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What NOT to do When Finances Get Tough in your Company….

What NOT to do When Finances Get Tough in your Company….

This is a hot topic in any company. We, being a marketing company and having worked with hundreds of water damage restoration companies, have seen what we call the “kiss of death” when it comes to tough times in this business.

When money is tight, things get stressful, hectic, some poor decisions get made, and understandably so. Stress can cloud good judgement. We’ve all been there. Ask anyone who has been married for a long time what financial stress does to their relationship. Ok, point made.


So…the kiss of death…what is it?


When finances get tough, they shut down the front end of their company. Like what? They lay off their marketing managers, cut off their marketing programs, let go of a sales person or two, stop focusing on advertising, focus more on saving money than on making it. That’s the kiss of death.


Obviously when times get tough, frugality and economy need to come into play. There’s less money, so of course it does. But cutting off  the front-end of your company is the opposite of what you should be doing. One of my top and favorite clients, every time things slow down which they inevitably will, he really pours on the coals on the front end, and rightly so. And he does very, very well. 80% of his focus goes onto the front end of his company in those tough times. He doesn’t cut it.


Here’s some tips on do’s and don’ts for ways to win through the tough financial times:



  • Spend a majority of your time focusing on the front end, new business, of your company.
  • Market and advertise, and do it more, in more places.
  • Terminate any employees that are not helping to expand your company. The people that you’re unsure about, or make you tired all the time, or always “steal your attention” should be your major targets for termination.  You know the good ones who make your life easier. You can feel it.
  • Work harder and longer, complacency will kill you. Doing nothing about it will let the death of your company occur.
  • Remember all of your successful actions that got you where you are today, slam them in.
  • Fire the clients you wish you didn’t have. You know the ones I’m talking about. You don’t need their money and they factually are holding you back from making money from good clients who need you.



  • Terminate the people who your company survives on the back of.
  • Cut marketing programs and advertising that gets you in front of new people.
  • Freak out and do a bunch of things that don’t work – the “shotgun effect”. Stay calm, collect, do what you know works, what has always worked.
  • Spend 80% of your time on the 20% of your clients who scream the loudest. Spend your time on the clients who are excellent, pay on time, etc. Fire those clients who do not.
  • Keep sales and marketing people who tell you about how good they are, but produce nothing of value for you. If they are worth it, you’ll see it in their numbers.
  • Get advice from anyone who is less successful than you.
  • Blame your situation on the economy, other companies, competition, etc. Those thought processes won’t help you solve the situation.



Tough times are just that. But some of my biggest clients were the survivors of 2009-2010, and they got bigger than ever and it was by doing the things mentioned above. Don’t take my word for it, make friends with other Water Damage Restoration biz owners, bigger and more successful ones, and let them tell you what I’m saying.




Dan York

Fonder, Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.


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Cleanfax Live Interview – Are Google Ads affecting your call volume?

What has Google done with their ads and how is it affecting your Call Volume?


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What are the Big Water Damage Companies doing that you’re not?


Specializing our work towards water damage restoration companies and literally working with hundreds upon hundreds of them, you start to notice what the big companies do to get and stay big and what the little companies do to keep themselves small.   I could categorize most of it into 2 categories – attitude and activities.

Here are my observations of the big company/small company attitudes and activities:


Big companies: Spend 80% of their time and attention on getting new business.  Their noses are down in their marketing campaigns, actively working at it, every week.
Small Companies: Only focus their attention on marketing for new business when the season slows down (too late) and there is no work coming in. Then they feel like they are “forced to do it.”


Big companies: Are trying to be everywhere. They are trying to be in front of everyone, everywhere, every magazine, radio channel, internet location, billboard, etc.
Small Companies: Are trying to find that “magic” marketing spot.  That magic marketing action that they heard about on some internet forum from some guy they don’t know whose company “exploded from doing it.” But they neglect everything else.


Big companies: Are extremely persistent. They keep at what they are doing, they don’t try one thing and move on to the next, move on to the next, etc.
Small Companies: Are sporadic. They try things here and there but do not stick with any activity really long enough to make it work.



Big companies: Always seem to be worried about the future. They always are working on expanding fast, to avoid and “what ifs” in the economy.
Small Companies:  Get complacent with where they are.  When things are good, they forget about the future, until the season slows down, then they worry, again too late.


