4.5 steps to Survive (and thrive) on your first deployment

“4.5 steps to survive (and thrive) on your first deployment”

You’ve worked really hard, learned as fast and thoroughly as you could, made some great contacts, and now you have files.  Beyond the obvious (inspect and close), what are some strategies that will turn this event into something that is worth leaving the house?  How about making this an event that is long lasting, and can actually change your career?  50 files then back to the house is certainly not a failure, but can more be accomplished?  YES.


1.       Serve

A quick word about this business- It is dangerous for your ego.  By that, I mean your head could quickly grow so big that you’ll have to wear button up shirts to get them on.  Don’t believe me?  Go to a company “Social” and just stand there listening.  We’ve all handled more difficult insured’s, been on steeper roofs, done everything faster, and of course – made more money “than everyone here”.  Really?  Is that possible? " I’m in a room full of #1’s!  Woo-Hoo".  The bad news- there’s only ONE #1, and that person is probably working instead of hanging at this social anyway.  If you want tips from #1, find the adjuster that drops off their files, says hello to management, and walks back out.  The guy blowing hot air over in the corner is not likely to be a good source of info.  Be polite and read his resume’ when he hands it over, but be warned – his mother wrote it.

Avoid all that.  Get out there and SERVE.  Servants win.  Period.

Who am I supposed to be serving?  Well, it’s simple, really.  You are there to serve 3 entities primarily.  They are (in no particular order):

  1. The adjusting firm
  2. The carrier
  3. The policyholder (including their representatives, if that applies)

If you go out with the attitude of serving, you will have much less stress, create a better work product, and produce higher volume.

I’ve written this before, and I’ll likely write it again.  It’s worth repeating.

Go into your files with the attitude of a business owner.  Serve your clients.  Do what it takes to get the job done.

Employees are told to do this and do that.  Business owners pull themselves out of bed and create better ways to do things, more efficient processes, and better results overall – well, that’s YOU.  Own it.

The moment you view yourself as “special” or “indispensable” is the moment the job starts to fall apart.  We’re all replaceable.  And you know what?  Even if it took 5 adjusters to replace just me – it doesn’t cost any more to hire those 5 than it does to hire me.  I can be replaced.

Serve, serve, serve.


2.       Make your “yes” mean “yes”

With rare exception (and we have actually seen those exceptions during Superstorm Sandy), if you commit to go with an adjusting firm- it’s best to stay with that firm.  The grass really isn’t greener over at that other firm.

Let’s just say you’re on 5 rosters.  You’ve been in contact with each of those 5 firms, and suddenly the North Atlantic radar shows a huge ball of rain spinning at a substantial pace.  Sound familiar?  That one radar loop will eventually lead to at least 3 out of the 5 firms calling and wanting YOU.  Decide right away which firm you PREFER.  If the preferred firm calls, there really is no problem.  Considering the fact that you’re on 5 rosters, we’ve got a 20% chance of that.

Let’s say that your 2nd favorite firm calls first.   If you need a minute (and I mean ONE minute), ask the dispatcher if you can call right back.  Then, simply call your preferred firm and have an honest conversation.  Let them know you have an opportunity to work, but would rather go for them.  You’re basically giving right of refusal here.  They are real people, and they know you’re a real person.  There are generally 2 answers you’ll get in this scenario.

  1. “WAIT, we have something for you”.
  2. “I have nothing right now, and understand you have a decision to make.  If you do go with firm B, please let me know.  Then call back when you become available”

That’s normally it.  Now, everyone knows where you stand and you can move forward.

Let’s take this scenario one step further.  Assume you say yes to firm B.  That’s it- you’re not available now.  If firm A calls, just let them know that you have committed and can’t go.  This is a great time to say “When I commit to you, I will be there for you as well.  I really want to work for you, but am already committed to another firm”.  I’ve dealt with great professionals, and have rarely received grief from any about this.  If they give you a hard time about it- it may be time to reconsider which firm should be in the “A” slot.

“Yes” needs to mean YES.  This industry is a remarkably small world.  Burning one bridge may mean burning others.  Stick to your commitments, and show your character.


3.       Don’t take it personal

If you’re already deployed, you probably know what I mean here.  You can certainly relate to this section, anyway.

The pattern is so consistent.  New adjuster goes out into the world, works VERY hard, gets everything just right, and turns in the file.  A great relief comes over our new guy, and he gets back to work on his other files.  48 hours later, that perfect file is rejected.  Red ink all over it.  You know what?  It happens to everyone.  They’re not trying to break you, I promise.  Observe the changes they ask for and make them.  Then make every file just like that from then on.

As an alternative, turn in that first file with a slightly different approach. I do this EVERY storm.  Hand in your first closed file, and say to your manager, “I’m looking forward to getting this back.  Once I know how you want the files, they’ll all be how you want them.  If you see me doing something in a way that you don’t prefer, just let me know.”


4.       Pace yourself

The pressure to perform is immense.  Go, go, go is the theme.  This will seem contrary to logic, but you need to maintain a pace that allows you to close everything you see today.

If that means seeing 2 and closing 2- fine.  The momentum will build, believe me.  Seeing 10 and closing 0 is less productive than seeing 2 and closing 2.  If that doesn’t make sense, read the sentence again.

Stay on top of your closings.  Speaking of, if a trainer offers to ride with you- accept the offer.  You’ll be glad you did


4.5   Leave your pride at the house and be open with management

If you need help, ask for it.  The adjuster that pretends everything is fine is like a bottle rocket.  He lights with the rest of us, then shoots up in the sky, gets real quiet and disappears.  Then, BANG.  He comes crashing back down.  Too late.

The “squeaky wheel” analogy is overused, for sure.  But…….

My point – ask for help if you need it.  Accept help if it’s offered.

Part 2- if you want to stay and keep working, say so.  Managers are not psychic.  I’m not certain on that, but I’m pretty sure.  Even if they are, the room would be packed with thoughts.  The odds of reading YOUR mind are pretty slim.  I ALWAYS let management know if I want to stay on the storm.

Imagine you’re the manager- you have to let someone go, but you like everyone there.  (it really does happen).  You have some folks that you know want to stay.  And you have some folks that haven’t said either way.  All things being equal, let’s keep the folks that have clearly stated their desire to stick around.  Pretty straight forward, really.


I hope this helps.  Please email me at chris@topadjuster.com if I can help you in any way.

Enjoy the adventure!



One Response

  1. billy burnett says:

    good advise