By Victoria Downing. The Reijnen Company in Bainbridge Island, Wash., focuses on very large, very complex remodeling and custom home projects. Due to the scope and intricacy of the jobs, there are a myriad of potential problems. Derek Reijnen, president, works hard to head problems off at the pass, so he's been working on a variety of systems to help.

One of the most common sources of difficulties is communications between the company and their subcontractors and vendors. Reijnen knew that the performance of these critical business partners could make or break the customer's feeling toward his company. Because these resources are outside his direct control, Reijnen wanted to be sure that all of their subs and vendors clearly understood exactly what was expected of them.

"I was explaining what we expect from our subs and vendors to a new company manager," Reijnen says, "and he asked me if these were all in writing. They weren't, so there on the spot, we created the 10 Commandments and 10 Commitments for Subcontractors and Vendors."

The 10 Commandments are detailed expectations for the performance of the sub or vendor. The 10 Commitments are those made to the subs and vendors by The Reijnen Company. "We're not just demanding certain performance from them," Reijnen says. "We're also promising to hold up our end of the bargain."

The 10 Commandments/10 Commitments are included with all subcontractor and vendor agreements. They are posted at each jobsite and discussed at every pre-construction meeting that subs attend. "If we're having trouble with an employee of a subcontractor, we can pull out the Commandments and discuss the issues immediately. Conversely, if we hear that one of our guys isn't holding up his end of the bargain, it's discussed at our weekly meeting."

Reijnen feels that the third item in both categories is the most important: Be accountable for commitments made and use all resources to honor those commitments.

"This is a very big deal. Sometimes subs are very cavalier when they're talking to the homeowner," Reijnen says. "They'll be chatting away and may make promises to do something for the owner. Later, we hear about it, and it could cause boatloads of trouble for us, not to mention additional cost. By being totally up front, our subs now know that if they make any promises to the owners, they are totally responsible for completing it, not us."

Reijnen says, "The expectations detailed on this form are all fundamental to our professionalism, our core values, and our performance. This piece of communication has made a huge difference in the way we work together and the delivery of each project."

Photo: Charles Steck

--Victoria Downing is president of Remodelers Advantage, Fulton, Md. (301) 490-5620, [email protected].

Each subcontractor and vendor shall:

1. Meet or exceed the quality standards for the project as set by The Reijnen Company.

2. Maintain a professional presence, attitude, and level of service.

3. Be accountable for all commitments made and use all available resources to fulfill those commitments. (Subcontractor/vendor will not make any commitments, promises, guarantees, or reassurances to the owner or to TRC that they are not prepared to stand behind 100%.)

4. Be responsive to all timely requests and inquiries.

5. Staff the project with the appropriate level of skilled craftspersons to complete the work on schedule and to quality standards set by The Reijnen Company.

6. Provide thorough and accurate estimates, change orders, and billings consistent with The Reijnen Company processes.

7. Exhibit a cooperative, teamwork-based attitude.

8. Maintain consistent, clear, and timely communications utilizing modern communications tools (phone, fax, e-mail).

9. Treat the homeowner and the homeowner's property with the utmost respect.

10. Treat The Reijnen Company and its staff as a valued client and act accordingly.