We often stress the importance of careful product selection on this blog. From comparisons between fixtures and lamps, to checklists of questions to ask lighting manufacturers, to comprehensive LED Buying Guides, our product-centric content is pretty extensive.
But as you know, selecting the right product is only one half of the process when you’re gearing up for a lighting project.The other choice you have to make: labor. Who’s going to be responsible for the actual installation of the products you just purchased?
At Regency, we partner with subcontractors to both install new lighting and to maintain it.
How did we go about building our labor network, which spans the country? What are the things we look for when vetting a labor partner? New partnership relationships take time to develop and so we traditionally have taken a “crawl, walk, run” approach when onboarding subcontractors. Our vetting process therefore is three fold: Get to know the subcontractor, review their qualifications, and grow their portfolio of work based on performance.
Here’s what that process looks like in detail:
Building and growing an electrical subcontractor network
1. Get to know them: Alignment of values
Core values are a big deal around here.
We wrap ours in an acronym, R.I.S.E., which stands for relationship, integrity, service, and expertise.
RISE is talked about all the time by leadership here, so it’s only natural to view the labor selection process through this lens. So, the first thing we ask when we’re looking at bringing a new labor partner into our network is: will they care about the customer experience as much as we do? If they don’t, that’s a dealbreaker.
If you’re, say, a chief engineer of a commercial office space and you’re looking to do a lighting project for tenant improvement purposes, you can ask the same question – will the electrical subcontractor you’re considering have the same level of respect for the tenant as you do?
Or, if you oversee maintenance for a retail store, you’ll want to be sure to think about the professionalism of the subcontractor you’re vetting, to make sure your customers get the service your brand works so hard to provide. The “getting to know you” phase is very important in establishing trusted partnerships. We take the necessary time to get to know our subcontractors, abiding by that old adage – “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
2. Review qualifications: Track record
If Regency and a subcontractor feel moving forward would be mutually beneficial, we proceed on to a formal application process.
During this phase, the subcontractor completes a packet application so that we are able to review the company’s history, size, and abilities. We take the time to make sure we understand our contractor’s sweet spots and ensure we onboard them well.
We also require every potential contractor to complete a safety questionnaire, making sure there are no significant OSHA violations or citations, and that the company has an active training safety program for new and promoted employees. During this phase, we set expectations.
Though we try daily to make lighting easy for our customers, most of the time, it’s not that way. It’s not that easy. A lot can go wrong, especially during installation. So a contractor lacking strong experience with lighting projects may work for a large lamp-swap project, but they probably aren’t the right fit for a project that involves bypassing ballasts and direct wiring LEDs, for example. When thinking about this, we’re considering safety, competency, quality, and efficiency.
3. Thrive together: Growing a partner’s portfolio
Our aim is to get our thoroughly-qualified labor partners up to a “running” pace with us. So, we not only train new contractors after on-boarding them, but also hold weekly calls to improve and clarify processes, sharing best practices throughout the network.
We set out to grow the skills set of our subcontractors. If at first a subcontractor is primarily working on lamp swap-out projects or simple lighting maintenance, our goal is to eventually get them working on more advanced projects through sharing the expertise that comes with more than 30 years in the industry.
If you’re looking for a reliable electrical subcontractor to partner with on an upcoming project or ongoing maintenance, we have a robust network of well-vetted partners. Whether you’re sourcing product or labor, we’re here to help.
And if you’re a subcontractor looking to grow with us, visit our Lighting Contractor Network page for information on how we might be able to partner in the future.