The REAL Specialists in Water Damage Marketing
The Disaster Services Marketing Leaders

Why you need to fire some of your clients…

Well, that’s certainly an alarming thing to say. However, anyone who has been in business a long time already knows what this means.

Some clients you just don’t want. They’re not good for you and your business, you and your employees. And you have to let them go.

We all want to grow our businesses, we all want more success, but there are certain clients that hinder your success. And you have to become expert at isolating who those guys are and firing them as clients.

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, there are just people that are wrong for you as a company. They might be right for someone else’s company, but they are wrong for you and you know it.

Think about this: 80% of all of your complaints come from less than 20% of your clients. And the majority of the worst complaints you’ll usually find come from less than 5% of your entire client base. And what does “this less than 5%” do? They make your staff hate their jobs, make everyone think your service is faulty where it actually isn’t, they eat up your precious time, they threaten lawsuits, they go on Google, Yelp, BBB and Angie’s List and write bad reviews, you know who they are. It’s that client you wish you would have never taken on. We’ve all had them.

But now here is the REAL kicker: You saw the red flags very early on with this person.

It’s sort of like dating. You might meet a guy or a girl and you want to see all of the good things and ignore the bad things, but in the end when things go south it was the bad things that you saw early on, and ignored, that really did you in. It’s no different with customers. You saw the red flags in the sales cycle, when you were in their home, talking to the customer on the phone, etc. But, you wanted to choose to see the good, or maybe you just had dollar signs in your eyes, either way you ignored the red flags.

In any well-run business, you need to spend 80% of your time on the 80% of your clients that actually deserve your work. These guys pay you on time, they’re good customers, you want to help them and they need your help. We won’t get into why this very small percentage of people seem to not want your help or make things worse for the both of you when you’re simply trying to help them, as that’s probably a subject for someone else to take up. As business owners the only thing we need to take up is getting rid of them.

I know it sounds harsh, but it’s just a fact of being in business. You owe good service to your good clients, those 80% of people to pay their bills on time. And if you and your staff are spending all of your time on that very small percentage of people who are “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, you were actually doing a disservice to the majority of your clientele. That’s the real issue you have to face in choosing to fire a client. It takes guts to fire a clients, but to the degree that you do that, your business will be smoother and faster it will grow faster, it will be quieter on customer service lines and you’ll just be plain happier.

You can also include in this those customers that do not pay their bills on time, that never make their appointments and anything else that stops you from running a  smooth business. You don’t need the money that badly. And if you do need the money that badly and you take on a client like this, I promise you you will stop other money that should be coming in from arriving.

I just talked to one of my clients about this about two weeks ago and he was talking about how much time he was spending on this one client, in her house dealing and with all of her customer service problems and the whole time he was there just dealing with headaches, he wasn’t paying attention to his other clients and no sales were coming in either he wasn’t getting any new business. And as soon as he said, “This is just not right for me”, he fired the client. Over the next three days he pulled in six more jobs, all of which were good paying, well mannered clients.

I hate to tell people how long it takes to learn this lesson, but usually for people that didn’t learn business from their father or anything like that, we learned this after years and years of working on these types of people and finally discovering that the best thing you can do for your company, your finances, your growth, your employees and clients is  to fire that very small percentage of clients. Get rid of the squeaky wheel’s that get the grease. Grease the four wheels that are actually rolling and keeping the car on the road.


Dan York

Founder and CEO

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

Can SEO get us in front of the major storms like Florence?

Every time a storm comes in, a major hurricane or the like, we get a lot of people calling in to ask us, “Can you get us in front of the storm so that we can get the work?” As we all know, there are a lot of water damage restoration companies that will “storm chase” and travel to get work.

