On a recent Facebook post, there was a great conversation regarding how to respond to a loss. The question was in regards to the responsibilities of the responder, and how these can change as a company grows. It reminded me of one of the most difficult dilemmas facing a restorer: as we grow, how do we make everyday tasks more scalable?
Let's face it- there is a reality in our industry that most independent companies are operated primarily by the owner. As the owner, you wear many hats, not the least of which is primary focal point for all decisions and information on a loss. Most owners respond, scope, communicate with the client, create the estimate for the adjuster, and execute the work. As we grow and mature as a company, the owner may transfer some of those duties to a lead technician, opting to show up later on the job to "make sure everything is perfect." Despite not being there for every second, there is still an overwhelming amount of control that exists on each and every job.
That said, how can it be possible to grow a company, knowing that everything has to go through one person? Simply stated, it cannot. With growth comes an inevitable decrease in direct involvement. That loss of hands-on info is enough, at times, to deter an owner form ever getting "too big." For some owners, if they cannot have 100% control, they do not want the growth.
For those of you that desire growth and understand what comes with that goal, the next concern is how to structure the growth so that it does not overwhelm you or your business. Putting processes and procedures in place is always a good idea no matter the size of your company, but it is vital when you are anticipating growth. Existing employees and new hires will need to have their roles clearly defined in order to keep the "learning curve" to a minimum. A good emergency response process is one that includes a ton of forethought and anticipation, enough to cover nearly every possible call scenario. Small mistakes can turn into major financial problems. When you were the one making all the decisions, you knew your risk and dealt with it. What about handing that over to a member of your team? Are you in a position- TODAY- to do that? If not, why not?
I know what's running through your head right now: How can I train someone to be able to handle all of this, when it is all in my head? I'm the one with the experience and the risk! I've heard it all and seen it all, so I'm the only one that can do it all! To you, I have one word- RELAX.
In time, nearly all of what you know and have experienced can be put into a process that your team member can faithfully follow. He will know those facts and stories, understand the company's motivation and mission, and with some coaching and encouragement will perform his duties at an amazingly effective rate.
NEXT WEEK, IN PART 2 - REAL WORLD PROCEDURES FOR EMERGENCY RESPONSE.