This holiday season, your prospects and clients are more likely to be thinking about gift buying and get-togethers than about remodeling projects. A friendly holiday greeting can pre-empt seasonal slumps by generating inside work and handyman jobs. It can also help build your backlog for the warmer, longer days ahead.

The key is to make your greeting personal and distinctive — a tangible reminder of the relationship you have (or hope to have) with the recipient. Take inspiration from these innovative examples.


p> Dimon Construction, Fayetteville, N.Y., played up its small-town presence with this homespun and distinctly remodeling-oriented postcard. Owner Ronald Dimon came up with the concept, which design specialist Kelly Fey executed by snapping digital photos of every staff member in a Santa hat, then using Adobe Photoshop to create a toolbelt design. “I loaded all the digital photos, cropped them, and positioned them to fit around the toolbelt,” Fey explains. “The guys really got into it and had a great time.” The cards were professionally printed to ensure high-quality paper and stock, and about 500 were mailed. Costs stayed reasonably low because no envelopes were needed.

“We received a lot of compliments from our homeowners on how friendly and different the idea was,” says Fey, who has since left the company. “We live in a small area, and a lot of people have seen these guys around.”

Architectural Resources, a residential architecture firm in Ann Arbor, Mich., wanted to celebrate its many design awards (20 in the last three years alone) but not gloat or “be in your face about it,” says president Michael Klement.

The 2004 card struck the right balance. The card's exterior features the year's 6 awards arranged in an elegant but modest Christmas tree. The inside flap defines each award, with the message opposite reading, “We've had a great year. Hope you have too! All the best for the Holiday Season and the coming year.”

Klement's staff had a half-day “signing party,” then mailed about 300 cards “to just about everyone we brushed against,” he says, including clients, prospects, colleagues, builders, and trade suppliers. Congratulatory calls followed. “People were suddenly aware of us,” he adds. “They said, ‘Wow, there's a substantial amount of good work being done in our town.'”

Rochman Design-Build, Ann Arbor, Mich., breaks the usual rules with its annual holiday greeting. Instead of mailing Christmas cards, the company hand-assembles and hand-delivers unique Thanksgiving gifts worthy of a craft fair. “We're reinforcing the image of our design/build work: very creative, handcrafted, with great attention to personal service,” says owner Gary Rochman.

The 2004 gift, for instance (shown), consisted of a box wrapped in Rochman blueprints, with a handle made of a washer, some screen, and a wooden ball. Inside was a warm note along with a few chocolates nestled in shredded blueprints. Previous years' gifts include a handmade card featuring a turkey made of nails, a washer, and hooks; and a candle whose holder was a copper plumbing fitting.