Most owners know that bringing a good sophisticated general contractor into a project early, has its advantages. Some benefits include accurate budgeting, value engineering, and help with the overall design process, all while keeping projects in a financial box. However, many owners and general contractors are missing another critical component to hitting budgets and projects schedules, and that is having good subcontractor relationships. Good subcontractor relationships are the secret sauce for a market that is red hot and seemingly harder to get projects to meet budgets and schedules.
In today’s construction market, subcontractors have plenty of jobs to choose from. Consequently, they can be selective on which owners and general contractors to work with. As a general contractor, our subcontractors are the life blood of our business. They support us when developing preliminary budgets, provide preferential pricing and guarantee manpower needed to hit schedules.
Contractors historically have spent a tremendous amount of money on marketing and business development with owners. But in this environment, contractors should, if not already, be shifting their resources, both time and money, to the building of better subcontractor relationships.
Here are a few tips to consider when strengthening subcontractor relationships:
- Show them respect. These are professionals! Regardless if they are in the office or in the field, they are professionals who are running a business and want to do their best.
- Spend personal time. There is nothing more effective than meeting with people face to face. Regardless if it’s the owner of the company or the workers in the field, take time to talk with them and express your appreciation. They hear enough negative, but they will remember the positive.
- Spend some money. It’s amazing how far a small investment goes towards improving relationships and differentiating yourselves from others. Consider providing swag…shirts, with your logo, gift certificates for exceptional jobs well done or for good safety practices. Find things to celebrate such as topping offs, schedule milestones, or exceptional safety records. Celebrate with a job site BBQ or other catered luncheons. Don’t forget the owners of these companies, take them to lunch or find ways to spend one on one time with them.
- Payment is golden. Convince owners of the significant benefits of paying subcontractors on time. Be vigilant in getting subcontractors paid on time or even early. The results will be better pricing and service.
- Stay organized with project schedules. Subcontractors want predictability. Plan ahead and communicate regularly. When a change in the plan arises, give them time to react.
- Be fair – Our industry is governed by stringent contract terms and conditions. Being reasonable and respectful when enforcing these rules will go along way when disputes and challenges arise.
A healthy business relationship between a general contractor and a subcontractor is critical to a project’s success. Looking at and treating subcontractors as partners will yield tremendous results which will benefit all parties. Bonneville Builders appreciates all our subcontractor partners and thank them for all that we have accomplished together.