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5 Strategies for Finding Subcontractors

Cynthia Cline
June 2, 2023

Experienced contractors understand the importance of finding reliable subcontractors to assist in completing projects on time and within budget. However, identifying and hiring the right subcontractors can be a challenging task.

The following five strategies can help you in your quest to find the best subcontractors for your projects. They can streamline your search process and ensure that you hire skilled professionals who will make valuable contributions to your project's success.

1. Cultivate a Strong Network

Your network of professional contacts is one of the most valuable resources and the best ways to find subcontractors. Take the time to establish and cultivate relationships with other contractors, suppliers, and industry professionals. Attend relevant industry events, join trade associations, and participate in online forums or social media groups dedicated to the construction industry. These activities allow you to connect with like-minded pros who can provide subcontractor recommendations and referrals.

Using your network's reach, you can tap into a pool of trusted professionals with proven track records who also understand the value of finding good subcontractors. When attending industry events or networking gatherings, talk about your projects and the types of subcontractors you want to hire. Communicating your needs increases the chances of finding individuals or companies that align with your requirements.

2. Leverage Online Platforms

Online platforms and social media have become powerful tools for finding subcontractors. Websites and online referral networks dedicated to the construction industry allow you to search for subcontractors based on their expertise, location, and past projects. These platforms often have detailed profiles, reviews, and ratings, which can help you evaluate the credibility and capabilities of potential subcontractors.

Some online platforms allow subcontractors to showcase their portfolios and highlight their unique selling points. You can quickly narrow down your options, and sometimes, this is the best way to find subcontractors with the skills and experience necessary for your project. Remember to thoroughly review each candidate's profile, past projects, and client feedback before deciding to move forward with them.

3. Collaborate with Local Suppliers

Local suppliers, such as lumberyards, hardware stores, or equipment rental companies, are excellent sources for finding reliable subcontractors. These suppliers typically interact with contractors and subcontractors regularly, and they often have firsthand knowledge of subcontractors' reputations, work ethics, and reliability. Strong relationships with local suppliers can provide valuable insights and recommendations for subcontractors who have already proven themselves in the field.

Visit local suppliers regularly, discuss your ongoing projects, and ask about subcontractors who have demonstrated exceptional skills or professionalism. You may have tapped into a network of trusted subcontractors familiar with the local construction industry and have established relationships with suppliers in the area.

4. Advertise Your Projects

Another one of the best ways to find subcontractors is by advertising your projects through various channels. By actively promoting your projects, you can increase your construction company's visibility and attract subcontractors interested in working with you. Use both traditional and digital marketing and advertising methods to maximize your reach.

For example, consider placing advertisements in local newspapers, trade magazines, and industry-specific publications. You can also post detailed project descriptions and requirements on online job boards, social media platforms, and your company website. Highlight the benefits of working with your company and emphasize the positive aspects of the projects, such as the project scope, duration, and compensation. These marketing efforts can help you attract genuinely interested and qualified project subcontractors.

5. Build Relationships with Trade Schools and Apprenticeship Programs

Building relationships with trade schools and apprenticeship programs can be an excellent long-term strategy for finding skilled subcontractors. These institutions are training and developing the next generation of construction professionals, and by partnering with them, you can access a pool of talented individuals who are excited and eager to get hands-on experience in the industry.

Reach out to local trade schools and apprenticeship programs to explore opportunities for collaboration. For example, you can offer guest lectures, host site visits, or participate in career fairs. By actively engaging with these institutions, you can build relationships with aspiring tradespeople and identify potential subcontractors in their careers' early stages.

Consider offering internships or apprenticeship opportunities within your company. This allows you to mentor and train individuals who may later become valuable subcontractors. Investing in their development can create an ongoing pipeline of skilled subcontractors familiar with your company's standards and practices.

Building relationships with trade schools and apprenticeship programs is more of a long-term strategy, and it requires patience and investment to develop young talent. However, these relationships can produce highly skilled subcontractors aligned with your company's values and work ethic over time.

Next Step: Tips for Interviewing Subcontractors

Sometimes, finding willing subcontractors is easy, but now you need to perform some interviewing and due diligence to find out which ones are worth hiring and flush out subcontractors who could pose risks and threats to your projects.

The following considerations can help you assemble a checklist of interview questions or discussion items to ask potential subcontractors to increase your chances of a successful working relationship.

Communication skills: When interviewing subcontractors, it's crucial to assess their communication skills and determine if any language barriers could hinder effective collaboration on the project. Ask about their proficiency in the language of the job site and their ability to communicate instructions and address any concerns that may arise.

Impression, intuition, and gut feelings: These can provide you with valuable insights during the hiring process, so trust them. Pay attention to your initial impression of the subcontractor, including their demeanor, professionalism, and overall attitude. Trust your intuition and assess whether you feel comfortable working with them, as a positive working relationship is essential for a successful project.

Ask key questions: To understand the subcontractor's capabilities better, ask about the projects they have worked on in the past. Ask for details such as the size, complexity, and scope of those projects to determine if their experience aligns with the requirements of your current project. Additionally, ask about their specific role in those projects, their challenges, and how they resolved them, as this can shed light on their problem-solving abilities.

Check background and certifications: This step ensures a candidate's qualifications and legitimacy. Inquire about their licenses, permits, and certifications relevant to their trade. Verify the authenticity of these credentials by requesting documentation or contacting the relevant authorities. This step ensures you hire a subcontractor who meets the necessary industry standards.

Ask about previous work: Digging into the subcontractor's experience is essential to assess their expertise and track record. Ask about the types of projects they have worked on, their duration, and the specific tasks they performed. Inquire about any notable achievements or challenges they encountered during their previous projects.

Ask about insurance: It is vital to ask if the subcontractor has insurance coverage to protect both parties in case of accidents or damage on the job site. Inquire about all applicable insurance, including liability and workers' compensation coverage. Request proof of insurance and ensure that the coverage is current and adequate for the scope of your project. This step mitigates potential risks and liabilities.

Speak with references: Speaking to references is a valuable way to gather insights about the subcontractor's work ethic, billing practices, and overall performance. Contact the references provided by the subcontractor and ask specific questions regarding their punctuality, reliability, adherence to deadlines, and quality of work. Inquire about their communication skills, responsiveness, and ability to address any issues that arose during the project.

Be Strategic to Find the Right Subcontractors

Finding the best subcontractors for your construction projects requires a proactive approach and the implementation of effective strategies.

For example, suppose you need a specialized contractor for an outdoor deck project, such as a firm with expertise working with a specific brand of deck coating, like Desert brand. You can leverage these strategies to find the right skilled professionals who have this expertise and will contribute to the success of your projects.

Cultivating a strong network, leveraging online platforms, collaborating with local suppliers, advertising your projects, and building relationships with trade schools can significantly enhance your subcontractor search process, and finding the right subcontractors can reward you with many profitable and successful projects.