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How to Keep Your Subcontractors Safe From Poaching

Abby Binder, owner of Abby Window & Exteriors, gives her take on the labor shortage and how to keep subcontractors loyal. 

December 15, 2020
how to address the labor shortage with subcontractor loyalty

Managing Editor James McClister sits down with Milwaukee remodeler Abby Binder, owner of Abby's Windows & Exteriors, to discuss the difficulty holding onto subcontractors in our current market environment and with the labor shortage. The issues in Milwaukee are indicative of several markets around the country. Hopefully the conversation will turn up universally applicable insights regarding subcontractor loyalty and alternatives to subcontractors altogether. Watch the video to learn more. 

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Hello, I wanted to touch base on the subcontractor loyalty issue. I myself am a subcontractor. I run a three man crew out of South Dakota installing doors and windows. We travel for a company covering 5 states. My crew does between 2.6 to 3 million dollars worth of installed volume a year.
I feel the pressure on a weekly basis to “ jump ship” and work for other companies. When a crew can push large numbers out every year with a good track record word travels and the phone will ring. I have remained somewhat loyal to one company but it is not good business to keep all your eggs in one basket.
The company I am currently subbing to is offering incentives to its subs to help keep the subs loyal and continue to work day after day.
Incentives are great but what a lot of the issue boils down to is the pay. As subs we shouldn’t have to wait for pay if there is a product issue, or waiting for the company to be paid. As long as there is not a problem with the actual install itself the subs should be paid in a timely manner.
I know a lot of companies are now offering pay within 24 hours after signed completion of a job. Well that right there is a huge incentive to switch companies. I know myself I have around 1,000 dollars a week tied up in material cost to be billed out the company and if we have to wait to be paid that just rolls onto 2,000 then 3 and so on.
As far as labor goes we feel that as well. There is a shortage of skilled labor out there’s no to try and train someone in a timely manner and expect excellence is near impossible.
I would disagree with the statement that the labor force will turn around. If you look at the statistics there is less graduates from a tech college for carpentry work. The older generation is starting to retire or move into a sales or service position or just get out of it entirely. Also any of the graduates that are coming out are going straight into framing jobs. They then work them into siding and new construction windows and doors.
I have hired a few of these “ frames” they are skilled yes but they don’t have the skill set to do any sort of finish work let alone any coil work.
Also another issue for a company that is trying to hire siders is in some places the new construction siding prices out pay the remodeling siding prices. So therefore no sides want to put up with tear off, or a homeowner, and all the hassle of a remodel project.
These are just my thoughts on the subject. We will continue to see some ups and downs in the next couple of years and I’m sure new companies will come and go. But one thing is for sure the labor issue and the poaching of subcontractors will be here for a long time to come in my opinion.

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