Ever wonder how to connect with today's busy claim adjuster in such a competitive environment? It is not easy to do and it can sometimes feel like you’re trying to put a round peg in a square hole. Things were so different 20 years ago, weren’t they? Marketing has evolved in many ways throughout the years as well.
When I was adjusting, preferred and potential vendors were prevalent in our offices. They would stop in to say hello and bring food, gift cards, marketing packets, pens, koozies and other goodies! Long story short, marketing revolved around relationships. When a foundation is built on human interaction, the professional aspects of life seem to fall into place.
With all the technological and political changes we’ve experienced over the years in the industry, how can you get the same results you use to be able to with marketing? Maybe through Facebook? Twitter? Possibly a LinkedIn account could help? Sure, social media is an important tool but I want you to understand the meat of how to market to claim adjusters today and get real results. The bottom line is that you have to adjust the way you think and try to think differently.
Marketing to insurance carriers and their staff should occur in many different forms, including today's ever present social media. Some of it can still be done the old school way through lunches or drinks, but you’ll struggle finding an adjuster who has the time to meet you for these types of occasions. Besides, more and more insurance companies see this type of marketing as a moral conflict and they actually train their staff to refuse any gifts over a certain amount. Your marketing should be done at a level that is in line with the claim associate's work life and that fits into the moral compass of their company.
Claim adjusters are busier than ever! They have to handle more work, bigger territories, and more technically difficult jobs. They have to deal with tight schedules, difficult customers, demanding managers and constantly changing software tools. As a restoration specialist, it’s now become your job to help make their jobs easier. By getting more involved in the actual claim process, you are putting into place some great marketing tools.
BRING VALUE TO A MEETING
Most claim adjusters work out of their homes in what is known as an Alternative Work Environment. Stopping by an office to do a quick hit marketing meeting with a claims team is nearly impossible, and doesn't much value. Instead, you should work at establishing relationships with the management team of those field representatives and find your way into their meetings and agendas.
Most claim teams still hold monthly or quarterly meetings with their staff or have video teleconference meetings on a regular basis. Offer to participate by providing training and giving Continuing Education (CE) courses for credit or by offering to hold their meetings at your facility. Bring something of value to the meeting and provide a tool they can take with them and use in the field. You can either bring fish to feed a man for one day, or teach a man to fish so he’ll be fed the rest of his life. By using this method, you’ll market yourself in a memorable way while providing sustainable practices for the claim adjuster.
OFFER TO HELP
Another alternative marketing method to consider in strengthening a partnership with a carrier is to offer the claims associate a hand in the field at no charge. I’m not advising you to write their estimates for them, but to be a guiding hand. By offering assistance on a difficult job, you have the unique opportunity to provide your professional insight and feedback. Help them through the scoping process or with identifying materials. Claim adjusters typically have small bits of knowledge on many topics, but they are certainly not experts in all areas. If you can provide a professional hand in this way, they will remember you when a customer asks for a vendor referral, subsequently leaving a positive mark on the customer as well.
Other ways of offering a professional hand include providing ladder assists, offering to review estimates of other contractor bids to make sure they are appropriate and in line, video conferencing with a claim associate while they are on-site to help identify materials, or offering to provide a competitive bid if the claim adjuster is struggling with getting an agreed estimate. Sure, time is money, but time spent in this way will reap benefits for you down the road.
DO WHAT YOU PROMISED
Finally, do what you promised!
This is probably the number one marketing tool you can use to build a lasting work relationship with a claim adjuster and the carrier in today's claim world. They are looking for vendors they can not only trust, but who can ease the process of their day-to-day work. They need a company they know will make the right decisions, treat the customer and them fairly, and will work diligently to complete the task in a timely manner with good, solid workmanship.
If you have been trying to get in the door with a claim adjuster or an insurance company, it’s important to capitalize on the opportunity! Show up on time for all appointments. Make yourself readily available even if it will be difficult to do so. Write a professional, thorough estimate the first time that addresses all issues, questions and concerns. Keep the estimate in line with the loss and don’t include items that don’t belong in the estimate. Call the claims adjuster only when you have a question or concern that must be addressed by them. Try not to bother an associate with the small stuff that can be handled at a minimal cost to you.
Make the mistake of making the claim adjuster's life more difficult and you can kiss any future opportunities good-bye. Let them know what they can expect if they utilize your services, and then over-deliver on those expectations.
TIMES HAVE CHANGED
Times have changed and the way you market yourself is certainly different today than it was 20 years ago. There are endless communication channels in our market today that you must continue to use, but the number one tool that will bring results and more business – delivering on your promise! This is the one true tool that hasn’t changed over the years and never will.
If you’re not getting referrals from your local claim adjusters, you may want to take a second look at whether or not you’re delivering on your promises. Claim adjusters are quick to talk about experiences they encounter in the field. You’re fooling yourself if you think they are not sharing with their teams and co-workers the poor experiences they may be having with you.
The most successful vendors I know do a great job of offering to help when it’s needed. They never create more work for the claim adjuster and they never sweat the small stuff. Sure, vendors have their bad days and some jobs just don’t go as well as planned, but they respond quickly, they work to take care of the customer and they communicate during every step of the process. They understand building a good relationship comes with hard work, but in the end, is worth the time and effort.
I used to tell my vendors that the relationship between us and them was more like a marathon, not a sprint. Rather than micro-focus on one job, look at the overall long term relationship that you are establishing. Do the right things, work hard to earn their business, deliver on your promises and once you secure that relationship, never stop working at strengthening it!
I want to hear from you. Tell me how we can improve.
Steve Dodson is the Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Insurance Contractors Educational Systems, a firm specializing in the development and improvement of Insurance Restoration Contractors. The goal of ICE Systems is to strengthen partnerships between insurance carriers and contractors that service the insurance industry. Steve has worked in the insurance industry for nearly 20 years and has held positions with increased leadership responsibility throughout his claims career. The last 15 years has been focused on property claims and preferred vendor programs.
Check out the February 2021 edition of Restoration and Remediation, featuring 7 tips on what you want to get from an M&A deal. Plus, we discuss containment, loss site safety during a pandemic, restoration flashing costs to consider and much more!