By Brian Northway
By Brian Northway
September 27, 2018 — You might not realize it, but you already know how to install a standby generator. Yes, you do—since as an electrical contractor, the skills you use to install electrical services in homes and businesses every day are the very same skills you need to install a standby generator.
So, by adding generator service offerings to your business, you can add value for your customers and increase your revenue stream, all without having to learn a new skill.
Adding standby generator sales is as simple as learning what your customers want, brushing up on your knowledge of generators and learning how to transfer your current skill set.
The power of power
It’s no secret our electrical grid is outdated. The infrastructure we rely on to power our homes, businesses and public facilities was largely built in the middle of the 20th century. Today, new construction, a growing population and an increased reliance on electricity-based devices—such as televisions, notebook computers and mobile phones—are all straining the existing system.
As a result, power outages are on the rise. Studies show the five-year annual average of outages has doubled every five years since 2000. Not only are electricity disruption events growing in number, but they are also lasting longer than before, interrupting our lives and halting normal business operations.
A continuous supply of electricity is significant to your customers’ lives. And while that might sound obvious to electrical contractors, homeowners are never more aware of the impact of electricity on their day-to-day lives until it’s gone, at which point their air conditioning (AC) and heating systems don’t work, Internet-based transactions and activities are interrupted, valuable refrigerated food supplies may be put at risk and the whole house is plunged into darkness.
Because homeowners usually take electricity for granted, it’s easy for them to become more concerned about protecting their residences against what they perceive as more tangible threats, like floods and fires.
Yet the likelihood of an unexpected power outage affecting them is at least as great as—and often greater than—an unanticipated natural disaster.
As an electrical contractor, you are already in your customers’ homes. Plus, they already trust you to handle and resolve their routine electrical issues. So, why not let them trust you to ensure they are never without power?
Simply mentioning backup power to a customer while you’re already at their house on a call will ‘plant the seed’ for them to start considering protecting themselves against unexpected power outages.
Generating sales with generators
There are obvious benefits of adding generator sales to your current business, such as increased revenue through a new service offering, but the true added benefit is that you become your customer’s “go-to.” Once a power outage hits your customer’s home and their standby generator switches on, they’ll be repowered and they’ll remember you’re the one who made that happen. They’ll know they can rely on you to ensure their lives are uninterrupted. By providing additional services outside of routine electrical work, you ensure your customers begin to consider you as a resource for all of their household electrical needs.
By providing comprehensive electrical services, from routine work to outage preparation, you gain a lifelong customer. In your typical work, you likely only see your customers once or maybe twice a year, but adding generator services allows you to establish multiple touch points with a customer throughout the year, i.e. through maintenance agreements.
Simply visiting the customer for a half hour to ensure their unit is properly installed gives you the opportunity to address any additional, outstanding electrical issues they’re experiencing, which in turn will lead to additional sales.
You already know how to do this
While many other types of businesses, such as plumbing operations, are capable of adding generator sales and installations to their service everyone else. As mentioned earlier, you already hold all of the skills necessary to size and install standby generators.
The sizing calculators you are familiar with in the Canadian Electrical (CE) Code are the same you would use to size a standby generator. This is why you already have the baseline knowledge to size and install a home’s standby generator.
Step up your skills
Relying on your current sizing and electrical knowledge, along with obtaining the appropriate licences, may well be enough to get your foot in the door of the generator sales and installation business, but you can also take it to the next level with some additional best practices.
Many generator manufacturers offer optional training to hone your knowledge. You can learn the finer offerings, electrical contractors have a leg up on points about how to properly size a generator for your customer and correct installation practices—such as where specifically to install the generator—at these sessions. Attending this type of training equips you with that extra bit of knowledge to truly become a trusted resource on standby generators for your customers.
Indeed, adding standby generator sales to your service offerings will enhance your reputation and your relationships with your customers. This is the true value-add. By providing comprehensive electrical services, from installation of the generator to scheduled maintenance and emergency services, you can position yourself as a total solution provider, all based on the knowledge and skills you already have.
Brian Northway is a third-generation electrician, the former owner of an electrical and generator installation business and a current field service manager for Briggs & Stratton Standby Power.
This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Electrical Business Magazine.