Like many of you, we spent the summer enjoying our country’s beautiful landscapes – from the badlands in the Dakotas to the mountains of Montana. The difference is we weren’t on vacation; we were bidding new restaurant and hotel construction jobs to keep up with the thousands of new residents moving to the area due to the oil boom.
For those who don’t know, Englewood Construction is a national commercial construction firm, so our business has been built on servicing our clients where they need us. In this case, we were needed in Williston, ND and Glendive, MT.
Some of you are probably wondering if the travel costs that become part of the general conditions and overall construction budget of a national general contractor are worth it to the client. Wouldn’t it be easier to hire a local commercial contractor?
I’m glad you asked. There is a time for hiring a local general contractor and there is a time for hiring a national construction firm. You just need to make sure the time is right for your project.
Do they have “like” experience?
Hiring a local firm isn’t going to save you money if you’re opening a hotel and the GC has zero hotel construction experience. If you want to open a Forever 21 and the general contractor has built GAP stores then it has “like” experience and you’re fine. Just don’t consider a GC to build a Ruth’s Chris Steak House if all its built are Dairy Queens and Dollar Generals. It needs to be apples to apples.
Do they have access to the best qualified subcontractors?
Take the oil boom in the Dakotas. So many local subs are tied up on oil jobs that any other commercial project needs to draw subs from outside the area. In some cases, subcontractors are coming from as far as Florida and Texas because they were the only subs local GCs knew. As a national general contractor, we have access to 20,000 subs across the country, so we don’t have to go all the way to Texas to find a qualified sub. National GCs can pull from their arsenal to find the best and closest subs for your project.
Are they familiar with your brand standard?
If you’re opening a new Target location in Seattle and your short list of retail construction contractors are local GCs who have built other Targets, it’s the best of both worlds – local GC with knowledge of your brand standard. But if you’re launching your brand in a new city, the best way to ensure a successful retail or restaurant grand opening is to work with a national general contractor that has experience recreating that brand standard at various locations.
There is a reason we’ve built American Girl stores in eight different states and dozens of J. Jill and Lululemon locations. When working with a construction manager who already has knowledge of your brand and expectations, there is no learning curve involved and you can enjoy having just one point of contact on all of your jobs. Otherwise, you’re reinventing the wheel each time you open a new location. Don’t make it so hard on yourself.
What’s your projected growth rate?
If you plan to stay local or only want to open one location, then a local construction firm will save you money in terms of travel expenses. But if you want to grow your brand, can a local general contractor service your program beyond your local project?
What’s your project?
Office construction, shopping center development and commercial landlord work are disciplines where it makes sense to seek bids from local construction firms. Retail, restaurant and hotel construction projects usually make the most sense for national general contractors as these are disciplines where a brand standard needs to be recreated in multiple locations. Education construction can go either way. If you’re working with a national childcare chain then a national general contractor is smart, if it’s a stand-alone facility then a local GC might be best.
To ensure you hire the right construction firm, your overall construction requirements must be defined and your growth strategy mapped prior to developing a relationship with your general contractor.
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As a national commercial construction firm, Englewood Construction can build for the same brand in multiple locations, whether it’s…