construction building site foreman / contractor

How to source reliable contractors?

Finding reliable contractors is the one area in which all clients and house-builders need to get right. Having issues in your supply chain means work may be finished to a poor standard which will cost you time and money, neither of which will be something you can do when you’re pushed for time to get deadlines met.

The positive sides to finding a good contractor are often great, once the relationship and trust between you has been built you will have often found someone for future projects that you know you can rely on and over time this can lead to a group of contractors that you can use over and over on all your sites.

So how do you find good contractors?

Portals

One of the first areas to look out for clients is via an accreditation portal such as the SMAS Worksafe portal or SSIP portal.  If you’re a client that requires contractors to be accredited to a specific level, then going to a portal is the best starting place.

Once you’re in the portal you can now start to refine your search by the trades you require and look for other areas of compliance that you might require, such as environmental or quality management. We recommended choosing businesses with quality management systems in place, a business that is driven by high-quality work is often likely going to save you time in any snagging processes and are less likely to need their work to be redone due to poor standards.

 

Networking

Contractor and client networking event

Another way to find contractors is through networking at events such as Construction Connects, hosted by SMAS Worksafe. At these ‘meet the buyer’ events, you will have the chance to attend and set up a stool for contractors to come in and talk to you about what upcoming jobs you have and what trades you’ll need for the job or future jobs.

Often these events are local to an area in which you have upcoming projects, so it is a great way for you to easily get more contractors in your contact book and that are interested in the type of work you’re offering. Attending events like this can save you a lot of time browsing portals and searching the web.

 

Try and find a reference

Group of contractors laughing on a wall during break

If you have identified a few contractors that seem suitable for the role and you’re unsure as to which to go with you can ask other clients, you know or some of your current contractors to see if they have had any experience working with them on previous jobs.

You may have contractors working on your site who have experience working with them and they will be able to give you a perspective on their standards of work and how they were to work with. Bringing in a contractor that your current contractors struggle to work with could cause some delays or friction on your sites.

 

Do your research

The final step in your vetting process if you’re still unsure is to do your own research. Look at their website and their reviews and see if you can find any feedback or examples of jobs, they have done in the past that are similar to the one you’re asking them to do.

Not only will you be able to see their reviews and if there are any trends within their reviews, but you’ll also get a feel for the company, what are their ethos and morals? Do they demand high standards?

If you can get the process of sourcing contractors right and you’re able to build up mutual respect you might find yourself with a contractor for life. Then going forward you’ll know you can rely on them to get the work done to a high standard and in good time and develop a strong working relationship that will help both parties.

top view hand shake of engineer and building contractor on table / SMAS Worksafe

How do contractors win clients?

Being a contractor can be tough, you rely on others to bring you work and without clients to supply you with a more consistent flow of work. Life can be tough but with clients, you have the platform for limitless opportunities.

But how do you get the clients?

In this article we will be going over some of the thing’s businesses successful with clients do and how you can go about winning clients and tender for your business.

Networking:

Client and contractor shaking hands following tender agreement / SMAS Worksafe

One of the best ways for businesses to meet contractors and swap details is by going to networking events, such as Construction Connects which is hosted by SMAS Worksafe. Events such as this will allow you to turn up and meet contractors who have current or upcoming projects in your area.

You can also identify your own potential clients. You can search for upcoming projects in your area and reach out directly to them to arrange a meeting. Make sure you consider the size of the project and whether it is appropriate for your business.

Once you have identified the client, reach out to them outlining your services and work capacity, the project you’re looking for might not be right for either party but now the relationship has been formed there is potential for them to contact you regarding other projects. Your willingness to reach out to them shows them you’re keen and the fact you have reached out to them may save them the hassle of trying to source a contractor later.

If your business employs subcontractors, you can also use them to find out about potential work or clients that may require contractors by asking them. Use them to get you in touch with clients and to keep you posted about opportunities that might be coming up.

