How to Hire Subcontractors for Client Projects

by Kathryn Hawkins

2 min read

You’re on the short list of contractors vying for a large project for a big-money client. There’s just one problem: The project requires specialized expertise that you lack, such as graphic design or PHP coding skills. Rather than drop out of the running, why not hire a subcontractor to do the part of the job that you can’t do yourself?

Here are three strategies for making sure your subcontracting relationship goes smoothly.

1. Seek a referral. Your subcontractor’s work reflects directly on your work for the client, so this isn’t the time to shop around on price or choose someone at random. Use LinkedIn and Facebook to seek recommendations from trusted colleagues in related industries. Ask potential subcontractors for portfolio samples that demonstrate the skills needed for the job at hand. (Check out these additional tips for choosing a high-quality freelancer.)

2. Finalize the scope of the project with both the client and the subcontractor before committing to an estimate. Particularly when you’re dealing with a project that falls outside of your comfort zone, it’s essential to iron out all of the details before you do any work. Ask your subcontractor what information she needs to provide a firm quote, and get those details from the client, so that you can factor her fees into your final proposal.

If you don’t do this, and your subcontractor performs more work than anticipated, her extra fees may come out of your paycheck. To make sure that scope creep doesn’t cut into your profits, include a clause in your client contract which states that any work beyond what’s outlined therein will be subject to additional fees. (This Moz post covers some of the contract details that apply to creative projects. Consult with an attorney for specific help.)

3. Set clear policies for the subcontracting relationship. Is it OK for the subcontractor to correspond with the client directly, or would you prefer to act as the go-between? May your subcontractor perform other work for the client, or do you want her to sign a non-compete contract, so that you know she won’t poach your client? Can your subcontractor promote her work for the client, or will her role remain confidential? Include a list of policies in your contract to ensure that there are no misunderstandings. Again, you may wish to consult with an attorney to make sure that you are protected and that your terms are legally enforceable.

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