When S. Neil Peck (center row, third from left) moved his business from Michigan to Chicago, he knew he had to start over, but he decided to take it slow. He went to work for a developer to get to know the Chicago market. Then, when he launched his own business, he called on some Chicago architects he had worked with in Michigan.

That deliberate process led him to high-end remodeling projects. By 1988, his revenues were high, but he was not making money, so he asked his wife, Barbara Rose (center row, fourth from left), for help. She refused to join without business coaching. "We did not want the company to be an extension of our marriage," Rose says. "Having a coach helped us set realistic goals and put systems in place."

Three years ago, after researching their options, the couple purchased a Case Handyman franchise to serve customers with small jobs.

Recently, the company introduced a case study approach to improving their business. They chose a $1.3 million project as the case and are analyzing everything related to that project -- from estimating to construction to human resources. They will apply the lessons they learn to all their systems.