flexiblefullpage - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Currently Reading

10 Questions to Filter Clients

billboard -

10 Questions to Filter Clients

The more you can differentiate between good and bad customers, the healthier your company will be

By Mark Richardson November 29, 2022
mark richardson client checklist
Photo courtesy boyhey | stock.adobe.com

The more you discriminate between good and bad customers, the healthier your company will be. But how can you tell who's who? 

Through conversations with other remodelers and trial and error, I've developed a set of questions to ask every potential customer you encounter. 

If the answer to any of these questions is "No," then gracefully exit. If the answer is "Maybe," resolve the question before getting deeper into the relationship. 

RELATED: Do You Have a Healthy Marketing Mindset?


1. Do the prospects respect your professional advice? Homeowners who think they have better answers than you force you to second-guess your judgments, reducing your effectiveness.


2. Do they allow you to control the remodeling process? An early sign of trouble is a prospect who repeatedly objects to your proposed meeting time or agenda.


3. Are they honest? Listen carefully. A boastful story about getting a good deal could really be about taking advantage of someone. A "wink" at the need for a permit may signal a general disregard for playing by the rules.


4. Have they lived through a remodeling project? If not, you need to go overboard communicating what the experience will be like (I sometimes describe it as having a suit tailored while you're still wearing it).

RELATED: Do You Have Your Act Together?


5. Are their expectations realistic? Beware of casual attitudes toward the amount of time or money involved, or about the kind of disruption the work will cause.


6. Do couples communicate well with each other and with you? Throw out some controversial topics—budget, finishes, or priorities, for example—and listen to the way they respond.


7. Are the clients committed to the scope of the project? If the project scope and client priorities are constantly shifting, that may be an indication of problems to come.


8. Can the customers make decisions and product selections in a timely manner? Give them some "homework" for the next meeting and see how conscientious they are about getting it done.


9. Are they emotionally stable? This is a tough one to flush out. If you have any doubts, slow the process down to get a truer read. Odd, unpredictable behavior may be a sign of instability.


10. Do they trust you? Test this by asking to take something with you —the as-built drawings or the plat, for example. If they balk, it could signal trouble ahead.

RELATED: 10 Winning Behaviors of a Great Manager


Final Notes

As an experiment, look back over last year's projects. My guess is that clients who did not allow you to make a profit also did not score well on this screening checklist. 

Apply this list to all prospects, including personal referrals. We all jump on a personal referral, but we also tend to let down our guard, because we have a good relationship with the person making the referral. It's critical to separate an "easy" sale from a good client.

The final challenge is having the discipline to say no. Many of us find it difficult to turn down a job. Sometimes this is due to a tight business environment, but often it's because we see ourselves as remodelers not just of houses, but of people. 

Try to integrate this objective screening system into your business, and your overall fitness will rise. 


written by

Mark Richardson


Mark Richardson, CR, is an author, columnist, and business growth strategist. He authored the best-selling book, How Fit Is Your Business? as well as his latest book, Fit to Grow. He can be reached at mrichardson@mgrichardson.com or 301.275.0208.

Comments (1)

  • Submitted by Mary T (not verified) on Wed, 01/18/2023 - 16:13


    Funny, as I read through each of your 10 items, a particular client came to mind. We're currently in a lawsuit with one client that hits nearly all the marks.
    I appreciate your list as it calls to mind the nuances we should always be watching for.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Related Stories

A New Opportunity

One-on-one expert business consulting is valuable... especially if it's free

3 Things to Add to Your Construction Contract—From a Lawyer

Did you know you can add these three elements to your contracts?

4 Qualifying Questions For When Clients Come Calling

Asking the correct questions impacts your ability to plan well—Are you covering these bases on the first call?

Cracking the Remodeling Sales Code

What's the secret to great remodeling sales in today's market? Mark Richardson offers 10 suggestions

A Tale of Two Cultures

Solid company culture can be easily spotted by clients—and they'll pay top dollar for it 

Leading with HEART: A Remodeler's Book on Leadership, Company Values

F.H. Perry Builder Owner Allison Iantosca shares the experience of writing a book based on her company's values

10 Sales Success Habits

"It's not the market that's making you more or less successful, it's what you're doing with the cards you're dealt with," says industry advisor and Remodeling Mastery host Mark Richardson

3 Remodelers Share Tips for Successful Meetings

Quick insights for right-timing meetings, keeping everyone on track, staying on time, and more

Positive Feedback Loop: 4 Ways to Create a Company Around Collective Success

Adams + Beasley Associates has been named a Top Places to Work in Massachusetts for three consecutive years. The co-founder of the 70-employee design-build company shares his insights into what it takes to create an award-winning company culture. 

10 Remodeler Recommended Business Reads

From leadership to process improvement, these 10 recommended business books for remodelers offer something for everyone

boombox1 -
native1 -

More in Category

native2 -
halfpage1 -