With people working from home, in the office, and across the world, staying connected is in HIGH demand. As a Security Integrator, you're already in business offices making people feel safer, why not take the next step, and keep them connected as well by offering AV installation.
Subcontracting AV labor can help your business grow by saying YES to more business. Many industries rely on subcontractors to supplement their own fulltime staff, while others depend on subcontractors to own the project from beginning to end. Companies may also use subcontracted labor to assist in completing work that is outside of their core-competency. Having a comprehensive plan that clearly defines how an integrator will work with a subcontractor is the best way to develop a beneficial relationship that grows your business.
Companies want to maintain their identity when subcontracting and the best way to do that is to develop their relationship with the subcontractor as a partner rather than part-time labor support. Subcontractors are being used as an extension of the team and are expected to represent the integrator. Wearing company shirts, following established procedures, and meeting quality standards are all key factors for the integration of subs to be successful.
The cable TV and dish TV markets have used subcontractors for years and are very successful. When you see someone working for Verizon, for example, they are generally an authorized installer for Verizon. They represent the cable company as an authorized partner and uphold all the standards established by Verizon. To be successful in finding and maintaining a solid partnership with a subcontractor takes work, but with the right approach, it makes a positive impact on your business.
There is a significant amount of planning and preparation required to ensure you have all the necessary information to kick-off a successful subcontractor relationship. Proper planning on the front end can save valuable time. Below is a detailed process you can follow to find a reliable subcontractor and make your next subcontracted labor project go smoothly.
Understand your organization’s issues / fears involved in using a subcontractor and ask the right questions. What have been your biggest challenges in the past when you have worked with a sub, or why have you been hesitant about utilizing subcontracted labor?
- How can we ensure the assigned technicians perform the same quality of work as your own?
- How do we tell customers, subs are being used? What if the customer says no to subcontractors?
- Do the technicians have the required skill sets?
- How will the technicians represent your company?
Do your research and know your partner. Ask questions, and ensure they are the right fit for your organization. Talking to other integrators in the industry about their experiences can also shed a lot of light on a potential partner. Below are topics you will want to cover when choosing the right partner.
- Does the subcontractor carry the required insurance coverage (liability and workman’s compensation)?
- Are the techs full-time (W2) employees, or are they being subbed out?
- What industry certifications does the subcontractor hold?
- Have other integrators you know utilized sub labor, and what was their experience?
Establish a plan and create a process for your subcontractor to follow. The success of your subcontractor is directly related to proper preparation.
Your Turnkey AV Subcontractor should offer the following:
- Create a schedule including all the deliverables. Ensure you know when the AV portion of the project is taking place.
- Create a bill of materials (BOM) to ensure all equipment can be inventoried on site
- Create a scope of work (SOW) outlining expectations and roles
- Create system single line, elevation, and coordination drawings
Define responsibilities of the subcontractor so it is clear what the subcontractor is responsible for. When the project begins, everyone involved needs to be ready. Having a clear definition on the roles and responsibilities facilitates proper communication and ensures all resources are prepared.
- Who is managing the job?
- Who designs the system?
- Who commissions the systems?
- Who programs and/or loads code?
- Who sets up DSP files?
- Who pulls cables?
- Who terminates?
- Who installs equipment?
Walking into a site without knowledge of the space can cause unnecessary delays and may ultimately lead to higher job costs. Conducting a site survey is key to ensure you have gathered all info needed. Your subcontractor will be able to do this for you and the team should have a clear understanding of the site.
- Ceiling heights
- Room dimensions
- Safety orientation requirements
- Elevator access
- Noise restrictions
- Trash disposal
It is important to fully understand all tools and materials required on the jobsite. Be sure your subcontractor considers any specialty tools and do not forget about ladders. Your contractor should:
- Determine who is providing cable and other miscellaneous parts for the project. Do not make assumptions, as this may delay the project
- Identify any necessary specialty tools needed to complete the work above and beyond the standard set of AV tools (hilti guns, man and material lifts, etc.)
POST SALES PLANNING
Prior to starting a job, it is imperative the site is ready for AV work. Many times, there are other trades who will be working at the same time, and schedules may overlap. Taking time to review your deliverables, timelines, and overall schedule upfront can save time on the backend. Setting up a kickoff meeting with your subcontractor is a great way to review action items and clear up any last-minute questions prior to day 1 on the site.
- Ensure all documentation has been finalized including BOM / SOW / drawings. Allow ample time to review.
- Provide company standards to ensure your sub is informed and prepared.
- Confirm the site is ready for the AV work to begin.
- Make sure all equipment and cable are onsite for day 1 to begin work. Delays with equipment often leads to change orders.
- Confirm all necessary furniture will be delivered on time to integrate the AV.
- If racks are prefabricated, ensure they are tested, and firmware has been updated in advance. Trouble-shooting a rack in the field can be very time consuming and is not usually accounted for in the pricing of a job.
Before the job starts, it is important that all labor resources involved are aware of whom they are working with. Focusing on communication to the subcontractor helps to ensure they clearly understand their various responsibilities upfront.
Before the job begins
- If your own techs are onsite, ensure they are aware of the subcontracted labor and provide them with all necessary contact information.
- Provide clear direction on the roles and responsibilities of all techs on site.
Once the project begins, daily communication is essential between the integrator and the subcontractor. Each day, the subcontractor should have a solid understanding of work completed, and work left to complete to ensure the job is following the original proposed schedule to meet the deadline.
On the job
- Maintain consistent / daily communication with the project manager on the subcontractor’s team. Any issues, delays, scope changes must be clearly communicated in a timely manner. Ensure the sub has ample time to take corrective action if it is required.
- Set expectations around daily reports to ensure you receive the details you need. If photos are required, be sure to specify this.
Once the project is complete, it is important to complete all closeout documentation. This is the last step is to go through a QA process and gather all signoffs. During this time, it is crucial to review all deliverables and ensure the installation matches the SOW, as well as the expectations of the end user.
- Ensure all closeout documentation is provided to the project manager with clear direction on what is required. If testing is required, ensure it has been conveyed and provide the process to do so. Signoffs and final photos are also typically required.
- The subcontractor can provide training to the end user and gather feedback as to their satisfaction. They need to be prepared to resolve any issues.
- Be sure you have a clear understanding of the subcontractor’s warranty on workmanship.
Remember that in the long run an effective relationship will help you scale your business effectively and therefore grow your business. Keeping an open dialog is vital to the success of any relationship. A final review of your project is a perfect opportunity to review the above interactions with your subcontractor and determine what worked and what did not. Providing both positive and negative feedback will help the subcontractor better serve your needs as you move forward.
Learn more about how Herman Integration Services’ turnkey AV solutions can give your business the competitive edge.