I read with great interest in today’s Construction News that there is talk of exploring a merger with the NSCC and UKCG.

For those of you who don’t know who these organisations are allow me to explain. NSCC is the National Specialist Contractors’ Council and the UKCG is the UK Contractors Group. Simply put Specialist Subcontractors and (primarily) Main Contractors respectively.

As somebody who advises both main and subcontractors, normally when in a dispute, I am well versed in the “war of attrition” that has been going on for some time in our industry. My own business was in fact established to help bring about a peace or as I call it “restore balance”, so I can honestly say that I believe this is a step in the right direction.

I imagine an industry where we all work together in harmony and disagreements are dealt with sensibly and with a real focus on protecting the relationship that is behind the disagreement.

In the Construction News LinkedIn Group, I shared my views in answer to the question by their Deputy Editor’s question:

“Can main and specialist contractors marry up?”

My answer to this question:

Absolutely yes. We need both sides to come together and work constructively in a way that shows trust and cooperation, while delivering more profit for all stakeholders.

High trust = higher speed = lower costs (and vice versa) this formula comes from The Speed of Trust by Stephen M R Covey and I urge everybody to pick up a copy and read it. 

There are issues of trust on both sides, however I believe that most of the people who run construction companies or manage payments are genuinely nice people, who simply want to do a good job and make a profit. Sadly however from time to time they find themselves having to become hard nosed to get paid, when in reality they would much rather go for a pint with the other person, rather than going into battle.

In my experience as a former specialist contractor, who now advises them, main contractors, employers and funders, the cold hard truth is there are a minority out there who do not act in good faith. My belief is that the way around this is to create an industry wide culture where these individuals do not fit in, their attitude, values and methods of working are not the way the industry works and therefore they will either be outed and will change or will go and be unhappy elsewhere.

Again in my experience and while “subbie bashing” is always discussed in the mainstream media, it needs to be said that:

(1) As a specialist subbie you are in a risky business and need to take specialist advice before signing contracts. I am not a plumber so wouldn’t attempt to try and install a bathroom, why then do subbies sign up to contracts they do not understand…..I know there is an issue over the cost of that advice….of course, I do understand this, but my response is this…”what is the cost of not having that advice?”..in many cases it means your business shutting down. In simple terms, work smarter, not harder. Get advice, value that advice and you will make more money, with less stress.

(2) As a contractor. You need these guys to deliver your project, without them you’re going nowhere. Listen to them, take their advice, value them, value their right to make a profit. Look after them, be fair with them and you know what? They will be loyal to you. They will make you look great, they will make you money, they will allow you to focus on growing your business.

It is all about mutual respect for me. It’s that simple. One of my values is Honesty and I am not afraid to say it how it is. If you sign up to contracts that do not allow you to make money then you cannot blame others for your misfortune. On the flip side for contractors, don’t ask subbies to sign up to things you know they probably cannot fulfil or you yourself wouldn’t sign up to.

Some people reading the above might say “well, that’s all very obvious”…they’d be right, but if it is that obvious why do we have so many issues in the industry.

Time for a change, in my humble opinion.”

That is my view, I would welcome any of my connections and readers views on this subject. Which let’s be honest is controversial, but in my view is a positive step forward.

I leave you with this:

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Henry Ford (1863-1947)

Read the full CN article here. You will need to be a subscriber to Construction News to view this.

I thank you for taking the time to read this article and I hope you found it useful. Please feel free to connect with me, like, comment or share this article.

Wishing you every success in your endeavours.

On Twitter @CPUK

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