Angels in the Architecture

people comforting each other

Think about the energy you enjoy when the phone rings and the voice on the other end refers you to a loss that you’re needed on right away. Maybe it was a fire or maybe a pipe burst when no one was home. You yearn for those! Your adrenaline spikes and your chest puffs. The electricity of being a hero courses through your veins. Time to make it right, keep the team hustling, and earn that money! You have done this before, and you will do it again.

But for the homeowner who just lost irreplaceable family pictures and their sense of security, they are suffering and lack your surplus spirit of adventure.

Before your techs rush out the next time to rummage through a stranger’s residence and spout confidently to the saddened, gray-faced customer how they can “just rip out the drywall,” think about whether you have dedicated time to making sure your employees understand how to communicate and demonstrate empathy. Does everyone in your company recognize that the homeowner may be coping with grief and a considerable sense of loss? Do they realize that the most important damage needing repair doesn’t happen with 2x4s or dehus? That repair for your customer’s emotional well-being and health comes from communication, consideration, and giving them space and appreciation?

“They are not just your customer; they are someone’s mother, father, son, daughter, or friend. And the moment they entered your life, they became your most important purpose for why you work in the restoration industry.”

Every one of your employees is an ambassador of your company, especially when inside someone’s home. Reinforce this, not just when you hire people, but weekly. Search out how your team interacts with homeowners when you are not there. Publicly reward those who go above and beyond in making certain the family feels valued and emotionally safe. A customer who just experienced a significant loss isn’t looking for a new best friend. But they are seeking someone who can provide guidance as to how they not only get their house back, but when it will feel like a home again, especially if the loss is substantial.

Your customer didn’t wish this upon themselves and even though you may be the best restorer in town, they don’t really want to use your services. They need to. And there is a world of anxiety found between the span of “want to” and “need to.” Make sure your team understands this.

It is normal for someone experiencing a disaster such as a fire or flood in their home to feel nervous, scared, angry, or embarrassed. It becomes a significantly bigger issue when the loss is connected to a regional event such as a hurricane, wildfire, or tornado. News networks and social media platforms amplify catastrophic events. The homeowner doesn’t just feel like they lost their house, they are scared their neighbors and community will never be the same. Make sure your team is conscious of this every time they walk onto a job site. Walls and floors can be replaced but making new memories and feeling a return to normalcy takes longer.

holding hands

Often, all customers see are problems. All they want is comfort. They are looking for angels in the architecture. Explain in detail what you are doing, why, and how this all ends.

A man walks down the street
It’s a street in a strange world

He doesn’t speak the language…
…He is surrounded by the sound, the sound

He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says, “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!”

– Paul Simon, You Can Call Me Al

Often, all customers see are problems. All they want is comfort. They are looking for angels in the architecture. Explain in detail what you are doing, why, and how this all ends.

Here are some tips for helping your customers through the emotional toll they are experiencing.

  • Always ask what you can do to support them. Find out if they have friends and family they are leaning on. Offer up a gift card to a restaurant so the family can go out for a meal and a chance to get away. A lot of good can come from having a night out with dinner and a little freedom from pain.
  • Remind your team that your customers will have good days and bad days as they work through the event.
  • Encourage them to never take any of a customer’s bad days personally. Bad days are normal and healthy. Motivate your people to always be willing to listen.
  • Find small things you can do on the side to help. This could be as simple as doing some grocery shopping for them, mowing their lawn, taking their dog for a walk, or picking up some dry cleaning.
  • For a family with young children, it’s possible a prized toy may have been lost. Bringing them a stuffed animal or a new doll goes a long way toward creating a smile on a child’s face. Make the child smile and mom and dad will smile even more.
  • Let the homeowners know you are there for them with no judgement for how they feel or how the loss happened. While it’s easy to look at customers as just another job file or invoice when you are overwhelmingly busy, they aren’t. They have questions and concerns. It’s not because they want to waste your time or enjoy being a pain. It’s because this is new to them. Be the patient expert they need.
  • Don’t ever assume you know how a customer feels or what they should think. Everyone is different. Treat them like individuals and focus on earning their trust. They desire something and someone to trust right now.
  • Everyone needs some sunshine now and then, especially during dark times. A good laugh will provide that, so be friendly and approachable. Smile when you see them. Laugh when you need to, so they will laugh when they can.
  • Studies show homeowners can feel violated when strangers enter their home, even employees there to provide help. Little things like asking permission before opening a door or drawer goes a long way toward easing these feelings.
  • Those going through an unforeseen loss are walking down a street in a strange world. They don’t know what’s around the next corner, only that this isn’t where they want to be. All they see are problems. All they want is comfort. They are looking for angels in the architecture.

leaks

It can be easy for us to get caught up in the work to be done restoring someone’s home or business. Do not forget that we are also helping people who have gone through something difficult, and sometimes traumatic. Be approachable. Take a moment to listen. Respect their property. And make sure everyone on your team is trained and prepared for working well with your customers.

Explain in detail what you are doing, why, and how this all ends. Show them you honor the responsibility to guide them on their terms. Sometimes the best way to help someone, beyond your air movers and hammers, is to be there for them. They are not just your customer; they are someone’s mother, father, son, daughter, or friend. And the moment they entered your life, they became your most important purpose for why you work in the restoration industry. Make sure every employee lives that mission.

Every day—good or bad.

Jeff Jones

Jeff JonesJeff Jones is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Violand Management Associates (VMA), a highly respected consulting company in the restoration and cleaning industries. Jeff has a wide range of experience in professional sales and marketing involving all levels of decision makers. Through VMA, Jeff works with companies to find the right mix of programs and services to help them develop their people and their profits. To reach him, visit Violand.com or call (800) 360-3513.

Hey there! We're glad you're here!

This content is only available for subscribers. Please enter your email below to verify your subscription.

Don't worry! If you are not a subscriber, simply enter your email below and fill out the information on the next page to subscribe for FREE!

Back to homepage