Home Improvement Help for Busy Women

Debra Cohen reinvented as the go-to person for homeowners looking for trustworthy contractors.

by Womens Toolbox • More.com Member { View Profile }

Debra Cohen lost her passion for aviation. Her career as the VP of a Spanish-language aviation magazine took her all over the world. Cohen was next in line to take over the publication but her heart just wasn’t in it. An armchair decorator and a home improvement buff, Cohen found her passion right in her own home and set out to change her life.

The Blueprints

After the purchase of their first home, Cohen and her husband soon discovered how difficult it was to find reliable home improvement contractors. Working a 50-hour week left little time to scour the Yellow Pages for names of trustworthy painters, plumbers and carpenters. It occurred to Cohen that if she was having difficulty, other new homeowners must face the same challenge and that’s when inspiration struck.

Cohen conceptualized a homeowner referral business that would not only be a referral source for busy homeowners but would also help busy contractors by serving as an outsourced sales and marketing force for their business. A networker by nature, when Cohen found a dependable and qualified contractor, she felt compelled to share his name with neighbors and friends. And, contractors–busy with the day-to-day aspects of running their businesses–were thrilled to receive new job leads.


After extensive conversations with lawyers, insurance agents, contractors and business consultants, Cohen launched Home Remedies® of NY, Inc. a Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) for homeowners throughout Nassau County, NY. Her first promotion was a direct mail card and magnet to a targeted list of homes in her area and within three days the phone began to ring with requests for pest control specialists, painters and floor refinishers.

It wasn’t long before Cohen began to receive inquiries from homeowners and contractors outside of her operating area interested in working with her company. After an article appeared in a local paper, she also received calls from other entrepreneurs interested in launching a business like hers. She soon realized that the concept appealed to others and Cohen’s business took another unique turn.

The Finishing Touch

Rather than trying to take on more business than she could handle, Cohen decided to document all of the “how-to’s” of her business in a comprehensive manual so that others could duplicate her business. In 1999, Cohen wrote The Complete Guide To Owning And Operating A Successful Homeowner Referral Network© and sells it to other entrepreneurs interested in launching a business like Home Remedies® in their community.
The Biggest Challenge

With no construction experience and being a newcomer to the community, the actual launch of her business was the hardest part.

The Best Part

Cohen loves the sense of satisfaction she feels when she’s able to match a homeowner with the right contractor for their project and at the same time, is able to help hard working, responsible contractors build their client base and businesses. On a personal level, she’s able to enjoy the rewards of a successful home based business while staying at home to raise her two children.

A Success Secret

“Do some soul searching and discover where your talents lie. Then, capitalize on that by creating a business that will put your abilities to work and allow you to do something you enjoy every day.”

Debra M. Cohen is President of Home Remedies of NY, Inc., a Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) and author of The Complete Guide To Owning And Operating A Successful Homeowner Referral Network. Cohen has assisted in the launch of more than 400 HRN businesses nationwide. 


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