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Water Damage Lead Generation vs Us, what’s the difference?

So, we all know that you get emails and phone calls from us and other water damage marketing companies that sell leads. I know this can be confusing, so let‘s clear it all up so it isn’t confusing.

What is the difference between us and a lead generating company? Quite a few.

Are you all the same? Not at all.

Are there different benefits to using us vs. a Lead Generator? Absolutely.

I’ll make this fast and simple to understand:

Lead Gen Companies: Use a Pay-Per-Click (Google Ads in other words) lead generation system to get the phone calls they sell to you.

Us: We use Google’s natural search results & map rankings – the modern day phone book.

Lead Gen Companies: Is a short-term-goal marketing method to get phone calls now.  It has no long term effects, once you turn it off it is off. It does not build long-term value for your business, it gets you the quick buck.

Us: We create long-term marketing programs which result in increased calls to your business as well as an increased overall value to your company as well as branding your name in your customer’s mind. This is very important if you ever want to sell your business to investors or anyone else. They’ll want to know what kind of REAL established marketing channels you’ve got. Lead Generation that can be turned off at any time, doesn’t achieve this. Investors won’t be impressed.

Lead Gen Companies: Charge you from $175-400 per call or even 10-30% of the gross of the job. Sometime they charge setup costs.

Us: We charge a monthly fee for our service, no per-call charges at all, whether good or bad calls and no set-up fees.

Lead Gen Companies: If you get a bad lead/phone call, you have to contact the company to request to not pay for that bad lead.

Us: If you get a bad phone call with our service, just hang up. It doesn’t matter. You’re not paying per call. Move on with your life.

There are other differences, but these are the primary ones for you to understand. Now, I am often asked which should I do? Or what other types of marketing should I do?

My answer is always the same:

“If it grows your business and builds value for your business, you should do it all. There is no one-trick-pony in the business world.”


Dan York, Founder and CEO

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

Stressed out in your company? Want to know why?

The Water Damage business has all of the usual stresses as any business would -the seasonal ups and downs, competition,  dealing with insurance companies and plumbers, etc.

However, when we examine the real sources of stress, we find that stress comes from places, not just “anywhere” or “nowhere” as in saying, “It’s just been a stressful week.”

Stress comes from specific things. Here’s the top 3 sources of stress you’ll run into that limits your ability to succeed:


“I’m in it to win it”/“I’m all in.” These are my favorite phrases about being an entrepreneur. It tells you the difference between a successful guy and an unsuccessful guy. If you’re not committed to what you’re doing, mentally and time-wise, things will always be unstable for you and “stressful”. Imagine how unstable your marriage would be if you told your wife “I’m in, unless you…” or “I’m just testing the waters on this marriage.” That will never work and certainly won’t make a successful marriage. In your vows you say, “til’ death do us part and in sickness and health”. In your business it is no different. If you’re not committed to what you’re doing, slow season or not, you will make less money and have stress – you won’t expand. Think about it, do you have any back-off on committing to your business? Do you second guess your commitment to its success? If you do, you will always have problems. Commit. Be “in it to win it” and go “all in.” 



The wrong people.  The wrong people in your company cause stress. Who do you spend most of your time dealing with in your office? Who’s the one that makes you tired? I’ll bet it is one person. Look for the chronic gossiper, the passive-aggressive person, or the one that gives you the most problems to solve (instead of them solving them). An employee should take duties off of your plate and save you time, not add time and duties to your job. If they are doing that what are you paying them for? Those types of people make things harder for everyone, not just you. Try to hire very positive people and surround yourself with them and your life will be much less stressful. Don’t be fooled by “actors” though,  if something seems off with them, it is. Some people appear positive and they are not when the honeymoon is over. Trust your instinct here.



3. Lack of prediction and marketing. Too little too late is the phrase you need to remember here. You have slow seasons. That’s a fact you have to deal with. You have new competition every year. Fact. You have to be on the ball, think about when the slow seasons are coming, what you have to do to get above the competition. Want to know the wrong thing to do when slow season rolls around? Cut your marketing budget because it slow. That will collapse your company eventually, I see it every year. What you should be doing is forecasting the next three months, get your marketing going early so that when the slow season rolls around, you’ll be getting the smaller amounts of calls that are available in that season. Then when the heavy season come around, you’re at the top and really winning big.


