Nobody likes bidding for jobs, but one northern New Jersey remodeler who prefers to remain anonymous has a method that helps him maintain some control. For the past five years he's kept a log of competitors' bids.

It started with a $1.3 million job. He made a little money on it but realized later that he was “too cheap.” With bids for $1.8 and $2.1 million on the same house, he figures he left nearly $500,000 on the table.

Now he gathers all bid information after a job sells, to gauge the local price ranges and competitors. Then he can fine-tune his profit margin. If he knows the competition before bidding, so much the better, but he wants to hear homeowners say they want a remodeler they can get along with. “If price and budget are most important, I can back away politely.”