Unfortunately, to jump in front of a storm, requires some very fast work. Any marketing company that you will use, regardless of what their marketing technology is, will be hard-pressed to get you in front of a storm in enough time. This is especially true with the number of requests that any marketing company gets every time one of these large storms roll through.
So, when you’re dealing with specific marketing technology in the digital age, you need to consider which one will actually achieve the goals that you want, which in this case would be getting you in front of the storm fast. And there are only really two technologies that will get you there that quickly.
1. Google pay per click ads. This is easy as it can be turned on and off in an instant, they are quick to design, and they will launch instantly. But they do not have any long-term effects, so when the storm is over, you can turn them off and be done with inquiries from the area. However, in a situation like this, you have to realize that they can get expensive very, very quickly.   You are not the only ones that will be doing this.
2. Social media marketing. Now, usually you won’t hear me beat the drum for social media marketing when it comes to getting work for water damage restoration companies. However, this is under normal circumstances. In the event of a hurricane, many people will go to Facebook and other social media outlets to let their loved ones know that they are OK. You can put ads on Facebook very quickly, in fact, just as fast as you could with Google pay-per-click ads. You would need a company that you’re working with already, one that can turn them on and off quickly.  You will also need a rough design, which can be done usually in minutes on Facebook.
Of those two digital formats, I would be preferential to Google pay-per-click ads.
Now, SEO, this is what we do. This is not a good strategy to get in front of hurricanes. This is more of a long-term business development strategy for your company overall. The return on investment is really easy and very excellent, however it is not the right type of marketing to go jumping in front of the hurricane. It’s takes longer to achieve results, sometimes for most customers it can take 3 to 6 months. So you see the issue here.  SEO should be considered your bread and butter marketing, your new phone book. It is not a great type of marketing for hurricane chasing.
In the end, you should be doing all of these things – chasing hurricanes with Google pay-per-click marketing, getting your daily bread & butter with SEO, social media marketing for branding and public relations, and this should all be done in the smart company with a good digital strategy.
Best of luck,
Dan York
Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

Why is generating new business online for your company so different than other trades?

Why is generating new business online in this industry so different than the other trade industries?


Theres a million online marketers out there, from big agencies to your teenage nephew who now does it. But what’s it actually going to take to generate new business online in this industry compared to other ones? Why? Well, its actually only one answer. Emergencies. It’s the emergency nature of the business that makes it different from the other trades while generating business online. Even Mold Remediation is completely different even though it is we all consider it to be closely related.


You’ve got Roofers, HVAC guys, Electricians, etc. Every single one of these niches requires different sets of knowledge to know how to get that online business. Each website is slightly different, each message, slightly different.


Let’s look at it from the point of view of the customer. You’ve had a storm blow some things off of your roof. That’s an emergency, sort of. Do they freak out like when there is 4 feet of sewage left in their basement? Not really. Let’s even take HVAC –  the A/C goes out. Again, sort of an emergency and they don’t tend to wait on calling them either, depending on the weather. But do they treat it with the same freak-out level of attention as their entire kitchen hardwood floor being soaked and potentially buckling due to moisture forcing a huge replacement? Maybe.


Emergencies obviously change the way people react. They aren’t getting bids from three contractors. They want you there now. First one to the job typically gets it. This mentality extends all the way to the front-end of how your business gets noticed. If they want the first company that can get there to get there, they will probably choose one of the top companies they find in Google or if they’re still using it, their phone book (unlikely).  And if they are going to be quick to pick a company that shows up first, they’ll probably not want to read a ton of your website to know who to pick to come over to their home, right? And they don’t want to have to mess around doing a ton of research on whether you’re reputable or not either. Get the idea?


So what’s the lesson to be learned here? If you own a Restoration company, make everything fast to comprehend – visually & content-wise, everything. Show up first. Make everything read fast, talk fast. Get there fast. You all know this already, I know. 😉




Dan York, Founder

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.



Clearing up Confusions of Modern Day Marketing

Why is your marketing and advertising program not generating the results you want? Is it working for your friend’s company but not yours? Why is that?

This seminar undercuts all of the modern online marketing technologies, and teaches you the fundamentals that none of us were ever taught. Fundamentals that can make or break the success of your marketing program.

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Cleanfax Live Interview – How to Vet an Internet Marketing Company

Looking for an internet marketing company that’s RIGHT for you? Here’s a live interview with Cleanfax Magazine’s Executive Editor Jeff Cross:

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Want Some Hot Action Now?

Want some hot action right now?

This is the saying of a lot of guys in the water damage restoration biz who want leads quickly, and I really understand it. Everybody wants now, now, now in today’s society. That’s life today.

However, if you want something more for fulfilling, something more real, and something more sustainable & long-lasting, of course you have to dig a little bit deeper.

Let’s liken my point to dating.  Sure, maybe you want some hot-action on the first date, but will that result in a long-term relationship where you get everything that you’re looking for?  Will it help you grow personally?  Will it give you all of the feelings and emotions and lifelong for fulfillment that you really need? No. It may give you some short-term fun, but it’s nothing to really build on. Its kid’s stuff. When you’re ready to grow up, you want more.