Big companies: Hire the right people, fire the wrong ones. They know that their business will only expand if they have A players that can grow things. Business is business and people will either expand their areas, or they won’t. They generally aren’t staffed with family and friends.
Small Companies:  Don’t hire enough people, don’t fire enough people. They sit on people they are unsure about because they are afraid to fire them (for whatever reason) – people that don’t get their production in the company rising. Sometimes they even fill their company up with family and friends who aren’t productive, complicating firing them even more and turning the business into a dramatic family event.


Big companies: Track their statistics, finances and growth.  They know how many calls they got and from where, they know where their month is revenue-wise compared to last year and they have software programs that are very organized to see all of it.
Small Companies:  Fly by the seat of their pants. They don’t know where their calls are coming from for sure (although they say they do), they are running their whole business out of one bank account that can be a mess and growth is unknown other than “How much money did I make this month?”


Big Companies: Delegate.  They hire people to do the small stuff so they can focus on making more income – marketing and sales.
Small Companies: The owners usually try to do everything themselves to “save money.” And while being so busy “saving money” on not hiring people, they now have no time to spend on sales and marketing and do not grow as a result.


Big Companies: Are usually very optimistic.  They go into things knowing they will work and will do what it takes to get it done once they’ve decided to do it. When things didn’t work, they still learned important lessons and saw opportunity arising out of that “failure”.
Small Companies: Can sometimes be pessimistic. They want to see how something will fail first, before jumping into anything, and then, if it does, they were right in the first place.” But that is if they made the decision to do something in the first place, which they often don’t. Then they don’t learn any valuable lessons from those losses and don’t see any opportunities either.


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



Dan York, Founder and CEO

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.



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Are all these new Google changes hurting your call volume?

Are all these new Google changes hurting your call volume?

Over the last few months we’ve seen some serious Google changes. Alarming ones as a matter of fact. What have they been?

  1. They got rid of the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads on the right side of the screen.
  2. They now show 4 PPC  Ads on the top of the screen.
  3. They moved all of the Natural Company listings and map listing below the screen, where they cannot be seen right away.
  4. Then they changed the Ads to look like the Natural Listing that people actually used.
  5. And finally they changed everything to the color green, as the Ads used to be yellow in parts to separate them out from the natural listings.


Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 2.25.47 PM

Why are they doing all of this and is it hurting you?

To understand why they are doing this, you only need to think one thought – sell advertising. Everything makes sense if you align all of their moves to that thought. Let me explain:

Google is a publicly traded company and they make their billions from selling ads. One of the major sources of their ad sales are from Pay-Per-Click  (PPC) Ads, those little ads that someone pays for every time someone clicks on the ad.  Every single move they made, numbered above, was to sell more ads.


Google saw that people were clicking their PPC ads less and less every year. They also knew that the Natural unpaid listings at the top of the page,  would be clicked more often. So their strategy was to force everyone to click their ads by moving all natural, unpaid-for listings below the screen where you now have to scroll down to see it. To make it even worse, they colored everything green and got rid of the yellow that we were used to seeing their ads colored in and made the ads “look” like natural listings in order to trick people into clicking them. Like I said, everything they just did makes sense when you align it towards selling ads.

Now, I’m not against making money in business, on the contrary. But when you have to force people to use something that they do not want to use and start screwing the very people who use your service, that is going to come back around and bite you at some point, but I digress…(but if I had a nickel for every time a Water Damage client of ours said “Google is bleeding me dry from their Pay Per Click…”)


So now you understand what they did and why, but is it hurting you?


The answer apparently, as we’ve seen it is…no.  We’ve seen the contrary.  We’ve been getting more and more reports of businesses doing fine and call volume being not only good, but good quality.

Ask yourself this, are you going to click on their ads now that they’re trying to force you to?  I know I haven’t. And most of the people I’ve talked said the same thing, no.

So all in all this was bad news that resulted in…good news.

Google, being blinded by advertising revenues and not focusing on good innovative service (which is more profitable in the long run),  has missed the boat in all of these moves they’ve done in order to trick and force people into clicking more ads.  What boat did they miss? Trust. Trust is why people prefer the Natural listing to Ads, they always have and they always will, no matter how forced advertising becomes.




Dan York, Founder

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc. and

Can You Raise the Quality of Your Water Damage Phone Calls Coming In?

Can You Raise the Quality of Your Phone Calls Coming In?

Good question.

Yes and no.

