Andy Poticha would rather work with his trade contractors and suppliers than against them. “You can either be adversarial, and blame vendors when things go wrong, or you can work at these relationships and have them take care of you,” says Poticha, co-owner of Design Construction Concepts (DCC), in Northbrook, Ill. To that end, DCC's new “Vendor of the Month” program honors the trade partner “who went above and beyond to exceed client expectations the previous month.”

New Vendors of the Month are noted in DCC's quarterly newsletter and given a token of appreciation, such as a pair of White Sox tickets. But the bigger reward is respect.

DCC clearly explains its mission, values statement, and expectations to trade partners, who must then sign annual and per-job agreements and abide by them. In return, “they know we've got their back,” Poticha says. For instance, DCC doesn't back-charge for mistakes, preferring instead to help vendors improve the next time.

“It's bad enough to have to set up stopgaps so that trades don't behave in a manner that's detrimental to the company,” he says. “We thought, let's try the reverse mode and make them look good in front of the other guys.” Remodeling is all about people, Poticha notes. And treating people well “really works.”