There are a lot of emotional issues involved with insurance restoration work. Dealing with clients who have been through a fire or have water damage to their home is different from dealing with remodeling clients who choose to alter their home, which is why Lyle Book, owner of Arizona Fire and Water Restoration, in Phoenix, has made “Healing the Loss,” a five-hour audio-tape training program, mandatory for every new hire. Afterward, “they have to take a test and get graded,” he says.

The program is one of several tapes and CDs by Steve Toburen (, a veteran in the remodeling and restoration industries. Toburen’s other programs, he says, can be helpful to anyone working on the home front, including remodelers.

Building Rapport

Toburen focuses on customer service. “Eighty percent of how the typical homeowner decides whether a job is done well has nothing to do with the fit of the trim or if the carpet is buckled,” he says. “[It’s] based on the relationship [clients] have with the people doing the work.”

To make cheerleaders of your clients, Toburen says, everyone in your company must be doing the right things, from personal hygiene and customer introductions to respecting personal space, making eye contact, and smiling.

Called “Winning on the Homefront,” the 12-hour, 12-step training program offers clear, simple information in half-hour to 40-minute bites.

Toburen suggests using the program in the following way: Have your new employee listen to one program each day on his or her drive to or from work. Pay the person for that time. Then, give them a test, which is included in the package. “After 12 days of having come to work for you,” Toburen says, “they are able to make a cheerleader out of the client. Then they get a $200 bonus.”

-Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.