May 26, 2019
By Blake Marchand
The Shock Doctors is an electrical contracting company operating out of Orillia, Barrie and Muskoka, Ontario. Specializing in residential electrical repairs and service, they provide 24/7 service for homeowners within their service areas. And with their clinical, highly professional approach they are able to offer a solid customer satisfaction guarantee. To go along with their “no wiggle room” guarantee, they also have a zero-defect policy — being a member of the Electrical Safety Authority’s Authorized Contractor Program.
The Shock Doctors’ Terry Carman explained that, “When we started out in 1983 in Oakville with the typical ‘commercial, industrial, residential’ shingle hanging out, we quickly found the job we liked best was looking after peoples’ homes.”
“So, when we returned to Orillia in 1989, we decided that with a fresh start we would exclusively do residential work,” he said.
This focus has allowed them to establish a successful electrical contracting business, while their dedication to 24/7 customer service has allowed them to establish a strong customer base. There are no off hours when it comes to a potential customer’s home. “Some people have home-based business, some rely on medical equipment, and increasingly people have sophisticated security and safety systems that need to be kept running,” explained Carman.
To meet this challenge, The Shock Doctors stock a comprehensive inventory of emergency repair parts and equipment.
Another challenge with respect to the residential sector is ensuring customers are comfortable allowing a stranger into their home. Projecting reliability and professionalism is a crucial success factor for an independent contractor.
“We overcome this particular challenge by a dogged and determined focus on professionalism,” Terry noted. “Our trucks are easily identified with the company name and licensing information, and the uniformed attending technician has his introduction and photo attached to the email confirmation of the appointment sent by the office.”
The Shock Doctors employs three master electricians, one journeyman electrician, as well as an apprentice electrician. All began with the company as apprentices.
Developing an online presence has also been critical to their success thus far.
“Marketing and customer service is headed up by an extremely capable (and nice) lady who joined us five years ago. We were looking for someone to strengthen our online presence because every segment of the population has become comfortable looking for services through the computer.”
Terry noted that, “The expansion to the Barrie and Muskoka areas came hand in hand with our growth through the Internet. These areas became our natural boundaries as we wanted our technicians to spend more time with our clients and less windshield time.
“Saying that, we make a few exceptions for our clients who have cottages in our area but want us in the GTA at their homes as well.”
Being a residential contactor, customer service is a priority for The Shock Doctors, which is apparent with one look at their comprehensive website. They answer the phones at all hours, and as their website explains, “all our techs are trained to provide expert safety advice in emergency situations to keep you safe until professionals arrive.” They provide convenient scheduling and take time to explain all the options available to each customer after troubleshooting their problem.
The services they provide include new lighting and wiring, back-up generator installation, main service and electrical panel replacement, and electrical wiring. The full scope of their services can be found here.
Below Terry answers a few questions on behalf of The Shock Doctors, providing some insight into their expertise, and in the process, providing some great advice on what it takes to operate a successful residential electrical contracting business.
What is a typical job like for The Shock Doctors?
Our typical job involves troubleshooting. Most of our calls begin with “I have a problem this morning…” When one of us arrives at the client’s home we conduct an initial consultation and assessment. This includes a 12-point inspection of the entire electrical system from the main panel to the smoke detectors. This inspection allows us to look at the health of the entire electrical system and avoid a band aid approach to the solution. We need to fully understand the problem, accurately troubleshoot it, and prescribe correct and permanent solutions for our clients.
Beyond troubleshooting, our next biggest area is improving existing wiring. Adding new wiring to additions and upgrading existing wiring to today’s standards allow clients to maintain the character of their homes and enjoy the benefits of modern technology. It also addresses “home wiring” attempts that have been added over the years as homes change hands.
How has your business evolved or changed since its inception? Being in operation since 1983, has the business had to adapt to changing market demands?
The biggest evolution has been the almost universal use of credit cards. Folks love the convenience and the flexibility that credit cards bring — not to mention the points. Second would be the Internet — no business would be considered credible without a professional website.
What are some of the industry advancements or developments that have influenced what you do?
LED lighting, strobe alerts for smoke/CO detection systems, and EV charging systems did not exist when the business started out. We train and keep up with technology to provide the latest products and innovations to our clients.
Whole home, autostart generators provide our clients with stress-free uninterrupted power when the utility company grid fails. Many of our clients have memories of the 2003 week-long power outage and have personal reasons to take measures to avoid those types of circumstances.
Can you tell us about a project that you found particularly interesting, unique, rewarding, challenging?
We once ran a contest with the prize of a free service and panel upgrade to the client that had the oldest electrical panel. You would not believe the antique equipment that was entered. I was surprised there was not a sticker from Edison or Tesla on the panel doors of some entries. Entrants submitted electrical panels ranging from 35 to 70 years in age.
It was so entertaining and enlightening for me. For example: a 40-year-old panel is ancient to a 30-ish homeowner and almost brand new to a 50-something master electrician. I remember installing panels just like these, and I didn’t think it was all that long ago.
The winning panel was found in Brechin, Ontario. It was a 1942 Dominion Electric MFG. This old electrical panel is the second one the home had seen. This 70-year-old panel and 50-amp service was an upgrade from the original 30 amp/110-volt service. It was installed before the current owners took possession more than 50 years ago. They remember when their future home — the local blacksmith shop — was converted into a single-family home.
What sets The Shock Doctors apart? What has factored into making you award winning electricians?
Choosing to do residential work exclusively has been the biggest decision in setting us apart from other companies. You will never find us crawling out of a pizza oven and then traipsing through your home.
We offer firm pricing by the project — not by the hour — using our Straight Forward Pricing system. Also, all our work comes with an “Outrageous No Wiggle Room – No Getting Off the Hook Guarantee.” If you are not happy you do not pay.
We provide a three-year bumper to bumper warranty on all general repairs and equipment; 10 years on LED lighting; and lifetime on Shock Doctor electrical panels. We belong to the Airmiles Rewards Program making wiring rewarding for our clients who collect Airmiles.
We believe the main factor for our company receiving a number of prestigious business awards is that our clients have access to leave unbiased reviews on a variety of internet platforms such as Homestars, Google and Yelp.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own contracting business, or perhaps someone who is a new business owner struggling to establish their business?
1. Make sure you treat every customer exactly the way you would want someone to treat your own grandfather. You should be able to explain exactly what you are doing, why you are doing it, and the benefit to the homeowner without being condescending or using trade jargon.
2. Invest in training. Your vision for your company can only be implemented if your entire team sees the same vision.
Go HERE for more information on The Shock Doctors
Blake Marchand is Assistant Editor, Panel Builder & Systems Integrator.