Electrical Contracting Management: Training to guide you. In order to run a successful contracting business there are certain important requirements. Some of these requirements are dictated by law (e.g. you need to either be an accredited person or employ such person on a full-time basis), some by practical necessity (e.g. having use of certain tools and testing equipment) and some are simply dictated by good business sense. It is with this last category in mind that the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) offers a series of management courses designed to assist the contractor with these all- important aspects of running an electrical contracting business. Many of these aspects are not thought about initially but, if not adequately addressed, can cause serious financial harm to an otherwise successful business. The ECA is hosting these courses on behalf of the Electrical Contracting Board who designed them as modules to the Diploma for Electrical Contracting Management. Contract Documentation The ECA offers contractual and legal advice to members and is often approached to advise them on what to do when a contractual relationship goes wrong. Upon attempting to ascertain what the terms of the contract are, in many instances it is discovered that nothing has been reduced to writing. Now, while it is true that most contracts can be verbal and are still valid and enforceable, the issue is a question of proof. If a contractor alleges a breach of contract on the part of a client, that contractor needs to then prove that the specific term of the contract firstly existed and then that it was breached. If nothing has been reduced to writing, it is one person’s word against another and the courts have to be approached to assist. With most small contracts, the cost implications make litigation unviable, and even then the outcome is not certain and the contractor then ends up sustaining unnecessary losses. Another benefit of reducing a contract to writing, is that it will oblige the contractor to consider and negotiate very important terms of the contract that may otherwise be forgotten about, such a progress payments, penalties for late work, risk and passing of ownership of materials etc. To attempt to put a comprehensive contract document together from scratch is obviously a difficult and time-consuming task but it is not necessary. There is a vast body of knowledge out there that has been built up over years of experience and many of the important clauses have been carefully worked out and tested by experience. Estimating and Tendering Closely linked with the necessity of having a solid contractual basis, is the need for accurate estimating and competitive tendering. It is of very little use (and in fact can be extremely costly) to get a job but make no money on it due to inaccurate estimating. The principle of remaining profitable is really quite simple but the mechanics and calculations involved require careful thought and accurate work. A well thought out tender document will not only ensure that a contractor is both profitable and competitive, but will also form a favourable foundation for the terms and conditions of the contract. The ECA regularly holds Estimating and Tendering courses drawing on the experience of its members. Labour Relations If you are a contractor, you almost certainly employ at least one person to assist you. The rights and duties of you as employer, as well as those of your employees is governed by various Acts of Parliament (such as the Labour Relations Act, Basic Conditions of Employment Act and others) as well as the Main Agreement as decided by the Bargaining Council. To the uninitiated, a potential minefield of regulation, but once you know your way around, the system works for promoting fairness and certainty in the employment relationship. Business Administration and Accounting for the Electrical Contractor Courses are also offered to assist contractors and their support staff to run efficient and profitable businesses. Paperwork is not every contractor’s favourite pastime, but is as vital to that bottom line as is the work in the field. Why go it alone. There are experts who are experienced in the electrical contracting industry who can provide valuable insight and share their experiences so that you can benefit. For more information on these and other courses that the ECA offers throughout the country, please contact Annelien at 011 392 0000.
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