Business Opportunity Idea

If you’re looking for a simple biz opp …. something that you can run from home in part time hours …. and which needs no special skills or experience to speak of … then this could be for you. It’s a great service idea that almost every business needs.

The opportunity is portable electrical appliance testing – or PAT testing as it’s known.

What Is PAT Testing? Anyone who runs a business using portable electrical appliances must inspect them regularly to ensure they are safe. While many businesses do PAT testing there are many, many who don’t. So this opens up a great little business opportunity providing PAT testing to all those businesses who are currently breaking the law. Plus of course all those businesses who do PAT testing but want a better/cheaper service than their current testing service provides.

Any appliance that can be moved –ie. is not fixed down or built in – must be inspected regularly. It doesn’t matter if they are large or small. So while computers, laptops, copiers and desk lamps must be inspected even a large freezer needs to be checked too. Many offices have hundreds of these appliances.

Getting Started: This business is suitable for either part or full time operation and you can work it from home. You’ll need a phone and a little office space at home. And transport to travel between your customers. You won’t need a PC or any Internet knowledge for this one. You will need a few hundred pounds capital for training and equipment, plus of course marketing.

Training & Skills: You don’t need to be a qualified electrician to run a PAT testing business and you do not need any electrical experience or knowledge or formal qualifications.

Now, although it’s possible to teach yourself PAT testing – there are even DVD’s which explain how to do it – the quickest and easiest way to become competent is to do a short PAT testing training course. Check with your local further education colleges as they often have cheap courses and some people may be able to get free/subsidised courses.

To do testing properly you will need a specialist piece of equipment called (funnily enough) a PAT tester. Basically, you hook the appliance up to the tester and it will tell you if it is safe or not. The tester is small and portable and can be carried easily.

You can buy a PAT tester from specialist electrical wholesalers. Used ones often turn up on eBay for around £50 or less. So have a look, you may find a bargain.

Selling Your Service: Use the same marketing methods that any business uses. Newspaper ads, ads in ‘Yellow Pages’ and a website would all work well. But use a pro-active, direct approach when you first start. Go out and actually find customers rather than waiting for them to come to you. You can call round and see local businesses, telephone them or send them a sales letter mailshot.

Remember, a good angle to take is to focus on the legal and safety-related need for PAT testing. These are good selling points for any product or service.

PAT Testing Procedure: Here’s a quick briefing on how to carry out PAT testing. The government’s Heath and Safety Executive or HSE recommend a two stage inspection procedure. The first is a visual inspection of the appliance – check for anything that is obviously broken or worn and which might make the appliance dangerous to use. The second is a test using a PAT tester – you simply plug the appliance into the device. The appliance needs to pass both stages to get an overall pass.

Once you have tested an appliance the rules require that it is marked with a ‘Pass’ sticker – or withdrawn from use if it fails. You should also draw up a written record of the appliances you have tested and the test result. Give a copy to the customer and keep one for yourself.

Note: The frequency with which PAT testing is required depends on the type of appliance, whether stationary or handheld, and where it is used.

Pricing Your Service: Most PAT testing services charge per item tested. This can range from as little as 60p per appliance up to £5 per appliance – depending on the size of the job. If it’s an easy job – for example small, simple, newish appliances all located close together in the same building – you can charge less (and vice versa).

So, some back-of-an-envelope calculations: Say a customer has 100 appliances in their office. That’s not many actually. Say you charge £300 to test them all. It will only take you half a day. Now say you do two similar jobs in a day. That’s £600 a week, before expenses, for a one day a week part time sideline.

Turn full time eventually and it could be much more.