Kirk Development Co. saw an increase in signed projects in March and April, including some larger jobs in the $50,000 to $100,000 range. Leads have dropped off for the Phoenix remodeler since the beginning of summer, but president Tom Sertich hopes that’s just part of a seasonal pattern due to homeowners going on vacation.

Similar to other parts of the country, home equity in Phoenix is tight and homeowners are limiting use of cash savings. Projects are more modest and homeowners are seeking multiple bids. “They don’t ask for apples-to-apples bids,” Sertich says. “If they ask three quality contractors to bid and then ask three unlicensed contractors, that doesn’t make sense. If you’re not the cheapest, you won’t get [the job]. You have to make yourself different from everyone else.”

Sertich is differentiating his company by participating in a home improvement radio show; networking with industry and community groups; putting out a monthly newsletter; and leading prospects through a presentation book to educate them about his company.

Sertich’s latest differentiator: lead-safe certification. He and all his crew are certified.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.