Fundamentals of a Successful Restoration Business
Restoration contractors face unique hurdles compared to other types of construction businesses, from insurance, to customer relationship management, to payments & cash flow, to business compliance, and more.
Join us and Klark Brown, co-founder of the Alliance of Independent Restorers (AIR), host of Disaster Podcaster, and disaster recovery industry veteran, to hear the fundamentals every restoration company, new or old, needs a firm grasp on to succeed and grow.
Register for this webinar to learn:
- An overview of the unique challenges and considerations restoration contractors face
- Best practices for sustained business success and growth
- How to check how your business stacks up and identify areas to improve
Speaker 1 (00:00:04):
So, yeah, welcome everybody to today’s webinar on the fundamentals of a successful restoration business. We’ve got Clark brown here who is just awesome in the restoration industry, and we’re really excited to have him sharing his experiences and knowledge. Just wanna let him know that we are recording this webinar. So if you want to watch it again later, you’ll get a recording sent out tomorrow. And if you couldn’t tune in live you’ll, you’ll be watching this as a recording later. And if anyone has any questions throughout this webinar just feel free to throw ’em in that chat there. Clark will answer them potentially during the webinar, if you can, or otherwise we’ll have kind of a dedicated Q and a section at the end to get to all of those. So ask any questions all the time. Clark is happy to answer them. And from there, I’ll hand it off to Clark. If you wanna talk a little bit about yourself.
Speaker 2 (00:00:59):
Yeah. Thanks Justin. Yeah, we’ve been really, I think we’ve been working on putting this together for a few weeks of a couple of conversations we’ve had about, let’s just obviously we, we have a, a great product here, but so much of the world and, and product selling now is, is being an educator. And you guys ask me, what could we deliver for a resource to, you know, to, to the audience that might, you know, one thing to know about level set, but how can we help them be successful and show value? So we started talking about that and it, it, a couple of different conversations said, let’s just do a webinar on just some fundamentals that they, they may seem some of the things we’re talking about today might seem very very simple to some, but sometimes it’s the simple things that we just, we overcomplicate everything and we, we just come back to make things simple and, and, and the early days, and we’re just like, yep, it works great.
Speaker 2 (00:01:57):
So thank you for the introduction, Justin. My name is Clark brown. I am about a 21 year veteran of this incredibly fun and crazy disaster restoration remediation industry. There may be people on the, the webinar today that might be in another niche of the contracting world, which this will all apply to, to much of it. You may be in construction, general, new, an old re reconstruction, maybe some remodeling or any trade. So we all have our own experiences. I was a contractor on commercial and generally the larger loss Firewater mold or quake tsunamis BP oil spill. I worked on for many, many years and in 2015, I transitioned over into more of an educator role. And, and mainly just to stop traveling as much, I was, I was literally on the road 230 days a year, and, and that’s hard on the family.
Speaker 2 (00:02:59):
So I I took what I knew and I said, there’s just a lot of people that are starting out or haven’t had exposure to, to, you know, to some other things. And I just come from a mentoring mindset. I believe that our best successes come from what others know. So I’ve got a, a, a firm called restoration advisors that we work with small and medium size contractors on their business and help them through the complexities of the day to day, as well as building sustainable. Like I said today, fundamentals to where you know, an owner can actually be an owner and not be in the truck and in the crawl space or, you know, humping equipment, nothing wrong with that work, but to grow and scale a business and provide jobs for other people and serve the community. Sometimes you just have to really look at the other parts of the business so that you can stay in business.
Speaker 2 (00:03:59):
Do some consulting on large losses. Sometimes people will have a, a large industrial fire or hurricane floods. And I will show up for two to three to five days to help put a job on cruise control and show everyone the, the path. And, and then I start, like I said, get out of there. And I like to teach people to do it themselves and not do it for them. And then otherwise we we have a great blog. I would like anyone to go to our website and register for free to grab our blog. It’s a weekly, it’s usually a business lesson. It’s usually a story about something that you might relate to in a way that we overcame something. And we have a podcast every Wednesday, a very fun, unique podcast called disaster podcaster. And what makes it unique is it’s a live show.
Speaker 2 (00:04:46):
We stream live on our Facebook on our home website and YouTube, and we take live callers. So we may have a guest on, we may be talking about a specific topic, but we have the ability with a phone number for people able to call in like a radio talk show and ask questions in real time and be part of the conversation and give their particular aspects on maybe the topic we’re discussing. It’s been really, really fun. And I I encourage you if you do like podcasts, if you can join us live, if not, it always lives internally as a podcast and you can consume it as well as all of the others who are on season two right now, and having a lot of fun with it. So that’s a little bit about me. I’ve been working hand in hand with level set for three and a half years now as part of an association that I’m the co-founder of called the lot of independent restores.
Speaker 2 (00:05:44):
It is literally just a coalition, a collective of just great dedicated industry professionals, small firms, medium firms, large franchise non-franchise that want to see the industry improve through mentorship, through education, through collaboration, and just best practices and level set has been one of our affiliate partners for all of that time, because we like to align with partners that help our members just be better businesses, more sustainable growth, and again, have be cash positive. So level set’s been a great partner, I would say, well, over half of our almost 400 members are our customers with level set and it has absolutely changed their business. So that’s a little bit about me. I think I’d like to transition it over into that. Again, please, please, please. I don’t know who all is shy, but I love questions and Justin has my permission to interrupt me and maybe throw one in and I will stop periodically and ask if anyone needs any clarification on anything that we’re talking about. So Justin, anything anything right away that you can think of? Are we good?
Speaker 1 (00:07:02):
Yeah, I think you can go ahead. Yeah, I guess those are the, the names of your, your organizations. I can just briefly say here for anyone who doesn’t know level set yet we basically just help construction companies especially restoration with getting paid, whether that’s automating the documents that are required to get paid and, and make that process smooth or connecting legal help, or any number of things that can just help your business with cashflow. So thanks Clark for being here to, to share some, some of your, your knowledge with with everybody.
