All remodelers lose jobs from time to time. J. Francis Co., in Pittsburgh, uses these lost contracts as an opportunity for self-evaluation. Business development manager Jean Krak created this “customer did not buy” survey, then turned over the interviewing responsibilities to an outside company that faxes back completed forms.

Krak originally made the calls herself, but has found that people are more frank when speaking to a third party. “They tell them the things that they would tell their neighbor,” she says, “and that's what we're trying to capture.”

Although J. Francis Co. isn't likely to change its pricing just because the company lost a couple of jobs to lowball bids, they still, in Krak's words, “want to know who our competition is and what prices they're giving.”

“We don't want it to sound canned,” Krak says. “We want it to be conversational.” So, instead of treating the form like a script, she put the key concepts in bold type, relying on the interviewer to keep everything casual while still getting answers and the information that J. Francis Co. is seeking.

“We really enjoy this openended feedback,” Krak says. “If we weren't getting genuine feedback, we'd just be wasting our time with this.”

Download a PDF of the form.