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Years ago, the restoration business was done face-to-face, with pen and paper, and you had to travel out of your way to have an important meeting to close on an agreement with an adjuster or a carrier. Scopes were done with “tick sheets” and were effectively submitted when you could get to them.

As one of the first contractors on the SF PSP program (not once but in multiple areas) I can state from a firsthand perspective that “back then” the programs were not what they are today. Today the conversation has evolved to become something like working within the “Matrix”.

Ah, how times have changed. Since the development and advancements of computers, smart phones, tablets and new software, what used to be daunting tasks can now be completed with a simple e-mail, click, or push of a button.  What are some important aspects of IT that you have included in your business?

Here are some ways business has radically changed:

CLAIMS PROGRAMS

As we all know, MANY carriers have gone to a “Third Party Provider” (Contractor Connection, Code Blue, PTC-Net, First Choice, etc….) and now even The Home Depot has a program where they are partnering with the state run Carrier in Louisiana. HOW times have CHANGED!

In some ways this can be a struggle as to what fits with your company and you may have many questions when it comes to implementing “program work”. What program should you be on? Who do you want to market to (do you still market to carriers)? Can I hold my profitability? Do I have the right technology?

Some aspects of the program work is bringing Contractors, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the NEW world of technology. Many contractors are embracing technology and the internet like never before as they realize that the requirements are clearly raising the bar for everyone to perform at a MUCH higher level than even 3 – 5 years ago vs. even further in the past. This can be GREAT for your company when you have the correct Processes, Procedures and Systems in place to go along with the current technology.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Today, ask someone under the age of 50 (for sure 35) and they will most likely state that they connect with a business via Social Media. This may include sites such as Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, LinkedIn and a multitude of others. The great thing about Social Media is it’s an instant connection to your consumer. They will generally tell you what they think, when they think it, and not delay on their response.

The negative to social media is that they WILL tell you what they think, when they think it, and it posts as soon as they are done typing. Many times you have to monitor your sites to make sure you can respond appropriately to both negative and positive comments. Remember, you must maintain your professionalism when dealing with Social Media. Yes, it is an instant way for your consumer to react to something positive or negative, but it is also an instant way for you to provide a solution, or possibly damage your reputation. Too often, there are times when people forget to look at their responses as a business, and let their emotions get the best of them. Before responding, always do your research, take a moment to calm down if it is something upsetting, and come up with a response (not an emotional reaction) that keeps your professional image intact. If you need to, you can always work with a team to develop some great responses to positive and negative reviews! Social Media also has a great way to allow you to offer rewards to your consumers, enticing them to spend more, or come back more often!

E-MAIL & TEXT

With the development of computers and the Internet, communication has become quicker and more efficient. Business proposals, inventory, ideas, plans, meetings, and more became instant with the development of e-mail. Skype, Web Ex, GTM and more. A person no longer has to wait days for a formal response, or wait on hold to talk to someone, now, you can have things reviewed, signed, and set-up almost instantaneously after someone reviewed your e-mail communication. With access through texting, our communications are even quicker and our response times have been significantly reduced. Slow responses to email or texts can decrease your business in a heartbeat; quick (FAST) response time can increase business.

SKYPE & Conferencing Services

Remember when you used to have to catch a plane to visit another State, go across the country “to the other coast”, and visit some other country like Japan or an island such as Fiji in order to have a business meeting with someone? Sure, the phone works great, but when you need to have a discussion face-to-face with a presentation included, you can set up a time for you to Skype a business meeting.  You could even have a translator on the call that is in a different location if needed, versus standing in the room with you or your potential client. Skype and other web conferencing services have certainly made business meetings great for those who telecommute as well. You don’t have to go into the office as much, but can still make those meetings if your company has the ability to Skype you in!

These are just a few ways that IT has changed many of the ways that we do business, and it will only continue to evolve as we become more dependent upon technological advances in our society.