Speaker 2 (00:07:41):
Yeah. There’s nothing worse than missing a deadline in maybe in whatever state you are. There’s some very very detailed dates that you have to, you know, exercise your rights. And there’s no terrible, worse feeling than missing a deadline because you were busy on the next job, four jobs, and then you find out that you’re just at, at a very complex situation and you miss it. It’s just really a bad feeling. And it’s one, I think that I know I’ve made far too many times to admit. And, and it’s just something that once I stopped and it hurt bad enough, I didn’t do it anymore. And I, I again, worked with level set and I, I just encourage you to reach out at least to a demo and see if it fits into your, your workflow. And they’re just really, really helpful. And I just think there’s also before I move on, I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about Leanns. I think it scares a lot of people. And I will tell you that level set has really acquired a great cadence and custom service approach to make it as a, just again, a seamless part of your workflow. And, and it becomes customer-centric, which I think is a, a really big deal in our industry where we have so much empathy for the customer and what they’re going through.
Speaker 1 (00:08:54):
There’s gonna be more on that later, too.
Speaker 2 (00:08:56):
Yeah. More on it later. So today’s today’s information that I’m gonna be sharing with everyone and, and we’re gonna keep it relatively simple because I do, we, we want to respect everyone’s time, but I, as, as a coach, as, as an industry you know, I’m all over the place. So I, I know lots and lots, thousands of contractors and businesses. And I, I really generally get asked the same 20 questions all the time and I have for years and years and years. And, and while I love the light bulb moment that occurs when, you know, when I share whether it’s right or not to be my information and, and just give someone a different perspective. And last year I decided to make an online course called 60 days to build a strong restoration company. Now that does not mean in 60 days from today, if you purchase that course, you’re gonna have a strong restoration company.
Speaker 2 (00:09:54):
It’s the deliver of a, of 60 days consecutive being delivered with small bite size, conversational lessons, videos between four and some of ’em 15 minutes correlated and organized in a way that in, in kind of an order of what’s important, if you’re just starting out, maybe you’ve been in business four or five of years and said, you know what, I didn’t start with a plan. I’ve lost a lot of time. I spent a lot of money doing things the hard way. Maybe I need to tighten up my system a little bit, or if you’ve been in the business 12, 15 years, I’ve got some students that have said, listen, the world is different now than it was in 1993 when I started. And, and I don’t really understand the new world. So this has a very modern approach. It’s Netflix style categorized. And then of course you can watch it on any device and it’s eternal.
Speaker 2 (00:10:45):
So I’ve extracted some of what I thought were the easiest, big takeaways that I think people could get value from today, from that course to go to our website, restoration advisors.com/sixty days, there’s more information there and make the purchase, make the investment in yourself. I, I, I guarantee you that a couple of days in you’ll already have paid for the course just off of like some, some quick aha moments. So so some of the things we’re gonna talk about today that are ex directed from that in different varying portions are some of the unique, the unique things that are occur for the restoration contractors. And, and when I say restoration, it’s obviously a bigger category. My experience lies heavily in the Firewater remediation side, but restoration can, that could be in roofing. I don’t know much about roofing, but what I do know is about a business that does roofing.
Speaker 2 (00:11:44):
I know about business, and I think everyone should consider that. So we’re gonna talk about some challenges that we face here, and then some good anecdotal ways to to overcome those, some best practices for sustained business and growth. And then how to do, I, I think it’s a great exercise that periodically quarterly Bally do a, a checkup on you do a self audit on your business, and I’m gonna show you some really easy to apply tactics for you and your leadership team to have a a half day or one day offsite, just to, you know, shut the phones off and, and just check and say, Hey, are we on track? Are we going the direction that we intended or are we stuck in the weed? So I just wanna give everyone some of these really good takeaways. Probably none of it you haven’t heard before, but it probably is things that we aren’t doing consistently. So any questions so far before we get started? Should I be doing this in Spanish? Justin? Are we okay in English?
Speaker 1 (00:12:40):
I think English is good.
Speaker 2 (00:12:42):
Speaker 1 (00:12:43):
All right. We can translate it later.
Speaker 2 (00:12:45):
Translate later. Perfect. Yeah, we are in the year 2022. So everyone the three unique challenges and I think things you’ve gotta think about in the restoration industry. Number one is outside resistance. I wrote delay Deni defend here. And what I’m speaking about here is we deal a lot with insurance carriers and their parties. Insurance is a, a very big stakeholder in, and a lot of claims and they have an important role and thank they’re there to help the public rebuild their lives, but it is complex and it, and, and there are systems at play. So there’s a book called delay denied, defend. If anyone wants to just screenshot that, look that up on Amazon, if you’re in this industry, you have not read that. It, I would, I would urge you strongly to make that you’re very first thing you do so great book.
Speaker 2 (00:13:37):
We call it the Bible to not be bla this of our industry, and it’s just a framework of what’s going on. And I think the best thing. So another challenge that we have and I, this probably expands to all industries is, is pricing influence. And when I talk about pricing, just the skill and art of scoping a job and, and estimating it to make sure you are profitable and in competitive. And, and that gets very complex especially in the insurance world. We’re gonna talk a little bit about that. There, there, there things at play they’re not, not illegal, but they are definitely engineered to, to benefit one side. And, and we can’t be victims of that. We have to educate ourselves to at least put together a good defense so we can form an offense and, and be sustainable.
Speaker 2 (00:14:30):
And then a, another challenge in our industry in all trades is in 2022. I don’t think it’s ever been easier to start a business. There’s a low bar of entry into restoration remediation. There are standards, but there’s a lack of what I would call good regulations. And some states have some regulations and it might be arguable that they’re not enforced well enough. So I think all of us in this industry that have been in it for a little while would like to see some something done about that, because we all agree with the, the it’s just too easy for anyone to, to start a company’s. So the first slide, the first topic is the outside resistance. The first thing is, is, and this is gonna be more for your commercial projects. It could be on residential multifamily, property management companies.
