Best Practices for Hiring Subcontractors
By Danielle Levine
Hiring the wrong subcontractor can create a variety of consequences, especially for small contractors. Here are six points to consider when hiring subcontractors.
1. Be selective when hiring
Never settle for a subpar subcontractor. Vetting ahead of time is critical to success. Find out:
Screening potential subcontractors is crucial. Ask subcontractors to provide proof of a number of years of experience doing similar work, then look at those projects and check their references. Hire the subcontractor that has its next jobs lined up. If this subcontractor has a waiting list, it is more than likely that they know what they are doing.
2. Define scope of work
Outline a clear, detailed, scope of work so that when evaluating the subcontractor there is a well-defined set of requirements to check their qualifications against. Define the scope of the project verbally and in writing. Not only does this serve as a record, but it also allows the subcontractor to look at each piece of it. The process of defining the scope of work is an opportunity for the subcontractor to:
3. Complete a pre-qualification evaluation
Create a checklist of the expectations of potential subcontractors and evaluate each subcontractor against multiple criteria. This is an opportunity to look at each separate criterion to determine the subcontractor that is the best for the project. Try not to focus solely on cost. While cost can make or break a deal, there is much more to consider. Eight of the most common benchmarks for evaluating subcontractors are:
When reviewing the checklist, ask pertinent questions to help decide whether the subcontractor shares values, as well as to get a good sense of their work ethic. Other tips are to evaluate past EMR rates, OSHA recordables, balance sheets or income statements, and bonding capabilities.
There tends to be a limited sub pool in the construction industry, so it is very important to be proactive. Be open to forming new connections with all types of subcontractors, even ones the company might never need. Network through word of mouth, LinkedIn, construction forums, and construction trade associations.
5. Get to know the team
Get to know more than one person from the subcontractor’s team before making a hiring decision. Focus on forming relationships when hiring new subs. Meet their team, find out who they propose as their PM or onsite foreman, and get a feel to see how engaged the actual people performing on the project will be.
6. Learn from experience
Even if the subcontractor received good references, subcontractors are not “one size fits all,” meaning that just because they worked on other types of projects and for other companies does not mean that they can perform on just any project. Be diligent, and if the subcontractor does well, hire them again. Hiring reputable and dependable subcontractors can be a challenge, but it is a challenge that can easily be met.
Danielle Levine is an experienced marketing specialist with demonstrated skills in marketing strategy, digital marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), project management, written and verbal communications, problem-solving, and online publication editing. Currently a marketing specialist at HW Kaufmann Group, she has experience in corporate and start-up firms in a variety of industries from software and tech to healthcare and financial services.
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