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Top 3 Things the Largest Water Damage Companies are Doing that You’re Not

Top 3 Things the Largest Water Damage Companies are Doing that You’re Not


Working with literally hundreds of water damage restoration companies over the last decade, running their marketing programs and seeing their successes and failures, gives you a very streamlined viewpoint of what works and what doesn’t in running a water damage business.

It is a frequent question asked of us when new client signs on for our program, “Should I be doing anything else?” The answer is always yes. But what?

I’ve written articles about this before (click here to read it) that are spot on, but I’d like to try and narrow down the top three points I’ve personally observed.

I’ll start by saying that I wish it was just as simple as they work really hard at it. It isn’t that simple. Of course you have to work hard, but that won’t get you into the top tier of water restoration companies out there.


  1. They work hard at getting their company noticed by EVERYONE. They have loud vans/trucks, they are in every paper, they have billboards on major highways, they have top rankings in SEO, top placements in PPC, they do Lead Generation (usually with several companies), they network contractor groups and plumbers and property management companies and other potential commercial accounts, they care about their branding (everything looks the same – like them). They realize there is no single “magic bullet” to building a huge company. You’d think their jobs would take up most of their attention, but they don’t. Eventually they appear to be everywhere and then look like market leaders and before you know it, they are.
  2. They never turn away work.  You think this wouldn’t happen, right? But you’ve probably done it. A big storm rolls in, you can’t handle the volume, so you turn off the phones and kick on the answering machine. Done. But here is what the bigger guys typically do – they grow with each major occurrence. A storm rolls in for example, they don’t turn off the phones, they invest in and buy more equipment to handle it, they hire contractors to handle the extra calls, they have their crews running all hours of the day until everything is handled, on and on. You see then, even though things slow down after a storm, not only are they more prepared for the next big storm, they’ve made a killing on the last one so they now have more part-time contractors and more equipment to drop in customer’s houses. They also now have all of these additional resources they’ve invested in, so they market harder and faster for more business as the additional income and resources are now available. The never “turn off” marketing for slow seasons or storms where everyone is getting work. This simple cycle I’ve seen keeps companies growing going up to $25m+.
  3. They fire the wrong people. Now this is business 101 I suppose, except that we’ve all violated it. If an employee isn’t pulling their weight, you let them go. The biggest most successful companies have great staff. They have great execs that make great decisions, proven estimators and sales staff, their techs are clean and thorough. They base their hiring decisions on numbers and production, not friend-type relationships. If someone isn’t hitting their numbers, they’re gone. If someone isn’t expanding their department, they are replaced. If they have a bad apple, they don’t let it ruin the whole damn bunch. They don’t waste time on family squabbles within the business or long-term petty disputes with staff or execs. They are focused on getting more business.


I know it aways seems like there is some secret trick to building huge companies, but there isn’t. The secret is that there is NO secret. It’s simply what you do with your time, and where you put your attention and effort. These are my personal observations of the biggest water damage companies I’ve ever worked with. You yourself, no matter your size now, can make these simple changes above and grow faster every year than you did the last.



Dan York

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

What is your internet marketing company actually doing for your business?

What is your internet marketing company actually doing for your business?

There’s great sales people out there. There’s a lot of well-meaning people out there too. But in marketing, business is business.

Sure it helps to like who you’re working with, building great relationships and scratching each others back, but in the end if it doesn’t result in more revenues for your company, what’s actually happening?

And with water damage restoration marketing, we’re talking a seriously specialized market where “just anyone” is not able to get the job done.

Fact: Building a successful marketing program takes time and patience, it can be frustrating and even downright maddening, but in the end it works if you persist through all that. But what should the product of all of that work result in for you, the water damage restoration company owner?

One thing: Phone Calls. The rest is up to you guys.

Those are the results you want from your internet marketing company. Just getting high up in Google alone doesn’t result in more phone calls, there’s other things that need to happen. Just updating your website doesn’t mean more phone calls. Just getting on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t mean more phone calls.

So, when you are listening to sales pitch after sales pitch, listen up for the key point: “we’re generating real phone calls for our clients.” Not “we’re increasing web traffic” or “we’ll get you more likes on Facebook” or “we’ll get you 1,000 Twitter followers.”  All of those things sound interesting and on the cutting edge of business development, but in the end, is it actually resulting in new business?

