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The CEO of a Disaster Restoration Company On How the Business Has Changed: 'Today, at Least 50% Is About the Emotional Damage' When Miri Offir became CEO of 911 Restoration, she planned to do things differently.

By Kim Kavin

entrepreneur daily

This story appears in the March 2024 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Miri Offir knows how to talk to people in crisis. After serving in the Israeli military, she came to the U.S. in 2003 and took a secretary job at the post-disaster recovery franchise 911 Restoration. She worked her way up — eventually becoming the company's CEO in 2022, now overseeing 291 franchises.

So when Offir stepped into a leadership role at 911 Restoration, she already knew some changes she wanted to make. It had long bothered her that when people called the company, their experts stuck to "just the facts, ma'am"— even if the person was clearly traumatized. For example, a mom would call, sounding upset with babies next to her, and the 911 Restoration expert would only ask how many inches of water were in the house. Was this person cruel? No, Offir realized — they were just poorly trained.

Now, things are done differently. "Before, the training was very technical: how to do the job, what equipment to use," she says. "Today, at least 50% is about the emotional damage." Here, Offir explains how she's teaching franchisees to connect on a deeper level.

Related: She Was Afraid of Her Company Becoming the 'McDonald's of Mental Healthcare' Until She Realized This

When you began implementing changes to your training, how did you explain your
philosophy to franchisees?

It's about seeing the other person. Put yourself in their shoes. Treat each other like we want to be treated. That's the core values for me. You don't have to be brilliant or have crazy, special skills to make a difference. All you have to do is care, and good things happen.

Were there certain techniques you put in place to help franchisees assess emotional damage?

We went through recorded calls, some good and some not so good. And we created profiles of people. Maybe it's a homeowner — a husband and wife with children. What are their pain points? How do they react? How would water damage affect them? What about a business owner? What happens when his business is closed? We dive into the ins and outs of who we are serving. And we keep modifying.

Did you create messaging for addressing different types of customers?

Yes. When you talk to a facility manager or a property manager, we have different things that we say. We know that they have different pain points. And if it's residential, and there's a family with children involved, it's a totally different issue than a business owner with a financial loss. If it's residential, these are their personal belongings. They are in that house right now. Maybe it's the kitchen or bathroom.

Related: 23 Questions to Ask a Franchisor When You Meet Face to Face

Was it hard to get some franchise owners into this new mindset?

You have some more crusty ones who have been in the business for years, and they think they know how it's done. With these people, it takes more patience, maybe more conversations and visits. I tell them that I don't know what I don't know. If I'm starting a conversation in that manner, they see that their opinions are valued. I think that's really the core of it, and so far, it's working out pretty well.

Has this empathetic approach led to an increase in business?

At first, we saw a small increase in volume. But then, we started to see the reviews we were getting online. Customers are feeling that empathy. A while ago, a big real-estate company emailed to say they always reach out to restoration companies with complaints. But they wanted to give us a comp

Kim Kavin was an editorial staffer at newspapers and magazines for a decade before going full-time freelance in 2003. She has written for The Washington Post, NBC’s ThinkThe Hill and more about the need to protect independent contractor careers. She co-founded the grassroots, nonpartisan, self-funded group Fight For Freelancers.

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