5 Questions to Help You Find the Best Lighting Retrofit Subcontractor

Samantha Baxter | Mar 30, '21

5 Questions to Help You Find the Best Lighting Retrofit Subcontractor

Most people would say having more business than you can handle is a pretty good problem to have. But it’s still a problem your business needs to deal with – and quickly.

Your team may be overstretched with current projects. Or the inability to hop on a plane to visit a customer site may leave teams struggling to handle certain geographic areas. The answer for most retrofitters is hiring subcontractors. But there are risks if you don’t hire the right partner.

Finding the Right Lighting Retrofit Subcontractor: What’s at Stake

If you’ve ever chosen the wrong subcontractor before, you know the mess that can result. The sub might be unprofessional or inexperienced, making customers re-evaluate your entire organization. And then there’s the lighting audit process: Someone who doesn’t know how to conduct a thorough audit — or who doesn’t follow the procedure you’ve established to collect complete and consistent data — can slow down your entire process and set you up for expensive surprises later on.

Plus, as you know, communication is key to good project management. If you’re used to having kick-off calls and delivering weekly updates … but are only hearing crickets from the subcontractor, you may not be able to provide status updates to the customer when needed.

On the other hand, while you may set out to identify a retrofit subcontractor for one job, finding a reliable partner can open up a lot of opportunity. They can give you a foothold in a new geographic area, expertise with a new type of facility, or contacts you’ve been hoping to reach.

Finding the right partner lets you expand your business with confidence, because you know you have the capacity to take on more work and do it well. Having access to a pool of experienced and project-ready subcontractors can give a retrofit business a strategic advantage. (In fact, that’s why SnapCount created the SnapSource Service Marketplace! More on that later.)

So, how do you find these folks? A well-thought-out vetting process makes it much easier to find the right subcontractors the first time.

Here are our five essential vetting questions for finding the right lighting retrofit subcontractors:

  1. Can you walk us through what you do for a facility assessment?
  2. How much relevant audit or retrofit experience do you have?
  3. Does the installer have that same experience?
  4. How often do you provide progress updates?
  5. Can you provide proof of the proper licensing and insurance?

Let’s look at these in more detail.

1. Can you walk us through what you do for a facility assessment?

You’ve established audit and installation best practices that ensure a thorough and competent job. So, you want to be sure your work processes and the subcontractor’s align, even if they’re not perfectly identical. Otherwise, you might learn there’s a mismatch at the worst possible moment.

You can ask the sub to walk you through their process step-by-step, or you can outline your typical best practices for the job and then ask if or where their practices differ.

2. How much relevant audit or retrofit experience do you have?

A warehouse isn’t a school, and an assisted living facility isn’t an office building. Work processes can vary between facility types, so relevant experience can mean the difference between a smooth, well-coordinated process and one where there needs to be a lot of back-and-forth to get the job done right.

It’s also important to look at their experience with retrofitting itself. It’s important that the subcontractor understands the technology, knows what we're installing, and how to install it. Subcontractors who are commercial electricians may not deal with retrofits day to day, which might result in some missed steps or mistaken assumptions due to that lack of experience.

3. Does the installer have that same experience?

The person you talk with during the vetting process may not always be the person who will complete the install. It’s important to understand the experience of the person they will assign to your project. How long have they been in the industry? Have they worked in the relevant types of facilities? Do they have experience performing install work with all types of fixtures? The manager might be a retrofit expert, but that doesn’t help you if they send someone fresh out of school to your job site.

4. How often do you provide progress updates?

When you won’t be the direct ‘boots on the ground’ on a project, regular communication from the team onsite becomes even more important. Setting expectations about the frequency of contact ensures you and the subcontractor are on the same page. A project management tool like SnapCount can make two-way communication easier.

One situation you don’t want to find yourself in is for the customer to become aware of an issue onsite before you are. If you require daily updates but your subcontractor isn’t willing to do that, better to know up front.

5. Can you provide proof of the proper licensing, insurance and certifications?

While the requirements vary from state to state, all subcontractors should be able to provide up-to-date proof of licensing and insurance. Because this is a liability issue for you, this is a make or break question.

This is also the time to get agreement on what you expect from the people working on your project:

  • Can they pull permits for the customer?
  • Is everyone working onsite background checked?
  • If needed, do they have electrical licenses?
  • Are they licensed to do the tasks you are assigning?
  • Do they have needed certifications and are they current?

Having answers to these questions will give you the security that the job will be completed competently, and your company will be well represented.

The Benefits of a Service Marketplace

SnapSource Labor MarketplaceIf your retrofit business is expanding, you don’t want the hiring of subcontractors to become a bottleneck to accepting work or closing deals. SnapCount customers have access to the SnapSource Labor Marketplace which helps retrofit companies find and hire the qualified labor.

The SnapSource Labor Marketplace speeds the subcontractor hiring process. You can quickly find retrofitters who have achieved SnapCount Certification, ensuring that you’re getting someone with a professional quality of work and a familiar and well-organized work process.

The marketplace has been a huge help for our team at Greenleaf Energy Solutions. It helps us expedite hiring and getting things scheduled. We've been able to fill our bullpen with SnapCount partners that know their geographical areas and have auditors ready to conduct assessments for us.

Streamlinx has also helped clients collectively grow their topline revenues by more than $1 billion. The Lighting Retrofit Software Buying Guide can help you assess whether your company is ready for this type of software, and how to choose the right one.

Download the Retrofit Energy Buying Guide

Samantha Baxter

Written by Samantha Baxter

Samantha Baxter is the Director of Customer Experience for Greenleaf. She is responsible for managing its pipeline and the day-to-day activities of the operations team to ensure projects run smoothly, resulting in a great customer experience. Samantha is an integral point of contact for information flow and logistics for Greenleaf’s key accounts.

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