Shipbuilding engineer Keith Brown (on porch, right) started his painting business as a sideline back in the early ’90s. In 1996, he not only jumped ship to work full time for his own company, he brought in a consultant to overhaul it. Result: In a year, volume increased by a third and gross profits rose substantially. In 1998, Brown purchased the first Case Handyman franchise to complement his painting business.

The investment paid off big time. Today, when Brown goes to give a painting estimate, he also checks the house for anything that may require repair or remodeling. Customers often ask him to recommend a contractor for maintenance or repair work. Brown recommends himself. The cross-marketing of painting to handyman—in effect, doubling up on leads—goes over well in the high-end gated communities his company has targeted as its market. So do laptop- generated estimates produced on the first visit to a client’s home. Last year Brown’s painting company produced 126 leads for his handyman division; 67 percent of them were sold.