Successful Subcontracting

To subcontract or not to subcontract - that is the question.  And it's a question that many security companies struggle with on a regular basis.  On the one hand, you may have sites that you are struggling to man (whether that be due to holidays/sickness or new sites out of your normal area).  On the other hand, you may be wary about the company you use meeting your standards or even trying to steal your work.

Receiving work from subcontracting is a no-brainer.  But if you have never given subcontracted work to other companies before, or you have in the past and “got burned”, then here are a dozen Top-Tips on getting the best from the service.

  1. Ensure that your Control are aware which sites can and can’t be subcontracted.  Some clients may not like the thought of another company working on your behalf.  Or perhaps they want to second approve all staff who work the site.  As long as your Control are aware of which sites they can’t subcontract on it will save you potential client complaint.

  2. Ensure that you factor in potential training if required.  Some sites may require anything from a half an hour to a few shifts.  If subcontracting one of these, ensure that you either book extra cover at the start to cover or arrange for somebody to meet accordingly.  Remember that the company you are using may be using a different guard for part of the cover (e.g day/night cover or days off) and therefore additional training may be required.

  3. Cheapest is not always best.  Factor in the maximum you are willing to pay and make your selection from companies who are in your price range.

  4. Ensure that you get copies of Insurance and if applicable also check ACS status is still current.  Whilst Subcontract Solutions Limited do make checks of ACS membership when joining and at renewal (along with checks on withdrawn memberships), we are relying on the SIA updating their public records.  It goes without saying that the company you are dealing with should have valid and adequate insurance to cover any work done on your behalf.

  5. Get a Confidentiality Agreement drawn up.  Sample wording can be downloaded from our site here, or you may have your own.  Ensure this is signed and returned before they attend your site for the first time.

  6. Ensure any guidelines that you wish the company working on your behalf to work to are clear.  If you need timesheets signing by the guard or by the client, put this request in writing.  Back up any requests in writing so that there is no confusion and there is something to refer to at a later date.

  7. Think about if you need to set them up as an Approved Supplier.  It may be that your British Standards procedure requires some sort of Supplier Application to be completed.  You may also need to set the Supplier up in your computer system as an “Employee” in order to have a record of hours worked etc.

  8. Arrange order forms or written confirmation of the exact hours requirements.  This is to assist with any possible invoice queries that may arise from different understanding of the hours worked.

  9. Consider the benefits of increasing your product range.  Perhaps you only currently provide static guards and have never even considered offering alarm response services or mobile visits to your client.  By networking together with other subcontractors you can offer your own clients additional services.  If you are an ACS company who does not list Cash And Valuables In Transit, or Doormen as a Licensable Activity, you can still offer the service as long as you subcontract it to a company that does.

  10. Consider the benefits of increasing your area of coverage.  Maybe you have always worked in your local area, but some of your clients have sites out of your area.  You could now tell them that you are now offering national coverage.  Or even advertise yourself as a National Company, and subcontract all work that is out of your area.

  11. Pay your subcontractors promptly.  Remember that ratings are taken from both parties.  Any queries on their invoice should be brought to their immediate attention, along with copies of any correspondence that confirms what was asked for and the differences to what was actually provided. 

  12. Get to know the subcontractors you have used or had experience with.  Do not be afraid to block any companies that you have had issues with, rather than “tarring all with the same brush”.