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  • Happy Subs, Happy Home Builders Happy Subs, Happy Home Builders

    On the heels of the BIA’s recent exciting announcement that we’re bringing our popular Meet the Builder speed networking event back in 2015, it got us thinking about the importance of solid, mutually respected relationships between a builder and his or her subcontractors. For most of our builders, subs complete much of the hand-to-nails work on their well-created masterpieces, so we know how important it is that you’re on the same page, have a smooth work flow, and an enjoyable business relationship.

    Sadly, our industry is rife with anecdotes filled with missed payments, misunderstandings, and worse. It seems that there’s plenty of distrust to go around, but hey, we know that our members represent some of the most upstanding, high-caliber businesses in the industry, and that means that you value these relationships and know that it takes some effort to cultivate them. What’s better than being the “builder of choice” for you subcontractors? It makes for smoother project management, a happier work site, and a better experience for everyone.

    Coupling this with continued reports of low unemployment and job shortages in the construction sector, and it’s no wonder that many builders get antsy when it comes time to find the right team for your homes and communities. To make your business an attractive partner for the best contractors around, here are some tips for builders on how to build and maintain great relationships with your subs.

    1. Communicate, communicate, communicate
      Get the message? Keep those lines open throughout the whole workflow chain. Set the tone from the start of the project by encouraging ample discussion and ensuring that both parties’ expectations are clearly understood. Keep it up throughout the project, making sure to share not only bad news and urgent directives, but good news, kudos, and idea-sharing opportunities.
    2. Get off on the right foot
      Especially with a new-to-you sub, spend some time getting to know them and helping them get to know you and your company. Everything from your working style, your company’s branding strategy, your worksite culture, and more will help them deliver a project that fits your needs and help alleviate any future misunderstandings.
    3. Letting them down easy
      It’s a necessary evil in the business when sometimes you can’t go with a favorite sub for a project. Whether it’s strictly due to price or other intricacies related to the specific needs of the project, it’s a good idea to stay transparent with your sub that didn’t get the bid. Explain their strengths and weakness and why you made this decision. They will appreciate it and it will pay dividends down the line.
    4. Well-managed worksite
      You might say that better subcontractor relationships are an incidental benefit of having a well-run worksite. Sure, every builder wants the project to run clean and smooth. And sure, stuff happens that throw a wrench into the plan. But if you’ve got a good system that makes your worksite a pleasant place to spend the day, with as little chaos and conundrums as possible, your subs will remember you and appreciate you.
    5. Fast money
      Yes, we saved the all-important and obvious money discussion for last. Of course, a builder that pays more is always attractive to subcontractors, but if your business can’t afford a rate increase now, or if you just want to sweeten the deal, at least find ways to help you pay faster. In an article for BuilderOnline, Kevin Wilson, Vice President for Purchasing and National Accounts for Irvine, Calif.-based TRI Pointe, suggests “It may mean going from a monthly payroll to every two weeks. It might be using various online auto pay tools. And, it may mean just having our sites ready so once they walk on site, they’re profitable from the minute their guys hits our job site.”

    Make 2015 your best year yet, even in the midst of the unique labor challenges that the industry environment presents right now. And be sure to come out to the BIA’s Meet the Builder speed networking event on February 18, 3:00 – 6:00 pm at the Eden Resort Courtyard to forge those solid relationships that will keep your business running into the years to come.