Stress and worry are useless in winning. Use these points above and eradicate your sources of stress.



Dan York, Founder and CEO

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

How to win it like the big guys…

You know, I really don’t even have to tell you what the “big guys” do, because you already know it. You see it all the time. I’ll explain later in the article.

You have to understand this first: This is a very unsuccessful train of thought for a business owner, “Where do I save money, where do I save the pennies, where do I skim some $?”

Ok, ok…I know we all learn to be frugal and everyone, everywhere, says this is a smart thing for us all to do right? WRONG. That is small-time thinking. No big, successful company owners do that. Now, I’m not saying be stupid with your money and of course there are circumstances that warrant penny pinching.  But, if a big company owner is thinking this, he’s already in trouble – if you’re thinking this, you’re probably in trouble.  The truth is that no matter the reason, lack of foresight and action in some capacity can lead you to that train of thought. 

So, how to win like the big guys?


Get into stuff and BE EVERYWHERE. They are.

They are busy as hell getting themselves into stuff – Getting in front of everybody they can, every way they can. They are always looking for the new way, and the old way, too, if it works. And luckily, they are not all expensive either. My company gets calls from people simply because their competitor in the neighborhood literally showed up everywhere, and somehow they find out it’s us.


Here’s why this really works:

When you’re busy “getting into stuff”, you notice that you are reaching out for new people.  OUT.

When you’re penny pinching and saving, you’re moving into your company, not out into the environment where more money is.  IN.

Your time is better spent reaching OUT, not IN. Let the Treasury manager handle the saving of the money.

Big company owners are reaching OUT into the environment all the time. And they make the money.

The small guys are IN the company, saving money, but not making it.



Dan York, Founder and CEO

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

How to Hire the Right Marketing Person to Expand Your Water Damage Company


Would you spend tens of thousands of dollars on advertising and then hire a rude receptionist who treats those customers who respond like crap?

Of course you wouldn’t. It’s a waste of money. 

So, why would you hire the wrong type of marketing person?  

9 out of 10 times a person comes to me asking about why their business is failing, I track it back to a lack of marketing or a marking person who isn’t doing the job. 

Remember this: A good marketing person expands your company. If your company is not expanding, they are not doing their job. 

So, how do you hire the right person for the marketing job, on the 1st try?

Here’s some tips on how: 


1. “Experience” & Degrees. This is over-valued these days.  Don’t think that because someone has 15 years of experience and a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing that they will do a good job. Only increased business tells the tell. Ask them, “How have you increased the size of the companies that you’ve worked for?” in many different ways. The good ones will know that or measure that…” Talk is cheap, SHOW ME.


2. Can-do personalities. Good marketing people always find a way. They don’t need much help or intervention. They “Can-Do.” Then there is the “Can’t-do” personalities, the “it can’t be done” person. They are easy to spot. They are usually pretty serious people and can be cynical and probably complain a lot. They are not successful in marketing. Ask them about their last job. If they go straight for negativity, and trash their last employer, move along. Blame is a sure-fire giveaway of a can’t do personality. 


3. Positive attitude. Marketing takes a lot of creativity and persistence, only positive people succeed at it. But how can you tell a REAL positive person from the FAKE one who is putting on a show in the job interview? First, don’t hire after one interview, hire after three interviews and do interviews with multiple people. Multiple interviews breaks down that “fake” 1st job interview attitude and you can see who they really are. 


Next, I go with my gut. Do they make me feel better? Do they instill confidence in what they say? If I second guess everything they say or they just seem fake, or “there is just something about them I can’t put my finger on…” trust your instinct, if you don’t, it will end up in wasted time and money. Positive people really, genuinely brighten up the room as they walk in, make everyone feel better, usually take the high road in a conversation, that’s is your marketing person right there. 


4. Jack-of-all-trades. Forget this. You’ll never find a jack of all trades marketing person who does branding, postcards, design, websites, Social Media, PPC, SEO, etc. It doesn’t exist. But that is not their job anyways. Their job is to successfully manage ALL of your marketing campaigns. They are there to get a return on your investment of your marketing dollars by successfully coordinating and managing all of your services and vendors that you use.

Remember- if you are not expanding, or are just scooting along at the same size, 9 out of 10 times, it is the lack of a good marketing person on board doing the job. There is no mystery there. Ask your biggest competitors, they know. Bad economy? More marketing. Slow Season? More marketing, Low Income this month? More Marketing. That is how a good marketing person thinks.


