When Tim Ferriss, best-selling author of The 4-hour Work Week, told an intern to find three possible movie theaters to rent out for the James Bond premiere of Quantum of Solace as a “thank you” to his readers, he explained exactly what he needed.
Unfortunately, the intern’s cell phone had poor reception. Needless to say, there were (ahem) mistakes made. Mr. Ferriss wrote an article and used a terse four letter phrase to describe the debacle.
Communication is the key to making your company a success and in getting more jobs, better jobs and making more money.
I’m not just talking about communication with your front line workers, but with the adjusters, agents, owners and end users as well. And there are many forms that this sort of interaction can take on a given job.
For example, if you walk through a contents job with a homeowner and come across a pool table in the game room that has a noticeable tear in the fabric that covers its top, then take a picture. Doing so, you are sending a clear message to the owner that the tear was created before your crew even started the job and that you have photographic evidence.
And if you were using a video camera at the time, you might even catch the owner’s reply as well.
The “walkthrough” is also a good time to give the owner a chance to tell you about things that are important to them, and to give you instructions as to how they would like for you to proceed with specific items.
Several good things come out of that “walking conversation.” Among them is the fact that you are giving the client a sense of empowerment and a feeling of control. But equally as important is that you hear and remember what is being said, so that later you can make it a point to show him that you heard his special instructions and are following them.
For example, let’s say an owner mentioned his $30,000 fine wine collection as being one of the most valuable items in the house and he showed particular concern for how it would be handled.
When you and your crew move it, you say something along the lines of:
“Okay Mr. Kelsey, we are moving your collection of fine wines now. You have probably noticed that we placed a layer of bubble wrap in the bottom of the box and we have wrapped each bottle individually to protect the labels. I’ve heard that a damaged label on a bottle can actually reduce the resale value by as much as 50%, so we are making sure they are intact.
“We have three trucks moving your contents to our warehouse, and we have selected three boxes of your wines that will be placed, one in each truck, on the seat next to the driver and will be held in place by the seatbelts.
“We waited until now to move the wines because we don’t want them to be in the sun or in a hot truck cab any longer than necessary. In fact, we have had the trucks running before moving the final boxes, to give the air conditioners time to cool down the interiors.
- “My project manager is taking his private car to transport the remaining three boxes that contain the most valuable bottles. Two will be seat-belted in the back seat and the third will ride up front with him.
We have a temperature controlled vault waiting in the warehouse and it is maintained at 52º F. We prefer to keep the wines in there, rather than a refrigerator, because refrigerators constantly recycle and change temperatures – our vault is a constant 52º and does not vary by more than one degree at any time.”
Now that may sound like a lot of words to get your meaning across, especially when a client probably knows all about the labels on the bottles, the damage that sunlight can cause, the fact that a refrigerator can actually render the wine unsellable in a surprisingly short amount of time – but it is actually selling your expertise to him and to everyone else he knows who collects fine wines.
It will get you a five-star testimonial and will alert the adjuster to your “super powers.”
And speaking of super powers – what is yours? What is your company’s unique selling position? Why would an adjuster or agent want to hire you instead of someone else?
Do you have an ultrasonics machine? Do you own one of those new “aqueous ozone” devices? Do you have a plumber on staff? Or how about a master carpenter?
It doesn’t do you any good to be able to outshine your competition if the agents and adjusters don’t know it.
For example, if you have a new technique that allows you to say that you can deodorize and sanitize a room with the family or office workers still present, you have something that few companies can say.
And when your competitors tell the adjuster, “We have to clear everyone out, we are about to turn on the ozone generators,” and you say, “Folks, you can keep right on with what you are doing, we don’t need to use anything toxic to complete the job,” the adjusters are probably going to see the difference. But they might not, if you don’t point it out to them!
And if you send a newsletter or a note to all the adjusters and agents you know that says, “Hello Sam, just thought you should know that for art restoration jobs, we now have a contact in the company that restores art for the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum, they save thousands for insurance companies,” their “super power” becomes your super power – but only when you communicate it to the people who can give you more jobs.
And where do you get the words that help you to communicate how valuable your new techniques and contacts are? Just look at the brochures that made you purchase the machines or software in the first place. Or, visit the websites of the companies you have selected to be your new specialists – believe me, they will have the right words to sell the adjusters and agents.
After all, they sold you didn’t they?