Improving your property restoration business through consistent optimization efforts.
“When setting expectations, no matter what has been said or written, if substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable—if there are no
This article was featured as part of our monthly column The Intentional Restorer (volume 3) with Restoration and Remediation Magazine (R&R).
Whether your career path started in property restoration or in some other industry, you know what it is like to work you way up from an entry level position to where you are now. You remember what it is like to have something go wrong and to be blamed for that result. The typical approach in hierarchical management systems is for the blame to “roll downhill”, right? But, as a person in a position of leadership (at whatever level you find yourself), you have committed yourself to reaching for higher purpose for yourself as well as your team.
It’s so much easier to maintain the status quo. Yet, with the rate of change and the demands in the market, you know that doing things the way we’ve always done them is a rapid path to obsolescence. Change is painful but death is permanent. Doing the hard things of turning something around or improving your system requires commitment to work through obstacle after obstacle and to consistently progress through opposition. The battle for improvement is never over, you rise and grind only to wake up and do it again.
Elevate performance by clarifying expectations
Dedicated leaders, like yourself, understand that assigning blame is not a strategy for success when working to improve your internal processes. You understand that as a leader, “The buck stops here,” with regards to accountability for making progress in the process. Developing your team to embrace a growth mindset, that will lead to sustained competitive production, requires intentional leadership.
Long term success follows a sequence of clarity, consistency and accountability.
As an example for how this process plays out, let’s take a look into a typical day for a property restoration team. We will identify some of those core issues that hold teams back from reaching their goals, discuss potential solutions and then apply those concepts to your business.
Quiet on set, begin scene:
Team Leader, we will call him Charles, asks his business mentor, “How do we get our technicians to fill out their paperwork consistently, thoroughly and on time?”
“How often do you provide your technicians with clear and consistent paperwork before they arrive on a job site?” Business Mentor, we will call her Shirley, responds to the question with a question.
“What are you talking about? These are emergencies we are responding to.” Charles clearly thinks Shirley has lost her marbles.
“Whether you are responding to an emergency or facilitating a repair, isn’t your client intake process the same?” Shirley feels the indignation but does not respond to it.
“What does that have to do with my technicians not doing their job?” Charles is ready to throw Shirley out of the building.
“The best way to build accountability in vision and values is to demonstrate them from top to bottom.” Shirley calmly presses forward.
“Oh, so it’s my fault now? I’m the reason my technicians don’t do their paperwork consistently and on time?” Charles stretches his hand towards the shoulder of Shirley.
“Before you throw me out of the building, let’s look at a few things...“
Building team accountability starts with leadership executing their responsibilities
How consistent and thorough are your project assignments?
Does your organization provide clear enough details to your front line employees to set them up for success when responding to a work assignment? Too often we use the excuse that we respond to emergencies to allow us to generate unclear work scopes. Where does the process of clear scope and expectations begin? You know the answer--it begins with whomever is taking the phone call.
Resource: We dealt with the 5 layers of consistent customer communication in an article with Restoration & Remediation Magazine
How often do you receive unclear details from a client?
Does unclear data cost your business time, resources and profitability? Yes.
The process of clear communication through complete, thorough and timely paperwork starts with your investment in the process of receiving project information. You cannot control when a lead comes in but you can control how thoroughly you gather information. This is important so that no one on your team is wasting time duplicating efforts to get the information that should have been received when the call came in. You may not know all the details for an emergency but if you have enough data we can prepare your team to respond with the appropriate people power, equipment and materials.
You know that there is a big difference between responding to a sink overflow in a laundry room on the main floor with no crawl space and a busted sewer line in the crawl space of a 5,000 square foot home. The technicians who are trained to respond, the equipment and resources that will be needed as well as the ability to estimate how that team being offline for the project will impact your ability to respond to other losses are all important.
Improving profitability starts with clarifying your internal process
Consistency in your paperwork starts with details gathered at the time a call for a new project is received (intake).
Consistency in your process will fuel improvements in your production
The details will make or break a well documented loss that will enable you to get paid for your work on an insurance claim. The details of your process and the workflow consistency will make or break your ability to elevate your teams performance. When you master the most basic functions of your organization it builds momentum for tackling more complex issues within your process.
When you detect negative symptoms in your business, such as a lack of thoroughness in the project documentation from your team members in the field, it should cause you to seek the root sources. It sounds simple and yet it when these things are not practiced there are negative ripples throughout the organization. When you commit to taking calls with clarity and consistency you demonstrate to your team that you value this process and that everyone is being held to the same standard.
You can begin to eliminate chaos in your organization and build positive momentum by intentionally developing your process. Too often teams under utilize their receptionist and allow their salespeople to get away with maneuvering around the rules. When you build clarity and consistency you establish purpose for each person in your organization. When you stand up for these principles, as change will always be tested, you prove your commitment to the cause.
