Keith Steier says his company, Knockout Renovation Svcs., New York, had 13 appointments to look at projects during the first part of March. That's 30% more appointments than they had the whole month one year ago.

Steier uses this information to predict his workload in the near future. He knows from experience that his company will likely get three or four jobs from those appointments. And he knows that his project managers can each run maybe three co-op or condo renovations at a time, or five smaller kitchen or bath projects.

Knockout doesn't work with a backlog, however. It is a design/build company, and by the time the design, the product selections, and the permitting is done, it's been two or three months since the original appointment. By looking at the number of appointments he has in March, Steier can predict with reasonable accuracy how many jobs he'll do in May or June, and hire additional personnel accordingly. Steier says that he's never had a problem finding qualified labor with two or three months notice (being located in heavily-populated New York City might have something to do with it).