If you strike up a marketing discussion with Greg Oothoudt, put on your listening ears. Unique ideas helped propel the company through the 2008–2009 downturn. Down one creative avenue, the president of Stonehearth Custom Homes  found valuable connections with local Realtors.

“We decided to spend our energy and marketing dollars touching people and industries that can help us multiply our work,” Oothoudt says. Because so many homeowners see upgrade and personalization opportunities in the homes they’re about to buy, Stonehearth encourages buyers’ agents to send work their way by offering a 3% commission on completed jobs.

“We did a test run for about six months, and the first time a project happened and the Realtor got a check in the mail, the word spread,” Oothoudt says. The company did about a dozen Realtor-referred jobs in 2011 and expects an increase in 2012.

Ask & Receive  Greg Oothoudt strives for 100% customer satisfaction and asks all his clients for referrals when work is done.