details and verifying your ID (using your passport is quicker but you can also use your drivers license).To confirm, verify your ID with a short recording of a selfie video. You’ll be approved once the credit checks are completed and your documents verified. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find out the easiest way on how to open an account.

Best business bank

Digital banking through a mobile app

I love an app. I love simplicity. So, I was hooked in. Starling Bank is truly a digital bank and everything is done via the Starling Bank mobile app.

I was a little wary at first because I had never heard of them. They are not a high street bank but are featured on trusted websites such as moneysupermarket.com. I had a look at their T&Cs, I found out they’re fully regulated like any other bank. I was quickly reassured and opened a personal account

Bank for sole traders

I used the debit card and bank account whilst travelling which made managing my travel money really simple. The app is perfectly designed for ease of use. It looks good and functions well. I connected my personal account and joint account and I could swipe between the two. When me or my wife spend on the joint account, or I spend on my personal account I get a little notification. It makes tracking spending very easy in real time.

Starling travel bank card

The app shows a breakdown per category of spending so you can monitor how much you spend on items such as groceries or petrol. It is a doddle to transfer money and when you receive money, you get a notification.

Best travel bank card

Using Starling Bank is Easy

I have banked with many of the usual UK banks and have never been impressed. Nothing makes me want to remain loyal to any of them and all have made banking boring and a chore. Customer care has always been a huge issue when banking. Starling Bank is the opposite.

When I started my business – Dans the Engineer in 2018, I discovered that Starling Bank offered business banking! Timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Naturally I opened a business account. Because I had a personal account, it took seconds.

It is so easy to open an account. I cannot express how Starling Bank have nailed perfection where no other bank even comes close in comparison. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find out the easiest way on how to open an account.

Best business banking

Personal, Joint, Business and Sole Trader Accounts

Starling Bank offer Sole Trader banking accounts as well as Business banking accounts. You can have your personal and business banking accounts on the app and can switch between them with ease. To get a statement, you press a few buttons and you can export a PDF or CSV file to your email or cloud drive. You can share your transactions with accounting software such as Xero and FreeAgent.

Guess what? The business banking is free. There is no monthly or setup fee to use the business banking. They don’t charge fees on electronic payments, domestic transfers, monthly account fees or ATM withdrawals if you have fewer than 10 employees and less than £1.7M annual turnover.

As they haven’t got any high street branches due to being a digital bank, you can pay in cash and cheques at over 11,500 post office branches across the country for a small fee.

They offer flexible overdrafts should you need it at a clear reasonable rate.

The Banking Customer Care Is Brilliant

I have had to call customer services a couple of times which is a London landline number to a British customer care team who were more than helpful. It was so refreshing to receive such great customer care for a bank! The online help chat is also brilliant.

Best Bank For Business And Sole Traders

Starling have really embraced bringing banking into the modern world. From the easy method of opening the account via the app, the way you take photos of your identification as proof of identity to the cool packaging when your debit card arrives, Starling Bank make the whole process fun.

As you can tell, I love this product and have been recommending them to family and friends for months. I now have the opportunity to recommend business banking to you.

This is the Best Bank For Business And Sole Traders and is perfect for owners of limited companies and the self-employed.

If you fancy opening an account, it is simple…

  1. Click the links below depending if you want to open a personal or business account
  2. Once through to the link, download the app for Android or iOS 3
  3. Open an account via the app using easy instructions
  4. Put at least a fiver in the account. You can also easily transfer your existing current or business account.

Click Here To Open A Business Account

Click Here To Open A Personal Account

Happy banking.

Written by Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer

Let’s be open and honest: This blog post contains an affiliate link meaning that if you follow the link and end up opening a bank account with Starling Bank and credit funds into the new account, I earn a small commission. This has absolutely no favour on the content of this post as everything mentioned are my genuine thoughts. I use Starling Bank myself and I highly recommend it. I pride myself on honesty, clarity and highlighting the best products and services to my audience to help them develop their business. If you are thinking of changing bank accounts, using my link really helps me by giving me a small income to help produce free content to HELP YOU!! Please follow the instructions above on how to download the app and open the account.

Electrium Podcast From Sockets To Sunsets

Electrium-Podcast-From-Sockets-To-Sunsets

Electrium Podcast From Sockets to Sunsets – Episode 4 The Electrium Podcast. Electrium talk to Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer about travel, his career and business coaching for electricians.

Electrium Podcast From Sockets To Sunsets
Electrium Podast – Episode 4 “From Sockets To Sunsets”

HAVE A LISTEN HERE

Electrium Podcast From Sockets To Sunsets

Have you thought of just giving it all up and travelling the world?

Sounds like a pipe dream, but that’s what Dan Jackson (aka ‘Dan’s the Engineer) and his family did last year. Dan sold his share of his electrical contractor business and with his wife and two children travelled the world to seek new horizons.

A popular YouTuber and now business coach, Dan talked to us about:

– Making that decision to travel
– What he learned from his experiences
– Creating a YouTube channel for your business
– Coaching advice 
– Unusual installations around the world

HAVE A LISTEN HERE

Written by Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer written in Essex, information taken from the Electrium Podcast

Electrician Made Redundant So Started Business

Electrician made redundant

Electrician made redundant so started business. HELP! I got made redundant as an electrician. This post is about my experience of being made redundant and taking the opportunity to set up an electrical contracting company.

I remember it well. I was 22 years old working away from home on an 18 month project in Nottingham and we got called to the office at short notice on a Monday.

Everybody within the company was there. There were many concerned faces and a lot of confusion. You knew something serious was happening because why would every employee be called into the office on the same day? The management were all quiet and looking down at the floor. The atmosphere was intense.

Then we hear the words “You’re being made redundant”.

You could see on most peoples faces that they were worried. Worried about money and worried about what they were supposed to do next! Some had worked for the company for a very long time since leaving school and didn’t know any different. It was the end of an era for many.

I’m an electrician. I’m a good electrician. What am I worried about being laid off for?

Was I worried about being made redundant?

Was I worried? Nope. I was as cool as a cucumber. I’m an electrician. I’m a good electrician. What am I worried about being laid off for?

The company had been going for over 50 years. It was well established and made a good name for itself in various sectors, primarily working on petrol filling stations. Guys who had worked there for 20 years were laid off. Just like that with no warning.

When the 2008 recession struck, the industry changed. Nobody wanted to spend money. It was a worrying and uncertain time. In my career it was the first of its kind and my god it affected a lot of people. I know so many people who were made redundant and businesses that went bust. Some trades people were out of work for over a year!

However, the company I worked for were busy. Our clients still had projects starting and all in all I saw many buildings being constructed, particularly in London. My hours didn’t decrease at all. I suppose there must have been changes within the company itself but due to my work ethic and making myself available at any time, I believe I was at the front of peoples minds when a job came in because I was more capable than most. I would work anywhere, do anything, at any time. Forgetting employment law for a second, if there was a list of engineers and they had to choose a few to get rid of, let’s just say I would be high up the ‘safe’ list.

