Staying Abreast of Industry Issues

January 4, 2008
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Part of running a successful business is keeping that business up on the various issues that come up in your industry. By not being aware of some major industry trends or issues you may actually be putting your business at a great competitive disadvantage or you may be missing a great opportunity for additional business. I’ll use two current examples of industry trends and issues to illustrate my point.

Example No. 1
For those in the carpet-cleaning business, there is a very important issue regarding carpet manufacturer’s warranty requirements that took effect Jan. 1. The largest carpet producers, representing over 75 percent of the new carpet manufactured in the United States, are now requiring all maintenance on their carpet produced after Jan. 1 to be performed by IICRC-certified firms and technicians or risk having the warranty voided.

The smart business owner will look at this industry announcement and see an opportunity to gain marketing and competitive advantages as well as instant credibility with the consumer. While it is true that this new warranty mandate will not cover all, or even a significant portion of, the carpets you are asked to clean in the next couple of years, it is really what amounts to a manufacturer endorsing your services if you are IICRC certified. This requirement will lead carpet retailers to emphasize cleaning by certified companies and cause consumers to seek out certified companies for their work.

Put yourself in the place of the consumer; you have some carpet that does not fall under this warranty requirement, yet you learn that the manufacturers require IICRC-certified firms for maintenance on their newest and best products, who would you want to use on your “other” carpets? It makes good business sense for the cleaning company that becomes aware of this new warranty requirement to look into becoming an IICRC -certified firm and promoting the fact that they are “approved” for warranty services by the industry’s largest manufacturers. Failure to do this could put your company at a marketing disadvantage.

Example No. 2
For those in the water-damage restoration business, there is a movement within the insurance industry to require job-monitoring documentation on water-damage restoration jobs. Performance standards based on the IICRC/ANSI S500 document are being put into place by major insurance companies, and real-world measurements and documentation are being required in order to justify the equipment and procedures used on water damage claims against these standards. Various computer programs are available, and even central clearing houses where readings and measurements can be submitted as the job progresses are being established.

With this data being properly submitted by restoration companies and forwarded to the insurance companies, the jobs are justified as they happen and any questions or issues can be addressed as they come up. Several major insurance industry players are subscribing to these programs with the promise of being able to close claims more quickly (pay faster) and without the dreaded negotiations and adjustments at the end of the job. The smart business owner who learns of this trend will look into what is required to be included in these programs. If insurance companies give preference to companies that follow these systems and submit the proper documentation, you would certainly want to be among them. It would be obvious that, at the very least, all water-damage restoration staff would need to have a clear, working understanding of the S500 and the type of monitoring, measurements and documentation recommended.

These are only two examples, but I believe they show how staying tuned in to industry trends and issues can help your business adjust procedures, purchase the correct equipment, or gain the proper credentials to maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Some of the best ways to stay up on the various industry trends is by reading industry publications such asICS or Restoration & Remediation magazine as well as association news letters, attend trade association conventions and workshops, stay in touch with your suppliers, and occasionally peruse the key Internet web sites (such as www.IICRC.org.).

The real message here is that a position of isolationism, of putting your head in the sand and ignoring industry events and trends, will likely cause you to miss out on some very real opportunities and could even have a negative impact on your business. I remember an analogy used in a business-building seminar that seems to apply to this topic. “When there is a freight train coming down the track, you have three choices. You can hop onto the train and move on with it, you can step aside and let the train pass you by, or you can do nothing and get run over by the train.” Many of these industry trends are like that freight train; they are going to happen whether we participate or not. The choice to hop on, step aside, or do nothing is yours.

A little food for thought.

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