Module 25 How to Succeed in Vendor Programs

Module 25 How to Succeed in Vendor Programs

Meet Ed

Instructor Ed Jones has over 30 years of experience in theindustry, has the title of MasterWater Restorer, is an Institute ofInspection Cleaning andRestoration Certification (IICRC)-approved instructor, and hasserved on the S500-2021consensus body committee todevelop the most recent standard.

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Many restoration restorers in today’s industry struggle with the decision on whether to participate in vendor programs or not and there are many pros and cons depending on which program you go with. They may mandate use of specific apps depending on what insurance carriers they handle and there will be a cost to receive claim referral opportunities, but that can be offset by not having to market for new work. The ones that measure capability through your knowledge, experience, and equipment, as well as your ongoing performance measuring adherence to standards and customer service are the fairest. That way you control the amount of claim referral opportunities you receive by how well you perform. One of the advantages of vendor programs is they require a high level of documentation, which actually not only protects the carrier, policyholder, and Third Party Administrator (TPA), but also protects you. I tell restorers all the time that it is better for us to say you did it right than it is for you to say you did it right.

Beside training TPA employees, restorers, and insurance professionals, I spend most of my time assisting with complaints and issues to investigate and try to resolve as quickly as possible, especially when there are allegations of incomplete drying or that a restorer caused mold or cross-contamination of contaminants. Half the time I end up defending our restorer and the other half I help them remedy the issue, to protect their claim referral opportunities and their reputation. My advice is to go into a program with an open mind and be ready to raise the bar of expectations when it comes to customer service, standards adherence, communication, and documentation. It will take extra training of your employees, but it can be a way to increase your business, while at the same time improving the way you document your drying projects. See some tips below that I have seen good restorers adopt in my 17 years’ experience in working with TPAs:

1. Punctuality

Speed is important when the longer the water sets in contact with materials the more costly and destructive the loss becomes. Be ready to roll and arrive on time, every time. Then keep everyone informed of your drying plan and any changes, as well returning all communication in a timely manner. See my 5 “Ps” to a successful relationship when working in the service industry - people will love working with you if you are always Prompt, Professional, Polite, Prepared, and Positive!

2. Documentation

Is the one area where many restorers really struggle. The good news is sharing information with today’s technology has become easy with the advent of apps and transferring information electronically through your cell phone. If you really want to excel in vendor programs, the way to separate your company from your competitors is to document better and get it to everyone promptly. Remember, the quicker you close your portion of a claim file by submitting all your documentation in a timely manner, the quicker you can get paid! Typically, there is one person at your company that is good at this and can specialize in providing timely documentation, while at the same time building relationships with those you work with daily.

3. Restore vs. Remove & Replace

In today’s drying world I have seen a tendency to “rip & gut” too often. Come join an IICRC ASD – How to Succeed in Vendor Programs course and learn how to dry materials in-place as much as possible. It not only gets the property owner back to normal more quickly, but also limits your labor costs and makes it more profitable by focusing on equipment rental. Another way to separate yourself from your competition is to dry in the least invasive manner possible, while documenting you left all the materials that you dried in a state that will not promote microbial growth. The really great water damage mitigation restorers love showcasing their skills in drying by drying as much as possible, right where it is and giving customers and their families their lives back!

4. Professionalism

If you look around at typical service technicians in today’s service industry it is easy to pick out the ones that look, talk, and act professional by driving clean, well-logoed vehicles, showing up on time, wearing clean uniforms with a photographed ID badge identifying the technician, wearing waterproof shoe protectors at all times when in someone’s home or business, communicating effectively to explain the drying plan and keeping everyone informed, and leaving your work site clean and organized. All your equipment should be clean and labelled. Your containment should have good signage that explains Do Not Enter, Do Not Turn Off Equipment, Safety Hazard, etc. so we can keep customers from turning off equipment or perhaps hurting themselves by tripping over cords, etc. At the same time, you can display your company logo and phone # on your door mat, meter mat, and containment. Have your technicians show their IICRC certification cards to the customer to prove they are currently certified to provide the services they have been hired to provide. Find a way to “WOW” your customer and you will earn a customer for life!

5. Training

Technology and standards are advancing rapidly, and you need to keep up with what is going on in today’s industry. Participate in developing standards and attend as many of the professional trade shows as possible. Join some committees and volunteer your time to help advance the industry. You will find the experience very rewarding and get to meet your peers. Provide weekly training meetings for your employees that focus on customer service, safety, technical proficiency, documentation, etc. There shouldn’t be a week go by that you don’t train your technicians on something new or work on areas of weakness to turn them into a strength. Some TPAs provide training and with today’s virtual training opportunities, it is much easier to get your technicians certified and to keep them current. I provide regular Virtual Getting EDucated Training Sessions that take less than an hour and focus on a specific training topic, like why it is not necessary to dry ceramic tile, how to effectively dry wood flooring, how to improve your documentation of your drying logs to protect you and your company, etc. Let me know what training you would like, and I’ll develop it for we all have room for improvement and in this very technical business you really have to hone your skills to stay at the top.

We are all in this together and this industry is great for people always have insurance claims and are looking for the best restorer to help them out. I tell everyone it is the old “80/20 rule” where out of all the restoration restorers out there, only about 20% of them really know what they are doing and do it well. You can find that in most any industry and it is certainly true in this one. Now most restorers have good intentions and want to do things right, but they don’t document well, or don’t have high standards for their technicians, or haven’t worked on their customer service skills, or don’t communicate effectively. Become really good at the “little things” and it will help you achieve “big things” in this industry!

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