How can I get more water damage restoration jobs?

The question: Instead of giving kickbacks to plumbers how else can I get more water damage restoration jobs?

Steve’s answer: Widen your network and don’t overlook insurance agents with my 8-step Agent Selling System below.

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Hi Steve,

Are any SFS members doing a “Referral Reward” (kickback!) to plumbers?  So far, I’ve been following the SFS “Value Added Service” systems to get more jobs through referrals from delighted customers. They are working well but how can I get more water damage restoration jobs?  (I’m focused mostly on the residential market now.)  Thanks !

Doing Great in California

PS  I’ve printed up some water damage restoration brochures that look really professional!

more water damage restoration jobs

Dear Doing Great,

The water damage market (and especially the residential sector) has gotten MUCH more competitive in recent years.  Why?  Very simple. The cost of entry (equipment) is low and the potential profits are HUGE!

Yes, some of our SFS graduates use “referral rewards” to plumbers for more water damage restoration jobs.  However, if you go this route remember that no matter how much you “give back” to the plumber, he or she is most concerned that their referral not come back to haunt them with a ticked-off customer!  So go back and review the section in your Strategies for Success workbook on the Emotional Dynamics of dealing with a traumatized restoration customer.  You can also download my Special Report “12 Secrets to a Smoother Restoration Business”.

What else can you do to get more water damage restoration jobs?  QUIT DEPENDING ON PLUMBERS! Widen your referral network to other sources- property managers, real estate agents, contractors in general, janitorial services, etc.  Of course, your very best ‘referral network’ is still the local insurance agent!  How can you “get in with an agent”?  (Or any of these other “referral categories”?) Shoe leather!  Follow these (very simplified) steps:

NOTE: The following system also works perfectly with commercial accounts like property managers!

1. Get organized. Make up four ‘routes’ of 20 insurance agents located close to each other. (Try to make each route of agents from one or two companies- for example one route will be only State Farm agents.) You will be contacting each of these 80 total agents once per month.

2. Suck it up! a) Dress up, b) carry your covered leather clipboard with business cards in it, c) put your shoulders back and your chin up and d) walk through their door! (To “break the ice” with the receptionist bring a jar of jelly beans in a gift bag.)

3. Confidently take action. Hand the receptionist your card and ask to see the agent.  If he/she isn’t in ask about their schedule and leave them a copy of that fancy brochure. (Write the receptionist’s name down on your route sheet. Include a physical description too. Do the same for any employee you meet.)

4. Go back. One month later visit the account again if you can’t get through to the agent. Repeat as needed.

5. Find out their ‘Point of Pain’. When you do finally get to see the agent simply ask what issues they are facing now with their client’s water losses. Open your clipboard and take notes while they talk. (This is a great Moment of Truth.) Then briefly explain how you can resolve these concerns and ask that they refer you on their next emergency loss. (Practice this at home.)

6. Reach out to them right away. After you leave write the agent a brief note thanking them for the conversation and include four or five business cards.  Mention that you’ll stop by next month. (If an agent requests that you not visit them politely agree and ask that they keep you as a back-up contractor. See NOTE below. Now replace them on your route with a new agent.)

7. Either way, don’t stop. Simply move on to the next agent on your route.

8. Make at least 20 contacts a week… every week.  Don’t stop. (This is where most restoration contractors fail.) The work will come IF (here comes my favorite phrase) you “have the fire in your belly”!

NOTE: If an agent explains that they are really pleased with their current restoration contractor ask that they keep you as a back-up “go-to guy” if their main provider can’t get to the loss right away. Promise that you’ll do the initial extraction and ‘damage containment phase’ and then gracefully step aside when their ‘primary contractor’ wants to take over. Then do so. Keep the agent on your email/newsletter list.

Let us know how things are going.


P.S.  Don’t underestimate the potential technical and legal liabilities of water damage restoration.  While I don’t recommend it you CAN learn by the seat of your pants in residential carpet cleaning.  (I sadly did!) But following this sloppy course with water losses is a guaranteed route to disaster.  The better way? Check out our schedule of restoration classes.

22 thoughts on “How can I get more water damage restoration jobs?”

  1. All of Steve’s advise is great. It is by far about the relationships that you build up, we have started to get referrals from the agents and even the adjusters (these are not easy). If your (Front Line People) as Steve says share the same vision and ideas you do, you will not go wrong. Stay consistant with your marketing and business systems. These will usually not stear you wrong!!