Speaker 2 (00:15:25):
You have multiple stakeholders, and this is a project management issue. This is one in the realm of communications. We may say we communicate well, but how do we communicate when there is a landlord tenant, there is a tenant that has a business that has complexities, and you’ve got a carrier involved, or maybe an owner’s rep. And then a, an insurance company, a carrier might hire are their own parties, such as engineers and consultants and third parties. And so and then you, you might have on some jobs other trades that are working alongside. And while I say, that’s not necessarily resistance, sometimes those trades have their own timeline, maybe a reconstruction you’re trying to do the early remediation and the emergency services. And they’re on some kind of timeline trying to rush you. I’ve watched this turn very, very badly if you don’t have a good way to be compliant and be professional.
Speaker 2 (00:16:29):
So I think everyone needs to always ask themselves and, and their client who’s involved, who needs to know what, how often and how would you like those messages and updates delivered? I love tailgate meetings. I love contractor meetings and I love transparency. And I think you just put that front and foremost and part of your initial diagnostics, it really, really sets up the rest of it. So you you’re gonna get resistance. And I, and I, I urge everyone to not take it personal. If you have a carrier who is trying to dictate the scope and maybe adjust some pricing that’s their job. And I, I, I don’t want anyone taking it personal. Don’t become argumentative. It’s not good for your client. Remember they’re watching and they think they hired a professional and you want to do so.
Speaker 2 (00:17:21):
So that takes me into the second one was educate yourself on what’s going on. I just it’s called the claims process. Insurance companies don’t make money by paying out more than they collect in premiums. I mean, they’re a business. The late Deni defend will absolutely pull back the curtain on much of this conversation. And I think that will help you put it into perspective. But the first thing you can do is educate yourself, speak less, listen, more understand, and then develop your own systems for that. Be aware of what’s gonna be coming, advise your client where your lines are and what you are capable of doing and what you plan to do, and also what you plan not to do. And I think that’s very, very important to remember that you are the professional of whatever you were hired to do and stay in your lane.
Speaker 2 (00:18:18):
I find a lot of people get very, very deterred and taken off their track and become a little again, argumentative of, and, and that’s not attractive for, or your client. They want all their stakeholders and all their contractors to play nice to get them back in business. And I think sometimes we forget about that and we get a little selfish. I can tell you many times in a younger self that I did, I was, I knew everything and no one was gonna tell me what to do until I realized that people were just advocating for what they knew. And if they understood my point, they might have an aha moment. So then I move into the third one, Justin and everyone listening. This is I client onboarding. This is something I call, I teach this a lot. Now I’m actually gonna be creating an online course just for this I’m travel the country right now, teaching one day workshops just to kind of work out the feedback.
Speaker 2 (00:19:16):
But I believe that client onboarding is a superpower. I think we all say we do this, but you’ve gotta be very targeted to set the expectations and start controlling the narrative. I like to tell contractors is if it’s not your program and the client doesn’t know what your program is, you’re going to be using someone else’s program and it might not be financially or business beneficial to you. So that is just having a process of, of, of clarity and setting expectations. And then in ensuring that all the way from your marketing, from your contracts to every person in your company are saying and doing the same exact thing. So the expectations are, this is, this is, this is what it is. It’s I need to be paid on time. We need to get responses quickly so that we can continue to move forward.
Speaker 2 (00:20:10):
I like to tell our one, it’s like, Chick-fil-A you go to any Chick-fil-A across this country and you know what it’s going to probably taste like, and, you know, it’s ignore the line around the building or two laps around the building, and you’re gonna find out that it it’s, you know, they’re gonna move through, they’ve got great processes. So I believe that’s like the gold standard in the bar. So that’s the outside resistance that I think we that we just need to be aware of and spend some time on, you know, get out of the weeds and stop being reactive and start getting really proactive. And this, this has of course helped me throughout my career. I didn’t always do it great. But these are things that I learned from someone else. Someone else spent time for me to say, I’m tired of watching you struggle, Clark, I’m gonna teach you some things I’m like, great.
Speaker 2 (00:21:01):
So the next topic in this is pricing influences. Another big topic I want to try to be a, a very specific pricing influences obviously means we’re in a weird time, anyone watching this maybe five years from now, we’re coming out of the tail end of a two years of this in, in world that were very interesting and unique and something that a lot of us have never dealt with, and we’re still realizing a lot of things. And that’s the COVID, you know, COVID 19 complexities. And when I’m talking about pricing influences that has changed the price of goods, the availability of good is the lead time. Of course, huge staffing complexities that the availability of quality staff, as well as the cost of it. I mean, any contractor that I know has seen 30 to 40% jumps in salary requirements to just get good people and then more specific in the insurance side we work with some industry.
Speaker 2 (00:22:13):
I, I dare use the term industry standard because it starts to make it sound like we all should be required to use it, but some very common software that we all use that is widely misunderstood, understood on the way that it is to be used and deployed and what its power is and what, what it’s not supposed to be used for. And, and I think some of that is aggravated by the, again, the carrier out of nothing, but building a process, they have controlled the narrative of how that is used. And that of course goes into, they’ve got some managed repair, you know, contractual agreements with contractors that are in MRPs managed repair programs or TPAs who they actually do agree to use standard pricing from this software. But those that choose not out to be on those programs or not on those lists or in those agreements, they aren’t connected to those influences, but they certainly are affected heavily by them.
Speaker 2 (00:23:19):
It’s a very big a very large pressure point in our industry. And I’m here in Reno this week at the RIA, the restoration industry association. And it’s much of the conversation among the attendees, as well as some of the breakout sessions where understanding these things and working through them. So I know that I’ve had plenty of time while I’m not a user of this, this very common pro you know, program. I’ve always been a different, I’ve a line item and a T and M billing type of person where I control my price, but now being a coach, I see it daily. So anybody out there that wants to chime in that they’re having this frustration right now, and they’re trying to work through these complexities. I’d like you to chime in. We’re gonna get to some questions in just a minute and, and Justin can tell me, tell us about it.
Speaker 2 (00:24:16):
But I think what you’ve gotta do is again, seek out what you don’t know. And, and I will promise you, there’s a lot that you do don’t know. There are people who have overcome this particular struggle. It took some time, it took a lot of scar tissue. And you need to know those people. You need to know, okay, how, give me an example of who is doing what so that I would have the confidence and clarity and the path and the framework to do this thing for myself, that’s where this mentoring comes in. So I encourage you to connect to peers and colleague industries and be a, you know, be part of conversations so that you can continue to, to work through this and remove this from your your threat list. I think the, the other, the other consideration is the low bar of entry for our the street.
