Never Forget Why You Are Here

Aug 25, 2015

By Dan Cassara, President & CEO of DKI Ventures, LLC

At DKI, we restore homes and businesses in their time of need, and more importantly, we are considered the very best this industry has to offer. Last month, DKI completed an incredibly successful marketing event that invites local business development professionals from DKI companies across the country to 10come together and learn, develop and inspire each other to achieve greater success.  During the recent summit, we began with introductions of which the attendees went around the room introducing themselves, their companies, and what makes them different in their respective marketplaces.

Each year we do this exercise and responses vary based on a number of things, such as what part of the country they are from, how long they have been at their respective companies, and most importantly, how long they have been in the industry.

The responses are often fairly consistent until you get a new attendee who is not only new to their position at a DKI company, but new to the industry altogether.  When that person emerges, it is like a breath of fresh air.  Why?  Because they are in this business to do what many professionals in this field have done when they entered this business – Help restore lives.

You see, in an industry that truly restores the lives of hundreds of thousands of people per year, we often get caught up in quotas, whether or not we are planning a busy storm season, when our next big commercial loss will arrive or when we will receive our next claim.  We are business people with families to feed and roofs to keep over your heads, and that need requires contractors to sometimes see their chosen profession in a very different way.  What is so refreshing about new DKI Member Company employees is the fact that their passion for charity and giving back is what drives them to come work for our great companies, and is the guiding principle that gets them into this business to begin with.  I have yet to ever hear someone say that they entered this business because they heard they would make a great living or that the idea of drying homes was incredibly exciting.

Back to that recent event: I remember a specific moment when a new DKI Member Company employee stood up to introduce herself. She said her name, her company name, and then described her company as a place that allows her to help others and to restore peace of mind.  I was so taken by that moment that I felt compelled to stop her and tell her to never forget what got her here, and to use that motivation to guide her for many years to come.

As we continue to evolve as an industry, and as the art of restoring properties can, like many industries, become commoditized, it is easy to become cynical and jaded and, ultimately, deliver a customer experience that feels rushed, impersonal, and routine to that home and business owner. What we forget sometimes, is that to that home or business owner, we, at that moment, are the best thing that has happened to them all day. I employ you not to take that for granted in any way.  The fact that you have been selected, and the fact that you have the opportunity to make a difference should continue to be the reason you do what you do each and every day.

So as you go out into the world and arrive at your next job site, remember why you are in this business, how you have been given the privilege to help people when times are at their toughest, and that regardless of the politics of it all, we are the industry’s largest, the industry’s finest, and we are DKI – Here to restore lives, one home at a time.

Spark Your Marketing Efforts with Word of Mouth

Aug 18, 2015

By: Jessica Nielsen, DKI Ventures, LLC

Consumers are becoming savvier in the way they research products/services and make purchases. Not only do they research before making purchases, but they know when they’re being sold to. This especially rings true with Millennials (those born roughly between 1980-2000). This large and increasingly powerful generation is having a profound effect on the way businesses are marketing themselves. Millennials demand authenticity, and they can see right through the smoke and mirrors of many companies’ advertising efforts. And, these demands for authenticity and aversion to traditional advertising is not only isolated to Millennials, but to all consumers.

So, how can you reach your potential customers if they don’t want to be advertised to? One strategy is to get people talking about or sharing information on your brand, product, or service-otherwise known as word of mouth. But, how can you get people talking about your offering? The answer is not as hard as you might think.

