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									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

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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