Good news about this summer's hiring outlook: Many remodelers who last year could hardly find any applicants for production positions will get dozens this year. In the wake of the business slowdown, other remodelers' losses are your gain — but only if you hire selectively and set high standards.

“There was so much work in the last four or five years that lots of employees developed this mentality that they could do whatever they wanted because there was no one to replace them,” says Michael Stone of Construction Programs & Results ( Sloppy work practices are no longer acceptable as homeowners get pickier and more bodies compete for fewer positions. Get serious about drug and alcohol abuse, Stone says. “Tighten up on your dress codes, and send [employees] home if they show up late.” He adds that if you charge enough to be able to pay more than your competitors, “you'll get a reputation that brings the good [applicants] to you, without even having to advertise.”

Stone recommends two other steps to prepare for summer: Create an employee manual that articulates your policies and shows prospective employees that your company is here to stay. And, build the cost of new employees into your estimates now, he says. You'll have more money to hire the best, and you won't have to scramble later to offset cost increases.