This is part of an email I received from a very frustrated general contractor:

Recently my electrician told me that the client called him directly one evening to ask why there is no electricity in one part of the house and my electrician guided him on how to reset a GFCI outlet that was purposely tripped a day before to prove to the city inspector that a circuit is GFCI protected.

When I asked my electrician how come the client is now contacting him directly without my knowledge? The electrician informed me that the client asked him for his business card and he gave it to him.

As a background to the story, I had some issues with this electrician handing his business card to my clients directly or telling them stories how he works for a lot of doctors after he learned that the homeowner is a doctor etc. until the homeowner would ask for his business card. He never tells me what he did, I always hear about it indirectly from the client.

My question is how do I deal with this? Should I remind the client that he is not supposed to call my subs directly without my knowledge “As it was stated in his contract.”

Should I terminate this blabbermouth electrician since he will not quit doing this even though his contract with me states clearly that if he does business directly with my clients he owes me 20% of the cost of the job.

I am looking for advice on this subject because I am new in this GC business and I want to do it right. Should I include anything else in my contracts to prevent this from happening again?

I responded to this general contractor by advising him to remind the electrician to keep his mouth shut on his jobs. He needs to remind the electrician to refer the owner back to him whenever the client contacts him. If the electrician won’t do that, it’s time to find a new electrician. It might be time right now.

I also told the general contractor to include a clause in his contracts that he will shut the job down if the owner goes into default on their agreement and that it will cost between $600 and $900 to restart the job. He needs to remind the owner when the contract is signed that any and all communication is to directed to the general contractor. The owner is not to have any contact with employees or subcontractors on the job, and communicating with them is defaulting on the agreement. That will hopefully get the owner’s attention.

Now, if you are a subcontractor, it doesn’t matter what trade, if a general contractor has hired you to work on a job your obligation is to that general contractor only. You aren’t working for the owner. If the owner contacts you, and it doesn’t matter why, refer them directly back to the general contractor. You don’t know what the general contractor has said to the owner, you don’t know what their agreement is and who said what, why, how or when to whom. Sometimes when the owner contacts you they are trying to bypass the general contractor and get a lower price on your work or service. That is not fair to the general, and they are the one who generated that job, not you.

This scenario has been showing up more and more over the last few years. If you’re reading this post, you need to talk to all the people you work with, regardless of whether you are a sub or a general, and make sure you’re all on the same page. This issue can destroy a business relationship as quickly as anything I can think of.

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