Yard signs are a favorite way for home improvement companies to let the neighbors know they're there. But if you drive past the yards of homes where Tulsa Renew, in Tulsa, Okla., is installing siding, what you would see on the yard sign is the company's name and a 2-D bar code. That's all, but that's more than enough.

Interested in what's going on there? If your smartphone is equipped with a bar-code scanning app, it will quickly steer you to Tulsa Renew's YouTube channel, where owner Steven Jones will explain what the job is about and how it will be accomplished.

Video Proposal

Jones, who has worked for other home improvement companies for a decade, has been a window and siding installer and a production manager, and, as a salesperson, one year closed $3.2 million in window and siding sales. He started his company in May this year. "I really loved sales, and I really loved production," says the 28-year-old business owner. So to tie them together, Jones began shooting video with his iPhone during the walk-around time in the course of his sales call.

If customers buy or are "still thinking about it," they get a price on a contract and then, that evening, a PDF of the proposal along with a link to the five- to 10-minute video that shows them the scope of work. The video, posted on YouTube, goes over specification details and fine points of design, with Jones describing what his crews will do and why. It includes background music. (See another example here.)

Typically, Jones says, it takes about five minutes for him to edit the video he's shot on his sales visit into a video proposal using video templates set up on his MacBook. Posting to YouTube is actually longer, about 20 minutes on average per video.

See What's Happening

Tulsa Renew doesn't stop there with videos, however. Jones says he e-mails crews a link to the scope of work video "so that they know what they're going to do before they get there." Jones also visits jobsites in the afternoon, films what's been accomplished that day and posts it so that homeowners can see "this is what got done and this is what we're doing tomorrow, and this is the updated timeline."

Those video updates — about a minute in length — aren't published on YouTube but rather sent as a QuickTime file from his phone after "doing a little bit of editing in iMovie."

Jones says that using videos in his proposals helps professionalize his company, since every other proposal homeowners get will be on paper. He aims to use video to allay homeowner anxiety about hiring a contracting company. "I want them to feel comfortable with the project," he says, "and I want to communicate throughout the project." The detailed scope of work, on film, arouses a higher level of interest and "gets people to call me back and ask clarifying questions, if they need to dig deeper into the project." But communicating with the crew is just as essential.

On a recent job, the crew accidentally ran over the homeowner's mailbox. Alerted, Jones arrived on site, filmed the knocked down mailbox and sent the homeowners a video update telling them — before they got home — that they'd be getting a free mailbox remodel from Tulsa Renew. "They laughed," he says