At the time of redundancy in June 2010, I was working on a new build house. It was enormous and high end. It was a fantastic project which I was running. I had spent nearly a year there and Nottingham felt like my second home. We made friends up there, went to BBQ’s, went out drinking in town and started to get to know the area.

Electrician made redundant in the middle of the recession after buying first home

The previous summer I had just bought my first home; a right dive but due to the recession, prices were low and I got myself a bargain. One that I planned to refurbish. I used to get home Friday evening from working away and got straight to work on my house by stripping back the walls, rewiring, and erecting stud walls. Life seemed busy like normal. I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

When we were told on the Sunday to come to the office the next day, I suspected something like what would happen but the unknown didn’t bother me. I enjoyed my Sunday, had a roast and drinks and slept well.

When we were told the ‘bad’ news I instantly felt sorry for the many people who were out of jobs. After all, many of them were my friends. We were told that the company relied on a bank overdraft of £70k due to the directors borrowing money to buy the company from the previous owner. Allegedly, due to the recession, Barclays bank pulled the overdraft whilst the company was heavily into it and went into administration even though they had plenty of work including purchase orders and contract maintenance. It’s disgusting really to think a bank doesn’t care in the slightest about an individual but is always happy to take your money and gamble with it as they wish. Sorry, did I say gamble? I meant invest. Or did I?

I got made redundant and I was working a couple of hours later!

What did I do after being told I am redundant?

My old contracts manager pulled me to one side and said “do you fancy starting up a new company?” I thought he meant work for him, but he wanted to start a business with me. I didn’t expect that in the slightest. I told him I’d let him know tomorrow. There was a lot to think about, I didn’t know the first thing about business! I was just an electrician. He told me we have to act quick. He was due to send a couple of lads to a pre-planned shut down that Monday night for a very good client and didn’t want to let them down so I agreed to help out. I literally drove home, had a bite to eat and went back out to work. I got made redundant and I was working a couple of hours later!

News travels fast. I had three job offers by the end of the day! That is the exact reason why I wasn’t worried. I knew what I was worth. I am confident in my ability and skill and know how to land on my feet. I have always put myself out there. Although the offers were fantastic which I really appreciated, I thought I’d try my luck and take up my old boss’s offer.

I went from electrician to company director over night!

There you go, I had set up my first business

The following day we met up and made an action plan. Our new Limited company was incorporated! I went from being an electrician to a company director over night.

Funnily enough I had already thought of the name and made the logo a few months prior. I wasn’t planning on leaving my old company but I am always coming up with ideas and potential plans. I don’t think my new business partner was too impressed with the name at the time but quite frankly he didn’t have much of a choice. We were working to make things happen on a tight time frame.

That day we asked 3 of the best engineers from the old company to work for us. They all agreed and were all in work by the end of the week. Two of them still work for us. The other retired whilst working for us.

Not a bad little number to land

We concentrated on contacting the clients who were good payers. After all there were a load of clients who needed work doing. We hit the ground running. We had no option but to learn to run before we could walk. The Nottingham project was still unfinished and they needed an electrical contractor to complete so we simply took over as our new company. One of our guys was already working on the job underneath me so it was perfect. He took over running it.

A lot of people put great trust in us and I am forever grateful.

A lot of people put great trust in us and I am forever grateful. Believe me, I had to do my fair share of what I call juggling but I am am honest person and I feel honesty goes a long way. I delivered all of my promises.

Managing cash flow is so important in construction

The issue with starting up a company at such a rate is cash flow. Contrary to belief, it takes a lot of cash to run an electrical contractors. The bigger the jobs you take on, the more cash you need and bigger the risk. Good luck trying to get a bank loan at that time! I had to finance it somehow. This is where suppliers are more important than you may think. Most electrical wholesalers are fair sized companies with serious amounts of financial resource. They need it to buy in bulk to reduce their costs to maximise margins. Many will be supplying projects with hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of goods.

Two wholesalers in particular were willing to supply goods with very kind credit terms. Again, these people knew us. We had purchase orders from clients, most of which were clients regarded as financially safe so it was enough to satisfy providing credit. I also struck a deal with two large clients that they would purchase the materials direct from the supplier and we would supply labour only. They get reduced cost of works due to zero mark up from us on materials which formed the bulk of the cost. Everyone was happy. It would allow us to trade for a couple of months without having to buy materials.

Paying for labour was a different story. I had about £15k in the bank which I was using for my home refurbishment (this was before having kids by the way. Young free and little responsibility. Well, until this point). I set aside some money for setting up the company and to buy a van and the rest was there to last for a while because I didn’t know exactly when I was next getting paid.

Buying my first van

I had a few grand in my back pocket and set out to buy my first work horse

The week we started up, I literally searched on Auto Trader for a van, went with £4k in cash and was on mission to get one that day. I succeeded! The first van was the best of a bad bunch of second hand white vans that were being sold by Derek Trotter like characters.

Two of our new guys plus my business partner worked for the last company for about 15-17 years and were given VERY generous redundancy pay. That really helped because they didn’t need paying immediately. The other received help from family until we could pay him, but he was the first to be paid. Again, very grateful to those people who trusted me.

I cancelled gym membership, Sky and anything that I didn’t NEED to reduce my outgoings. I was screwed over by redundancy because you are only paid an amount from the age of 21. I was 22 and had worked for the company for 3 and a half years so was only entitled to redundancy for one year’s service which was a few hundred quid. Plus they only pay a set amount per week as a maximum regardless of your wage. Because I was working away, I had accumulated a large amount of expenses and I had worked a lot of hours that month so I was totally out of pocket. I didn’t even get paid expenses. I can’t help but feel my whole life I have worked my arse off, always paid my taxes, yet penalised more than others regarding any form of government benefit. I can see why this country is a complete mess because the less you work, the more you are entitled to! The system isn’t for people like me.

The money started rolling in

We started getting paid for work and the priority was to pay the guys who worked for us and suppliers. We had to make do with what we had including old laptops that were slower than a snail, working from our cars, and making it up as we went. Our office was a shed in the back garden using a shitty old Samsung printer that someone donated to us. God I hated that thing. It barely worked. I wanted to beat it with a stick on a regular basis. Times were tough! As soon as money came in, it went straight back out paying someone we owed in priority order or equipment that we needed to complete jobs.

Initially the business had been financed through generosity and trust. I didn’t have to dive into my pockets too much at first (later on I had to make investments into the company), but due to the nature of the business start up and the need to finance the cash flow, I couldn’t pay myself for 5 months. Yes 5 whole months of no pay! I was scraping the bottom of the barrel. The guys had to be paid before me and we owed suppliers. There literally wasn’t money in the bank to pay myself! I was at breaking point but the money started rolling in and we got paid for a couple of large jobs. I got paid 5 months of pay in one go just before Christmas!

What did I do? I went out and bought a £3k Tag Heuer watch!

I didn’t get paid for 5 months. What was the first thing I bought when I was paid? A £3k Tag Heuer watch!

