8 Tips for Effective Subcontractor Management

In this article, we offer the best tips for managing subcontracts in construction, sp keep reading to learn more about subcontractor management.





Subcontractor management is a must-have skill for every general contractor involved in construction. As a construction manager, you’ll hire subcontractors to complete specific tasks, especially when you handle big projects. That’s why you need to arm yourself with tips on how to manage contractors.

One good thing about subcontractors is that they offer specialized services at affordable costs. You’ll save much time, money, and resources on particular tasks by working with them says the Revenue Scout team. However, you’ll be running the risks of getting a shoddy work when you leave the subcontractors unsupervised.

In this guide, we explore the best tips for managing subcontracts in construction. Keep reading to learn more about subcontractor management.


Tips on How to Manage Subcontractors

Subcontractors can improve productivity in construction processes when managed appropriately. Here are some ways you can ensure subcontractors deliver quality work at the right time within your budget.


1. Hire Qualified Subcontractors

As a general contractor or construction manager, you need to know if subcontractors are qualified to handle particular tasks. Confirm if they have the licensing and insurance required before hiring any of them. You can also find out the number of years they have been in the construction business to review their experience.

Other qualifications to check include the previous supervisory experiences, business management practices, legal history, safety records, and on-site and off-site activities. If the subcontractors’ previous projects are outstanding, consider hiring them. However, you need to take enough time to screen the subcontractors.


2. Put the Contract in Writing

Working with a sub-contractor without a written contract can be dangerous, especially when issues arise amidst construction. Surprisingly, an astounding number of general contractors are working with subcontractors without formalizing their contracts. If things go wrong, taking legal action can be quite challenging.

When writing the contract, specify the roles and responsibilities of the parties involved, including subcontractors. Describe the project in detail, indicating the support you’ll offer to make the collaboration successful. Also, indicate how the subs will address unforeseen issues that might arise during construction.


3. Use Construction Management Software

Construction resource management software is an indispensable tool in the industry. With the help of the software, construction managers can monitor subs without challenges. Besides, they can use the software to keep documents properly, making it easy to track reports and other useful records.

If you are interested to learn more about construction workforce management, check out this guide by Bridgit.

Some other advantages of construction management software include:

    • Promotes file sharing among project stakeholders

    • Promotes effective delegation of tasks to qualified subcontractors

    • Provides scheduling tools to track project progress and benchmark timelines

    • Keeps track of communication between general contractors and subcontractors

    • Integrates well with accounting software to streamline payments and invoices

    • Allows general contractors to configure construction workforce planning to fulfill their needs during construction


4. Set Your Expectations

Once you’ve hired a subcontractor, let the subs understand how you want the job to get done and the quality of services you expect. You shouldn’t assume they know what to do. If you assume, you’ll not get the chance to change anything if the subs make mistakes. And that can be costly in the long run.

Ensure that you highlight the expectations in the written contract. Ensure that your expectations match your client’s requirements. Some of the things to include in your list of expectations include:

    • Project deliverables

    • Responsibilities of stakeholders

    • Project quality standards

    • Terms and conditions for each party


5. Communicate Effectively with the Subcontractors

Effective communication is of crucial relevance in subcontractor management. As a construction manager, you need to give all the information that subs need to complete their tasks successfully. Notably, you should do that before construction begins. And if there is any change, you should communicate it in advance.

It’s no doubt that construction projects involve many moving parts. By communicating early, you keep subcontractors ahead of schedule, helping them avoid construction delays. Thankfully, many channels promote open communication between stakeholders, improving project organization.


6. Pay Subcontractors on Time

It is no secret that independent workers get motivated by money. So, the best way to earn your subcontractors’ trust is by paying them on time. Ensure that the money is adequate to manage the job and complete it at the right time. Note that late payments can result in construction delays.

You need to agree on payments before the subs begin to work, whether you’ll pay the money partially or the entire amount at once. In most cases, contractors make partial payments at around 30-60 days into construction projects. However, that can vary depending on project length. Use construction software to track payments.


7. Plan for All Activities

Early planning improves project performance in terms of schedule, operations, and costs. As you plan, involve all subcontractors to avoid inconveniences that might arise in the future. Engage the subs in safety training, material deliveries, workflow planning, and any other activity involving them.

As a construction manager, you should develop an accurate and comprehensive scope of work to guide subs. Let them know how they fit into the project and the dates to start and complete their tasks. Work on your budget as it is part of project planning and can significantly impact your project success.


8. Organize Customer Service Training

Assuming that every subcontractor knows how to treat customers is a big mistake that should never happen. By providing exceptional customer services, you can establish customer loyalty, which will secure you more revenue. To achieve that, train all subcontractors on how to handle clients.

To protect your outstanding reputation, as a general contractor, encourage the subs to maintain jobsite protection, cleanup, and schedules. Remind them to uphold customer service skills such as patience, empathy, and positive language. Besides, they should know the services you offer, your pricing, and any other information useful to clients.


Final Words

Managing subcontractors’ performance can be quite overwhelming without the right skills and tools. That’s why we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of subcontractor management tips to guide you. Remember to check the subs’ qualifications, put the contract in writing, set expectations, communicate early, and plan early.


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