Your Competitor May Get The Call!

Will you get the phone call or will your competitor?

Why should they call you instead of your competition? There better be a compelling reason for YOU to get the call, or many of you really don’t need to exist!

I ask this question at every “Soaring with Eagles” or “Ramp It Up Now” course that I teach around the country, and repeatedly get the same silly answers.  Usually, it is “great service” or “we care more” or “we have the latest cutting-edge” doohickey tool!”  Blah Blah Blah. Bottom line: everyone claims to offer great service or have the latest Binford 5000 machine but that isn’t enough to justify your business existence.

Have you ever heard anyone tout poor or average quality? Just telling the world you have great quality won’t do it for the majority of potential customers.

Sure you can offer the cheapest price and that may make you different from everyone else in town, but eventually, someone will either beat your price or you will go out of business.  In many businesses, there’s always someone willing to go out of business faster by pricing below cost and hoping to make it up on volume. One contractor looks pretty much like every other contractor so differentiation is critical!  Sadly, today, choosing a contractor is less a selection than a game of eeny, meeny, miny, moe. It’s just a random action. This explains why, in the past, so many contractors scrambled to grab the first three positions in the Yellow Pages.  Of course, we all know Yellow Pages are almost dead, so now what is your strategy?

Since there is so little differentiation between similar companies, it becomes a serious challenge to create a clear brand position for your company.  Defining a valid differentiator for your company can make a huge difference. How you are perceived in the marketplace should be crystal clear and unique from all others, with nobody else making the same claim.  That doesn’t mean no one could make the claim, but they are far less likely if you dominate that position.

In reality, it doesn’t matter whether other companies can make the same claim, but who makes it first and loudest is the one that gets the bragging rights.    You must market your company, and shout about your differentiation or uniqueness.  If you aren’t marketing it you won’t grow, (and probably will shrink or go out of business) and failure to properly market your company is like winking in the dark, because you may know what you’re doing, but nobody else does.
Building and solidifying a strong brand position isn’t that easy and most contractors need help doing it.

Developing a winning brand position involve several key ingredients.  I’ve said many times that you must know your client’s issues, pains, challenges, frustrations, and concerns.  Without knowing these, you have no way of creating a strong position, and less likely that you will create raving fans.

Learn what customers consider painful about your particular service or industry and take a position countering it.  Find out what scares customers most about calling a company like yours!  Is it showing up late? Is it the risk of open-ended pricing?  It is how the technician will treat your property? Is it a contractor taking advantage of a homeowner’s lack of knowledge about your products or services?

Associate your company with a social cause. A contractor in Northwest Indiana operates pink trucks with the Susan G. Komen logo. He donates a percentage of his net profit for that truck to the Susan G. Komen foundation and positions his company as the contractor supporting a breast cancer cure. Another of my clients has a mascot dog named Barkley that is featured in programs to support the Humane Society and other similar animal rights causes.   Charities could range from school charities to feeding the homeless. Green causes may revolve around energy or water conservation programs or wild river charities. You can even build a position as a company that only installs products made in America.

You could write a “how to” book giving the basics of a specific project.  Sure, some of you will say, “If I tell them how, then they won’t need me!”  How wrong you are. Lowes and Home Depot routinely hold “how to” workshops and yes, they want to sell products, but I know that often the customer hires one of their subcontractors to do the work anyway.  The vast majority of quality customers think they want to know how to make a repair, but few actually do it. They hire the contractor they consider an expert in that field. By using this credential, you position yourself as an expert, which is a very significant reputation to hold.

What awards has your company won? What training have your people received? How have you been recognized by experts (or as experts)? What publications have you written, or been featured in?  Create a position by declaring yourself to be a specialist, rather than all things to all people. Rather than try to serve an entire major metro area, focus on one county or one large suburb and claim it as yours.

Do you have points of distinction you could build a position around?  Are you the oldest plumbing company in your area? That’s a position. Are you the biggest company? That’s a position. Are you not the oldest or biggest? Maybe you’re the oldest or biggest “family owned” company. You can make “fun” a position.

The idea of identifying a real differentiation between you and your competitors is critical to your survival, and one of our specialties is helping you identify that differentiation and then implement it in your market.

Dick Wagner is a Disaster Restoration Sales Coach and Commercial Marketing Consultant.  419-202-6745

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

Insurance Payments to the Insured

Have you heard these comments from your customers?

  • How much of the insurance money is mine for the loss at my place?
  • You are a company you can afford not to get paid.
  • I am not going to pay you.
  • Take me to court to collect the money.
  • The insurance company only pays the insured.
  • I think you are charging too much!

These questions and situations have happened to me many times in the business. How do you overcome these types of people? How do you get paid for your services rendered that you have completed? What tools are out there for the Service provider to help determine who is good and who is not?