That watch had sentimental value for obvious reasons but I recently sold it to buy a holiday! I bought it as a present to myself for the hard work I had put in. It felt good at the time and it was a great watch but I wouldn’t do the same now. Did the £3k watch bring me much joy? Not as much as I value experiences with my beautiful wife and children, but my goodness I loved that watch! These days I’d choose family experiences over luxury consumables any day of the week. Life changes, ey?

Electrician Made Redundant
After not being paid for 5 months, the first thing I bought was a Tag Heuer watch

Managing finance was vital

Besides the watch purchase, I made sure I was careful with money personally and within the business. Cash flow is key, without cash in the bank it wouldn’t have worked. We started investing in plant, equipment, vehicles, technology, training, etc… But all in priority order.

A business lesson I learnt was that you don’t necessarily need your own personal cash to fund anything. You can use money that belongs to others. I want to strongly follow up that statement with – don’t just gamble with someone’s money with little care. It has to be in their interest, often with a larger return and make sure you take extra care when it belongs to someone else. Debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just make sure you’re on the right side of your debts and always pay your debts. Christ, I sound like a Lannister from Game of Thrones!

Debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just make sure you’re on the right side of your debts and always pay your debts

I have never been a fan of banks,I always had terrible experiences with them. It is funny; when I first started up they made it very difficult in the beginning but as soon as they start seeing tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands, they all of a sudden want to know you and feel they can interfere with your business by pretending to be a helping hand. Everything they offer you is for them, not you. Arguably, terms from every money lender will suit them more than it will suit you, but banks are just greedy. They do as they wish with your money, dictate to you how much they will guarantee, offer poor interest and as soon as something goes wrong on your part, you will be nailed. Yet we all need money to survive that runs through banks.

It was a very challenging time for everyone. The guys who worked for us were experiencing change. They went from job security in a well established company to a start up growing company which was running around like a headless chicken. Sometimes it’s the small things in operations that are taken for granted like not having phone parking set up working in London. It can completely mess up your morning trying to organise it, but we pulled through every challenge one way or the other.

How was home life starting a business?

Home wasn’t great either. I was working crazy hours, then getting home and working on the borrowed laptop. My partner at the time wasn’t very supportive at all. I won’t go into much detail but the relationship went sour very quickly. We didn’t last long after being together for almost four years. I believe everything happens for a reason! I enjoyed being single for some time, then later went on to meet my future wife and mother of my kids. It all turned out for the best and I wouldn’t be who I am today without my wife.

After trading for 6 months, we were awarded our first major maintenance contract with a large client. That was no easy task! It took a lot of running around and proving what we were worth. It even cost in the beginning because we had to neglect a couple of jobs to attend emergency call outs and attend site surveys at a couple of hours notice. The risk paid off! Once we started our first major contract, although hard work, it was all uphill. Our name was on the map. We could afford to rent an office in Sutton, Surrey, were paid regularly and we soon became a professional business.

Redundancy? Probably one of the best things that happened to me!

Want to find out more about my career progression? Click here.

Written by Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer originally in Kent on 20th June 2018 and re-published

P.S. I appreciate my situation may differ from many other people. Being made redundant can be awful and very unsettling. I believe in continuity of personal development, always learning and aiming to become the best at your job. That way, in the event you are made redundant, you provide yourself with better chances and choices than those who do not. Don’t ever be scared of change, embrace it!

#redundancy #employment #businessstartup #danstheengineer #AtTheConstructionSite

Electrical circuits tested for £6

Electrical circuits tested for £6

Electrical circuits tested for £6. A facebook ad popped up on my feed advertising electrical testing for £6 a circuit. A typical fuseboard in somebody’s home contains around 8 circuits making that a cost of £48 to carry out an electrical test and inspection. Given the need for electrical testing such as moving home, renting out your property and to meet legislation, this very low cost could appear to be very appealing to a customer. However, can electrical circuits really be tested for £6?

Let’s look at this in more detail to find out if circuits can really be tested for £6 and what you actually get for that price.

  • £6 gets you about 1 ½ pints of Fosters in your local.
  • £6 gets you 6 rolls of Plenty One Sheet kitchen towels.
  • £6 gets you a DVD that has been released for quite a while.
  • £6 gets you 3 bags of apples from the supermarket.
  • £6 gets you just over 5 litres of petrol
  • £6 gets you a Toby Carvery Breakfast and a drink

£6 isn’t a lot of money! Can electrical circuits be tested for £6?

Although it can be tempting to contract an electrician who offers testing each circuit for low rates. Some are advertising electrical circuits tested for £6. Let us explore what is required to carry out testing.

Many properties have no previous testing records including installation and periodic testing. Many circuits have been altered and added to over the years. One of the first steps of testing a circuit requires identifying what is on the circuit. I call it a point count. How many points does it have, i.e. how many sockets, fused spurs or lighting points are on that circuit. There are a few ways of doing this, but often it involves turning off the circuit and counting up lights that aren’t on, or plugging in a socket tester or appliance to check if it has power or not, THEN turning the circuit back on to check the points come back on just in case lamps are not working or a socket is fed via an isolator that is turned off. This task alone can vary in time. In a house it can be relatively quick but an office, a restaurant, a car show room… can really vary in time. Don’t forget that power is required to be turned on and off for this task.

This may affect commercial operations so many commercial premises may require this to be carried outside of normal working hours. Why is the point count important? The point count is important because it forms part of the record to show what is on the circuit and essentially what you are testing. If an outlet is missed, essentially it won’t be tested and how can you as the duty holder prove it is safe to use? A socket can have a reverse polarity which can be dangerous, or missing an earth which can be potentially dangerous. If it is missed, are you discharging your legal duty as a client?

Straight away we have spent about 3 minutes in a simple domestic environment verifying the points on 1 circuit. In a small commercial environment, I would like to say an average of 5 minutes.

If there are 12 circuits on an install. That is 36 minutes on our domestic and 60 minutes on our light commercial such as a retail unit.

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Testing electrical circuits

Now let’s get the tester out, check that it is functioning and start testing a circuit.

What tests are required to be carried out? The following are ‘some’ of the tests that are required to ensure the circuits are safe and meet requirements.

  • Earth CPC continuity
  • Ring continuity
  • Polarity
  • Insulation Resistance
  • Earth Fault Loop Impedance
  • Functional Testing – RCD Trip Times

The above tests require further turning on/off the circuit as some are dead tests, some are live tests. How long does it take for each circuit? Well again it depends what is on the circuit. Testing is actually quite intensive if you do it correctly. There are ways of not doing it correctly by still being able to obtain results. I can point you to a couple of videos which prove this, but that is for another time.

I would say an average circuit takes 20 minutes for a simple domestic circuit and 30 minutes in a light commercial.

Visual Inspection

BUT…. It doesn’t stop there! We haven’t completed our visual inspection and observations. These are any defects we find that are not found via test equipment as such. These are defects which are coded C1, C2, C3 or FI (further investigation). These form part of the report that are items that are dangerous, potentially dangerous, items that are not immediately dangerous but do not meet the current electrical standards and items which are not apparent but require further investigation such as faults. These could be accessories which show thermal damage, cables that are showing the inner insulation because the outer sheath is missing or damaged, damaged sockets, etc. The list is quite extensive and reports tend to have a tick box section to highlight if any items are cause for concern.

