Incentives and discounts might bring about a temporary boost in business, but you'll regret them later, says Jack Hauber, a longtime sales trainer with the Sandler Sales Institute. Hauber has been seeing remodelers doing more for less lately, from giving free estimates to accepting smaller jobs at lower mark-ups. “They think that if they don't, someone else will and will get the job instead,” he says.

SET YOURSELF APART Unfortunately, compromising can brand you as a bargain remodeler. “It sets you up long-term for a new class of clients who expect you to give things away. You don't need to cave, but you might need to be a better actor,” Hauber says. If someone asks for a price break, assure them that you'll do all you can to make their project a great success — but that doesn't include free or discounted work. Acknowledge that there may be less-expensive contractors, but also that you made a promise to yourself and your staff to run a successful business in good times and bad.

Remember that people wince at price even in robust markets, Hauber says. With lowball contractors easy to find, good clients are intrigued by companies with high standards. They won't make their decision on price alone.  Note: Jack Hauber is retiring from the Sandler Sales Institute, so this will be his last appearance in these pages. Thanks, Jack, for all that you've done for this industry!