How to keep a good subcontractor – treat ’em right – what goes around, comes around


Liz Jenkins


Tomorrow morning I’m meeting my painter at a new client’s house, and then I’m off to the granite yard to look at some remnant pieces to glam up a client’s kitchen.  My painter, Donnie, is a great guy and has gone out of his way for me so many times to help out on jobs, get them done on time and for a fair price.  The granite guy at Franklin Stone takes as much time as I need to flip through slabs in the blazing sun.  My housecleaner, Sally of Klutter Kleaners, will go above and beyond, even folding kids laundry to get a house ready to show.  My contractor/roofer, Andy, carves time out of other projects to fix a leaky roof and scab a floor joist.  I’ve put together a terrific crew of people who have worked with me on project after project.  I mentioned to my husband how great they all were – showing up on a moment’s notice sometimes or meeting me on a weekend to evaluate something.  My painter even did a quick repair job for nothing for a client that was on her last dime even though it was nothing he had done – a leak had occurred that damaged the paint on the ceiling – a ceiling he hadn’t even painted. 

My husband pointed out that, besides the fact that they were all good people, that the way I treated them might be the reason I get good results.  When I thought about it – I realized that I treated them the way I want to be treated.  With respect, and with kindness, helping them with their business and treating them like the professionals they are.  I’ve given them jobs that I made absolutely nothing on – because it was the right thing to do.  I list them on my website so that anyone I meet can use them with confidence.  I don’t make anything off of it but good will.  I expect that if they do a good job, then it reflects well upon me so what comes around goes around.

On the flip side – I do expect that they do a good job, show up on time, and are fairly priced for the market for each client.  I don’t care if it’s a million dollar listing or a mobile home – I treat each one with the same care and expect my subs to do the same.  I dropped a contractor off my list recently because he decided to take a better paying job after committing to do a small job for one of my clients.  It wouldn’t have been as big of a deal if he’d given me some notice instead of just not showing up.  That’s the first time that had happened to me – and the last for him.

I guess the point of this philosophizing is that to treat others the way you’d like to be treated can only be a good thing.