Speaker 2 (00:25:06):
I, I don’t think that needs a lot of dialogue. I, I mentioned a little bit earlier. It’s very, very, very easy to go grab a van and $3,000 to grab some equipment. You can rent it and have no training, no certifications, and start doing work that requires a high level of education to not damage property or put people’s lives at risk people being customers or employees, a lot of safety considerations in our industry. And it’s these seemingly entrepreneurs not knowing that they are harming anyways, what you don’t know is what you don’t know, you know, it’s terrible, but they are entering this industry. I like to believe the best in people. I believe that they want to know the right way. They just aren’t asking the right questions. They just trying to survive and make some dollars. And they’re met with all the same issues.
Speaker 2 (00:26:09):
You’re gonna have they’re carriers, not wanting to pay them employees, not showing up where to get new work from sales and marketing. Digital marketing is very interesting. They’re in, they’re in that scramble mode, just like we are, but they’re not putting up emphasis on how do I properly manage this indoor air quality? How do I dry the right way or, or make things safe and restore them to their pre-law condition? And the truth is this. Whether it’s intentional, whether it’s imoral people just trying to be greedy, it hurts those of us trying to do the right thing because the public has, and I’m the same way. As a, as a, as a person, that’s a consumer of goods. I lump things into one big category and say, this group, or this type of product is all trash, because I had experience with one thing that was not good.
Speaker 2 (00:27:03):
Well, I app, you know, maybe it’s a coffee maker. Well, I bought a cheap coffee maker and I was, I said, oh man, all coffee makers are junk. I just didn’t spend the money and invest in the right one. I just bought the cheap one. Well, that happens in our industry. You can’t get cheap and good and fast. All three, you have to pick one or two. So I think everyone can agree with, but this goes back to a lack of regulation, a lack of enforceability and accountability of our industry. And I think this cleaning up this area, can’t be done by government. I think there should be some regulation. It should not be done by the insurance companies. We need to clean up our own industry. And I think that’s a real, again, accountability is my favorite word here. We need to, we need to favor our own industry to say, we know what good looks like.
Speaker 2 (00:27:54):
So reach out to these people that are not doing great work and give them grace and mercy and say, you know, listen, could I buy you some coffee? I’d like to talk to you about a few things. Maybe I’d like to owe you the right way. That’s not the way a lot of people think in this industry or in trades because the competition is it, listen, I would much rather the people in my market be doing good work. They’re not going anywhere for a while. I’d like them to do good work so that we all actually have a better reputation. I hope that makes sense to everyone. That’s certainly what our ethos is at air it’s you know, learn one, teach one, reach out to people. If they’re not interested learning the right way, then we put on a whole different hat and we we have to expose that and, and take care of it. Any questions so far, Justin?
Speaker 1 (00:28:42):
I don’t see any questions in the chat, but anybody who has any feel free to throw them in there, the Q and a at any time?
Speaker 2 (00:28:50):
Well, I’ll keep cruising along. Don’t wanna go too fast, too slow. Wanna keep it right in the middle of the other topic today, is I just talking about best practices for sustain business success and growth. You know, we can get real focused a lot on one thing, especially usually the one thing that is most urgent that day. And we forget, I like in all of my classes, in my YouTube channel and everything, I say it all the time, don’t be a roofer, be a comp, a business, a marketing company in a business that happens to do roofing. And the insurance industry says we’re an investment firm that happens to sell insurance, cuz they are investing funds from premiums be in business. I understand be the best roofer you can be, but don’t forget that the business you have to be solvent, you have to be culture has to be there.
Speaker 2 (00:29:48):
We’re gonna talk about that. You’ve gotta be financially profitable, sustainable and legal following, you know, not getting in trouble and things like that. So it, it all is a big I’ll steal this from Justin city. It’s a big gumbo. It’s a big Louisiana gumbo. It’s not just gumbo with just one ingredient would not be very good. It’s a lot of different things that make a very now I’m hungry. So now I’m talking about gumbo, so very delicious bow. So we’re gonna talk about that for just a minute. I have points here. It’s financial management, overhead profit and cash flow. I find and I think what keeps me employed my company is our industry have grown up many times. Being in the business, it might be a second generation, grew up in construction. Maybe you’re a good carpenter understand building.
Speaker 2 (00:30:44):
And, and it’s that one thing that you do real well, you might make great cabinets, but running a business, understanding a P and L not having to Google what is over and over and over and understanding how to make great decisions strategically so that you, you can move forward and how to measure things. So I think more people should balance their education and gain some financial intelligence. It’s not fun. Some people it’s like, I don’t want to be a, a a for 1000 company. Well, you’re gonna be a for zero company. If you cannot figure out how to be profitable in the early, early days. I know most contractors don’t have QuickBooks. They’re just working outta their bank account and you ask ’em how profitable are you? Well, I’ve got money in the bank. It must be profitable. That’s not the right answer.
Speaker 2 (00:31:36):
Learning what growth and net margins are and what affects that and how you can increase that because you’re going to have to spin and money on marketing. That’s gonna eat away at your bottom line, or you’re never gonna grow and you’re gonna stay one truck or small. So I really encourage everyone to step outside of your comfort zone, seek that information at a local college, through a coach, through a peer, maybe someone in your market’s a great business person. You say, Hey, can we have a series of lunch is over the next three months? You know, I’ll, I’ll trade some services for some education. The right people will say, absolutely I’ll show you, bring your P and LS. We’ll break it down simple terms and you’ll come out the other side and say, wow, it just really wasn’t that complicated. So I really, really encouraged that a whole lot.
