Last year, Gary Rochman (front) modified his design/build contracts to increase profits and make the design/build process run more smoothly. He now asks clients to sign an agreement that takes them through the first round of design. They receive three options with a general budget for each one. Once they choose a solution, Rochman asks them to sign a construction contract for the approximate budget, which includes the cost of the construction drawings.

“We're locking them in when excitement is highest. It takes away angst on both sides. But it puts more responsibility on us — we have to come up with a project that works for them,” he says.

Rochman has made other changes that set the stage for growth. He has a staff designer who translates conceptual drawings to Auto-CAD, which the staff uses to fine-tune and present projects to clients. His office manager uses her art background to help with product selection. Rochman also works with an interior designer on a contractual basis.

The changes have paid off. The company now handles three jobs at a time instead of one and a half, and the average project size is steadily increasing.