Consistency – Not Having It Will Cost You!

Trust takes weeks, months, even years to build.

Trust is something that scales; it’s something that we can continue to build on for decades, for a lifetime, or longer. Trust is the investment you cash in on when you print “Since 1870” on your beer label. Trust can take a century to build. Sadly, trust can take seconds to destroy.

Trust isn’t just the most valuable asset that you have at your disposal; it might be your only asset. You can use that trust to find new employees, you can use that trust to build new partnerships and make sales, but you can’t buy trust with money, and it takes a long time to earn it all over (if you even can) again once you’ve lost it.

The only way that you build trust is with consistency. It is through our most consistent behavior and attitudes that we develop a reputation that others know who we are and whether or not we can be counted on.

In a B2B scenario, consistency can refer to consistent follow-up, consistently ensuring that every web page we design for a client is just as good as the last one. In marketing, consistency might mean turning away that major client who wanted you to disobey the do-not-call list in your telemarketing efforts so that your other clients know that you can be trusted not to associate their brand with invasive advertising techniques.

In the classic Tarantino film Jackie Brown, Samuel L. Jackson’s character is asked about a girlfriend of his who is always trying to double cross him. Questioned on why he keeps her around, Jackson replies “Well you can’t trust Melanie, but you can always trust Melanie to be Melanie.” This is an example of the kind of trust that you don’t want to earn, but if you consistently fail to complete a project on time, if you consistently release poorly tested products, if you are consistently inconsistent, reversing your position on everything on a near-daily process, this is the kind of trust that you’ll earn: we can be one hundred percent certain that you’re not going to deliver on your promises. Your customers, your employees, your friends and family all learn who you are and know your reputation. It must be consistently good!

You don’t build trust with the big product launches. You don’t build trust with the expensive ad campaigns. You build trust by doing the right thing every day, even when there’s no glory in it. You build trust by consistently being there for your customers and your partners and your clients. You build trust by always telling the truth in your marketing campaigns, even when the truth isn’t flattering. You build trust with a reliable customer service department. You build trust with reliable products and services and by honoring your warranties and your promises to the market.

You don’t build trust with the big moves, you build (or lose) trust with the small moves, being reliable, and offering some kind of real accountability when you do fail to fulfill the promises that you’ve made. It’s about consistency. It’s not about just impressing people, it’s not about blowing everyone away, it’s not about joking with the press at a conference or showing up to the meeting in your new convertible, it’s about doing right by the people you deal with on a daily basis. It’s even about making it “right” when you’ve screwed up.

Impressive product launches are great, there’s something to be said for showmanship and big, game-changing ideas, but if your whole business plan rotates around impressing people enough that they give you all their money, then you’re not a businessperson, you’re a con-artist. A businessperson, a true capitalist, is here for the long-haul, and that means putting in the footwork, doing the little things that need to be done every day in order to build trust, and doing them consistently.

To put the importance of consistency into just one sentence: Nobody ever won Husband of the Year by “not cheating all that often.”

It’s not the sexy, exciting or glamorous part of running a business or hiring people or earning clients or maintaining a marriage or raising a child or making friends, it’s just the most important.

Within an organization, when the owner or managers continually change the rules, continually modify the program, regularly throw a monkey wrench into the plan, all that’s generated is chaos, resentment, and ultimately a staff with low morale, lack of motivation and potentially failure of your business.

It’s OK to have your business plan or strategies be a living document – constantly tweaking a few little things to get it perfect. This will even be necessary since the world, our culture and society are constantly changing. However, the wholesale dramatic major changes you make every few days or weeks in your organization will take a huge toll of the effectiveness and eventually the profit and survival of your company. It will also cost you good employees.

It doesn’t have to be “slow and steady,” you just need solid, reliable, dependable consistency.

Dick Wagner is a Sales Coach and Consultant    419-202-6745

Published courtesy of Dick Wagner   AskDickWagner, LLC
Nationally recognized restoration sales consultant
Specializing in exclusive territory commercial sales programs

LEED Certified Buildings – Should You Restore Them?

LEED, or “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,”

a set of standards which are used for the design, construction, and the maintenance of buildings which are considered “green,” or environmentally responsible and efficient. LEED standards can not only help to reduce the impact that construction and building operation can have on the local environment and its population, but they are also important toward reducing energy costs for heating, cooling, and lighting, all of which can have enormous benefits for a property owner.

There are currently over 7,000 LEED projects within the United States and countries around the world, and LEED-certification continues to be a very popular option for property owners that want to have a much less damaging impact on the environment. LEED buildings also mean lower energy costs throughout the year, which can be very important in areas which reach extremely high temperatures, extremely low temperatures, or both throughout the year.