Speaker 2 (00:32:21):
And, and that leads to a lot of other things, knowing your numbers, it helps you be more competitive when your pricing and whatnot. And, and, and this is where level set comes in knowing your numbers and knowing what happens if you don’t collect that $42,000 job, because you miss the lean rights where level set could be a great partner for you. And they, they help you through sending the notices. And once you’ve made collections, they do lean waivers and your customers happy. You didn’t lean their house. You didn’t take their house, but I think this is where this automation can allow you to be fluid, run through the, you know, all the other things in your business, but this is always there. And so putting these kinds of things in your workflow and your process of your company just make you a stronger, more sustainable business.
Speaker 2 (00:33:11):
You know, everyone should be building their business to one day, possibly sell their company. Even if you don’t plan to, maybe your kids are gonna take over your business, maybe you’re gonna run it until it’s the last thing you do. That’s fine. But you do need to plan to build value in it. Cuz if that one day comes along and you do get approached by acquisition offer which is happening a lot in our industry right now, or if you, you know, maybe you come down either ill or your spouse comes out ill, or you decide that you’ve got seven grandkids and you really want to spend more time. You might change later and it’s hard the day you decide, you wanna start thinking about selling your company. You’re sometimes finding out that you are six years away from that really happening.
Speaker 2 (00:33:55):
So start from now with the end in mind best practices is we’ve already talked a little bit about this learn the insurance game, learn the navigation through what your abilities are as it comes to insurance companies. It’s a really big topic. You are not an insurance representative for your customer. I understand we want to advocate for them, but there are lead goal ramifications for when you step outta line when dealing with an insurance company on your customer’s behalf. And I think it’s important. It’s in our course we go into that a lot about what the laws are, and it actually helps your customer understand where you stop and start, but learning that the complexities of it that they deny defend will help a lot learn what your documentation requirements will be to make it easier to get paid.
Speaker 2 (00:34:49):
They’re gonna require it. You can argue that you don’t need to document everything, but you just do. They’re not going to quickly pay your customer to pay you. If you’re not, you know, they’re gonna need documentation and it’s just an excuse for them to delay payment. Don’t give them any ammunition for that. So I think that’s a good best practice is to really strengthen your area for that where it’s not sometimes it’s all the time. This is a Justin May can tell me, I think you can download this from this template. I’m not sure how everyone can get ahold of this, but this is something that we’ve created years ago called the power questions. When you’re dealing with a customer, trying to help them. You know, you’ve already explained what to expect from you as a contractor, what your scope’s gonna be when you’re gonna be there, what you’re gonna do, what it’s gonna look like, how loud it’s gonna be and et cetera, et cetera.
Speaker 2 (00:35:42):
This is where I think you can do on this employee. Your client onboarding is giving them these questions, which are intended for them to ask their carrier in writing via email. And I say is because most customers have not had to file a major insurance claim. They don’t know what to ask. You are becoming a resource for them to help them within the confines of what you can do to ask their insurance company things. And, and they’re, they’re simple. What if my cost exceed need my policy limits? What happens if this, to do this work costs me more than I have in the insurance. Is my claim covered. You’re gonna want that the customer wants to have that in writing, not an ambiguous phone call. And then later someone changes their mind or they say there was an error I have in, you know, I have it in writing that this was covered.
Speaker 2 (00:36:37):
Can I choose the contractor of my own to do the repairs to my home? You’ll have a lot of insurance company that will try to send out their preferred vendors preferred by who I’m not real sure. A customer has a choice and if they enjoy your company and have connected to you and trust you and your online reviews, tell them that you are the best in town for 20 years. Why would they not be able to use you? So this is a template that I really recommend everyone put into their workflow. It should be automatic, whether you hand this to the customer where you email it to ’em and, and guide them through how to use it. Again, you’re telling, but telling your customer expect the same thing for me. So that was a good one. The next one is
Speaker 1 (00:37:24):
I’ll, I’ll just interrupt quickly. We’ll be sending out the slides as well as the recording. So you’ll be able to click a download link there and we’ll try to include it in the email, any, any other place that we can make it easy to access so we can download that.
Speaker 2 (00:37:37):
Great. Yeah. Take that. I’m know, hundreds of contractors that use it every day, all day now. And the customers just really appreciate that one little nugget, that one little takeaway for that, cuz that’s an area that they’re confused on. So thank you Justin, for that. The next thing best practices to be a strong company is don’t forget customer serve is you might think that that doesn’t need to be talked about here, but it happens a lot. We get caught up in the, the documentation the equipment, the complexities with the insurance company. And we forget that we have a customer over here that needs things from us. I always tell everyone, remember that you are a customer to other things. You have expectations and if you, if a customer’s being left out and they aren’t being served in today’s environment, a bad review can really hurt your business.
Speaker 2 (00:38:41):
Just be customer centric. I’ve talked about the onboarding set, the tone early your, your keep your sense of urgency in the beginning. Keep your demeanor, your tone and of when you’re trying to win that job and get it signed, continue that there’s nothing worse than once a contractor signed a different team comes in, who really makes the customer feel like they are not important. It is terrible and I have experienced it and my company has delivered it. So client-centric I would almost say exceedingly. So there’s exceed expectations. You say you’re gonna do one thing. Give more just go outta your way. Lots of check-ins with the customer, check in with them throughout the day. Andout the week and ask ’em if there’s anything that they’re concerned about often if they tell you shut up, leave me alone.
Speaker 2 (00:39:37):
That’s a whole nother thing. But what, what I tell you is own the home. Your trust will be so bound that no matter what influence and pushback you get on either your pricing or your scope, the customer is going to say, but I have a professional here. That’s done this thousands of times and they have done everything they said they would do. So really focus on that. The best companies in the industry have this nailed down. So work on that and, and just become customer customer centric deal two. Don’t need a lot of explanation. I, I get into operations. It’s kind of, my wheelhouse is you need systems for everything it’s boring, it’s tedious, it’s time consuming. But believe me, your staff, your, your customers, your CPA, everyone really likes to follow a path and a pattern. And they like to have a GPS to know how to get from here to there.
