Compound your growth by investing in commercial sales
When considering going after commercial work, it’s important to understand the differences of your target audience with other marketing verticals you may have gone after in the past—for example, insurance agents or plumbers.
For starters, commercial clients are far more inclined to care about the quality of work, pricing, and response time versus other marketing verticals. Where relationships and kickbacks might thrive with insurance agents and plumbers, commercial clients value quality, price, and response time first and foremost.
When considering marketing to commercial facilities, the other key factor is that they likely have an existing relationship with other contractors. Since managing water damage is a regular occurrence at the facility, they are familiar with it.
Keeping this in mind, how do you, as the restoration company, separate yourself to get your foot in the door? How do you get the facility manager to break away from their existing relationship and give you a shot? Saying you are better, more qualified, more experienced, or family-owned is typically not enough to move the needle with these individuals. Every restoration company says the same thing. Unfortunately for us in the restoration industry, the facility manager views us the same. Rightfully so or not.
Back to, what’s our strategy?
One of the key ways to break into these commercial facilities is to have a Loss Leader (Value Added Proposition). It is something of value that you are offering upfront, for no or reduced cost, to enable the relationship with the commercial facility manager. It has to be something that helps solve a ‘Pain Point’ for him or her.
So what are some Loss Leader/Value Added Proposition examples?
1. Emergency Response Plan
2. 3D Scans of facility
3. Building/Site Analysis
4. Equipment Staging
5. Loss Scenario Run Through
Emergency Response Plans (ERPs)
The strategy has been around for quite some time for a good reason. When executed well, it works brilliantly. Not to say this or any strategy is easy because it is not. We can’t forget the value of acquiring new commercial relationships, and our competition knows this well. So even when offering Emergency Response/Disaster Plans, they need to be unique in themselves.
If you’re new to ERP (often going by many names), the general idea is you (the restoration company) helps the facility manager to be better prepared for any disaster. You do this by collecting information on their property, vendors, staff, insurance policies, etc. You may also offer priority response to them, and now you’re better prepared to respond after visiting the facility. In return – the facility manager agrees to use you on all future disaster losses. Sounds pretty good, right?
The downside to keep in mind is the “Loss Leader” approach. This process takes upfront time, energy, and cost to execute without completing any real work. Due to the nature of the industry, you will find that about all restoration marketing is this way unless you want only residential TPA work. No thank you.
The upside to establishing this type of sales strategy are:
● Consistent sales process with a decision at the end of the sales cycle
● Simplified process: introduction, presentation with decision-makers, yes/no on
setting up a plan. Your salespeople might thank you for such a consistent and
● You can, to some degree, forecast future sales. After all, a million square feet
guaranteeing you work will turn into profit.
● These relationships (commercial) tend to last a very long time. You are putting your
upfront customer acquisition cost at a minimal expense when you start looking 2, 3, 4,
5+ years out. If people knew this actual number, everyone would be doing it. But some
are too short-sighted.
The downside to establishing this type of sales strategy are:
● Upfront cost, time, and energy. However, I think every sales strategy has this included to some degree.
● Need sales/business development people
● Proper management of sales process
● Buy in from in-house production and other staff. This won’t work if you can’t back up what your sales staff is selling. Same with different marketing verticals but will fail much quicker.
Going into every step on how to sell the ERP, material to have, questions to ask, and objections to overcome is cumbersome. But here is a great resource we put together at Restoration ERP. These strategies alone could be a course worth thousands of dollars, but it’s here FREE.
For the cliff notes, here’s what you need to know.
● This is a two-way street, and you’re offering a lot
● Business Continuity isn’t only about disaster response
○ Vital Documents
○ Power Resources
● You’re offering a solution to a need all facilities have
● Have proper marketing material to leave behind
● Don’t sell too much upfront without the meeting. Don’t make it easy to get a No/Objection.
● During the meeting or presentation, have all your open-ended questions and objections readily available
○ Ask questions such as:
■ How do you currently manage a sprinkler head break?
■ When was the last time you updated your disaster plan?
■ What do you wish was in your disaster plan that is not?
■ Who was the last person to update the disaster plan?
■ What type of facility documents would be helpful for you to access 24/7?
■ What keeps you up at night?
■ Does your insurance require a plan in place? (often they do)
■ What would prevent you from putting in a plan like this?
● Not every question needs to be asked, but be prepared and let the customer guide the conversation. Figure out the pain points.
● Help them visualize what their plan will look like during the meeting. Have an example ready.
Keeping in mind the value add for the facility manager in a plan like this, we should keep that at the forefront of the conversation.
This process also works great for existing commercial clients you have already completed work for. It doesn’t have to be just new commercial clients.
After executing the meeting, you’re simply following up, trying to close the sale, and removing all objections. If you get a yes, start the data collection process and create the relationship. Suppose you get a no, not a problem. You now know they’re not likely to call you (even though sometimes they do). File away that contact to possibly follow up in the future, and now you don’t need to waste your time with the account. The strategy helps salespeople with a consistent approach and conclusion at the end of the sale cycle, which is essential.
With any commercial strategy and value-added approach, the goal is to get some agreement in place that you are their go-to restoration company. This requirement level is up to you, the restoration company, to decide. Many ask for a non-binding agreement to be signed. Others have success just getting a verbal gentlemen’s agreement to consider them on future disasters. The benefit of providing all this upfront value is that it’s in the best interest of the facility manager to call you. After all, you’re familiar with their facility and have collected data about the property. It would be ill-advised for them not to contact you for their first issue.
Setting up a disaster preparedness plan is a comprehensive and time-consuming strategy, but it offers the most value.
