Download PDF version (226.4k) Log In or Register to view the full article as a PDF document.
Q.Do you work with the same subs all the time, or do you shop every job? What are the pros and cons of each of these sub management strategies?

A. "We work with the same small group of subcontractors all the time. This reassures our clients that they are getting the quality service they expect. We develop relationships with two or three subs in every specialty so we have a choice. Then we spread the work around between them according to their schedules and the kind of work they do best. If they’re too expensive, we’ll try to find out why, rather than automatically shopping the job."

— Mike McCutcheon

"We stick with the subs we have as long as possible. We only shop once in awhile to make sure they are in the ballpark. But they don’t have to be the low bid — in fact, they usually aren’t."

— Howard Ferree

"Stick with known, trusted subs. Show them loyalty and pay them what they are worth. I worked awhile for a company that always shopped for a low-ball price from subs — ‘to keep them honest.’ But the subs felt no loyalty and when we were in a pinch, they weren’t as willing to help because they knew we’d blow them off on the next job if they were $100 too high. We also ended up with a lot of inferior work from subs we hadn’t worked with before."

— Rick Stacy

"I work with the same subs because they are reliable and they look out for me. It’s hard to screw up when you have that many eyes checking your work. The remodeling business is too much like brain surgery with a conscious patient to insert an unfamiliar sub into the mix. I think it is a huge mistake."

— Sue Cosentini

"Follow-up service and warranty work depend on your subs’ commitment. Cultivating strong relationships with subcontractors who recognize the importance of being associated with a well-managed company will lead to their going out of their way to maintain the goodwill of the homeowner."

— Bill Gaver

"Subs have the same opinion of contractors who always shop as remodelers do of clients who ask for three or four bids on every job. Keeping good subs takes the same effort as keeping good employees."

— Mike Weiss

"When you find good subs — ones who do good work at a value — you learn to keep them. But it pays to have more than one good electrician, for example, because then you still have choices."

— Byron Papa