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Discussion Starter #1
im new to this forum so be gentle with me fellas.
got a question to ask that since im new to being the boss and not an employee anymore everyday is a new learning expereance.so here goes
i have been working on a job with a general contractor paying me as a sub.job went well .the job is over as far as everyone is concerned . the other day the owner called me directly and wanted me to come and install some lighting for him ,just do it when you can if you are not busy he said.so i went over there and started to work.well one thing let to another and the general contractor found out i was working there he didnt flip out too bad just kept saying things like cutting me out eh? he even said this to the owner who owns a small business of his own. upon talking with the owner he said to me dont worry if it wasnt me it would be another electrician and he wouldnt see any money anyways.my question is is this good businees the job was done and this is not part of anything discussed during the job.would it be wise to give him referal cut and if so what would be a good percentage?
 

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Custom Builder
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You should have thrown it past the general first, it's just good biz, he has to pay to drag in customers and has the right to make the call. Undercutting is a very bad thing to do to a GC. I NEVER undercut if I'm a sub. If you allow him the option to pick it up and he declines, it's not undercutting.

A referal cut, I'd say give 10 or 15%, Thats less than what he might have made but if he's not bothered too bad, what the hell.

I would vier from doing that again,

Bob
 

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Sometimes the customers can cause more problems then they are worth. How much work do you see from the guy? Is it worth it to service a customer one time and loose out on years of work? On the other hand, is this guy taking advantage of you and keeping you as a sub at inferior rates? You have to weigh this out on your own. There are certain middlemen that I work for who just refer me for the sake of being nice guys :Thumbs: . There are others that want 10 % for giving my name out. It's a personal decision that only you can make. Personally, I give the good guys priority and the 10% guys can wait.
 

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You could always apologize by saying you weren't familiar with the "unwritten rules", which it sounds like you weren't. You could offer him the 10-15% like Glass said. Or, if he declines then maybe offer to buy him a steak dinner and beers one night. If you want to work for him in the future you're going to want to keep that relationship a healthy one.
 

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It will be interesting to see the opinions on this one. BTW, welcome aboard!

I'm a remodeler who also subs to GCs for kitchens, baths, custom cabinetry and flooring. The GCs that I work for are well aware that I am often called back by an owner and often refer me to them. I handle the smaller stuff that they don't want to be bothered with.
On the flip side. I know that some of my guys do sidework for former customers and if the guy is that ambitious and wants or needs to make more money I'm all for it. I don't need to be bothered by some little piddly job that takes one guy half a day. They have access to the shops and also use my vans to haul stuff and work out of, doesn't bother be a bit. There are a few basic rules: Thou shall not steal materials, if you break it, you replace it and absolutely no boozing.
The last one is grounds for immediate termination.
 

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Electrical Contractor
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I feel the GC is being a moron. The only time an electrician needs a GC is for bigger jobs. Remodels, new homes and construction, etc..

Why do you need a GC to be a middle man for small work.
Would you run it past the GC if a job was over and a month later the customer calls you, tells you he liked your work, says he's been contemplating a new service and now that he's met you wants you to do it? NO WAY.

You are in business. If a customer calls you, you work for them.
If you have some sort of formal agreement with this GC that you can only work for his customers through him that's a different story. If that is the case I would have never had anything to do with that GC in the first place.
 

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I'd be inclined to just call the GC and give him a heads up-- in advance next time. I can't see how he would have a problem with you doing a small job like this. Larger jobs, I think the GC has a right to know what's going on-- he's the one who spent money to get in front of the customer originally..
 

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Are you an employee of the GC or an independant businessman? Does he control your business or do you? Does he tell you how much to charge, where you can work and what hours?
I hope you didn't do the work for the same money the GC would've paid you. That would be terrible business and terrible for the industry. But if you're qualified why let someone else sell your labor?
To go through a GC when you an HO wants to contract with you directly is throwing money away. I would'nt pay someone for the priviage of working for them.

