A Salesperson or Estimator or Project Manager?


I recently spoke with a client who just took on the position of Sales and Marketing Manager, and he doesn’t know the difference between salesperson or estimator or project manager! 

This person also argued that a marketer really is someone who sells the jobs – when they aren’t making route visits. If you don’t know the difference between marketer, salesperson, estimator, or project manager – it’s time you invest in a small dose of learning for these restoration industry positions.

She stated to me that she considers sales and marketing to be the same and wants the marketers to go “close” jobs with the homeowner, even though those marketers should be working 40 plus hours a week building relationships with prospects and clients.  The specific duties or responsibilities of each of these positions should be very clear. 

Marketer: is tasked with developing strong relationships with prospects and clients that generate referrals and leads to jobs your company can assist with, and hopefully complete. The marketer may have some responsibility to utilize several social media platforms to enhance and advance the message of the company. 

They can’t be simply “social butterflies” since that type of person is usually just spinning their wheels and not really achieving any real referrals or work.

Salespeople: should be tasked with going to the ‘job’ and working with the property owner to sign up the job, getting the contracts signed, and start the coordination of crews coming to the property to do the work.

They are traditionally not good at developing relationships with prospects and clients who could send them work. It’s a very rare person that is good at both. Because of this, they should be taught what to say and how to say it to convince the property owner they (the owner) need to sign the contract with them.  They should be ranked and tracked on their ‘closing ratio’ so you can see who does a good job and who needs training.

Estimator: is tasked with the job of identifying what the project or damage is, establishing a scope of needed work, and how much it will cost to complete that job profitably. They should be good at finding every possible issue that will likely come up and list the appropriate line items on the estimate.  I won’t list here the different options for estimating software, since there are many to choose from, including your own price list.

They are generally used for this area alone, and they also usually don’t make good marketers or salespeople. Estimators also often don’t fill the role of project manager either. Obviously, in a small company, it may be necessary to have an estimator do double duty as a project manager. When that happens, it should only be temporary and separate the two titles as soon as possible.

Writing great disaster restoration estimates goes way beyond identifying an appropriate dollar amount. The estimator will want to boost the opportunity for a profitable job and list everything that will need to be done and improve gross profits by being extremely thorough and accurate.

Project Manager:  they are (or should be) responsible for overseeing the job. Coordinating manpower, supplies, equipment, etc. to complete the project. They should understand what it takes to complete the project with the best quality and highest profit. They play a critical role in the successful execution and delivery of often complex projects.

They need the cooperation and respect of the workers, and often pitch in and help with some form of the manual labor that’s required. Many times, a PM is assigned several projects to oversee so they need to be well organized and be able to juggle numerous aspects of many jobs at the same time.

Although it’s not in the title, occasionally companies have a ”fire chaser” that goes to an actual fire loss – or similar – and signs up the project. Sometimes it’s just to offer board-up services to the fire-damaged property. 

When a company uses a fire chaser, (on salary) they often don’t have enough work to keep them busy all the time. When this happens, they are also sometimes put into the additional position of being an estimator as well. 

Hopefully, each position comes with incentives to help motivate that person. A commission is very important to incentivize them to do their role well. Tracking their individual success (or failure) is vital to knowing how well they are doing and to help hold them accountable.

There are numerous other positions and titles used in the industry such as: technician, general manager, concierge, social media manager, and many more. 

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Dick Wagner

Dick Wagner has served the Restoration Industry for over 25 years. Dick serves as the President of the SCRT, and he is also on the executive board of Donate4Kids Foundation – a non-profit foster children organization in Florida. In addition, he is also a Florida State appointed Guardian ad Litem as a foster child advocate.

As one of the co-founders of the CREST Network, he works closely with marketers on weekly Zoom calls coaching them on the best way to build client referrals. Dick lives in Southwest Florida with his wife of 34 years.

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