How to Asses the Health of Subcontractors in the Construction Business

In the construction business, it’s hard to get comfortable wearing a single hat because inevitably, things happen and you’ll be asked to provide advice on an item that isn’t in your area of expertise .  Because these requests can cover a huge swath of potential topics, wise construction leaders surround themselves with a group of experts on whom they can rely for answers and action, often a subcontractor who specializes in a particular field.  As you develop these subcontractor relationships and work with these specialists, they can become an important part of your extended team.


Making sure these subcontractors are happy and healthy and working should be one of your priorities. Providing this positive attention has two benefits as it both safeguards your business and builds loyalty with these extended team members.  But how can you really know if your subcontractors are conducting their business activities in the most productive way?  First, by getting familiar with not only the crew lead but also the workers, you can see if the same workers are showing up project-to-project.  If there is constant turnover in the ranks, the reasons why should be explored.  Second, if the subcontractor is constantly asking for more money, either by adding costs to a pre-priced work order or by telling you every Friday that they need to feed their family, that should peek your curiosity.  Third, if you find someone attempting to cut corners by using a lesser grade of material or providing fewer workers than was agreed upon or are required to move expeditiously through the project, you’ll need to determine why this is happening.


There are literally hundreds of little clues, but that information can be missed without regular oversite.  In general, treating your subcontractors as a part of your business requires noticing problems and caring about them, providing coaching and support and being an active part of the job site so if something is brewing, it doesn’t take you by surprise and you can be proactive in helping them work through to a solution.  Remember that you’ll always need the support of these experts and that starting from scratch with someone new, while sometimes necessary, may be more difficult than just coaching your team member through a rough patch.  So keep your eyes and ears open and provide gentle guidance when you see it may be required.


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