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Protecting subs and yourself with contracts

RCSI - Wendy Marvin - Keeping an eye on the paper trail
April 14, 2024 at 9:00 p.m.

RCS Influencer Wendy Marvin says vetting your subcontractors and building language in your contract that creates a shared responsibility is key.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Wendy Marvin of Matrix Roofing and Home Solutions. You can read the interview below or watch the full interview.

Megan Ellsworth: Hello everyone. My name's Megan Ellsworth here at rooferscoffeeshop.com, and we are back again for the February influencer response with the one and only Wendy. Marvin. Hi, Wendy.

Wendy Marvin: Hey Megan. Nice to be here. Thanks for having me.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely. So glad to have you here and excited to hear what you have to say. This is a pretty hot topic this month, all about subcontractor safety. Um, this month's question is what steps do you take to ensure your subcontractor's work and safety is aligned with your company to avoid risk?

Wendy Marvin: Yeah, yeah. To take it

Megan Ellsworth: From here.

Wendy Marvin: Okay. It's a biggie. It's a biggie. Yeah. So it was interesting. I, I really wanted to talk about this one because I come from a company that didn't really use subs like we've always had our own employees and, um, you know, with the labor shortages and just the, the increase in wages and all kinds of other things like, um, we have people in our area that were buying employees and paying 'em 50 or $60 an hour, um, just to get labor for their work. And so we just kind of decided that it was time to, to start using subs. And, um, you know, we vetted really well. We did all of our background checks, which again, I suggest wholly look into all of the licensing, look into all of those things because ultimately that company is representing you. Right. Um, and then, um, you know, we, we actually ended up landing with a couple really amazing subs.

Um, of other master elites were a master elite with JAF and other master elites driving quite a considerable distance to come down and work with us. And wow. The, the material, I mean, everything went really well. But what's really funny is, you know, you don't know what you don't know. And so we ended up in a situation that was kind of a, um, I don't know, a comedy of errors where, um, the new ordering system through one of our distributors was online. We ordered and the guy that ordered it accidentally didn't change the default color, and then the material got delivered and the subs that were on the roof, um, and had done two other, three other buildings in this complex, they're just there to blow and go, right? They're just there to lay down some shingles and, and they're not really a thinking, fluid partner with you as a company.

And so we ended up with a 60 square mistake and about a $60,000 job issue, um, because of it, and, right? Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow. Um, and I don't blame the subs, you know, and that was part of why I wanted to talk about this and kind of go back to what we're looking at is, you know, how do you get those people on board? How do you do your due diligence and make sure that you're checking all their work? And, you know, we had final inspections, we had all that and obviously the final inspection is where we found out we had guys on site, but this particular job is two stories up, and they couldn't see the color of what they were putting on. We did everything we thought we should be doing. And what we realized is we need some language in our contract that says that, you know, there's a shared responsibility if there's a, a potentially preventable issue.

And, and this one would've been an argument that we could have, we could have said, Hey, you installed two other three other buildings for us, and you're standing on the roof looking at those two, three other buildings. How do you not notice that the color that you're putting on is different? Um, absolutely. Yeah. So, you know, I think, I think the big thing for all of this, including safety, is to, vet your partners, call references, um, make sure that you're, you're speaking to someone who has worked with them previously and not just a family member. And, uh, and then, um, you know, getting that language in your contract that that is giving you the tools that you need. And then the last part of it that was really important to me is, is trying to develop a culture of, respect and, and, joint ownership so that they're not just in a, you know, late throwing down some shingles mode and that they really are a thinking breathing partner with you.

You know, we, we talk about things like safety constantly. They have to sign off on that. We talk about advertising and you know, we don't want them to show up in their own trucks. We want them to use our logos, and we've got some magnet things that we're trying to figure out for that. Um, we talk about if somebody approaches you when you're on one of our jobs that you refer Matrix, you don't refer your own company. So we tried to have all of the pieces in place and we still missed something, so, wow. Um, subs are great, but they're a, um, they're, they're a really important, thing to manage for your business, to protect yourself with for sure.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow, that's such great advice. I mean, having all of that in contract too Yeah. Um, is what stuck out to me. That's really important. Who did, who do you work with, um, to, to work with all the contract situation?