In Jonah Berger’s book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, he explores what makes people talk about and share certain things and not others; he unearths the essence of what makes one campaign or product go viral and another fall flat. Berger points out: “While traditional advertising is still useful, word of mouth from everyday Joes and Janes is at least ten times more effective.” He goes on to explain that word of mouth is “more effective…because it’s more persuasive…and it’s more targeted.” To elaborate, we trust our friends and loved ones to tell it to us straight before we believe a paid advertisement from a company claiming its product/service is “the best.” And, word of mouth is more targeted because it’s naturally directed toward an interested audience. People share relevant information with people who will benefit from it. Word of mouth is targeted information that’s pertinent to the receiver. While an ad for reading glasses, for example, might be useful to someone that wears glasses or wants to buy a pair, this ad is delivered to a wide audience that may or may not have a need for reading glasses. Word of mouth, on the other hand, delivers useful information to the person that needs it and is likely interested in it. You wouldn’t share an email with an offer for a sale on fishing gear from a sporting goods store with your mother-in-law who hates the great outdoors. But, you might share that email with your buddy that you went fishing with last summer. Word of mouth is highly targeted and typically relevant to the recipient.

How do you get someone talking about and sharing information on your brand? In Berger’s Contagious, he explores six concepts that can help get people talking about your service. One of these concepts is practical value, which he defines as “news you can use,” or shareable advice. People like to pass on useful information. Doing so not only helps the person receiving the information, but it also makes the person sharing the information feel good in having helped. One example, Berger uses is a video on YouTube with 5 million views. You’d expect this video to be something really cool… Maybe a new music video or something really funny or otherwise remarkable, right? This video isn’t really all that exciting though… There are no beautiful people, no great music, nothing super remarkable, EXCEPT for one thing… A helpful tip. This video, Ken Craig’s “Clean Ears Everytime,” is homemade and pretty boring at first. It’s an 86-year old man from Oklahoma talks about shucking corn, and it got 5 million views! Why?

Well, in the video, Craig solves a problem many have grappled with: how to get all of the silk off of an ear of corn. Seem boring? Maybe. Helpful? Yes! I have to admit that I have actually tried his tactic as instructed in the video and have had success… I have shared it with others, who have in turn done the same… And this is how a “boring,” low-budget video shot in an old-man’s lackluster kitchen went viral. Other heavily shared content includes emails on retail sales-especially when there’s an incredible value, as well as health/fitness topics, dating advice, and safety information. What do sales, health/fitness, dating advice, safety, and getting silk-free corn on the cob all have in common, and why do these things get shared so frequently? All are news people can use… Helpful information that gets passed along. Practical value is about saving people time or money, or helping them to have a good experience.

Berger also points out that the narrower the content is, the more likely it is to get shared. An article about football, for example, may have mass appeal, which may make it less shareable than an article about water polo for example. This is because chances are that you know many people interested in football, but you might only know one person interested in a niche sport like water polo. So, when you hear about water polo, you immediately think of your friend that watches or plays water polo, and so, you share the water polo article with him/her.

The great thing about practical value is that just about any product or service has something useful about it. In the property restoration industry, there are many ways to make this concept work for you. Here are a few ideas:

  • Educate your customers through blogging, social media, newsletters, white papers, etc. You have knowledge that’s useful to your clients and would-be clients, so share your expertise. This is one of the best ways to attract new clients, as well as stay top of mind with current clients, and it’s highly shareable.
  • Remember to keep your topic focused and specific, and your content will be more likely to be shared.
  • Host a special educational event for clients, employees, and your community.
    • DKI Member Quality First Builders, LLC in Florida hosts an annual live burn, where they invite their community to come watch a house go up in flames. The community gets involved, QFB gets sponsors, and it’s not only educational, but great PR for QFB.
    • DKI Member Titan Restoration in Arizona has a flood house, where they do demos to train team members as well as educate clients and the community on what happens when a house is flooded.

Download and share the Emergency App by the American Red Cross. This app, sponsored by DKI, features a Family Safe feature that allows you to stay connected with loved ones during an Emergency, with or without connectivity. It also has lots of great information-much of this authored by DKI-on preparedness and what to do in the instance of a catastrophic event, such as a tornado, earthquake, etc. It provides an array of practical information for you, your clients, and your friends and family.

