Once you are ready to start a commercial project, either a new construction or a rehabilitation/remodel project, you must decide on a contractor to complete the construction work. Many project owners must decide whether to hire a local general contractor or a national chain. In short, there are pros and cons to each avenue you can choose. This article summarizes these benefits and drawbacks to help you decide better when you are ready to hire a contractor.
When it comes to experience, both local general contractors and national chains can have varying levels of experience. And while many national chains often tout decades of experience on their websites, the reality is that the team serving your area could have minimal experience. Therefore, it may not match the website information or other marketing materials. On the other hand, with a local contractor, their information is usually accurately related to experience.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to ask any potential candidates about the team’s experience level that would ultimately be working on your project. You may also request examples of other commercial projects in your community to access the firm’s previous projects. This information can give you an idea of each potential firm’s type and quality of work, making deciding easier. It can also give you specific examples, similar to your project type, to refer to as you decide. This information is vital for determining the overall experience and experience with the type of commercial project you need.
The project’s total cost is where we often see the most significant discrepancy between local general contractors and national chains. National chains often have the advantage because they can negotiate better pricing on their materials since they generally buy in greater bulk than local firms. However, this may only sometimes be the case since national chains often have higher overhead costs, too. Additionally, local general contractors may get special pricing if they know materials distributors in the area.
It’s worth requesting an estimate for the work from the local general contractors and national chains to see their price points and how they compare.
Time may be a significant factor in hiring a local general contractor or a national chain, especially if you have a deadline to meet. And depending upon their schedule and current workload, there may be a massive difference in how quickly one firm can complete your project compared to another.
In many instances, a local general contractor may be able to complete your project more rapidly because they may not have the workload that a national chain does. Since national chains often have the advantage of name recognition, many people call them immediately without consulting with any local general contractors. However, working with a local firm can be beneficial, especially if you need the job done quickly.
Supporting the Local Economy
One of the best reasons to work with a local general contractor is that your money will support your local economy. With national chains, the profits often go to shareholders, which removes the funds from the local economy. With a local contractor, the funds stay with the local owners and their employees, which retains the money in the local area and promotes long-term community sustainability. You can rest easy knowing you are reinvesting in your community, which can be a tremendous benefit!
Customer service may be the most extensive area where local general contractors have a significant advantage over their national chain counterparts. Since they are local, they can often be more flexible and provide greater oversight for your project. If you experience any issues where you are unsatisfied with the quality of work of the building, the owner or manager will often meet you on-site and develop a plan to address your concerns.
Unfortunately, with many national chains, you won’t receive this level of customer service. You may not even be able to discuss the problems with anyone locally. Instead, you may be directed to call a corporate line and try to have your concerns addressed that way. And if you’ve ever spent time on the line with any customer service representative, you know that your experience could vary. Still, in most instances, you will get better customer service from a local firm than a national one. After all, the national ones can often afford to lose a customer or two, but local ones cannot risk jeopardizing their reputation by leaving problems unaddressed.
Another critical factor in deciding the right contractor is the firm’s reputation. But this may be misleading with a national chain since they could have a great reputation overall, but not necessarily in your area. It depends on many factors, including the management and skill of the local staff or staff traveling to your location. But in many instances, you may be rolling the dice with a national chain.
Conversely, you can often get accurate reviews and referrals for local general contractors. And you have the benefit of knowing that this information directly relates to your local company and its staff, which makes it much easier to trust.
Most commercial projects are large and expensive jobs and not something you want to trust to an unvetted company. While there are many benefits and drawbacks to selecting either a national chain or a local firm, the reality is that it all boils down to the details, which means you may have to do some legwork to find the right company for your project!