The 2020 Aspray National Conference was a somewhat different affair from past events but very much an embodiment of all that has distinguished the loss assessing franchise business this year – its ability to reshape, add new dimensions, thrive and deliver value, no matter what.
This was the very first Aspray National Conference at which the head office team and our network of professional loss assessing franchisees did not meet face-to-face, to learn, exchange knowledge and celebrate the year and its achievements.
This year, it was a virtual event, with an introduction and summary of the year by managing director, James Whittle, followed by festivities with a twist, interspersed with illuminating videos recorded by loss assessors, customers and insurance brokers across the UK. But, despite the changed format, it was perhaps the most profound communication yet of the resilience of the Aspray franchise business model and the brilliant, committed individuals that it attracts.
Overview of the loss assessing franchise year
The overview of the loss assessing year provided by James Whittle could not have underlined more just how Covid-proof the Aspray franchise network has proved and how property damage, and the need for homeowners and commercial property owners to have fair representation during their insurance claim process, does not stop just because there is a pandemic.
James highlighted how eight new franchisees have joined the network during the year, with seven of those having started their new property sector franchise businesses during the Covid-19 lockdown and restrictions. That, in itself, is a feat, but when you consider that this also means that they needed to apply, be interviewed and undergo full induction training, before getting out into the field, it is incredible. The fact that all franchisees are absolutely thriving and generating fabulous customer testimonials, despite having to have their franchisee induction training remotely, says it all, endorsing the IT systems and meaningful human interactions that the Aspray model draws strength from.
James was perfectly honest about the challenges which franchisees have faced – insurer loss adjusters being furloughed and at times unable to continue negotiations, insurers sometimes operating with reduced teams and longer timescales, contractors falling ill with Covid, and the lack of building materials that occurred at the start of lockdown. However, as James said, the Aspray franchise network had been “spectacular” in its response and the can-do attitude truly shone through.
Head office support
What was then communicated very strongly, from the mouths of franchisees themselves, was the tremendous support they had received from Aspray head office, be that accounts, claims, sales and marketing, administration or management, throughout the crisis. The sense that an already strong bond had been reinforced immeasurably was clear to detect. As they say, out of adversity comes triumph and that is what has happened within the Aspray network this year.
The property claims have also been tricky and complex at times, with some major fire and total loss fire claims, plus subsidence property claims handled by franchisees, calling upon all their loss assessing skills. However, the results achieved for clients have been spectacular and customers have enjoyed outcomes they had never felt it possible to achieve, with our loss assessors’ assistance.
At a time when insurers have been seen to be reticent to pay claims for Covid-19, the feeling that they might adopt the same attitude with regard to the payment of property claims has been stronger than ever, amongst consumers and businesses alike. Perhaps the message is finally getting through that professional loss assessors at Aspray are the people who fight the property owner’s corner tooth and nail, because we know that policyholders often need someone on their side during a home or property insurance claim. Our one aim is to ensure that those we represent in a property insurance claim gain a rightful settlement. To do that, we seek to encourage the insurer, and/or their loss adjuster, to interpret the small print correctly and in the spirit of the cover that was sold to the insured.
With all of this in mind, it was fabulous to see videos in which some of our insurance broker and property management company introducers thanked us for the service that we provide to their clients and for the representation that we provide for them. Knowing how much they appreciate the added value that we give to their customers makes it all worthwhile and it is always best to have a third-party voluntarily endorse your service than to talk about it yourself. As our introducers confirm, we really do go the extra mile for their clients, when handling and negotiating their home insurance or commercial property insurance claim settlement and managing their property repairs and schedule of works.
Of course, the franchise year would not be complete without festivities. We decided it wrong to award our annual trophies without being able to shake the hands of the worthy winners who have given so much to our property damage claims management franchise, so will award those in June. Instead, we worked with Chris Moat of Kin Spirits and ensured that all virtual attendees were sent a cocktail making kit and accompanying craft gins and nibbles, so they could learn from the master when it came to making some in-vogue Martinis and cocktails.
Chris also kindly created a number of quiz rounds and challenges for us, adding to the fun and competitiveness, as we sipped his exquisite creations.
All in all, it was all we could have asked for from a virtual conference, in a year when we received all we could have asked for from our loss assessing franchisees … and more.