LEED-certified contractors should be your first point of contact if you need repairs for a wide number of reasons, but among them is the familiarity with LEED that the contractor can bring to the work site. With minimal introduction, a LEED contractor can get to work on a green building much more readily than a contractor which isn’t at all familiar with LEED standards. What is surprising is there are very few LEED-certified disaster recovery contractors in the US.

What LEED Means

In order to have a building certified with LEED, however, it’s important to work with contractors that are LEED certified themselves. Contractors who pass LEED certification must:

  • Comply with local standards for construction activity, which covers pollution prevention.
  • Have a proper plan and protocol for waste management on a construction site.
  • Use recycled materials where and when available, as well as regional materials to reduce the carbon footprint of construction or repair.
  • Use sustainable, certified wood products.
  • Manage indoor air quality both during construction and before the building will be occupied.
  • Use low emitting materials, which includes certain sealants, paints, and coatings.

LEED contractors can not only help you to maintain these standards during any construction project but for repairs on a LEED-certified building as well. In fact, the best way to maintain your certification is to work with a LEED certified contractor for the job. All subcontractors who work under that contractor must maintain the same standards that the contractor must abide by, which means that you’ll not only get top quality work, but that you can also rest assured that all employees on the site will be aware of the proper LEED standards to follow.

Why LEED Repairs are Vital

Choosing a LEED-certified, green building plan is a great way to help both the environment and your budget, but when you need repairs, it’s all the more important to maintain conservational and environmental concerns. Repairs to any building will still require building materials, monitoring of interior air control, use of recycled materials where available, and more. There will also need to be considerations for waste management, and for local laws and guidelines regulating any and all construction or repair work. LEED contractors must be fully aware of all of these criteria before they can even begin a job properly.

With a LEED contractor, you will get:

  • More energy-efficient repair work, which includes repairs to roofing, insulation, and other aspects which can affect your energy usage.
  • Green-oriented repairs to walls, flooring, and other areas, including the materials which are used.
  • Savings on materials if you are using recycled matter from the same, or another, construction site.
  • Long term savings by having LEED-systems properly repaired, maintained, or installed.

In both the short and long terms, having a LEED-certified contractor handling your repairs means savings, more productivity, and an overall more effective operation. If you are a LEED certified contractor performing disaster mitigation, clean-up, and repairs, please contact me so I can add you to the list.

Types of LEED Certifications:
Green Building Design & Construction

  • LEED for New Construction (Commercial)
  • LEED for Core & Shell
  • LEED for Schools
  • LEED for Retail: New Construction and Major Renovations
  • LEED for Healthcare

Green Interior Design & Construction

  • LEED for Commercial Interiors
  • LEED for Retail: Commercial Interiors
  • Green Building Operations & Maintenance
  • LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance

Green Neighborhood Development

  • LEED for Neighborhood Development

Green Home Design and Construction

  • LEED for Homes (Single-Family, Multifamily and “Mid Rise”)

Dick Wagner Nationally recognized restoration sales coach and consultant. 419-202-6745

Nationally recognized restoration marketing consultant
Specializing in exclusive territory commercial marketing programs

Your Social Media Program – Is It Perfect?

DOES YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PROGRAM HAVE A ROADMAP?

Driving around aimlessly, or in lazy circles may seem “fun” to some people, but the reality is you never end up at the right (or any appropriate) destination.

With the advent of smartphone apps, GPS devices, and satellite mapping, trips become much more efficient and much less costly since we know exactly where we are going and what route we will take.

Many companies using social media have inadvertently become lost drivers – unsure where they are going and even less sure how to get there. Often, they start using social platforms with the goal of reaching a certain number of Likes, Retweets or Shares, but just as often, they begin the trip of social media strategies experiencing a disconnect between the Content they post on their Blog or in Tweets. Even more frustrating is the methodology they use to measure their success.  It isn’t about how many Likes on the Facebook business page!   It IS about the level of engagement, interaction, participation and two-way communication you are having with these social media “friends.”  Absent this, it simply means you are driving without a roadmap; you probably just don’t know it.

When you finally determine social media isn’t working for you, your social media approaches are likely missing one or two fundamental components: an effective content strategy and making it about THEM, not you.

Here are three ways a solid content strategy can improve your company’s social media success:
How Important is a Like?
You probably have learned that all social media engagement is not created equally. To realize success with social media activity that you generate, it must support your marketing goals – whether you want to boost customer conversions, build interest in a service, or simply engage customers so they can feel connected to you and your company. (People like to feel involved)!
Developing an appropriate and effective Content strategy before you get involved in social media will help your business clarify the specific marketing goals you want to achieve. Well thought-out Content enables you to communicate effectively to reach those goals. This process will ensure you get the right likes, shares, and retweets from social interactions.

