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5 tips for managing subcontractors

by | Aug 16, 2018 | NatHERS

In a perfect world, subcontractors would arrive when needed, know exactly what to do, complete their work to a the highest standard and save you time, risk and money.

However, projects rarely run in a perfect world.

Managing sub-contractors is a regular part of running a business. You need them to keep the project running when you’re overextended, or to provide specialised skills. Here’s the thing – even though they are not official company employees, while on the jobsite, they represent your business. Whatever they do (or don’t do), reflects on you and your business. If you don’t manage them well, you risk your reputation, the quality of the job, and potentially your future income.

The good news is that managing subcontractors doesn’t need to be difficult. Follow some basic rules, and you can ensure your project runs seamlessly and you build a relationship you can rely on again and again.

Here are 5 tips to remember:

1. Provide clear instructions
Start immediately by telling your subcontractors the scope and quality of work required. Assume nothing. No matter how many times you’ve worked together, don’t make the mistake of thinking the subcontractor knows the job. It’s much better to provide detailed, clear instructions.

2. Put everything in writing
Contracts, work instructions, dates and details of deliverables, terms and conditions­ – use written communication to ensure there are no misunderstandings about the job. documents are binding and they also enforce accountability. The subcontractor cannot come to you complaining they didn’t know the deadline if you provided it in writing.

3. Make them part of the bigger picture
To do their best work, subcontractors not only need to understand how they fit into the whole project; they need to feel part of the bigger picture. Provide a project plan that shows their part, as well as how they slot into the rest of the project. With a clear idea of how they fit in, and how vital their job is to the project’s success, they will be more motivated to do their best work.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate
With subcontractors (and any employees), there’s no such thing as too much communication. Identify a single point of contact for your subcontractor who checks in with them often – both with scheduled meetings and informally over the phone. This is the only way to ensure the subcontractor has all the information and resources they need to complete their job.

5. Build trust
Make sure your subcontractor feels comfortable coming to you with any challenges that might be stopping them from doing their best job. The sooner you know about any issues, the sooner you can deal with them. This comes down to building an open, trusting relationship.

Provide detailed instructions, put everything in writing, make them part of the bigger picture, communicate often, and build trust.
Take care of these five areas and you’ll build strong subcontractor relationships that will benefit your projects now and in the future.

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