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Successful construction projects are built on the foundation of great subcontractor partnerships. The more complex the job, the more subcontractors needed to get it done. How a contractor handles the important task of scheduling and working with these professionals can set them project up for success—or failure.

General contractors depend on these specialists to get jobs done well and on time, but managing subcontractors is difficult, time-consuming work. Done right, it creates long-lasting partnerships with the best talent in the market. Done wrong, and it can lead to a chaotic jobsite and frustrated subcontractors. The key to building great relationships with these professionals is communication. Start communicating proactively from the beginning, and keep it up through the end of the job. Here are a few tips that can help.

1. Start Strong

Building a partnership that will endure starts with the hiring process. Seek out and hire the best, most professional subcontractors available, and a general contractor is almost guaranteed to spend less time managing them.

Pre-qualify candidates to make sure they have what it takes to do the job before getting started. Check them out on several fronts, including available workforce, scheduling, cash flow and safety record. Make sure they are bonded and insured. Hire respected professionals who don’t require constant monitoring. Finding the right talent now sets general contractors up to create lasting partnerships based on mutual respect.

2. Streamline Communication

Daily reporting and regular meetings are a must on any jobsite. Without staying in constant contact with all aspects of the job, it’s too easy for workflow schedules to go haywire, causing frustrations and lost time.

Detail reporting requirements and the right communication channels to subcontractors from the beginning, ideally in their agreements, and make the process easy. The easier communication and daily reporting is, the more likely subcontractors are to check in, and the more likely the general contractor is to stay informed.

Even if the general contractor has been resistant to technology in the past, there are many high-quality, intuitive workflow and reporting apps on the market that will make this process a breeze. On top of that, mobile capability gets contractor out from behind the desk and into the field, getting reporting from subcontractors in real time.

The construction technology market is booming, so there are mobile solutions available to fit the needs of almost any construction business. If a contractor is still using paper reports and Excel sheets, it’s past time to give some of this new tech a try.

3. Respect Their Cash Flow

The faster general contractors can pay subcontractors, the happier they will be. It’s that simple. Respect the work they do by paying them in a timely fashion.

Pay is another aspect of the subcontractor relationship that can be streamlined with technology. Anything that can be done to cut payment turnaround time from 60 to 30 days at least, but preferably to within one or two weeks from submission of a pay app, will be money well spent. Subcontractors remember who does and doesn’t pay quickly. Showing respect for their cash flow needs will make it more likely they will partner again in the future.

4. Invest in Subcontractor Partnerships

Technology is a great way to make partnerships with subcontractors easy for everyone involved. By putting new construction-centric apps to work, general contractors will see overall better productivity, efficiency and safety, and subcontractors will be happier, too.

It is a wise investment for general contractors to make working with them easy and hassle-free for subcontractors. Bringing the best specialists in town to a job makes sure contractors exceed clients’ expectations every time. They’ll grow their reputations and bring in more jobs.


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