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Many people say they wish to get into insurance restoration work as a way of avoiding a “down economy” that affects most business today.
Let’s face it, there is really big money in restoration work, and times are tough in this economy.
One of the awesome things about being in restoration is that your work is not dependent on the economy. Insurance losses happen every day regardless of the economic situation that may be occurring around us.
But for a newcomer getting into the industry, it can be challenging and a bit daunting to get the telephone to start ringing.
Many carpet cleaners wish to add a restoration division to their company. The single most popular question that cleaners ask me is, “How do I get insurance work?”
It’s not difficult to get into restoration — and be successful — as long as you have a good company reputation, the right equipment, thorough training and know the steps you need to take to get the telephone ringing and keep it ringing year after year.
Here are the first five steps you must consider if you want to be successful in the restoration industry. There are many more, such as typical marketing and advertising options such as Yellow Pages and online marketing, but this will get you started.
Step 1: Get an education
It is critical that you get certification and hands-on training before you start doing any restoration work.
You need training on how to use industry specific software, equipment, chemicals, how to comply with industry standards and how to help your new restoration clients through a tough situation.
As a restoration contractor, it is your responsibility to understand the various regulations and codes of ethics when dealing with insurance losses.
Step 2: Contacting insurance companies
You don’t just want to find just any insurance company to work with… you want the best.
Speak with other business owners and managers in your area who do insurance work, but aren’t in competition with you. These could be plumbers, electricians and flooring installers. Listen to their comments about the insurance companies who refer work to them. Choose the best ones — the ones that will take good care of their clients and contractors.
Do some online research and compile a list of local agents and adjusters for these companies, and add them to a monthly newsletter mailing list. For the first six months, go visit them and hand-deliver your newsletter. Engage them in conversation but don’t be pushy about working for them. Your goal is to ask them what they need or want and what you can do for them.
Remember, they have contractors stopping by all the time, leaving coffee cups and candy and boasting about how great they are. Don’t be like everyone else. You need to set yourself apart. You do this by solving their challenges and problems. Let them do the talking.
Step 3: Get on a referral list
Several of the larger insurance companies have special programs, often called “preferred vendor lists,” which will refer work to specific restoration contractors.
These are great programs and you should try to get on those “lists.” But remember that everyone wants on those lists and it can be a challenge to get on them. Be patient and keep trying.
One thing you can do, and it is much easier to accomplish, is get on local vendor lists. These are lists that local insurance companies have on file to use for referrals. Remember, the agent gets the telephone call from the insured. If the agent knows about your company, and can relate that to the insured or the adjuster, you will get jobs. Contact them and discuss the options available to you.
Step 4: Tap your current database
If you currently have a client database and are engaged in home-based services, such as carpet cleaning, you have a gold mine to farm restoration leads.
These are potential restoration customers who know you and trust you. Send out a monthly newsletter and make a big announcement and talk about the new services that you offer.
Step 5: Guarantee your work
Everyone guarantees their work, so if you offer the typical “100 percent satisfaction” type of guarantee, you are just like everyone else.
You have to remove any potential fear of doing business with you. Unfortunately, in this industry there are shady contractors who are only concerned with getting their hands on the insurance check. People hear the stories, and you need to make them feel comfortable with you.
The best thing you can do is to stand out. Everything you do should be guaranteed unconditionally no exceptions. No “Guaranteed for 30 days” or similar statements. Stand behind your work and make sure each client knows you will take care of them and stand by them — no matter what.
These are just a few of the steps you will need to take on your journey to restoration stardom. But if you start with these solid building tactics, you will soon be on the road to creating a lucrative business that you and your clients can rely on even when you can’t rely on the economy.
Annissa Coy is a speaker, author, trainer and business coach in the cleaning and restoration industry. She is the co-creator of Firehouse Education and Mobile Clean Systems (www.FireHouseEducation.com). She runs her contents restoration business using her award-winning referral-based automated marketing systems. Coy can be reached via e-mail at Annissa@FireHouseEducation.com.