Industry sector: Consumer services

Aerial installer: Your work rate

As part of your business planning, give some thought to the hours you expect to work and the amount of work that you can realistically hope to get done in a typical working day.

Your working hours

Assuming that you get a fairly steady stream of installation and other work, the amount you can earn depends partly on the number of days you work and the length of your working day.

You may decide to stick to normal business hours, for example 8.30 am until 5.30 pm Monday to Friday and perhaps Saturdays too. Or you may decide to work longer hours - perhaps an earlier start. Remember that bad weather can disrupt your work schedules - it's difficult and often dangerous to do installation work at height when it's windy and wet. Perhaps you're prepared to work longer hours when the weather is fair and take some time off during quieter periods.

Work rate

You should have a good idea of how long certain types of jobs will take you and how many you can do in a typical day. Even so, it's a good idea to build some contingency time into your work schedules and planning. No two installation jobs are exactly the same, and it's not unusual for something unforeseen to crop up and cause complications. Sometimes you'll turn up at a job only to find that the there are lots of things that need to be sorted, all of which take time - heavy furniture may need to be moved, access may be difficult or restricted, the dish position may be higher than normal, cable runs may be very long and so on.

If you're going to employ any staff bear in mind that although you may well be motivated to work hard and put in long days, your employees may not be prepared to match your work rate. You'll aim always to get the best out of them, but be realistic in your expectations.

It's very important when you quote for a job that you can make a realistic estimate of how long it will take. It's no good basing your quote on two hours work if it ends up taking you six!

Non-productive time

Unfortunately, not all of every working day will be spent earning money. Here are a few examples of reasons why you may sometimes find yourself working hard but earning nothing:

  • travelling to and from jobs
  • visiting sites to cost new work, give quotes and do surveys (if you make no charge for these services)
  • finishing off jobs that take you longer than you had thought (possibly due to unforeseen problems)
  • getting call-backs after an installation to rectify problems or give free support

Sometimes you may find that you're unable to work at all, because:

  • the weather is too bad to work outside and/or at height
  • you arrive at a job but the customer isn't there
  • you're ill

Take all of these factors into account when you're estimating the maximum number of productive hours that you can work each month. Be realistic! Remember that they can apply to your employees as well as to you. When you plan your working schedules, try to minimise the amount of time that will be wasted - for example by making sure that all the day's jobs are located as close to each other as possible. Be sure that you've always got everything you need with you for a job before you start.