A suburban Kansas City remodeler has found that a radio and television campaign featuring a jingle has increased the number and quality of leads he gets.

After learning Home Depot was coming to Lawrence, Kan., Marc Ridenour of Natural Breeze Remodeling decided to do something so his firm's name stuck in homeowners' minds when they thought "remodel." His repeat and referral rate is typically 90%, so he needed to capture just 10% of his business through advertising.

Prompting his leap into radio was a consultant who gave a seminar, sponsored by the lone local radio station. A survey was cited in which 1,000 Lawrence residents were asked, among other things, which companies came to mind when they thought about remodeling services. Home Depot drew a 15% response; Natural Breeze drew only 2%. The consultant said small companies could increase awareness from 2% to 70% through jingles and advertising.

After the seminar, Ridenour paid $2,200 to an Indiana company to write and produce a jingle.

The commercials, costing $12,000 a year, soon had people calling. Last year, 14 of Ridenour's 96 jobs came from about 45 radio leads. The jobs brought in more than $116,000 of the company's $800,000 volume. Bolstered by his success, the remodeler developed a 30-second television ad. The ad ran during the Olympics on an NBC affiliate, sprinkled among such national advertisers as ATamp;T. Ridenour spent $1,200 for 12 spots, and for a month after the Olympics, he received at least two leads a day from the ads. "We're not getting leads for fixing the back porch," he says. "We're getting people calling for big-ticket items like additions and whole-house remodels.

"Some people are saying, 'If that guy can advertise on the Olympics, we don't want him.' They're looking for the guy with the Labrador and the pickup. So there's not much pre-qualifying."

Radio and television advertising is "definitely a way to enhance the quality of the business you get, as well as increase top-of-the-mind awareness," Ridenour says. But the true measure of his success, he says, will come next year, when the radio station's consultant returns to do a follow-up survey with residents.