This again can vary in time depending on the condition and age of the installation and should be carried out with attention to detail because ultimately if something is missed, you could easily have part of the installation that is not safe but also cannot be picked up by test equipment.

I would say a domestic could take 1 hour because some of it you will be doing as you test the circuits but you have to write it up. A light commercial could be 1 hour 30 minutes.

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Dangerous and potentially dangerous items can easily be missed like this burnt out contactor that was missed by a previous inspection.

There’s more!

That’s the circuits ‘tested’, but hang on. There is one vital part missing which forms part of the report. We need to inspect and carry out testing to the consumers electrics after the electricity supply meter, verify the supply details such as earthing arrangements and main bonding conductors. Some circuits on a distribution board or consumer unit will be fed via a sub-main from another distribution board. They may require testing to as the supply is a distribution circuit. Inspection of the installation at the origin is important because without knowing some important details, you are unable to verify that the measured Earth Fault Loop Impedance values are acceptable and that the installation is safe and suitable because the installation doesn’t just include the circuits.

Let’s say the installation on the domestic and commercial is very simple and distribution board / consumer unit are local to the meter. I would say 15 minutes is sufficient time to inspect and test.

Don’t forget we also have employment rights and working hours which stipulates break times plus we tend to get hungry in the middle of the day.

We don’t want anybody to work like a dog plus they require time to browse LinkedIn so let’s be kind and give them a 1-hour lunch break.

That isn’t it…. The report isn’t finished. It required typing up and finalising. Some will do this whilst on site (which was always my preferred method) but some will go away and type up or some even manually write up! It all takes time. Many contractors who are accredited by a Competent Person Scheme which will require a Qualified Supervisor to review the report and counter sign it. Again, it adds time. I would allow 30 minutes for completing this part for domestic and 40 minutes for commercial and I believe that is incredibly kind! Kind to the client, not to the contractor! To do it correctly and cross reference a couple of regulations for each observation if it’s not cut and dried, on most installs would take a heck of a lot longer than this to do correctly.

How long does it take to test an electrical circuit?

To sum up on our domestic install with 12 circuits and commercial install with the same number of circuits, we have the following:

Domestic electrical testing

Point Count  36 minutes
Testing 12 circuits4 hours
Visual inspection1 hour
Test and inspect the origin 15 minutes
Lunch1 hour
Paperwork30 minutes
TOTAL7 hours 11 minutes

Commercial electrical testing

Point count1 hour
Testing 12 circuits6 hours
Visual inspection1 hour 30 minutes
Test and inspect the origin15 minutes
Lunch1 hour
Paperwork 40 minutes
TOTAL10 hours 55 minutes

If we were charging £6 per circuit and we had 12 circuits, that is £72.00

If we were charging £18 per circuit and we had 12 circuits, that is £216.00

If we were charging £30 per circuit and we had 12 circuits, that is £360.00

Is the amount of work outlined above worth £72.00? Is it worth £216.00? Or even £360.00?

Does 7 hours of domestic work sound like value for £72.00 or almost 11 hours of commercial for the same cost? What are you really getting for £72.00 when the cost of carrying out electrical work includes wages, training, pensions, staff healthcare, holiday, vehicle costs, tools, test equipment, 3rd party accreditation schemes and management?

You tend to get what you pay for

I guess that is down to you as the client, but from experience, you tend to get what you pay for!

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Testing electrical installations varies in time depending on age and condition, the type of premises, number of circuits, whether records are available and the impact to the users of the installation.

The times shown in this article and times taken as pure estimations. They do not resemble an accurate portrayal of EVERY installation but I do not feel they are unreasonable. However, I would like to point out that every installation is different. Every premises has a different use. Every installation will vary in condition, age, standard, and type of wiring methods used and the records available, quality of previous works etc.

I cannot see how periodic inspection and testing can purely be quoted on price per circuit unless you absolutely know that every circuit is exactly the same and has no variables.

Let’s face it, no business wants to lose money

I understand that many companies will accept that ‘some you win’ and ‘some you lose’. However, it is very easy to carry out a report without actually following to the recommended industry guidance so that the contractor will not ‘lose’ at all. I have seen over the years many contractors who cut corners and reduce standards because let’s face it, what business wants to ‘lose’ money?

Does commercial pressure play a part?

I have heard of inspectors being under pressure by their managers that they ‘have to’, test 60 circuits in a day or have targets to meet. Many inspectors are on a price per circuit. Why is such an important task being rushed or incentivised by money or pressure? What is common is the inspector running out of time so writes LIM (limitation) on the report for various items including testing circuits. Limitations should be agreed by the client prior to carrying out the work, not made by the inspector as a way to type up a report and for the company to charge for the full price leading the client to believe all has been tested when it hasn’t.

The EAWR 1989 is the law!

Can we please take a moment to remember why we are carrying out inspection and testing, and for a second let’s forget the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989…. We are carrying out inspection and testing to ensure the electrical system is safe within the building to prevent risk of injury or death by electrocution or fire of people or animals.

Shouldn’t we be making sure we do our absolute best to prevent such injury or death? When did it become socially acceptable to scrape the barrel to pay for such important safety testing? Regardless of potentially being unlawful to not carry out electrical works safely, isn’t it immoral too?

Is it a good idea to price per circuit?

I do get asked to tender electrical condition reporting per circuit and I am not totally opposed to the idea at all, but not for 6 quid. My preferred method of pricing electrical testing is quite simply to attend the property, look at the distribution boards, number of circuits, and, also what the circuits supply. The time spent can massively vary on use and property type. For example a hospital ward involves far more than a commercial car show room.

I simply work out the testing job as a breakdown of the Point Count, Testing number of circuits, Visual inspection, Test and inspect the origin, Lunch and Paperwork. Add them together to work out the time spent on the job and multiple that by the hourly rate for the location of the job. Part of this equation I have highlighted in this article.

When I get asked by some clients why I don’t price per circuit, I simply explain that not every circuit can be the same price when they vary so much. Pricing via a site survey is fair more accurate in my opinion and doesn’t allow for any unnecessary pressures to allow for the job to completed accurately so the client is not exposed to any errors that they could be accountable for. I am always happy to provide the estimated time I have quoted for and if we largely over-estimated the work, I am happy to provide a part credit.

No unnecessary pressure is put on my test engineers. The importance of making sure we are thorough is the priority. I appreciate some contractors will be quicker than others. I also appreciate some contractors will work for less than others. I just hope that when you are ordering your testing and inspection, you understand that comparing two company’s prices isn’t always comparing apples for apples when making your choice for your competent person(s).

What do you get for £6? Can electrical be circuits tested for £6? I will let you be the judge of that.

