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How We Maintain Good Relationships with Subcontractors

Me (Greg) and Max Pedko (right), one of our subcontractors. Max has been working with us for 13 years and is an important part of our success.
Me (Greg) and Max Pedko (right), one of our subcontractors. Max has been working with us for 13 years and is an important part of our success.

Before we launched our retail flooring business, we were an installation company working for other companies. We know the value of a good flooring subcontractor, and to this day we stake a lot on it. Whereas all of our competitors offer a one-year installation warranty, we offer a five-year installation warranty—the most comprehensive hardwood installation warranty in Alberta. We’re very confident about what we’re doing, and if people are going to spend all that money on their flooring, it’s worth it to invest with a good company. A big part of our success is that we don’t jump around from subcontractor to subcontractor. We continue to work with certified installation crews that we’ve had relationships with for 14, 16 and even 24 years. Here’s how we’ve maintained these important partnerships, and some advice on how you can, too.

Show them respect

Simply giving subcontractors respect and treating them well is the starting point for any lasting partnership. We try to keep them busy so they don’t have to be out looking for work, and, importantly, they have the security of knowing they’re going to get paid. You hear about a lot of companies holding back on payment when things go wrong on the job site—but that’s the subcontractors’ income. So it’s a trade-off: They do really good work for us and we pay them, and if there’s a problem on site, we also don’t jump all over them—we go see what it is and try to find a solution together. It’s about working with them as a partner. They’re running a business, just like us.

Set realistic standards

Set realistic expectations and standards for them, and make sure they maintain them. Communication and availability are key. We take the time to visit the job sites to make sure everything’s going well. We touch every project and always make sure we are available when questions arise—our crews know to call us to discuss any problems.

Pay them for their time

Sometimes the subfloors are not like they should be or the product that comes in is not like it should be. In cases like these, there are subcontractors out there who will just bang the floor in and hope for the best. But our guys are used to what our products are and what our expectations are, so if they get 100 feet into the floor and are like, “This isn’t fitting together,” or “There are lots of cracked boards in this batch,” we get a call right away and go out to look at it. Some of the subcontractors at other companies will install a faulty product simply because they want to get paid for the day. For us, if half a day of installation is lost because we were trying to correct a problem, we will still pay them for their time. It helps ensure quality work when no one is bulldozing through problems for fear of losing a day of pay.

Give them good products to work with

The best installers cannot do a great job with a bad product, and the install won’t look so good in the long run. And that’s probably what also makes our installers happy: We’ve got good products. We sell hardwood flooring exclusively, and we’re very selective about what we offer. A big part of our decision of whether we will carry a new product comes from the opinion of our subcontractors, too. We listen to their feedback. If the guys come back and say, “Oh, I don’t like this line, it didn’t fit together”—that line is gone. We trust their expertise, and it’s helped us in the long run.

Understand their value to your business

As we’ve detailed here, our crews have a lot of experience, and a lot of our problems get caught before they become problems. Their success is our success and vice versa. We really strive to have good installers and really good products. With that kind of combination, the customer’s expectations are going to be satisfied, and offering that five-year warranty doesn’t seem daunting.


RELATED: How We Grew Our Store But Kept Its 'Family' Culture


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