In the relatively small, affluent community of Mercer Island, just outside of Seattle, reputation is extremely important. Peter Davis Builders has one of the best.

“One recent client came up to me and said ‘I've always known I wanted you to remodel my house,'” Peter Davis says. “I had never met her before in my life.”

As you might expect, that reputation is built on customer service, which Davis takes very seriously. Upon completion of a project, the homeowner is given a four-page evaluation to fill out. Davis estimates that the response rate on the survey is 70%, pretty good in most situations but astounding given that its length flies in the face of conventional wisdom that people won't fill out anything that requires them to answer more than 10 questions.

Perhaps it's the coffee gift card that Davis promises they'll receive if they return the survey (it's Seattle, what do you expect?), but more likely, it's that their experience has been so good that they just can't stop talking about it. “This is their opportunity to do that,” Davis says.