#e5 #e5family

Written by Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer originally in Kent on 12th May 2018 and re-published

Please note the prices and times listed in this article are no reflection of any particular situation and are for thought provoking purposes only when choosing an electrical contractor to undertake works. The £6 comparison of items are approximate and may vary.

Tips On How To Prevent Non Payment

How To Prevent Non Payment

Tips on how to prevent a non payment for construction works. Many tradesmen are knocked for money or receive late payment for work they have carried out. Here are some tips on how to prevent non payment.

Most tradespeople at some point will encounter a non payment or or being knocked for money for works they have carried out. It happens regularly to many for less than £100 to tens of thousands of pounds.

Chasing money and invoicing seems like a chore, but it doesn’t have to be.

Having been in contracting since I left school and involved in the whole process from quotation to invoicing, I have first hand experience and have been involved in working directly for Mrs Jones, the consumer changing sockets to 6 figure blue chip projects.

I have suffered non payment and each time I had to learn why it had happened and how to prevent it happening again. My largest non payment was £60k for a retail shop fit out for a main contractor. Fortunately, I was able to recover the financial set back, but many wouldn’t.

I am here to share my experience, tell you about how I learnt from my mistakes to help you.

Not being paid for work carried out can have a huge impact on somebody’s mental health and cause issues with their home life effecting loved ones.

Let’s have a look at my top Tips On How To Prevent Non Payment

How To Prevent Non Payment

1. Choose Your Customer

Many seem to think that anyone asking for a quote and orders work is a client and guaranteed revenue. Yes, they can order work and yes, if they agree to works they are entering a contract. But, it doesn’t mean you will be paid.

Carrying out vetting of a client is a very easy step into increasing the chance you will be paid.

If you are working for commercial clients such as Limited (Ltd) companies, you can carry out credit checks on them. There are a number of credit services such as CreditSafe or Experian where you have the ability to look up and monitor companies financial movements. Some services and packages allow you to monitor directors.

These services notify you if a company has a bad credit rating and will highlight if the risk is high or if there are any changes within the companies that you might want to look into.

Carry out FREE searches on Companies House

You also have the ability to search Companies House where businesses have to file financial information. There is plenty of information that you can look up on Companies House to ensure they client is who they say they are and usually you can view their financial history. Unless you have knowledge on reading accounts, you may struggle to interpret some of the information so a service mentioned previously would really be beneficial.

Working directly for a landlord or a consumer such as a homeowner may prove a little trickier to credit check and vet. However, I feel the risk can fluctuate depending on where you sourced the work and whether they are willing to pay a deposit.

We shall cover deposit payments in a little while. Where the client came from is important. If you source your work from Checkatrade, you will be getting a Checkatrade client. This is someone who uses Checkatrade as a way to find tradesmen. There will be a reason someone uses Checkatrade over the other review sites. Likewise if you source work through Which Trusted Traders, you will receive a Which client. This is often someone who does their homework, and takes note of Which’s guide on employing a trades person. If you source your work through Facebook, you will get yourself a Facebook client. This is someone who searches Facebook for tradesmen.

Ask yourself, what type of person searches each of the platforms to find a person to work in their home. There is no doubt a relation between the type of client each platform attracts and their buying behaviours will reflect on the risk of payment.

You have a choice who you work for and more important who you attract. Attracting the right customer is something I work through with my clients that I business coach!

2. Detail your quotation

A quotation is a legal document. It includes what your work involves should the client agree. If your quotation (your legal document) contain a narrative that can be interpreted incorrectly, legally you are open to abuse.

If you quote in detail what work you are carrying out such as each item showing what brand you use, how you do it and the location, there is no argument from either party should a payment dispute occur.

One electrician came to me recently and told me he sends quotes via text message. It would be a few short sentences and the price. The works and how they are being carried out is totally open to interpretation and abuse.

I believe it is important to ensure both parties of the agreement are crystal clear on what both receive. Writing “Install 4 twin sockets” isn’t good enough. I understand detailing a quote takes up more time, but it will save time further down the line in the event of any problem. You can quite easily create templates as well to increase your efficiency and reduce time spent on writing quotations. I am certainly not suggesting breaking down the cost of each item, just ensuring they are written down.

3. Provide your Terms and Conditions

Not only does the quotation form part of the legal document, so does the terms and conditions. These are to protect YOU and the client. It is what both parties agree which forms part of the contract.

Many contractors terms and conditions are poor and open to abuse. Many don’t even have terms and conditions.

I get asked all the time if I recommend employing a solicitor to create terms and conditions. I would suggest it is a good practice because they are able to create a document in legal terms to protect you . However, it can cost an arm and a stick and I have found in the past that you will be expected to alter terms and conditions to suit a particular client or contract.

It is okay to have a simple set of terms and conditions. I share and provide resources to my clients who I coach.

It is vital to have the client accept the terms and conditions. It would be down to you to prove they have read and agreed to them. A verbal instruction is a contract but could be tricky to prove in court so in writing is far better. You could email a quotation along with the terms and conditions and ask the client to respond by accepting the quotation and agreeing to the terms and conditions and quoting the quote number and total amount.

You could have your terms and conditions stated on your website and a link sent to the client.

4. Consider taking deposit and/or staged payments

As mentioned earlier, it is important to vet and assess who you work for. I believe it is perfectly reasonable to expect some deposit payment at the beginning of a project because there will always be some form of expense to you.

In the early days of running my business, I never asked for deposits. I started to because I had a few non paying clients and changed my procedures. I immediately found the type of client who had a problem with paying for deposit was usually the type who would argue the final invoice.

Someone once said to me “Why would I pay you £500 when I don’t know you?”. I responded with “Why would I do £1,000 worth of work for you when I don’t know you?”.

A deposit is fair for both parties. I also assured my clients that I can be found all over the internet, my reviews were fantastic and I was very easily available on social media which helped provide trust into my clients or potential clients.

Stage payments are vital for larger projects to aid cash flow. Even on a smaller scale I think it is fair to request staged payments such as every two weeks or monthly if you can finance a month. Some contractors do not do this at all.

5. Do a bloody good job!

“Every contract to supply a service is to be treated as including a term that the trader must perform the service with reasonable care and skill”.

Section 49 of the Consumers Rights Act 2015

If you provide the client with the work you promised, there is no argument for not paying. This of course doesn’t prevent a non payment client, but is certainly helps.

Section 49 of the Consumers Rights Act 2015 states “Every contract to supply a service is to be treated as including a term that the trader must perform the service with reasonable care and skill”.

If you do perform the service with reasonable care and skill, the client has a right to dispute full payment for the services you carried out! Yes!!! You read correctly. It is completely open to interpretation from a consumer when they owe you money.

Of course, you could probably argue your case but being proactive about non payments is far better than being reactive.

I would recommend getting reviews once you complete work or at least ask for feedback. If the client states they are happy, this could go in your favour if a case ever went to court.

Plus, I personally feel we should always strive to provide the best possible service we can.

