Construction Leadership Insights

3 Ways Set Yourself Apart from Cheap Construction Sub-Contractors


My wife has made a commitment that there’s one thing that she’ll never do for me again. Sometime ago, I bought a pair of sunglasses from Nordstrom. I had them for a couple years, and scuffed them up real good. One day, I got into my car, I sat on them, and I broke them.

So, I gave them to my wife and I asked her if she would take them back to get a new pair from Nordstrom because I was a bit ashamed to do that.

She very graciously did so, but then she came back afterwards with a new pair of sunglasses and said,  “I’m never gonna do that again.”

Nordstrom gives great customer service and it sets them apart from other people in retail. 

One of my clients is the Nordstrom of his particular trade in Northern California.

He’s a subcontractor. And working with General Contractors, he sets himself apart in both the estimating and also in the production phase of the work.

In terms of estimating, there are 3 things that he insists his people focus on when working with general contractors.

  1. Responsiveness
    If the General Contractor calls you on a Thursday or sends you an e-mail, you respond the same day or the next day, giving them the information they need to do their jobs effectively.
  1. Accuracy
    It takes a lot of hard work to be accurate in terms of the numbers that you give as the project moves along. The more you focus on accuracy and consistency, that will set you apart from all the cheap people who are just throwing numbers at the wall and hoping for the best.
  1. Flexibility
    Value engineering is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your flexibility and your insight as far as your particular trade is concerned. And value engineering shouldn’t just be for your benefit so that you can make more money, but so that the general contractor can benefit as well.

Focus on those 3 things (responsiveness, accuracy, and flexibility), be the “Nordstrom” of your trade, and you’ll set yourself apart from all the cheap guys, and if you’re like my client, you’ll not only hit your revenue goals, but you’ll hit your net profit goal, and his net profit is 10% on an annual basis.