How to Build Good Subcontractor Relationships

Find out how build and maintain good relationships with your subcontractors.

Working together, teamwork

Building good relationships with your subcontractors

Every construction manager and jobsite foreman knows that a subcontractors work performance can make or break a job. I have 25 years experience managing residential and light commercial construction projects and am currently managing several large facilities. Its my professional recommendation that whether you are a one-man show or are in charge of million-dollar projects, a robust subcontractor recognition and admonishment program within your company is vitally important.

Here are some simple steps to make it happen:

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For starters, get it in writing. Its good to have anagreement prior to work commencement that you and your subcontractor have signed.Generic forms can be purchased online.In addition to the obvious insurance, legal, work standards,and safetyrequirements, makesure your agreement includes thefollowing:

  • Be clear that all changes that affect the schedule will be communicated to the general contractor or managerASAP.
  • Explain expectations of how the subcontractor is supposed to clean up during and after they work in an area.
  • Communicate acceptable working hours and days.
  • Spell out any vehicle parking and material delivery rules.
  • Explain howrecyclable itemslike copper and aluminumwill be managed.
  • Create a plan that describes howleftovermaterials will be managed. Some subcontractorswill order items in bulk and leavepiles of materials thatclutter up the site and leaves them to eventually getdamaged orstolen.
  • Address drugs, alcohol,andtobaccorules. Think about it, do you want your customers picking up cigarette butts, tobacco spit containers,orfinding alcohol containers in the dumpster?
  • Set guidelines for music. Many subs listen to music or radio programming as they work. Make sure that there speakers are not obnoxiouslyloud, and the contentis not inappropriate.
  • Establish a dress code. It doesn’t have to be struct, but make sure guys are not going shirtless on a professionally run jobsite and instruct crews to leave any offensive tee-shirts at home.
  • Include pre-determined language on how you and the subcontractor will resolve any issues that result in failure to comply with the agreement.

At the end of the day, “if you see it,say it”.Be consistentwithyourwarnings andadmonishments, andaddress anysmall issuesimmediatelybefore they scale out of control.Consistency is the key.

Show your appreciation

Everyonelikes a pat on the back now and again.There are various ways you can show appreciation to your subs:

  • Get to know them.Nobody likes to be called, Hey… you.
  • Bring in doughnutsandcoffee on Monday mornings orbuy lunch on occasion.
  • Compliment a job well-done
  • Pass along compliments from the client.

It’s a good general guideline that your compliments shouldalwaysoutnumber youradmonishments.