Social is a Channel.
Social media is a channel for sharing compelling Content with your audience, and it doesn’t work if you don’t know what issues, topics and trends your audience finds compelling. Learning how those you are trying to reach want to be talked to, is a key part of developing a content strategy. Those on Facebook will expect something different than those on Twitter or Pinterest. Where do they go for the information they need at that moment? How much time do they spend online searching for the info they want? What kind of content are they looking for from your industry?

By getting to know the pains, issues, challenges, and interests of your audience (customers and potential customers, etc.), you can develop specific campaigns to reach your online audience more effectively, saving you time and enhancing your company’s social influence.  Remember, the primary reason to be social is to be a part of your community and customers.

Relevant Content Should be of Substance.
Rulers of social content don’t become that way by luck. They use strategic procedures and methods to connect with their audience through the right channels at the right times. More importantly, they make these connections meaningful and memorable by posting and sharing strategic, relevant content that their audiences desire.

Being successful in the world of social media means you have to create a detailed roadmap, identifying all the “places you want to visit, and how you will get to those places.”  A well planned, well thought-out, well-implemented Content strategy is not only an important component of any social media strategy; it’s the key to driving the results your business wants.

Your audience members enjoy your valuable or interesting social content when you deliver social content that rewards them for sharing your content, engaging with your business and, ideally, helping to promote your reputation as a thought leader in your business or industry.  The right, methodically planned content strategy allows you to do just that when you have a clear and concise roadmap for your social media trip. Providing informative, helpful, educational, creative, and even humorous content makes it far more likely that you will have meaningful interactions.

Author: Dick Wagner – nationally renowned expert on Social Media for Service Businesses   419-202-6745

Relationship Marketing is Alive – Maybe!

Route Marketing Is Dead

…is the title of the last article I wrote for R&R mag online. Many of the calls and emails I received asked if I thought they should completely quit marketing to insurance agents or adjusters or plumbers. The short answer is No. More accurately is: HOW you are marketing – (what you are saying) because cookie marketing won’t get the jobs you need and want. Wasted route marketing is what I keep referring to as Stop, Drop and Roll. Simply put, it is when the “marketing rep,” (and I use that term loosely) is more concerned about how many Stops they are able to achieve in one day or week/month. They just Drop off a bag of donuts and Roll on to the next Stop.

Some owners think that the shotgun blast approach – requiring the rep to hit as many Stops as possible – somehow increases the likelihood that the Stop will automatically produce work! I continue to be amazed at how many restoration contractors want quantity over quality. Quantity equates to a less mental effort, less skill, less commitment and creates an illusion that “busy” is better, and that type of marketing certainly means fewer deep relationships.

Relationships are the glue that keeps the client close to the marketer/restoration company. Relationships are what make the prospect want to refer work to the marketer. Relationships are what help overcome the occasional “bad” situation that develops during a project. I don’t advocate that you quit visiting prospects – quite the opposite! Just be absolutely sure that you and your marketing reps understand how important the Relationship connection is to what you really want to achieve.

Since it is clear in almost every “marketing for dummies” type book, that relationships are the key, the challenge is: what are the steps, the process, and the methods, to develop valuable relationships. An old boss (sorry Jack – didn’t mean it that way) used to tell me that we really don’t want all the potential customers; we only wanted 10% of them. What he meant was that first: you can’t get All the customers, second: you don’t want All the customers, third: there is the old Law of Diminishing Return that goes something like this; 10% of the good customers will yield you 90% of the sales. And yes, I’ve taken a very liberal literary license with this idea, however, the point to be taken is; don’t waste your valuable time (something you can’t buy more of) trying to hook all the fish in the sea of prospects.

Most important are the Steps and Methods you use to develop these relationships. So often the rep visit to the prospect goes something like this: “Hi, I’m Frankie with BigDog Restoration. Let me tell you a little about BigDog. We answer our phone 24/7/365 and we are IICRC certified and we care more about our customers, and we have uniforms, and no tattoos and logoed trucks, and a really cool thing is we are the only contractor in the area that has the Binford Ultra 5000 SuperSucker machine so we can dry your clients’ property in 15 minutes or less.” Or some baloney like this.

