Joe Dellanno, a design professional and the owner of Design Solutions, in Arlington, Mass., works with remodelers across the country as a business coach. He's seen what it takes for remodeling companies to pull through these days. “The companies that have taken the time out of their busy schedules to train staff on how to provide visible professional services are the companies that are attractive to homeowners and clients,” he says.

“Visible professional service” includes the latest technology. Dellanno has been using online communication effectively for several years, especially for interactive meetings and with clients. “If clients know they can communicate with you online in a secure place, or if they know they can hold you accountable for the work you’re going to be doing and the financial deal you’re going to go through ... if they know you’re trying to exceed their expectations every step of the way through the various processes of the project and if they can experience all this from day one, then you [the remodeler] can eliminate the competition,” Dellanno says.

“I’ve done this recently with agendas and e-folders and signed a $150,000 project in this down economy," he says. "I’m providing the intoxication so clients can experience the process.” Dellanno took pictures of his client's condominium and areas that the couple wanted to change. He then took the contractor’s description of what the clients wanted to change and married the two in a PowerPoint presentation. The clients saw it and shouted, “There’s my kitchen!” They couldn’t have been more thrilled. Says Dellanno, “Selling is strictly for professionals this year.”