Last January employees of Dial One Windows, in Orange County, Calif., were directed to report to a regular company-wide meeting to discuss ongoing jobs. But instead of Friday, the meeting was scheduled for Saturday morning at 7 a.m.

Company staff arrived to find a bus waiting to drive them to the Ritz Carlton in Laguna, where a red carpet was rolled up to the door and where owner Charlie Gindele explained his Red Carpet program, a guaranteed-in-writing (via brochure) promise of service to customers. Gindele attributes much of Dial One's 26% sales increase last year to the Red Carpet treatment.

STEPPING UP SERVICE With top marks in both its own survey and a supplier's customer service survey, as well as Super Service awards from Angie's List, Dial One has always put service first. But the Red Carpet program stepped it up, promising consistent communication, “no pricing games,” and “clear, concise paperwork.” (For a video, see

Gindele says that being referable enabled him to survive a sharp sales drop brought on by the recession. In April this year, for instance, half his company's revenue came from repeat and referral.

For Miami roofing contractor Istueta Roofing, communication also wins consistent referrals. Owner Frank Istueta says that the company calls every prospect the day after the job is signed to thank them for their business. Project managers do several job walk-arounds with a checklist that allows homeowners to verify satisfaction. “We try to talk to clients every day,” Istueta says, and every client gets Istueta's cell phone number and personal email address.

INTANGIBLES MATTER Gindele says that contractors tend to focus on the “tangible” elements of a job — the products — while customers are more concerned with the intangible. Aside from checklists and procedures, that once-a-month all-company meeting keeps employees focused on service, and service gets Dial One referrals. The owner says he sometimes goes out on re-measure calls himself, using it as an opportunity to check in on the homeowner's buying experience.