This week, on The Xactimate Sessions from The DYOJO Podcast, we sit down to discuss Xactimate with Xactimate. Brian Austin is the director of instructional design at Verisk, Xactware division. Verisk is the parent company that owns Xactware which produces Xactimate. So, if you could ask Xactimate one question, what would it be? We asked Brian several questions and he said that Xactware has worked diligently to build feedback into their systems. Xactimate wants to hear from the everyday restoration contractor and all of its users.
SPONSOR: The DYOJO Podcast is sponsored by Advocate Claim Service (ACS), "Where you can find solutions to claims that are causing you anxiety." David Princeton and his team are ready to help you navigate doubtful and disputed insurance claims.
Are you able to deviate from Xactimate pricing?
The Advocacy and Government Affairs (AGA) Committee of the Restoration Industry Association (RIA) was able to bring Mike Fulton, President of Xactware on for a industry briefing on Facebook Live, June 18, 2021. It appears that this video may no longer be available but portions can be seen via THIS LINK. Ed Cross, The Restoration Advocate, reminds contractors that Section 9 "Limited Warranties" of the Xactware licensing agreement reads, "You are responsible to ensure the estimate includes pricing consistent with components including, but not limited to, actual materials, equipment, and labor pricing...You agree to not inhibit or preclude deviations from the Price Data where contractor requirements, market conditions, demand, or any other factor warrants the use of a different line item price in the specific situation."
Resources from Xactimate for new estimators
The Xactimate Sessions from The DYOJO Podcast
File 002 - Learning to XM8 with all the resources from Xactimate
The DYOJO Podcast Season 3, Episode 66
Guest: Brian Austin, Director of Instructional Design at Verisk
Brian shares many of the tools available to all Xactimate users including many that are included with your annual Xactware subscription:
Three tips elevating your Xactimate skills
If you didn't catch this from the previous paragraph, Xactware offers ILX Construction Training which is included in your annual Xactware license and is designed to help take an employees through the complete building process. In addition to these resources, Brian shares three tips for elevating your Xactimate game as well as your personal and professional development:
The DYOJO collaboration with DocuSketch offering a $200 discount on the initial hardware package to members of The DYOJO Nation who use the custom code "DS-DYOJO1".
The DYOJO Podcast, the official home of the DYOJO Nation as so declared by The Global Watchdog, Pete Consigli, exists to help intentional restorers to shorten their DANG learning curve for personal and professional development. WATCH on YouTube or LISTEN on Spotify, Thursday at 9 am PST.
I made it to the 2021 Restoration Industry Association (RIA) Convention and Expo in Orlando, Florida.
We also tease our next bonus video, which will start the chronicles of "Two Cool Dudes" as Pete "The Global Watchdog" Consigli and I hit the road to meet with friends and discuss property restoration history.
Stay Tuned - thedyojo.com/listen
Benchmarks of Growth - Part 2 of 6
The DYOJO Podcast, Episode 57
Guest: Gordy Powell, Georgia Clean (Atlanta, GA)
At the beginning of 2020 I set out to interview a broad swath of people in a position of leadership to compile their insights on various benchmarks of growth. Our motto for The DYOJO Podcast is, “Helping you shorten your DANG learning curve,” and the best way to achieve this is to learn from the trials and errors of your fellow entrepreneurs.
Gordy shared several gems for those in a position of leadership to take into account for the personal and professional development:
This is the second discussion in a six part series on the benchmarks of growth. We will be discussing this topic in upcoming episodes of The DYOJO Podcast with dynamic industry leaders Lisa Lavender, Tammy Birklid, Whitney Wiseman, O.P. Almarez, and Andrew Golkin.
If you would like to hear more of Gordy’s story and perspectives:
The DYOJO Podcast is sponsored by Enlightened Restoration Solutions (ERS). Ben Justesen and his team have put together a dynamic live class which reviews real world estimates and elevates your ability to master the methodology of Xactware. Including how to determine your own labor rates, create your own price list, and navigate pricing feedback. -
Books by property restoration professionals for skilled trades, carpet cleaning, and insurance claims professionals, The DYOJO Podcast suggested reading list for January to keep your momentum for 2021. The key to becoming an Intentional Restorer is to train your mindset and your habits daily; this is The DYOJO Way. Thankfully we have so many great resources, including these titles from professionals within our industry as well as podcasts for and by property restoration entrepreneurs.
The ServiceMaster Story by Albert M. Erisman
Al does a masterful job of walking the reader through the early years of the development of the ServiceMaster company as an organization built on core principles lived out by five generations of leaders. Mr. Erisman's work is enlightening for any business leader who desires to build a company that is profitable while still grounded in their principles. I thought found two key principles that would benefit modern restorers: 1) the shingle principle of leadership, where managers understand their role as complimenting those who come before as well as after them; 2) having new leaders work in the field with their team members prior to assuming their executive roles. This is something we talk about in Be Intentional: Culture as well with regards to Ted McCarthy and the resurrection of Gibson Guitars. Erisman discusses how those in a position of leadership at ServiceMaster were able to navigate The Tension Between People and Profit.
