What does the cleaning and restoration industry look like in 2019? That seems like a billion (maybe trillion) dollar question. If any of us knew the answer, we might very well not be reading (or writing) this piece.
The last two years have been both adventurous and often confusing for contractors in this field. Many have found themselves playing a lot more defense, and dangerously not enough offense. This has led many to being ill-prepared for the next few steps.
The emergence of more and more contractors, the expansion of franchises, the continued data mining by the large carriers creating new tactics, and the explosion of social media groups creating dialogue have sometimes led to more questions than answers.
The very fact that there are at least a dozen groups on Facebook (and other platforms) trying to solve problems, shed light on experiences, and arm peers with best practices to overcome growing challenges, tells us there is a need for unity in our industry. Here is what we see and hear day in and day out in these groups:
- We all blame carriers for aggressive claims practices.
- We accuse TPA’s for being a wedge between contractors and clients.
- We point out competitors that do subpar work.
- We claw at corners to cut, attempting to save money.
- We spend HUGE sums on internet leads in this complicated consumer-driven environment.
Who are we not blaming? OURSELVES! Being accountable is the absolute best start to any plan. We have spent too many years thinking the simple need for emergency service would be enough to feed us indefinitely. Turns out we were wrong. We missed that one.
Many proudly state that joining carrier vendor programs or various TPA’s is the fastest way to gain revenue. Maybe this was once very true.
Then the other side of the proverbial aisle screams that TPA’s are a race to the bottom and do not support industry standard best practices. There are endless examples of that as well.
Is either right or wrong? It’s just not that simple, is it?
These alternative viewpoints often trigger very emotionally-driven debates. These debates could also be accused of further dividing our industry when we should be trying to collaborate.
In terms of these Facebook groups, it is almost laughable how similar the messaging is, how much they share the same members, the same connections, and often the same exact posts and threads.
Why is this? Why can’t all these valuable voices join together and do good by taking action and ceasing the constant complaining? Possibly because of man’s worst enemy: ego. Many are very attached to their viewpoint and often leave very little capacity for opening of the mind. Some simply just want to be seen or heard instead of actually creating a solution.
The industry is full of incredible resources and members.
- Business coaches to help you win in your business and scale successfully.
- Management groups that have engineered very successful programs to arm contractors to be leaders.
- Trade organizations that continue to improve standards and provide incredible educational opportunities.
So where are we going to be by the end of 2019? Here is my dream, which I believe is shared among many in the industry, and steps we can start taking now:
- Feverishly pursue education. Not just technical education (how many fans, sketch better, etc.), but deeper aspects that can fundamentally change our company, and our industry like:
- Modern Marketing
- Culture and HR
- Better Leadership
- Accounting – KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
- Better Negotiating
- Get involved in your industry. Trade organizations, focus groups, business mentoring, committees. Become involved and surround yourself with people doing the same.
- • Open your minds to the fact that the way we have always done things to get us here will not likely take us into the future. Allow your company to change to possibly not look like your neighbors.
- Hire to thrive, not to survive. Take a very hard and serious audit of your current team. This can be a challenge as we are all “so busy.” But ask yourself and management these questions:
- Are these people we really trust to represent our brand?
- Would I work with this team if I were a peer? If I were NOT an owner...what would they be like as coworkers (toxic)
- Is everyone maximizing their productivity potential? Are some doing less, but sliding by?
- Is everyone in the right position? Do you have a PM or estimator that might be better suited in sales?
These are simply some pointers of things I see very successful companies doing or have done. Why not try proven strategies? This is a future I can get behind with everything I have. That’s an investable venture that I feel the organic gains could quickly begin to erase the perceived negative losses we are discussing. This will happen slowly with us divided and apart, but faster and more efficiently together.
Unity can be our industry chant for 2019. It says a lot. Everyone has something to contribute regardless of how much.
See you at the top.