7 Steps to Near-Perfect Water Damage Client Retention
By Gregg Sargent
Too often companies schedule a job, and before they arrive onsite, the client calls back to say their insurance agent said to use its preferred company. Client retention in the restoration industry can be difficult. I got tired of losing jobs I had spent good marketing money to attract, so I started approaching every lead differently. I started treating every lead like someone was going to try to steal it from me — because, actually, someone was going to try to do just that!
Below I’ll lay out how I almost completely eliminated this profit killer. Of course, you will need to approach each client differently because each client is different. If you follow these steps closely and adapt with each client, you will get great results.
1 | Better calls
It starts on the phone call. I realized that when my clients talked to any other person before my crews arrived, my chances of losing the job increased significantly. Read my call conversion article in the December 2017 issue of Cleanfax for a more in-depth explanation.
Essentially, the best practices for restoration phone calls boil down to these points:
- Calm clients down quickly and build trust.
- Ask the right first question.
- Make customers feel safe.
- Get your crews on site.
- End the call assured the clients won’t call anyone else.
2| Better answers
Use this response when a client asks if they should call their insurance company or agent:
“Mrs. [client name], what I recommend is that we get out and do a free, thorough inspection with our infrared camera and moisture meters. The last thing we want is for you to get a claim on your record if it is not worth filing a claim. Now, if it is worth a claim, [use technician’s name] will start getting the water out to avoid additional damages and be right there with you, so that you can hand him the phone if your insurance company has any questions.”
3 | Visual close
Free, thorough inspections that are different from the rest make a big impression. I call it the “double visual close.” Walk through with clients, showing them the screen on your infrared camera; then verify the exact same area with a moisture meter. Research shows that around 65 percent of people make decisions based on what they see. Plus, people now days love technology.
4 | Audio Close
This involves using a hydrosensor or other tool that beeps when it detects moisture. Certain moisture meters will beep when moisture is found. Research show that about 35 percent of people make decisions based on what they hear. Just think about it. What do you do when you hear an alarm, smoke detector, carbon monoxide alarm, truck backing up, oven timer beeping, or fire truck or police car siren? We are programmed to act when we here certain types of sound. Many times, it means “danger” or “do something now.” Plus, often the person who is making the beeping noise is seen as an expert and someone to pay attention to.
Let the tools and meters do the selling. Don’t underestimate the power of a beeping sound.
5 |A sense of urgency
You need to redirect a client’s focus from coverage and finances to extracting water and avoiding additional damage. I’m not saying you want to trick the client. Absolutely not! Many clients will not make a complete decision with the first person they talk to. Here’s an example:
Client: I want to wait until I know there is coverage.
You: What I suggest is that we at least get the water out right now and set up the drying equipment to avoid any additional damages, costs, or bad smells. [Bring up smell!) I will take photos with my tablet and document everything for your adjuster. We can just take a deposit today of [amount] that can go towards your deductible if you decide to file a claim or towards a self-pay price. [You don’t have to ask for a deposit; that is up to you.]
6 | The no-excuse close
After step 5, if the client still says no, they are just the type of person that will not commit no matter what without insurance approval.
If and only if I am positive the job will be covered or that the client will pay me the self-pay price — or it is a big enough job to take the risk — I use the following closing tactic on this type of non-committal client. You say:
“I just do not want to leave and have you with additional cost and damages. What I suggest is that we get the water out right now and set up the drying equipment, and I will not charge you anything. I will take photos with my tablet and document everything for your adjuster. If tomorrow you find out there is no coverage and decide you want me to pull the equipment, I will at no charge. Or at that point, if you would like, we can work out a self-pay price. Now, if you find there is coverage, we are already drying your home. We will have everything documented properly, and your insurance company will be happy that you didn’t just leave it sit wet overnight.”
I have closed so many clients with this no-excuse close. Only a few times has the client asked me to pick up equipment.
Why this works:
- You’re not forcing the client to make a fast financial decision.
- You show your main concern is to get the water out and start the drying — not getting paid.
- When your client calls the insurance agent, the water is already out, and you have equipment running.
- The client will be on your side if the insurance company tries to kick you off.
- Most adjusters do not want to deal with two mitigation companies.
7 | First onsite
Give the client your business card with your cell phone, and be onsite with your documents and photos before the adjuster arrives. You’re professional, the client loves you, and you have correctly set up your equipment. The adjuster will almost never kick you off the job when you are standing next to a happy client with the equipment running.
Gregg Sargent is the president and owner of Sargent Strategic. He has more than 18 years of experience in the carpet cleaning and restoration industries after building and selling his successful company. He has more than 21 years converting cold leads into profitable jobs and was named the Worldwide Franchise Marketer of the Year and Worldwide Entrepreneur of the Year. He can be reached at 720-277-7113 or GreggSargent.Teachable.com
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February 21, 2023