How can we all work together in harmony and realize profit? This is an issue that has challenged the residential Electronic Systems Contractor and the builder’s community since we all became aware of the possible synergies.
To answer the question, first we must identify what the phrase “working together in harmony” actually represents. The builder and the residential ESC have the challenge to ultimately provide a great product to our mutual client, the end user, through a smooth process. As a long-time participant and partner in providing technology to many residential home building projects, I have personally experienced this challenge in many variations.
I have learned that it is not good enough just to deliver a satisfactory product at the end of the job. The client is entitled to a seamless and organized process from the beginning to the end. This will not happen unless the builder and the ESC are aligned on all elements of the project. The basis for this alignment is communication. To get communication started, I suggest the builder ask some of the following questions of their ESC partner:
- Please explain your project completion process.
- Can you show me examples of supporting documentation?
- Can you show me your methods of scheduling and how you will approach this specific project?
- Can you show me how you deal with the final punch list and how you will finalize the project?
- What are your needs and expectations of me, the builder?
- How do you expect to be paid?
If a builder takes the time to ask these simple questions before a project begins, the entire project completion process will be infinitely smoother and more successful.
Profitability is another important component of each project in relation to the builder and the ESC technology provider. We all are in this business to make money and build relationships, so how can we accomplish this goal together? Again, this hinges on communication. Each party needs to explain how their compensation process works. The ESC should provide the following to the builder:
- Contract documents.
- Compensation structure and schedule of payments.
- What it is that triggers final payment.
The builder is responsible for providing his expectations to the ESC as well. Many builders don’t recognize that the ESC is another team member much like the other trades on the project. This is especially true if you consider the fact that it takes multiple trades to make the technology process successfully integrated into the project. A schedule drives the success of a project, and the builder is generally responsible for making certain that all parties achieve project conclusion on a timely basis. From this perspective it makes sense for the builder to consider charging a management fee in addition to the contract amount as he may do with other trades. This would be appropriate especially if the builder has brought the ESC to the project as part of his team.
If these simple components of the project completion process are met, the convergence of residential technology and the home construction process should be seamless and greatly successful. While working as a team, both the builder and the residential ESC will find there is mutual satisfaction in providing a profitable leading-edge product for their clients, and potential future opportunities in working together as a team.