Marrokal Design & Remodeling had its best year ever in 2008 with $17.7 million in revenue. Though 2009 will not beat that record, the San Diego company still expects a strong finish with sales of $13 million. Owner Gary Marrokal attributes the success to both the company’s existing strengths and recent changes.

The company’s longevity, staff, and customer service are contributing factors to its success. “What makes people shine is the team that surrounds them. When a client visits our office, they’re not just dealing with one person -- they meet everyone,” Marrokal says. The company sells value and service -- not price. Other keys to its survival include being financially conservative, having no debt, and investing profits back into the company.

With the downturn, the company needed more and stronger leads and for those leads to turn into sales. Marrokal added one more employee to his staff of seven salespeople, or as he calls them, design consultants.

To provide this group with leads, Marrokal set up a more aggressive marketing plan by doubling his marketing budget from 3% of volume to 6%. “I started this two years ago when it looked like we were going to have a recession,” he says.

He changed the company’s name from Marrokal Construction to Marrokal Design & Remodeling. To promote this change and to reach high-end clients, he used his marketing budget to create a brochure that is modeled after a Lexus brochure. The glossy brochure costs $3.50 per piece. He also created a smaller brochure that costs 25 cents per piece to produce. The more modest brochure is used for wider distribution, for example, given to homeowners in a neighborhood where the company is doing a remodel. The owner has also continued to invest in radio and television advertising.

Marrokal’s current goal is to increase customer satisfaction during all stages of the project and to create raving fans that feel strongly enough to sell the company to friends and family. A few years ago, Marrokal Design & Remodeling began providing clients with the services of an interior designer. Marrokal also fixes problems for no charge, even 10 or 15 years after a project is completed. During the middle of a project, his staff send flowers and fruit baskets to homeowners and he sends them a handwritten note thanking them for their trust. Marrokal is planning to form a council of past clients to ask them for ideas on how the company can exceed expectations. --Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.