Subcontractors are the most valuable assets on jobsites because they are essential resources with specialized skills and experience to complete projects. They help general contractors stay profitable and, in turn, receive much-needed jobs.
So it’s wise to keep a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship with subcontractors. After all, each party needs the other. However, managing subcontractors is difficult, time-consuming work. Done right, it creates long-lasting partnerships with the best talent in the market. Done wrong, it can lead to a chaotic jobsite and frustrated subcontractors. The key to building great relationships with subcontractors is communication. So before signing any subcontractor agreements, make sure everyone is on the same page. Here are ten tips to follow to keep a strong relationship between general contractors and subcontractors.
1) Start strong with the right people.
Seek out and hire the best, most professional subcontractors available, and a general contractor is almost guaranteed to spend less time managing them. Before soliciting bids from subs, review prequalified subcontractors and remove those that do not have the right amount of experience or resources for the size and scope of your project. Ensure they are qualified for the job by checking records such as scheduling, workforce, and safety. Finding the right talent now sets general contractors up to create lasting partnerships based on mutual respect. Most importantly, look for subcontractors using modern technologies and up-to-date software rather than relying on manual processes. Many clients are demanding modern approaches and real-time data that some contractors may not provide quickly.
2) Establish Communication and Transparency.
This is key to ensuring the GC and subcontractor are on the same page going into a project. Ensuring that everyone knows what the expectations are and the expected outcomes of a project will help subcontractors and GCs finish the job efficiently, on time, and with quality. When choosing a subcontractor, all of their roles and responsibilities should be written into the subcontractor agreement. Terms and conditions should be clearly defined, including project specifications, expectations, timelines, and all aspects of remuneration and payment methods.
Collaboration and transparency are the glue for any successful construction project. Keeping your subcontractors consistently in the loop with project changes, working with real-time data and systems, and delivering information ahead of schedule will go a long way toward ensuring that all team members are working from the same page.
3) Have Trust and Reliability.
Trust and reliability go both ways. The general contractor must trust the subcontractor to perform as promised, from showing up on time to performing at the highest quality. The sub also must trust the GC to provide accurate information, including detailed construction documents and reasonable expectations. Both parties also need to be reliable. A GC must rely on the sub to meet the schedule, complete the scope of work as agreed upon, and follow the project guidelines. While the sub will depend on the GC for supervisor communication, including RFI responses, change order approval, and meeting payment terms.
4) Experience can help win repeat business.
The subcontractor and general contractor relationship must be built over time, working on various projects and fine-tuning how the team operates. Subcontractors should be experts in their trade, have an excellent reputation, and perform quality work. Even with a solid safety track record and strong financials, GCs often prefer subcontractors who don’t leave behind a mess or create more noise than necessary on the jobsite. On the other hand, general contractors should know how to do a job themselves despite hiring subs. They are the ones that take responsibility, schedules the work, and ensure that every subcontractor completes their tasks on time and to the highest level of quality. By building experiences together, both teams will have the best opportunity for success.
5) Use construction software to streamline processes.
Since a crucial part of ensuring compliance and project quality is the documentation, it’s essential to have a fluid system of record-keeping. Consider implementing an integrated, cloud-based construction management solution that expands access to the entire project team, including subcontractors. Allowing them to access and enter their data, see real-time project information and automate workflows for processes like time collection, invoices, change orders, purchase orders, and more will help deliver more productive higher-quality work.
These are the top five tips to manage better relationships between subcontractors and general contractors. All it takes is strong communication, effective collaboration, and productivity to ensure a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship.