5 Questions With Rachel Stewart
Rachel Stewart is the executive vice president of Titan Restoration of Arizona. She has been in the industry close to 11 years. Her main focus is driving vision, culture, employee development, engagement, metric driven management, strategy and excellent customer service. Additionally, Stewart has been published in several industry magazines and has had the privilege of speaking at several industry events. She is the editor of Actionable Insights, chief of the Insighter Report and, in 2018, with the help of partners, Stewart launched Xcelerate Restoration Software.
At the end of 2018, Stewart started work on her first book, Unqualified Success, which was published in May 2019. Anyone who is on a trajectory of growth is unqualified for the next stage. Unqualified Success is about bridging the gap between where you are today and where you want to go to reach your dreams. The real-life examples, tools and exercises allow you to make measurable progress daily.
In all her endeavors, Stewart’s goal is to create a positive impact on the industry and those around her. She wants to see an industry full of thriving and successful contractors who are using restoration as a vehicle to not only impact their customer’s lives, but change theirs in the process through growth, learning and striving for excellence.
1. What is the biggest trend shaping the future of restoration today?
There are so many changes going on right now in the restoration industry. This will make data the king over the next several years. The need for reliable data and finding ways to have better, faster access to it, is what will drive companies. Good information allows you to be nimble, make critical decisions and anticipate changing market needs.
Because of the many changes on the insurance side of our industry, I see more and more need for restoration contractors to understand their numbers and use solid data as they make their own strategic decisions and streamline their processes in order to remain profitable. Obviously, technology will play a bigger and bigger role as data gathering and analysis become more accessible.
Like you, I have also seen the trend toward consolidation across the industry. We are seeing more and more acquisitions from restoration companies already in the business as they try to expand their locations and service areas, as well as significantly more private equity interests that have not been in the industry before. I think this trend will add a layer of sophistication to the marketplace, which will again push the need for better data and efficiency.
2. What do you like most about being in the restoration industry?
One of the things I love about our industry is that it is fast-paced and challenging. Every day I go to work, it is different than the day before. I am constantly stretched and challenged to meet the needs of our customers, grow our brand and our business, develop my team and contribute in positive and meaningful ways in the industry as a whole.
I also love that we get to serve our customers at some of the most difficult and stressful moments of their lives. I love the almost heroic nature of the work and ability to make a difference by alleviating worry, work and even grief. Those of us who are privileged to work in the restoration industry do valuable work that makes an impact and I think we are lucky to build our careers in this kind of service environment.
Dovetailing with that, one of the very best things about being in the restoration industry is the people that I have been able to meet and work with inside the industry. Perhaps because of the service-oriented nature of the work, the owners and contractors that are the backbone of our industry are some of the best people I know.
I think the restoration industry is unique in that I see real networking and collaboration around me all the time. This is uncommon in other professions. I find that people are so willing to share what is working for them and the things that have made a difference for their company and their teams; throughout the industry, at every level, people talk and help and collaborate without concerns about competition or self-interest.
3. What is one piece of professional advice you have for the incoming generation of restorers?
My advice is to network as much as possible. Network, network, network. Whatever your position is, find anybody and everybody in your position and get to know them, and then learn everything you can. Learn what’s working for your counterparts, then go build on that and share what you know with others. Get to know all the players in the industry, including other owners and carriers. There is so much value in being well-connected to help you grow in the industry, reach your professional goals, and make your own work better.
4. Where do you find the most fulfillment in your professional work?
One of the most fulfilling parts of my job is the challenge of finding innovative solutions to the problems in our business. I truly believe there is no ceiling for success if you are willing to keep looking for ways to improve and provide the very best product you can. I love to find, diagnose and analyze where the bottlenecks are in our processes, and discover new ways to improve and grow in order to continue to compete.
Of course, building a team that can rise to these challenges is the best part of that. What I love the most is being able to grow my team and help them develop professionally. I love seeing them push the boundaries of their current abilities, set really big goals and then blow their own minds. There is nothing better than that.
5. What resources, other than RIA, do you turn to for professional growth, industry education and news?
I like to stay connected with lots of groups and even professionals in different industries on LinkedIn. It’s a great resource for people who want to learn and grow, contribute to others and network.
I’m also a huge proponent of attending industry conferences. Again, not only is at a perfect chance to learn and stay abreast of trends, changes and advancements in the industry, it is an incredible opportunity to collaborate and share with other people in the industry who happen to be facing many of the same challenges as you and your team. I always come away from these events with new ideas, insights, energy and understanding of all the moving parts and trends that are coming.
Additionally, I think there is no better way to stay on top of what is happening than by talking to the consultants and coaches in the industry. They are well connected, knowledgeable and have lots of experience. It important to be looking for patterns and trends from the information you gather.
Actionable Insights is another place great place to get industry news and education. I think this organization does a great job providing all the players in the industry valuable content that makes our product and our service better as a whole.