Everyone knows that two heads are better than one. But how do you make sure both husband and wife will be at an appointment? No strategy is sure-fire, but there are effective ways to convince couples to commit to an appointment.

INFORM, EDUCATE, REPEAT First, point out that it's in their best interests to both be there. Ohio Consolidated Builders in Cleveland, for instance, notes in the pamphlet it distributes during canvassing that the home improvement industry has generated more Better Business Bureau complaints during the last 10 years than any other industry. Sounds counterintuitive, but it isn't, according to vice president Anthony Hoty. “A big reason for the complaints is miscommunication between the contractor and homeowners,” he explains. That's why, appointment setters reiterate, all homeowners must be present when the scope of work is defined.

Second, let them know you're serious. National Energy Conservation Corp. in Olney, Md., sends out a 150-page packet that includes references and photos — along with a letter, addressed to both members of the couple, specifying the time and date of the appointment. The company calls to confirm receipt.

Third, don't be afraid to repeat yourself. “Asking and putting it out there just once doesn't work,” says Tom Capizzi, president of Capizzi Home Improvement, in Cotuit, Mass. Capizzi says he brings up the need for both husband and wife to be there three times.

His employees use a script, and one talking point is that for 100% client satisfaction, the contractor needs to meet 100% of the clients.

UH-OH So what happens when the salesperson shows up and all buying parties aren't present? First off, don't act annoyed, Capizzi advises. “Professionals don't let that stuff get to them. They say, ‘No problem. Let's set up another time now.'” Go ahead and measure the project, find out wants and needs, and leave pamphlets, Hoty suggests. Feel out the situation, offers National Energy Conservation president Gary Schoengold. That may involve walking around and talking about the job.

Many companies refuse to send out a rep if both husband and wife can't be present. Power Windows & Siding, based in Brookhaven, Pa., tells prospects that having both parties present is the best way to get all questions answered. But, president Jeff Kaliner says, “if the prospect makes it clear that they're just gathering information for their spouse to review, we probably won't go.”

Still, with all that, companies such as Sound Glass Sales, of Tacoma, Wash., are inclined to take what vice president Gvido Bars calls “the soft approach” these days. “We make every attempt to make sure both prospects are there but don't want to force the issue because it turns people off,” he says. Extensive research prior to buying replacement windows often makes people “sensitive to excess pressure.” Of course, it helps that both husband and wife tend to be there more than 85% of the time for Sound Glass Sales appointments.