References – When We Provide Them to Potential Clients and When We Don’t

We got a call late at night yesterday from a new client. The client was frustrated with the current development company that she’s working (she wanted to create a small extension on her Joomla website and the development company kept delaying the project), and that’s why she called us…

She discussed with us her requirements. We gave her an estimate of 4 hours to complete the work, and we told her that we can start he work immediately. She then said, can you please send me at least 3 references so I can authorize the work? Our answer was: “Unfortunately, we can’t!” – and then, of course, we told her the reasons why:

  • Our references are important people working for important companies: This fact makes it really hard for us to send these references’ contact information to just any client. Our references don’t work for us and we don’t expect them to tolerate constant emails from potential clients asking them whether we’re good or not.
  • We only provide references for very large projects: If you come to us with a 4 hour mini-project and you are expecting some references – then we’re afraid we will disappoint you. We just can’t provide references for very small projects, mainly for the reason mentioned above and also because it just creates unnecessary overhead. It’s just not worth it. Only large projects (projects that take 2 months and more of full time work for one person) are entitled for references.

  • We only provide references to established companies: Let’s face it – if you’re asking for references then it’s a clear sign that you don’t trust us – so, why should we trust you? If we send our references in the major companies we work with, then what guarantees us that the contact information of these references won’t be used for something other than checking for our work?

  • We only provide references as a last step prior to authorizing the work: If we think that you’ll be going to ask us for something else after you have the references then we will decline your request for references. We think that providing any references should be the very last step prior to starting the work. There shouldn’t be any additional requirements from your end to authorize the work after checking the references.

  • We will only provide you with a maximum of two references: We had a client once who asked us for 12 references (yes, that wasn’t a typo, twelve references), obviously, we immediately dismissed the request and the project, despite the fact that the project was a very large one. We just won’t provide more than 2 references to any client under any circumstances. In most cases, we only send one reference.

  • We generally don’t like handing out references: As we mentioned earlier, references represent a big annoyance to us and to our established corporate clients, and that’s why we don’t like them. We also prefer clients who trust us from the get-go, clients who are willing to take a leap of faith with us (the same way we are with them).

After explaining the above to our client, she went ahead and authorized the project without any references, and her project was done the very same day. She was very happy with the work and the small amount of time it took to finish it.

If you want us to work with you and you are expecting references, then make sure you meet the requirements above (mainly you have a large project and you are an established company). If you have any questions, then please contact us.

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