We Did It Their Way by Wm. F. Bane
Wm. F. (Bill) Bane tells the story of his family’s rise from obscurity to a position of prominence in the cleaning industry and how the family parlayed a twenty-dollar investment into a multi-million dollar business. This book is a compendium of some of his life’s adventures including thirty-five years in the cleaning profession. It is a step-by-step diagram of the path followed by the organization of the family business and the development of a unique cleaning system. The trials and tribulations associated with a new business are outlined in a sometimes humorous, but always realistic and truthful way.
When Words Collide by Bill Wilson
Bill Wilson presents the process for resolving insurance coverage claims and disputes. He emphasizes understanding the policy as the authority and encourages the commitment of all parities to finding a reasonable resolution. David Princeton joined The DYOJO Podcast to co-host our discussion with Mr. Wilson. As David wisely encouraged our audience, learn to effectively communicate your "because" when outlining your recommendations to the insured and the carrier. Understanding the policy and properly interpreting the policy, as it relates to unique claims situations, has been the career long passion of author Bill Wilson. In the book and our discussion, all professionals are reminded to "RTFP" which includes knowing what you are selling, being clear with your communications, and being reasonable with your interpretations.
The DYOJO Podcast is the weekly podcast of The DYOJO Way for Intentional Restorers. Helping property restoration professionals to shorten their DANG learning curve by developing the mindset and habits for achieving their goals.
Books by property restoration professionals for skilled trades and insurance claims professionals, The DYOJO Podcast suggested reading list to close 2020 out strong and start 2021 off on the right foot. The key to becoming an Intentional Restorer is to train your mindset and your habits daily; this is The DYOJO Way. Thankfully we have so many great resources, including these titles from professionals within our industry as well as podcasts for and by property restoration entrepreneurs.
The 24HR Tech by Andrew McCabe
Mr. McCabe has created a Step By Step Manual To Increase Mitigation Profits And Reduce Training Time To Just ONE DAY. This short and easy to read book is intended as a complete training manual for new Water Damage Technicians who wish to quickly learn how to properly document insurance losses involving water damage. Andy developed this process over years of water damage claims experience. He still uses it today in his consulting practice – Claims Delegates.
Get Out of the Truck by Idan Shpizear
Idan shares his own story as a means to help entrepreneurs to Build The Business You Always Dreamed About. The book is a quick read. It was designed to either be read from cover-to-cover or as a resource that can be referred to as a business person goes about their process. Idan also speaks as a leader to other people in a position of leadership, distributing the lessons that he has learned as he built and scaled his property restoration business. Whether you are starting out or taking your organization to the next level, Idan shares, “As you work towards growing your company, don’t lose sight of the numbers. But don’t lose sight of these less tangible objectives either.”
Unqualified Success by Rachel Stewart
Are you ready to be an unqualified success? Rachel has composed one of the best personal development books that I have read, Her story is proof of concept that you can venture out into something new and bridge The Gap Between Where You Are Now And Where You Want To Be To Achieve Massive Success. If you dare to read this book, you will find that your excuses melt and your obstacles become opportunities. You should feel unqualified but that should in no way stop you from pursing success. “When we are willing to trade in our need to win or succeed for a need to simply learn and grown instead, we open another world of possibility for achievement (p.186).” You are not alone, you have resources and a tribe of fellow unqualified successes rooting for you.
Independent Adjuster's Playbook by Chris Stanley
Would you like to own your own business in a recession proof industry? Chris Stanley has created a career map that will take you from having zero experience to getting claims as fast as possible... without the frustration, heartache, and the dreaded waiting. In this conversational and action-oriented book, Chris presents a proven solution and underground playbook that will take from zero experience to working independent adjuster in as little as 30 days. This book is the Step By Step Guide & Roadmap To Becoming A Successful Independent Adjuster.
See the video below which aired as a segment in The DYOJO Podcast Episode 44 with Kevin Hussey of United Fire and Water Damage out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The DYOJO Podcast - helping professionals in the skilled trades shorten their DANG learning curve.
I share a story in my latest book about being hired to elevate training for an established office and then being berated for doing what I thought I was hired for; training. The experience of working in an environment with a supervisor that didn’t do much to help their team members with career development was a challenge but I want everyone reading to understand that it can be done. Career development in property restoration, as in most of the skilled trades, will require you to develop the right mindset and habits in customer service. We will address two key components of customer service in this article, communication and cleanliness.
Property restoration career development: Create your own opportunities
It may surprise some of those reading to learn that prior to 2008 we had specialists for almost everything. When I started in the industry in 2002, with the team in bright yellow, we had separate divisions. There was some crossover assisting teams when they needed help, but our primary functions and teams were distinct from each other. We had managers for each of our divisions, mold, water, fire/contents, repairs, and carpets.
