As the spring selling season begins, the message we hear from builders is clear: The best builders are long past wringing their hands about the slowdown and are moving forward, adjusting their organizations for the year ahead.

Spring is always an important time for home builders, as nearly 40 percent of new-home sales take place between March and June. This year's spring season is more important than ever, as Wall Street, economists, and the industry at-large try to gauge whether the home building industry can bounce back.

Our team of reporters visited home builders in Arizona, California, Georgia, and Kentucky, and while the builders we interviewed understand that the fast-paced boom era is past, this new, more modest period presents some unexpected opportunities.

Each of our stories in this year's Field Report describes a best practice that offers positive benefits. Ryland is selling more upgrades in its design center to the tune of 10 percent more per home buyer. Drees Homes deployed a back-office system the builder anticipates will save $800,000 annually. Legacy Communities in Atlanta partnered with lumber dealer Plymart and Boise Cascade to reduce its floor joist costs by 10 percent. And Clarum Homes in Palo Alto, Calif., handles site waste more efficiently and saves up to $1,000 per house.

There's a saying in the music business that success takes 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration. We know you're working hard. It could be that what you need to keep your company profitable in 2007 is a little inspiration to try something new. Instead of dwelling on the down market, builders should refocus their efforts on what's possible in this new climate. The techniques we outline in these stories are just some ways companies can succeed in difficult times.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ, Atlanta, GA.