So, after the sales person has pitched you, make sure you ask them, “are you actually getting phone calls in from that for companies?” If and when they say “yes”, then ask, “for water damage restoration companies?” If that answer is no, beware. This biz is a different kind of beast. Getting business developed for auto parts stores or Electricians is very, very different.

So, in the end, what is your internet marketing company really doing for you? If the answer is not getting you more phone calls, why do they still have your business?

Maybe you should call Shana at my company and ask her why  😉




Dan York

Founder, Stellar-eMarketing

How to avoid customers who post negative reviews.

How do you avoid customers who post negative reviews about your company? Is it possible?

We’ve all had them, it is almost impossible to avoid these days -the customer who spreads negative reviews about your company all over the net.

You know how it goes… you’re out there working hard to please everyone, doing your job, pricing things fairly, and then it happens. Some customer, usually the one who is impossible to please anyways, threatens (or ends up) posting bad reviews about your company on Google Reviews, Ripoff, Angie’s List, etc.

First, for any of you reading this that run fly-by-night companies and are getting lots of bad reviews…you need to do some serious soul searching and clean up your act. For the rest of you running good businesses who get that “one bad review”? Read on…

So, is it possible to avoid these people who will inevitably write bad reviews BEFORE they even write them? Or even better, what if you could predict them even before signing them up? Well, you’re in luck, I have some tricks up my sleeve to help in predicting these types of people so you don’t even sign them up for your service in the 1st place.


There is one thing that you have to practice first though to be able to eliminate these people from your company:


Do not get desperate for money.

You somehow have to get over this. Whenever you are desperate for income, you will take money from customers that you know, deep-down, that you should not. And they are the ones that give you the problems, every time. So once you are over the desperation of income, use these following tricks to say no to certain customers, generally the ones who will leave you bad reviews:

Watch for theses indicators of trouble, and try not to sign them up:

  • Do they listen to your advice as THE PROFESSIONAL doing the job or do they tell you your job that they hired you for? 

Typically this person will not be happy no matter what you do, because he knows best…even though he hired you, the professional, to do the job. So why the hell did he hire you in the 1st place? We won’t get into the psychology of it, but let’s just all remember this guy, we’ve all had him.

  • They either will not, or are unwilling to sign paperwork 

This is a HUGE red flag. Paperwork makes the business world go round’. Any professional knows it. Amateurs learn it the hard way…the 1st time they get a lawsuit. Agreements are done in writing, if it isn’t in writing it isn’t true. If someone has a weird unwillingness to fill out your paperwork, this is a catastrophe in the making. Anyone who is going to be a good client, will be fine with filling out your paperwork generally.

  • They talk trash about the last (however many) companies that came before you and how they creamed them with bad reviews on the internet. 

I love this one. Some guys  hearing this from their potential new customer might think, “yeah, all those other guys suck…he’s right, they deserved bad reviews.” But…why do you think you’re going to be any different? Do you think that ALL of those other companies sucked? And even if they did, what kind of person brags about spreading bad reviews about a company all over the net? Don’t be naive. Sign up this guy and you’re potentially his next bad review, this is what he does in his free time, don’t become his future free time.

  • Their payments bounce right away. Can they actually afford the service? 

Card/check bouncers are always suspect. Why? Because it shows right away by bouncing their 1st payment that they cannot afford you in the 1st place. And, once they find themselves in a financial bind and have no more money, you know what they might do?  Call you and threaten bad reviews unless you give them their money back.  So financially qualify your client a bit to see if they can afford you. If not, don’t become part of their future financial hostage negotiation.

  • Trust your gut.

This should be obvious. Think about it – Every single customer you’ve ever had a problem with, I’m willing to bet, you knew was a problem when you were signing them up. So trust your gut. If you think they are trouble, do not sign them up. Do not be blinded by money. Signing them up when you really know you shouldn’t will cost you way more than money, it will cost you your sanity!


Best of luck out there!



Dan York

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

Are Your Google/Yelp Reviews Killing Your Phone Call Volume?

