Tips to Qualify Your Subs

Many of you hire contractors. Many of you probably already have contractors that work for you so you have been through this. (Thanks to for input.)


  • General information about the sub. Wireless is a relatively small industry, so chances are you may know the owner of the tower crew. Make sure you get all of the information. Who owns the company, experience, resume, are they a minority business, size of business, contractor’s license, number of employees, do they hire contractors or do they have their own crews?
  • Get their safety and OSHA information. Ask them for any citations and their experience modification rate for the previous 3 years, their safety programs, their safety plans, their rescue plan and dog-tags_clearbackgrondhow they handle their daily, weekly, and annual safety meetings. Ask them who is responsible for the safety program in their company. Ask for a name. Ask to see their safety and rescue plans. How long have they been accident free? What was the last accident? What were the circumstances? Most companies are very open about this, if the lawyers allow it.
  • Who is their current surety provider, agent name, bond rates.
  • Find out if they have ever filed for bankruptcy. It matters.
  • Find out if they have any active litigation pending. See if they have any labor law violations, if their license is or has been revoked. Do they have any judgements filed against them?
  • Ask all insurance questions up front, make sure that your umbrella covers the contract.
  • References, references, references. Ask them for references. Now, they will give you all the good ones so don’t be afraid to ask the references for references, perhaps even a PM that work on their jobs. Don’t just ask for work references, verify their credit references as well. Make sure you ask for up to 4 references.
  • Scope of work, when it comes to the specific job. Clear up the scope of work questions. Make sure you agree to the scope and SOW Trainingwho will provide the miscellaneous parts used daily. Understand the tool requirements, the tasks, and the labor requirement. I know many of you will hand them the SOW and say, “Good Luck!”, but that’s not enough. Clear up the small things and then they can do the big things.
  • Review the Bill of Materials. The BOM and staging really matter, clarify as to what the expectations are. It’s a simple thing that can be cleared up prior to the job. When the deployment starts, it’s hard to settle this when the equipment is being shipped.
  • Clarify the change order process. Do it up front so there are no questions during the job.
  • Don’t tell the sub he has to do something he can’t do, remember that they have limitations. Just because someone does tower work does not make them an expert rigger! Be clear about the work!
  • Are you going to hire this sub or are they going in as a partner? Be clear about the roles.
  • Then deploy, install, make wireless magic happen!
  • Pay your sub, make notes of what they did right and what they could have done better. If they didn’t finish the job, ask yourself why and whose fault was it? Did both of you understand the scope of work?
  • When you get a good sub, hold onto them!

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Remember to be smart, be safe, and pay attention. If it’s your plan then follow it until you have to adapt, improvise, and overcome those obstacles at the site!

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