A good relationship between a general contractor and its subcontractors can make all the difference in the outcome of a project.
A general contractor must have good subcontractors to be successful. Likewise, a subcontractor’s greatest account can be a general contractor. Both benefit greatly when this relationship is in place.
A Common Denominator
As a general contractor for 25 years, I have at times experienced great relationships with everyone involved in a project, including the owner, architect, and subcontractors. The level of character and integrity in these settings goes much higher. This level says, “I’m going to do what is right, and I’m going to do what I say I’m going to do.”
Looking for the Right Subcontractor
Getting the right subcontractor for the project is a high priority for the general contractor. Professionalism from the office to the field, with the skills and equipment to fulfill the scope of work, adequate staffing to stay on schedule, and a strong safety culture are basic requirements.
A subcontractor also has to be competitive. Sometimes a subcontractor cannot be for one reason or another, and the general contractor has to choose another subcontractor. This is normal and one should not take offense.
The Start of the Relationship
A new relationship can begin to develop in the bid process. If the general contractor sees the subcontractor working with them in this process, it can show great value. Submitting an overly high or incomplete proposal can sometimes hurt the relationship and possible future work.
I know firsthand the time, effort, and money it takes to bid a job properly. As a subcontractor, you may want to first ask yourself if this is a job you want and whether you can be competitive. If so, find out what your chances are of being award the job if a competitive bid is submitted. Talking to the general contractor can help you learn the answer to that question. If you choose to bid the job, bid it to get it.
Know where you start and stop your scope of work. Make sure any clarifications and/or exclusions you may have are clearly communicated to the general contractor verbally first, then in writing. If you have any creative ideas or suggestions, bring them up to the general contractor. This can show your expertise.
Working Together? Showtime!
This is your opportunity to show that the general contractor made the right choice by choosing you. It is a time when many will be watching. Show your professionalism. Attend preconstruction and weekly job-site meetings. Try to stay ahead of schedule when you can. Practice good housekeeping and clean up your area daily. Always communicate through the general contractor when questions arise for the owner, architect, or engineer.
Each project is a learning experience to build upon as a company works to master their trade. There will always be challenges in this business, but the way one handles those challenges is key.