Time and timing are everything in Storm Damage Restoration. Most contractors think that SDR jobs could be considered low-hanging fruit, especially when they see blown-off shutters or ripped-off shingles scattered across the road. The truth is, your ability to target specific neighborhoods that have been affected by storm damage – and identifying what qualifies as damage – is the key to your success as a storm restoration contractor or for getting SDR jobs.
Why “time and timing?” Because you need to take the time to find and target all the affected areas, while having the correct timing for filing claims while the window of opportunity is open. Like almost anything else in business, a little planning will pay off big. Here are the three steps we follow to accurately recognize storm damage and close more SDR deals in our market.
Step 1: Know Your Date of Loss
Before you do anything, understand your date of loss. Insurance companies need to attribute the damage to a specific weather event. These are recordable instances that are tracked by the National Weather Service. In most cases, the claim needs to be filed within 2 years of the loss. So if the hurricane that blew that shingle off was more than 2 years ago, you (and your customer) may be out of luck.
On the other hand, these two years can be a rather large window of opportunity. If you know the date of loss for the weather event in your area (and have accurately identified the storm damage as per the steps below), you may find customers that didn’t know they had damage from the past that could be covered by their insurance (which may be a more preferable way to pay for some customers). Indeed, what appears to be damage and what is actually damage may be two different things.
Step 2: Identify The Affected Area
Now that you know the date of loss, your next step is to make sure that the neighborhoods you are targeting actually were affected by the event. There are a number of services that offer this and allow you to search addresses to see if they were affected. This is a good first step, as you could waste a lot of time going after storm damage that may not have occurred.
In an affected area, the homeowner is the one who files an initial claim with their insurance company. Then, the insurance adjuster makes his inspection, verifies the damage, and creates an estimate for the amount it will cost to repair that damage. In some cases, the adjuster may also recommend a contractor to repair the damage, but the homeowner has the final say in who their contractor will be.
It’s a good idea to send out a canvasser into the affected areas you’ve identified to make initial contact with these potential customers. Canvassers can be great for your business because they can help spread your name and reputation into the community. It can also be less invasive than the opportunistic sales approach. Remember, homeowners at this point in the process are in a bit of emotional shock, seeing the damage to the place their family resides and the biggest investment of their lives. Unless you’re a storm chaser and are just in it for the sale, your team should treat them with kid gloves, while letting them know that your team is best qualified to not only repair the damage, but relieve the homeowner of the hassle of dealing with the insurance company.
Another good strategy here could be a targeted mailer campaign as soon after the storm as possible. Remember, it’s all about building a presence. That neighborhood is going to be inundated with contractors door knocking and looking for work. Homeowners are not going to know who is who and what direction to go in, but if your company can present itself as a lifeline to homeowners in need, you are going to get a lot of jobs from people who don’t want to be “sold” or pressured into a SDR job.
Step 3: Identifying The Damage
So now that you know there is damage, where it hit and when (approximately) that it occurred, you can set out to find the damage. As I mentioned, some damage is obvious. However, wind damage, creased shingles or even hail hits can be less apparent. That’s why the most important thing you can do is narrow your search, not broaden it.
Most building products lose significant integrity and strength after a storm. So, even if it’s not broken now, who is to say the system won’t fail a week or a month from now? For example, if a hail storm came through the neighborhood and hail hit the house, even though there may not be catastrophic loss, that shingle (or siding or gutter) is damaged and it was damaged by the storm. A weakened gutter is a damaged gutter, and should be replaced. SDR is sometimes more about “telling a story” than hunting for wreckage.
Undoubtedly, there are more steps and more qualifiers – more hoops you have to jump through – to get SDR jobs. The insurance companies have set it up this way because, well, they’re in business to make a profit, too. However, if you follow these three simple steps, and you stay diligent and consistent, you’ll find that SDR jobs are a significant source of revenue for the properly-positioned contractor.