Scott Watson of Taylor Watson Construction in St. Louis recently participated in a 12-week television show segment dubbed "Rescue My Kitchen," where viewers voted on nine key homeowner selections via the Internet. He says it was fun and it drummed up business, but he doesn't know whether he'd do it again.

Scott Watson (second from right) on the "set" of "Rescue My Kitchen," with crew and homeowner Linda Grelle (right).
Scott Watson (second from right) on the "set" of "Rescue My Kitchen," with crew and homeowner Linda Grelle (right).

His main misgivings are the cost (he paid to participate) and the scattershot approach to his market.

But one lead from the show could turn into a $150,000 job. "If that happens, the whole thing makes sense," Watson says.

Watson had done work for a sales rep at the NBC affiliate, KSDK, who produces the program "Show Me St. Louis." The rep approached Watson about participating in a remodel that would take place on the show. After initial hesitation, Watson signed on for a $30,000 kitchen remodel that KSDK gave away. Besides coordinating the seven-week remodel, done mostly by seven subcontractors, Watson paid $10,000 for 130 15- and 30-second commercials, which the station says reached 1.6 million women. The station also set up a Web site for Watson, which received 1,300 browsers.

Watson estimates the time he or his crew put into the project was worth $6,000. He coordinated vendors, subs, and did demo, cabinet installation, and framing. The main difference from a regular job was that no money was intended to change hands. Contracts were very detailed. Subs and suppliers paid to be on the show and donated a set amount of products. What was unique, Watson says, is that the client, Linda Grelle, and her husband, Chuck, couldn't, and didn't, labor over decisions -- because the television audience was making the choices.

The only problems that surfaced were that some of the cabinets didn't fit and some trim pieces weren't made on time. On the trim, the "power of the camera" helped the supplier deliver, Watson says.

Watson says his company has been a community fixture since 1987, but he wanted a higher profile. "I thought if we could get our name out there, it would become more of a name in the industry," he says. "I've accomplished that."