How To Get Subcontracting Work

by Team Tradify, October 21, 2021

Subcontracting for general contractors is one of the easiest ways for tradespeople to get a consistent stream of work. Rather than competing with general contractors whose main professional goal is to connect with clients, tradespeople can instead focus on networking with these general contractors — many of whom are in dire need of reliable labor. This means they can often spend more time doing the work that they are trained to do.

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Below we show you how to find subcontracting work and how to stand out when general contractors are looking for tradespeople to help complete their projects.

1. Trade shows and networking events

Networking events and trade shows are still one of the best ways for tradespeople to build connections with general contractors.

When general contractors go to these events, they are often in ‘talent sourcing mode’. This means that they are open to making long-term connections with any tradesperson who can demonstrate a high level of expertise and professionalism.

One of the best ways to demonstrate this is to speak at one of these networking events. A lot of them host functions and are always on the lookout for people who can give engaging talks. Due to the demand for speakers it usually does not cost anything to become a speaker, all you have to do is put together a presentation that is unique and engaging.

After your presentation, make yourself available to take informal questions. This is your real chance to impress and build connections with general contractors.

2. Video portfolios

For newer tradespeople who have not built relationships with general contractors, your first jobs will likely come from applying or tendering on construction job platforms. General contractors usually use these job platforms as a last resort when trying to find tradespeople to work on their projects. A video application is going to help you stand out.

 

The main reason for hesitancy around these open platforms comes down to trust. Mistakes by subcontractors can lead to a loss of margin and reputation, so their preference is to go with subcontractors who they have worked with in the past. One way to gain trust, and put yourself ahead of the competition, is to send a quick video as part of your application. 

The video just needs to be an introduction to who you are and what you do. You are not trying to prove your mastery at your craft, rather just introduce yourself as someone who can be relied on.

If the platform that you are applying on does not support video as part of the application (and most don’t), just try to track down the general contractor’s website (a quick Google search will usually do this) and send the video in an email. State clearly in the email who you are, and that this video is just to introduce yourself further as part of your application.

3. Actively build referrals

Again, because general contractors hand so much responsibility to subcontractors, they prefer to work with people for whom there is some social proof of their professionalism and reliability. Referrals can go a long way to getting work from general contractors. 

Good ways to subtly encourage referrals include:

  • Going beyond the call of duty with jobs you do and making sure little things such as cleaning up, budget reporting, and invoicing are all done quickly and correctly. 
  • Keeping in touch with former employers.
  • Referring work to suitable former employers.

Everyone benefits from being seen as a source of good referrals, largely because the act of referring work is usually reciprocated by others. Your goal here is to access the inner circle of local construction professionals who refer work to each other.

4. Get a Google My Business profile

Although it may seem like a relatively crude hiring strategy, lots of general contractors source talent by just searching for tradespeople on Google. Ranking at the top of the results for such a search should see you getting a consistent source of leads.

screenshot of a Google search of trade businesses ranked on location

Learn how to get found on Google.

When someone makes a location-specific search, the results usually begin with a map of relevant businesses. The listings below the map are not of websites, but Google My Business profiles of relevant businesses. 

Ranking in this map can be done relatively quickly compared to ranking a website in the organic Google listings, so it is a great opportunity for tradespeople with newer businesses.

The basic steps to ranking well in the Google Map for location-specific searches are:

  1. Get a Google My Business profile and fill it out in its entirety.
  2. Get listed on local relevant directories and ensure these listings are consistent.
  3. Get as many positive Google reviews as possible
  4. Make sure the information on your website is consistent with the information on your Google My business listing.

5. Consistent subcontracting work requires a varied approach

General contractors find subcontractors both online and through word of mouth. Given the competition among tradespeople for work, getting consistent subcontracting work requires some time and effort to be put into expanding your reach both in the real world  — and online.

Ready to grow your trade business? Download Tradify for a free 14-day trial or see the app in action during one of our live walkthroughs.

Author: This article was written by Volodymyr Barabakh, the owner and Project Director of general contracting company Fortress Home.