Tom Turnage (seated, center) says his accounting skills were a definite advantage in setting up and running his remodeling company. "I know when I'm losing money and when to take action," he says. Being financially mature, he says, helped him develop a detailed estimating system with 20 different categories broken down into 1,000 items. He says the best way to achieve customer satisfaction is by giving homeowners a clear picture of the scope of the project. "Anytime we miss something, we pay for it and then add it to our list to make sure we communicate it to the next client," he says.

For clients who know what they want, Turnage or an in-house designer use CAD to lay out the project. Otherwise, he recommends an architect.

As a CPA, Turnage was familiar with selling services -- not products -- and that is how he views remodeling. "I don't look at it as a project with a start and an end but as building a relationship for 20 to 30 years," he says.