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Bypassing GC for work5/29/20
Has anyone in the past had any success bypassing the GC in order to get work and instead performed direct design build work where you were the required millworker through architect?
Looking at trying to expand company direction here. Hate always feeling like we have to be the low guy in order to win a job even if we are the best fit for the design and have the relationship with the GC.
You will absolutely P*** of the GC. Many view this to be the the worst type of back biting end run. It can get you seriously black listed in your area. It's amazing how quickly bad talk travels, true or not.
I ran a sole proprietor business for 8 years and only worked for a GC one time. We did church work, commercial store fixtures, millwork, and a lot of residential. Without knowing the nature of your business, it's hard to give advice.
If you design work is that good why not just work towards being the specified manufacturer of the product (i.e. no one else can, or is willing, to make what you make).
I would agree that going around behind a GC to cut them out of the process would likely be a mistake but if your dealing with a GC that is is meeting architects demands simply hone your offering and sell your services to the architect and you will likely be spec'd as the supplier or even if its millwork you will be the only one with the details all laid out ahead of time so you will most always be awarded the work from whomever bids the job.
No different than the architect spec'ing xyz hinges, or xyz carpet. Make your offering a package with some components that only you will effectively be able to supply.
Its a tough slog and requires a lot of selling to architects but seems a better option as opposed to getting in a dust up with a GC.
In my area the GC's dont care about squat. They are fed a set of drawings from an architect period. They farm out bids for the generic work but the specified items come from those manufacturers. I strive wherever I can to be one of those manufacturers as opposed to one of the many "approved suppliers".
Develop relationships with GC's where you solve problems, are on time with quality and hassle free, get them to use your shop for the value you provide, not the price.
Offer ways to lower the price or reduce costs that maintain the design concept.
Try to be part of a team. If you are selling on low price only then maybe rethink how to sell to GC's so selection is based on best value for the price, not the lowest price.
When we did lots of retail two of the chains we did were sold through the same GC. One of the chains wanted to go direct with us so we did, we lost the other chain for the most part.
About 3 years later the other chain came to us and we did their work for about 15 more years until about 2016 when they went to China.
Direct sales are more common in retail.
We also have sold direct to developers and commercial end users where we designed the work because of past history.
I would not recommend cutting out the GC.
GC's have multiple jobs, you may sell to the same homeowner 2-3 times in the life of your business.
What Alan said
You will want to be a team player no matter which way you go. to think it will always be without a G/C is not going to happen, We are often specified by an architect and the G/cs are good with this. for that privilege it is our responsibility to perform to the top of all expectations, any rivalry will just hurt all involved. On that note we have been at this long enough to be somewhat selective in whether we quote a G/C or not. late payer, PIA communicator then we just avoid you. I have one large Local G/C who has come twice to say he will change the problems of late payments and Sups who are so old school that your efficency means nothing to them. Now I just do not mess with them at all. yet when i do Pick a G/c I work to be a team player in winning and completing the Job. You will never be the only player on the team and as Glen Frey Of the Eagles said "Not everyone gets to be the Quarterback" Always be ethical no matter what, yea you will lose a job to less a company but you will always be Ok.
Once I got involved with an architect after he saw my work on one job, he wrote my name in on the plans. I got more work from the architect than any GC ever. So some of your answer depends on how much you are dependent on Gcs to obtain work.
The GC's around here will have you believe the sun does not rise without their command. “All good things flow from the GC” I had one lecture me, just so he could ride in on my quality, taking credit for the efforts of others.
You need to position yourself as bigger and beyond the GC. A GC will take over your business if you let them. You know, the kind that says “I can get you all the work you can do, if you just give me a good price on this,,,,,,”
Be like Lowe’s, a serious vendor that does what it does, not a torn t-shirt and chewing tobacco, leaning on a multicolor F150.
Work with them, but keep it as equals. Let them know you are on their side, and you need him - GC - to help you deliver a superior product. Meet him more than halfway, but as equal, not deferentially.
A bit of what I dont understand, at least as it pertains to commercial work but even so with Architect/Residential, is the GC's around here have zero to do with the work we bid pre-award. Now I guess if a GC bid a large job and put their own numbers in for millwork and so on and then opts to farm it out after the fact then you may have a relationship with the GC or if they are a design build firm and there is no architect but for us thats a pretty-much-never situation.
The jobs are spec'd by the architect and you may be bidding to 2, 5, or 15, GC's and after the award its just deliver what was spec'd.
Do a lot of you bill an architect directly for work provided on a job? My work gaining relationships with architects and designers is not because Im ever going to be billing work to them, its so they hopefully spec' work that is in our wheelhouse and no one else's. Or that we are source for some odd ball stuff when they have a suitable client.
Those interactions for me never happen under the GC's roof. They are way on down the line at that point. Its either via an interior designer or an architect. If the architect/ID puts it on the prints that xyz is to come from pdq company thats where its coming from unless the GC can off a direct and suitable substitute which they never do be cause they just want to get on with the job and the money is already in the project.
You are trying to bypass the industry system. You know it. The Architect, Designer and GC know it.
You will alienate yourself from all of them.
After the major project is finished. Customers will contact us in the future for new projects.
If you don’t want to work for GC’s don’t. The Designers in particular work directly for the Customer on smaller projects.
If you are working on a job with an Architect, there is a GC 99% of the time. They are there because they are necessary. The customer doesn’t or shouldn’t deal with the subs.
If you are consistently getting beat up on price bring it to the GC’s attention. If your services justify a higher price then he may choose to go with you above others. If you are nothing special, he had no reason to hire you at a higher price. Regardless, your request will be in his mind when he is choosing subs contracts.
It’s a relationship. Treat it as such. With respect ask him how you can land more work besides low prices.