Don
 

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Electrical Contractor
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Even as a sub, you still have to back up your work. If you are called back on a warrentiy item, do you call the gc to find out if it is ok to repair. How many of us have been to a customers home and have them say, Oh By the way can you come back and do this for me? I think calling the gc and telling them that you were called back to do something that was not part of the job is a good idea, but like petey said. If you are in business and a customer calls, do the job!
 

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Glasshousebltr said:
I think what almost everybody missed here, is the fact the the GC brought the customer to the table, it was his customer.

Bob
Bob, I don't think we missed it. It just the fact that an electrician (plumber, whatever) does not typically work for a GC. OK, some do alot of their work through one, but if a customer calls for work that's a different story.
I had done this for years. Working for GC's doing renovations, additions, etc.. After these jobs are over the customers call us for service work, upgrades, repairs.
If the owner of a restraunt call me, after doing the new building, to replace a light in the bathroom, do you really expect me to call the GC for approval???
Same with my residential example about regarding a service change.

Part of the reason we do work for a GC is to get the service and maintenance work after.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
i ended up talking to the gc last night and we kind of worked things out on this one he was pissed a little but said let this one go it is a small job butin the future he has to be the first to know, but the funny part was when i asked him if this customer who has asked me if i would be interested in doing more work but work that has nothing to do with his home , larger projects, and ones that his electrician can no longer do (his guy is getting too old to crawl in attics and such) service work and work on his commercial rental buildings he came back and said that he is his customer and any work from him has to go thru him. it seems to me gcs are a little too gready just because i met this man thru him i dont think that gives him the right to take a cut of everything i do for this man,unless it is a job that the gc has set up or has going on . i have only been at this for a little less than a year but the more i look at it i am in buisness to make money and a living, not work my butt off to make a small profit and give it to someone else.getting very frustated and have been thinking very seriously of just getting a job work my eight and pay less taxes and not have to deal with workmans comp,liability, ect and have the nights and week end free
 

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It sounds as if the best way to avoid future trouble is to stop subbing yourself out. Start dictating yur own profits and time. Start selling your services directly to the end-user. But at a respectable rate, no need to undercut anyone.


good luck,
Don
 

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"Buy Quality, Cry Once"
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i am in buisness to make money and a living, not work my butt off to make a small profit and give it to someone else.getting very frustated and have been thinking very seriously of just getting a job work my eight and pay less taxes and not have to deal with workmans comp,liability, ect and have the nights and week end free
Yes, you are supposed to be in business to make money. If you are making too small of a profit you need to rethink your numbers. Yes, you can always go to work for someone else, and not have half the hassles of being self employed. Self employment isn't for everyone, I'm a small start up and it's difficult. However, it's as bad or as good as you want to make it that's the beauty of it.

I have learned alot from this board and am constantly scanning business publications and working on changeing my mindset from employee, to business owner. Integrity means everything in the contracting business. My thought is the GC brought that business in. In the eyes of the GC you going over to do a small job without his knowing it is cutting his legs out from under him, remember
i am in buisness to make money and a living, not work my butt off to make a small profit
applies to GCs as well ;)