Now there is a choice for Service Providers. KnowYourCustomers.com has developed a business networking system with the tools provided to work out the issues and also to put those people on a list so other service providers do not come across the same individual. It is time we the business person get back what we are owed for the work we do. This is a Business Resource for Avoiding Customers Who Don’t Pay.

The Consumer has had many tools for years to post or comment against you why have we not had a tool? Now you have a choice. Know Your Customers can provide a solution for you please follow the link and see how this was developed with you the business owner in mind.
Please look at the FAQ’s and How it works to give you a better understanding.

If you would like more information please contact me at john@knowyourcustomers.com

Note: This is a guest article written by John Covender, President and Founder of KnowYourCustomers.com

Dick Wagner is a Disaster Restoration and Commercial Marketing Consultant. 419-202-6745

Working ON Your Business Not IN it!

Are You Working ON Your Business?

Long term survival and the success of your business is dependent upon your willingness to spend time ON your business instead of being a slave to it. You should be doing work to develop new business and making sure that you have all the other business management elements in place so you can invest your efforts on making your business better. So often, business owners seem to want new business to “find” its’ way to them, but that rarely happens. Furthermore, you have said to yourself a thousand times, “I can do this so much better than my employees.”

For you to really succeed, you must find time every day to work on at least one critical aspect of running your business. This might include networking, cold calling, marketing, or even reviewing the financials.

As the owner, you have to market and promote your products and services:
If the thought of marketing is overwhelming or intimidating, start with a simple strategy of scheduling lunch meeting with every business person you know in your community. You need this exposure and interaction.

Make time on your calendar to devote to working on your business, and don’t let anyone or anything cancel that time. You are incredibly vulnerable to being sidetracked and losing your focus. Treat that time seriously, as if it were a major client meeting. As a business owner, it is absurd to think you can turn the entire marketing process over to a sales manager or a salesperson! You own the business; YOU are responsible for making sales, in addition to expecting your sales staff to do the same. If you delegate most of this to someone else, you are in effect saying – “I’m trusting my business and future to someone that is working here for a paycheck!”

See the vision as a roadmap, and then drive toward it:
Visions are more powerful than goals because visions have an emotional component. When you see a picture, it evokes emotion – involving your heart, not just your head. This is far more powerful than only writing down an idea. We are moved more than 90% more if there is a compelling picture involved! (think World Trade Center on fire).

Every business owner I have spoken with always says “I wish I could find sales people that have the same passion as I do.” The reality is these people would own their own business if that were the case. They will NEVER have the same passion and vision as you, so plan to set parameters, targets, rules, expectations, and metrics to measure their successes (or failures). As an “acting sales manager” for many business owners, I help hold sales staff feet to the fire – making sure they are performing the way they should.

If you don’t tell people about what you do, why you do it, how it will help them, then it’s like you are shooting ducks in the dark with a blindfold on. As an owner, you need to get from point A to point Z, successfully, so there has to be a strategy and you have to see where you are going to achieve this. Nobody gets into their car, puts on a blindfold and starts driving down the road!

Use Social Media to Get More for Your Marketing Buck:
Determine what social media networks your ideal clients use, and post to them frequently. For example, if your client or customer base is primarily retail type consumers, post on Pinterest or Facebook. There is NO QUESTION that social media marketing is being successfully used today. You need to make sure you are getting in on that action.

If you are mostly a B2B service, LinkedIn and Twitter work well to get your message out. Since I teach an eight-hour course on the best ways to use Social Media for Business, these two sentences can’t begin to say what you need to consider or do with social media. Just don’t be lulled into the belief that you don’t need it right now, because that’s sticking your head in the sand!

Today is a new world. We have a different culture and society whether we like it or not. This new society uses Social Media – a lot. Your customers ARE using it to communicate about your products and services, even if you have not embraced the social media world. Don’t get caught directly behind the eight ball, totally oblivious to what is happening with a large percentage of your existing customer base.

Properly Train New Employees:
Whether a new hire remains with your firm and becomes a productive part of the team depends a lot on how well they are integrated into the team. Do they have a welcoming first day? Are they given proper training?

In-house training is extremely important if the new hire is going to be involved in sales/marketing. You must make sure they understand the value of your services and how to communicate that value. You can’t drop a new hire into a selling situation, say, “Go to it!” and expect them to generate good results. Even if the hire has a great sales track record, they need instruction and training.

“Executives think they can go out and hire great salespeople. In their minds, they’re hiring a salesperson in a box – just bring them in, add water, and the sales just roll in. Further, most sales and marketing people learned the process from “old school teachers” that made the sales call about themselves. Teach your staff that it’s about the client and NOT about your own company, or you will lose.

Dick Wagner is a National Sales Coach for the Disaster Restoration Industry and Commercial Marketing Consultant.  419-202-6745

Specializing in exclusive territory commercial marketing 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

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

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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