There are several fatal flaws in that approach which gets you into immediate trouble. First, your competition is going to go out and buy the Binford Screamin Meanie 6000 Ultra Fast SuperSucker, so all of that effort (and money) is now wasted, therefore promoting equipment won’t buy you long term business. Second, the prospect really does NOT care about your business, does NOT want to know the details of your business! Third, if you haven’t learned this yet, it’s NOT about you!

I can’t impress upon you enough that the prospect cares about their business, their opportunities, their sales, their profit, their quality of life, their success, etc. OK, you think, then I’ll just go in and say “tell me a little about your business” or some other fatal comment. If you have to ask them to tell you a little about their business, then shame on you. You should already know a LOT about their business, having done your homework on that prospect and industry. You should already know which prospects can send you jobs; know which ones have the potential for a reasonable volume of work to send you, know about the challenges and issues facing the prospect, and how you can help them get what they want. For example, it is no secret that many insurance agents are struggling to retain clients, in part because of the big shift to internet purchased insurance. You ought to know this already and then demonstrate to the prospect that you understand this and that your company-focus is on helping the agent with client retention. They are then far more likely to want to do business with you. This is just one of a hundred (thousand) ways to bring value to your prospect in advance – just one of so many ways that you are helping them with what they care about; (their sales, their profit, their quality of life, their success).

Poor route marketing IS dead, but Relationship building is not. Stop, Drop and Roll marketing is a shotgun blast into the air – you might get lucky and hit a low flying bird once in a while but that’s not reliable and certainly not profitable. I love the saying “even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.” Don’t let your marketing rep be out there blindly hoping to “find a nut” and think they are really doing a good job!

It is also no secret that most restoration contractors are experiencing a shrinking book of the smaller residential losses/jobs. (If you just got on a third party program, you may have the perception that you are finally seeing that long sought-after increase, but I am not hopeful that it will be long term considering all the radical changes happening in the insurance claims industry). Plus, you probably joined the TPA program because you were experiencing less and less small residential work that used to be your bread and butter.

It is very important – especially since our society is dramatically changing, to have a marketing process where your reps utilize a specialized sales program to “see the right people, say the right things, provide value-in-advance, and recognize that the prospect cares about their own issues – not yours.” In addition to these specialized sales and marketing methods, it is my belief that for mitigation and restoration contractors to survive over the next 10 or 15 plus years, they will need to implement a very methodical and targeted strategy to develop commercial work. This means creating the opportunities NOW to get referrals from commercial property managers, facilities managers, schools, colleges, hotels, large churches, hospitals, etc before your competition does! And make no mistake about it… your competition is aggressively going after this potential work, signing up commercial properties in anticipation of that future disaster that could strike their facility.

Recently, I had a client bemoaning the fact that all the “out-of-town, out-of-state contractors, including all the national multi-office companies, swarmed into New Jersey and New York after Hurricane Sandy and took all of what this contractor thought was going to be hurricane gravy opportunities. She thought her ship had come in, only to find out the competition smashed a hole in her figurative ship and she floundered in the water without getting all the work she had hoped. An on-going strategy of methodical marketing, developing emergency response plans for the commercial prospects in the region, would have put her securely in a position of having the most profitable jobs already in her portfolio. The out-of-staters wouldn’t have had the heyday they got.

If the “local” contractor had previously developed a locked-in, committed, commercial client base, she would have had first pick of those losses. Society is dramatically changing the way business is done, the way they interact with people, the way they refer and recommend, AND the way they hire contractors.

Is Relationship Marketing Alive?
Author: Dick Wagner, National Sales Coach

Nationally recognized restoration marketing consultant
Specializing in exclusive territory commercial marketing programs

Stupid Things Contractors Say On Social Media

I hope you didn’t make this stupid comment!

The highlighted message below (in quotes) was recently posted on a Social Media site by a contractor who, in my opinion, is ill-informed – at best.

“Attention Homeowners: Do Not Choose a Restoration Company/Contractor who has little, or no experience working with Insurance companies.
As the insurance policyholder, it is your responsibility to disclose any loss to the insurance company and provide the necessary documentation required to process the claim. You will need an estimate from a restoration company that meets the strict insurance company requirements, created using specific estimating software. If the estimate format does not meet the insurance company standards, it may be rejected.”

Sadly, the above statement seems to be the belief of many restoration companies! In my humble opinion, it’s absolutely WRONG.

First: The Skills and Experience needed are: knowing the correct way to mitigate and restore the property.

Second: what do they mean “disclose any loss?” If the toilet overflows in your home and you get it cleaned up quickly and properly, and choose not to make a claim (or the cost is below your deductible amount), you are NOT required to contact your insurance company.

Third: An Estimate is not required. Certainly, the property owner may want an idea of what to expect in costs, but it is NOT required, and the insurance company does not and cannot demand it!

