According to company owner Ed Castle (Big­50 2001), this summer was different from most at Castle Remodeling, in Kensington, Md. The biggest difference: the proactive approach the firm has taken to marketing since the housing downturn finally reached the outskirts of Washington, D.C.

“In the past, our marketing was simply to do an excellent job in order to get referrals,” Castle says. “Now we’re having to hustle a bit more to get people in the door.”

Gearing up for winter — typically the slowest season for remodeling — the company has been canvassing the neighborhoods in which it works with fliers and door hangers advertising its services.

“People feel more comfortable with you when they know you’re already established in the neighborhood,” Castle says.

He has also recently formed a relationship with a local designer, creating yet another new lead stream as the summer comes to a close.

In addition to stepping up its marketing campaign, Castle Remodeling has also refocused its efforts on client management, revamping its change order, scheduling, and billing systems to ensure that unexpected add-ons are accurately reflected in the overall schedule and are paid for immediately.

Castle has been able to keep his systems updated and constantly improving by staying in close contact with other remodelers he has met through local and regional associations.

One of the recent process improvements made at Castle Remodeling is the post-mortem meeting that Castle has with his staff after each project. During these meetings, the team evaluates both gross profit percentages and individual items to identify problem areas within the job.

In addition to post-mortem analyses on a per-job basis, at the end of the year Castle compiles the financial data for every job into a sortable Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, allowing him to view which types of jobs are most profitable, as well as which lead carpenters are most often responsible. For more on post-mortem analysis, see GoodForm, November 2008