One of the more common methods of growing a snow removal business is hiring subcontractors to perform the work. This is a useful business tool when implemented properly, but can pose serious risk to your company’s reputation and longevity if you hire a subcontractor who is unprofessional. Especially scary is the fact that you, as the ‘general contractor’, don’t have as much control over the process of performing the work when you hire a sub; you must provide the overall outcomes but there are legal limitations when it comes to direct oversight.
It is tough when the season is rapidly approaching to qualify subs, but the last thing you want to do is hire a subcontractor who harms the site or someone on it. Even if you have solid contracts in place to protect you from liability tied to work performed by the sub, your reputation can be seriously damaged if a sub associated with your name has an accident or is the cause of failed service.
Here are 5 things to consider:
Poor organizational skills: Not every subcontractor you hire is going to be perfect. But you should pay attention to personal details tied to how organized they are in the way they think and act. Are they responsive when you ask them for paperwork or other information, or do you need to follow up with them? Is their shop/equipment in good working order and clean? Are they easily distracted or forgetful? A good subcontractor should be prepared, organized, and trustful.
Lack of personal integrity: Character in business is important, and you should make sure that you associate your company with someone who is dependable and trustful. If a subcontractor is a heavy drinker, has a criminal record, or has been caught lying to you, you should think twice about subbing work out to them.
No references: Anytime you hire a new sub, you should get at least 1-2 references. Preferably these would not be ‘buddies’ whom want to help a friend out, and represent other snow contractors or customers that have been serviced.
Too good to be true: Everyone wants a good deal, but if you run into a subcontractor who quotes you at a rate that is significantly lower than other subs in the market, you should proceed cautiously. Especially for individuals who are newer to the industry, they may not have a solid grasp of their costs to do the work, and they could be underestimating significantly the amount of time and sacrifice they will make during heavy winter events. The less experienced and compensated they are, the more they are potentially going to quit on you mid-season.
Uninsured or underinsured: It’s a no brainer that the subcontractor should have insurance, but definitely create a standardized process for double-checking and requiring the following:
- General liability insurance, including property damage (insurance should include a ‘snow rider’)
- Workers compensation
- Auto liability (property and casualty)
- Inland marine coverage on equipment (non-auto) that might be on the site
Hiring good subcontractors can really help you grow your snow management business. Accidents can happen anytime, but hiring just one poor sub who creates a serious safety condition can impact your company in a negative way for many years. Take the time proactively to qualify subcontractors and keep your reputation strong. View all 2016 Snow Safety week articles and content here.