Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner

1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So... I recently tried out a new sub crew. I spent about an hour on the phone with the guy picking his brain and he had all the right answers. Anyways I know my two regular sub crews are going to be on a really big job The whole months of march and april so now is the time to try new guys out.

Start Date: Friday 11th. Even though I told him to bring a 40' ladder he only brought a 32'. Sub promises to come back 8 am saturday 20th.

Saturday 12th, home owner calls me at 9:30 AM. Where are the guys? I try to call the sub on his cell phone but the phone number he told me was his cell is really his house number. I arrive at 11 am, as was my original plan. Sub is there but hasn't done anything yet. We discussed the job and I went into great detail how I wanted a few details completed. The job should have been an8 hour job start to finish. Sub calls me at night to tell me he didn't finish and needs to go back on Sunday.

Sunday 13th. Sub calls me to tell me it's too cold... but he was ALREADY at the customer's house. He will go back Monday.

Monday the 14th. I have scheduled estimates all day. Sub calls me at about 2 pm saying he is done and needs to get paid. I told him I usually pay my bills once a week, but since this is our first job I will pay him as soon as I inspect it. I told him I would inspect it and mail him a check ASAP tomorrow morning. He insists on meeting me on the job site, so I agree.

Tuesday 15th 7 am. I show up 30 minutes early to inspect the roof and am shocked. The job isn't done. There are mistakes in quite a few areas. I wait around for the sub, but he doesn't show. I can't call him so I inform the customer that there are a few minor finishing touches left to be done and I will personally finish the job in the next day or two. As I am about to leave the sub shows up, 15 minutes late.

I told him I am not a happy camper the job is nowhere near done, about 4 hours left, and there are quite a few mistakes. I go back up on the roof and point out all the mistakes. I laid into the sub a little bit. He asks for money. I told him hell no. Finish and I will inspect and pay when done.

Today is Friday the 18th. I went to do an inspection fully prepaerd to work. I'm glad I brought my work clothes and tools. Almost Everything left undone was completed but none of the mistakes were repaired. I repaired all the minor problems myself in about an hour.

I was just about to leave very happy and content that the job is now done and I am gonna get paid... I SAW A FRICKING DROP OF WATER FALL THROUGH THE CEILING. :( :( :( It came in right in an area directly under a small 2 sqaure foot ice puddle on the flat roof.

BTW the sub hasn't called me to get paid yet. I haven't spoken to him since 15th.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,471 Posts
This is why I keep things internal as much as possible.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,265 Posts
Finish a subs work?! Sounds like a freebie to me. Let me guess, did it on a hand shake didn't you?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I have a formal sub agreement that covers a year worth of projects and a schedule of piece work payment. The sub is issued a work order and then issues an invoice back to me when he is done. His invoice directly reflects the piece work payment schedule.

That's how it's done in my world.

In my sub agreement it states that I have the right to repair all defencincies and damages at the expense of the sub contractor.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
156 Posts
Great story for do's and don't with subs. I'm just starting to use subs for things that I usually keep in house. I dont have any sub agreements as of yet but am taking notes on all the things I will need. If you have any other must have items you could pass along, would be much appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,471 Posts
DIY! If you fire the sub, the whole crew leaves. If you only fire the crew leader, you're still working.
A lot of subs go into business for a bigger piece of the pie, unfortunately they are not qualified to handle the business end. Hope that they are not on your job when they go belly up.
If you are going to hire subs, get a ton of references. I like helping new guys get started but I don't want to pay for their mistakes.
NEVER TRUST ANYONE UNDER 40! I just threw that in there because I like the way that it sounds! LOL
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
14,078 Posts
I'm really shocked why you wouldn't show up 3-4 times during the course of the job to inspect the work of a brand new crew. It's way cheaper and less time consuming to catch things during the build then after.

It's seems like financial suicide for a brand new company to be too busy to allow a new sub to run amuck with one of it's customers. Now you have to clean up his mess, deal with the sub, make excuses to the customer, avoid the sub liening the customers...

