Are you a good listener? Dean Brenneman and Martha Rogers think you need to be. In this issue, both begin their stints with us as regular columnists by exploring the nature of your relationship with the upscale client.

Fine craftsmanship and the best quality products are “givens” in any upscale remodel, according to Brenneman. What will prompt clients to hire you as their remodeler is your ability to understand their lifestyles and needs well enough to furnish them with peace of mind. And, Rogers adds, what will enable you to generate more business from existing clients is your ability to stay in touch and to listen to what their refurbishing needs are long after the first project is completed.

Our “Ten Minutes With” guest, Gregory Furman, says that affluent clients happen to be good listeners when it comes to acquiring knowledge on issues that affect their lives. By tapping into that “need to know,” you can create events for new clients who will also be receptive to learning about your firm and what it has to offer.

Even the case studies we present explore how good communication was key in each project's success. Cecil Baker listened to the owners of a Philadelphia loft and found “kindred spirits” who share his love of modern design. Matt Plaskoff's clients listened to their colleagues' recommendation and hired Plaskoff Construction, in part, because they heard that regular communication and the building of strong relationships were hallmarks of the company's operation.

Speaking of listening, I'm pleased to be the new “listener” on the UPSCALE REMODELING team to whom you can turn with feedback about the magazine. I've been a journalist for a couple of decades in the design and building fields, serving as editor on titles such as Kitchen & Bath Business, Luxury Kitchens & Baths, and Architectural Lighting.

Now I'm pleased to join you all in “listening up” to discover where the upscale remodeling industry is headed in the months to come.

Happy New Year!

Wanda Jankowski