By REMODELING Magazine Staff. Many remodelers have stopped making appointments with potential clients outside of daytime business hours. This is a hard step for many younger companies to take. How did you make the change? How do you respond to prospects who claim that they can't meet during the day? Do you ever make exceptions?

Bill Simone, Custom Design and Construction, Los Angeles, Big 50 2001

We have not only stopped meeting potential clients outside of daytime hours, we have also eliminated weekend meetings. All first meetings with potential clients are conducted in our office, Monday through Thursday, between 10:00 and 4:00. We made the policy change two years ago after I got tired of wasting too much time on dead-end prospects.

As this relates to younger companies, I believe it will be easier to change something after only a short time in business than it will be after you have been doing things one way for a longer time.

To clients who object to our policy, we try to explain in a tactful way that we are equally as professional as their doctor, lawyer, and banker, all of whom they meet with in offices during normal business hours. And, yes, I do make exceptions, because I own the company. However, I'm learning that when I break the rules, I pay the price.

Joe Christ, Crist Contracting, Buffalo, N.Y., Big 50 1994

After trying several ways to see a potential customer during the day, I will make an exception. I keep evening appointments to only one or two nights a week, with more than one appointment each night to make the most of the time.

Bernie Gump, The Burnell Group, Fort Wayne, Ind., Big 50 1996

I am more receptive to early morning meetings. I work late on Thursday nights. I also schedule my free time and exercise time. Because these times are on my schedule, I can honestly tell customers that I am busy. If an evening appointment is necessary, it has to be a Thursday night.

Dale Van Lydegraf, Dale's Remodeling, Salem, Ore., Big 50 1997

If customers are not willing to bend on this, then usually they are not serious. You must size up each prospect and, if you feel they are honest, go with your gut. The results may surprise you. I have made exceptions that have led to large jobs.

Juan Urbieta and Carmen Guerrero-Urbieta, Urbieta Construction, Dayton, Ohio, Big 50 1999

We meet homeowners around lunch time -- 11:00 to 11:30. We respect them, so we expect the same for us. We sometimes make an exception for prospects who sound sincere and perhaps come from a referral. Then we might meet with them as late as 5:00 p.m., but no later. And while it's rare, we will occasionally use a Saturday morning to accommodate a customer.

Brian Reid, Reid's Remodeling, Jamestown, R.I., Big 50 1998

I make exceptions. Because many of my leisure time hours are during the day, I see customers at times other than traditional business hours. This is no different in other businesses -- I bought a new truck on a Saturday at 3:00 p.m. Whatever happened to servicing the customer?