Property restoration jobs start from the moment you answer the phone. Here are some ways restorers can leverage the initial customer call to establish professionalism, set the tone for a smooth job, and avoid wasting dollars, minutes, and resources!
1. Establish yourself as a knowledgeable & calming presence.
Building trust is key to any relationship, but it is critical in property restoration. In most relationships you have a courting period where you get to know each other and build trust, but not restoration — restorers respond to emergencies and deal with whatever, and whoever is calling.
Because of this, it’s even more important to take charge and maintain control. The pace, the process, the price, the equipment, the people, and the payment, are all things that you want and need to control to maintain profits and consistency in your restoration business.
So, how can restorers build trust on that initial call?
Put them at ease by understanding their emotional stresses and reassure them that you understand how to guide them. These types of events (no matter how small) can bring out the worst in people, but it is possible to change their outlook on the situation early on. When the customer calls for the first time, try to avoid obvious statements or answering with a standard “Hello! Good morning!”
Chances are, if they’re calling a restoration business, they’ve had a rough morning. 😉
To you, this is business as usual: another day, another flood, another fire, but for them it could be anything but. They might have experienced a huge loss, or damage to their possessions, and hopefully nobody was hurt. It’s important to demonstrate empathy, compassion, and knowledge of what is going to happen and how things are going to go. The customer will appreciate you taking the lead on decision-making.
If you frame it properly, you can turn your expertise into a powerful tool to ease their minds, offer comfort, and establish credibility.
Here’s an example of how you could handle an incoming call:
"I am sorry we had to meet under these circumstances. Unfortunately, I meet all my customers under similar circumstances. I am here to help you get through this. Can I ask you, is everyone alright?”
Chances are everyone is alright, but you should ask anyways because they might be emotionally distraught, and re-centering their focus on the fact that everyone is fine can help reduce the emotional impact of the event. You can change their perspective with just that one simple question.
2. Use the call to get more insight into the property loss.
Once the customer tells you what’s going on, it would be so easy to just say, “alright, we’re on the way,” but doing so would be cutting your opportunity to gain trust short.
Instead try something like:
“I am sure you are feeling stressed over this situation. We can help you out. Am I able to get some information from you to ensure we send the right people, and the right equipment?”
By doing this, you’re giving yourself a leg up. Sometimes, what the customer described as “a ton of damage” could be a small bucket worth of water.
Giving them the opportunity to talk out the damages can help you ensure that you don’t overshoot or undershoot the job. You’ll be able to dispatch the right equipment, people, and resources, as efficiently as possible. Some apps even give you the ability to remotely request signatures, photos, and videos from customers before you arrive - use that to cement yourself as organized and professional in the eyes of the customer.
3. Send your contract to them remotely, so they can review it before the site gets hectic.
Easing the customer starts with asking good questions, and getting them to focus on your contract and agreements. Sending paperwork in advance, like a work authorization, allows them time to review it before the team arrives and the site becomes hectic. Allow them to ask the questions they need, without any pressure, and they may even sign it if they are comfortable doing so. This little step goes a long way to reducing barriers and building rapport with the customer.
Here’s an example of what you could say before sending documentation over:
“You are going to receive a copy of my contract while the team is getting organized. I want you to have a chance to read over it. Feel free to sign it on your phone if you feel comfortable, but if you have any questions please let me know when I get there. We will have some time to talk about the paperwork, as my team will be documenting the damages before we can start bringing in equipment. Does that sound good to you?”
By taking the time to walk the customer through the contract up front, you are showing them that there is nothing to hide, and you’re bringing comfort to them. Plus, addressing any cost concerns before the work begins is just a logical decision for your business. You need agreement on the terms before you start the job, or at least to understand how much risk there is of you not getting paid, so you can determine if it’s a risk you want to take.
If you’re unable to explain the terms of your contract, watch the customer’s trust disappear and the protective guards go up. So make sure you and your employees can explain all aspects of your contracts — or any documents for that matter — to the customer in simplified terms. Are you and your team confident that you can answer their questions? Imagine being told that you have a $15K loss but the restorer you're hiring is unable to explain the contract details properly — not exactly a confidence building interaction.
We also recommend getting your documents drafted by a lawyer who understands the restoration industry, but for starters, here is a basic set of legal documents every restoration business should have in their arsenal.
A job well done — from the initial call to the certificate of completion. ✅
It’s important to build repeatable communication processes for any type of property restoration job you’re facing, whether it is a small water loss or a nasty trauma scene clean-up. These processes will work to disarm and de-escalate tough situations, so you can control the environment you are going into physically, and emotionally.
Placing a focus on building a solid relationship with the homeowner can help you mitigate many of the problems that can arise during a normal job, establish a solid reputation for your business, and ensure a job well done from the initial call all the way to the certificate of completion.
Looking to make your property restoration business more profitable? Access templates, checklists, "how-to" guides and tactical "plays" from 14 restoration experts in our latest package: The 2023 Restorers Playbook