Steps for improving employee performance
If you want to motivate your property restoration employees to higher quality performance and expect consistency from your technicians:
Check out our video on this topic - Garbage In, Garbage Out (Part 1) - The Call.
While you must grow to survive, optimize your existing relationships to thrive.
What does it cost you to acquire a new client? Most companies don’t track this metric. Yet, we’re not talking about most companies, we are talking about your efforts. When was the last time you hit the streets and tried to gain traction with new prospects or in a new market? It’s difficult.
Sales is a process of jumping through multiple hoops to attain a small window for making an impression that could possibly, just maybe, lead to a sales opportunity.
What are some of the obstacles to new client acquisition?
Six keys to new client acquisition for small businesses:
Unlocking the profitability of client retention as an entrepreneur.
Customer acquisition requires heavy investments of time and resources in repeated doses. If you aren’t tracking your efforts at an individual level then you are cutting yourself short of valuable data that will help you to improve your process. If you aren’t discussing wins and losses as a team then you are missing opportunities to help each other shorten the learning curve. You need to be intentional about tracking your efforts to acquire new clients so that you can adapt and achieve your goals.
While you must acquire new clients to grow your business, don’t forget to double down on your customer engagement and retention endeavors. According to Studio 15 CEO Jia Wertz, who sites, in her Forbes article, a study by Bain & Company, “Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.” Developing simple, yet intentional, client engagement and retention measures can pay significant returns for your team. Simple and yet overlooked. Jia has some great recommendations, which include:
Four keys to a better return on your client engagement efforts:
Tips for better returns on your marketing investments.
Client acquisition is at least five times more expensive than optimizing existing customer relationships. When you operate from a collaborative position, you can find ways to build stronger relationships with your team, clients and partners. Jia shares some insight from another business leader, President of Suite 203 Communications, Lauren Cracower who shares how to win-win-win in caring for a client. “To nurture your existing clients, it’s important to be a connector for them. We always strive to strategically align our clients to suppliers, contacts or other great businesses that can help them achieve their goals.”
Connect. Collaborate. Conquer.
Leadership development must include the skill to address dysfunction.
When someone near you sneezes, do you brace yourself and think, “Great, now I’m going to get sick?” You experience the external symptom and know it reveals that this person has either had a reaction to something or that they are ill. The sneeze could carry particles of some disease that will spread to yourself and others. You may say, “Bless you,” or offer your favorite remedies for the common cold.
You know that when someone sneezes (symptom) there is an underlying source.
On the other hand, in business, you experience dysfunction all the time and yet get sidetracked by thinking solely about the symptoms. Symptoms are what attract our attention yet sources are where solutions must be applied. As a person in a position of leadership, it is important to intentionally develop your ability to decipher the nuances between symptoms and sources if you want to be effective with leading your team.
Understanding the cost of dysfunction as a leader.
What is the difference between a symptom and the source when addressing dysfunction?
The online Oxford Dictionary definition of a symptom (noun) is, “A physical or mental feature which is regarded as indicating a condition of disease, particularly such a feature that is apparent to the patient.”
When used in a sentence, "Dental problems may be a symptom of other illness."
As noted above, you as a patient begin to experience tooth pain. The pain is a symptom of some source. It could be a cavity, a sensitive tooth or something much greater such as decay or infection. Ibuprofen may temporarily treat the symptom of pain but it will not address the source. After a few days of increasing discomfort, you decide to go to the dentist to determine the issue and discuss solutions.
Interestingly, the online Oxford Dictionary uses another example which is apropo both to our culture as well as the business environment, “A sign of the existence of something, especially of an undesirable situation.”
The importance of developing leadership skills that will address organizational dysfunction.
The second sentence utilization from Oxford states, "The government was plagued by leaks—a symptom of divisions and poor morale."
In the example, leaks (symptom) in the government were caused by divisions and poor morale (source). I would add that division and poor morale are symptoms of lack of trust and unwillingness to set aside ego for the greater good. When human interactions are involved, the source versus symptom discussion has layers of complexity.
As a person in a position of leadership, you can either peel back the layers of symptoms to address sources or the layers of symptoms can build until they overwhelm your resources and suck the life from your organization. Explore beneath the surface to determine what sources in your team are causing these dysfunctional symptoms. Addressing one layer of symptoms and sources will likely lead to opening another layer.
Three key areas of focus for leaders who want to reduce dysfunction in their teams:
Let us help you build and execute a plan for achieving success in your personal and professional development.
Jon Isaacson has a monthly feature column with Restoration & Remediation (R&R) Magazine titled The Intentional Restorer