Subcontracting? What?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by TheTurfTender, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. TheTurfTender

    TheTurfTender LawnSite Member
    from Mn
    Messages: 130

    OK, I have some referrals for Landscaping work, but I don't really know what to do? Do I call landscape companies and "scratch their back if they scratch mine", or am I supposed to go about it another way?
  2. 3day240sx

    3day240sx LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    I just bid the job higher the what going rate is or close to it and if I get the job then find a small but not low ball type landscape company and have them do the work. I normally charge 10% of what I bid the job. So for an example I would go bid a 10 yd mulch job at 1000 and when i got it call a few companies and tell them i need a sub and where i found them and if they would be willing to do a 10yd mulch job with bah blah for 900 bucks in X area. If so then they go do the job and I get paid from the HO then pay the sub 900 out of the 1k I receive.

    You can find a decent company and tell them that you have a few landscape jobs and you only mow that you will trade for mowing jobs if they only landscape but I have seen that this doesn't really work to well. A lot of landscape companies either already have someone they have found to do the trade with or have turned down so much they don't get the calls. Mowing companies regularly are willing to make a little side cash if they are small enough to not sub it themselves.

    Good luck and hope it works out for you.
  3. Team-Green L&L

    Team-Green L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    You network is what you do. Networking and subbing are the keys to success in this business I promise you. The hardest part is finding qualified, capable, dependable, and trust-worthy subs. Good luck on that, I've been working on that directly for 3 years and have had to replace subs every year and am still looking for some.

    I would stay away from the term "subcontracting" and "subbing" though and refer to it as "independent associates" or "industry colleagues" or something to that effect. The "sub" word is almost a cuss word to contractors. I know why but I disagree with the thinking.
  4. 3day240sx

    3day240sx LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    I would like to know more about this. I have never heard someone say this.
  5. Team-Green L&L

    Team-Green L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    When I used to use the term "subcontracting" to find companies to do the work I got a lot of "we don't subcontract" rebuttals, because they are picturing a situation like this:

    Don't talk to my customers
    Don't leave any materials with my customer
    Don't where your own uniforms
    Don't have lettered trucks

    All these things say "I don't trust you" while you're asking them to take responsibility for one of your contracts. That will not fly with a reputable company.

    What you really want, as do I, is a company that will treat your customer like you do, bill you and let you bill the customer, and not counter-market or dilute your marketing efforts. The problem is that you don't trust someone not to steal your leads. I understand.

    Have your attorney draw up a non-compete agreement that covers "leads and contracts generated through your company's marketing, advertising, and networking efforts." without placing any restraints on their marketing efforts.

    After you do that, just assume they are abiding by it and have those company's logos printed on the bottom of your estimates with a disclaimer saying you are part of a network of contractors, or something to that effect.

    Keep a current copy of insurance and worker's comp certificates for ALL affiliates. If you get sue. Get used to suing irresponsible companies because they are not as trustworthy as the homeowners in most cases and you will run into a few duds along the way. Just be sure not to get sued yourself for shoddy craftsmanship of your subs.
  6. 3day240sx

    3day240sx LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    Ok that does clear up more to me. The meaning of subcontracting to me is what you called networking. Normally I wouldn't go as far as to put their name on my advertising but when they work for me I expect them to wear their own company logo so they look professional and their trucks carry their logo. I figure I am going to provide enough jobs for them that at any point in time I see that they are low balling me I will drop them and reassign there contracts with someone else. They are never going to know how much I bid the jobs either and if they go and tell the customer the price I pay them to do the job then they are shooting themselves in the foot b/c the extra profit I make off the job is lost to them but they now have to take care of customer service and the paper work that goes with it for what they used to make just doing labor.
  7. Team-Green L&L

    Team-Green L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    I think you have the idea down just fine. The paperwork is the biggest thing to keep in line. Who is accountable for what and have all parties signed to their own responsibilities?

    The logos on the estimates just establishes a network, but all parties have to agree to add it to their paperwork to be effective. That takes a little rapport to get someone to do for you and is for marketing strength only anyway, so just keep it in mind for later.

    You may or may not want to tell the customer that you use "subcontractors" in the paperwork though because your insurance and workers comp do not cover them and if your contract WITH THE SUBCONTRACTOR isn't drawn up well the law will reflect back on your contract WITH THE CUSTOMER. After all, the subcontracting agreement is further down the paper trail and cannot compromise or add to, but only clarify on the original agreement.
  8. BCNU

    BCNU LawnSite Member
    Messages: 68

    You need to watch having someone else do work for you because when it comes to money people will stab you in the back. I had a landscaping job to do and had a guy I knew personally to give me an estimate on sodding and irrigation which I do not do and he tried to go behind my back with the homeowner and get the whole job. As soon as he left the homeowner let me know what he was trying to do and was not impressed with his ethics. Needless to say he didn't do any of the work for me and never will again. His backstabbing has lost him several thousands of dollars of work since.

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