When I arrived with the company listed in the opening paragraph, my role as production manager was expected to oversee all of the “divisions” similar to those listed above. As a side note, we offered trauma/crime scene cleanup but it was not a service we did a lot of. I saw bio-services as an opportunity to learn more about the process and market those services so that I could create a growth void that I could then fill. You may be starting over, like I was, or feel like you are stuck in career limbo, look for something that no one else wants to do and create your own opening. Whatever level you are at in your career, life is about opportunity, not convenience.
Property restoration career development: Training for customer service
While I was not aware of the title at the time, I had to develop a process for teaching my team soft skills in addition to the technical (hard) skills of property restoration. If you are a manager and/or owner, when you train your team members to develop their mindset and habits, you communicate opportunities for growth which will also push you to continue to grow. This quote attributed to Richard Branson, is a strong encouragement to any organization that wants to thrive with their people, "Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to."
The chart below is the result of years of grinding out a process for addressing what I felt was important when training a diverse group of team members who had to master multiple service offerings. If you are committed to training, you have to budget time to focus on core principles and supplement scheduled training with on the job follow up by yourself and your team members. You don’t have accountability until you create clarity, develop consistency, and your team is committed to holding each other to the shared standards (culture). Accountability starts with the people in positions of leadership leading by example, without which it won’t exist.
Customer service, or better said, the customer experience, is essential to long term success in a service based industry like property restoration. You cannot expect that customer service is common sense or that your existing team will pass down everything that you hold dear.
Two key aspects of customer service that you have a direct impact on are:
Property restoration career development: Cleanliness is godliness
Cleanliness is godliness in property restoration. What is the first thing you should do when you meet a client, regardless of the time of day? If you are entering a home, you should be asking, “Would you like me to take my shoes off,” or slipping on protective booties that your company supplies you boxes and boxes of. Why is this important? Because it demonstrates to the homeowner that you respect their home, you respect them, and your number one priority is their experience during this process.
What is the alternative? You may walk in and the customer may be fine, but making this consideration known is key to setting yourself apart - even if no one else in your company does it. Obviously, if the whole house is flooded, you aren’t taking your shoes off and booties are useless. You can say, “Normally we would take our shoes off but it does not appear to be safe at this time.” One component of sales is ensuring you communicate how you and your company are different, not by putting your competitors down but by showing your client your unique values and habits.
Additional habits that demonstrate a standard of cleanliness:
I can remember early on, I was on a project where I had forgotten my vacuum cleaner (or someone had borrowed it and not returned it), and the day was wrapping up. Somehow the only tool I had was a hand broom and dust pan. My boss had made it clear that sweeping at the end of every day was important to him and would pay off with the customer. So, I swept my way out on my hands and knees. This wasn’t a detailed sweep as we were coming back to complete more demolition the next day, but that action won a lot of favor with the customer. Unfortunately, not every customer will vocalize their satisfaction, but your habits are critical as they establish your way of doing things.
Property restoration career development: Communication
Communication is more than just talking. If you are the one presenting the information, your integrity is essential. Unfortunately, there are too many examples of people who will speak when without thinking about what they are saying or about things that they don’t fully understand. You are not doing yourself or your client a good service if you tell them something just to ease the tension or sound important.
Whenever we would onboard new technicians, or in peak season when we would bring in temporary labor, I would give some variation of a speech about two great communication anathemas that weren’t to be practiced in our team culture:
Property restoration career development: Be intentional
What is a business? In order to have a sustainable property restoration business you will need two things: happy customers and profitable jobs. Too many organizations, and people in a position of leadership, focus on profits as though they are the cause and not the effect. This is not to diminish how important profits are, but to understand that it is much more effective to direct your team members to focus on what they can control. All team members play a role in achieving happy customers and this is where we should focus our training. If you teach your team how to produce happy customers, you will find ways as a team to achieve profitability. On the other hand, if you always preach profits first, you will struggle to achieve happy customers. One is a cause, the other is an effect. Al Erisman, author of The ServiceMaster Story, discussed how early leaders in this flagship restoration organization had the mindset that profits were the subject but not the object of their efforts.
As you develop your career in property restoration, use these three guides:
Being an intentional restorer starts with doing it right. Whatever your roles and responsibilities are, learn how to do them right. Once you have this foundation you can learn to perform these functions more efficiently. This does not mean faster. Yet, efficiency increases overall team speed without cutting corners or sacrificing quality (doing it right). In everything we do, we want to add that sizzle which stamps your work with your way (reflects your culture). When you arrive with booties, lay down flooring protection, set dust control barriers, and close every day with sweeping the worksite, you are showing your customer that you have a way; that you have pride in what you do (excellence).
Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, is a 19 year veteran of the property restoration industry and a business coach through his organization The DYOJO.