In any construction project, there are lots of moving parts, and lots of contractors performing different project scopes. It’s a complex dance of people, processes, materials and schedules—and it’s impossible to pull off on time and on budget without thorough and efficient communication.
At RJ Martin Electric, we’ve performed successfully on hundreds of projects in commercial, industrial, health care, retail and education sectors over more than three decades. We’ve seen firsthand how building and maintaining effective communication between subcontractors, and between subcontractors and general contractors (GCs), can keep projects moving smoothly. On the flip side, we’ve also witnessed unfortunate episodes where communication among stakeholders either breaks down at critical junctures, or never develops in the first place. This usually leads to finger-pointing, project delays, cost overruns—and potentially even lawsuits.
RJ Martin Electric makes ongoing and proactive communication with GCs and end users a priority throughout the course of all projects we work on. We also take the time and make the effort to reach out to other subcontractors on a job and build ongoing dialogue with them, regardless of their labor affiliation. Doing so benefits everyone—subs and GCs/end users alike. Why? It boils down to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
In a construction project, subs impact other subs both directly and indirectly. After all, if one sub doesn’t show up to perform work on schedule, that probably delays another sub, who then must fill that time to maintain profitability. There are other examples, but we think you get the picture. Effective “sub-to-sub” communication helps everyone play well in the same sandbox, and work toward common goals together.
So how can effective communication occur between subs on a construction project? We’ve identified four key ways below:
- In writing. Written documentation not only protects us at RJ Martin Electric from damages either related or unrelated to our work, but it gives GCs valuable insight throughout a project that helps them identify potential trouble spots they may otherwise have not known about. In turn, they can address those issues with the relevant trades in order to get their work scopes back on track and help keep the overall project on schedule.
- Verbally. As issues arise, subs – be they electrical contractors or other trades – should always be proactive in communicating. This means talking with GCs, and when appropriate, other subs. With both parties, it’s important to coordinate approaches and responses together as soon as they are identified. No matter how small or insignificant they may seem, they could lead to big problems – and potential liability issues – down the road if they’re not addressed. Informal conversations can even lead to subs sharing tooling and other resources as appropriate to keep projects running smoothly.
- In meetings—planned and unplanned. At RJ Martin, we strongly endorse weekly coordination meetings between superintendents for each trade. These meetings offer a great opportunity to get together and discuss “two-week look-aheads” on which trade will be doing specific work at what point in time, and how that may impact other trades’ work and schedules. This gives everyone – subcontractors and GCs alike – advanced insight on what’s happening with the project so that the project stays on or ahead of schedule.
- Internally. While communication within a subcontracting firm isn’t technically considered sub-to-sub communication, it’s so important that we wanted to highlight it here. If you’re a GC or end user, the electrical contracting firm you hire (or for that matter, any subcontracting firm) must have the processes, systems and culture in place that facilitate effective internal communication. Field personnel and project managers in the office must constantly communicate to ensure that manpower, equipment and materials coordinate properly with project schedules. You don’t want your electrical contractor causing delays by not ordering parts on time, not having access to the proper equipment or scheduling electricians on other projects during tight work windows. Just as look-ahead meetings help subs and GCs/end users stay on top of the latest project issues, we at RJ Martin Electric also hold similar meetings internally to help ensure we meet our obligations to GCs and end users. As a family-owned and oriented company, we maintain an environment that encourages open communication in all facets of our operation. You should expect nothing less from the electrical contracting firm you hire for your next project.
Contact RJ Martin Electric to learn more.
We hope this blog helps you better understand how effective communication between subcontractors can work toward keeping projects on time and on budget. If you seek an exceptional electrical contracting firm for your next industrial, health care, commercial, education and retail project, please call Robert J. Martin at 216-662-7100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.