What are the primary drivers and motivators in the selection of an electrical contractor (or more broadly a general contractor) for companies in healthcare? How do companies in healthcare select contractors?
While there is no pre-existing information to fully answer your question, we've used the available data to pull together key findings: In many respects, a healthcare client searching for a contractor will look for the same qualities as any other client: a reputation for reliability, a balance of price and quality, and the right chemistry. Where they differ is that healthcare facilities are built around supporting their core care functions and goals, and therefore will seek a contractor who understands and can work within and improve those specialized design functions.
Below you'll find an outline of our research methodology to better understand why information you've requested is publicly unavailable, as well as a deep dive into our findings.
After an extensive search, we were unable to find a pre-compiled list of drivers or motivators in the selection of a contractor (electrical or otherwise) written from the perspective of a healthcare company in the public domain. This was true even when we searched the sites and white papers of the healthcare companies themselves. While we found some sources which provided insight into the hiring of staffing contractors, we did not find any for general contractors or which were otherwise appropriate to the question at hand. We hypothesize that most healthcare companies would simply not have a written list of criteria for selecting a contractor whose work was needed only occasionally, leaving the matter of selection up to the appropriate manager. Any who did would have little to no motivation to publish that information publicly.
We therefore broadened our search to find any information on the subject that is publicly available. This brought us to several articles discussing considerations on selecting a general contractor which, while not specific to healthcare, we believe reflect the sort of material that a healthcare manager would turn to in attempting to make a selection. We found two more articles written by construction contractors in which they discuss why and how they receive contracts, one of which specifically discusses winning healthcare contracts. However, the focus on construction means that it is not wholly suited to the question.
Since we are unable to find a public source which answers the question directly, we have pulled together the material from the available sources to provide a picture of the qualities that potential clients in general, and healthcare companies in particular, are looking for.
A REPUTATION FOR RELIABILITY
The first and foremost consideration of a client is whether a contractor is reliable. They want to know first and foremost if the contractor is licensed in their area for the work that they're hiring for and their reputation with their previous clients, asking for referrals or checking the contractor's rating with the Better Business Bureau. They may even go to Dun & Bradstreet to check the contractor's credit rating. Since being in business over an extended period of time is evidence of reliability, many contractors make a point of boasting about their longevity.
Recognizing that there is a correlation between the contractor's safety history and the quality of their work, a prospective client may investigate the contractor's experience rating or Experience Modification Rate (EMR), a measure of workers compensation claims over the past year.
A BALANCE OF PRICE AND QUALITY
While getting as low a price as possible is important, it is far from the only consideration. As the Winkelman Building Co. blog candidly notes, "price can also indicate the level of quality or priority your project receives." They recommend that a client looking for a contractor open up a bidding process and pay attention not just to the bids, but to the questions the prospective contractors ask: "A good contractor will ask you about the details of your project, the requirements you have, and your targeted schedule before providing you with a rough estimate of the costs involved in executing and finishing your project." Once the questions are answered, the client will be far more comfortable with a detailed quote or estimate than with a blanket one.
The above is of course very general advice. So how is healthcare different from other sectors?
SUPPORTING CORE CARE FUNCTIONS AND GOALS
More than almost any other industry, healthcare requires that form favors function, but without sacrificing a comfortable environment. "Specifically, research has shown that care environments directly affect patient outcomes." The necessary blend of efficiency and the right "look and feel" has likely been designed into the building from its inception, and the contractor, whether hired as part of the original construction process or brought in later for "retooling spaces to focus energy on core care elements," will be selected on the basis of whether their work will improve or hinder those goals.
So for example, many healthcare facilities are built on a modular design, "planning a facility to incorporate flexibility into space allocation, room design and other elements so the facility can adapt to change." The manager of such a facility will want to be certain that the contractor's work will compliment that flexibility rather than constrain it.
THE RIGHT CHEMISTRY
The above factors essentially come down to factual questions: Is the contractor qualified? Are they reliable? Is their bid in the right range and do I understand what I'm paying for? Will their work support my core care functions?
However, in preparing to provide the right factual answer, it can be easy to overlook the human factor. Healthcare managers are as human as anyone else, and therefore like anyone else they're looking for a contractor who has the right chemistry with them. They need to feel that communication with the contractor comes easily, that they are comfortable raising any concerns, and that the contractor is genuinely interested in the project. As one contractor advises the client, "The vibe you get from the interview is so important that it should be an automatic elimination factor, even if all the other boxes are checked."
Despite a lack of public data showing from the healthcare manager's perspective how they select either electric or general contractors, we have determined from the available sources on the subject that a healthcare client is looking for a reputation for reliability, a balance of price and quality, the ability to support the facility's core care functions and goals, and the right chemistry.