According to John Keohane (pictured with wife Cathy), the most important asset in any construction company is the production team. "You need to do whatever you can to keep them as productive as possible," he says.

When Keohane talked to his field crew about doubling the company's sales volume, they informed him they could handle producing the extra work, but only if they had more complete design packages. To give them what they needed, Keohane assembled a team that includes a subcontracted architect and decorator. The architect meets with clients during the preliminary design phase. He creates a basic floor plan based on the homeowners' goals. Keohane uses that plan to draft a realistic budget.

He then gives the decorator the final budget and allowances, so when the designer takes clients out for product selections, the homeowners can stay within the budget -- or at least make educated decisions about the cost and advantages of higher-end products. In addition to a smoother hand-off to production, Keohane says, having a decorator frees him up to spend more time on sales.