Self-inspection is one factor that sets The Artisans Group apart from the competition in the bustling Puget Sound area. “The status quo is the death of a lot of teenage companies,” Randy Foster says. “We're not looking for change for the sake of change, but we like the idea that change may be valuable.”

For example, Foster (front row, third from left) and Chris McDonald (white shirt) developed a weighted pricing model that they believe will improve their closing ratio with “preferred clients,” whose high-grossing jobs require relatively few hours. They call it “the B factor,” after a client whose $80,000 kitchen remodel took only 200 hours. The strategy involves fairly low materials markups and labor markups that vary to offer the greatest mutual advantage to each client and to The Artisans Group.

McDonald says they have forms and systems for everything from lead tracking to jobsite inspections. “We know they only stick if we really use them.” Among other results: less slippage and a narrowing of their best projects to “the big four,” or master suites, whole houses, kitchens, and baths.