Are your Google/Yelp reviews killing phone phone call volume?

Well, the answer is, very possibly.

And if you’re like most of our customers, you would like to maximize the output of every single source of phone calls you can get your hands on.

But even today after years and years of reviews being posted, it seems like old news to most of us, but still yet you’d be alarmed at how many people do not care or even pay attention to their reviews. And they ignore it to their own damage. Yes, if it is ignored, no matter how good you market online, you factually will turn away some if not most of your customers.

Face the facts: people look at reviews! You do, and they do. On Amazon, Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc…


There are a few scenarios here that we will examine here and the results of each:

1. You have no reviews.

2. You have tons of positive reviews and no negative reviews at all.

3. You only have negative reviews or a majority of negative reviews.


Each of these will produce less phone calls than you are capable of getting. This is how:


  1. You have no reviews. This is simple. They Google and see this:

Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 10.55.54 AM


Guess who they AREN’T picking? You look unestablished or like a fake company or however else you’ll be look ed at, all resulting in NO CALLS. And those guys look FAKE.


Next, 2.  You have tons of positive reviews and no negative reviews at all. Now this one is tricky, because most business owners think this is what they want. They rant and rave when they get a bad review. However, this is not necessary, and in realty much better for your reviews! Having too many perfect reviews actually in fact backfires on you. Why? Because it looks like you’re buying or placing fake reviews all the time. You actually want some bad reviews, not many, but a few. People are smart out there. They pick someone who has a majority of good reviews, but a few bad ones, so they know you’re real. Every company out there gets cockroaches that leave bad reviews, everyone knows it too.


Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 11.05.24 AM

Guess who looks like they are buying reviews or putting up tons of fake reviews? Hmmmm…..


3. You only have negative reviews or a majority of negative reviews. Now this one is obvious, or I’d like to think so anyways.  It should be super clear how you’re viewed when you only have bad reviews and no good reviews. You look like a charlatan who will probably steal from them or do a bad job. Simple. I knew a guy once who had 6 negative reviews on Yelp and 5 negative ones on Google, and only one positive review. And no matter how good his online marketing was, no one was calling. Why? BECAUSE PEOPLE WILL LOOK AT YOUR REVIEWS BEFORE THEY CALL YOU. The result of this is simple. No one calls you, period.


Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 11.13.04 AM

Now in this one above, I’m not sure which is worse? The guy with no reviews or the guy with 4 three star reviews? I’d pass on both of those guys.

Guys, spend the time and the effort on your reviews. You don’t have to like it, but believe me it is worth it. SEO, PPC and Reviews are not areas where you want to cheap out in your companies marketing budget.




Dan York

Founder Stellar-eMarketing



Cleanfax Live Interview – How long does it take for SEO to work?

How long does it take for SEO to work? Here is a live interview with Cleanfax Magazine’s Editor-In-Chief Jeff Cross covering this common question:

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Cleanfax Live Interview – Will SEO ever disappear?

Here is a live interview with Cleanfax Magazine’s Editor-In-Chief Jeff Cross covering this reoccurring topic:

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The Magic Bullet for Phone Calls?

Does it exist? The Magic Bullet to get more phone calls?


Every year, new water damage companies and young new water damage company owners emerge and try to discover that magic bullet to get more phone calls. The “one” thing they could do to get the leg-up on the competition. I see them asking this question weekly in the Water Damage online forums and when you talk to them at the trade shows.


The issue is: There is no magic bullet. There never was and there never will be. Not in this business or any other for that matter.


New water damage company owners will soon learn what the older, more experienced owners know: You have to build a business the old-fashioned way. You have to develop relationships, find and stabilize various different types of marketing lines and advertising lines, change with the times and  technology to not get pigeon-holed into old unworkable advertising sources (phone books, etc.) and of course, do good by your customers. I always tell the newer busines owners to get that get-rich-quick garbage out of their heads as fast as possible as it is clouding what they really need to do.


Young guys, ask the older guys out there, what do you do that really gets you the new business? First, if they tell you (why would they train their future competition?), you’ll find out that they do many different sources of generating new business. They do SEO, Pay-Per-Click, some still do phone books, networking and building relationships with insurance companies and Insurance adjusters, networking with plumbing houses, paying lead generation companies and other business development activities. Some even buy into Franchises just to get that business that comes from being part of a big Franchise group.