    Good Luck, Rob

  2. Thanks Rob. You and Clean Force One are definitely one of our “beta testers” of Value Added Service concepts. now when do we start getting installments of “Rob’s Story” here?


  3. Cool read. It’s so hard for me to walk in and start talking to people at a business, but I guess I should give it some more practice.
    I have mostly concentrated on Google rankings for water damage restoration companies, but it’s cool to hear about the other techniques.

  4. You are right, Tony. Google is fine but NOTHING beats face-to-face, belly-to-belly. It takes guts but nothing will give you a better return.


  5. Nice post Steve. My cleaning company is getting back into doing water damage, so I did a quick Google search for ideas and came upon this article. Good tips.

  6. Thank you, John. Nice to know our “Internet Strategy” is working. But then you would know a little bit about that!

    PS By the way, congratulations on the water damage diversification. Properly done, I think W/D can be the single most profitable area of our industry.

  7. Great read.
    I started doing Insurance Restoration in 1982 . I kinda retired a few years back , but now have decided to return to the ole Water Damage Business . Things have definitely changed since I started, plumbers here have said they get thousands for referrals . That is hard to swallow , but I know Plumbers can bring lots of jobs. Guess I will have to try and understand today’s costs. John

  8. It’s definitely a competitive business. We’ve noticed it’s easier to get small plumbing jobs rather than large floods, but that makes sense. The big floods are worth more. And interestingly enough there is no “Water Damage” contractors license. Flood companies operate under the General B license, for the most part.

  9. A few months ago we incorporated. My boss has over 20 yrs of “restoration” experience so he knows a lot of people in our area, but of course we need more jobs! The freezing temperature is causing fires left and right. I need to get out of my office and bring jobs, but where do I begin?

  10. It’s been quite a while and I have been off the radar with many life changing and exciting things. Now in the New York city (yes if you can do it here you can do it anywhere) and after a relatively short period of time (about a year working with my friends up and coming carpet cleaning business) and now only a few months back into the water damage world we are making huge strides. I will agree that diversity is the key and property managers as well as agents work very well. Plan your marketing campaigns out well in advance and test,test,test. Good luck to you and in the words of the late great Chet Holmes use “pig headed” discipline and persistence.

  11. Always good to hear from you, Rob! It sounds like your life has been “interesting” lately. (Which can either be a good or bad thing!) We’ve now got over 1,000 targeted articles on this web site and all designed for the cleaning and restoration industry. Plus as a SFS member don’t forget about your Blue Door Access to the digital Operations Manual. Keep us posted on your progress. New York? Seriously?

  12. Good read. I find myself constantly trying to find new and interesting ways to network. In doing so, one tends to forget the basics, which are tried and true.

  13. I have been doing rebuild on water damaged homes for about 7 years and love it.i am from florida and was always told referrals were not aloud.Can it be advertised that your giving referrals and can it be advertised that you can help with deductables.It though has become all about money


  14. Insurance agents and adjusters both from most of the larger companies are no longer allowed to refer certain companies. These referrals come straight from the claims
    Offices therefore making marketing to insurance companies nearly impossible. I know in my market State Farm Allstate and nationwide are not accepting any more restoration companies.

  15. This is a classic example of the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Not saying that being in a vendor program is not a good marketing tool but it is not everything that most people believe. When I talk with some of the larger franchises they limit the amount of work they want from from the vendors. One of the problems is due to the amount that large restoration franchises receive (millions) the vendor continually wants a lower price per piece of equipment. To the franchisee this can hurt.

    The best plan is to market to independent agents who have more control over who they give claims to. As with anything in business it comes down to relationships. At least when you develop a relationship with an independent that relationship is voluntary not one he was forced into by his corporate office.

    Lastly look at places that are not normally called on such as dry wall contractors, sewage haulers, schools and property managers, as well as fire sprinkler companies.

  16. You really post great tips and I will get some ideas clear for getting more water damage restoration jobs but what I practically experience that your high-quality work will bring more work.

  17. Hey Mr.Steve

    I just my restoration company and and have had a hard time getting work i will try your way to see if it helps thanks for the info..

  18. My name is Kevin and I started with Servpro about 2 1/2 months ago. I have been out there in the field getting myself in front of as many COI’s as possible. How long does it usually take to start seeing a return on the hard work I have been doing? Does anyone have any stories? I live and work in Southern California. So there is no freezing temperatures or wild storms. So I have to rely on older buildings breaking down and plumbing problems. Also like me on Facebook and we can share stories. Servpro Camarillo or Servpro Oxnard.

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