By REMODELING Magazine Staff. Lewis Barber

Lewis Barber Construction, Princeton, N.J.

Big50 2001

I don't go on a sales call unless I know what the scope of work is and what the clients think it's going to cost. I also want to know their time frame, because we're very booked. This is all prequalified in the initial phone call. I want to know who recommended us and whether the homeowners already have plans and an architect. Other than that, I just go to the meeting with an open mind and find out what the project is and if it fits with our company.

Don Boozer

Don Boozer Construction, Pflugerville, Texas

Big50 1996

We fill out a lead sheet with as much detail as we can. Once we have all the information we can get, I take the presentation book, which details those items and features jobs that are similar to what the client wants. The presentation takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. If they don't have plans already prepared, we explain our design agreement. If you're going to have a successful second visit, you'll get a design retainer on the first.

George Christiansen

Pequot Remodeling, Fairfield, Conn.

Big50 1999

Normally I prepare the client before I get there. I ask for an e-mail address on the initial lead call. I let them know what we're going to be talking about and what the goals of the meeting are. I ask them about details pertinent to their project. Then we can create some numbers. I also bring photos of past projects and a copy of a contract for a similar project.

Paul Endrenkamp

Byggmeister Associates, Newton, Mass.

Big50 1993

I take a piece of notebook paper with the client's name and address. That, and a pen. We've already done a brief phone interview, so I know the scope of work and the lead source. I make sure the meeting is scheduled for at least two hours. I don't take my cell phone or pager. I don't take a portfolio or any materials. I'm interviewing them, not vice versa. If we get through the first meeting, there's plenty of time to see pictures, although I'd prefer that they visit jobs. The first meeting is about figuring out what their needs are and whether or not I can meet them and make the homeowners happy.

Greg Graham

Graham Contracting, Wayland, Mass.

Big50 1999

After the information is taken and a sales lead sheet filled out, I call the homeowners back and reconfirm. I try to get a feel about them. Then I set an appointment and find their location on Mapquest. We direct market to a very specific group. When they call, we know what type of house they have and what they paid for it. When we go out, I take a brochure and a business card, usually a digital camera, and sometimes a tape measure. I sometimes bring a project coordinator along. I arrive in an old sports car -- a Porsche, an XKE, or a Hudson pickup truck. They're good conversation starters.

Michael Muscardini

Creative Spaces, Oakland, Calif.

Big50 1991

When we get a call, I usually direct them to our Web site and ask that they give me a call back. Once they do that, I have my 20 questions. When I meet with them, I bring what we call our "white book," with all our paperwork. It starts out with a letter of intent. We go over what an estimate, a bill, and a schedule will look like. There's a lot of information we don't want to have on the Web site because we consider it proprietary. Also we don't want to give these things to clients to keep. I don't think we get a job because of what's in the book, but it makes a contribution.