Over the past three articles, our experts offered some insights into just how powerful a Trusted Advisor’s advice can be to a client, especially when they suffer unexpected and catastrophic damage to their business or property. When clients suffer a disaster like this, they will likely reach out to you, because as we’ve learned, a Trusted Advisor is much more than a practitioner. Knowing this, we offered three techniques (from our past articles) that can be utilized when your clients turn to you during a crisis:

  1. How to identify flawed assumptions about their disaster planning
  2. How to prioritize which assets and risks to address first
  3. How to determine the best options for managing the risk of each asset

In addition to the three techniques above, is there any other insight that you can share with your client to improve their ability to manage risk? The answer is a resounding YES!  So, what does this “resounding YES” look like? That’s what we’ll focus on in this article.

Simply put, a “resounding YES” is your ability to show your client that positives can arise from a disaster that happens to their business.

Articulating the Vision of Their Business

Every business owner dreams about what their business can become. That’s their “vision!”

In the aftermath of a disaster, it’s natural for your client to be emotional and want everything to return to “normal.” But your value at this moment is to help them think differently – to recognize that their insurance settlement can act as their “vision accelerator.”

To offer a practical illustration of this mindset, we’ll work through the example of a residential fire.

It’s well known in the insurance industry that homeowners often rebuild differently than what was destroyed. But different is not necessarily better. “Better” begins with homeowners articulating their vision, which can be uncovered with a few introspective questions: 

  • What did we love about our home?
  • What are the things that we wish we had in our home but didn’t?
  • What could have been better about the way our house was laid out?
  • How did our lives change since we first bought our house?

These questions will provoke a homeowner to think critically about their rebuild.

The Power of Proactive Planning

While most homeowners wouldn’t ask these questions before disaster strikes, business owners must. The long-term survival of a business, after suffering catastrophic damage, is wholly dependent on the proactive planning of the business owners. Why? Because after a disaster your client is experiencing chaos, confusion and emotionality; as their Trusted Advisor, you’re in a unique position to remind them that this is not the end of something good, but the beginning of something even better!

If a business owner already has a vision and an understanding of some of the changes needed to achieve it, then, guided by that vision, they can determine how to best use their insurance settlement to rebuild their business. For that reason, it is incumbent upon you to use your Trusted Advisor status to encourage your client to be proactive in articulating their vision and identifying the changes needed to achieve it, before disaster strikes. If your client views their insurance settlement as a “vision accelerator,” then they become empowered to turn their misfortune into good fortune.

Here are the kinds of questions your clients should ask themselves to help them in their journey of achieving their vision using, for illustrative purposes, manufacturing and office environments:

  • Manufacturing:
    • What changes to equipment layout can I make to optimize the flow of work (e.g., moving to increased use of “lean concepts” in our manufacturing methods?
    • What equipment upgrades are worth considering (e.g., combining operations such as grinding and milling onto a single machine)?
    • What advances in technology offer us opportunities to improve our manufacturing processes (e.g., introducing 3D printing for some parts)?
    • What can we do to increase versatility and flexibility, e.g., by introducing increased use of automation, robotics, CNC (computer numerical control), etc.?
  • Office environment
    • How can we re-think our office layout, furniture, fixtures and equipment based, for example, on “lean office” concepts?
    • What benefits might we get by upgrading our information technology – e.g., hardware (computers, servers, WIFI equipment, etc.), networking capabilities, Cloud and SAAS (Software as a Service) technology, etc.?
    • What can we do to improve vendor outcomes and reduce vendor-related risk?
    • How can we rebuild in a way that leverages the surge in work-from-home by investing differently between “traditional” versus home office equipment and support?
  • General
    • What can we do to better understand and manage the experience that both customers and employees have when they are in our facilities, and when they engage with one another, whether in-person or using technology?
    • What changes would increase the communication between departments and individuals in our organization, reducing mistakes and redundant work, and improving customer and employee outcomes?
    • How can we better capture, share and leverage the knowledge and innovative ideas of employees at all levels?

These questions are only intended as examples of what clients should ask themselves as they develop a plan for achieving their vision. The specific questions will, of course, depend on the nature of their business but the concept is the same. In normal times, that plan should be used to guide incremental improvements to the business. Following a disaster, when facing the need to decide how to invest their insurance settlement, that plan should serve as your client’s blueprint for recovery. Failure to have a blueprint amounts to a missed opportunity for your client to accelerate the achievement of their vision!

“It’s how you build back that determines the rest of your story”

Pulling It All Together

The four articles that we’ve shared are intended to enhance your effectiveness as a Trusted Advisor to your clients. In that spirit, we now summarize the key messages that you should take away:

  1. Business owners have to make assumptions about the risks that they face in order to build, operate and grow a successful business; you can help them to periodically question those assumptions and correct any that are found to be outdated or incorrect. 
  2. The many risks that a client’s business faces vary in their impact; you can help by showing them how to use available information to develop a qualitative assessment of the risks, and thereby determine the relative priority of each risk every business asset faces.
  3. For each risk that is considered to be of sufficiently high priority, a set of possible actions can be considered for managing each risk; based on a cost-benefit assessment, a comprehensive risk-management strategy can then be developed. Helping clients through that process is a valuable service you can provide to them.
  4. Finally, by encouraging your clients to develop a “blueprint” for improving their business, you will help them position themselves to make the most of the opportunity that a crisis represents. (see above)

By following the approach outlined in these articles, you can, as your clients’ Trusted Advisor, make a real difference by turning a crisis into an opportunity that leads to their good fortune.

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As the Midwest’s largest and oldest public adjusting firm, Globe Midwest Adjusters International’s core focus is exclusively representing property and business owners, during the insurance claim process, to maximize and expedite our clients’ insurance claim settlement. With offices in Southfield and Grand Rapids, Michigan, Chicago, Illinois, and Appleton, Wisconsin we are experienced with the types of natural disasters that strike the Midwest, the companies that insure here, and how local claims are handled.