Sharpe + Harrell Photography

A recent ServiceMagic survey compared the site's requests for service in the third quarter of 2009 with requests for the third quarter of 2010.

Does this report reflect what you’re seeing in your area? If not, you need to find out what types of projects your local homeowners are interested in and provide and promote the projects they want.

This is especially important in today’s economy where homeowners are using their savings to pay for smaller jobs and are more conscious of price, value, and quality. They’re aware that there is a shortage of work and that contractors need their business, and they are willing to haggle over price.

You’ll have to stand strong, and knowing your numbers will help you do that. The base price you have to charge is the real job cost of the project plus your actual overhead. You cant go lower than that without jeopardizing your company. You need to survive the current market so youre still in business when the economy turns in a better direction.

—Les Cunningham is president of Business Networks, a peer-review organization.

Hanley Wood, the company that publishes REMODELING, has a business relationship with ServiceMagic.