Why use an arboricultural subcontractor?
If you have been in business, or you have been managing a business for a while, the reason you would work with an arboricultural subcontractor is fairly straightforward. There are some commonly accepted reasons why.
- You need a certain machine or skill set that your in-house team does not have.
- You need additional staff with a certain skill set.
- You need a whole crew, or multiple crews, with all their gear and machinery to help you get through the work.
Working with reliable arboricultural subcontractors is a great way to increase your productivity in times of need. They can be a saviour on a difficult project. Additionally, when you are experiencing a peak in demand, but you can’t guarantee that the demand will continue at the same level, it’s handy to have a network of reliable subcontractors available.
This reliable network will also be there for you when you have an unexpected staff or machinery fallout, or you need time to develop these resources in-house. It’s worth investing in this relationship.
So, when should you start developing a relationship with a subcontractor?
Answering this question is not that easy.
One thing that I can say to give it some perspective, is that when it comes to reactive work after a storm, all subcontractors are going to be busy.
Relationships drive business
As humans, we are all driven by our connections, and so it’s natural that your contact within the subcontractors’ company will service the company that they have a long-lasting and reliable relationship with first. However, this simple fact has given subcontractors a mixed reputation. Some companies love their ‘subbies’ and some not so much.
So, if you are intending to grow your business and you think you will need subcontractors in the future, it would be wise to start building and exploring those relationships today.
The first step to establishing the relationship is giving your ‘subbies’ regular work. This does not mean you are obliged to give them work every week. In fact, just a small job every month can do the trick. The other important consideration is making your ‘subbies’ feel valued. Never forget you are in a partnership with your ‘subbies’, and that true partnerships work best if they are fair and based on trust.
What does the subcontractor expect from you?
To answer this question in one sentence we can nominate the two most important factors; good communication and getting paid on time.
What is your subcontractor going to call ‘good communication’?
The first thing the subcontractor needs is a clear statement of expectation. This is critical because it provides, upfront, the expectations, resources, timeframe and clarity the subcontractor needs before committing to a job. What should that statement include? Here are our recommendations.
- What work are you hiring the subcontractor to do?
- What is your desired outcome?
- What is your timeline?
- What are your concerns / expected challenges in relation to this project?
The more information you can give you subcontractor upfront, the easier it is for them to meet your expectations.
Something else that subcontractor’s value, is the time to prepare for your job. Very few subcontractors are waiting for your call at 4pm in the afternoon so that they can start the next day…! You can do this once, but do not make this a habit or you will end up losing your ‘subbie’ to your competition. As Richard from Treetools likes to say, “remember you are not working in a vacuum” and that others are also looking for good ‘subbies’.
We advise that you also always pay your ‘subbie’ at the agreed time. Your ‘subbie’ is generally working at a lower margin for you, to allow you to mark-up their work and still stay competitive in the market. This means that if they did a lot of work for you that month, they would really need that money to cover their bills.
What can you expect from a reliable subcontractor?
As an employer there are a number of expectations you should have regarding the subcontractor that you should reasonably expect to be met every time that you are engaged in a job together.
- You should expect good communication from a reliable subcontractor.
- An experienced subcontractor should be able to keep you in the loop concerning progress on your site(s), inform you of any incidents in a timely manner and communicate any additional requests from your client to you.
- The subcontractor should be able to predict and advise you if they are unable to meet the set deadlines. They need to be able to provide you with an alternative solution that meets your expectations.
- Your subcontractor will never communicate directly with your client without your pre-approval.
- You can expect to have the subcontractor’s invoice on time every time.
How does Pro Climb manage expectations?
Pro Climb started as a contract climbing and provider of professional development for arborists company in 2009. Since then we have grown and developed into a tree care and abseiling company working for local authorities, schools, universities, utility providers, large arboricultural contractors, small commercial and residential clients.
Insight into these companies and our own experience growing our business, has given us a good understanding of what you need to do to be a successful subcontractor.
How do we meet client expectations?
As arboricultural subcontractors, we generally ask our clients to send all job requests via email to our [email protected] email address. This allows us to internally chose the right project team leader for your job.
Even if you have been dealing with a certain team leader on a previous project, that team leader may be on leave or otherwise busy. Letting us choose who will be your contact for a certain project will ensure that we can guarantee a smooth and timely delivery.
Of course, if you prefer to call or text your favourite team leader, this team leader will send you an email summarizing the conversation and asking you any additional questions that have not yet been fully clarified.
How do we meet the targets and deadlines?
Your expectations are identified through our systemised sales process. We will be asking you a lot of questions before we send you a rate card or a quote. This will help us deliver a service that meets your expectations and allows us to understand your intentions clearly.
How do we communicate with our clients?
Depending on the size of the job we will have a reporting cycle agreed upon before the work starts. This reporting cycle can include pictures of the progress and completed work. All incidents are communicated as per our agreed Health & Safety agreement.
How do we invoice?
You will receive a detailed invoice with location, dates and costs invoiced as per the agreement.
In summary, as your arboricultural subcontractor, we believe in the importance of a strong working relationship, trust, integrity and good honest communication. We will deliver these qualities on every job we undertake, and we hope that we receive the same from those companies with whom we are able to provide support to enable the best outcomes in our shared projects.
If you are interested in engaging with us as an arboricultural subcontractor – we are always open to new projects, simply email [email protected] and we can start talking.