6. Detail your invoice

An invoice forms part of the trail of documentation for many reasons including HMRC and accounting. I have seen no end of invoices that say just “Electrical Works” as a description. For some clients, this may seem acceptable, but imagine if you work for a client who has multiple invoices to pay each month and perhaps many electrical invoices to pay each month.

The invoice should correlate with a payment, but more importantly the client should be able to approve what they are paying for.

I recommend on your invoice besides the usual information, you provide a quotation number, worksheets to prove completion of the work and even certificate / report numbers. Always ensure you write the date the works were completed. The invoice date might differ to the completion date.

It is also vital to make it clear on your invoice how the client can pay. This should be set out in the terms and conditions they agreed originally, but don’t forget, sometimes the person paying isn’t always the contact who you liaise with for doing the work.

Listing the payment methods is vital. They won’t pay if they don’t know how!!!

7. Make it easy to pay

Us humans typically like the path of least resistance, just like electricity.

Us humans typically like the path of least resistance, just like electricity. Being paid via BACS online bank transfer is often best for you because you get the money sent straight to your bank. However, it can be a pain for a client to make a BACS payment.

I think you should consider taking card and credit card payments and even PayPal. It is so easy to punch in the card details and pay via card. There are so many different payment solutions. Some contractors use card machines so you don’t leave without being paid. This could work in some situations but if you work for landlords you might not see the landlord. There are also payment methods done online.

As soon as I offered the easy payment methods, not a single invoice has taken longer than 24 hours to be paid.

I use Stripe card payments and PayPal and even though BACS is my preferred because it costs me nothing, I don’t mind paying the small fees Stripe and PayPal charge because it provides me with quick and easy payments. Originally I accepted BACS only for my business coaching, but as soon as I offered the alternative methods, not a single invoice has taken longer than 24 hours to be paid.

I refused to accept cheque as a contractor because there is a lot of admin time involved in cashing the cheque at the bank. And my bank charged me for the pleasure! It is a very outdated method of payment.

8. Invoice quickly

Get into the habit of invoicing quickly. The quicker you invoice, the quicker you can get paid! It is a simple formula.

Often, I used to send the client the invoice BEFORE we started so they can pay a deposit and they have the information ready to pay when the work is complete.

It is important to make sure the client gets the invoice quickly so it is fresh in their minds once the job is complete to approve payment.

Many contractors who invoice at the end of the month and spend a day doing so. 30 days is a long time to wait for money so if you invoice immediately, you will improve your cash flow. This is why I think the use of invoicing software should be considered.

9. Use invoicing software

The days of manual invoicing are pointless. If you only send a couple of invoices a year, sure, sending invoices manually makes sense. However, there are so many low cost solutions that even the self-employed working for one organisation should consider invoicing software.

The benefits of invoicing software are:

  • Quick invoicing
  • Easy record of incoming and outgoing payments
  • Many can integrate with payment methods such as card payments
  • Can be used for accountancy to satisfy HMRC and companies house
  • Saves time!!!!!

I use Zoho Books and although it works perfectly for me, I am in the process of trying out a few different types of software and will create a blog post soon on what I recommend for contractors.

What I love about the software and many will be similar, is that I can invoice in seconds. If someone places an order, I can add them as a contact press a couple of buttons on my mobile or laptop and POW! Invoice sent.

The client can then pay me via my payment methods and when they do, I get notified of a payment. I also have a dash board which shows outstanding payments and can press a button to send a gentle reminder that payment is overdue.

The software records my invoices and I can upload my business expenses very easily.

Saving time in business is vital. The more time you have as a business owner, the better. Invoicing is an important but a task that might not be best use of your time. If you grow and have staff working for you, paying somebody else to invoice might be the solution but it might be just as cost effective using clever software to do most of it for you.

This then allows you to spend more time managing your team, marketing, networking or creating sales.

10. Communicate

Communication is arguably the number 1 most important thing in any relationship whether it is a business, friendship or intimate relationship.

A client should be kept informed throughout the whole process of the project you are doing for them.

Don’t forget, communication is a two way thing. You can talk to the other person and listen when they talk to you.

Lack of communication is a very easy way for a break down in trust or interest. If you want to be paid it is important to maintain the relationship.

I truly believe that if you have a good relationship with your client, they are more likely to pay because they have an emotional attachment. Whereas if you lack that human connection, there is less of an emotional tie which does play a part in their moral decisions. Of course, this isn’t the case all the time.

11. Go legal

Unfortunately, contracting can be full of conflict and legal disputes. As a business owner you have to be willing to face this at some point in your business journey.

Don’t ever be afraid to engage with a solicitor and take legal action against somebody who owes you money.

I would always advise to use legal action as the last resort because it can be very stressful and there’s still no guarantee of getting paid.

There are also alternative methods to consulting a solicitor such as a debt collection company.

In either case, it is important to maintain your documentation for the project from client enquiry, to quotation, to certification, to invoice. I am soon offering memberships on my website where you can download a folder system on your computer to record and update the all important documents required for every job you do!

If you are interested in the membership, let me know below:

JOIN THE CLUB!!!!

Fill out the form to sign up to our mailing list where you will receive an update of the membership when it is up and running!

You can watch my YouTube video on my Tips On How To Prevent Non Payment below!

I hope these tips on how to prevent non payment have been useful. Feel free to comment below to let me know your experience or if you have any questions.

Written by Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer in Bali, Indonesia

Disclaimer: All content within this blog post and website is the opinion only of Dans the Engineer and should you choose to take any of the advice or information given, we accept no responsibility for any loss you may occur.

Electrician Career Progression

Electrician Career Progression

At The Construction Site – Electrician Career Progression. At the Construction Site is a series of blog posts I will be posting from my own experience and other electricians to provide first hand experience what it is like being a tradesman – the battles, the victories, the losses, and the lessons. This week, we have: Electrician Career Progression – At the Construction Site

I wrote this whilst still electrical contracting in London, UK before I sold my business to travel the world with my family.

During my apprenticeship I worked for three companies. I wasn’t sacked from any of them, I decided to leave to further my electrician career progression.

The first company I worked for was more of a building services company. They had some good guys who I still speak to today but also some really lazy engineers who are not good role models for impressionable young apprentices.

The reason I left that company was because I hadn’t even connected up a socket whilst working for them. In fact the only electrical work I participated in was re-lamping. I was more likely to have my hands in toilets fixing them and learning how to fiddle expenses and getting home as early as I can get away with.

When I handed in my notice I was spoken to by my line manager with the F-word many times in the conversation and he told to leave there and then. It suited me.

Electrician Career Progression
Yes, that is a picture of a young, energetic, ambitious me as an apprentice! Fresh off the council estate.

Onto the next opportunity

The second company was a specialist in power engineering up to 33kV. The work I done was incredible – panel building, bus bar installs, thermal imaging, containment, large cable pulling, jointing…. the list goes on. The experience was certainly there but at times I was not impressed how apprentices were managed.

