Good Communication Skills Seen as Essential to Growth and Success

Good Communication Skills Seen as Essential to Growth and Success

Communicating with cabinet installers, countertop fabricators and other subcontractors throughout the course of a kitchen or bath project is among the keys to insuring that a design firm's relationship with its subs will be successful and fruitful.

So says Sara Busby, principal in Sara Busby Design, of Elk Rapids, MI. Busby, a member of the Houston-based Bath & Kitchen Buying Group (BKBG), spoke on the topic of subcontractor relationships at BKBG's recent semi-annual educational conference.

Busby offered BKBG members a number of suggestions for enhancing subcontractor relationships. Among them were the following:

  • Include the cabinet installer at the design stage. "They will take more ownership of the installation, and feel a part of the team," Busby advises.

  • Personally introduce your client to any subcontractors who will be working in their home.

  • Have a set of guidelines for each subcontractor to agree to, in writing. In addition, include your company's Mission Statement with all subcontractor-related paperwork.

  • Send "before" photos of soon-to-be-renovated kitchens and baths to installers "so they can see what they're going into."

  • For any extras connected with the project, be sure that the trades know how to approach the additional work from the standpoint of compensation.

  • Establish a policy in which installers notify your office, or the project's designer, when any extras are added to the work.

  • Request that all subs have a cell phone with them when on the job site. "And always take phone calls from subs," Busby suggests. "You don't want them to leave a project because they could not get information from you about a problem or concern."

  • If a problem arises on a job, talk it through with the sub, and come to a decision ASAP.

  • Take installers to cabinet manufacturers' facilities for plant tours in in-depth insights into specific products.

    Credit installers or other subcontractors when photos or descriptions of the project are published in a consumer or trade magazine.

  • Send thank-you notes to subcontractors, praising them for work well done, and include their names in your advertising.

  • Always pay an installer for his mistakes. "They are only human, like everyone else," Busby points out. "The times they correct our design mistakes will far outweigh the cost of the new cabinet you have to order, or the countertop that was damaged."