On new subs I am all over him checking out what he is doing and spending the day working at the job site side by side. Whether it is subtly looking over his shoulder, or pushing him out of the way to peer at his work with a flash light and microscope if I want to. That might make me one of those a$$hole GCs but I don't like to face the customer after the job is done with excuses and explanations, that sucks, and you can't ever blame it on the sub because ultimately the customer hired you and not the sub.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,265 Posts
Mike Finley said:
ultimately the customer hired you and not the sub.
So far this year I've turned down 2 jobs rather than sub them out. In one case I had a customer that so wanted me to do his job that he went and found another sub that I could use to do the job I was already committed to. In both cases the decision came down to "the customer hired me to do the work, not as a GC".
Admittedly Grumpy's business is different than mine. But either way it boils down to having your name on the work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
You are right Mike, I should have. And if they started the first day I would have. I planned other stops in the area so I could stop bye periodically. Unfortunately as explained above they didn't start the first day, and when I went back the second day to look over their shoulder they were just getting started. I couldn't spend the whole day with them due to previously set appointments, however in retrospect it would have been a good idea to cancel my other appointments and hung out for a few hours watching them.

Absolutely! Ultimately the customer hired me and not the sub which is why I am putting an end to the nonsense and fixing the job myself.

Pipe I use 100% sub labor. I do this for many reasons already discussed in many many other threads. I have no intentions of hiring on any installation crews any time soon. Theres just way way way too much over head and administrative hassel involved.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,265 Posts
Grumpy said:
Pipe I use 100% sub labor. I do this for many reasons already discussed in many many other threads. I have no intentions of hiring on any installation crews any time soon. Theres just way way way too much over head and administrative hassel involved.
Like I said, your business is different than mine. I also have to say however that I don't fully understand the concept of subbing everything out. It's not clear to me how you can develop the workforce relationships and implement the procedures and processes needed to succeed over the long term when your management and production structure consists primarily of 'piece workers'. If I'm understanding correctly, at this point all you should be doing personally is sales, subcontract administration and job scheduling. I'd think that all those subs would require more in house project supervision? Like a supt. for every three crews or something.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
14,078 Posts
Grumpy - I don't know about cancelling appointments to be there for a few hours at a time, simply driving over inbetween appointments 3-4 times to check on them would have been probably enough.

Around here alot of the really big fencing companies, deck companies and roofing companies go the same route as Grumpy. Homeowner's don't know the difference and as long as the companies can fade heat from the bumps that come along every once in awhile and keep advertising their name out there the public never knows or really needs to know, they eat some screw ups now and then, but the volume they are doing makes up for it aplenty.

In a heavily seasonal business such as decks, fences and roofs it sure has it's advantages of not having to worry about payroll when everything slows down. They don't work, you aren't paying anything, let them worry about saving their pennies for the rainy days. The one thing in common with all of these paper contractor type companies is they are cookie cutter. They have to keep thier products pretty simple because they can't make things to complicated that the average sub crew can't perform. Like in decks if you want some pressure treated square boring deck you can't beat the price one of these compaines will perform at, however if a customer wants something nice, custom and unique those guys are going to pass on the bid some times or they are limited to maybe just one of their crews that have the ability to complete the project. I've picked up a handful of jobs already when the homeowner has contracted with Expo Design Center or some cookie cutter outfit and the contractor they send out just scratches his head and tells the customer there ain't no way I'm doing this job. The customer is clueless as to why or what the hell just happened, Expo makes up some excuse, but the real reason is these companies are empoying the bottom of the barrel and paying them as such and the job is too custom or complex to fit thier system.

