When a client abruptly postponed a major project earlier this year, Greg Antonioli did something most remodelers despise but marketing experts advise. “I just started calling old leads.” says the owner of Out of the Woods Construction, Arlington, Mass. “I turned up a ton of stuff.”

Take the lead who had a minor porch job a few years ago. Antonioli's call prompted him to do a $90,000 attic conversion. Another call reached a lead who had just finalized drawings with an architect and was looking for a remodeler.

Antonioli's dislike of cold calling is part of his pitch. “I say, ‘I never do this ... but we just had a large project bumped,'” he explains. “‘I have you in my database, and for some reason I had put you on hold. Did you ever do the project?'” The time apart can work to his advantage, he says. Many leads “are ready to jump on our bandwagon because of a bad experience with another company.”