Referrals:

Another way in which your business can win contracts from clients is via referral. You may be invited to contract bidding processes from clients you already have a network with. Those clients may also have partners or members that require contractors on other jobs and can extend tender invitations to you.

Building lots of strong relationships in your industry is the best way for your business to go to the next level and continue to win client deals. Working with a client and meeting or exceeding their expectations is the first step, you need to make sure that you’re building up credibility with the people you’re working with so that they feel confident in recommending you to others.

Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals either, requesting a referral might be the best way to earn one. It might be something that a client hadn’t considered, or they might simply have not gotten around to asking businesses and putting yourself forward will put your business in pole position.

The more extensive your list of clients and contacts is and the better your reputation the more likely you are to obtain referrals. However, the most important aspect of gaining referrals is making sure that your business reflects high standards of safety and quality within the industry.

Of course, there is little value in building a referral network for your contractor business if your actual work does not reflect the high standards of quality and safety that clients expect within the industry. Clients are unlikely to recommend a business that is doing a poor job and risk damaging their own reputation. A commitment to standards of excellence is essential for developing a robust referral network that can help you get more contracts. Having a relevant and up-to-date health and safety accreditation like SSIP is a major asset, not only does it demonstrate your dedication to high standards, but it may also be a prequalification to work for the client.

Make yourself visible

The next way to win contracts with big clients is by letting them come to you. Most major clients will

have project management teams that are looking out for the best contractors in their area to come and work on their projects, this means that on occasions they will be going out of their way to look for contractors.

Digital marketing growth to win clients / SMAS Worksafe

Your business can make the most of this by doing two things well:

  1. Making sure that your business shows up in the right areas – create a good digital profile that explains exactly what your business can do.
  2. Build up a reputable name with your existing clients and use review platforms such as Feefo and Trustpilot to boost your digital profile.

Stretch your businesses digital platform across as many channels as possible, use a mixture of website, web ads and social media to help cover as much area as possible. This not only helps clients to find you but will help smaller businesses to look bigger and more professional.

The messaging across these platforms should be consistent and display your businesses work, values, qualities, certificates and accreditations along with any awards you have won or been nominated for.

Creating case studies is also a great way to show off work you’ve done to clients, creating profiles about jobs you’ve done with feedback or quotes from the customers. These could be in video or written form.

You can also explore digital marketing strategies; this could involve hiring someone to oversee the businesses digital presence or outsourcing it to an agency. This will allow someone to manage and develop social media, display advertising and search engine optimisation. Doing this will direct a flow of client traffic to your website and show off your business – it’s great to have a good website but if you’re not bringing traffic to your site then it is ultimately a wasted effort.

Sourcing through SMAS Worksafe

Networking is a great way to win clients, but you may be able to obtain clients through the SMAS Worksafe portal.

Our clients can search for contractors using the SMAS Worksafe portal and reach out to them. All our members are visible to clients on the portal but those with further areas of compliance may gain an advantage over those with just health & safety as clients can see that the contractor is not just SSIP accredited but environmental management and quality management systems are in place.

All our members can upload documents relating to further areas of compliance for free however they will not be checked against IEMA or IRCA standards unless you have an Essential or Complete membership.

Further areas of compliance supported by SMAS Worksafe:SMAS PS_Service_Wheel

  • Environmental management
  • Quality management
  • Anti-bribery and corruption
  • Modern slavery
  • Finance and business
NEW Client dashboard member status tag

Updated contractor profiles

Here at SMAS Worksafe, we’re always looking for ways to make your user experience as friendly as possible, so we’ve made a few changes to try and help our clients quickly and easily navigate the current status of contractors Preferred Supplier areas.

You will now easily be able to see whether an area is not complete and to what level. Self-Certified or Reviewed by SMAS, making it easy to see what areas can be improved upon or could be filled out to improve your businesses compliance across all areas.

Below you can see examples of each of the stages, not complete, Self-Certified and Reviewed by SMAS.