Dan York, Founder and CEO

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.


What do the Big Water Damage Companies do that the little ones don’t?

I’m in the fortunate position where I’ve personally worked with literally hundreds of Water Damage companies, small and large. I’m also always getting calls for advice as to what to do to increase the size of my client’s companies.

Out of all of the possible answers to this,  I’ve narrowed it down to some of the top characteristics I’ve seen from the most successful companies I’ve worked with as compared to the most unsuccessful:


They are hustlers. Sales and marketing make up a large percentage of their thoughts and conversations. They know to expand a business you have to sell and market like crazy. They come to work thinking about how to sell more. They know there is no such thing as luck in business.  They create their own luck.


They are survivors. They persist through anything. There is no such thing as a “bad economy” or a “slow season” to them, they see that as a market opportunity to get more business while everyone else is complaining about it and dying out. When things get slow, they kick up their advertising and their networking to compensate for it, not complain. They do something about it.  Then when the season picks up, they own even more of the market share.


They are everywhere. Billboards, painted vans, internet marketing, lead generation, Mr. Coupon, Valupack, networking plumbers, property mangers and insurance companies. They don’t think with just getting that one call (small think), they think with a whole community, they want everyone to know who they are (big think).  They think way beyond getting “one call”.


They are not stupid with their ad budgets. I know a guy who spent $10k on a postcard campaign that got him one phone call – no jobs. He went bankrupt 2 months later. I know another guy who spends $300k+ per year for radio, he is one of the most well-known in his city. I have clients that make over 50% of their gross income from our service. They spend a lot of money on advertising and marketing, but it’s not stupid.  It all gets them an ROI. They know how much a marketing campaign is making them.  They don’t spend money on things that don’t get a return.  They spend lots of money on many different marketing campaigns…that make them money and drive phone calls.


They are great business men. It’s pretty simple actually: They’re organized, they track profits and losses, track calls and where they come from, they watch for high profit jobs & high phone call volume areas, then market more to those areas, they invest in the future of their company, they hire good/pleasant employees that work hard and don’t turn-off their customers and vendors with bad attitudes.  They are not fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants types.


They are positive people. They think things will work 1st, then they get it to work. They don’t think that things won’t work first and then try it (just to prove they right that it didn’t work). I can tell right away one of these types when they call my company. They start off saying something like, “I saw your ad, I know it doesn’t work, but I wanted to hear what you have to say anyway.” They’ve already decided it won’t work, so of course it won’t.  You don’t meet big business owners with mindsets like that.  My most successful clients say things like, “I’m a believer, but it’s so hard to find a good company to work with”  or  “It’s not working yet, but we’ll figure it out eventually.” See, very different mindset. These guys have already decided that it will work…and then do the work to make it happen.  They decide and persist.


Think like a big company, become one of them. Think small, stay small.



Dan York, Founder and CEO

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

How to Get More Water Damage Jobs? ( or how not to go bankrupt!)

We’re asked this question all the time. Working with Water Damage Companies all over the world, we certainly have an opinion about it, and a good one at that.

Here’s the Answer:

Do every marketing outlet you can find that works, and if it works, persist at it – don’t quit.  

Some people don’t believe me when I say this. Maybe it’s too simple to believe or they want to think there is some “secret” that the big companies know. But I’ve worked with Mom and Pop shops doing $250k per year and the Goliaths of the industry making 10’s of Millions per year. That’s it. There is no big secret. 

I’ve watched a lot of bankrupted Water Damage Companies in the last 5 years. You learn a lot by watching them.

Here is why most Water Damage Companies aren’t winning like they should be (or are bankrupt):  

  1. They Rely on one or two forms of marketing only. 
  2. They give up too early on any marketing program they try. 
  3. When $ gets tough, they stop marketing which puts the final nail in the coffin of their company. 


Let’s look into these a bit more.

1. They Rely on one or two forms of marketing. All you have to do is look at the big guys (local or franchises) . They are everywhere – billboards, phone books, tons of internet marketing, lead generation, bright vans, flyers in newspapers, postcards, Plumbers refer them, you name it. Small guys try to find “one good thing”.  Maybe you will for a while, but it never lasts and it certainly doesn’t build a successful company. And when you go into a slump, it usually ends you. Big, successful, lasting companies are doing minimally 6 major forms of marketing or advertising. 

