Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, my name is Jeff Carrier and I helped launch a digital marketing agency dedicated toONLY the disaster restoration industry. Our goal was to provide industry-specific knowledge to local restoration companies for their digital marketing and SEO needs.
One of our unique values we had from the start was that we were also a restoration company ourselves. The restoration company has been around for more than 30 years and I headed up the sales and marketing for more than 7 years before we launched Restoration Digital Marketing. We knew the ins and outs of the industry, could speak the lingo, and most importantly, how to generate sales from online.
We started helping other restoration companies with a similar process that we used with our own restoration company and now we generate more leads than we can handle each month and $25,000/month and increasing.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
The idea came to us after speaking to many restoration owners about their experience in generating new leads and sales and their lack of focus on the internet. A lot of the restoration industry, like other small local service companies, was built on old school face to face, handshake marketing. These owners know how to get out in their local community and make connections, but when it comes to online, they don't know who to trust or even the right questions to ask. That’s why one of our first goals in launching Restoration Digital Marketing (RDM) was to educate the industry and restoration owners.
Being connected to the industry so well, we made an early impact by having a cover article featured in Cleaning & Restoration magazine, a top industry resource with our feature - What To Know About SEO. Where I literally gave the playbook on how to set up your website for success online. The goal was to be the authoritative voice in the industry, even if it meant losing clients by giving away the process in the short term. From there I went on to write many more articles for Restoration & Remediation magazine.
Develop the client relationship. Become a friend to them. Not everyone can perform perfectly (especially in SEO) but your friend will work with you through the challenges, whereas any other client might just jump ship to someone else.
The other thing we recognized with online marketing is that it was common for other digital marketing agencies to take on too many clients and couldn’t keep up with the monthly workload needed. On top of that, many restoration companies weren’t set up to just “launch” into a regular SEO month to month agreement, their website would be outdated, and not have enough content. Remember oftentimes these restoration companies haven’t paid attention to their online presence for five or more years. They need a complete rehaul before even starting. We felt we could bring a unique perspective and handcrafted experience to the whole online digital marketing process for restoration companies. We also didn’t want to have any salespeople in the process. Often times at other agencies, your direct contact is to someone who doesn’t know SEO and only a salesperson/business development. With us, it’s direct access to the content creators and SEO strategists.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We launched out of a restoration company, so that provided us a lot of benefits. Mainly, we used profits from the restoration company to support the needs of the digital marketing agency - RDM in the early days. Starting a digital agency however is not very capital intensive, and most of your expenses scale as you grow and generate sales. The biggest upfront cost however is personnel (that’s me) and in this instance, I was already employed as the in house marketing director, so the goal was to shift some of my time to external clients as we captured them. Then hire full-time staff and freelancers as we built our book of business.
Our service was pretty clear from the beginning because we’ve spoken to many restoration owners over the years we knew what they needed - a better online presence, professional look, and most importantly generate sales. Generating leads was our main focus, if we could provide positive ROI then we knew we could keep clients in the long run and be profitable.
We launched in 2017 with a PPT presentation and flyer...that’s it. We didn’t even build our first website until a full year later in 2018. But we knew SEO and just needed to convince people in the industry to give us a shot.
This was our biggest challenge in the early days, like most startups. We were a restoration company trying to sell digital marketing services. Our challenge was not if we knew the restoration industry, but to prove we knew a thing or two about SEO and building websites. Our first strategy, which proved fruitful, was to market to a regional restoration association we were already a part of. We were able to get time at a meeting with a presentation about digital marketing and our launch. In groups like these we knew we only needed one shot, do well, and we could parlay that into more work because all the restoration owners knew each other. We were fortunate enough to be given that chance right after our first presentation and landed our first client.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Since The Launch
Getting traction was slow at first, but that was ok. Remember I had to balance two different roles at the beginning and develop a more intricate process that we didn’t need for in house marketing - like client reporting, sharing passwords with staff, etc.
We grew slowly organically over time. Making more connections at the regional restoration association, building out our website, and writing content to attract eyeballs in the industry. Over time we began to rank for terms specific for people in the industry looking for SEO and digital marketing services. We later recorded a professional video testimonial and added a simple call to action for scheduling a free marketing strategy session, which you can see both on our website. We also got more involved in some Facebook groups that were specific for the restoration industry.
Ranking organically, showing our expertise in Facebook groups combined with the restoration experience we had and great website content, we created a good funnel for generating leads.
Carve out your niche! Many industries (like digital marketing) are wide and broad. Specialize in what you do and you can gain traction quicker in that one vertical.
We saw a big increase in scheduled call conversions from the website once we placed this video on there. It really captures the FOMO of restoration owners seeing others having success.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today we’re doing $25,000 a month and growing and generating 5-10 leads organically from the website each month. We only work with one client per territory and have more than 20 locations secured across the United States. We’re a small team, so the 5-10 leads a month is more than could ever bring on any month leading to clients being added to a queue to start services out as long as eight weeks. We’re growing, but we also don’t want to do it too fast and turn into an agency that can’t service it’s existing clients. We still have our first ever client from 2017 and have a client retention rate of 91%.
We’re going to grow slowly and organically as more clients find us and word begins to spread throughout the restoration industry. At this point, we don’t have to spend any advertising dollars to generate leads and grow.
We’re also starting up another company and hope to create additional tools specific to the restoration industry. The first of our products to launch is a commercial disaster preparedness plan that restoration companies sell to local commercial facilities, called Restoration ERP. We’re excited to branch out and help restoration companies increase their sales.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
One of the main items we’ve learned through this process is it’s extremely beneficial to develop the client relationship. Become a friend to them. Even with our high client retention, we’ve seen a direct correlation with clients leaving and not having developed a better customer relationship. Not everyone can perform perfectly (especially in SEO) but your friend will work with you through the challenges, whereas any other client might just jump ship to someone else.
A monthly client call is a great way to accomplish this, and visiting your client is also another. We also don’t have salespeople, which means our clients talk directly to the people who actually perform the work and there is no miscommunication.
Overall our process has been successful from the beginning, I think this could be a good model for local companies that are large enough to have in house marketing staff - plumbers, dentists, roofers, etc.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- Moz - Keyword tracking, backlink research, site crawls, and keyword research.
- Majestic - Backlink research
- SocialPilot - Social posting and scheduling
- Astra Theme & Elementor - We use these tools to build most of our websites
- Traffic Think Tank - To connect with other SEO professionals and learn
- Asana - Task management
- Slack - Staff and freelancing communication
- Time Report - Staff and freelancing time tracking
- Better Proposals - Sending awesome proposals
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Carve out your niche! Many industries (like digital marketing) are wide and broad. Specialize in what you do and you can gain traction quicker in that one vertical. You can always cross-sell/upsell in the future once you’ve built an audience and an authoritative voice in your space.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Content writing is always important to us and plays a major role in SEO.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Want to start your own business?
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help you get started.
Interested in starting your own business? Join Starter Story Premium to get the greatest companion to starting and growing your business:
- Connect + get advice from successful entrepreneurs
- Step by step guides on how to start and grow
- Exclusive and early access to the best case studies on the web
- And much more!
Are you ready to boost your revenue?
Using Klaviyo will open up a massive, untapped sales channel and bring you closer to your customers!
Level up your email marketing with Klaviyo!