Restoration contractors depend on word-of-mouth referrals and testimonials to help get the call when a property owner has a disaster. Often we work so hard on current jobs that, when the work slows down, we just sit by the phone, hoping for that next call. This is also when too many of us start to turn our marketing up a notch.
Marketing-by-emergency is a strategy that rarely produces the desired results. We tend to focus on what has worked before, pouring dollars into radio/TV ads, signage and emails, and even making those dreaded cold calls. While they are all part of a comprehensive marketing program, they no longer have the same impact in jumpstarting your business. The noise level for your prospects is just too great.
Despite intense competition for your prospect’s attention, one thing has not changed: people appreciate expertise. They need to recognize the reputation you have worked so hard to build so that your company will be top-of-mind when they reach for the phone.
To be heard, you must be respected as an authority and you must be creative in getting attention. If you’ve focused narrowly on your insurance restoration niche, I challenge you to think more broadly. You want to be known as the go-to person for issues with property. Even though you may not handle the problem, you can find someone who will. What you’re after is a long-term relationship that may someday include a call for a disaster restoration job.
To promote your expertise, you must be creative. Find ways to give people something of value to start building a relationship. Go beyond your world of insurance agents, adjusters and vendors, and reach out directly to homeowners, property managers, realtors, finance companies, major builders and others in the housing industry.
I’ve listed a few ideas; you will undoubtedly have more.
- Develop expertise in a related niche. Perhaps you promote environmentally friendly or energy efficient restoration. Or you may be knowledgeable about retrofitting a home to be senior-friendly so that people can remain in familiar surroundings. These issues will interest most property owners at one time or another.
- Offer seminars or information on your website on topics that people want to know about. Picture the property owner or manager who must contend with repairs and remodeling and address his or her concerns.
- Develop an informative presentation tells people how to solve a property problem. After you have prepared your presentation, make an outline. Then make an appointment with those who plan meetings, offering to speak or to provide a speaker to their group. Once you have something concrete to show and invest time in the presentation and practice, you’ll be able to use it over and over again. If you’re good, word will spread and more doors will open to you to homeowner associations as well as civic and professional groups.
- Be creative in your associations. Except for huge jobs, most insurance restoration work is essentially local. It’s the nature of the business. However, your neighbors in retail face deadly competition from the Internet and big box stores. In many smaller and mid-sized communities, a “shop local” movement is gaining strength. If you affiliate your company with local businesses, you’ll develop partnerships that will be mutually beneficial.
- Sponsor a community event. Helping with a community clean-up day, or a community health screening are feel-good activities that will make your business look good.