Good Communication Skills Seen as Essential to Growth
Communicating with cabinet installers, countertop
fabricators and other subcontractors throughout the course of a
kitchen or bath project is among the keys to insuring that a design
firm’s relationship with its subs will be successful and
So says Sara Busby, principal in Sara Busby Design,
of Elk Rapids, MI. Busby, a member of the Houston-based Bath &
Kitchen Buying Group (BKBG), spoke on the topic of subcontractor
relationships at BKBG’s recent semi-annual educational
Busby offered BKBG members a number of suggestions
for enhancing subcontractor relationships. Among them were the
Include the cabinet installer at the design stage.
“They will take more ownership of the installation, and feel a part
of the team,” Busby advises.
Personally introduce your client to any
subcontractors who will be working in their home.
Have a set of guidelines for each subcontractor to
agree to, in writing. In addition, include your company’s Mission
Statement with all subcontractor-related paperwork.
Send “before” photos of soon-to-be-renovated
kitchens and baths to installers “so they can see what they’re
For any extras connected with the project, be sure
that the trades know how to approach the additional work from the
standpoint of compensation.
Establish a policy in which installers notify your
office, or the project’s designer, when any extras are added to the
Request that all subs have a cell phone with them
when on the job site. “And always take phone calls from subs,”
Busby suggests. “You don’t want them to leave a project because
they could not get information from you about a problem or
If a problem arises on a job, talk it through with
the sub, and come to a decision ASAP.
Take installers to cabinet manufacturers’
facilities for plant tours in in-depth insights into specific
Credit installers or other subcontractors when photos or
descriptions of the project are published in a consumer or trade
Send thank-you notes to subcontractors, praising
them for work well done, and include their names in your
Always pay an installer for his mistakes. “They are
only human, like everyone else,” Busby points out. “The times they
correct our design mistakes will far outweigh the cost of the new
cabinet you have to order, or the countertop that was damaged.”