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What Skills Do General Contractors Look For In Subcontractors

 Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

Many subcontractors believe that having the requisite technical skills, qualifications, and background is all they need to win a bid. However, General Contractors are equally looking for the soft skills that ensure the smooth running of projects. 

Bidding subcontractors will usually have the right technical skills and qualifications for a project. In these cases, the determining factor for whoever wins the bid will be the soft skills that each bidder is able to demonstrate. 

We will now discuss these soft skills along with some ways on how to demonstrate them during bidding.

An Ability to See the Bigger Picture of a Project

Subcontractors often think that finishing their contracted work is all General Contractors want from them. This leads them to focus on their job and their job only.

Although concentrating on your contracted work is great as it allows you to be more detail-oriented, it can also prevent you from understanding how your work fits in with the project as a whole. 

General Contractors want subcontractors who are able to see how their work affects the other parts of a project and take these parts into consideration before doing their work.

You should make a plan that doesn’t only work for your team but also works seamlessly with the plans of other subcontractors on a project as much as possible. Using job management software is of great help in doing this.

This should minimize the delays and setbacks that might occur in the project, which is more favorable for the whole team.

Exhibiting Bigger Picture Thinking on Biddings

You can show that you are conscientious of how your work affects a wider project to General Contractors during biddings by having a full understanding of the details of the Subcontractor Agreement.

The Subcontractor Agreement often lays out how to take care of issues like change orders and pay disputes. 

However, many subcontractors only see the agreement as a formality so they just scan each page without studying the finer details. 

This creates complications down the line that could have been prevented if only the subcontractors have taken their time to understand the agreement. Therefore, reviewing the details with the General Contractor and questioning points of interest in the contract during biddings can improve your chance of getting the job. 

Reviewing details and asking questions about the contract show that you understand each General Contractor’s need to run the project as smoothly as possible.

Taking Responsibility for the Project as a Whole

General Contractors are looking for subcontractors who are not just there to execute their contracted work.

As a subcontractor, you should treat each assignment that you take as a personal project with the goal of making the client happy.

You can demonstrate being responsible by working on time, cleaning up after your shift, or managing your budget properly.

Exhibiting Being Responsible on Biddings

Showing your sense of responsibility during bids need not be complicated. You can exhibit being responsible by:

  1. Carrying Your Own Insurance – It goes without saying that keeping your company and workers insured is crucial. Lacking insurance can put off General Contractors because it sends out the message that you’re not taking accountability for your company and staff in case something happens.
  2. Having Some Experience in Managing Projects – One good way of getting the attention of General Contractors on your bid is by having the same background of handling projects. They know it’s hard work and it shows that you’re competent to manage a diverse group of tasks and people at the same time.
  3. Holding a Track Record of Completing Jobs on Time – Issues that cause delays are prevalent in construction projects. Having a strong record of finishing your jobs on time is a good indication for General Contractors that despite interruptions, you can still manage your time well.

Effective Communication Skill

Construction projects rarely go according to plan.

To make matters worse, projects often gather workers who’ll be working with each other for the first time. Therefore, effective communication between each team is decisive to the success of the whole project.

Effective communication among and between the teams can decrease the likelihood of delays, which is crucial for a General Contractor to make a profit from a project.

General Contractors are also searching for subcontractors who don’t hesitate to communicate their errors and suggest possible solutions. This kind of work ethic reduces the effects of mistakes on the entire project.

Exhibiting Effective Communication Skill on Biddings

General Contractors can tell how you might communicate and work with other tradesmen in the project by speaking to you.

Therefore, just having a good level of knowledge of the English language and being courteous all the time can already help you in getting a General Contractor’s confidence.

This is also where your ability in networking comes in handy.

The fact that you have a large network of construction professionals shows that you’re capable of communicating and working with different people.

Clean Safety Records

General Contractors want to veer off from issues like accidents on the job site and damaged reputations due to an unsafe work environment.

Hiring subcontractors who have a solid track of safety records is one way to minimize the chances of such complications occurring in a project.

Aside from the General Liability and Workers Compensation insurance, you should also have three years of safety records when bidding for a job.

Exhibiting a Clean Safety Record on Biddings

Three years of safety records are standard when bidding for a project. However, it is better if you go beyond that.

Showing General Contractors a safety record that is more than three years demonstrates that you do practice safety measures and you’re able to maintain them over the years.

If your record shows some accidents though, you should be able to explain what had happened and how you developed better safety protocols. 

Displaying that you take previous errors as a learning experience is still one good way of gaining a General Contractor’s trust.

Proactiveness

Some tradespeople wait for a call from General Contractors before they start any work. It’s been the norm in the industry, but it’s unappealing to General Contractors.

General Contractors want to stay away from this reactive manner at work because it can lead to delays that chew the project’s margin. Therefore, they look for subcontractors who are always one step ahead of their job.

Being proactive can be exhibited through actions like:

  • Offering referrals
  • Submitting proposals on time
  • Classifying and raising concerns
  • Surveying the job site in advance
  • Looking into the status of your proposals
  • Assuring paperwork is approved before your job commences
  • Checking progress with the field superintendent/project manager regularly

Exhibiting Proactiveness on Biddings

A lot of subcontractors only read the bid package and then send their proposals.

You can show your proactiveness by asking questions regarding the project before you send your proposal. 

You’ll be more cognizant of the extent of the job by doing so and therefore, you can make a more informed offer to General Contractors.

Providing different options with different price points in your proposal is also a great way of displaying your proactiveness. This will optimize the bidding discussion by filtering out unnecessary exchanges and could make the bidding quicker for you.

Wrapping Up

Possessing the right technical skills is indeed important when winning a bid for work. However, it is undeniable that soft skills bear the same level of importance. 

Deliberately demonstrating these in a bid should therefore put you at an advantage over your competition when it comes to securing work.

By Volodymyr Barabakh of Fortress Home.