How Technology Can Help Improve Builder-Trade Relations

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Trade partners are part of your organization, and you can only grow as fast as they do. A rising tide will raise all ships, and your trade partners are the tide. If you can’t help your partners scale to keep up with the current market, you will experience issues such as extended cycle times, miscommunication, inaccurate purchase orders, bad cost control, and variances.

You need to focus on your trade partners like they are your employees. It’s important to make the investment in the partnership—build trust and focus on communication.

For trade partners to build that quality product for you (and ultimately the home buyer), there need to be a few things in place:

1. Playbook

Trade partners need to know what they're supposed to do. They need to feel confident that they can bid on a job and that price will be honored.

2. Plans

They need plans predefined. Your trade partners need to make sure that if there are changes upfront, or during the process, that they are kept aware of those changes. Make sure they have the latest and greatest information in their hands. “Paper is only good for the five minutes after it was produced.”

3. POs

On that purchase order, they need to know the selections and the options. They need to make sure that you're not going to give them a PO and then change things after the fact. There need to be good processes in place so those POs are timely and they honor that price your trade partner gave you.

4. Job Starts and Selection Sheets

Your trade partners need to have job starts and selection sheets so they know exactly what they're doing.

5. Schedules

Make sure that your trade partners know when to show up so that they can be at the job on time and produce the quality product that you need them to.

The Right Tool for the Job

In order to do the job right, you need the right tool. When running your business, it’s the same idea. Your trade partners need the right tools to succeed in managing their business.

Having the right technology in place is going to help both you and your trade partners become scalable, which is going to help everybody involved in building process.

As a home builder, you’ve been getting better at adopting and using technology, but your trade partners haven’t. Even if you’re providing them with a portal, they are likely still printing information that will be stored in folders and file cabinets.

Given the market that we’re in today, keeping up with demand for new homes is a challenge. And if your trades are still running their business with papers and whiteboards, it hampers their ability to meet the demand. When your trades are working with multiple builders, this system really falls down. This is the pain a lot of trade partners feel—you’re asking them to run, but they’re using a process that only gives them enough bandwidth to walk.

Leveraging Technology to Manage Their Business

Trade partners may have access to your portal, but each builder’s system works a little differently and doesn’t take into account what they need to manage their whole business. If your trade partners are running their business without systems and scalability, the result can be wasted trips and general inefficiency that, in the current market conditions, only exaggerate the existing problems of labor shortages and extended build cycle times.

Moving beyond your builder portal means they need to find a system that lets them:

  • Manage their crews' schedules, figure out their costs and keep track of their bids, and connect to their own accounting and payroll systems so they can run their business more efficiently.
  • Automatically enter POs into the system without having them to manually enter the information.
  • Store all the job information in one place so it’s accessible in seconds. Pictures, documents, punchlists—everything that happened on the job can be recorded.

The right technology will allow your trade partners to go from walking to running at a pace that you require for your business. Using the right solution means they will become more efficient, and you will get better pricing and improved job quality throughout the build process.

Learn how Bolt contractor project management and scheduling software helps simplify processes and makes it easier for contractors to manage their business.

About the Author

ECI Staff Contributors love to share their insights and expertise on a variety of topics including sales, marketing, cloud, ERP, and SMB development as well as on product specific education. With offices throughout the United States, Mexico, England, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand, more than 40 employees contribute to blog on a regular basis.