BienTek is a contractor-based computer services business where technicians are hired to perform specialized work. One challenge faced by onsite services businesses with a model like ours is having the right people available to do the work properly at the client’s location.
Expansion and Flexibility
By partnering with subcontractors across a wide region, your business can quickly find specialists ready to handle work that it otherwise could not perform due to distance limitations or skill requirements. We take it one step further though, and do not hire any employees; all technicians working for BienTek are subcontractors. They run their own business, and accept jobs from BienTek when they have the time and interest in doing them.
When you send a technician out to a job, you want him to represent your business, not his own. You do not want him soliciting your customers. For this reason, we have contractors sign a non-solicitation agreement. We also track how many return customers we get for each contractor, and average earnings per contractor.
You will also want contractors to be responsible for the work they do. A clause in our own contractor agreement makes contractors responsible for their work. There are many independent contractor agreements to be found online.
When trying out a new contractor, you will probably not want to assign him to many jobs at once. Our approach is to track how many jobs are in progress for each contractor and take this number into consideration before selecting contractors to invite to a new job.
The challenge this creates for us is that a contractor will not always be ready and willing to do the job when you need him; however, employees create their own challenges, like having someone on payroll when the work is not coming in – and it’s nice not to have to worry about that.
The creation and management of efficient advertising campaigns is a special challenge for subcontractor-based businesses. Since the availability of contractors is less within your control, geographically-optimized advertising is more difficult. Your expected coverage (service area) might change as frequently as daily. This makes for a daunting task when it comes to managing your advertising without the assistance of specialized tools.
Communication with your contractors can be strained when you don’t see them very often. You will probably require regular status updates on contractors’ jobs in progress, paperwork & invoice tracking, and an efficient job dispatch system that handles invitations and acceptance. We started by using gmail for the management of all of this, and learned that it was too inefficient.
To manage the challenges of contractor availability, communication, and advertising, BienTek created its own tool for tracking and automating as much of the process as possible. By allowing subcontractors to log into our site to accept jobs and make status updates, everything can be managed in one spot on the web. If you also run a subcontractor-based business, you might create your own tool to manage these challenges – or you might email BienTek about becoming a Beta tester to use the same software that we do. If you’re one of the first to inquire, we might be interested in letting you use our program for free in exchange for your valuable feedback!
- Brian Bien, owner, BienTek LLC