Interview with a HomeStars award-winner: Hanna Taylor, Hotwire Electric
Hotwire has just picked up its fifth HomeStars 'Best Of' award. We asked Hanna Taylor about the value of online marketing, what makes her electrical firm stand out, and where she sees her future growth coming from.
March 18, 2015 by John Bleasby
Winning a HomeStars Best-of Award is no small achievement. Yet Hotwire Electric, Vaughan, Ont., has done just that, five times. Contributing editor John Bleasby talked with Hotwire’s owner Hanna Taylor about her firm’s success in a highly competitive, regulated industry.
How have you met the obvious challenges of being a successful woman in a male-dominated industry?
Our electricians know the code much better than I do. While I may not run the wire, I understand the process. I know the clientele and the administrative side. I go to jobsites, I meet with clients; I can deal with the ESA and deal with inspectors. That’s the value I bring to the business. Basically, I am the director of operations, a female bossing around 14 guys!
Many homeowners get frustrated with trades who are inconsistent with schedules and management. How have you overcome this?
Many clients don’t treat you well because they have low expectations due to past experience. They don’t expect you to show up on time, or expect that you will create a mess. Our job is to exceed expectations. Organization is so important in this industry. When my guys show up on Monday, they know where they are going and what they are doing. Our trucks are clean and organized, the paperwork is complete. Our crews don’t walk around with drooping pants wearing random T shirts; they have a uniform and a name tag. They are instructed to treat the customer’s house better than their own. It’s more than a jobsite; it’s someone’s home, it’s where they live.
How do you feel about customer procurement of fixtures?
Our customers buy their own fixtures. However, if clients go to Chinese sites and buy cheap fixtures, we will not install them unless they are CSA-approved. We educate our clients before they spend their money. We meet to discuss the layout their lighting plan, how they plan to use their space, and how to best use various lighting options. We offer every client a level of personalized creativity beyond mere electrical wiring.
What has been the impact of your multiple HomeStars Best-Of Awards on your business?
Our relationship goes back 8 years. It was slow at first, but as they built their profile on search engines, it started to impact us big time. A large part of our business are builders; they don’t care about HomeStars. However, we have a huge daily volume of service calls from home owners. That’s where HomeStars really does impact us, especially how we operate versus other trades and companies. For example, if my crews don’t clean up and vacuum, there will be a negative review.
Hotwire has a very impressive website and you use social media extensively. How has that impacted business growth?
Instagram and Linkedin have helped us build relationships with other trades who might be in position to recommend an electrical contractor. Those avenues were not available a few years ago. I use them actively.
Do you feel TV renovation shows set up unreasonable expectations for homeowners?
Homeowners can definitely learn from these shows, especially regarding unsafe electrical work. However, they make it look like you can fix a house in a couple of days. That sells, but it’s not realistic; it’s drama. We have to explain to clients what their expectations really should be.
Where do you see the future growth of Hotwire coming from?
Growth will come from training our electricians to be more than licensed tradesmen and to develop customer and organizational skills. This will build our reputation and referral ratings. Small jobs can lead to bigger jobs later. Secondly, we’ve trained and certified our crews as generator installers and also maintenance and warranty technicians. Most electrical companies don’t want to do that.
(This interview was edited and shortened from the original conversation)