The Benefits of Hiring a Subcontractor

The home improvement industry, like many others, has a wide variety of offerings when it comes to choosing a contractor for one’s project. One of the best pieces of advice for any homeowner making a decision is to allow 3-4 companies to submit an estimate for their work on a project. This allows for  objective comparisons by measuring a company’s history, references, quality of past project, capability of meeting your needs, and most importantly, the ability for the homeowner to make a decision based upon their personal gut feeling when face-to-face.

The variety of contractors submitting bids for the same project can range from small independent contractors working from a van, to large general contracting companies with a dozen crews on both commercial and residential projects. If you fall into the former category and are running a company on a smaller scale, networking with other contractors can allow for greater exposure and revenue through hiring subcontractor. This can help to increase the amount of work you are able to manage simultaneously and allow your company to fulfill specialty requests that you may not currently employ anyone with those skills.

Let’s use the painting industry as a case study. If a residential painting contractor primarily focuses on just doing interior painting, leaving exterior out of his scope-of-work, he is potentially missing out on a large percentage of the job opportunities in his area. Seeing as exterior painting is closely associate with interior painting – versus a completely different trade – this is a perfect example of when a partnership with a colleague can prove profitable. Stop turning away exterior painting customers and leads. Instead commit to a subcontractor that you feel will best represent and enhance your companies reputation by allowing them to complete the work that you are not doing yourself, and continue increasing your company’s marketability and revenue stream. Here are a few key points to consider when hiring a subcontractor:

  • Their accreditation: liability and worker’s comp. insurance and contractors license
  • Their history and reputation
  • References from past customers
  • Professionalism: would you hire them for your own home improvement needs?

Also consider the agreement you establish with that contractor. A had shake is good, but having a written agreement will set standards and expectations that are also legally binding. The contract you create between yourself and the subcontractor may include, but not be limited, to the following*:

  • Scope-of-work the subcontractor is being hired to complete
  • Fee structure
  • Which party is responsible for any additional fees (i.e., transport, delivery, change order, etc.)
  • Length of the contract
  • Restrictions prohibiting the subcontractor from working directly for the client
  • Site inspections before and after completion of work

Hiring subcontractors that are reliable, fully insured and licensed, and ones that you feel will comfortably best represent your company’s reputation is a great way to increase work flow and revenue stream. Any business can benefit from avoiding saying, “we don’t do that,” in favor of, “lets see how we might be able to help you with that.” Even if all that means is steering the customer in the right direction with a referral to another service provider. Heck, the recipient may be inclined to give you a finders fee.

What are your own personal qualifications you require when hiring a subcontractor?

(Flickr photo by Wayne National Forest)

* We recommend consulting a lawyer and having your contract reviewed  and edited by a professional. This list should be used as general recommendations on subject content.