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How to start a satellite installation business

Most homeowners and businesses today want digital aerials installed for the benefit of satellite TV services, internet access and a reliable, high-quality signal. Not only is installation in high demand, but in the event of storms these aerials can become damaged and require someone with the right skills to repair them. With the ongoing opportunities…

Most homeowners and businesses today want digital aerials installed for the benefit of satellite TV services, internet access and a reliable, high-quality signal. Not only is installation in high demand, but in the event of storms these aerials can become damaged and require someone with the right skills to repair them. With the ongoing opportunities to service these systems, there’s no better time than now to become a self-employed satellite installer.

Starting your own business lets you capitalise on the consistent demand, plus you’ll have full freedom to choose how and when you work. However, taking the leap into self-employment can be daunting, which is why this guide will provide you with everything you need to know to get everything up and running. Read on to learn how you can take that next step in your career with confidence.


What qualifications should a satellite installer have?

Satellite installation is very technical work, so customers will want to know you’ve developed the right skills and training for the job. Experience alone won’t always be enough to convince your customers, and that’s why it’s important to have formal qualifications so clients will be inclined to trust your capabilities. Here are the most relevant courses to strengthen your business profile:

  • Level 2 Diploma in Electrical Installation
  • Level 3 Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Electrical and electronic service advanced apprenticeship
  • Installation engineer advanced apprenticeship


Will I need to get certified?

Along with credentials, gaining industry certifications will also benefit your satellite installation business. Joining a trade association, such as the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI), involves passing an assessment process to gain membership. After becoming a member, you’ll be formally recognised in the industry, which can go a long way in enhancing your reputation and attracting more customers.

In some cases, you may have to install satellites and aerials in designated construction sites that require certification to work on. By registering through the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS), you’ll be able to enter these sites and avoid missing out on valuable business opportunities.


What skills do I need to run a satellite installation business?

Satellite installation is technical work and you may find yourself in charge of a small team if your business is growing quickly. You’ll need the industry know-how, of course, but you’ll also need to develop some other key skills that are essential for running a successful business. These include:

  • Team management – Some installation jobs will require extra support from junior staff who will need direction and training
  • Organisation – You’ll need to make sure you can staff jobs properly throughout the week and ensure they can be completed on time
  • Practical thinking – Satellite installation isn’t always straightforward and you will need to come up with sensible solutions in certain situations
  • Numeracy – As with any work in engineering you’ll need basic maths to make quick calculations
  • Able to work independently – At first you may be running the business on your own, can you complete jobs safely and efficiently without extra support?
  • Technical understanding – Not only broadcasting, internet and telecommunications knowledge but also familiarity with hardware and software
  • Health and safety knowledge – You’ll often be working at height in all weathers so you’ll need to keep both you and your colleagues safe
  • Physical fitness – satellites and aerials can be heavy and you’ll be on the move all day


What equipment will I need for satellite installation?

Being well prepared is essential for leaving happy customers that’ll recommend your service again. Make sure you invest in an inventory of quality equipment so you can complete work efficiently and to a high standard. You don’t want shoddy tools that’ll be likely to break and cause costly delays.

Here are the essentials for any satellite installation businesses:

  • Ladder – For working at height
  • Electric drill – For routing signal cables
  • Masonry tools – For pilot and final holes
  • Socket wrench kit – To tighten parts
  • Coaxial cable stripper and cutter – To prepare cabling on site
  • Cable compression tool – For fitting end connections
  • Compass – To establish the correct angle
  • Satellite Signal Finding Meter – To locate where an aerial or dish should be pointing

You should also make sure you have a valid driving licence and a van for transporting all your tools between jobs.


How to start a satellite installation company

With your credentials, skills and equipment covered, it’s time to look at the necessary steps for setting up and running your own business.

Getting your business registered

First, you’ll need to legally register your business and decide on its structure. You can either operate as a sole trader or a limited company. A limited company tends to be more tax efficient, but you’ll face more paperwork. Sole trading, on the other hand, is simpler to set up but you’ll be personally responsible for business debts. As you can see, there are pros and cons to both, so you should weigh up each structure and decide which suits you best. To help you make a decision, read our guide here.

Planning for success

You’ll need to put together a thorough plan that outlines your services and target market. Services should be based around your expertise and ideally include a unique selling point to make your satellite installation business stand out. For instance, you could concentrate on flexibility and offer emergency call-outs for repairs on weekends and evenings.