All the best.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Sorry to beat a dead horse here guys but the story just keeps getting stranger and i have heard so many different veiws on this next part that well what is a few more and i like to hear more of both sides that seems to me is the same from both parties.by the way danb1959 you forgot a small part of the sentance in your quote copy, it was the part about givin the profit away . i know that the gc is in it to make money in the end if he adds his 10% he is going to make the money off of me on the job no matter what, but not every job has to have a gc involved . no wonder prices to get things done are so high everyone feels as if they deserve a peice of the pie and the ones that get the ******************** end of it are the guys really doing the work and the customer but enough on that .here is the new twist the customer who owns some commercial property and has a tile co. likes my work. and has mentioned to me that if he needs some work done at his places or the jobs he is on need work if i would be interested in doing them.now after all that has happened and to nip it in the bud now, talking to the gc i am dealing with he seems to think that since he is his customer that anything i do should go thru him because he introduced this man to me . other gc i talk to say well hell yes you should go thru him without the gc you would have never met him and it is only fair that the gc get in on the mark up,but i talk to my fellow tradesman and they say are you crazy that has nothing to do with the original project if the gc is not doing any work there to earn a percentage why does he deserve a cent. at what point does it end. im sure im not the first person to be going thru this but not ever having to deal with this part is just tearing me up . i know it takes a lot of different hats to run a co. and some will say that you may not have what it takes what may be true,the hardest part of the whole thing is that me and the gc are freinds and i told myself in the begining that i would walk away from working for him if it ever became a problem and keep the friendship(dont get too many good friends in life).so just trying to hear both sides to confirm that the battle between gc and subs is a global problem i guess. sorry to keep this subject going and i will let this go thanks for the input so far from everyone
 

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First, a paragraph break once in a while makes things alot more readable. I got the sense of you speaking all of that without taking a breath. Now back to the topic.

Most of the time ethics is pretty cut-and-dried. A reasonable person knows intuitively whether or not an act is right. But sometimes a situation seems to straddle the line between ethical and, well, dirty business. Of course it doesn't really straddle the line, right and wrong isn't relative. But our own personal point of view(bias) sometimes clouds our ethical vision. After all, we are in this to make money. GC's and tradesmen alike.

I can see and appreciate that GC's would feel wronged by this situation. They invest huge amounts of time, effort, and personal liability to win their customers. They take responsability for alot of people's work. They often don't make a huge profit when first "courting" a new account. Taking a shot at the long-term income. You say this customer has commercial property and a tile company. I'm sure the GC was looking foward to more work from him. To loose that return from his investment to a lower price(which is usually what the customer in question is looking for) would really suck.

Based on this, I would be inclined to change my origonal answer answer and say this is his customer, and in the spirit of good business I would not do work directly for this customer. Even if he had no intention of going through the GC anyway.

However, now that you have seen this side of sub-contracting, you may find you'd be happier contracting your work directly to the customer. This would eliminate your need to be beholden to a go-between.

Don
 

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boogie said:
he seems to think that since he is his customer that anything i do should go thrue him because he introduced this man to me .the hardest part of the whole thing is that me and the gc are freinds
My $.06 - You need to decide what will help you most IN THE LONG RUN. Start by asking yourself, is there a way all three of us can get what we want. Can you help your buddy get more work with the Owner if you work direct? If you steer clear of working direct for the Owner, will your buddy guarantee you all his work in exchange? Can you charge the Owner enough to kick something to your buddy everytime you work for the Owner? Think through the possibilities and act as soon as its appropriate. There is no 'rule'.
Personally, I think the GC is being unrealistic in his expectation that the Owner is going to use him for 'odd jobs'. Also, if the Owner is as sophosticated as it sounds, it's probably only a matter of time before he does his own GC work. The flip side is that if your buddy moves in GC circles, it wouldn't take long for him to put out the bad word on you. Decisions, decisions.
 

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How long does he remain the contractors customer? 10 yrs? 15? Do you still call and pay the contractor after he retires?
IMHO the contracted to build a home. He did his job, made his money and moved on to the next guy. He's done. Finito!
If I remodel a bath, am I to look up who built the home, determine if I ever worked for him, if so, call him and ask how big a piece of the action he wants?
Do I set a dollar amount? Say $500 or do I call him to change out a lav. faucet?
 

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Teetorbilt said:
If I remodel a bath, am I to look up who built the home, determine if I ever worked for him
Your inference that the GC's attitude is way out of wack is spot on. I don't think however that the analogy stands up given the proximity of Boogie's new work with the Owner to that of his completed work with the GC - as well as his familiarity with both principals. Perhaps simply telling the Owner how the GC thinks is courtesy enough.
 
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