There's no mandatory size past which you must have a controller, but a good time to consider hiring one is when you hit about $1.5 million in sales, suggests Steve Ramaekers, of Mainstreet Restorations & Remodeling.

Jason Larson of Lars Construction says that anywhere from $1 million to $3 million might be the right time, but what is most important is reaching the point where there's the feeling of juggling too many balls. Before hiring a controller, Lars Construction was finding that cash flow was too tight too often.

Hiring a controller is not easy, but doing your homework helps. Thompson Building Associates owner Tim Thompson talked with other remodelers' controllers and asked them to suggest appropriate questions that he could ask during the hiring process. Even so, he first hired someone who was a good bean counter rather than a good controller. He also recommends with construction-specific experience.

One warning sign in candidates: spouting jargon to prove how much they know. “They need good management skills,” Thompson says, not just the ability to calculate numbers, understand financial statements, and produce reports. Thompson also wanted someone to explain the numbers in laymen's terms to his production manager and crews.