So mentally, get set up for the long-hauls, the relationship build, the one by one customer building that needs to inevitably happen. Don’t shortcut it. We’re one of the oldest water damage marketing companies out here, believe me, we’ve seen what happens to the guys that shortcut this process. They don’t last long.



Dan York


How Do I Get More Google Reviews For My Water Damage Business?

Anyone who has been in business for a long time knows this fact: Your satisfied clients rarely (without prompting) write positive reviews about your business.   But then there’s that one nasty client who you probably shouldn’t have sold in the first place, who will slam you all over every review site he can, starting with leaving a good ole’ Google Review, which is one of the most viewed on the internet for local businesses.

We’re not really talking about the subject of Marketing when we talk about Google Reviews, we’re talking more about the subject of Public Relations – How people perceive your company,  your public image.

Let’s also confront the fact that we all use these reviews personally, even though we all sort of know that out of all of the reviewers, that one scathing review was probably one of those guys who is never happy with anything. We all view them and “average out” the number of stars or reviews on Google, Yelp, Merchant Circle, etc. So this is a subject that needs to be understood and controlled by us. If you leave this one to chance, you’ll look bad.

I  was working with a Cosmetics Dentist once, a good one at that, who never spent any time on his internet marketing or presence at all. He had 1 positive Google review and then one psychotic client of his just lambasted him on Google Reviews. So he looked 50/50, one good, one bad. Now, in that there is only 2 reviews, this will give people pause when future potential clients are checking him out (97% of all people will check out the reputation of a service they are going to use online PRIOR to even calling or using them).  This would not have occurred if he had 38 4-5 star reviews and one 1 star review.

So, we have to put this under our control. Luckily this is simple.

There are several ways we can do this:

First, let’s email them. If you’re not collecting your clients email addresses, you should be, so this assumes that you are.

1. Go onto your company’s Google Map listing/Google Plus page.

2. Go to the About Tab, you’ll see your reviews to the right.

3.  Copy the full Address in the address bar of your browser into an email.

4. Send this link, with very, very short and clear directions on selecting “write a review”, asking them politely to do so.

So easy. Do not make it complicated, it must be able to be done by your clients in 5 minutes or less, otherwise they will not do it, and not because they do not like you, but because they are busy people. Do not underestimate the shortness of people’s attention span these days. Always politely appeal to their satisfaction with your company in asking them to take 5 minutes to write a positive review.


Now, if you have an office, such  as a Dentist or Chiropractor you would:

1. At reception, set up a computer.

2. When a client is finished with their service, after they have paid and set their next appt. with reception, reception will ask them, at this computer, to please log into their Google account and leave a positive review.

3. Once again, it has to be fast or else it will not get done. So, make sure there is a browser already open, a fast one like Chrome. Then make sure that Google is open so they can quickly log into their account.


You can come up with many ideas on how to get this done, it is not complicated, it is more that people just don’t do it. You could also do this for Yelp, Merchant Circle or any other major Reviews Site.


It may seem like a simple, maybe unnecessary thing to do for your “PR”, but ask your clients how often they read these reviews on Amazon before buying, ask your husband or wife how often they read these kinds of reviews before going to a restaurant.  The answers to those questions should re-adjust your view on the importance of spending some time getting some good reviews.



Dan York



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How Long Does it Take for SEO to Work?

How Long Does it Take for SEO to Work?

Look, this is a tricky question and anyone in this business will tell you that. But, here is the short and quick answer: 3-6 months…ish.


Answering that question is like answering this question from a homeowner, “How much will this water damage restoration job cost?” It’s hard to answer that until you assess all of the damage. There a lot of variables there to look at, walls to open up, etc. What we do is similar. Most of our clients have used 4-5 SEO companies prior to us, some of which have done some very damaging things to their website and online reputation that need to be repaired. This of course adds time to what you’ll need to get your SEO program working.