Speaker 2 (00:40:36):
It’s not come to, to just figure it out on the fly all the time. So this is building processes and, and I like to tell people anything you do more than once, should be written and deliverables for anyone that’s new or existing to look up and be reminded and then create trainings around and retraining and continuing education. Then Paul policies most people develop company policies only after they’ve had an issue driving a company vehicle on personal use that usually doesn’t hit that it doesn’t hit a, a, a, a, an employee manual until after someone has abused that smoking on the job policy, cell phone policy, sexual harassment, things. I mean, these things matter and you’re a real legitimate company and they need to be put in there. So really you spend some time on that. If that’s not your wheelhouse most ownership groups for companies are either sales minded, or they are operations, analytic only minded, and they will, they will steer away from the things that they’re not but that’s needed.
Speaker 2 (00:41:44):
So find a partner, find a, a staff member, or maybe a coach or consultant that can help strengthen those areas where you’re weak, because that will make you a, a really, an unbeatable force in your, in, in your market and your community. Then last is culture. Culture is everything. I have a podcast next week with a, a client. We did a podcast last year, a year and a half ago. It was on his culture and we’re gonna do a secondary follow up next week of he’s gone from three and a half million to he’s on chart to do seven. This year went from 11 to 12 employees to 34. And that doesn’t happen without incredible culture to keep those people to help grow in power them, and having a good mission where everybody knows where we’re going. And everybody knows when we haven’t gotten in there, safety, big policy thing about safety culture and putting the team first and making everyone there, especially in today’s market, how hard it is to find people these are, these are the best companies have this stuff nailed down.
Speaker 2 (00:42:50):
I tell people don’t go to every drying class or every industry technical class sprinkle in with some of these other educations and really create a well rounded well rounded thing. Any questions so far on that anyone have any experiences on the chat real quick that they can share with, with, you know, where maybe they, maybe they knew this from the beginning and said, Hey, my company started out strong because we knew what to do from my past career or, wow. It wasn’t until year four where I got my teeth kicked in a few times that I figured out that I needed to start over and build my company from the ground up again. So I, that was my case. And that’s why I’m so passionate about it now, because I don’t think people have to repeat my mistakes if they’re willing to listen, I’m willing to teach anyone so that they don’t have to encounter that. So do we have any questions, Justin?
Speaker 1 (00:43:50):
Yeah, actually a question just came in related to, to those business practices. And basically the question is how do you use level sets specifically any tips or tricks that really optimize the use of level set to produce AR or aging AR you know, accounts receivable. And basically I can definitely send you to some payment experts on level set team who can tell you more about that. We have lots of content. I think the, the kind of kernel of the question is how does managing your lean rights process and all of these different payment processes help your business with AR? And if, if you have any experiences with level set specifically and how it makes it easier,
Speaker 2 (00:44:32):
I do I have two things, so I I’ll, I’ll start with the, the bigger one first. A lot of companies do a lot of storm and cat. What we call cat work, catastrophe work here, obviously living in Louisiana, you are well aware of that as part of life for you. And maybe if you’re in Florida a lot of companies that might be in let’s say Indiana, Ohio, or, or Tacoma, Washington might have teams that travel to these areas. It’s important to have a really good hold on, lean rights in other states. That’s not something you wanna, you might have every bit of information you need to know of, of your own backyard, but you go to Louisiana, Florida, and there are restrictions. There are, there’s just so much complexity around it. And, and level set handles that for you. They are, they’re all 50 states.
Speaker 2 (00:45:23):
They have attorneys and, and they know where you’re working and they’re going to guide you through that. So that’s one. I think what I’m asked a lot is from a customer service, how do we manage lean rights without being obtrusive in their face? And again, if a customer sees that something that you do is part of your process and you do it for everyone. If they see that you have 113 reviews and all hundred and 13 of those went through the same process, it becomes to not feel targeted. I also think that learning up front and level, set’s really good at helping educate the contractor with how to deliver what leans really are. But I will tell you the strength of a lean to me is when I learned this very early on from level set, it’s from a video, you guys, I believe you still have on your website, claims that come to an insurance company or to any payable department, they almost have the claims payment.
Speaker 2 (00:46:21):
People have two piles on their desk. Those that need to be taken care of right away, because it might be from their either cleaning and order, or they have leverage, which would lean is in place. Those that don’t have any leverage. Those can be stalled. They can wait, they’re too big of a headache to mess with, to clean them up. So they’re gonna take the path of least resistance. I want to be in the short pile. That’s getting paid quicker from a carrier, from a customer or anything. So level set has helped our industry and, and, and thousands of contractors maneuver through letting everyone know that liens are not evil. It’s not a credit hit. It’s not, you know, you’re not gonna lose your home unless services aren’t paid for which anyone can agree right away that if, if you don’t know in the beginning that you can pay us when it’s time to get paid, then maybe we shouldn’t be doing work together. I would rather know in the beginning, maybe we shouldn’t be working together at all. And, and I think these are conversations that are, if we have these up front, the rest of the project can go much smoother with no surprises. I hope that answered the question a little bit for whoever asked it, or if Justin, if you wanted to add to that.
Speaker 1 (00:47:37):
Yeah. I think those are some great points and, and that’s something we hear a lot is, well, I’m worried about upsetting the, the customer and, you know, by asking for, for payment or escalating to, to a lean or something like that. And we always ask the question, why are you trying to hold on to a customer? Who’s not gonna pay you, they’re not a customer then they’re just, you know, someone who’s taken advantage of you. So, you know, you definitely wanna, you know, have good customer service, especially in the restoration industry, but you also want to be professional and clear with your expectation. And I’d also add someone else added actually here in the chat. Something that, that I was also gonna say, which is understanding the state requirements is what someone mentioned. They find helpful with, with level sets tools you know, to actually file a lie, you have to have the property address and all the, the parties listed out properly.
Speaker 1 (00:48:29):
You might have to send out a notice by a certain deadline. There’s all these different requirements, even the font size and the, the color of the text, or whether you’ve signed it physically or digitally, like every state has their own requirements. And that’s something that level set really shines with, which is, you know, the software kind of automates a lot of that in the first place. So no, no human even asks their really think about it. But we also have a dedicated team that does research and finds all that job info. And that’s, that’s something that helps you really streamline that whole process of protecting your payments and, and getting that cash that you’ve earned when, when you deserve it really you know, cuz as, as Clark said, some people will just not prioritize you. If you, you don’t have your, your stuff in order. So yeah, that’s about what I’d say.