These are just a few ways to get some practical information out there. This is the kind of stuff that gets shared and gets people talking. Now you just need to start getting the word out, and remember to provide focused, useful information that people will want to share with others.

DKI Commercial Solutions Joins Red Cross’ 6th Annual Preparedness Summit

August 14, 2015 – DKI, North America’s largest disaster restoration contracting organization, today announced DKI Commercial Solutions’ Vice President of Operations Bill Robinson will be joining DKI Chief Executive Officer Dan Cassara at this year’s American Red Cross Preparedness Summit on Thursday, August 20 at the Gleacher Center in the University of Chicago, Ill.

The Preparedness Summit is an opportunity for public and private sector partners to come together to inform, educate and provide participants with Disaster Cycle: Preparedness Response, Recovery and Mitigation resources for their workplaces and homes. This year’s event is the 6th annual summit by the American Red Cross, and will focus around Mitigation and Vulnerability Reduction.

Robinson and Cassara will be discussing emerging threats, and how the changing landscapes affect our communities and businesses, both environmentally and economically. The subject of potential financial impact has not yet been covered by the summit’s panel in all six years of running the event.

“I am excited and honored to join Dan in presenting our experiences and knowledge within the restoration industry. Having been closely involved with the topic at hand, managing multi-million dollar disaster relief operations – hospitals, sports arenas, hotels, universities, churches, and been involved with catastrophic events – Super Storm Sandy, Isaac, Irene, Katrina, and Wilma, I am eager to hear the questions from the panel and educate the importance of preparing for the unexpected,” said Robinson.

Specializing in commercial large loss throughout the United States, Robinson is a respected leader and educator to the industry, stressing the importance of teamwork, quality disaster services, systems and processes, communication, and the consistency in high level training.

Join Robinson and Cassara at the Preparedness Summit as they enlighten you on the importance of collaborative planning and the resources to foster resilience in our communities, businesses and homes.

Contact [email protected] or call 312.729.2008 to learn more.


About DKI

DKI, headquartered in Chicago, is the largest disaster restoration contracting organization in North America. DKI Franchise Member companies provide full service restoration to their customers: emergency response, water damage mitigation, fire and contents cleaning, mold remediation, complete reconstruction and much more, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. DKI returns damaged property to its pre-loss condition quickly and efficiently, delivering complete satisfaction to our consumer, insurance, and corporate customers. For more information about DKI, visit its website at www.dkiservices.com and download DKI’s Red Cross Emergency App www.redcross.org/mobile-apps/emergency-app.

Maui Fire And Flood DKI Renews Franchise Membership with DKI

August 11, 2015 – DKI, North America’s largest disaster restoration contracting organization, today announced that Maui Fire & Flood DKI of Maui, Hawaii has renewed its Franchise Membership with the DKI network.

By continuing its DKI Franchise Membership, Maui Fire & Flood DKI will continue to utilize DKI’s 24 hour call center, its DIAMOND® claims tracking technology, and other tools to enhance its ability to serve its insurance and corporate customers. Maui Fire & Flood DKI also gains access to DKI’s training seminars and workshops to ensure they remain abreast of all changes in this rapidly evolving industry.

“We are delighted that Maui Fire & Flood DKI will continue to be a part of the rapidly growing DKI network,” Dan Cassara, DKI’s president.  “Maui Fire & Flood DKI’s commitment to quick response, superior workmanship and outstanding customer service reaffirms DKI’s position in the marketplace as The Source for Quality Restoration.  We look forward to continuing our rewarding association with Maui Fire & Flood DKI.

Company owner and CEO, Steve Blinder, is pleased Maui Fire & Flood DKI meets DKI’s high standards for continued Franchise Member, as DKI has always stood for excellence in the industry.  The opportunity to work in partnership with other quality firms in the DKI network has allowed Maui Fire & Flood DKI to expand their scope of services, introduced them to new markets and has helped ensure their continued success.

