You must be thinking I’ve decided to go crazy for the new year. Well, maybe, but that’s a different story.

I was giving a presentation, “Becoming Your Client’s Advocate,” at JLC Live in Portland last month. The presentation is based on the experience of having our (at that time) about-to-be home in Ashland, Ore., remodeled by Michael Hodgin of Coleman Creek Construction and how good a job Michael did working with me, a former remodeling contractor with very high expectations and a focus on detail, and my wife, Nina, who is more of a normal person than I will ever be.

Much of what Michael and his exceptional finish carpenters, Chris and Brian, did was to learn to look at things through my eyes.

We were visiting Ashland once a month from Berkeley, Calif., where we lived, to work with Michael and his team. I had stressed to Michael that the placement of any and all devices (electrical lights, outlets, and switches, HVAC registers, speakers, plumbing fixtures, and smoke alarms, among other things) needed to make sense, to have a logic behind where they were.

As we used to do when we ran our company, Michael had his electrician tack in place the electrical boxes and cans without drilling holes for wire or stringing any wire until we had approved all the locations. He also laid out with chalk lines on the floor the locations of all the devices that would go in the ceiling, such as lights, HVAC registers, speakers, and smoke detectors. The goal was to have there be logic to all the locations chosen, starting with points like the center of the room and/or the center of a door or window.

While speaking to the audience about why this was important to me when I was a contractor and now, even more so, as a client who would be living with these decisions for several decades, someone in the audience raised their hand and said, “Crap.”

I was somewhat taken aback, but he explained that C.R.A.P. was an acronym for a set of principles used by graphic artists. Here they are:





Think about those points. Are you—like me—someone who can walk into a room and in seconds find the one or two things that don’t address those principles? By paying attention to creating nothing that distracts one from the overall goal of calming consistency, you, as a contractor, provide exceptional value to your remodeling client. You are seeing more than they will ever notice.

With Michael and his team, we all were providing a lot of CRAP, even if none of us could articulate the principles we were embodying. What can you and your team do for your clients this year that gets them talking about how exceptional you are at providing the same thing?

After all, doing so just might translate into having clients for life and more business than you know what to do with!

Paul Winans, a veteran remodeler, now works as a facilitator for Remodelers Advantage, and as a consultant to remodeling business owners. Contact him at [email protected].