Speaker 2 (00:49:14):
I Justin, I will tell you, I, I use the term all the time. Fair but firm. I use that as a parent, I use that as a boss and as a coach, I’m gonna be very fair, but I’m gonna be firm. I understand that if I don’t instruct my customer, what’s gonna happen, that’s my fault. But once they know and they act according una accordingly, that’s theirs. When it comes to lean rights, guys, I, I always put it in this thing. If you are doing everything you were supposed to do, you’re usually waiting to get paid because another side is not holding up their promise. That’s not your responsibility, the insurance company or whatever party, it was made a promise via a contract, which is a policy to pay. If they are not doing that, then that customer, your customer needs to take that up with them and hold them accountable just as they are you.
Speaker 2 (00:50:06):
So I, I easily put myself at ease by saying I did my job. I Don need to absorb their burden and their, their connectivity to their carrier. I don’t need to assume their liabilities. I have enough of my own. So again, I think a customer appreciates that once you put it into a term, like you’re gonna get the best of me. You’re gonna get 110%. I’m getting five stars from you, but I have to be paid for it or else I can’t help other people in my parish or in my county. And, and, and that’s just not gonna work for me because I, I love what I do. So these are the conversations that I have when it comes to these harder areas, I just keep ’em for positive and make sure one knows that how they benefit both sides
Speaker 1 (00:50:52):
And the restoration industry, especially I, I see there was another comment here in the chat that, you know, it’s really important to onboard your clients correctly so that they’re on your side. If the, to, to quote here, if any shenanigans begin you know, based on what you’re saying,
Speaker 2 (00:51:08):
Yeah, you want cheerleaders and crusaders. You want your customer fighting for your money to get paid so they can pay you. They know there was a promise. They saw your team showing up, doing the hard work, getting in a crawlspace. You want them to say, why would we not pay for them right now? If you didn’t do a good job, they’re not. If you didn’t tell ’em what coming and act down accordingly, they’re not gonna go to bat for you. I wouldn’t either. We all know that we all stand up for a, a, a waiter that’s done a good job, but if they haven’t, they’re probably not getting a good tip and I’m not too worried about it. And I’m certainly not telling people to go eat there. So I always remember to tell yourself, and, and your staff, we’re all consumers. We all know what it feels like to be on the other side. Don’t forget that never, ever, ever forget that where you came from.
Speaker 2 (00:51:57):
Good stuff. The last one is and, and I’ll, I’ll keep this one relatively simple. I think it’s very, very important to periodically and depending on the size of your company and your team and what all services you provide you, you’ve got to do a tuneup. You have to go and take a look at these recorded missions and goals and visions and ask yourself the hard questions of where are we in that journey? Have we go on off stray? Have we taken a detour? Have we stalled? We lost some staff and the new team doesn’t really know where our mission are, but I think it’s time to check how your business stacks up and you know, what, look for the failures. Some people don’t like to see the failures, some people, oh, just one more thing. I like to see the failures quick and early so that I can solve them cuz I don’t want them.
Speaker 2 (00:52:54):
I would rather fix my company when I’m a million dollars instead of encounter them when I’m 20, because they hurt a lot worse and the multiplier is huge. So it’s really just is that you, Justin, is that a picture of you? I like to do anyone that’s been in business a while may have heard of a SWAT analysis and the SWAT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. And this is a collaborative exercise that you do with your team. Whoever you choose, maybe your whole company you can do this on the company in general. You could actually do this on a new initiative or your marking department and, and really over here on the left side, on the blue side, the strength, weaknesses, these are internals. So you’ve got internal strengths areas that we really Excel at that we think we have figured out where we have the distinct advantage in our market.
Speaker 2 (00:53:56):
Those are things that you’re going to, you literally whiteboard this and, and the whole team does it. And one, person’s got a marker and every one’s yelling out, what are we good at? Training equipment, you know, location, write ’em all down. You’re gonna create this real visual board. Then you’re gonna clean it up. Because this column is gonna be where you showcase, where you or maybe our marketing team should remind the public that we have great, the best training or we have of the best processes or that we have the most experience or that we’re the fastest we get there, the quickest or the biggest fleet, you know, whatever that might be for you. These are strengths you have or great culture tell people what you’re, it doesn’t matter how good your culture is. If you want to, if you want the public to know how good the young men and women are that work there and showcase them, if you aren’t marketing, marketing, that they can’t read your mind.
Speaker 2 (00:54:49):
So do it. Our strengths weaknesses are the opposite internal weaknesses. These are things we don’t do well. We don’t communicate amongst divisions from one side to the other. We don’t follow up with our customers nearly as good as we do. We don’t use our lean rights the way we find ourself way too often missing our deadlines or forgetting, or just choosing not to, you know, this was Mrs. Jones and she was a widow and I didn’t want of doodling rights, but now her carrier has not paid. You’re 150 days out on $20,000. You have no leverage. And now it’s a weakness. I fell, I fell victim to a witness. These are things that you’re gonna make task list on say, okay, how do we, okay, it’s great. We have weaknesses. How do we overcome them? Go into the gym, get stronger, put them over into the strange category.
Speaker 2 (00:55:41):
This is a real simple exercise guys. This is not new. It’s been around business a long time. We move over to the other side, operate opportunities and threats on the white side is, and these are externals. What opportunities do we have for growth? What things could we be doing that we add onto our business? Or what things that we’re doing now that we’re not doing enough of that’s really profitable. We’re just not doing enough of it. Or we’re not approaching this type of referral partner it’s journal. Get those on paper, cuz I promise you visual cues remind you of, yep. I remember us talking about that before, but we never took action. Now’s the time to use this exercise to put that on the calendar and devise a plan of these are the first three things that we need to do to make this become a, a real thing for us or at least maybe it’s due diligence.
