Finding and retaining skilled trade workers is a battle every builder has to fight. Things have only gotten tougher as the shortage of skilled labor continues in many regions throughout the country, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. To attract workers from the skilled trades, you need to make sure your company is one that subcontractors actively want to work for.
To make that happen, here’s what you need to do.
1. Make sure your business is organized
Working well with the trades requires careful planning and consistent communication. In an industry with so many moving parts, these organizational basics can be a challenge, but subs don’t want to work for unorganized builders.
Luckily, technology can make things easier – try one of these mobile apps that help streamline how you run your business.
2. Share the project’s plans with subs
Scheduling which job gets done when is a major project for any builder, and according to ProBuilder, “Builders with the most successful trade relations give trades the information they need to plan ahead. This was the first thing that every single trade named when asked what characterizes the builders they prefer to work with. The information they need includes clear plans and specs, and a schedule that lets them reliably forecast for the coming weeks and months.”
If you have a system for delivering this information, that’s even better. Even a shared cloud storage tool, like Google Drive, can make sharing plans much easier.
3. If the schedule needs to change, let subcontractors know
Anyone who works in the skilled trades understands that timelines change, but subcontractors need to know if a project will be delayed. They’re likely working on a number of other projects, and will need to take any changes into consideration when planning their schedules.
It might sound simple, but lack of communication is a surprisingly common complaint from subs.
4. Establish communication channels
At the beginning of the relationship, determine how communications will be delivered. You shouldn’t be calling, texting and emailing subcontractors — keep things simple for everyone and choose one or two primary methods.
5. Offer financial incentives for careful work
Aside from paying subcontractors on time and in full, builders can also offer financial incentives for high quality work. The cost to the business is often minimal, too.
In the ProBuilder article referenced above, one builder created a punch package for each framing contract. It covers things like blocking and framing for duct chases, but careful framers who don’t use the package can have the cost credited back to them.
6. Treat the trades like partners
Ultimately, it all boils down to trust. If you want subcontractors to work for you, they have to trust you and your business. This requires obvious things like paying workers on time, but building trust also takes communication, honest feedback and a sincere desire to be a good partner in business.
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