Connor & Co., Indianapolis, Big50 1990

We never have. Looking back over 29 years of serving customers, there have been just a handful of clients who have given us a reason to want to. As they say, “a few bad apples don’t spoil the whole bunch.” Instincts and initial impressions are pretty good receptors. And if there is doubt, it’s just best to fire the client before they become a headache.

Out of the Woods Construction & Cabinetry, Arlington, Mass., Big50 2006

The reason we don’t bother doing credit checks on our clients is that it’s not an indicator of whether they pay contractors or not.

Contractors don’t report to credit agencies. I’ve been stiffed just three times in 16 years, and all three of those clients had great credit ratings.

The McAdams Co., Kirkland, Wash., Big50 1989

We do not “run checks” on prospective clients. Rather, we depend on our process to develop mutual trust and respect long before construction begins.

By the time we have done a feasibility study, developed plans, and negotiated a contract, months have passed and the relationship has been tested. And our payment terms keep us always working on our clients’ money.

Conner Remodeling and Design, Seattle, Big50 2005

We don’t run checks. We use the design process to make sure clients know what their projects will cost. During the design process, we estimate the project at least twice before settling on the contract price, and we ask clients to sign off at each step. But if the job is well over $200,000, we ask if the client needs a resource for financing the project. That gives us a sense of whether they have their finances in order.

Only once have we been surprised and lost a job due to lack of financing, and that’s because the financing rules changed mid-process (summer 2007), after the client had qualified.

Cipriani Builders, Woodbury, N.J., Big50 1990

We do not do background checks on our clients. Just as homeowners get a feeling about us, we get a feeling about them in the first two meetings with them.

We have never had a homeowner not be able to pay the bill because they were in financial trouble. In 30 years and more than 3,500 clients, we have always gotten paid. Perhaps five of the 3,500 asked for a payment plan because funds got tight toward the end of the project. Even so, those five finished paying within 10 months of the completion of their project.

Creative Contracting, North Wales, Pa., Big50 2000

We have been in business for more than 20 years and haven’t felt the need to run financial or background checks on clients.

Probably 70% of our business comes from referrals or past customers. We build strong, lasting relationships with clients, and each client relationship begins with trust. We work hard to ensure that they understand our processes, our payment policies, and our expectations.

This doesn’t mean that we haven’t hit some roadblocks with customers in the past, but because we typically work with high-end clients, we don’t often run into problems that a remodeler who does smaller projects might.

But we may consider adding financial or background checks to our toolbox for further qualifying clients as we grow. It’s definitely something to think about, something that would give us, as a remodeling firm, added peace of mind.