Problems and Solutions for Hiring Subcontracted Work
General contracting is a process that can be prone to difficult turnovers and struggles in regard to subcontractors and vendors. An inability to retain subcontractors can stem from a variety of causes and issues. Let’s explore a few of the common pitfalls below, as well as offering up some solutions to maximize the value of your selected subcontractor.
Problem — Accepting the Lowest or Low-End Bids:
Accepting the lowest bids is a surefire way to run into retention problems with subcontractors. Reasonable vendors will usually provide two or three bids prior to looking elsewhere for another general contractor. Not to mention, work quality is always related to the price of the service at hand.
Solution — Refuse to Accept the Low-End Bids:
Often times, general contractors will conflate a subcontractor’s service work with a product or a good. Contracting is a field that falls within the realm of the service industry. In turn, the quality of a given job often reflects the agreed price and outcome, as opposed to the material costs involved. A lower bid will likely mean lower quality work, despite the chosen materials and methods.
Another Solution — Ranking Systems:
One way to overcome this hurdle is to form a ranking or rating system based on the quality of services offered vs. the cost of the service. This is essentially a cost-benefit analysis that allows general contractors to select the most cost-effective and high-quality options in a pragmatic way. This method prevents rushed decisions and pressured choices.
A final strategy involves the simple establishment of a long-term working relationship between general contractors and subcontractors. This is a common-sense approach that extends into all realms of business, contracting, and subcontracting. Establishing well-worked connections, re-hiring for projects, and recommending work are all ways to maintain the trust and reliability of quality subcontractors. In doing so, a general contractor’s network may expand further than was expected, and new opportunities will arise in turn.
It may also be wise to maintain an on-hand rotation of subcontractors. This is important because it provides a kind of insurance policy in the occasion of vendor inavailability or loss of faith. Always have a backup plan, and reach out to various sources of subcontracting work.
Problem — Values, Goals, and Outcomes Don’t Align:
A good subcontractor will expect a solid wage and an agreement of terms, outcomes, and values. Don’t be intimidated by this process. Rather, embrace it — your outcomes are only as productive as your terms and agreements.
Don’t forget to also consider indicators of professionalism — great response times, a diversified staff which often includes a brick-and-mortar office, or even a well-put together website. All of these indicators point to a subcontractor who does not settle.
Solution — Setting a New Aim:
Again, it is vital to remember that cheap, or lowest bidder, does not equate to quality. Furthermore, if your subcontractors have problems with networking, values, or goals, it may be time to re-adjust your trajectory.
A constant eye towards lowest prices and bidders will inevitably result in a low-quality outcome. It’s imperative that a balance is struck between quality, quantity, and relationship.
The best vendors know what to expect — and intuit — from general contractors. For this reason, the attitude and aim of the general contractor alone will be a boon for drawing in potential vendors. The best subcontractors have “seen it all,” so-to-speak, and know when to remain skeptical towards a general contractor’s project. Naturally, a clear communication of interests, as well as a good track record, will be as good an investment as any for your project.
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