Our annual Big50 recognition is a two-fer: Even as it honors another group of remodelers, it provides a slew of great ideas for you to emulate in your own endeavors. I asked assistant editor Tim Regan and contributing editor Jim Cory to pick some of their favorites, and I’ve added a few of my own.

  • Pathway Design and Construction works with architects and designers to spearhead new green building techniques.
  • Matt Risinger, another guy with an eye on architects, started a blog and began producing YouTube videos to improve his visibility with that group.
  • Jericho Home Improvements spent nearly 1,000 hours customizing a software program that tracks each step of its process, from pre-sale to punch list.
  • Carolina Exteriors spends less than half a percent of revenue on advertising in a lead-driven business. How? Lots of low-cost guerrilla marketing tactics.
  • Fence & Deck Depot maintains a separate checking account for customer deposits. “It’s peace of mind when you share that with prospects,” owner Richard Lusa says.
  • A Remodel Works representative visits the house, but for prospects to see the sales presentation they need to schedule a visit at the showroom where they can make selections (“Ninety percent of the products we sell come from our showroom.”) and sign up.
  • At DiStefano Brothers Construction, all personnel meet on Tuesdays to discuss safety, and videos help drive home the point. In the summer, there might be a meeting on how to stay hydrated. In the winter, it might be safe driving in the snow.
  • DreamMaker of Grand Rapids, Mich., pays a production bonus, per project, based on building the job at budget or better. That encourages carpenters to get to the site on time, limit trips to the store for materials, keep the job going, and plan ahead.
  • Lou Amiano of Amiano and Son Construction eliminates last minute sticker shock by price conditioning clients at each step in the product selection process. “So say: ‘Okay, you’re upgrading from ceramic to marble, which will look great and cost an additional...,’” Amiano says. Clients quickly forget that number, he says, but when you arrive at the final cost, it’s a price they’re expecting to pay.