That's all part of the process. I'm sure Grumpy has to deal with this in some degree or another, he knows the strengths and weaknesses of each of his crews and assigns some jobs to certain subs because of it to make the best fit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
PipeGuy said:
Like I said, your business is different than mine. I also have to say however that I don't fully understand the concept of subbing everything out. It's not clear to me how you can develop the workforce relationships and implement the procedures and processes needed to succeed over the long term when your management and production structure consists primarily of 'piece workers'. If I'm understanding correctly, at this point all you should be doing personally is sales, subcontract administration and job scheduling. I'd think that all those subs would require more in house project supervision? Like a supt. for every three crews or something.
I'd be willing to discuss this privately. [email protected]
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Mike for the most part you are correct however I am not cookie cutter. I get alot of work because I am willing to take on unusual work. I understand everything I sell (or I don't sell it), and I know the capabilities of my cub crews. I keep my sub crews specialized... When it comes to roofing, I have one that does only shingles and cedar. I have another that does only flat work. I have yet another that does slate, cedar, tile metal.

I have a siding crew for aluminum and vinyl and I have another siding crew for fibercement and cedar.

The beauty is most of these sub crew have no interest in trying anything they don't specialize in. I mean my roofers wouldn't dare touching a piece of siding... and I wouldn't dare asking them.

I am NOTHING like Expo or home depot. I too get jobs from them all the time on my knowledge and communication skills alone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
I'm actually turning down repair type work, not because I don't know how to do it, but because I don't have anyone to do it. I am burdened with sales and administrative duties. I'm got a few prospects lined up for now. I've spoken with some local handy men who are willing to do the easy stuff for me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,471 Posts
I look at it as getting to keep the subs profits.
If I have to sub an electrical job, it's going to cost me $70.00 per hr. for a guy that costs $32.00 per hr. So I hire a talented electrician. Mike is slightly handicapped (fed break) and really likes breaking up what he does. He is also a great framing/rough carpenter and does some light plumbing. Do I make money off of Mike? You betcha! My plumber does finish carpentry and tile, not too bad on drywall finishing either. I don't understand why someone in a small business would sub out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Sure teetor b ut now you have to worry about WC, unemployment, health, 401k, etc etc etc... And the worst worry of al... Keeping him busy!

That was the worst burden at the last company I worked. Keeping the employees busy. When we would get even a little bit slow my boss would order me to basically give away a few jobs to stay busy. I never understood that, working just for the sake of working... especially since my commission was based on prifit and if there is no profit there is no commission.

Now I have none of the above stated worries. Is my profit slightly less? Yes it is. I think it's a fair trade off however.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,471 Posts
Grumpy, I was kind of a late bloomer to the business world. Following my time in the service, I persued education and worked for others. About 10 yrs. ago I was on vacation in the Bahamas, laid back on a beach chair and fretting about my relatively new business when I had an epiphany. Dude! You're stretched out here on the beach and still making $2K a day! I relaxed and had a great vacation. I now take at least a half a dozen a year.
As far as paying the WC, ins, unemployment....et.al. You ARE paying it at the subs rate because HE is paying it. When I sub, I mark this up, just a bit, too.
I have worked for a few northern companies that are weather related, there are a number of options there. Most release employees so that they can collect unemployment, some add a retainer to ensure that they will come back.
Considerations.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
14,078 Posts
Grumpy said:
Mike for the most part you are correct however I am not cookie cutter.
Wasn't directing any of that towards you, that was in relation to stuff I have dealt with personally and mostly in regard to deck building and bathroom remodelling. I have a very good understanding of your business model but not of your personal business of course.

I don't really understand the attitude some contractors have towards your model of business, its been around forever and I see nothing wrong with it other than the customers are being decieved a little bit, but its kind of a white lie versus even coming close to fraud or deception. I think it is a win/win, there are obviously some contractors who see no benefit from subbing, and there are obviously others that love the relationship. To each their own and let each choose their method to put food on the table.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Teetor I know I am paying it. I am not trying to avoid paying it. Its very convienient to pay one bill when the job is done rather than 5 pay checks, then various other payments to various other entities like uncle sam. That's the administrative hasel I am trying to avoid for now.

This is not a sub vs employee thread. We've had far to many of those. I could not afford to be in business if not for my current sub labor business model.

Mike the reason many contractors have a strong dislike to my business model is because many so called contractors abuse loop holes available in the model. Naturally when ever I say to another roofer "I only use subs" they usualloy instantly think I am a scum bag and avoid paying WC and hire illegal immigrants. That's not the case.
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Top