Increasing Market Share
Market share is something we are all very familiar with, and every responsible business owner works to increase his or hers every day.
We plan and set goals to increase our sales, improve client satisfaction, gain market share and grow our businesses. It is no different at the IICRC. Our marketing efforts go far beyond what most people realize. We designate almost 10 percent of our revenues to spreading the word that our 27,000-plus registrants are ready to serve.The IICRC's client base is very broad and diverse; there is more to it than meets the eye. In talking to fellow registrants and certified-firm owners, I hear concerns like, "Why can't the IICRC market to homeowners, insurance companies, retailers or the carpet and furniture manufacturers? These are people that will get me more work."
The answer is, we do, and we are doing it very well considering how large the client base is.
IICRC Marketing Chair Ruth Travis typically spends more than 20 hours a week carrying out the many different marketing directives that the IICRC focuses on, and she does it well. Like so many IICRC volunteers, Ruth is one of a kind. She oversees all of the marketing efforts we get involved in, from arranging trade show booth staff to working with and directing our public relations firm Fetcher, Martin, Ewing.
FME handles our media representation. They write articles promoting certified firms and technicians for submission to publications like Good Housekeeping and Reader's Digest magazines. Newspapers around North America are supplied with matte releases about cleaning and restoration related information. FME also creates emergency response bulletins that go directly to newspapers and to radio and television networks in areas hit by disasters like wildfires, flooding or earthquakes, all to promote the use of IICRC-certified firms and technicians.
We have been marketing to the insurance industry for years, something past presidents Dan Bernazzani and Dane Gregory strongly supported. Attending insurance-industry trade shows and conventions has had such a positive affect that insurance carriers are not only beginning to mandate their adjusters take certification courses, but that their restoration contractors are certified as well. This is especially true for water restoration, where the IICRC S500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration is recognized by more and more insurance carriers. I am sure that the S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Mold Remediation will affect the industry in a similarly positive way.
The IICRC continues to work very closely with the Carpet & Rug Institute and the American Furniture Manufacturers Association. Years of dedicated effort by IICRC professionals like Tom Hill, Lee Zimmerman, Jeff Bishop, Ruth Travis and others has brought us very close to these two groups. We participate on many CRI and AFMA task forces and help them with technically focused issues almost daily. Their member companies have become loyal IICRC supporters, and individuals from both industries have helped develop and recommend the S100 and S300 standards. If you check their product maintenance guidelines or call their customer service departments with a cleaning or inspection related problem, you will likely be referred to an IICRC-certified firm or inspector. This is a huge benefit to our registrants in both Canada and the United States.
IICRC certification courses are being taught all over the world. We have instructors and schools in Australia, New Zealand, England and Japan. International Vice President Paul Pearce heads the introduction and organization of the IICRC in the United Kingdom. Because of Paul's efforts, we have recently entered a service agreement with Administration Services Ltd., to help with advertising and marketing efforts in that region.
October 2003 saw Larry Cooper travel to Australia to present the S520 standard to our shareholder groups ARCCA and NUCCA. In November, past president Lee Zimmerman and I traveled to Japan in support of the Takahara Corp. (Takahara is responsible for the introduction and promotion of IICRC courses in Japan). Lee and I gave a two-hour presentation to a group of about 50 business owners, and attended a cleaning-supplier convention similar to the ISSA/Interclean show.
The response from the Japanese was astounding. We exchanged business cards and took pictures with most of the attendees, whose enthusiasm was unbelievable. Japan remains the fourth-largest consumer of carpet in the world, and I expect we will see much more growth from this country. All this to make IICRC the name in certification for our industry at home and abroad.
The other side of IICRC marketing is directed at the cleaning, restoration and inspection firms right in our own backyard, companies that are not part of the on-going educational process. Representatives of the IICRC attend tradeshows, association conventions and cleaning-and-restoration-related symposiums, usually providing a speaker or two for the program. This puts us directly in contact with the people who make up our registrants and firms, as well as with many who do not know about us or the educational programs we offer. This is where we, as certified cleaners and restorers, can have a very positive affect, helping to spread the word to our clients and competitors.