Our clients and prospective clients ask us this frequently. They’ll be doing many different forms of marketing including networking plumbers, various forms of internet marketing, and many other things. But the calls they get for their water damage jobs are sometimes not the best. But can anything be done about it?


Well, you can do some things. You can market in better areas and not market in “less than ideal” areas. There is an old marketing saying, “You get what you market for and you don’t get what you don’t market for.” And it’s true enough. Market in Detroit, you’ll get calls in Detroit. Simple.


I think it is more important though to focus on expanding your calls coming in, not limiting them AT ALL. If you focus on getting as many calls as possible from as many sources as possible, the volume will give you the choice of turning down jobs. You really need to be careful with limiting your markets. I don’t recommend it. What most people do when they try and limit their market is they end up destroying their marketing in general, resulting in no calls coming in.  I’ve seen it many, many times.


Your best bet is to just market like hell using every resource you can afford, everywhere. Then use your dispatchers to filter the good calls from the bad calls or cherry pick the bigger jobs. In this way you won’t cut your own throat by limiting calls you might have wanted.

Imagine you’re looking for your next husband or wife. Do you want to choose between three or four men or women? Or would you rather filter through hundreds of people to find that perfect partner? That’s what tends to happen to people when they try and limit where their calls come from.  Of course there are exceptions to this (a lot of my clients will not work Detroit as it has become so dangerous for their techs) but overall this is what I see happen to companies limiting their marketing reach. More, not less, reach out for water damage leads, is your answer.




Dan York

Founder Stellar-eMarketing

Are your water damage competitors clicking your PPC Ads in Google?

Are your water damage competitors clicking your PPC Ads in Google?  Here is a live interview with Cleanfax Magazine’s Jeff Cross discussing this topic:


Cleanfax Live Interview – What is SEO?

Here is a live interview with Cleanfax Magazine’s Editor-In-Chief Jeff Cross covering this often mystifying subject:


Is Pay-Per-Click getting you calls? Or Just Draining Your Wallet?

Does this sound familiar? “Google is bleeding me dry!”

This is what I hear form a majority of my clients that do Pay-Per-Click Marketing.

First, let’s get this out of the way: Pay-Per-Click (PPC) works…if done right.

Now that  being said, it may not be working FOR YOU.  So we have to look at why that is.

PPC is Google’s billion-dollar beast, their cash-cow. And for those of you who aren’t quite sure what I’m talking about, look at the image below. PPC ads are those ads just above your search results when somebody Googles for you. Every time someone clicks one of those ads, the company who placed the ad (you), pays each time a person clicks on it. These clicks can be as little as $5 per click and I’ve heard as high as $80.00 per click and more. Now, this doesn’t mean “phone call” mind you, just the click. Now, when the person clicks on the ad, Google takes them to your website. They still may not call you. So you’re just paying for each one of these “clicks.” Calls are not guaranteed.

Water Damage Restoration PPC

Ok, so, let’s not forget what I started the article with, “PPC works.”  Then why do I hear so many complaints about how “Google is bleeding me dry!”  PPC is like anything else that becomes a real speciality. No part-timer or hobbyist is really going to be that successful at it. It takes a real professional now to do it successfully. There are nuances to it…tiny ones. There’s changes with Google that only a real professional would know about, changes that could cost you lots of money.  There’s only two ways to do PPC successfully.

  1.  Become a total professional at it.
  2.  Hire a professional.

The amount of money I’ve seen people lose in the “learning curve” is astronomical.   I once knew a guy who spent over $50k to get 2 phone calls, neither of which landed him a job. Crazy.  A lot of companies want to do it on their own, without committing to be total pro’s at it with the false idea that it will save money. Nothing could be further from the truth. Google designs these ads to make them billions. And in some ways, it is designed to make those billions out of your ignorance.  Ask anyone who has been in internet marketing for a long time.  They pulled a stunt about 2 years ago that meant lower quality people looking at your ads so you get more “clicks”, but far, far less phone calls for you (I can get into great and nerdy details about this).  And no hobbyist PPC guy knew any difference, except that their PPC bills got bigger and bigger while their call volume stayed the same or reduced.

Hiring a pro, even though you’ll pay him to do it, is the way to go unless you’re going to decide to become a pro yourself.  And my company does not sell PPC so don’t worry about this being a sales pitch.  A real pro will save you a ton of money in learning curves alone, not to mention start-up time, knowing when to air the ads at the right times and in the right locations and for what keywords, etc. There’s a lot know here.

