The following is a true story (ok, I added a few dramatic flourishes for emphasis)

This time, she was prepared. “Not going to have one of those, ‘I should of said …’ moments”; she thought as she peered through the peep hole at the stranger knocking on her door.

Two of them this time – probably a trainee learning the door-to-door canvassing game. Let’s see how he handles a potential customer who’s done her homework. She had to remind herself that she really does have a long list of projects she needed done for the house and if this is the one, the right one, she had to avoid getting defensive and too confrontational right from the start.

At least the trainee started off ok: “Good evening; I’m Nathan with World’s Greatest Remodeling. We’re working in the neighborhood and I was wondering if I could take a moment of your time to introduce our services?” Polite, identified himself and asked permission – not the usual condescending waste-of-my-time small talk from my new best friend approach. Still, best to keep the guard up she thought; remembering all those Criminal Minds and CSI episodes where the good looking and extremely polite mass murderer gained entry.

 I’ll just need the legal name of your company and your contractor’s license number.”

What followed was the well-rehearsed 30 second commercial about their company that if done properly, ended with an inquiry such as, are you considering any remodeling or repair work? “Yes” she replied. “But before we go any further, I need less than five minutes to do a quick check. Would you mind waiting while I confirm a couple of things? I’ll just need the legal name of your company and your contractor’s license number.”

She knew that if this was an unlicensed or illegal contractor, the conversation was either over or she’d start hearing lots of double-talk and attempts to change the subject. But this canvasser just smiled and said “Certainly” as he handed her a business card (or other form of advertising) that had the company’s name, license number and classification preprinted on it.

she clicked on “Instant License Check”.

Closing the door with a smile, she went over to her computer and opened up her Internet browser. She glanced at the note she had earlier made for herself as part of her preparation and then entered the web address for the California State Contractors License Board ( Within seconds, she was on the home page where on the left side menu; she clicked on “Instant License Check”. Immediately, a new window opened where she saw several circles or buttons. She clicked on the one that said “License Number” and then entered the license number the canvasser had provider her. In less than one minute (she did have a pretty quick internet connection), she was looking over a page of information about the contractor where she not only confirmed that he had a valid license in good standing, but also could see that there were no complaints against the contractor.

she clicked on the “Check out a business” link

Next, after confirming that she had the proper spelling on the contractor’s business name, she entered a new web address – – where in the middle of the Better Business Bureau’s home page, she clicked on the “Check out a business” link and then typed in the name of the contractor’s business. A moment later, she had a report that showed the contractor had an “A” rating.

Less than 2 and a half minutes had elapsed since she sat down at her computer and opened her Internet browser. In that time, she had confirmed that the contractor had an active license, had no outstanding open complaints against it and had also completed a quick check with the BBB. She knew that her due diligence work was just beginning, but by being prepared for that knock on the door, she felt safe and comfortable as she returned to the young trainee and his handler and began telling them about her plans for her home.

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