Again, there are many variables to understand why the estimates for time it takes for SEO to work are so varied, but here a few things we look at when assessing the time it takes to get something done right:

  • Damage done to your website
  • Damage done to your online reputation
  • Bad SEO techniques that needs to be corrected on and off of your website
  • Regional differences such as weather conditions. Etc.
  • Local populations
  • Local Competition
  • Is your website new? Old?

That’s just a handlful. But even answering just those can get us some sort of reasonable estimate of time to get an SEO program working.


We had a client once that took us 9 months to even get him up and making money. That’s a pretty long leap of faith for a new client with no previous relationship to trust in.  He’d had a lot of bad SEO in his history. But, once we got it all corrected for the long haul, we nailed it. We are now one of his top sources of income for the last 6 years.


And as some friendly advice, don’t do shortcuts. If you do, you’ll make less money at some point, I promise.


Remember this, it’s important:  SEO marketing programs are yours, you own them. It is a long term marketing strategy for you. This is where people who aren’t calling their insurance companies are going to find you, so it is 100% worth your time and investment. This adds value to your company whereas other short-term marketing programs do not.  SEO is a vital part of your marketing strategy today, do not underestimate it or under-invest in it.


You’ve all been in the homeowner’s house where the last restoration guy did a terrible job that you now have to fix. Our business is similar. We see those “half-assed” jobs all the time. We’ve fixed hundreds of them.


So in closing, you can see why there are so many variables as to how long it takes to get an SEO program working, every case is and should be viewed and assessed individually, not lumped into every other project someone has priced out.


But again, you can expect reasonable results anywhere from 3-6 months if done well and no serious damage control is needed.



Dan York, Founder Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.


How to Lead your area in Water Damage Restoration, not be a competitor

Tired of competing? Want to dominate? Then listen up.

I get calls every week from guys that all they talk about is their competitors and what they are doing. The funny thing is that they are usually paying attention to some mid-level company and competing with them. They’re not even someone really worth paying attention to.

As I’ve said before, I’ve talked with hundreds of companies in this industry from across the US and Canada and Europe. I know who the market dominators are (my clients!).

Here’s some tips on how to dominate your market:


  • Stop comparing your self to mediocre companies. Change your mindset and raise your goals and look at the biggest companies in your area – the ones who are really winning and making money. The ones you see everywhere.
  • Quit getting all worked up looking at “that other guy’s website.” Who cares, unless of course he is the market leader, then you can look away!
  • Stop doing things “your friend” says work in another state or country. In this business, you have to market this differently in every region of the country, especially on the internet.
  • Go logically where the demographics are for the business: The elderly, put a nice ad in the phonebook (they’re cheap now!), 20’s through the 60 year olds – Google/the internet – use us, referrals – network the insurance companies, plumbers and property mgmt groups, etc.
  • If you’re not a big franchise, don’t try to be. Carve out your niche of  “the local  company”, people still love that and some market leaders do better than the franchises doing just that.  Stick a nice big picture of your wife and kids on your website while you’re at it.
  • Above all, don’t be a burn and churn operation. Too many people, especially the newcomers, are too short sighted in this business. Do a great job, treat your customers with respect, help them do the insurance filing, etc. That’s the real stuff that will grow you stably. Plus those are the people who write a testimonial for you on your website or Google Maps and remember that 97% of internet users will check you out online prior to ever calling you. If you have 0 history of testimonials or ratings online, or worse, bad reviews, that will kill your call volume.

One other point to remember to dominate a market. We frequently see people doing things recommended by what we call “A Maven”. A Maven is a so-called “expert.” He’s the guy who gives his “expert” advice to you about what you should do. I learned this word in the car business growing up.  He is the guy who goes along with his girlfriend’s friend to go car shopping and is the “expert” and “helps” her get a good deal on the car (or blows the deal altogether). Forget these Mavens or “experts”. Stop listening and only look, talk is cheap. Getting advice on what “works”? Does it? I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve seen the Maven give their “expert” advice only to make their “friend” less money as a result. Work with real professionals, ones that do  it for a living. The ones that are big and winning. Get advice from mediocrity, get mediocrity. Get advice from a small-timer, become small time. You won’t see me doing my own taxes, I hire great accountants for that. I don’t get Maven advice on my taxes.

Here’s to your success and market domination!


Dan York

CEO and Founder

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