New Customer Refuses Deposit On Large Job, What Should I Do?

I have recently been trying to close a large (for me) deal with a new client. I was referred to this client by a colleague of mine that was unable to handle the scale of the project. The project involves 24/7 video coverage of the grounds of an apartment complex. The complex consists of 4 buildings, parking areas, a swimming pool, and a commons / courtyard area.

My real issue here came after a few months of working with the owner. We finally came to an agreement over all of the equipment, gave an on-site demo, and have pretty much every nut and bolt accounted for.

The problem is, I usually require a 50% deposit on all projects, with the remaining 50% due upon completion. This client told me that since we have never done business together in the past, he doesn't trust me with a deposit. I have told him, that I am not going to special order a large amount of hardware for his project unless I have some sort of financial commitment from him.

And that is where we are stuck. I know that any sort of contract that we write up, agree to, and sign will be pretty useless. Sure you can acquire a judgment in the case of a default, but collecting that money is the hard part.

So I ask the masses here; If you were taking on a new client for a project that was large in scale compared to your average scale, would you start the project without a financial commitment?