How to Find & Hire Subcontractors for Trades Business

  • December 20, 2023
  • obm
  • 11 min read
How to Find & Hire Subcontractors for Trades Business

In the construction industry and many other trades, finding the right subcontractors is one vital component that determines the overall success of your business. Subcontractors play an essential role in your operations by providing expert solutions for various specialised tasks within construction projects, be they large scale developments or smaller residential jobs.

By hiring the right subcontractor, you can ensure the completion of a project on time, within budget, and to a high standard. However, employing the wrong subcontractor can lead to a myriad of issues that can cost your business both time and money.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the factors that make a good subcontractor, where to find them, and a hiring guide to help you select the best talent.

So stick around till the end for a comprehensive hiring process guide!

Where to hire subcontractors?

When searching for competent subcontractors, it’s crucial to explore a variety of in-person and online resources to find the best talent.

Here are some places to consider:

In-person search

Ask around

As someone in the trades business, it’s highly likely that you will have access to a large network of other traders who equally rely on subcontractors for their operations. Tap into this valuable well of knowledge, by asking them for any recommendations that they may have. Whether you need a general contractor, plumbing subcontractors, hardscaping subcontractors or other subcontractors, the chances are someone you know would have been in the same position as you at one point, and nothing carries weight quite like a word of mouth recommendation from another tradie.

Industry events and trade shows

Attending industry events and trade shows not only helps you stay updated on the latest trends, technology, and techniques in your field but also presents an excellent opportunity to network with other tradespeople and subcontractors. You can meet potential subcontractors, discuss their experience and qualifications in person, and even see examples of their work.

If a subcontractor has taken the initiative to attend and promote their services at a trade show, then this shows a level of conscientiousness and pride in their work, which instantly gives them more credibility.

Specialty suppliers

Another great place to find subcontractors is through specialty suppliers. They can be a treasure trove of expert tradespeople, especially if you’re looking for subcontractors with specific skills or qualifications. Suppliers who sell specialised products often have close relationships with the tradespeople who use their materials and may recommend them as reliable and skilled partners.

Drive around

If you’re looking for residential construction or landscaping subcontractors, then one often overlooked way of scouting them out is simply driving around your local area and checking for projects being completed. This method gives you the advantage of being able to see the company’s work first-hand. You can then make an introduction, exchange details and look into the company further online to see if they are a good fit for your construction project

Online resources

In the digital age, various online platforms cater to the needs of those seeking subcontractors for construction and trade projects.

Here are some excellent online sources to help you find reliable subcontractors:

Checkatrade (checkatrade.com)

checkatrade

Checkatrade is a popular platform that connects homeowners and businesses with vetted and recommended tradespeople. Subcontractors on Checkatrade are thoroughly vetted, and reviews from previous clients can help you assess their performance.

MyBuilder (mybuilder.com)

mybuilder

MyBuilder is an online marketplace that allows you to post your project and receive quotes from local tradespeople. You can view profiles, read reviews, and compare quotes before making a decision.

Rated People (ratedpeople.com)

rated people

Rated People is another platform where you can find qualified tradespeople for various projects. It provides a simple interface for posting your job, and you can browse through profiles, reviews, and ratings of subcontractors.

LinkedIn (linkedin.com)

linkedin

LinkedIn is a professional networking platform where you can connect with subcontractors and construction professionals. Join industry-specific groups, participate in discussions, and use the search function to find subcontractors with the expertise you need.

Builder's Profile (buildersprofile.co.uk)

builders profile

Builder’s Profile is a platform specifically designed for the construction industry. It allows contractors to create detailed profiles, providing information about their capabilities, qualifications, and accreditations. This can be a valuable resource for finding subcontractors with the right credentials.

TrustATrader (trustatrader.com)

trustatrader

TrustATrader is an online directory that lists trusted tradespeople and subcontractors. It features reviews from previous clients and provides a platform for you to contact and hire reliable professionals.

Constructionline (constructionline.co.uk)

constructionline

Constructionline is a UK-based platform that connects buyers with pre-qualified subcontractors and suppliers. It streamlines the procurement process by ensuring that subcontractors meet industry standards and compliance requirements.

Subcontractor UK (subcontractoruk.com)

Subcontractor UK is a dedicated platform for subcontractors and those looking to hire them. It allows you to post your project, receive quotes, and connect with subcontractors across various trades.

Bidvine (bidvine.com)

Bidvine is an online service that connects customers with local professionals, including subcontractors. You can post your job, receive bids, and compare profiles and reviews before making a hiring decision.

When using online platforms, always take the time to thoroughly vet subcontractors. Read reviews, check credentials, and communicate directly with the professionals to ensure they align with your project requirements and standards.

Utilising social media

Social media platforms have evolved into a powerful tool for networking and finding skilled professionals, subcontractors included. These platforms provide a space where you can engage in discussions, ask for recommendations, and view the work of potential subcontractors.

Facebook alone has numerous groups dedicated to the industry, where tradespeople often share their work, discuss industry trends, and look for new opportunities. By joining these groups, you can get recommendations from other group members and even directly post about your need for subcontractors.

