Electrical Business: SmartServ is in conversation with Paul Pearce from Pearce Electric, Burnaby.
How did you start your electrical business? What was your motivation?
I was 20 years old, walking around with a ladder and vehicle in Toronto, knocking door to door and asking – Would you like your windows clean? The answer was a simple Yes or No. My next question used to be – When would you like your windows clean? They give me a date, and I used to call them back. They were usually surprised that I called them back.
I was recognized as an entrepreneur in my early twenties when I started my own little window cleaning business.
In those days, I was only doing it for lunch money. However, I always had the business instinct, the drive, and a couple of friends who helped me, and one girl who drove me to get up and go every day. As I was single parenting at an early age, my drive to see how I could have more time to take my son to daycare encouraged me to do something on my own.
What are the things you looked at while starting your own business from scratch?
When I got my ticket to start my business, I was advised to get schooling and then initiate. I had the opportunity to go to school and attend an entrepreneurial business program. It was sponsored by a government program, which helped me financially a little bit.
Later, I did lots of leg work to find what kind of person I was, what type of decision-maker I was, what I want from my business. When I set myself up, I found what type of clients I want and what kind of business I’m doing. I figured out who was actually going to put money in my hands.
For me, it was more about what type of person I am and not the business. I wanted to know what excited me. When I developed relationships with people, I realized how people were more important than the field service business.
Also, I surveyed what mattered to people through SurveyMonkey and shared it with my friends and family.
A few of the parameters were:
- I directed my questions towards homeowners as the business is different for B2B and end-user.
- I recognized the niche from business to end-user.
- There was no money in it.
As you have experimented a lot within the field service industry, how did you decide to get into the electrical business?
It had more to do with my son and flexibility. Also, my father is an electrical engineer. Thus, I grew up with the codebook. I was a draftsman for my father, who didn’t believe in my window-cleaning business obviously, and then me dropping out of college at that time, getting into electric was the next personal goal for me.
What were the challenges you faced over the course?
In the field service business, the pay structure is different. I realized that early in B2B and networking. Networking my business and talking to other field service business owners doing B2B, they were also trying to do what I was trying to do, i.e., trying to get paid how I was trying to get paid. I realized getting paid was a dependant source – next person to next person. And being a subcontractor and dealing with a contractor that wasn’t paying me became difficult for me as a single parent.
I found a market with a quick turnover rate than doing big business. However, I still wanted a big electrical business and to do every small thing professionally.
What would be your suggestions for the budding entrepreneurs in the electrical business today?
Everyone who is coming into your business and working for you, your employees, matters a lot. Get somebody that wants to stay with your business, and you have to provide them with the work all the time. One time you have work, and then you don’t. It is the uncertainty of the future that is the biggest challenge.
I did a lot more than window cleaning, painting, and so on, and a company came up to me. The big general contractor, who was well known around the area doing construction, said if I can clean his windows, maybe he can give me a bigger contract for all the houses they were building. I took the opportunity and called nine of my friends (around 18-20 years of age, high school people) to clean the windows with me. However, they were usually late and not motivated. Eventually, I lost the contract. I did have the drive, but I realized that people around you are not always as motivated as you are.
Secondly, you have to build client trust. Always focus on quality without backing down from what you are doing and from people. Maintain good relationships.
When I enter a house and see a grandmother and a six-year-old sitting on the sofa, I know I am dealing with people’s real lives. And the goal is to satisfy their needs, solve their problems. Look at people as they are being enhanced by your presence. Carry your end product or service in a way that satisfies YOU first, and the goal is to maintain that satisfaction.Paul Pearce, Pearce Electric
You can’t please everybody, but I believe that you come in with the attitude that you are going to do everything possible to help, it works.
Focus on troubleshooting and problem-solving. That is how I am the hero. I try not to just butter it up and leave but to really fix the problem and do that little extra. Those extras include – a clean floor, the presence of the product, and how it looks. What they see is what you are leaving them with.
Was there a point where you felt like giving up on the electrical business, and do you have a backup plan?
With my business, I work for other people as well. For me, I would still have my field service business and work for other people. If my electrical business does not work out, I have other things as a Plan B. I will always have work because I maintained my relationships with people. Plus, I am an entrepreneur, I have another idea about servicing homeowners. You basically are a man of ability – they want to know if you do other stuff. It helps me to expand through my electrical business without advertising.
Between becoming a draftsman to an electrician, I become a truck driver, and if I can not do the electrical and physical stuff, I will like to be a truck driver.
If you get a chance to travel back in time, would you change anything?
Everything I believe in has built me to where I am. Failure in the field service business is not always a failure; it is a learning experience. Therefore, my life is just a learning experience, and I am excited about the next lesson. You have something to take from each failure.
Do you feel starting a business today is any different than it was before?
Business is a drive for money for most people. You hang around with people who have the money to create the money. Successful people hang around with successful people. I am not driven towards money, but I believe in people, real and quality work.
The future, however, is very different for sure with electric vehicles, automated transportation, infrastructure, and whatnot.
How did you maintain the company culture over the years?
I am maintaining what I am.
I’ve been successful in creating a professional electrical business that continuously feeds me the way I want, even in hard times, there is the niche – simple service providing on a professional level. From the start, try not just to be an electrician but an electrical company.
What are your plans on expanding from your local rea to other near-by areas?
It is not easy to expand when you become a local business. You have to expand your license and allow the people to see you are a local. And you have to physically and digitally advertise.
Has SmartServ added any value to your electrical business?
Whenever I see something that is going to enhance my field service business, I go for it. It was when SmartServ made my business look a lot more professional and put me to another level. That is what SmartServ is about!
And today’s technological world where we are moving to another level, trying to be capable, have the tools to do it all, a field service business software like SmartServ allows me to do that. As a big business to be able to operate, I can see it also being beneficial in a logistical sense
The best part is, you do it the way I like it done – taking on receipts, using it to organize appointments, and so much more. I am an outside-the-box thinker, and I have been doing the same with SmartServ to customize it for my benefit.
SmartServ presents you with the blog series: How to start your own field service business 101. We aim to dedicate the series to budding or new business owners who wish to start their business from scratch. If you wish to ask any questions or want us to cover anything that would help you build your service business, let us know in the comment section!
SmartServ is an all-in-one cloud-based field service management software. We are expanding to providing affordable marketing services for small businesses. To book a free demo, reach us out at https://www.smartserv.io/demo-request/