Mary Endres

John Discher, owner of John Discher Remodeling Service, in Homewood, Ill., has done something extraordinary: he got rid of his cell phone. “My outgoing voice-mail message says that I only check messages during lunch and at the end of the day,” he says.

According to Discher, clients love it because it means he isn’t on the phone all day. “Folks are tired of workers in their home talking on the phone about things not related to the job,” he says, adding that even when he did have a cell phone, it wasn’t in his toolbelt but stayed in his truck.

Discher’s company specializes in architectural sheet metal work and has enjoyed the convenience of having all its clients located within a two-to-three-mile radius of Discher’s home office. Most leads are through personal referrals.

As of June 2011, there were 324.3 million wireless connections in the U.S. - CTIA, the Wireless Association

The remodeler ditched his cell phone about a decade ago during some emergency budgetary cuts. Since then he’s become used to not having a phone with him at all times but admits that it can cause complications with vendors and subs. So he has figured out some workable solutions. When materials are delivered, Discher makes sure the order is correct while the driver is present. If there’s a problem, it’s up to the driver to straighten it out with the home office. “Let him spend 15 minutes on hold,” Discher says with a chuckle.

As for subs, Discher admits that some get frustrated by the lack of cell phone contact, but he blames that on the subs’ own lack of foresight and planning. “The problem with cell phones is that they let people call at the last minute to make excuses and put out fires,” he says, adding, “Now I work with a better team of subs that understands the value of planning.”

—Mark A. Newman, senior editor, REMODELING.