This week IAQ Radio welcomes Tim Miller the the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Business Development Associates Inc. Growing and marketing any business can be a challenge in today’s economy. Mr. Miller will give us tips any business owner can use though he specializes in helping those in the cleaning and restoration industry. Mr. Miller is a highly regarded sales and marketing expert in the cleaning and restoration industry and brings with him 30 years of experience and a unique perspective to help businesses solve their problems and grow to the next level. He is also a published author in several trade magazines and speaker at multiple industry events and conferences throughout the year, where he leverages his business experience in both the restoration industry and his other entrepreneurial ventures, including his own construction company in New Mexico. Miller was also the 2014 Network Restorer’s Keynote Speaker at their annual conference in Australia.
Continues to impress
Tim Miller is President of Business Development Associates, a full service sales and marketing agency that specializes in the restoration and cleaning business. I was impressed by Tim Miller when I first met him at an industry event some 20 + years ago and remain impressed by him today.
Nuggets mined from Tim’s interview:
Since the early 1970’s restoration firms have used marketing reps to do route marketing by visiting potential referral sources such as insurance agents, adjusters, facility managers, plumbers, etc. The reps would stop by monthly and drop off: donuts, scratch pads, advertising tchotchkes, etc. in the hopes of getting a promise of an opportunity to perform services. These old school restoration firms often have neither a sales manager nor a sales program. These firms may have flat or declining sales volume and low profit margins and may be dependent upon Third Party Administrated insurance repair programs.
- According to Tim this old school marketing approach no longer works and he advises clients to become proficient in consultative selling.
- Not everyone can sell. Poor sales people go from failure to failure. The only person they were capable of selling was the boss. After selling the boss they have a seemingly endless list of excuses for poor performance.
- Locating good salespeople is a process. Tim’s interview process utilizes a variety of tools to shrink the size of the pack. Phone and in person interviews are designed to put the salesperson under pressure and determine if they can think on their feet.
- Sales reps are told, “this is the way we do it here, sales people must do things our way.” Sales reps are held accountable, tightly managed and poor performers are weeded out. Sales people must embrace using Customer Relationship Management software.
- Clients are taught to think strategically, becoming marketing companies whose product is restoration. Restoration firms must try and solve fundamental business challenges for their clients. How does their service impact their client’s businesses such as helping them maintain policyholders or tenants? Seek partnership strategies; we’ll help you solve your business problems in exchange for referral business.
- Sales people need something different to talk about. Ask potential customers what their biggest 5 or 6 problems are and then try to develop effective solutions.
- A marketing strategy is necessary. What makes us better or different? Are we a mitigation specialist or a full service specialist? What do the firms that refer our services care most about? Is it no complaints, retaining policyholders, transparency, accountability, maintaining favorable loss ratio, etc.? Available software provides transparency so 3rd parties can monitor the work steps.
- Industrial Hygienist may not be involved in insurance claims. While often not covered by insurance, commercial mold remediation is a profitable niche. Restoration firms should try to contribute to the IH’s scope of work.
- The onsite sales process has changed. Policyholders are facing increased pressure from adjusters to cash out the claim. Policyholders are often more informed now. While mitigation work has a high close ratio 80%-90%, the sales closure ratio for post mitigation repairs is much lower. Many firms will be surprised to know how low the percentage really is. Your mitigation staff may be telling the client that they can choose anyone they want to make the repairs. In addition to technical proficiency lead techs also need to be sales savvy and able to handle sales objections and be able to close the deal.
- If you are a full service contractor avoid giving the client the impression that you will gladly dry the property while they shop the repairs. It is better to assume that you will be handling both the mitigation and the repair phases of the restoration.
- Policyholders must know in advance that work flow will be interrupted by the need to arrive at an agreed price with insurance adjuster. The sooner the scope of work can be completed the better.
- It’s becoming more common for restorers to be asked to provide an accurate price range for the project on-site at the first meeting.
- Recommends a sales process that detailing a two phase approach: phase 1 is emergency services, phase 2 is repairs. Assume the close all the way through the presentation. Use bio-cards to introduce staff. Create a presentation book which explains why the customer should use your firm (industry standards, pollution insurance, assurance the project is done right, etc. Trial close, all I need is a signature and I can begin measuring.
A second written sales presentation with graphics outlines the benefits of having us do both phases of the work.
- Weed out tire kickers: Big time killer of time and resources is writing estimates for people who don’t plan to use our services, these repair scopes should be prepared on a fee basis.
- Bottlenecks for business growth: 1) complacency relying too much on 3rd party administrators or weather events for work, 2) not having good data (what is our close rate, did we make money, etc.), 3) failure to embrace enterprise technology and use its full capabilities. Corporate change is difficult. Adopting software may take 6 months or longer.
- TPAs and insurance companies have a strangle hold on pricing. Progress today is more a game of inches improve efficiency, job costing, close rates, etc. “TPAs are like crack, I knew I shouldn’t have been doing it but I can’t help myself.” TPAs control cost. The trade off for volume is lower margin. The sweet spot for TPA work is 20%.
- Most successful restorers are self-made people who don’t have business or leadership training. Owners often have big egos. Owners need to ask themselves “how am I preparing for growth?”
- Sales growth adds complexity and brings new problems. Will you work harder, yell louder or win the hearts and minds of your staff. Successful owners must consider staff to be in their care and love the staff. “Companies don’t outgrow their leadership.”
Today’s music: The Marketing Mix Song (Business Studies take on Paparazzi by Lady Gaga) YouTube
Z-Man Signing Off