Past clients have always been strong remodelers' best source of business, and during the slower economy, that still holds true. If your phone has been uncharacteristically quiet, make some calls yourself. There's nothing “cold” about calling people who already know and trust your business.

“We have encouraged our clients to reach out in personal ways,” says Patrice Olivier-Wilson of Biz-comm, a marketing consulting firm. “Call past clients, inquire how their projects are doing, thank them again for their work, and ask if there is anyone they could refer.”

Don't expect a silver bullet, she cautions. Ideally, maintain a constant presence with your feeder base through print or e-mail newsletters or any other friendly, informative means of staying in touch.

Do get creative. “My leads have been constant and the phone is ringing,” says Leslie King of Greymark Construction, in Houston. In a marketing twist that has also generated calls in the past, she kicked off 2008 by mailing 275 contacts a $1 scratch-off lottery ticket on company letterhead (shown in part). “I got a fantastic response, with clients calling me and saying they won, or that they wanted another one since they did not win anything,” she says.

Many of these responses have brought King referrals as well. There's another excuse to call or write — to express your thanks, Olivier-Wilson says.

How are you staying in touch with your past clients? Please e-mail your best strategies to