Subcontracting, Part 2.5

View parts 1 and 2 of this series here and here.

There’s the old saying that sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.

In order to stretch the analogy to its limit, I wanted to digress from my topic of addressing the pros and cons of hiring and using subcontractors to talk about it from the subcontractor’s perspective. After all, sometimes you hire subcontractors and sometimes you are the subcontractor.

I have quite a few professional contacts who subcontract their services out to AV companies and over the years they’ve given me useful perspective on what they want out of the relationship.

I’ve been told more than once that services for hire are even more affected by economic trends than the main AV companies they contract to.

When thing are slow, there’s a greater necessity to take whatever business comes their way, as opposed to having the luxury of being more specialized. For programming contractors who also do custom graphics for control system, AV companies and their clients have far less demand for custom-designed graphics, whereas in a more robust economy clients are willing to spend for custom screens for even moderate sized jobs, in slower times now the demand for custom graphic work is limited pretty much to commercial jobs (where corporate images and logos factor in) and the highest end of the high end residential installation market.

Conversely, demand for control system programming generally remains steady regardless, although the size of the projects can fluctuate.

While everyone likes getting paid in actual money, it’s not unusual for subcontractor arrangements to be paid in kind. I know that in my own experience, I’ve done work for AV Pros before in trade for either their services or for hardware. Some of it comes down to AV pros needing to do more with less or just their need to minimize their costs in order to stay competitive.

Whether barter for a subcontractor’s work involves product or service in kind instead of cash, that’s something that both parties can often reach an agreement on. That said, there’s only so much AV gear any one person needs and contractors have their own bills to pay, obviously.

Which brings us to a key point: It’s important to be flexible in working out mutually beneficial terms. To reiterate what I said earlier, everyone likes money, but building a reciprocal relationship over the long term benefits everybody.

Think in terms of reciprocity. If you and your regular subcontractors have a good long term relationship, and you’re both willing to compromise on individual jobs, over time it will balance out. This is largely because the AV pro and subcontractor relationship can be a close one because both parties have more similarities than differences.

When you think about it, you’re generally talking about one really small company doing business with another really small company. You only have to do one job with someone to know whether this is a relationship that will work out in the long term.

And like any long-term relationship, after finding those long-term connections, it’s important to cultivate and grow them.