In my role as a chief customer officer, I meet with a lot of contractors looking for ways to improve their business and I’m struck by how often certain phrases come up. Back to normal, getting back to good, restoring peace of mind, the caring choice, back to perfect again, restoring lives, rebuilding what was lost… this is the language of restoration contractors. I hear it at tradeshows, in presentations, and during one-on-one conversations.

There are many compelling slogans in our industry that speak to the needs of every home and business experiencing a loss. But are these just feel-good things to say hoping to earn business? Or do they reflect the very core and soul of that company?

I’d say the majority of people in this industry are here for more than a paycheck. Because if we’re doing it solely for the money, the pay will never be good enough. There are easier ways to make a living—jobs with predicable hours, less physical labor, and more comfortable working conditions. Given that, it’s worth asking: What drew you to this career? What keeps you coming back day after day? What’s your why?

Most restoration contractors are fixers at heart; people who find purpose and personal satisfaction in putting to rights something that has gone wrong. Helping those in need. Fixing what was broken. This attitude is stated explicitly in many of the company slogans mentioned above and reflected in the attitudes of the restoration contractors I know. I have yet to meet a contractor who didn’t take at least some small measure of pride in putting someone’s home—in many ways, someone’s life—back together again. You know how the old saying goes: Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life. 

There’s a story often told about a fire restoration job back in the 1600s that nicely illustrates this principle: Three bricklayers working to rebuild St. Paul’s Cathedral in London were each asked what they were doing. The first one said, “I am laying bricks to feed my family.” The second replied, “I am putting up a wall.” The third one said, “I am building a majestic cathedral.”

Purpose gives you passion. The bigger the purpose, the greater the passion.

We may not all be rebuilding grand cathedrals, but it’s important to stay mindful of why we’re in this business, because even the most committed restorer can get burned out in the day-to-day slog. Maybe it’s being on the scene of one too many personal disasters; maybe it’s the stress of being part of a company that scaled up the volume of their operations without scaling up their infrastructure or processes along the way. It can be all too easy to lose focus without intentional effort to think about why we do what we do. 

Yes, it sucks to be knee-deep in water at 2 a.m. No, it’s not fun to come home covered in soot, grime, and who-knows what else. No matter how much someone loves what they do, no one loves every part of it. But focusing on your why gives you higher purpose and puts the negatives into proper perspective. 

Keep in mind that while you may see several disaster scenes on any given day, each one is likely the only disaster this home or business has ever experienced. What pain is the homeowner feeling? What does the business owner need from you right now? Reassurance? Comfort? A vision of how things will play out over the coming hours, days, or weeks? Today’s restoration contactor plays perhaps the most significant role in determining a positive and satisfactory outcome for all involved in servicing a property loss. When someone asks what you do, smile and say you help put lives back together. And say it with pride.

Now I realize that passion, personal fulfillment, and professional satisfaction are not enough. Passion alone won’t pay the bills. But centering your why on an exceptional customer experience can ultimately improve the bottom line. Consider that you’re routinely being rated, ranked, or rejected based on what may seem insignificant at the time. If you have ever been to one of our in-depth sales training events, you may have heard something along the lines of “every stakeholder is a potential referral source and every job is a sales call.”

Focusing on the home or business owner puts everyone else in the response chain on the same team. Staff adjusters, IAs, TPAs, suppliers, carrier executives, service providers, technicians - we’re all working to the same end. Rejecting an Us vs. Them mindset and actively embracing a Team Policyholder way of thinking can be hard, but it’s probably closer to the reason we got into this business in the first place. And ultimately, it’s a profitable mindset. 

Consider how quickly centralized and performance-based claim distribution is becoming the norm. Making the property owner your why can go a long way toward aligning your company with key metrics that boost your ability to win a larger share of this market.

It’s said that what you focus on tends to expand, so understanding your why and placing your focus on serving that why can transform a dwindling flame of duty into a powerful bonfire of passion. Making every home and business you serve central to your why, and keeping that at the forefront of what you do, is a recipe for both financial success and personal fulfillment.