In analyzing what sets the successful adjusters apart from the adjusters who consistently struggle in the field, we have learned that it basically comes down to three things.
Work Ethic and Knowledge
There is no substitute for work ethic. The adjuster that is organized and stays on top of his/her claim load, will be successful. This is of paramount importance. We can teach a willing adjuster any facet of this business. The adjusters that come into the business with construction experience typically learn the estimating programs with ease, providing they have a general understanding of how a computer works. Having said that, you would be surprised how many new adjusters that who have never used a computer…now that’s a challenge at best. The adjusters that are adept at the computer but have no construction experience are a very difficult challenge as they have no clue what the items are called related to construction. This would be no different than a person who has never been shown how to perform brain surgery, but suddenly decides they are capable of performing a craniotomy. More than likely, we would have no idea where to start, but with a sharp knife….or do they call it a scalpel?
Work ethic and knowledge are crucial elements to an adjuster’s success….and they go hand in hand. If you have the construction experience but need to spruce up your computer skills, consider taking a basic computer class at your local community college….or if you have a teenager, money talks. If you are a whiz on the computer but have zero knowledge of general construction, we would highly recommend that you complete a construction course, either online or in a live setting, which will walk you through the basics of residential property construction…and maybe give you a few CE credits as well.
Support System – At Home and On the Road
The adjuster’s support system is just as important for their success. The support system at home as well as on the road. Leaving your world at home for a few months to be on the road can be very stressful, having that “GO TO” person at home to handle your business, will ease the stress while on the road. Another facet to consider, is what kind of professional support will you receive from your IA firm?
Key questions to ask when accepting deployment or getting on board is:
- Does the company have field support staff?
- Do they have software training?
- Is there a comprehensive file review process?
Our sister company CSI, takes pride in having a direct line to our adjusters an offer excellent field support when needed. You will want to work with an IA firm that makes it a priority to solve issues before they become problems.
Tools of the Trade
If you ask a seasoned adjuster what type of equipment they use, more than likely they will tell you that there are so many different varieties of equipment out there that are effective for them. Followed with the fact that it would be foolish to recommend one particular brand over the other.
When it comes to files, and in an ideal world, an IA firm would be thrilled to have all of their adjusters on the same page when it comes to pitch and shingle gauges. The pitch gauges range from the standard dial gauge to an exact pitch calculation gauge on a smart phone. Find what works best for you.
One of our veteran adjusters told us recently that he would prefer to use an inexpensive, rechargeable camera. Considering his repetitive nature of dropping cameras of roofs, this method is more cost-friendly than choosing to carry a high dollar 35mm camera. Any camera with decent zoom features is sufficient.
Insider Tip: ALWAYS carry two cameras and a few SD cards. We have learned the hard way of having only one and having forgotten that it is in a computer at home base, leaving us without one on site. Trust us when we say, it is a bit of an embarrassing situation when you have to run to Wal-Mart or borrow one from the insured.
The computer you choose depends upon personal preference, but you must be aware of software system requirements, specifically Xactimate. We would recommend one with a 10 key, or at least have an external keyboard and mouse. You can get along with the computers that cost less than $500.00 just as well as the ones that cost $2,000.
GPS – Map Tool
A good GPS system is a must have and keep it updated as roads are constantly being built. Whether you decide to go with a Garmin type GPS or a map app on your smartphone, a reliable GPS tool is a necessity.
Additional Items We Recommend
Your measuring devices should meet the needs of the task you wish to perform. Ladders are also based upon need and personal preference. Your clothing should be considered as a statement of your profession. Purchase utility pants with multiple pockets and rip stop fabric. We recommend these for those do not want to carry a back pack or a tool belt as it tends to be too bulky and in some cases, a safety issue on steep roofs. Shoes and open fingered, padded palm gloves are very important considerations. A hot roof will take the fingerprints, right off of your hand.
To sum it all up, be organized and “hungry” to improve your skillsets, develop a solid support plan at home and in the field, and be prepared with the right tools to do your very best. Make a list of everything you will need to be successful and start putting it together.
Have a great week!
Authored by Randy Allgood, Lead Instructor at American Adjuster Academy