Your Employees Are Not Master Electricians

Although they may strive to be, your employees are likely not master electricians. I dislike almost nothing more than a follow up call from a customer questioning my electrical or code aptitude. This happens when an employee tells a customer about “code compliance” that was seemingly overlooked. Let me be clear, there are some instances where this is completely acceptable. I very much encourage questioning, there is nothing better than a checks and balance system. However, in my experience it’s typically something unacceptable to discuss with a customer. It will create more confusion and does not lend itself to your reputation. Let’s dig in with an entertaining example.

Recently I had an employee reconfigure a large pool panel and equipment install. He decided that “it was not code for it to be so close to the fence”. After the job was complete, the customer called me quite unhappily. My favorite. He really did not want the equipment in that location. He questioned why I would have said it could go there and spec’d the job for it in that location in the first place. WAIT WHAT?!

Here I am, looking like an idiot who didn’t look in to something so very basic to the customer who was convinced my employee was correct. On a side note, this phenomena I’ll never understand. I see it with masons and landscapers too, somehow they have more experience than I do but aren’t electricians. And the customers have more faith in them. Go figure!

The employee I’m talking about is great most of the time or else he wouldn’t be in our employ. Between all of the tiktok and instagram wanna be electricians out there today, the average employee might get a little too trigger happy spewing “code information” to customers. The comical part is it’s typically things not even in the NEC (like our lovely “fence distance” example above. Fun fact about the believed “fence issue.” It was the set back for the specific town my employee thought he was an NEC requirement. Not only was it far enough away for the township, but the fence was not even the property line!)


Here’s the short of it all: you need to be very clear with your employees that they need to consult YOU and ONLY YOU about code related questions or even safety related questions BEFORE sharing with a customer.

You have to think like a lawyer, like the lawyer of your employee. Only you should be in communication with the paying customer about something potentially serious. Otherwise, your credibility is at stake in the hands of someone who is by definition less qualified than you. You need to nip behavior like this in the bud or it will bite you in the behind. The way I do this is with an update to the employee handbook that needs to read and signed. It’s difficult to do this with out singling out and openly mocking the error but you need to be clear about acceptable communication and behavior. It’s your business on the line. I promise you there are always people out there looking for work that will follow your rules.

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