Before you consider hiring a sub-contractor, read this.

The world would be such a wonderful place if you could quickly scale your business up or down throughout the different seasons with the help of sub-contractors. What if a customer called up and asked you to snow plow his driveway or trim a tree and you didn’t offer any of those services, you could simply hire the job out to a sub-contractor. But as we all know, theoretical ideals hardly always follow a the path you have planned out for them. Let’s look at the problems members of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum has had hiring sub-contractors and what they learned from the process.

A lawn care business owner wrote “I been running my tree service for some time now as a two man operation mainly. Sometimes I will call upon a 3rd guy but not too often since he works a full time job elsewhere.

Any how here is the problem at hand. I have been hit with 7 large tree jobs, all within 1 weeks time. On one side, it is no problem since I have the gear needed to perform the jobs, but the man power I do not have. To get them done in a reasonable period of time I am considering hiring sub-contract labor for 5 out of the 7 jobs. I have never brought in sub-contract labor before so my question is how does this work? What should I be worried about?

One lawn care business owner warned against it and said “I had to hire sub-contractors to handle a few tree jobs for me this summer. You need to do make sure the homeowner knows you are sub- contracting out the work and make sure the sub-contractor has insurance. You also absolutely need to check them out by calling some references. I was in a real pinch and rushed through this. In the end it caused me a massive headache and a lot of money.

First off, I have reason to believe the references I called were all hoaxes or family. But since I was under the gun, I didn’t have time to shop around.

Then once they got to the site, I later learned they couldn’t fall a tree if their life depended on it. One took out the side of the customer’s garage. Beyond that damage, the mess they left was totally unacceptable. I had to send three guys in for four days, at my expense to clean things up.

So to avoid this problem in the future the only thing I will do is refer the client to another company, if we can’t do the work ourselves. This does happen from time to time, due to not having enough staff and I am not afraid to tell the customer I simply do not have the resources at the time to do the job.

When you are not in control of the job site, you have no control. What I mean by that is if I sub-contract out a job, I am putting my reputation on the line. I am very detailed when I perform a job and if the sub-contractor isn’t, their work will detract from my hard earned reputation and I simply can not afford that.”

A second landscaper said “I agree %100. If you are not in control, you don’t know what is happening on the job site.

Recently I just sub-contracted out some work for a concrete job but I performed all the demolition. I rented the heavy equipment, truck loader, jack hammer etc. As I was doing the demolition work, the sub-contractor was right behind me setting up the forming for the driveway. I stayed on the job site the entire time, while they poured and did the finish work. I told them upfront, they can’t leave or get paid until I was satisfied with their work.

Sometimes you will find another company won’t mind bringing their crew and gear to your job sites while you are there and in control. Other times it may cause difficulties. Find this out before you get started. If they won’t work with you the way you need them to, tell them to take a hike, and get you some day labor guys to do the light duty, and cleanup work. This extra help should speed up your job.

To buy some extra time, you could see which customers were willing to wait a week or so until being serviced. If they don’t seem to be willing to budge on their time line, you could offer a couple of the clients a discount off the job total, if they can wait a week or so to get their work done. Unless the tree is resting on their house, try these different options out before going the sub-contractor route and do all the work yourself.”

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