I recently reconnected with a business acquaintance I hadn’t spoken with in quite some time. I met him several years ago at an insurance conference and was very impressed with his company. He was the owner of a local property restoration company without a franchise tag that, at the time, was successful in our local market. I had heard rumors of his struggles recently and when I heard he shut down his operation, I was surprised but not shocked. His company had been in business for over 20 years and had built an excellent reputation early on, but had seen a reduction in business over the years as the quality of their work began to suffer. It seemed as I marketed our services to insurance companies, I continually heard bad reviews about the work the other company was performing and eventually, from a lack of work, they packed it in.
He reached out to me to inquire if I would be interested in purchasing some of his equipment and we had an interesting conversation. To him, it was just one big popularity contest. Was your sales rep prettier than your competitor’s? Did you bring them cool gadgets, food or pay kick-backs to get the work? But there was one belief that hit me square in the face: nobody cares about your restoration business. Insurance companies do not care about your commitment and passion for this industry or that you’ve invested every last dime to build your dream. It does not matter to them one bit.
I feel like this is an important topic to unpack and, in a lot of ways, is a bit of a brutal truth. Nobody cares about our commitment to the industry, the franchise logo we pay so dearly for, IICRC certifications, your time, your expertise, or your fancy equipment and vehicle investments. Plain and simple… nobody cares.
It’s a hard conclusion to swallow mostly due to the fact I built this business on my passion for this industry, my desire to make a difference in people’s lives, and to pour myself headlong and with reckless abandon into helping our insurance professionals deliver a world-class customer support system all on their behalf. It has been my single-minded focus and determination to be the very best restoration professional in my market and to provide world-class customer service and support to our insurance partners.
A Different Perspective
I put a lot of thought into this premise that nobody cares and after careful consideration, I have come to a slightly different conclusion. At face value it seems to have a bit of merit that we are all alone in this business with nobody caring about our commitment to restoration. Partnerships with insurance companies, franchise corporations, or TPA’s have drained the passion we once had for helping property owners in need, and replaced our caring nature with bitter defeat. If that is how a restoration company is perceived within the industry; how much of that impression are we responsible for?
The cold reality is this: the world does not need more restoration companies or remediation professionals.
I don’t think this is a hard fact or universal truth. However, I think it is more of the bitter default of not succeeding. The fact is: the world needs work that matters! I’ll even take it a step further. Our survival as a culture is dependent on work that means something, is impactful to those in need, and has meaning in the lives of the people we assist. We can define work that matters as a process of quality works or deeds that have deep meaning to those we serve.
Our entire human experience has been defined by works of art and design. From paintings on a cave wall to the Sistine Chapel. From pristine musical works by Beethoven or James Brown to writings by Shakespeare or Mark Twain. These are things that have mattered in significance to the world and our culture. But quality is not solely limited to the realm of the arts; it is found all around us. Innovations that have mattered to the human experience from the printing press to electricity. From vaccines to smart phones, all ideas that have impacted society and culture with one word: quality. As a people and as a culture, we absolutely need ideas that matter now more than ever.
Work That Matters vs. Quick Cash
We live in very complicated times and I want to consider the role that works that matter have in impacting the quality of each and every one of our lives. From a property restoration point of view, I’m specifically referencing works that hold meaning and help our customers overcome the setbacks caused by the damage to their property and disrupted their lives.
Now, the key is to doing good work well. If you’re a contractor simply trying to pad the bottom line and working without the IICRC framework of knowledge, you’re walking a dangerous line. A nice truck with a fancy logo and equipment does not, by itself, make services “quality.” Doing the basics to get the job done or adding unnecessary steps that pay more money on your scope go deep into the heart of the problem. To put it bluntly, you’re not even close to making a difference.
The truth is, if you’re one of these fly-by-night operators, in the business to see if you can capitalize on easy insurance company money, there are plenty of groups out there fighting for the same quick cash. The work you provide will not be quality and your days in this industry will be numbered.
At the end of the day, work that matters should provide a foundation to define our organization. A foundation of quality work that places a pin-point focus on what matters when providing services to our clients. It’s not a popularity contest; it’s creating a consistent quality of work that means something to our customers. As Harry S. Truman once said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
What is Your Impact?
How do we shed this idea of just getting the job done and getting paid? It’s simple. Stop doing the bare minimum, and think about the impact you’re having. Simply put, we need to stop doing the bare minimum to complete our jobs.
There are very few events in our lives that mark our timelines. A first kiss, getting married, having children, a home fire. Jobs we have been dispatched to are not “just another job” for the customers we serve; they are events that permanently mark their lives. In years to come they will, with total recall, remember every detail of those days. If we simply walk through the emotions with our clients and live in the moment with them, we are providing an experience for them and not just another job. We are in fact, laying the foundation for quality work. Push yourself and your team to go further.
By looking at our “jobs” as a customer experience instead of just another job, we are easily able to walk through the emotions of the property damage with our clients and try to anticipate their needs, never getting frustrated when what they want today is different than what made them happy the day before. We are indeed here to serve our clients with extreme customer service. Remember, we are fulfilling a promise the insurance company made to their customer when they purchased that policy: to take care of them in their time of need. You are representing that promise on the insurance company’s behalf. You can make great strides in building trusted partnerships by taking this responsibility seriously.
Time for a Paradigm Shift
It’s time for a paradigm shift in how we do business. Projects that push us and our teams, educational commitments to make us better restorers, and embracing extreme customer service ideals that ensure the building of a larger body of work, that in years to come will scream QUALITY!
Restoration has changed dramatically over the past 20 years and its ever increasing change is ramping up to light speed! Staying up to speed with current trends and changes in the industry is one way we build these larger bodies of work that span quality over a large amount of time. It is important to be relevant during our time providing consistent, state of the art restoration. When we look back at our time investment within this industry, we want to see a long, prosperous run that is full of quality work that matters. This type of quality is derived by embracing a continued education commitment.
Let’s be very clear here. The restoration sciences are going to look very different in the next five years, 10 years and probably be very unrecognizable from today’s standards in 20 years.
Steve Jobs started making computers in his garage in the 70’s before anyone had a home computer or had even entertained the idea they might one day want one. At the time, computers were super expensive and most people saw no need to have one. Jobs said:
“Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!’” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”
It’s this commitment to our industry that will begin to deliver long term, quality results. What is it that we can provide that is different than our competitors, or that our competition is unable to provide or unwilling to commit to? What is it that we can provide to our insurance partners that they didn’t even know was important to them until we started providing that service? That is the challenge and it is not easy. It takes deep thought about our operations and a desire to be better. Striving for this type of work is what sets us apart and builds rapport with our insurance industry partners.
The world indeed does not need another teacher, another cop, another doctor, or another restoration company. What the world needs are BETTER teachers, BETTER cops, BETTER doctors and BETTER restoration professionals. We need to provide work that makes a difference. Work that means something. Work that is a difference maker in the lives of those we serve.