LinkedIn, being a professional networking platform, is another excellent place to connect with subcontractors. You can view their profiles, see their connections, and review any recommendations they might have received. LinkedIn also hosts numerous industry-specific groups where you can engage in discussions and get to know many professionals in your field

Instagram is particularly valuable if you’re in search of subcontractors with creative skills such as painters or interior designers. Many professionals use Instagram as a portfolio of their work, which gives you an opportunity to see the quality of their work before you consider hiring them.

X (formerly Twitter) with its hashtags, allows you to find posts and conversations related to subcontractors quickly. It’s also a great platform to keep up with industry news and trends.

Remember to validate any potential subcontractors you find on social media. Check their online presence across different platforms, read reviews, and ask for references.

Social media is a great tool to cast your net wide and find potential subcontractors, but it should be just one part of a comprehensive vetting process.

Hiring subcontractors - crucial steps

When it comes to hiring subs, or hiring GOOD subs in fact, it’s going to be a process of first vetting and qualifying them and then discussing the terms and expectations of your project before getting a subcontractor agreement and payment schedule in place.

Following a structured hiring process can help ensure that you find the best subcontractor for your trades business.

Here are some steps to consider:

Have a chat

There’s no need to go straight into the formalities; often an initial, casual conversation can allow you to put your intuition to work to sense if they feel like a good fit and also to establish whether or not there are any language barriers in place that could prohibit effective communication and act as an obstacle in your project’s success

Ask questions

Whether hiring a general contractor or a specialist, it’s important to ask pertinent questions that will establish whether or not they are a good match.

Ask things like:

  • What other projects have you worked on?
  • Who do you generally work with?
  • Are you insured?
  • How long have you been in the business?
  • Do you have any relevant certifications/accreditations?
  • Can you supply a few references?
  • Do you have all the necessary qualifications/licences/tickets for a particular task/project
  • Do you have pictures of the work you’ve completed in the past?

You may have already found the answers to some of these questions when looking online or asking around, but it’s helpful to ask again to ensure the information you’ve gathered is not out of date and hasn’t been embellished.

Contact the references

Once you have some references from your potential new subcontractor, be sure to reach out to them to see what further information they can provide to aid you in your decision-making.

Here’s a list of questions you could ask when contacting references:

  1. How would you describe your overall experience with the contractor?
  2. Was the project completed on time? If not, what were the reasons for delay?
  3. Did the contractor stay on budget? If not, were the reasons for the additional costs justified?
  4. How was the contractor’s communication throughout the project?
  5. Were there any issues or conflicts, and how were they resolved?
  6. Would you hire this contractor again for future projects?
  7. Is there anything else you think I should know before hiring this contractor?

Outline the requirements of the project and the extent of their involvement

At this stage, it’s important to set clear expectations of what needs to be delivered and when. This is a good time to clarify things such as if they will be needed for the entire project or just a particular aspect, who the subcontractor reports to, what level of autonomy they will have, and any specific requirements or materials needed for the job.

Having these details agreed upon before starting the project can help prevent any misunderstandings or conflicts in the future.

Get multiple bids

Encourage the subcontractor to provide a competitive bid for the project, comparing their pricing and services with others in the market. This will help you get a sense of the market rate and ensure that you are not being overcharged for the services.

However, keep in mind that cost should not be your only deciding factor. Consider things like experience, quality of work, communication skills, and flexibility when comparing bids from different subcontractors. Instead of basing your decision solely on the cheapest price or extravagant promises, opt for someone who you believe can complete the work efficiently and with minimal hassle, while still offering a fair price

Get it all in writing

Once you’ve found a suitable subcontractor, be sure to put everything discussed into an agreement. This should include payment terms, scope of work, timelines, and any other relevant details.

To ensure clarity in a standard subcontractor agreement , it is important to include every possible detail, such as job requirements, payment amount, payment schedule, clean-up procedures, schedules, and a written warranty.

Having a written agreement in place can provide protection for both parties and ensure that expectations are clearly outlined before work begins. Good subcontractors should be well-versed in working to contracts and realise the mutual benefit of having everything down in writing.

Signed, sealed, delivered

Once all parties are happy, it’s time to get the contract signed.  This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands their responsibilities.

It’s not unheard of for a contractor or subcontractor to present to you their own contract as well. Ideally though, it’s cleaner and easier if there is just one contract in place (preferably your own) this avoids conflicts and confusion.

When the contract is signed, make sure to provide a copy to the subcontractor and keep a copy for your records.

Once this step is complete, you can move forward with your project, confident that you have chosen a skilled and reputable subcontractor to assist in bringing your vision to life.

Conclusion

Finding and hiring good subcontractors can be a daunting task, but following these crucial steps in the process can help ensure that you find reliable subs who are skilled and well-suited for your project’s needs.

You’re now equipped with knowledge of the best places to source your subcontractors as well as the essential vetting, qualification,  and contract procedures to follow.

With these steps in place, you can confidently move forward with your project knowing that you have the knowledge and resources necessary to find the best subcontractor for your trades business.  So start reaching out today and take the first step towards building a strong team of subcontractors to help your business thrive.

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