Tim Lawrence could have thrown himself a party to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Blue Ridge Home Improvements, but he decided to give thanks to the people of Blacksburg, Va., instead. The resulting “30 Days of Community Service,” which will continue through 2009, are reminding his clients, trade contractors, and vendors of the company’s guiding principles -- honesty, trust, reliability, quality workmanship, and communication -- and strengthening its likelihood of surviving the economic challenges that are hobbling so many other remodeling contractors.

What’s in the 30 days? Here’s what Lawrence has done so far:

  • A monthly drawing of a past client’s name. “Whoever’s name we draw gets a $30 donation made to a local food bank in their name,” he says. One past client heard about the donations, sent a personal note saying how touched she was, and contributed her own $30 to supplement BRHI’s donations.

  • Prior to exhibiting at a recent home show, BRHI asked previous clients to bring in a canned good for a special gift. The gift: a coffee mug or stainless steel (green) water bottle with the BRHI logo, as well as a coupon for a barbeque sandwich outside the venue. The vendor gave BRHI the sandwiches at cost, Lawrence says.

  • In January, at a trade contractor/employee appreciation breakfast, Lawrence says, "we used the opportunity to discuss ways to improve our working relationship and to promote good customer service practices.”

  • A new logo design (see it at www.blueridgehi.com) has debuted on all contracts, marketing materials, and stationery, including notes to past clients and suppliers thanking them for their friendship and support.

  • Upcoming means of giving back include a talk that Lawrence will give to a high school building trades class to discuss opportunities in the construction and remodeling fields, along with sponsoring a scholarship program.

  • And soon, possibly to coincide with National Remodeling Month in May, a customer appreciation reception will likely take place at the home of a client who recently completed a large remodeling project.

Lawrence can’t say for sure whether most of his 30 days of giving will convert to signed contracts, but he thinks that “in the long run, these types of activities just help to build your brand and enhance your reputation.” And that means more leads, less direct competition, “and an easier sell.”