by Kendra Budd, Associate Editor
Getting referrals from insurance agents is imperative to driving your restoration company—but it’s not always an easy thing to accomplish. Insurance agencies are always going to refer who they’ve worked with longest, and whose made them the most money. It can be difficult to work your way up on an insurance agent’s list. You have to build your brand and client relationships before insurance companies start putting their faith (and money!) in you.
Matthew Danskin, owner of Restoration Referral System shared his insights on how to get more referrals from insurance agents on Restoration Domination Show for Contractors & Entrepreneurs podcast, hosted by Rico Garcia Jr.
The episode, which took place in November 2021 outlines different tactics that Danskin has used over the years to further his business.
Here’s what we learned.
How to Stand Out
According to Danskin, there are 3 essential methods to use when wanting to stand out to insurance agents. The first is something he calls “organics.” He suggests looking into every client’s insurance company, but especially those that didn’t refer your company. “We want to leverage ourselves to that customer, so we can get to that agent,” he says. The best way to go about this is to have a positive relationship with those clients, because that’s who insurance agencies are going to use as their reference. Otherwise, there will be nothing for you to leverage.
The second method is to “tap into your past book of business.” Danskin recommends going back and looking at past clients to see what insurance agencies they were under. You’ll be able to notice a pattern of which insurance page 22
companies do and do not work with you as much. From there you can distinguish which agencies you need to be targeting more to build relationships. This will also give you past references to show to insurance agencies that maybe don’t refer you as often as you like. However, with this in your back pocket you can show a positive experience that your company and their agency had together in the past.
These both lead into his final method, which is the cold-call strategy. Danskin suggests calling an insurance agent and asking to set up a meeting. This is especially useful if you used the organics method earlier, that way you have a direct clientele in common. However, there is a right way and wrong way to go about cold calls: “You never just want to walk in, that won’t reflect well. Setting up a meeting ahead of time is the best avenue.” To finally sell your company to them, write them a review online after your meeting as soon as possible.
Preferably five-star. This will leave a good impression on both you and your company, because branding is going to be a big selling point for you.
The reason many insurance agents keep referring the same restoration companies is because they’re reliable and familiar—their brand is safe but also different. In the article Working with Insurance Carriers to Grow Your Restoration Business by Jenny Barber, she reiterates this idea. Barber outlines in her article that a great way to brand yourself is to network, especially by going to industry events.
“The idea is to not only get your name out there, but also to see what kinds of trends are making waves in the world of homeowner’s insurance. Ask yourself how you can uniquely position what you have to offer to fit in seamlessly with those trends and shifts in the market,” she advises.
Branding yourself and your company by using these methods will give you a leg up in insurance referrals. Standing out and getting your foot in the door is the first step; next you’ll have to give insurance companies exactly what they’re looking for.
What Insurance Agencies Want
There are six things that insurance agencies want from restoration contractors. The first 4 are pretty simple and self–explanatory: convenience, trust-worthiness, great customer service and good work. If you don’t have at least these first four qualities, then your restoration business won’t stand a chance getting referred by an agency.
The last two in the list are, according to Danskin, the most important things that insurance agencies look for.
- Can you retain their clients? When referring restoration companies, insurance agencies are going to look what you brought to them. Once they start referring you, those agents are going to look at their numbers afterwards. Since they’ve started referring you, are you helping to retain clientsor are you driving more of their clients away? If you are not at the very least keeping the same percentage of clients, then agencies aren’t going to refer you.
- Can you help them build their clientele? Insurance agencies make most of their money on residual business, which they’ll be looking for your help to protect. Danskin uses the hypothetical example of, “if you’ve just started working with a new agency that usually loses 10% of their business every year, but now they’ve partnered with you they only lose 8%—well that’s a 2% pay raise that they just got. That’s a huge reason why they should choose you as a contractor over the other guy.” If you’re not building an insurance agency’s clientele, then they can’t see a valid reason to refer you.
And the best way to go about it? Building relationships with your clients.
Building Client Relationships
Your clients and customers are the determining factor in getting you referrals. If you’re not making your customers feel like superstars, then they’re not going to give you a good review which won’t lookgood to insurance agencies. Barber outlines that this is more than just a theory, it’s fact.
Research has found that:
- Satisfied customers in the U.S. will share their positive customer experience with at least 11 other people.
- 77% of customers have stayed loyal to the same brand for a decade or more.
- A 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 75%.
- 90% of people trust recommendations from their family and friends.
This is what insurance agencies are going to be looking for when choosing who to refer.
More importantly, you want your client to feel safe and comfortable with you during this tumultuous time in their life. According to Barber, customers are genuinely looking for a company that speaks their language, and will stay positive. It’s the same reason we as humans stick with the same brands when grocery shopping, it’s familiar and safe. Building that environment for your client will lead them to give you encouraging reviews.
Once you’ve built a good relationship with your client and have helped them with their tragedy, it’s not a bad idea to ask them to help you out. Get your clients to call the referral source, especially if the company is one you haven’t worked with, or very little with, before. This will help you stick in an insurance agency’s mind. Clients are their source of income, so if you’re keeping them and bringing them in through good relationships, you’ll start to stand out more. But before you go chasing after an insurance agency, ask your clients how they like them.
Additionally, contractors should make sure that the insurance agency they’re trying to impress, is also building good relationships with their clients. “I’m going to ask them, what do you think of them? And that customer either knows and likes their agent…or they don’t know them, they don’t like them. If the answer is negative, that doesn’t give me a powerful inclination to go and pursue that insurance agency,” advises Danskin.
Referrals go both ways, and you want to make sure that you’re only being referred by agencies with positive reviews and client relationship because that will ultimately affect your business.
Insurance agencies need you just as much as you need them, but if you’re not building long lasting client relationships, putting yourself out there and bringing in new business, then an insurance agency won’t see any reason to refer you. “If we expect an insurance agent to give us what we want, which is business, then we need to give them what they want,” Danskin encourages.
Just remember to treat your clients with dignity and respect because they are going to be the number one reason you are going to start seeing more referrals. However, make sure the agency is also taking care of their clients in return.
Stay safe out there!