The same goes for your Internet marketing strategy and building your business for real. There’s a lot of guys that are hooked on buying leads. It’s like buying drugs. It’s a short-term fix with no long-term solution and actually in the end, can be quite damaging and everything can disappear, forever with no long-lasting results. No big business, ever, was built by simply buying leads.

Am I saying don’t buy leads? No. If I were running water damage restoration company I would also be buying leads. But I would be also developing several long-term strategies that I own, and that I can depend on that are not fly by night and will not disappear the second that I shut down my lead generation campaign.

It’s easy to get stuck on the quick fix. But the quick fix is never a long-term solution. This is a concept that you probably understand in many other parts of your life, but you really need to understand when you’re talking about business development in growing your company to real and sustainable sizes. The largest companies you see out there in this business, believe me they have that concept down. That is why they’re so big.


If you want to be the “kid” in the relationship who is looking for the quick fix, fine, but you’ll reap the consequences. I suggest you grow up and be the man and make a real relationship. Figuratively speaking of course! Your business will do what you really need it to.

Best of luck out there.


Dan York, CEO

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.


Is your Lead-Gen Company sending you phone calls meant for the big Franchises?

Is your Lead-Gen Company sending you phone calls meant for the big Franchises?


I’ve been in this business a long time & I know just about everybody out there. Because of that, I know where everyone’s calls come from. Here’s something no one really talks about and for good reason: A lot of you are getting calls meant for large franchises from the Lead Generation companies you’re using.


At the last The Experience convention I was approached by a lot of guys asking me if the calls I send them will be for other large Water Damage franchise companies. I told them no. And why.


Let’s first cover what I’m talking about for those who may not know. You hire a lead generation company to send you phone calls. They send you a water damage call, you pick up the phone and the person on the other line says, “Is this Servpro/Servicemaster/Etc.? Clearly this call was not meant for you. The Lead Generation company you’re using is obviously marketing using Trademarked names and then driving that business to you.


Now you, not wanting to lose the call, may ignore this and say, “What can I help you with?” Rather than acknowledging they were looking for that franchise.  Some companies I know straight up lie and say, “Yes, it is, what is your emergency?”


Look, I get it.  You need more calls.  But let’s examine this:

  1. This can be sue-worthy and you’re putting your whole company at risk for hone calls that were meant for that Franchise. Don’t fool yourself, they do sue companies over this. A case can be made for Trademark Infringement.
  2. In the marketing world this is known as ole’ bait-and-switch.  Showing the customer one thing and then giving them something else. It’s a credibility killer.


I know most of you are trying to build a solid & ethical business and you know deep-down that it’s not right or maybe consider it a “necessary evil.”  I know some of you won’t care, and that’s your view.  But here is the truth – you can’t keep doing sketchy things in business and think it won’t come back to haunt you at some point. It will recoil eventually and you don’t want your whole business at risk because of this lazy move.


So, how exactly is your Lead-Gen company doing this?

  • They buys ads from Google on your behalf (called Pay-Per-Click Ads, where you literally pay per click). Those are those ads that show up at the top of Google when your potential customer is searching for you.
  • When the Lead Gen companies set up these ads with Google they have to pick the words your ad will show up for, they’re called keywords.  They then use the Big Franchise group’s names in the background so their ads show up for their names.
  • Then when someone looking for the big franchise company clicks on the ad and calls them, they forward that call to you, which is why the customer says, “Is this Servpro/Servicemaster/etc?” That person obviously Googled for them, not you.

“But isn’t that Trademark infringement?” you say. Well, that’s the question isn’t it?  Is using the big franchise group’s names as keywords in Google ad setups Trademark Infringement? Well, Google currently allows this somehow.  The ads your Lead Generators are creating are not allowed to say those big franchise’s names in the ad, but they do allow them to use the franchise name as a keyword to market for, in the background. This is exactly how you’re getting phone calls for them.


Again, this won’t last forever. This will recoil at some future point on the people who are doing it the most. When? Who knows. You can’t do questionable things at high levels for a long time without expecting “what goes round to eventually come round.”


So how do you keep your nose clean and still get calls? Easy. The biggest companies I work with don’t do what I’m talking about in this article. They don’t need to.  Keeping your business ethics tight is a good start though. Don’t risk your whole business on something stupid.



Dan York, Founder of Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

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.

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