Communication Called Key to Subcontractor
Subcontractors can prove to be among a kitchen and bath dealer’s
greatest strengths or among its worst weaknesses. It’s all in the
way a dealer chooses, treats and, above all, communicates with
Indeed, communication is a key factor in running jobs and
working with subcontractors, agrees Thompson Price, CKD, CBD, CR
and president of Callier & Thompson Kitchen & Bath
“A lot of people don’t treat them well and don’t want to really
do right by them. But building subcontractor relationships is
something that, if it’s done right by treating them well,
communicating and working with them and paying them on time,
creates becomes a partnership. We’re all in this together. This is
not an independent effort. It’s an effort of many different groups
of people that have come together to achieve one goal, and that’s
to have a satisfied customer. And learning how to work with
subcontractors and hiring the right subcontractors is a key
factor,” says Price.
He spoke on this topic at a seminar, entitled “Getting the Most
from Your Subcontractors,” at last month’s Kitchen & Bath
Design & Remodeling Expo at the Valley Forge Convention Center
in King of Prussia, PA.
According to Price, since every subcontractor a dealer employs
from the plumbing and electrical contractors and cabinet and tile
installers to the carpenters, roofers and fabricators represents
that dealer, they have the ability to make or break a dealer’s
reputation with existing and future clients. Thus, he stresses the
importance of establishing and fostering cordial, mutually
beneficial relationships with subcontractors, as they are a
dealer’s face in the field.
“We have a combination of in-house contractors and
subcontractors, and it’s building a relationship that allows them
to know they are part of the family, and involving them in
decision-making on things that will affect them. For example, what
do we do as far as clean-up after a job? And who’s going to check
the job for the accuracy of the measurements?” Price asks.
Price also elaborates on how kitchen and bath dealers as well as
other design and remodeling firms can effectively forge
long-lasting subcontractor relationships.
First, dealers must hire subcontractors with a proven record.
“Hire someone who has referrals,” advises Price. “I always ask
someone who [touts their skills], ‘Why aren’t you busy?’ And that’s
an honest question. I think, sometimes, we fail to think about the
needs of this particular contractor. Consider whether it’s a
one-time situation where you have to get into this job and need to
find someone quick, or it’s a long-term subcontractor relationship
that you’re seeking. That answer, I think, becomes an important
part of initiating a relationship with a subcontractor.”
Dealers, then, should also “have an agreement on what you’re
going to pay subcontractors and on the work they’re going to do, as
well as about what’s expected of them on the job, what their
responsibilities are on the job,” advises Price.
To that end, “we found that doing a ‘pre-flight’ on every job
with the contractors is an absolute, tremendous benefit to make
sure we aren’t making mistakes and that there’s a complete
understanding of who does what, and who doesn’t do what.”
And then, he says, dealers must pay subcontractors on time. “The
one most important thing in dealing with subcontractors is to pay
them on time,” he stresses.
The bottom line when dealing with subcontractors, concludes
Price, is to think of them as “installers for life, because it’s a
relationship you try to develop, and then hopefully you will have
these guys all the time.”