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This post is a continuation of a previous post on one of our profiled “top 15%” adjusters, Carla.

In my interviews of adjusters who fall into the top 15% of performers (typically as identified by their employers), at least six traits clearly materialized.  First let’s list them, then we’ll return to our story about Carla.

The 15%:

  1. genuinely like (maybe even love) adjusting
  2. are willing to do what others are not
  3. are fanatical about constant improvement
  4. are open-minded, but understand the limits
  5. believe in what they do and care
  6. understand it’s about customer service
  7. build trust with key people.

Almost immediately as I started to interview Carla, one thing became clear; this is one seriously driven person.  She is not playing around, she’s in it to win, and failure is just not an option.  She possesses characteristic number two in spades; she’s willing to do what others are not willing to do.  What follows is that she gets results that few others get; she gets to dwell in the rarified air of high-level success in the claims business.  Let me go into a bit more detail.

First, I should mention that as driven as she is, she’s also humble and thrifty.  Carla recounted to me that she was given some advice by a manager getting into the field.  He told her that the storm she was getting in on might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — she may never make this kind of money again — so she should make it a chance to get ahead in life.  She took this to heart.  At the time, she was living on $1,500/month, and continues to live on much less than she earns to this day, even as the company she grew thrives.  This is in stark contrast to what she calls the “storm chaser” mentality.  She notes that while colleagues were buying new rims for their Escalades, new boats and fancy houses with their CAT adjusting windfall, she was living on next to nothing, quietly saving, making the most of the opportunity and preparing for the future.

Next, she was determined that whatever was thrown at her, she was going to exceed expectations.  This was all the more impressive, because she recognized that (in her opinion) she was actually less qualified than some of her coworkers.  Rather than let this deter her, she determined that she would just work all that much harder to win.  She would say yes to any assignment; on the one hand, no job was too low for her, on the other hand, no challenge went unaccepted.  For instance, she struggled with Xactimate Sketch.  To deal with this, she spent her off hours practicing until she not only mastered the program to the point where she had a distinct edge over her more tech-saavy colleagues.  This attitude, this determination to win at all costs, drove her to work “unreasonably” long hours, especially because at the time she didn’t know the industry as well as others.  Often she would be chased out of the office at two in the morning, still hard at work.  The janitors got in a habit of finding her and forcing her to leave because they were finished and had to lock up the building!  Carla was willing to work a full six hours longer every day than all of her coworkers.

It’s impossible to work like this and not be noticed.  What happened is that her employer soon realized that anything they assigned to Carla would soon be mastered and completed, and with care and attention to detail.  She developed a reputation as the person who could get it done.  As I recounted in my first post about Carla, a time came when her employer’s client (a well-known insurance company) was in a bind and needed an adjuster to help them with a delicate situation.  When they asked her employer if they knew of an individual capable of handling the situation, without hesitation they selected Carla.  She was given 30 days to “close up” a storm that the carrier’s adjusters were having trouble closing, and she did it.  I asked her how, and she replied “failure was just not an option; I was going to get the job done no matter what, even if that meant not sleeping” (I’m paraphrasing).  She told me with pride that she did do it; all but one claim in litigation that couldn’t close (and she’s rightfully proud of this accomplishment).

OK, I’ll wrap this post up.  As I reflected on what Carla did (and still does), I realized that anyone could do what she did.  She herself confessed that she was not smarter, faster or better than the next person.  Anyone could work six hours longer than their coworkers.  Anyone could make spreadsheets of policies in their down time.  Anyone could master Xactimate late at night after a full day’s work.  But they don’t.  They’re not willing, as Carla is.  That’s what makes it so exceptional when someone does do these things.  That’s what separates the top 15% of adjusters who work all the time from those who wish they could; they’re willing to do what others are not willing to do.

I’ll write more on this topic as soon as I can, folks.  Thanks!

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