Business development in the field of restoration can be challenging for a variety of reasons. In general, it is not a widely known and understood profession. The training, expertise, equipment, standards of care, etc. is not common knowledge to most. It can make it tricky to message and communicate your capabilities clearly and concisely or differentiate yourself. Another challenge is that the actual potential customer, the property owner, may not have an immediate need.
Statistically, frequency of property losses has averaged about 5.7 (per every 100 policies) over the last five years on the residential side. Although some calls may come from an Internet search or advertising, many calls originate from a referral, whether it be from an insurance agency, carrier (see “Restoring Success: Adjusters are People, Too”), a program, a plumber, a neighbor or family member, referred to as the sphere of influence. These are to name just a few challenges to consider in making decisions about your business development activities and investments.
A business development plan that integrates a balanced and holistic approach and fits for your organization is important. One of my tips for keeping your phone ringing is the old saying, “Never put your eggs in one basket.” Consider looking at your sources of losses and evaluate your balance and vulnerability. Advertising, social media, websites, meetings and visits are all tools that can work well in your plan. But what about events?
An event, although it may not rank high in the “impressions per dollar category” for a restoration business, can provide an opportunity that is unsurpassed. Whether you are hosting an event or participating in one, it gives you the opportunity to build relationships and trust by letting people truly get to know you and your team members in a meaningful way. It allows you to demonstrate and illustrate your expertise and capabilities in an engaging and possibly fun display or manner. A side benefit is the camaraderie and satisfaction that comes from the team coming together to proudly show off their know-how, creativity and pride in their company.
There are various types of events from a display booth at a home show, to hosting continuing education courses, to an open house. I encourage you to get creative with an absolute focus on your audience. Do not try to turn everyone into a restoration technician - think of creative ways to engage by delivering your message in a way that will matter to your audience. For example, at a booth, consider bringing a small ultrasonic machine and cleaning jewelry. This will create noise, which draws attention, and will engage people while you clean their jewelry. Hosting continuing education courses is a great way to let people get to know you and your expertise. Again, present information in a way that is meaningful to their lives and careers for maximum impact.
An open house can truly engage your entire company and let the creativity flow. As an example, this year’s theme for our open house is “carnival.” As you make your way through the carnival, you collect tickets at each station and turn them into the ticket booth (the main party area) at the end for door prizes. The event has live ice carving, done by our carpenter, a tarot card reading in a containment chamber and our duct cleaning truck presented by our very own “carnival strong man” in full costume. Games, fun and surprises around every corner. At the end of the night, the consistent feedback is always, every year:
- “Wow! I did not realize what is involved with what you do!”
- “What a great group of people that work here!”
What makes you special and different? An event is a great way to showcase this. Get your team to collaborate, get creative and have some fun. Participating in events or hosting an event can be a great opportunity to let people get to know you, present your capabilities, expertise and make long-lasting impressions. Any one of them can be your next loss or referral.