Feeling a little “burned” by Angie’s List, Yelp, or similar websites? Now you can rate those clients who don’t pay on time, don’t pay at all, or create new ways to make your life a little more miserable. Simply click on randyslist.com to see if your new client has been a thorn in the side of your fellow contractors too.
According to Rob Baugher, CEO of Baugher Inc., in Homewood, Ala., a list like this is long overdue. “I’ve had clients who did not pay, and I [later] found out that other contractors also lost dollars with the same [customer],” he says. “[Had I known,] I could have avoided him.” Another of Baugher’s clients — an attorney — had a pattern of not paying contractors “because the legal fees were inexpensive to him and most workmen never sued to collect!”
While just about every contractor has, at some point, probably imagined starting a list like this, Randy Simonton, owner of Deck Masters, in Montgomery, Ala., has been the first to make it a reality. “We don’t have nearly as many bad customers as we do good ones,” Simonton points out. “But [the bad ones] wreak havoc on profits, and I was tired of my pockets getting emptied a few times.”
Annual membership fees to join Randy’s List range from $9.95 to $29.95, or there’s a one-time $79.95 lifetime membership. Before you can search the database you must enter at least 15 of your worst — or best — clients. Simonton says 72% of the entries are positive four- and five-star reviews, which can encourage leads and referrals.
Richard Feeley, president of Feeley Mediation & Business Law, in Marietta, Ga., and a REMODELING contributor, says that if you air dirty laundry online, be extremely diligent in your review of the entire project and its circumstances to make sure that the disgruntled client isn’t justified in his actions. “An unjustified negative report could expose the remodeler to costly litigation,” Feeley says. “In addition, publishing negative information about clients, justified or not, could end up backfiring if the public gets wind that you’re known to publish negative reports about customers.”
But Randy’s List has apparently struck a chord in the contracting world — it had contractors signing up from all 50 states and Canada within about a month of going live.
—Mark A. Newman, senior editor, REMODELING. www.remodelingmag.com