Industry sector: Consumer services

Burglar alarm fitter: Your work rate

Assuming that you get a fairly steady stream of 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 with an earlier start. Remember that bad weather can disrupt outdoor work and may require you to work later than intended to complete a job. Perhaps you are prepared to work very long hours when your services are in demand, taking some time off during quieter periods. Some security alarm installers offer a 24 hour emergency call out service for fault repairs and other problems (even on alarm systems not installed by them) and you might decide that you also need to offer this to remain competitive. If so, think about how you'll cover the service at times when you're on holiday or ill.

Work rate

You should have a good idea of how long certain types of jobs will take you. It is very important when quoting for a job that you can make an accurate estimate of how long it will take. It's no good basing your quote on two days work if it ends up taking you four!

The speed at which you work depends on your own skills and experience and on the type and standard of the work that you do. Your charges should reflect all of these things.

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:

  • visiting sites to cost new work and give quotes
  • finishing off jobs that take longer than you had thought (possibly due to unforeseen problems, such as difficulty routing wiring or sorting out small faults found during testing)
  • travelling to and from jobs, or to get tools, equipment or materials from a supplier
  • repairing systems under warranty

Sometimes you may find that you are unable to work at all, for example because you are waiting for equipment to be delivered or you are ill.

Take all of these factors into account when estimating the maximum number of productive hours that you can work each month. Be realistic! When you plan your working schedules, try to minimise the amount of time that will be wasted. For example, you may be able to build a contingency into your work schedule so that you can move straight on to another job if for any reason you are unable to work at the original one.