It wasn’t a large company, but often apprentices were treated as labourers. I don’t mind doing anything but they had labourers. The labourers were doing electrical work! They also used to get me to work on a jobs far from my home but near another apprentices home and get him to work near my home where we could have just worked nearer our own homes. Again, I couldn’t care less where I worked but I felt that as an apprentice, you were not thought about much as everything was to suit the company.

“Dan, You’re not doing yourself any favours. You’ll never make it in this industry with the way you’re going”

I was clearly far more skilled and advanced that the other apprentices even though some had been doing it longer than me so I didn’t feel valued. I rang up my boss to tell her I’m giving notice and it was a similar reaction to my previous boss. She said to me “Dan, You’re not doing yourself any favours. You’ll never make it in this industry with the way you’re going” and told me to leave there and then. Was she right? Was I damaging my electrician career progression?

The ironic thing is that now I often tender for work and they are a competitor! **I now teach other electricians on how to grow their businesses!!!**

Is moving companies as an apprentice a bad thing?

I then joined my third company. The reason I joined this company was because they worked all over the country, mainly shop fitting, rewiring petrol stations, carried out a variety of work and seemed like a ‘team work first’ type of company. I was right and I loved it! I literally worked up and down the UK, learnt so much and met some great guys.

What I found odd about the company was that it had more apprentices than electricians. I think this was mainly because a few electricians left just before I started. I definitely had my work cut out to prove myself because there was a lot of competition! I think all my ex colleagues would agree that I certainly stepped up to the challenge. I climbed the company ladder quickly. Before no time, I was running jobs and had others working underneath me. Did it cause conflict? Yes, at times, but I was concentrating on my electrician career progression.

Be smart. Find ways to make your work more efficient. Aspire to be as knowledgeable as you can. Become an asset to those who need you.

I found a company I was happy with

I was clearly treated with favouritism by the company, but why shouldn’t I? I worked every hour under the sun for them; days, nights, weekends. I got jobs done quickly and efficiently. I was capable of tasks that some were not and I was willing to try new things that were outside of my comfort zone. I was also willing to work anywhere in the UK even at short notice where some were only willing to work locally and I wasn’t making ridiculous wage demands. Surely that is what every employer wants?

I always got the new van. If I wanted a new tool or plant that I felt I needed, I got it. I always got the good jobs. I got to work with whoever I wanted to.

The lesson here is that if you put yourself out there, make yourself available more than others and willing to go the extra mile, you’ll become very valuable.

The problem with that is when you are taken for granted. And it will happen!

Being taken for granted by my employer

Being taken for granted is a problem. A relationship between an employer and employee is a mutual agreement between both parties who both offer each other something in return for something. That relationship has to work both ways and each party needs to receive what they want from the relationship. When one starts to not play their part, the relationship suffers. So when an employer takes you for granted you need to remind them what you offer them. When you constantly put yourself out there, you are in a position to make demands. Please don’t ever be delusional with your role within your relationship as your employer will no doubt do a lot to keep you in work and to pay your wages but you need to gain from the relationship what you are looking for. It is two way!

No alt text provided for this image
Me and one of my good mates “Stealthy” on a hotel project in Dorset, UK.

During my time on my third company I felt I was being taken for granted. I was working 7 days a week, doing serious hours in the week, running multiple jobs and under pressure to complete jobs with not enough people. I was also slightly put out that I was on the same JIB wage as some of my colleagues who clearly were not as capable as I was. Why should I be paid the same as others who quite frankly could only handle half the amount of work that I could?

I was offered a job with a rival company. The money was similar but the change sounded intriguing. I spoke to my boss and told him my issues. I was in the position to force him to change a few things because I was an asset. To be fair, he made changes and we were back on track. I didn’t accept the other job and stayed where I was. Good choice in hind sight.

At the age of 19, I was working on a job on a petrol station in Somerset where we started the project 5 weeks late so we had to catch up, with not enough men and absolutely zero specification and direction from the client. We didn’t even have drawings! On top of that we were asked to work nights in Cardiff for a few days in the week as well as working weekends in London! Sleep? What sleep?

Experience is everything!

At the time I was still an apprentice and I was speaking to a guy on the job called Ian who owned his company working on the pump gauges. I was explaining that I’m exhausted but felt pressured to complete the jobs. He gave me some of the best advice anyone has told me. He said that I might be working silly hours a day but every hour is experience. Every hour at night or weekend is additional experience and often out of hours works provide a different experience to normal hours. So when I’m compared to my college mates who work 7 hours a day 5 days a week doing the same thing everyday and in the pub for 4 o’clock, I am gaining double the experience. He was in a similar position and due to experience he was able to set up his own company and is now the master of his own destiny.

From that day I totally looked at what I was doing in a different way. It is experience that allows you to progress! I’m not saying work yourself into the ground, but gain the valuable experience and knowledge and use it to push yourself forward. Be smart. Find ways to make your work more efficient. Aspire to be as knowledgeable as you can. Become an asset to those who need you.

Qualifying as an electrician is just the start of your career

Before I even qualified I started my City and Guilds 2391 Electrical Testing and Inspection course. I absolutely smashed my electrical AM2 practical exam. It was a doddle. The examiner even said to me as we left “It’s your birthday this weekend isn’t it?”. “Yes I replied”. He said “I am not supposed to give results before the official time, but let’s just say you can celebrate further for your birthday”. As soon as I qualified I sat my City and Guilds 2400 Electrical Design and Verification course and it hasn’t stopped there. I am constantly reading content online and looking to complete the next course which will further my career and knowledge.

The electrical industry is exciting and full of opportunity! The limits are endless. I highly recommend that anyone coming into the industry sees qualifying as the start. Once qualified, look to see what areas you wish to explore and enjoy and have an aim. Set goals and set aside some money (unless your employer is willing to pay), so you can complete additional courses within your chosen direction.

Find a niche in the electrical industry

You can progress into EV charge points, solar PV, fire alarms, intruder alarms, project management, contracts management, health and safety, construction, engineering, maintenance, training, sales, owning your own business…. The list goes on!

The more knowledge you have, the easier it is to understand and read a situation. It provides more opportunities and allows you to have choices. Keep on learning, read and watch educational and inspirational videos.

Life can be tough and full of questions. Wouldn’t you prefer to have the answers?

Electrician career progression isn’t handed to you, it is an attitude

I come from a council estate in Surrey. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like Compton, Los Angeles but I have been in many situations which I wouldn’t want my kids to be in. My experiences as a youngster certainly play a part in my drive, aggression and hunger. I have worked since being a teenager and I believe a massive part of being in the electrical industry is learning the right work ethics and attitude. Some will naturally have it but some need to learn it. Somebody needs to teach them!

I have never been afraid to stand up for what I think is right. I can be arrogant. I can be cocky. I am not scared of confrontation when necessary. I can be a nuisance. But I look out for others. I believe in teamwork and I have done a lot of growing up. I believe life is a long journey and you learn as you grow through experiences.

I have worked on some fantastic projects, some of which I am very proud of. My experience and knowledge has taken me places, but I am not finished yet, my career has just started! The electrician career progression continues.

Look out for more blog posts in my series – At The Construction Site.

