Insurance restoration is a challenging field, and those challenges are the focus of the annual Executive Leadership Conference sponsored by the National Institute of Restoration. When NIR hosted its conference in San Antonio, Texas in May, it was no surprise that a main topic was leadership and employment.

Matching the right people to the right jobs was a major theme during NIR’s 2007 conference. Author and entrepreneur Bill Wagner led the line-up of speakers who explored different aspects of insurance restoration. His topic was one that concerns all small businesses: How best to match people and jobs. The bottom line? If you hire the right people in the right position with the right attitudes, your company will reach its goals.

Wagner, author of “The Entrepreneur Next Door,” told attendees that 61 percent of new hires matched with jobs suited to their personality become top performers within 14 months. On the other hand, only 7 percent of those whose personalities are not a good fit become top performers at work.

How to match good people with the right jobs was one of several NIR Golden Nuggets, the term applied to takeaways that have become a tradition at the annual conferences. Other Golden Nuggets ranged from practical to philosophical, including such advice as “If you can’t measure it, you cannot manage it” and “Most estimates leave 18 percent on the table.”

Measurement is of particular interest to Mike Nadon of Elite ideaWorks, who spoke about how to analyze efforts, costs and results. Nadon addressed ways by which to increase profits through a tracking system that monitors the four cornerstones of business: sales, operations, management and accounting. In addition to smart hiring, Nadon said finely tuned operating and accounting systems are a must for restoration contractors looking to produce and sell more at the lowest possible cost.

NIR has hosted the Executive Leadership Conference for 18 years. Built on the philosophy that restoration contractors can learn from the experts as well as from each other, the conferences offer a mix of speakers, training and roundtable discussions. The arrangement forces everybody to participate at some level, and is perhaps one reason for NIR’s enduring leadership in the field. Members make a commitment to use the ideas gleaned from discussions with fellow attendees, and leave prepared to transform their companies from good to great.

Plans are already underway for the 2008 Executive Leadership Conference. Based on feedback from the evaluation forms, the next conference will once again have sessions on budgeting, marketing, accounting and business leadership. There were requests to extend the round table discussions, and to take a long view of where insurance restoration is headed. While next year’s theme is yet to be determined, one thing is certain: there will be plenty of Golden Nuggets to take away.

For more information on the National Institute of Restoration or the annual leadership conference, visit