You’re a contractor, so when you take on a job, you use your expertise and business network to provide customers the best materials, craftsmanship, and design that you can, within their budget. When you’re effectively able to manage supplies, subcontractors, and schedules in a professional way, you end up with delighted customers who love the job you’ve done for them.
Part of being a successful contractor requires having some control over all parts of the project. When you order materials, they’re materials you’re comfortable working with and standing behind. When possible, you hire subcontractors you can trust. So, what do you do if a customer steps into your sphere and asks to choose their own subcontractor for a part of the project? Should you let them decide who you work with, or do you insist on keeping your own contacts on the job?
There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer, but here are some of the pros and cons to think about when a customer asks you to use a sub you’ve never worked with.
You might find a new contact. You can never know too many people you like to work with. If a customer has a friend that recommends a specific tile mason, for example, it might be a chance for you to expand your network into an area where you don’t know many people.
The customer will be much happier. If a customer wants a specific subcontractor, it’s most likely because that person has been highly recommended, or it’s someone they know. Your customer may be upset if you refuse to use someone they ask for. If you do agree, be sure to explain that you are ultimately the one responsible for the job, and that the person they want must be willing to work within your timeframe and make corrections as needed if their work doesn’t mesh right with the rest of the project. If their requested subcontractor isn’t willing to work with you, you shouldn’t have to hire them.
You could end up having a terrible experience working with someone you never want to work with again. Let’s face it, working with someone you’ve never met is always risky. They might do great work, but they may also run behind schedule, not communicate clearly, and not respect your tools and equipment. If possible, it’s good to ask fellow contractors if they’ve worked with a new subcontractor before you hire them, in order to get an idea of how they work with other professionals.
Their work might not be up to your standard. If the customer found someone and requests them just because their price is cheaper than what you quoted, you may find that their materials or workmanship aren’t up to par. If a customer is just looking for a discount, you might be setting yourself up for trouble with a sub who won’t do the quality of work you and the customer expect.
It could be more work for you if they enter the project after you’ve bid. If the customer requests a sub after you’ve created a bid and schedule, bringing in a new person who wasn’t part of the initial bid could easily cause kinks. They may not have the right availability, forcing you to rearrange other subcontractors to allow for an adjusted timeline. They may not want to use the materials you’d agreed on with the client beforehand, altering the price and potentially upsetting the customer. Their work might not be up to your standard and you’ll have to go in and fix it. It’s very likely that hiring someone totally new late in the game will make your job more complicated.
Remember, whether you or the customer find the subcontractor, you’re responsible for the finished product. Always do your best to respect the customer’s wishes, but when possible, do your homework to ensure the requested person is someone you think will be good for the project. You may end up finding a great long-term sub!
We’d love to hear your point of view. Do you ever let clients choose their subcontractors? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!