When leads come in and you have a name, phone number, and best time to return the caller's inquiry, what happens next? Here are five lead tracking mistakes that companies often make, along with remedies.

Not tracking. Most remodelers intend to track leads but don't. People assign values to leads based on marketing costs ($12,000 in marketing brings 120 leads; each is worth $100), but a lead's true value is the project it brings in. So if 10 leads bring in $1.2 million, each is worth $120,000, no?

Collecting incomplete information. Put a "pencil lead sheet" tablet next to every phone in the office, as well as in your truck. Collect detailed information you can use to make decisions: who, what, where, when, scope, timing, budget, history with past projects, how the prospect happened upon you.

No lead management system. Put the same efficiency you have for tracking payments into tracking leads. Collect the information, then (if it's a specific project, not a spur-of-the-moment call) put details in a spreadsheet. (Download a sample pencil lead sheet and Excel lead tracking spreadsheet at biz-comm.com/leads.)

Lack of follow-up. When a lead hits, follow up within 24 hours. With a pencil lead sheet, you can learn within five minutes whether the client is a fit or whether you need to tell the prospect you're booked solid. Courtesy goes a long way to furthering your reputation.

Wrong person on follow-up call. Can your receptionist answer questions about your company, process, budgets, and time lines? Prospects are calling you, or someone you've trained as your agent. Train them well. Make sure they know what makes your company special, can articulate your process, and are versed in the art of salesmanship. --Stephen Wilson is a partner in Biz-comm Inc., a marketing/communications firm specializing in the needs of remodelers, [email protected].