2. They give up too early on any marketing program they try. This is so common. I can’t tell you how many Water Damage Company owners I’ve talked to that say “I tried that, it didn’t work.” No, what didn’t work was the owner of the company. He didn’t persist. He tries it for a few weeks or months and then quits because he didn’t see results yet. Marketing doesn’t work like that. Any successful business owner knows it takes persistence, long term strategies and is similar to a relay race: You must make each part of the marketing program work.

3. When the going gets tough, they stop marketing, putting the final nail in the coffin of their soon to be broke company.  You know what the big guys do when the going gets tough and business is slow? Market more…WAY more.  You know what the small guys do when the going gets tough? Cut off their marketing programs to “save money” which really costs them more money in lost revenues then they are saving through the stopping of their marketing programs. That usually finished the job on killing their revenues.


I know a guy who is wowing people. He’s only 27 and his company is already doing a couple million per year after only 2 years. Everyone thinks he is a magic man, and maybe he is. He’s client of mine. I asked him what he does. He told me that he uses my company (of course), 3 lead generation companies, is in the phone book buying ads, uses the Yellow Pages Online, works Angie’s list, has a city-wide PPC program, sends out postcards, networks plumbers, insurance agents as well as contractors and more. He grew his company faster in 1.5 years than another client of mine who took 25 years to get to the same size.

So stop wondering why you are not big enough, review these points. They are correct. The big guys know it.



Dan York, Founder and CEO

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

Too busy to market right now?

“I’m too busy to market right now, I have too many calls coming in as it is.”


We’re one of the oldest water damage internet marketing companies out there, we have more experience than anyone. This gives us the insight into what Water Damage Company owners do that shoots themselves in the foot, over and over.


There’s a phrase that you should know and remember, “too little too late.” That’s when it’s too late to do something about what you should’ve already done something about! With regards to getting calls coming in, a lot of owners of water damage restoration companies can be very shortsighted. Not stupid, but shortsighted, big difference there. You see, they get very busy, and in some cases, overwhelmingly busy. As a result, they get scared to do anymore marketing or just plain too busy to do any more marketing as they don’t think that they can handle the volume or they think it will always be this way, when in fact it’s a seasonal thing, etc. Then the typical scenario that occurs is this: business slows down or a slow season such as February comes around where it’s too warm for freezing pipes and there’s not any precipitation coming around yet, so then the person scrambles for the calls that aren’t there and starts to turn on every marketing form that he can think of hoping that he can get calls that quickly, when in fact he is wasting money and misses the calls from that season altogether. That is too little too late.


So, when is the ideal time to start marketing? The obvious answer is ALL THE TIME. You should be marketing when it’s busy, when it’s slow – all the time, you should never turn it off. Turning it off as I’ve said before, over and over, is the kiss of death for the front end of your business. But, let’s say you don’t keep it on all year round – the ideal time to start marketing is about 2-3 months prior to when you want the calls…at least! Any real marketing program is going to probably take around 3 months to really settle in and be effective. And by the time that you’re done with your busy season that you’re too busy to get marketing going in, that marketing program will take root and offset that slow season when you need it to, not when it’s too late.


Another point I’ll bring up on this is finance. When things are good, the calls are coming in, and you’re “too busy to turn on another marketing program”. This again, is the ideal time to get a marketing program going because the finance is there to afford it, the money is coming in. What typically happens is when people start to look at marketing, finance is starting to falter, their calls are slowing down, their income gets hurt and then they can’t even afford the marketing that they need.


I think you see the overall lesson to be learned here, keep your head in the future, predict the future, don’t be blinded by right now, take advantage of busy season when they re there to turn your future seasons to busy ones too.



Dan York

What works better for getting business? Ads or the Natural results?

It is very different driving calls into your company today than it was in 1995, or even 2008 for that matter. As we all know, practically no one uses the phone books anymore.

Two of the largest forms of internet marketing these days use either ads or the natural listings in Google. You see them all the time – the 4 ads at the top of the screen, Google Maps, and then there is what everyone uses, the “natural” listings below those ads. And of course Google is the king of the jungle of that game.

So which one works better for getting business? Ads or the Natural results?