In addition to being able to use DKI’s technology and training capabilities, Maui Fire & Flood DKI can also continue using the DKI branding in its marketing efforts, participate in its various co-op programs, and leverage DKI’s corporate marketing efforts.


About DKI

DKI, headquartered in Chicago, is the largest disaster restoration contracting organization in North America.  DKI Franchise Member companies provide full service restoration to their customers: emergency response, water damage mitigation, fire and contents cleaning, mold remediation, complete reconstruction and much more, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  DKI returns damaged property to its pre-loss condition quickly and efficiently, delivering complete satisfaction to our consumer, insurance, and corporate customers.  For more information about DKI, visit our website at www.dkiservices.com or contact Jessica Nielsen at (630) 350-3000.

Remain Positive

August 11, 2015

By: Chelsea Haley, DKI Ventures, LLC

How do you respond to “So, what do you do?” How do you explain “disaster restoration?” While the phrase can appear daunting, depressing or even dull to some people, the reality is it’s an exciting, rewarding job that never has a dull moment. Convey this when describing your work.

Restoration is a good thing, a positive thing – bringing optimism to those affected by disaster. Don’t think about the different disasters you encounter and the tragic happenings. Instead, think, you are restoring homes, restoring lives. You restore peace of mind.

So, how do you change your mentality about your work?

Get a good night’s sleep to wake up refreshed. In this industry, you can be called to work at any time of the day or night. Make sure while you’re off the clock, you schedule some down time and sleep.

  1. Get Moving.

If you’re not a morning person, this can be easier said than done. But, the easiest way to wake up in the morning is to sit up when your alarm goes off. Consider placing your alarm away from arm’s length to force yourself to get out of bed and stand up to turn it off. You can also pump your fists, do some sit ups, take a shower. Seriously, anything to get your body moving will help you be more awake for the day.

The less tired you feel, the more alert you will be and the better your outlook about life can be.

  1. Choose Positive Surroundings.

Negativity is contagious, but so is positivity. If you know someone who constantly complains, keep your space. Instead, surround yourself with positive people – Those who see the good in people and situations, who challenge you, who can make you laugh.

  1. Live Life to the Fullest.

As cliché as it sounds, making time for your loved ones, planning your favorite experiences, and enjoying the little things, can really turn your life around and change your mentality for the better.

By keeping yourself in a positive state of mind and enjoying yourself and your surroundings on a daily basis, you can remain positive even in difficult situations at work.

DKI Teams up with the Red Cross at Brookfield Zoo’s Blood Drive

August 6, 2015 – DKI, North America’s largest disaster restoration contracting organization, today announced their participation with the American Red Cross’ 100th Anniversary in Chicagoland sponsoring the Brookfield Zoo Summer of Connections Blood Drive yesterday, August 5.

Donning their red DKI Volunteer shirts, several DKI Franchise Members and corporate personnel volunteered their day at the zoo, giving blood, aiding the Red Cross where needed, and educating visitors about emergency preparation through their sponsored Red Cross Emergency mobile app.dki_blood_drive_2

The day ended with 250 presenting donors, offering what can potentially help up to 684 patients requiring donors.

Mary Novak with the Red Cross in Chicago and Northern Illinois, who organized the event said, “Thank you is not enough for DKI’s participation and support for yesterday’s Brookfield Zoo Blood Drive. We are grateful for your sponsorship of this inaugural event, but furthermore, for the outstanding efforts of your staff to participate with the activities, and also give blood. It was an all-around great time. Kudos also for engaging with visitors about the Emergency app and helping them ultimately have safer lives.”

DKI initially partnered with the Red Cross as its exclusive emergency preparedness sponsor for its new Emergency App, released in April, 2015. The organization looks forward to many other volunteer events with the Red Cross.


