Advantage Contracting’s focus is customer service. “We vacuum our way out of the house every day,” says owner Richard Graniere, who keeps one person just for punchlist items. The reward: a large percentage of repeat clients.

To increase business during the downturn, Advantage became the contractor of choice for a local Lowe’s general contractor program. Lowe’s does the design work and Advantage handles permitting and labor. The customer pays Lowe’s, and Lowe’s pays Advantage. “It’s good exposure and guaranteed money,” Graniere says. And even if a job doesn’t pan out, he says, he gets paid $75 to $85 just to visit the home. Plus, his customer service skills come into play — helping to establish a good relationship for future work.

• All employees have smartphones, which are being set up with BuilderTrend so crews can do on-the-spot change orders.

• TV commercials on cable have been successful.

• Advertising in The Patch, an e-newspaper localized in many U.S. markets, provides an “amazing return.”

• A “Grant A Wish” contest helps those in need get renovation work. He and his staff donate their time to complete the projects.

• Advantage recently partnered with Medallion Bank to offer financing.