Ok, so what if you have a PPC guy and it still isn’t working? Get a new one.   PPC and SEO for Water Damage work. And if you’re not getting calls from these things online, get a new guy.  I’ve worked with hundreds of water damage companies all over the world. I know how much money these guys make and how much business is driven into them online from successful SEO and PPC strategies.  If it isn’t working for you, it does not mean “it doesn’t work” it just means you haven’t gotten it to work for you…yet.


As  you already know, building a successful business is for the persistent, not those who give up early.



Dan York

Founder, Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.


Is your website’s design driving away your water damage calls to your competitors?

I’m in the business of getting new business for my clients. There is no way around this: Either you can or you can’t generate new business. When things are that cut and dry, you get pretty good at figuring out every little thing that gets phone calls or drives them off to your competitor’s websites. You would be shocked at the little things I’ve found that will literally drive away the calls from your website.

This is a tough business and only the persistent make any money doing it, but when they do, it is significant. Ask anyone who is doing it well.  Internet marketing and websites are still  relatively new marketing methods and everyone has an opinion about it. But, as with anything else, the only opinion that matters is the one that gets the results.

So, the 1st thing you really need to know and understand in order to NOT turn away phone calls with your website is:

Your internet marketing must be viewing as a multi-leg relay-race. If it isn’t you’ll give up and leave a lot of income on the table for someone else to come and grab. Every step of the way has to be run successfully, then the next step must be run successfully, then if you run all of the legs successfully, the phone call comes in.

It looks like this:

Water Damage Emergency ==> Go to Google ==> Sees Result they like/agree with ==> Click on Website in Google’s Natural Listing==> If they like what they see they ==> Call You

Unless every single one of those legs works, you won’t get phone calls.

Ok, so now that you know that, here are things to know that can kill your phone call volume and drive them to your competitor’s websites and tips on what to do/not to do:

  • If your website can’t be read and understood in 3-5 seconds, they will not call and leave your website. No joke. People online are “browsers” not readers. Especially in an emergency.
  • If your SEO is excellent and your website is bad for phone calls, it is not your SEO, but your website design turning away customers. Do not turn off your SEO. By the time you find out what was turning away customers on your website, your rankings in Google will have dropped and now you have another problem to solve (still no phone calls).
  • DO NOT change your website when you get bored of it or let a new marketing person you hire change it because they think it is a good idea. ONLY change it if it is not driving phone calls. If it is working, leave the design alone.
  • Look like your customer. Don’t design a $15,000 website showing mansions and looking like you cost a fortune when you are located in the middle-class, blue-collar suburbs. They won’t call you.
  • DO NOT put a giant image or image slider (multiple images) at the top of your web pages. My staff and myself call those images and image sliders “phone call killers”.
  • Your website needs to be designed for mobile browsing as well. Probably 40% of all of your internet traffic these days is on a mobile device. Always look at your site on an iPhone, iPad, etc.  Is it understood in 3-5 seconds? DO NOT let a web designer design a mobile site in addition to a regular website. This kills your rankings in Google. You want what they call a “mobile friendly” website. 
  • Your SEO may be good, but your website may be killing the people calling in. DO NOT stop doing SEO, start scrutinizing the website points that are killings your phone call if your rankings are good.
  • Do not change  bunch of things on your website at once. Change only one thing at a time. Then you’ll find what was killing your phone calls. Otherwise you won’t know and may accidentally change something else that makes your phone ring and you’ll never figure it out.
  • Do not let internet marketing generalists work on your water damage site. This is a very specialized market, and it is fickle and you’ll waste at least 6 months of your time and money on someone who doesn’t know what they are doing or “educating them” on your dime.
  • DO NOT “do what everyone else is doing out there”. Trust me. I’ve worked with hundred of water damage companies in North America let alone in the countries. The more real and individual you look on your website,  the better it will do.

Just remember the internet audience is fast, impatient and fickle. Especially in the water damage side of things.

Persist through the cycle I showed you above. I know how much money my clients make on internet marketing. And the ones that do not persist through that cycle as described above always say the same things, “internet marketing doesn’t work.”


Dan York, Founder Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

Top Way Internet Customers find you when there’s a Water Damage Emergency?

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 and then then what everyone typically uses, the “natural” listings below those ads and the map. 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.

A while back, 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 



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