General contractors pride themselves on being a Swiss army knife to small-scale residential clients and larger commercial clients alike. By using their own staff, combined with a set of subcontractors for specific jobs, they can offer a greater amount of services and take on jobs on a larger scale. For example, if you’re a general contractor that does basic construction, plumbing, and electrical work, in theory, a person could work with you exclusively for a new home construction project. On the other side of this, though, is the balancing act. More subcontractors means more complexity in terms of management.
As a result, when you decide to expand operations as a general contractor, you always need to do an analysis of the value addition you get with a new contractor versus the logistical and financial burden of getting them started. A steel contractor is one of the largest value additions you can make as a general contractor. Here’s why.
Benefits of Working With A Steel Contractor
So, why opt to work with a steel contractor and add them to your network of professional contacts?
A whole new set of potential clients: Steel is the signature starting material for a lot of larger installations like office buildings, commercial structures, and other items. A lot of the time, other contracting work can’t be done until the steel frame is laid down by professionals. By being a general contractor with steel offerings, especially in the commercial sector, you expand your potential client list by a massive amount. We should also mention the fact that not every steel fabricator is putting together frames for skyscrapers. There are many examples of smaller-scale/decorative steelwork that still requires specific expertise. Think of things like door frames, window frames, or catwalks.
Photo By Roselynne
The ability to better promote your other offerings: As we just mentioned, steelwork is one of the first things clients will look for when they know they need a structure built. This gives you the opportunity as a contractor to pursue a long-term relationship with them. Market your ability to work in steel with them to start, then mention if they need work done after the fact (electrical, concrete, drywall) that your company offers services in those areas as well. Suddenly, you not only have a new steel job but a chance for all your other subcontractors to get work, also.
Safety: Steel framing, reinforced concrete, and other applications require specific skills and equipment to implement correctly. It may be tempting for a member on your team to go through the certification steps to add steel to your list of offerings, but the fact is there’s no substitute for experience. Not to mention, you still need to wait until that person got the necessary qualifications to actually do the job. Working with a separate contractor means you can get started taking on steel jobs right away, and have more peace of mind for the safety factor.
Eco-friendly: Something that doesn’t get talked about a lot when it comes to steel is the fact that it’s one of the more eco-friendly building materials out there. This can’t hurt in terms of improving the public perception of your business.
Future-proofing: As a general rule of business, you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. As a general contractor, your suite of services may be the best on the market right now, but there’s no guarantee that things will stay like that. As a result, you want to always make sure that you are working to stay competitive. Adding new services to your offerings as a general contractor is a major part of that, and steel is one of the best areas to start.
Supporting Your New Steel Contractor
We’ve covered the different ways that bringing on a steel contractor can support your business, but that’s not a one-way street. A smaller contractor decides to be a subcontractor for a larger one because they are doing their own value analysis as well. By working with a general contractor, it’s easier for them to get clients by doing their part on larger jobs, rather than having to market their individual set of services to any potential client they come across. So, you need to ask yourself, as a general contractor, what would you do to help the steel trade partner add value to a project?
To start, you want to make sure that both sides fully understand the contract and the nature of the work that’s going to be done. Nothing can sour a relationship between a general contractor and subcontractor quite like one side feeling that they are getting a raw deal. As a result, you want to not only put forth a contract, but also make sure that both sides get a chance to offer input.
Providing a solid line of communication between both sides is equally important. Your subcontractor may need to provide updates to you, and you need to provide directives from the client to them. Communication software, as well as cloud-stored data, help make sure everyone stays on the same page.
Getting a steel building contractor license for your general contractor is a great asset to increase your business versatility and profit. However, you also need to fully understand what it takes to integrate a new set of services into your businesses. Bringing on a steel contractor or structural steel fabricator means a whole new team you need to manage, new materials you need to account for, and a whole new estimation/pricing scheme you need to master.
The best way to get ahead in this regard is using steel contractor project management software, like eSUB. This helps your general contracting business not only track how your new contractors are doing, but your old ones as well. This will ensure that you are making smart decisions that will always work to your benefit as a business.