Remodeler Thomas Buckborough (front row, center) says sales leads that come from referrals are priceless, so he concentrates his marketing efforts and budget on past customers. He sends them personalized newsletters, and he gives homeowners a weekend getaway at a country inn with a gourmet dinner as a thank-you for referring other clients. He also schedules a walk-through one year after the project is completed to keep his company on his clients' minds.

Though he concentrates on $200,000 to $400,000 whole-house remodels, Buckborough will take on smaller jobs that have an interesting design feature. "We're more interested in style than size," he says.

That's not to say that design is always top on his customers' lists. "Sometimes clients don't want a high level of design or fancy materials, but they want our comprehensive service." To guarantee that service, Buckborough recently began adding "design intent" statements to the plans so that field personnel can make informed, on-the-job decisions.