About DKI

DKI, headquartered in Chicago, is the largest disaster restoration contracting organization in North America. DKI Franchise Member companies provide full service restoration to their customers: emergency response, water damage mitigation, fire and contents cleaning, mold remediation, complete reconstruction and much more, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. DKI returns damaged property to its pre-loss condition quickly and efficiently, delivering complete satisfaction to our consumer, insurance, and corporate customers. For more information about DKI, visit its website at www.dkiservices.com and download DKI’s Red Cross Emergency App www.redcross.org/mobile-apps/emergency-app.

Networking – Can’t Live With it, Can’t Live Without it

August 5, 2015

By: Zack Miller, DKI Ventures, LLC

Networking is something that people can’t live with or without. Whether you hate it or love it, it is always important to make new connections in the business world. Many experts advise you to do so EVERY WEEK because of how much it can benefit you in the end. Not only does networking make you more of an expert at your job, it can also help you land a new job if need be.

We all know how important it is, but the real question is how do we do it? Below are 5 tips to help both introverts and extroverts become networking experts.

  1. Plan ahead of time

Many people have trouble coming up with what to say on the spot. One simple solution is to write down some conversation starters beforehand. Practice really does make perfect, and the more prepared you are, the better you’ll be at the next networking event.

  1. Share personal stories

Even though you may be meeting people at a business-like event, it is still important to be yourself. People will want to talk to you more if they are able to relate to you in some way. Sharing a personal story related to the topic of discussion is always a plus.

  1. Set goals for yourself

Going into a business event with the intent to talk to at least 5 new people is always a good goal. Keeping that goal in mind will make you feel like the event was a success. Just remember not to set your goals too high or you may stress yourself out!

  1. Walk around the room- Don’t stick to one person

Sometimes when you meet someone that you hit it off with, you will want to continue talking to them for as long as possible. It is important to develop a relationship with those that you meet, but do not spend the entire time conversing with one person. Events are meant to get your name out to a variety of people that could better your career in the long run. Sticking to one person prevents you from doing so.

  1. Do not go with friends

Having someone you know by your side can help calm your nerves, but it can also prevent you from socializing. Use your time wisely and meet as many people as you can. If you go into a conversation with no one by your side it can make others feel more comfortable.

Follow these tips and you will be a networking pro in no time!

DKI Prepares to Speak at the Red Cross’ 6th Annual Preparedness Summit

August 4, 2015 – DKI, North America’s largest disaster restoration contracting organization, today announced its President and CEO Dan Cassara will be speaking at this year’s American Red Cross Preparedness Summit on Thursday, August 20 at the Gleacher Center in the University of Chicago, Ill.

The Preparedness Summit is an opportunity for public and private sector partners to come together to inform, educate and provide participants with Disaster Cycle: Preparedness Response, Recovery and Mitigation resources for their workplaces and homes. This year’s event is the 6th annual summit by the American Red Cross, and will focus around Mitigation and Vulnerability Reduction.

Approximately 200 professionals within FEMA, police, fire and public health sectors to those in emergency preparedness, safety, security and risk management, are expected to participate in this year’s event.

Among the compelling speakers, DKI’s President and CEO Dan Cassara will be presenting how the changing landscapes affect and can threaten our communities and businesses for the future.

With over 14 years in the property restoration industry, Cassara is an accomplished professional, overseeing all DKI Ventures operations.

Join him and the other speakers and attendees to learn the importance of collaborative planning and the resources and tools to foster resilience in our communities, businesses and homes.

Contact [email protected] or call 312.729.2008 to learn more.


About DKI

DKI, headquartered in Chicago, is the largest disaster restoration contracting organization in North America. DKI Franchise Member companies provide full service restoration to their customers: emergency response, water damage mitigation, fire and contents cleaning, mold remediation, complete reconstruction and much more, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. DKI returns damaged property to its pre-loss condition quickly and efficiently, delivering complete satisfaction to our consumer, insurance, and corporate customers. For more information about DKI, visit its website at www.dkiservices.com and download the  Red Cross Emergency App sponsored by DKI www.redcross.org/mobile-apps/emergency-app.