For years, Google has reported that the ads outperform the natural results. However, in our company, we never found that to be true. We’d see a lot of clicks into a customer’s website, but not the phone calls. Plus, we’d ask people and maybe 1 out of 10 people would tell us that they use those ads. Most people don’t even look at them anymore. So the data that Google provided on this didn’t ad up, then they straight-up hide some of the data from everyone.

In 2014, Groupon – the giant online coupon provider – did a test for us all.  They shut down their website from Google, literally turned it off, to test how much of their internet traffic came from Natural results in Google. What they found was startling. They found that 60% of all traffic that Google would report as “direct” is actually organic search.  For the the full article, click here.

So what does this mean for all of us? It means that if you aren’t marketing the natural results, you’re losing out on the majority of business available for the internet. 

Where, after all, do you think the leads that the lead gen guys are selling you come from? The natural results and the pay-per-click ads.   


Dan York, Founder and CEO 


Water Damage Leads – Short-term or Long-term ones?

Should you buy short-term-pay-per lead water damage leads?  Or build your own long-term lead program?

Answer: Both

There’s the old “give a man a fish feed him for a day, teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime saying”, this is the way leads are for the water damage business.

Companies like United Restorers, who generate water damage leads, have a great reputation for caring about their customers. They sell you leads at a certain dollar amount per phone call that comes in. This is valuable for the right-now business.  This is short-term thinking. You need this.

You also need to think long-term, that’s where we come in. We build your lead generation program, you own it and do not pay per phone call.  Will it get you calls tomorrow? No. But it will in weeks to months to forever without paying per call.

Doing one or the other is small-think, short-sighted and limited. If you are really serious about building a successful water damage company, you really need to confront that fact that you need to probably do both.  We’re two services out of many services you should probably be using in order do build a real marketing machine to get your company growing the way that it should.

What about retirement? selling the company?

What do you think the buyer would think if they asked you “where are you getting your business” and you told them only “we buy water damage leads phone calls from lead generation companies”. That isn’t that valuable to them, it is not proprietary, it can be turned off.  It is valuable to you, but looking at your future, they would see it as short-sighted.

You gotta play both games to really hit it big. I know, I’m working the ones who are hitting it big.

When should I get a new website for my water damage company?

When and why should you update your website?

It has to get done, yes. But when? How? How often? Why? Once a year? When your web guy says,”I don’t like it?” When I feel like I’m bored with it as a biz owner?

Nope, none of those.

The answer is simple – when it stops working. 

Now you have to be careful with that, though, because there are two primary reasons that your website will not generate business that you need to consider first:

1.) You are not ranking in Google, etc. At which point you need to make it rank high in Google before deciding to change your website, because no one is ever getting to your website in the first place to know whether it works or not,


2.) Your website is turning away people. NEVER assume you know how to design a website for your clients. The BEST marketing people I know, including myself, are always surprised to see what actually works. We’re always surprised at some point, even after 20+ years of doing it. We never assume. So you definitely shouldn’t either.

Now some web designers will argue, “there’s so much more than those two points above!” and they are right, there are a lot of different aspects, however, they all can be aligned to those two points.

So, if you are ranking well in Google, etc. and you STILL aren’t getting business or calls, now would be the time to discuss the design, etc. But if it is actually working…leave it alone to some degree. No one kills a successful marketing program more than what us in our company like to call “tinkerers.” They tinker and tinker, always changing something, why? Who knows, maybe they just feel like it. More successful web programs are killed by tinkerers and their whims than I would care to mention. Try not to get into that habit. If you did have something successful going on that was developing the business, and you are a sloppy tinkerer, you’ll lose what worked, not remember it, and then get lost in the many changes you’re making.  Then you won’t know what did what anymore.

Now, websites are not some kids’ art projects, they are business development tools.  This is YOUR business’s tool to get in new clients in the modern day. Your website should not be designed by, or be the brain child of an out-of-touch person who “thinks” he knows your business, or some kid straight out of college who thinks he knows how to develop business. These should be strategically and somewhat scientifically approached by someone in your niche who knows your business. Lots of income gets left on the table by using out of touch people who do not understand the niche market you exist in.


So remember, if it is working, try and let it work. If there are any tweaks you make, catalogue them, when and why you made them so you can reverse it when your calls drop off.

And don’t “tinker”… 🙂


Sincerely, Dan York

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