I like to use the disaster preparedness plan as my base offering and layer in other options that might add value for the facility manager. At a minimum, I’m always looking for the site walkthrough and to get an agreement in place.
So what else can we offer as a stand-alone strategy or add-on to our disaster plan?
3D Scans of the Facility
Scans can be completed using Matterport or Docusketch. Most restoration companies already use one of these tools, most likely after a loss. Unless you’re getting paid for that – it tends to be more of a job cost and benefit to insurance than the restoration company. Why not utilize this tool to assist facility managers in documenting their property in return for future work? Almost no facility managers have access to a tool like this. Not only is it suitable for pre-loss documentation, but facility managers can also use it for construction/rebuild projects. A simple hosting fee to keep the scan live and allow the facility manager access can ensure your future work at the property. Every organization is different in terms of how much time they want to invest their salespeople’s time – so you have to make that call yourself. You don’t want to spend 10 hours of scanning time without getting paid, but a free scan or two could be valuable to a facility manager. Let them hire you to do more scans if they need it.
You can be creative with this one, and it will depend on the services you offer as a company and your vendor partners. You can use this strategy as a complete stand-alone option or a price add-on to the disaster plan. Either way, you’re going to want to charge for it. The goal here is to offer value above a normal walkthrough to the facility manager at breakeven or less to get our foot in the door. Remember that.
With a building site analysis, you can offer valuable data to the facility manager to aid them in their daily/regular job functions. Here are some ideas to include in your building site report or “Facility Condition Assessment.”
● Potential water/mold issues
● Preventative maintenance assessment
● Indoor air quality test
● Roof assessment
● Exterior facility scan and report (hover.to)
● Loss scenario forecast (more on that below)
These are just some ideas. Remember that you don’t have to offer all of these options in a site analysis. Executing some of these services would require partnering with other companies.
None of your competitors offer every single service mentioned above as well, this is where we can separate ourselves in this offering. None of them offer something so valuable for $500 – 1,500. Whatever you decide is a reasonable ‘Loss Leader’ rate. Often your vendor partners would also like more commercial work. It could be a partnership you develop with them to make this offering better to acquire a commercial account.
The goal to getting into these facilities is to offer something;
1. Of value
2. Our competitors are not
3. To position us as the trusted authority in disaster/facility cleanup
If you keep asking your salespeople to walk into commercial facilities and set up a lunch with the facility manager only to tell them you respond fast, are locally owned, etc. You are not standing out in your local market. All facility managers have heard that.
Like all strategies, you will not use it in all situations. I’d use this primarily as an add-on to a disaster plan, but also only for larger facilities. The goal is to incentivize the facility manager with potential cost savings by having commercial drying equipment for in-house use. They can use it immediately without calling a restoration company and accruing a cost associated with that.
The facility can use the equipment as needed. For example, 2-4 dehumidifiers and an appropriate amount of fans. Our benefit (not including agreement in place) is that now our salesperson has a purposeful touchpoint scheduled every quarter. The salesperson checks on the equipment and connects with the facility/maintenance team. Then you bill them an hourly rate for equipment rental according to the hours used from the hour meter. It’s not a free offer for the facility, but if the facility and account are big enough, you could certainly consider using this option.
What we accomplish with equipment staging is that maintenance staff can handle smaller items such as toilet overflows using your equipment. Should any large disaster happen, your equipment is there at minute zero – and they will call you since they will need more equipment.
Loss Scenario Run Through
Considering we’re all in the business of responding to disasters and can whip up estimates reasonably quickly, it’s surprising we don’t all offer this as an option.
All facility managers have budgets, and written into those budgets are funds for emergencies or disasters. That’s where we come in. You’re not quoting an actual job in this scenario. But wouldn’t it be helpful to walk into a facility with an accurate emergency budget. You can help the facility/maintenance team understand the actual cost of a disaster.
It would be best if you offered to provide a couple of examples and scenario run-throughs for them with a realistic budget. Say you’re speaking to a hotel – you could offer a scenario run-through on cost for drying on 5 or 10 affected rooms and a separate scenario for the conference room. It will give them a better idea of what to expect on cost and what to write into their budget.
Suppose you wanted to take this further, you can play off the disaster plan you might have in place. You can assist them on what their entire response looks like; who is calling who, what responsibilities each of their staff have, etc. Actual disaster planning scenario run-through on the full scale.
For an example of how this might look, check out this video previously only available for ERP Members of Tom McGuire of Large Loss Mastery and myself doing a loss scenario run through here.
Best Way To Get Started
I often get asked what’s the best way to get started or where do I start? After you decide you want more commercial work, the first thing you need to do is to decide on your strategy. You may not want to or might not be able to offer all of these solutions. Figure out what fits your organization from these options or similar ones and commit to it.
Committing to the process means you’re holding your sales/business development accountable to the KPIs in these strategies and reviewing them on a regular basis to see if you’re having success. For example;
● What’s your monthly ERP sign up count
● How many sq. ft. are secured
● How many scans/site analysis/loss scenarios for properties have you done
● How much equipment can be staged for future losses
Get ready for the work to come in. Unlike residential, commercial work pays dividends year over year, provided you do a quality job. Decide which strategies fit you best and start building more valuable interactions and relationships.
Compound your growth by investing in commercial sales.
You’re no different than everyone else reading this article. Everyone wants more commercial work. It’s easy to pitch you offer higher quality services, more expertise, etc. But from the facility manager’s perspective – they see us all the same when we approach them.
Separate yourself at the door by offering a valuable solution to one of their needs, gain their trust and build the relationship from there.
The above examples are great solutions that only a small fraction of restoration companies are executing and winning in their market. Are you one of them?