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By: Jacob Davis on October 1st, 2021

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5 Tips for General Contractors to Improve Subcontractor Quality

Operating Insights

Finding reputable, dependable subcontractors can be challenging.

Subcontractors can impact your ability to deliver quality projects on schedule and within budget. Besides delays and subpar work, choosing the wrong subcontractor can lead to messy legal problems. Also, issues with subcontractors can reflect poorly on a general contractor, leading to bad reviews and a bad reputation.

So, if you’re looking to improve the quality of your subcontractors—check out these five tips:

1. Don’t Focus Solely On Cost When Selecting Your Subcontractors

It can be tempting to always go with the lowest bid. Don’t.

If you notice that a subcontractor is throwing a lowball bid, it could be because they’ve made a clerical error or a mistake in judgment. On the other hand, a lowball bid could be a sign of a subcontractor cutting corners.

We’ve found that some subcontractors just want to get the job done by performing the least amount of effort. Not all candidates will have the desire to build a repeatable name or provide a quality end product.”

Open and honest conversations can help avoid making the same mistake.

🔎 Related: Dealing With Construction Bid Mistakes

2. Surround Yourself With “Best-fit” Subcontractors

When we surround ourselves with the right people, it changes everything.

It’s crucial to be selective about who you’re working with. You’ll want to collaborate with someone who has the same drive and commitment as you and your team. Some sources recommend meeting every team member in person or via video chat before making a final decision.

It may be tempting only to review a few subcontractors, but you could be missing the best candidate if you don’t look at all your options. If you have doubts about a subcontractor, figure out why.

Questions to ask yourself when selecting a subcontractor:

  • Are they good communicators?
  • Is an implicit bias holding me back?
  • Do they get irritated or flustered by problems?
  • What projects have they recently completed?:

Get recommendations from a trusted colleague or search an online database to review all your options.

3. Thoroughly Investigate And Fully Prequalify Your Applicants

Before selecting a candidate, you’ll need to determine whether they are fully qualified to bid on your project.

Prequalification is the process of gathering and assessing a subcontractor’s capabilities. Many advise that a formal prequalification process is an essential part of bringing on a new subcontractor.

“Everybody prequalifies,” noted Tom Switzer, Sr Project Coordinator and Analyst for ConstructConnect. “The question is how formalized and detailed their prequalification process is.”

Most prequalification methods will look at safety records, surety and bonding, financial standing, litigation history, and check references. Some may be capable in some areas but are lacking in others.

A prequalification process can give you visibility into a subcontractor’s risk. This insight can help form a well-thought-out risk mitigation plan.

🔎 Related: How to Properly Vet New Construction Subcontractors

🔎 Related: 6 Keys to Subcontractor Prequalification Success

4. Use Technology To Your Advantage

Modern technology offers a unique opportunity to supercharge your collaboration, communication, and productivity—leading to an overall boost in profit.

The global pandemic has only increased our dependence on technology. The right collaborative and bid management software can help avoid a costly rework. They will also keep projects on schedule and within budget.

The lack of proper insight is an issue that many contractors and subcontractors face daily. Making an informed decision based on the most up-to-date project documents allows for greater project transparency that helps to mitigates risks.

When we allow technology to help us work more efficiently, we build better teams and better structures.

🔎 Related: Construction Technology is Reshaping the Industry

5. Adopt A Growth Mindset And Learn From Prior Experiences

Because subpar contractors can wreak havoc on the jobsite, it’s vital to deal with the situation immediately. Ignoring red flags can give the impression that these undesired behaviors are acceptable.

If you feel like a subcontractor isn’t giving their A-game, a little coaching can help them get back on track. Having a growth mindset means embracing challenges and mistakes. Rather than being weighed down by problems, we can view them as opportunities to learn from.

Speaking with underperforming team members can help them avoid making the same mistake again.

How do I deal with a subcontractor’s poor performance?

One way to keep on target is to complete a subcontractor evaluation form. Evaluating performance gives opportunities to coach and will help you assemble the best team for future jobs.

🔎 Related: 6 Tips for Dealing With Subcontractor Default

If a subcontractor performs well, consider sending them more invitations to bid.

Download our Subcontractor Evaluation Template

About Jacob Davis

As a content writer at ConstructConnect, Jacob helps readers learn about industry insights to gain an advantage and make a positive impact at their organization.