Wendy Marvin: Trent, obviously. Yeah. Yeah. He, he, yeah. Yeah, we've got another local attorney that kind of looks at things, but I, I think what's really crazy is, excuse me, our industry is so specific and they try to lump construction into construction, and it's not, um, we're subs and, you know, I'm a gc so I, I play a little bit of a different role, but they're subs and, and we're a service-based business, which is different than, than a lot of 'em. So you really have to search out to find that, that good language. And this is not a situation where you pull something off of Rocket Lawyer or whatever else is, and you know, those online places, GPT

Right? Yeah. No, no, just don't just say No, we talked about that just a, just a couple days ago too, and about there are people that are trying to use that to write their contracts and Yeah. You know, I, I think what's funny is, um, so we've been in business 17 years, I think it was year 11 before we really got hit with someone that there was an issue and what we had in our contract mattered and we got hurt. And so when you, when you go through that for the first time, then suddenly you realize that, you know, all of that language matters and the references to the language matter, and that's where they get you a lot in these contracts is they'll have a paragraph and the paragraph references another paragraph, and that references another document. And you might not even have a copy of that document, but what you're signing is all related.

And you have to have somebody with the brilliant legal mind, like Trent or his team to be the people that go, Hey, okay, so they're referencing this, but where's this? And I'm like, what do you mean? And they're like, well, they're, they're referencing this whatever site, whatever, where's the copy of that? And I'm like, I don't know. I just gave you what we have. It's like they're referencing a document you don't have, and you're ready to sign off saying, yeah, it's all good. And you're like, uh, so yeah. You have to have good, good people with you. And you know, I think that again, even our sub, like, they're not out there to screw you over. Yeah. But they're also not out there to protect you. Right. And so that's your job is to make sure that you are the advocate for your company, making sure that all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed, and that you can walk away from that job and your customer is happy and you are safe and protected, and then they are safe and paid because, you know, they're, they're not your company. Um, but, but you know, there, there can be good installers out there that, that work with you, but you've gotta be the one to protect yourself.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely. Wow. Well said, Wendy. I, I mean, such great advice. Thank you so much for being just an amazing influencer and always answering these questions with just really tangible things that people can take away. So I hope everyone out there was taking notes and is, um, consulting their, their attorneys and looking at their contracts to make sure you're all safe and protected.

Wendy Marvin: Yep, yep. And include your guys in the safety plan that you have, you know, that should be part of your onsite document. Having them sign off on that. That's probably the, you know, from the safety side, the tangible part to take away. Mm-Hmm. Um, we, we have a job site booklets, and so the booklets go with our people or with subs, and the subs are required to sign off that they entered the site, that there was no hazards, that, you know, all the things that we have our guys do, um, don't, don't step back from making sure that those things happen as well. Um, because again, OSHA violations, you know, go up the chain and an OSHA violation to your sub can come to you and it can come to a GC on site. Um, we had a violation a few years back of one of our guys not wearing his safety glasses and the GC that we were on site for got got cited too. And I mean, that was a big ding to our relationship. So just important to keep, keep everybody moving forward.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, Wendy, this has been amazing and we'll be chatting more next month. Thanks for the answer.

Wendy Marvin: Sounds great, Megan. Take care. Thank you so much.

Wendy Marvin is the CEO of Matrix Roofing. See her full bio here.



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sspence
May 10, 2024
Wendy is simply the best!!! Great article
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ehto__
May 14, 2024
Wow what a great convo, it is so valuable to hear your stories on working with sub-contractors and the issues to look out for. Now I can share this knowledge with my team at www.swanseaguttercleaning.co.uk. Thanks Megan!

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