"But They Looked Good On Paper": The value of a reputation check
“We’ve been trying to close this deal for months, but Bob keeps moving the goal posts on us last minute.”
“This is the third supplier we’ve lost because our partner keeps unjustifiably delaying payment.”
“But all the references she gave us said positive things…”
At Interfor, we conduct enhanced due diligence for our clients on a regular basis, either issuing a clean bill of health or catching red flags along the way. However, what our clients are increasingly asking is; “but what is it actually like to work with this person?” They tell us that had they known XYZ was such a terror to work with, constantly blowing deals up, they never would have entered into a working relationship with them. As such, the reputation check has become a highly valued add-on to our process.
Time and again, many of us find ourselves doing business with someone who is frankly unpleasant to work with and rarely offsets that unpleasantness with stellar results. Whether it’s a recent hire, a partner, a vendor or the principal of a company you’ve invested in, the pedigree and record may appear strong, but when push comes to shove…well, they’re a little too pushy.
A toxic counterpart can gunk up the works of your deal-making process or your workplace environment. Companies across many industries regularly conduct due diligence and background checks of varying degrees. These checks can be to ensure that you meet compliance standards for your field, to verify credit and criminal records or make sure a person is who they claim to be. There is little doubt that a thorough due diligence check provides untold value in avoiding a crisis before it happens at all. But the data doesn’t always tell the whole story; there is no repository of personality reports.
“But what is it like to actually work with them?”
At the request of our clients, we discreetly engage the subject’s prior business associates, employers and social circle to ascertain what they are like as a person. Keep in mind that the references someone gives you were selected because they can be counted on to give a positive report. A creative investigator can execute a reputation check from several angles. This add-on is a low cost measure that quickly pays for itself in avoided stress, mitigated embarrassment and peace of mind, and it doesn’t take long to conduct. Now, the result of a reputation check is the part of the due diligence report that the client anxiously awaits.
Know Your Customer should apply to your investments and counterparts as well. When entering into a professional relationship, you bring that new connection with you to all of your endeavors and existing associates, and their actions can tangibly affect your own reputation. Knowing the true nature and behavior patterns of the person you are welcoming into your world is a critical responsibility.