Being located in a Iowa's biggest metro area means that remodeler Rebel Snodgrass has easy access to a fair share of building material suppliers. But Snodgrass prefers to limit his trade to six companies. Why? Because, as he puts it, they're the ones that deliver "quality service that allows me to do quality work."

An exclusive ProSales survey of remodelers nationwide indicates Snodgrass has plenty of company. The survey found that for most remodelers, top-line service, including timely deliveries and attentive outside sales representatives, is far more important than the actual pricing of materials–even more important than when ProSales did much the same survey in 2004. Eighty-three percent of respondents gave "timely delivery" a score of 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale when rating the criteria they use in selecting a supplier. (See table, page 58.) In contrast, just 68% gave that same factor a 9 or 10 score in 2004. Ranking second was "knowledgeable sales reps" at 69%, up from 55% in 2004. In contrast, only 38% of respondents said "price" merited a 9 or 10 in importance this time; 34% said the same three years ago.

"Price goes by. The price is passed onto the customer," Snodgrass says. "As long as it's comparable, you are not going to walk away from the materials. ? It's who's going to help you grow your business that's important."