Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How Can I Motivate Adjusters and Agents to Refer Me?

Let’s focus on what adjusters and agents want from a restoration company.

Water damageSteve,

I am looking to really push the restoration side of my business this year. I am wondering what you think would be the most unique/best little schmoozing gift for agents and adjusters. I want my “leave behind” gift to stick out and be something that is remembered, so at the next loss my company name springs into the adjuster’s head. I don't mind spending more money if I need to.

-Expanding in Elgin, IL


Good question, Expanding. Maybe the best comment I ever got on the whole “leave behind” gifting question came from a very successful insurance agent. Here’s what he told me…

“Steve, I refer my clients to different businesses all the time. If you want me to refer you the secret is be referable! In other words, be honest, be sincere, be likable, do what you say you're going to do when you say you're going to do it, be excellent in your craft, dress appropriately and have good manners.

Steve, I value my client relationships. So if I think you're going to embarrass me I will simply not refer you. And please don't try to win me over with freebies. It won’t work since my referrals can’t be ‘bought’ and certainly not with some crummy donuts or a cheap imprinted coffee cup!”

Wow! There is a lot of wisdom in those words, Expanding! In my experience (and also what I hear from our over 3,000 SFS members), here is what most agents and adjusters don’t want:

1) Cheesy little gifts (or for that matter, cheesy big gifts!) from a restoration company. In fact, most adjusters are prohibited from accepting any gift - period!

2) Nor does an adjuster enjoy a restoration contractor burning up his or her time trying to build a superficial social relationship with them while sucking up for work. Adjusters are busy people and they want to spend time with their family, not hanging out with a restoration contractor talking shop!

3) They also don’t want to listen to a restoration contractor blah-blah-blahing on about how great he is! Trust me, agents and adjusters have been there and done that and are quite correctly cynical. Once again, these folks are busy people!

4) Adjusters also don’t want (or need) super low pricing. Why? Because an adjuster that has been around the block knows that a super low priced restoration company is not sustainable and won’t be around for the next loss. (Or may even leave the insurance company high and dry on this loss!)

So then, how do you get an agent’s or adjuster’s business? Let’s focus on what adjusters and agents want from a restoration company.

I tell each Strategies for Success seminar that being an adjuster is "the job from hell!" And it really is - high pressure, low pay and lots of emotional confrontations with traumatized and potentially violent people! Oh, and I almost forgot, way too much paperwork! So obviously if you will help the adjuster with any of these problems he will be your friend for life and fight to get you on the loss. So the logical question is: “How can you HELP adjusters?”

1) Be fast, really, really fast: Insurance companies have found the longer the job goes on, the more it will cost. So therefore they grade the adjuster on how fast he closes the claim and "moves the paper." So then, the adjuster will obviously favor a restoration company that finishes the job and helps him complete (hopefully computerized) paperwork.

2) Bring “peace to their valley”: The second (and bigger) craving of any adjuster is to go an entire day without an insured calling up and screaming at them! So to cut to the chase, if you make a cheerleader out of the insured they will be much less likely to call and scream at the adjuster. Which means your adjuster will fall in love with you!

Therefore, our most successful SFS members have fine-tuned their service systems to bank away literally hundreds of positive moments of truth with an insured right from the initial call.

NOTE: I developed a “Moment of Truth” checklist that guided my employees all the way through a water loss. As we delivered all of these relationship actions to an insured they fell in love with us which meant adjusters FOUGHT to get us on their losses. My Water Loss Moment of Truth Checklist is free! Just write me at and I will e-mail you a copy - no charge!

When the homeowner feels cared for, listened to and, to coin a phrase, "in good hands," they will be grateful to the adjuster for referring your company. Grateful people don't complain. It is that easy ... and that difficult!

P.S. So what is the best way to break through and increase your insurance business? In most areas it isn't easy thanks to existing contractor networks and national accounts. But it can be done…

Start calling on insurance agents and their secretaries. (Who are more likely to accept the "schmoozing gifts" you mention!) Agents are the first ones the insured will call and can refer you for initial damage containment on water losses. Blow the insured away on your initial response and then closely and professionally work with the adjuster who hopefully will be along to finish the claim. Do this several times with him and one day your adjuster will think, "Hmmmmm, this company out in Elgin is sure doing a nice job on these little losses. I'm not even afraid to answer my phone anymore. I wonder how they will handle that huge new Smith water loss ..."

Voila! You are in!

This process is not fast, Expanding, and it most certainly is not easy. But as you develop a close working relationship with these adjusters based on trust, no one will be able to dislodge you. Good hunting!

Steve and ICS want to consult for you! For a personal reply write Steve HERE with your questions, problems, struggles and challenges!  Your help is on the way! 

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