On Advanced Renovations’ website, the Charlotte, N.C., company has a downloadable “New Client Form” that site visitors can fill out and either submit electronically or print and mail.

Answers to the two-page questionnaire help qualify clients as well as aid company owners Duane Johns and Roger Ketchum in spotting trends — e.g., more people want to see in-house employees than subcontractors doing the work — and uncovering red flags, such as people who check contradictory answers. “People like the anonymity of the form and may reveal things they won’t over the phone,” Johns says. “The form [provides] a pretty good snapshot of the client.”

Page one has general information; page two has open-ended questions that Johns and Ketchum have found to be valuable lead indicators. Information is entered into the company’s database and stays with the client throughout the project. Johns often uses the questionnaire as an icebreaker. “The leads from people who have taken the effort to fill out the form are definitely more fruitful [than others],” Johns says.

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.


With this figure, remodeler Duane Johns can assess prospects’ expectations. “We want them to have a realistic budget before they get led down the path. If it’s unrealistic, we address it before the first meeting.”

Children’s Names, Ages, and Pet Info

If a client wants a whole-house remodel, knowing that they have three kids and two dogs helps Johns determine setup, whether they need to change bedrooms around, or need “super secure” in-progress areas.

What’s Most Important

“We’ve had people check every single box,” Johns says. “Maybe they didn’t read the questions; they even check ‘attention to detail.’ Or people select budget, circle it and highlight it and then [fail to] put in a figure. These may be the kind of [people who] don’t listen to what you’re saying.”

Who Else is Looking at the Project

This is a trust-building question. “Sometimes you’ll see three names on there and think you might not have a chance,” Johns says. “You have to address that right away.”

Past Dislikes

“Often people respond that a project took too long or went over budget, but sometimes you get some things that can tell you about the person — how they feel about cleanliness or a cluttered jobsite,” Johns says. “You might get insight that the person will be too particular.”

Type of Experience

“We get answers ranging from things like ‘smooth,’ ‘no surprises,’ ‘quick and easy,’ ‘painless.’ Some who say, ‘We want to work as a team and have a relationship,’” Johns says. “This helps you figure out whether a client has realistic expectations and whether you’ll be able to work with them easily.”