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How to Be a Successful Subcontractor


Posted on March 6th, 2023

subcontractors working on construction site.

The world of subcontracting is always changing. Demand for specialty subcontractors remains high, leading to plenty of competition for project bids. That’s why it’s more important now than ever to make sure that, as a subcontractor, you’re going above and beyond the industry standard.

While it helps to have fair pricing and a good reputation, subcontractors will also have to ensure that their prequalification assets are in order and that they understand how to evaluate and negotiate Master Subcontractor Agreements. And to really stand out, subcontractors should also learn how to make the most of modern technology to improve their project management skills.

Tips for successful subcontractors

1. Get your prequalifications in order

Prequalification is a process that proves your qualifications as a contractor prior to winning a bid for a new project.

It’s not unusual for general contractors to ask subcontractors to show proof of their skills and specialties prior to awarding them their business. Before landing a job, you’ll often be asked to fill out a prequalification form, which acts as a sort of background check for subcontractors.

Prequalification isn’t anything to worry about if you have a solid reputation and good organization. The key word here is if. Most prequalification forms typically include requests for financial records, safety information, proof of insurance, and contractor certifications.

Before even filling out a prequalification form, it’s best to look at online examples to use as checklists. This will help you keep the necessary information organized for the next project bid, so that you won’t have to scramble at the last minute to get your paperwork in order.

2. Learn how to analyze and negotiate Master Subcontractor Agreements

A Master Subcontractor Agreement, or MSA, is an official document highlighting the expectations for a subcontractor, orchestrated between the general contractor and subcontractor. Similar to the overall project contract between the owner and general contractor, in order for the subcontractor to receive total compensation, they have to follow all requirements that are outlined in an MSA.

Master Subcontractor Agreements include compensation, due dates, the party responsible for providing materials, safety requirements, and other specifications. When signing onto a project that requires an MSA, subcontractors are making a commitment to results, so it’s important to understand what those expectations are. When negotiating an MSA, you have leverage as a subcontractor. These agreements are not just about what the general contractor wants—it's important to remember that the terms can be adjusted according to your needs as well.

Most MSAs resemble a standard contract agreement, and include plenty of legal jargon and technical terms. It’s a good idea to prepare for them by brushing up on terminology to ensure that you’re in a great position to negotiate and understand what’s expected for the project. You can also look at examples of a Master Subcontractor Agreement for more peace of mind prior to negotiations.

3. Get on board the construction technology train

One of the best ways to get ahead of the competition and prove yourself as a trade specialist is to show that you’re proficient with modern digital tools. While some general contractors prefer old-fashioned pen and paper, most have come to adopt modern tools of the trade and expect their subcontractors to do the same.

Today, the options for digital solutions in subcontracting work are nearly endless, from daily reporting software and production tracking to direct messaging and time tracking.

Raken’s app offers all of these tools and more, which you can try out for yourself with a free demo.

Landing successful contracts

By preparing for the prequalification process, negotiating ideal Master Subcontractor Agreements, and implementing modern technology, you’ll automatically be ahead of the competition. But by following these steps, you’ll be on your way to a bright future as a subcontractor.

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