Fourth: No insurance company has the right to require the contractor to use “specific estimating software.” There are several Estimating programs on the market and the key word is “Estimate.” That means approximate, close, about, in the area, a general idea or expectation of the cost.

Policyholders are required to immediately mitigate their loss to prevent further damage. This means they are required to hire a contractor and get the loss mitigated ASAP. No estimate is required by the insurance company, (however, the policyholder may ask for an approximate price). And, yes, the adjuster or agent may TELL YOU that you need to get an estimate but they cannot DEMAND it! No place in the homeowner policy does it require an estimate before work is done.

Only those contractors that have sold their souls to Third Party Administrators or Preferred Vendor Programs are expected to use the “approved pricing program of the TPA or insurance carrier – in the format they demand.”

Working With Insurance Companies.
As the insurance policyholder, it is your responsibility to disclose any loss to the insurance company and provide the necessary documentation required to process the claim. You will need an estimate from a restoration company that meets the strict insurance company requirements,

created using specific estimating software. If the estimate format does not meet the insurance company standards, it may be rejected.”

Sadly, the above statement seems to be the belief of many restoration companies! In my humble opinion, it’s absolutely WRONG.

Dick Wagner, National Sales Coach, and Commercial Marketing Expert

Five Personality Types Jeopardizing Your Success

The procrastinator: waits seemingly forever for the right moment, the right situation, to act. If you want a self-fulfilling prophecy, then practice procrastination! It leads to apathy and is extremely demotivating. It’s easy for many people to be procrastinators. There’s always “a better time” to do what needs to be done. To say we work better under pressure is bogus and it really means we are desperate and have no choice but to perform.

The distracted person is one I’ve written about before. This kind of person is like the cat chasing the red laser light. They’re constantly vulnerable to the shiny object syndrome (SOS). Too much time spent on poor ideas and the rabbit holes instead of setting goals and working the plan. I see this in business owners that constantly think they need to add an additional service to their product offering. They waste valuable time and resources (often money) trying to get a new service or product off the ground and yet they haven’t perfected their core services.

The dreamer has lots of big ideas and I’ve also written articles about this too. Since we all know that dreaming can be a good thing for coming up with new ideas, we get pulled in to the dreaming syndrome of wasted time on far-fetched ideas and fail to implement any of them. Sadly, without effective and full implementation, dreams are doomed to failure.

The analytical becomes too paralyzed with overthinking to let go and make something happen. I teach specialized marketing classes around the country and routinely see business owners and sometimes even GM’s that are so focused on “what might go wrong,” or “what could improve it” that they never take the strategies any further. They can see it all “in their head” but that’s where the strategy stays – dead and incomplete.

The non-producer is always busy but never really productive. How many marketing reps have worked for you that were always bubbly, energetic, happy, constantly on the go, But… rarely ever really produced jobs or real work. Their engine is screaming, there is lots of noise, and smoke is pouring out the exhaust, but their wheels are in the mud just spinning and not going anywhere. Owners often telling me their marketers are rocking but these same owners don’t understand that real jobs need to be generated by these marketers. Lots of “busy” action rarely leads to jobs and projects that generate income. Without COLLABORATION MARKETING, it’s all wasted effort.

As a side note about the non-producer: this type of person usually only last a few months to a year and then the owner hires another person to do the same foolish thing. If only they knew how to use collaboration marketing to generate maven relationships, instead of the Stop Drop and Roll marketing!

Click on the links in this article to read more about “Stop Drop and Roll,” and Collaboration!
Dick Wagner is a Disaster Restoration and Commercial Marketing Consultant.

As Owner or General Manager Do You Sell?

As the Owner or GM do you go out, call on clients and actually sell?

I consult with and coach many business owners, and I hear a common complaint: “The sales team isn’t making their revenue numbers and I don’t know what to do to get their sales numbers up. What should I do?”

When I ask how much the Owner or GM is selling, I almost always get the same answer – “My GM doesn’t sell.” Really? How can he be “in touch?” Worse is: “I’m too busy being the Owner to go out and sell!”

The problem with many owners and managers is that they aren’t expected to get out of the office and sell. And the problem with that is how can they teach and coach something they aren’t doing themselves (or worse, that they can’t do)? How do they have real credibility?

The most effective and respected owners and managers lead by example. They have a personal quota (even if it’s a small number) and they keep their skills sharp and refined because they are on out in the real world closing prospects and clients every day. This gives them a real understanding of what it takes to get the job done, and so they are in the best position to teach this to others. Continue reading “As Owner or General Manager Do You Sell?”

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