Next, you’ll need to figure out the target audience for your business and estimate how much demand there will be. Satellite installers have a number of options, including:

  • Private homes – This will likely make up the majority of your business and will include upgrades, replacements and reception improvements
  • Work for landlords – In rented accommodation landlords are often responsible for aerial installation and repairs
  • Commercial businesses – Hospitality, schools and offices are all potential customers
  • Contract and subcontracting – Housing developers and associations will often put satellite installation work out to tender

Your marketing efforts will likely overlap for these different targets, so make sure you’re prepared to use different channels and tactics. Also think about the areas you’re working in and whether there’s enough business out there to support you. The highest demand will come from densely populated towns and cities where there’s lots of homes. It’s worth establishing how many of these are owner-occupied or rented. It’s also worth establishing the property type – e.g. if it’s student or council housing.

Deciding on your services

You’ll likely have some training and experience in satellite installation already, so it’s best to play to your strengths when starting out. That said, there’s a huge range of different specialisms and services you could offer once you’re set up. These include:

  • Installing Sky satellite systems (you’ll need to become an authorised Sky Agent)
  • Installing other satellite systems for customers to access Freesat and European TV networks
  • Installing radio aerials and masts
  • Upgrading older systems
  • Installing master antenna systems on high-rise buildings
  • Installation and maintenance of motorised satellite dishes
  • Installation of satellite internet systems
  • Specialist aerial or antenna work for temporary broadcast

Insurance and cover

You could face expensive fines or compensation fees in the event of an accident or claim against your business. By investing in insurance policies, you can protect yourself from the worst. Here are the main types of insurance to consider when starting a satellite installation business:

  • Public liability insurance – Covers you for claims made against you by members of the public
  • Employers’ liability insurance – Protects your business if one of your employees claims they’ve suffered an illness or injury as a result of working for you (important for those regularly working at height)
  • Professional indemnity insurance – Covers you if you make a mistake or if a client claims your work has caused them financial loss (especially important for contract work)
  • Tools insurance – Covers the cost for replacements if your tools are stolen or damaged

Financing your business

As a business owner, you’ll be doing your fair share of bookkeeping to check you’re making a profit. This will involve keeping an eye on your income versus expenditure. For more information on managing your ingoing and outgoings, read our guide here.

Due to start-up costs, you may initially be looking at loss rather than profit, which is perfectly normal at the beginning. If you’re struggling to cover this expenditure, you should think about taking out a business loan for a cash injection. Make sure you understand the terms before agreeing.

Taxes are another major part of managing your finances. You’ll need to identify what you’re liable for and document these on a regular basis. If you’re finding it hard to file your taxes, you could look at hiring an accountant to help out. Read our article here for more advice on accounting services.

Marketing your business

Word-of-mouth is of course a vital part of growing your business and you’ll need to develop your reputation by working to a consistently high standard. This is often how contracted work is won so make sure any employees you hire are positively representing the brand.

But to really maximise opportunities you should take advantage of online marketing. The first port of call for any aspiring business owner is a Checkatrade membership. Members benefit from great online visibility, gaining access to millions of monthly users looking for reputable tradespeople. Plus, you’ll be able to showcase your best work and customer recommendations.

Building your profile on social media can also be very effective for reaching new audiences and engaging with more clients. That being said, showing you’re a Checkatrade member is a standout attribute for your social media profile. It gives potential customers peace of mind knowing you’re officially recognised as a tradesperson on the Checkatrade site as all members are checked before joining.



How much should I charge for satellite installation?

Pricing usually ranges between £150-£250 but will ultimately depend on the type of work you need to carry out and how long it will take. A more complex job across a large corporate building will naturally take more time to test and complete when compared to a domestic satellite installation. This should be reflected in the prices you charge.

Research some competitors in your area so you can set competitive pay rates and attract more business. Read our article here to get a better idea of your pricing structure.

What hours does a self-employed satellite installer work?

The average is 40 hours a week, but the shift pattern will vary according to your deadlines. Most satellite installers have different working preferences, and some will offer a flexible service that can result in late evening or weekend work. For instance, businesses may ask you to install during unsociable hours to avoid disruption during the working day.

How much will I earn as a satellite installer?

The earnings for a new satellite installer average £21,000 per year, while more experienced professionals earn around £33,000 per year. By running your own satellite installation business, you have the potential to earn far more than industry averages but bear in mind that some of your time will be non-chargeable. For example, travelling between jobs or visiting new sites to cost up jobs. You may also be unable to work at certain times, like when the weather is bad or when a customer fails to arrive on time.


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