Speaker 2 (00:56:30):
Maybe someone says, Hey, let’s add this service to what we already do. Okay. We need to learn a little bit about it. We need to learn about what the materials costs are and what the skill level and training’s gonna be. And how would that look, who does that in my market? Things like that. So that might be the very first thing these are. I like to look at things in 90 day windows to take 90 days to say, we’re gonna meet back here in 90 days and have the information from this opportunity. So, you know, just seeing, and this also comes from the advancement. You know, everyone watching here and listening, you know, the how quick the technology is advancing and changing and the way the customers shop, we might still be operating on the last generation of, of how we communicate. It might be a time to, to learn, to poll our questions or pull our customers.
Speaker 2 (00:57:20):
How can we communicate with you? We now we still doing text. I know people that their customers use Facebook messenger. Don’t think I personally don’t think it’s the right way to do it, but you gotta meet them where they are. You know, so I, I think looking for external opportunities and then the second part of that are threats, external threats items that pose a roadblock to your success. These could be weather pattern. These could be new regulations in the government. Regionally could be new policies of a new, I, I know in Texas we had the big freezes last year and a lot of people have these new policies where their deductibles are now one and 2% of their homes. And we were seeing some large homes, a deductible might be 18 to 25,000. That is a threat to what we do. One may say, what does that have to do with us?
Speaker 2 (00:58:13):
A customer is now making different decisions, how to proceed. You need to have some answers for that. You need to be aware so that you can build a case. Other threats may be competition. You know, things like that, or your weaknesses will show up as threats, even though they’re external, but external things are, you know, again, whatever. So maybe there’s road trap, maybe you’re more of a retail bus business and they’re changing the roads up front of you. You gotta figure out a way to make it easier for your customers to come by. Maybe you’re a flooring, me and people can’t get in there, whatever that is, figure that out could be pricing external threat as the pricing of gas right now, it’s hurting our profit. It’s going straight to the bottom line. We have to adjust. And at our pricing model doing these at the end of a, if this is a one day, I like to do these offsite sometimes, you know, just get a conference room just a meeting room somewhere where you’re not just obstructed by everything and come back with a really good roadmap of what the next couple of months might look like.
Speaker 2 (00:59:17):
And you’ll feel relieved that like, well, I’m glad we have clarity on that. We do this with customers all the time and it usually creates about a year’s worth of work for them to work on things. So has anyone ever done a SWAT analysis in the listening or viewing audience today?
Speaker 2 (00:59:40):
Okay. Well, if, if that answer pops up and anyone could tell me, Hey, they put me to sleep or these have been great for me. Just let me know if you’re interested in talking to us at restoration advisors about helping you build this, we, we will certainly do. So. one more thing for sustainable businesses. Again, you have got to that. You are marketing company, you’ve gotta become, I call it be a magnetic business. People are attracted to you, focus on the fundamentals to improve the efficiency, accuracy, and consistency. Consistency is key people. If they know what to expect and you actually do what you said, and then they later refer you to a friend or a neighbor or a colleague and that friend or neighbor gets the exact same experience. You’re now building upon a pattern that is going to duplicate itself many times over.
Speaker 2 (01:00:38):
And you’re now living off of relationships, which by the way, is the most, the best leads you can get and the most affordable in your marketing. And it’s, and it’s also just people that want to work with you. You’re not chasing work. It’s coming to you. The public is, I, I like to say yearning, the public is looking for great service right now. We all know that we, you know, you hire a contractor or a mechanic or anything, or go to a restaurant and we’re being met sometimes with lackluster performance in, in attitude, the public is hoping when they call you, or when you find out that they’ve had a fire flood and they’ve fired you, they don’t, they’re hoping that you’re gonna be the right contractor, be that,
Speaker 2 (01:01:25):
Touch them where they are. And, and I, and again, all of these points that I’m talking about today are what’s going to make you a very sustainable business so you can build, build, build. I want to be the best. I wanna be the best drying company and the technical do the best motor remediation, but it does it matter if the public doesn’t see you that way. I think everyone that’s in business should become the subject matter expert at what they do that people say, you know, they’re a little more expensive than others, but I know it’s gonna be right. I know it’s gonna be worth it. And I won’t have to check over my shoulder and have, have it done twice. So just, I like to just tell my team, be magnetic, make people attract. And that comes in all forms. Your, your vehicles should be cleaned your, your person answering the phone, your website should be really, really good.
Speaker 2 (01:02:21):
Your reviews, your team should be in uniforms. It starts a pattern for people. So it’s really a fundamental that I think we all strive for. I just, I just challenge everyone to be a little more intentional. And if focus on that, you know that should be one of the things that the owner or the leaders of the company just hold as a standard. So that’s about wrapping it up for me. Everyone, I again, simple, these are excerpts. If you’re more interested in the bigger program, which is, this is just a sliver of it. It’s really great and is also attached to a private community of our own. It’s not on Facebook. We have a very an awesome online platform where you will be put into a a forum and a chat group, whatever discussion group with others that are taking the course that already have, and just trade ideas and share ones of and losses. So I’ll take any questions we have here right now, which I hope we have some Justin,
Speaker 1 (01:03:26):
I know we’ve had a lot of good questions throughout, but yeah. If anyone has any more questions, Clark can answer ’em here. While we wait to see if there are any questions, just wanted to say, thanks again for, for being here to share all of this really insightful, full stuff. I, I found it really informative and, and hope everyone who who joined us live here thought so or anyone who’s watching after the fact. So thanks again, Clark.
Speaker 2 (01:03:50):
Yeah, you’re welcome. LA, last thing for me is if you like to chorus, you’ve seen the slide. You’ll get email the slide definitely check out little set.com. And then if you are the type of company that wants to be surrounded by peers that are doing the best work and that, you know, maybe refer work to each other, collaborate once a month with coffee, check out air restore.org. We have chapters and almost every market in the country. And you know, again, level set has some very member members. If you are interested in joining level, becoming a member of air will get you some extra benefits as well as some savings. So it’s a win-win for everyone. And I think those are usually how I like to do it, but it’s my pleasure. I love helping this industry. Anyone that calls gets a call back for me, it’s just, it’s a sickness that I’ve got. So yeah, I, I just wanna see people win here because I love this industry and I know how important the work we do is
Speaker 1 (01:04:49):
Thank you, clerk.