Levelset, a company that helps subcontractors navigate pay application processes, tracks payment-related regulations from state to state and facilitates the filing of mechanic's liens, is rolling out a new feature — Contractor Profiles — on its website, one that could help subcontractors identify slow-paying general contractors before taking on work with them.
Although, according to Levelset CEO Scott Wolfe, the company is adding features to the pages and plans on giving contractors — both general and specialty — more control and input, there are currently more than 1,600 profile pages on the site. Each page features a payment score based on Levelset data, a rating based on user reviews and other information like mechanic's liens filed against their projects within the last six months.
The contractors listed on Levelset's Contractor Profile pages are not necessarily customers, but they have been at least touched by one of the company's services, such as serving as the general contractor for one of Levelset's subcontractor clients. Each review is anonymous to the public but goes through an internal vetting process to ensure the authenticity of each submission.
While the new service focuses on payment, some of the reviews also get into other issues subs have with GCs such as excessive back-charges or problems with the project management team, although Wolfe said the overwhelming majority of reviews are positive.
The Levelset service, he said, is an attempt to chip away at the opaqueness of the construction payment process, which, according to the company's website, is valued at about $1 trillion per year.
Contractors, he said, swap information about slow-paying customers among themselves, but there's nothing structured to capture that data in a way that will benefit everyone.
"The pages on contractors are [not there] to expose the general contractor. They are not where subs have a place to vent. It’s a place where general contractors can brag about how great they are to their subs."
"No other companies are set up to do this," he said. "We just have a very interesting product that helps people with the payment process. As a result, we have a lot of insight into these contractual relationships ... [which] puts us in a position to build these types of pages and collect this kind of information." Levelset service is used on approximately 120,000 construction projects every month.
Wolfe said this trend toward contractor payment transparency is going global. In the United Kingdom, for instance, signatories to the Prompt Payment Code are committed to working toward 30-day payment terms. The slowest payers in the U.K., Wolfe said, could be prohibited from bidding on government work.
At the end of the day, Wolfe said, the contractor pages on Levelset’s site are meant to show the best of the construction industry.
"The pages on contractors are [not there] to expose the general contractor," Wolfe said. "They are not where subs have a place to vent. It’s a place where general contractors can brag about how great they are to their subs."