#e5 #AtTheConstructionSite #electricalindustry #apprenticeships #danstheengineer

Originally written by Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer in Kent, UK and posted on LinkedIn on 14th January 2018. Re-written by Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia.

Using WhatsApp for business

Using WhatsApp for business

WhatsApp business mobile App. The benefits and why it is a great business tool. Dan informs why he is using Whatsapp for business and why it is the chosen method of communication for workflow and increasing efficiency.

Have you tried using Whatsapp for business? Here’s why I’m using it for my business and why I love it.

I’ve used WhatsApp for many years as a way to communicate with family and friends. The mobile app is easy to use, visually pleasing and perfectly functional as a messaging application.

Using WhatsApp for business

Why use WhatsApp for business?

I first started using Whatsapp for business when I managed a team of engineers as a method of communication. We could send videos and photos to each other easily.

It was only when I started up my coaching business I saw the amazing potential WhatsApp has to offer.

I started travelling the world with my family (find out more about me here) and as I moved through various countries, I discovered that using data to communicate is far more cost effective and functional than typical phone calls and text messages. The benefit of data is that you aren’t just limited to calls and texts as you can Google, use apps, plus make calls and send messages in other ways.

All I need is a phone, a camera, a laptop and data

I started my business coaching as a digital nomad working remotely. For my business, I need a phone, a camera, a laptop and data. I create social media content on my YouTube channel Dans the Engineer and LinkedIn and I business coach my clients one on one.

All coaching sessions are via WhatsApp call and video wherever I may be in the world.

When I was researching WhatApp as a choice of business communication, I discovered the WhatsApp business app. It’s like the normal WhatsApp except it has a few additional features which I cover further down.

WhatsApp for business



What works better for me is that you can use the business app with a different mobile number. I have the normal WhatsApp and business WhatsApp on my phone with different numbers. It separates personal and business correspondence with is great for that all important work life balance.

The business version has the number I have which isn’t in any phone. You can’t call it normally or text the number because I won’t respond, I purely have the number for WhatsApp.

Choosing one main method of communication to increase efficiency

The reason I have limited how someone can contact me is because in my previous role and owning a business that I sold, I found that the multiple methods of communication really made my workflow inefficient. I was constantly distracted by phone calls and the habit of checking all my apps to ensure I didn’t miss anything which could be business critical.

These days in my new business I make it clear to my clients that WhatsApp is the method of communication. You can email me, but I honestly rarely check my emails anymore. Of course, email has its place, but it isn’t my first choice off communicating with my clients.

The benefits of using WhatsApp for business

  • You can tell when the recipient receives the message and when they read the message.
  • It is easy to send media messages including documents.
  • You can link the app to your desktop so you can send files directly from your PC (download WhatsApp for MAC or Desktop here).
  • You can make voice and video calls as well as chat.
  • Can custom label chats to distinguish between chats such as; clients, suppliers, enquiries and more.
  • Low data usage.
  • Automatic replies.
  • Increased engagement with contacts – stories and broadcast messages.
  • Backup chats.
  • Create group chats.
  • WhatsApp etiquette is very casual oppose to formal emails.

Casual etiquette

I find when I WhatsApp my clients, I do so in a way that I would talk to them face to face. When emailing, the etiquette is to correspond in a manner which isn’t very authentic. I am a huge believer in treating people like humans and not robots and talking in my normal manner is far more personal. In fact, my bespoke service is one of my companies selling points.

How much data do WhatsApp calls use?

WhatsApp doesn’t use much data. I use Wi-Fi whenever possible but when I have to use mobile data, it doesn’t tear through my data allowance costing me hefty bills.

Below shows how much data a 1 hour WhatsApp call uses.

how much data a 1 hour WhatsApp call uses
An out-going WhatsApp call used 18.3 MB of data for a 59 minute and 14 seconds phone call

Using WhatsApp effectively for sales

My sales technique is rather simple. I post social media content and blog posts which drives traffic to my website. Once on my website you can browse my services and is an icon permanently active which allows you to WhatsApp me. Potential clients WhatsApp me, we have a chat and if they want to proceed, I send them a link to sign up with my coaching or to purchase a course. It is effective, quick, easy and efficient.

The WhatsApp business App has a function where you can label chats. I co-ordinate the labels so I can easily see paying clients who have priority, potential clients or general business chats.

WhatsApp business label chats

You can create groups like normal WhatsApp to include chats amongst multiple users, but you can also create Broadcast messages. I do this when I want to send out a message to multiple contacts but don’t want to message each contact individually. It might be a link to a new video I think they might find useful. A broadcast message is sent to multiple contacts, but the recipients cannot see who else it has gone to.

WhatsApp business automatic replies

The app has a number of automatic responses. If someone messages you for the first time or hasn’t chatted with you for over 14 days, an automatic response can pop up. You can also set short codes for quick replies. I use this when someone is asking about my services. Instead of typing the same thing multiple times, I press a couple of buttons and it sends them a pre-written message. This saves me time.

WhatsApp business greeting message

Backup your chats

A very important feature is the ability to backup your chats. I am able to backup the chats to my Google Drive over WI-Fi which I do regularly. You are also able to screenshot any conversations which might be useful if you want to save the screenshot image as evidence of quote approval or similar.

Is WhatsApp the best method of communication?

Although I have other apps for methods of communication, WhatsApp is my go-to platform. I rarely check traditional text messages and I only schedule calls so calling me is pointless. This is to manage my workflow. I am not ignoring my clients or potential clients at all. I am simply in control of my time. Anybody who wants to make an enquiry has all the information required on my website and my automatic replies let’s them know I am there, and I will respond when I can. There is a photo of me so people can put a face to a name, and I post WhatsApp status updates. These are similar to Insta and Facebook stories to let your audience know what you are up to – or subtle promotions of your services.

I have been talking to a financial advisor recently and originally, we were communicating via email which was very formal. I asked if he had WhatsApp which he did and before you know it we were sending emojis and photos. The chat was casual and although it is all business related, I feel like our relationship improves due to personal nature of WhatsApp. I believe you can remain professional by talking in manner which is personal and casual.

Is WhatsApp the future?

WhatsApp also appears to be developing their platform which allows 3rd party integration which will be interesting. I am all for efficient work processes, so I look forward to seeing what is released.

As I travelled through Asia, WhatsApp seems to be the normal method of communication on a personal level and business. It makes sense because it removes the need to purchase additional sim cards whilst abroad if you don’t need to. You just need data. You can also keep your WhatsApp number on your mobile and replace the sim card but keep your original WhatsApp number. I constantly change sim cards due to being in different countries, so this is ideal.

Do I recommend WhatsApp for business?

Do I recommend it for other businesses? I think it would be foolish to not explore it. My business is very different to other businesses and WhatsApp works very VERY well for me. It might not be ideal for the main method of communication for your business, but it still can have a place.

I am always happy to chat more about my experience using it and making it part of my business process. WhatsApp me and we can have a chat!

Download WhatsApp Now

Written by Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer in Bali, Indonesia.

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