Making sure a building is clean, safe, and able to be used as it was intended is a multi-layered responsibility that can’t be taken lightly.
That’s why many facility maintenance companies rely on the help of subcontractors. However, not just any old group of subcontractors. Hiring an inexperienced contractor could result in low-quality work. Or, hiring a subcontractor without insurance could cost you a whole lot if someone gets hurt.
Focus on these five things when selecting a subcontractor to ensure you’re getting one you can depend on.
1. Experience and Expertise
There are a couple of good reasons for hiring an up-and-coming subcontractor. For instance, they’re more likely to offer you a deal. You’re also giving someone a chance where most people wouldn’t.
But with inexperience comes mistakes. And sometimes, you just don’t have the money to lose or the time to clean up the messes that come with mistakes. So, going with an experienced subtractor, or one with specific expertise is a wiser move.
Here are some examples of experience or expertise you may need:
- Commercial services
- Certified Professional Constructor
- Certified Remodeling Project Manager
- An Association of Certified Handyman Professionals certification
The facilities manager will ultimately decide what kind of skills, experience, and certifications a subcontractor must possess to get the job. They will also decide whether some skills can be learned through on-the-job training.
On-the-job training is beneficial because subcontractors can learn new skills, and adapt to their new roles and your company faster. It also helps you attract the right people to the job and keep them there long-term.
When you’re ready to bring a subcontractor on board, delve into their experience. Confirm the work experience they list on their resume. Validate their certifications by contacting the agencies or educational institutions that gave them.
Then, interview your top picks. Ask them questions like:
- Are you licensed?
- Why did you get certified?
- How long have you been in business?
- Have you done a project similar to mine?
Delve into your subcontractor’s experience and expertise to ensure you’re getting someone that can get your particular job done.
2. Availability and Responsiveness
An available and responsive subcontractor is crucial, especially when it comes to facility maintenance emergencies. Imagine having a suspected gas leak, flood, or power outage and your subcontractor isn’t answering the phone.
Even if it isn’t an emergency, you need someone available and responsive to requests and inquiries. It’s extremely frustrating for you and those who occupy the facility you're maintaining when a subcontractor isn’t dependable. It can also lead to unsafe situations that harm the health and quality of life of occupants.
Look for a subcontractor who does the following to demonstrate their level of availability and responsiveness:
- Shows up early
- Is quick to solve an issue
- Doesn’t leave a job until it’s done satisfactorily
- Overcommunicates, especially for complex tasks
- Sets availability expectations upfront and meets them
You can confirm if these things are true about a subcontractor by contacting their references.
3. References and Reputation
Anybody can say anything about themselves. For example, a subcontractor can say they specialize in residential and commercial handyman services and have been on the job for 20-plus years. You can believe this outright and risk this information not being the truth.
Or, you can validate what they’re saying by relying on references and other means of verifying their reputation. This option will ensure you’re hiring someone truthful. It’ll also ensure you’re hiring someone with the experience and skillset you need.
When you talk with a subcontractor you’re interested in, always ask for references. When you reach out to their references, ask these questions:
- Did they stay on budget?
- Did they handle the unexpected well?
- Did the finished project meet your expectations?
- Did you have any issues with your project timeline?
- How was the communication between you and the subcontractor?
Here are some other ideas for assessing a subcontractor's reputation:
- Look at reviews
- Look at their social media
- Visit their company website
- See what their Better Business Bureau rating is
Ensuring your subcontractor has real references and a positive reputation is incredibly important to understand how they’ll fare for you.
4. Insurance and Liability
The risks and potential liabilities in subcontractor work are abundant. Someone could get injured on the job. Property damage can happen. There could be a wreck involving a company vehicle. Or the subcontractor could decide not to finish a project.
Ensuring your subcontractor has the appropriate insurance and liability coverage will help tremendously if any of the above or other risks happen. You’ll be relieved of any responsibility if the above were to occur and you’ll be protected in case a subcontractor tries to skip out on the work.
Types of insurance or liability coverage that might be necessary include:
- General liability
- Excess liability
- Commercial auto
- Workers comp
- Property/equipment coverage
- Environmental policy
- Contractor's errors and omissions policy
Sitting down with legal counsel will help you flesh out which insurance or liability coverage you should require from any subcontractor you work with.
5. Communication and Collaboration
Effective communication and collaboration between your company and the subcontractor are imperative for the relationship to be successful. Communication failure can lead to pitfalls like:
- Disjointed workflows and processes
- A lack of transparency that leads to under-communication
- Working with incomplete, inaccurate, or outdated information
Without proper communication, you can’t establish what needs to be done and when. Your ability to collaborate with a subcontractor suffers as well. Choose someone who demonstrates good communication and is adept at teamwork.
To achieve solid communication and collaboration with a subcontractor, establish expectations for both upfront. Determine communication styles and preferences. Ensure you both know how to use each other’s preferred communication channels as well.
Also, make yourself or someone on your staff available to subcontractors who need your help. This will facilitate collaboration and establish the trust needed to make sure tasks and projects get done to the highest quality.
Facility maintenance companies should know as much as possible about a subcontractor before selecting them. But these five things are most notable:
- The depth of their experience and expertise
- How available and responsive they are
- If their references and reputation are credible
- If they have insurance and liability coverage
- How well they communicate and collaborate
Carefully consider these factors to ensure you’re hiring a top-tier subcontractor.