iRestore | iRestore - Part 2

How to Train Someone From Outside or Inside the Restoration Industry

employee onboarding
March 3, 2022. Lisa Lavender M.T.R., M.F.S.R., M.W.R.

Hiring outside the industry brings fresh ideas to your organization. It is a necessity for overcoming labor shortages and has many other advantages like avoiding the need to overcome bad habits that sometimes come with experience. You have a clean slate to train. So, now what?

Over the years, I have been asked the how and what of training a new person. I know everyone who has asked this question wants an easy answer like, “Send them to water restoration technician (WRT) training and then send them to ‘X’.” My answer typically involves me walking them through a simple series of questions.

Training a new person for success is not quite as simple as we may want. However, it can be simplified. When approached deliberately and applied consistently, setting up a new hire for success can be done and produce desired outcomes for both the company and employee. The first tip is that it should be a part of a developed on onboarding program. Are you on board with employee onboarding?

Next, I present the idea of a personalized learning path. In the context of the workplace, it is best defined as the “Learning Paths Methodology,” which, since 1993, has been applied as an employee training approach. It is touted as reducing time to proficiency by more than 30% in every case, across employees of diverse roles. As Learning Paths International explains, “A Learning Path is the series of learning activities that go from day one to proficiency. These activities include formal training, practice, experience and more.” The three principles of the employee training methodology include: 1) Learning as a process – not an event – extending beyond the classroom, 2) Knowing and doing are different things, 3) Training should be by design rather than by accident.

Learning paths provide a transparent and deliberate approach to the training process. At Restoration Technical Institute (RTI), the concept is a cornerstone to how we help companies with their training programs. Identifying gaps and needs helps individuals and companies achieve their goals. It is a basis for our development of curriculum so that needed resources are available and accessible. You can learn more about learning paths and other training technology at Learning Today with

Steps to Develop Personal Learning Paths for Training Success

  1. Determine the training objective. What is the desired outcome? You can approach this a few different ways. As you build the plan, keep in mind the complexity of the path will be based on the individual, their capabilities and limitations, as well as the desired outcome. Examples:
    1. By task: Fire structure clean, extract water
    2. By key function: Run a water loss, schedule coordination
    3. By job title: Project manager, lead technician
  2. Identify skills and experiences needed to meet objectives. It will be challenging to develop an effective training path if there is no clarity regarding the skills and experiences required for the objective. In “A New Tech Under Your Wing,” one of the tips calls for the use of a training guide or matrix. The matrix will allow you and your team to consistently apply a specific set of desired skills and proficiencies. It can also be a tool for the trainee to engage and have clarity on the requirements.Be sure to capture all the training necessary: Technical skills, soft skills, computer, software, equipment, products, safety and other specific company processes, etc. A brief example for a lead technician may have these elements:
    • Perform the following on water losses > 5,000 square feet
      • Calculate equipment and layout drying plan
      • Map and monitor
      • Remove baseboard, cove base, insulation, drywall
      • Set up equipment
    • Lead and supervise a crew of up to five people
    • Proficiency in using company software
    • Ability to communicate progress, changes and meaningful information to property owners
    • Completed on-the-job training by successfully engaging in:
      • Clearly defined experiences
      • Use of equipment/products/other
    • Account for company-specific training requirements that may include but are not limited to:
      • Standard operating procedures
      • Software and systems
      • Formal and informal processes
  3. Inventory the skills of the individual. An inventory of the skills and capabilities the individual has may be determined by a combination of the following: Previous job experiences, credentials/certifications/degrees, assessment testing, skillful interviewing, etc.
  4. Determine the training and experiences required. This can be viewed as a mathematical equation: Skills needed – skills present = training needed.  An example of this may be an estimator from outside the industry who came to you with experience equivalent to the skills needed in sketching a building. Sketching may be a skill required for the position of the estimator, and this was accounted for in the individual’s inventory.
  5. Path the training and timelines. Now that we know what the training needs are, we can lay them out, correlate timelines, and facilitate a path based on the individual and the criteria established.
  6. Celebrate and recognize the milestones along the path. A learning culture and engaging the new person on their training journey is of great importance. It encourages everyone to celebrate and support each other’s learning and growth.
  7. Review and adjust the path, if necessary. The idea is to make this personalized for the learner while meeting all company objectives. As an example, you may have pathed a water technician to learn to extract > set equipment > monitor > basic demo. As the learner progresses, you may notice that the monitoring and math may not be the best next training step after learning to set equipment. You then adjust and change the path to basic demo.
  8. Celebrate the outcome! Following a basic system of training in your company will help you achieve consistency and positive results.
RTI learning path
Photo credit: Restoration Technical Institute

As you develop your systems to train people from outside or inside the industry, the learning path method will bring you success. The following is a short list of some of the things needed to help you effectively and efficiently deploy:

  1. Budget: Training is an investment in our most valued asset, our people.
  2. Assignment of responsibility: The company must support the responsibility of managing, deploying and pathing the team’s learning initiatives.
  3. Apprenticeship and team: Have a defined expectation and the tools to measure the outcomes of field training. Other team members should be engaged in applying a consistent and positive approach to on-the-job training.
  4. Resources and tools: Like everything else in this industry, there is a constant evolution of technology and resources. This makes the delivery and management of training easier than ever before. According to an article in Small Business Trends, 98% of planned to use eLearning by 2020.  

May using Learning Paths bring you much restoring success.


Originally published here

How Restoration Industry Software Can Help You Be More Organized

restoration industry softwareWith the beginning of a new year, most people and businesses have goals of getting more organized. Organization in businesses, especially restoration companies, leads to improved budgeting and cost management, better communication with employees and customers, and a great understanding and control over operations. When dealing with restoration projects, time is so important, and getting everything and everyone scheduled to be where they need to be within a moment’s notice can sometimes be, well, disorganized and chaotic. Here are two basic habits you can work on to help you be more organized in your business and life in general:

1. Write things down. 

One of the biggest mistakes we make is telling ourselves we will remember that when there are a million other things we have on our minds. We cannot be expected to remember every detail, every address, or every schedule on our own. By writing things down though, we can be sure that nothing gets forgotten or falls through the cracks. Dates, contacts, schedules, and addresses of restoration projects can go from hectic to helpful just by making a list and keeping a record. We are going to take this step a bit further though, since many of us do not carry around paper and a pen with us nowadays. We do, however, have smart phones and devices that can allow us to access digital lists, and even create and share files that can be accessed and updated by multiple users. Through restoration industry software, you can create notes, contact lists, address books, and schedules that can be edited by and shared with members of the restoration team so that no one or no project falls through the cracks. 

2. Set deadlines and make schedules. 

Organized people and companies know that time is valuable, especially when dealing with disaster restoration. Being organized means you do not waste time, which means you are more productive. Without schedules and deadlines, time can easily get away from us. When everyone is on the same page, knows the schedule, and has set deadlines, time is rarely wasted. To successfully stick to deadlines and stay on schedule, you must be organized and planning must be done beforehand. For each project you are working on, create a schedule with deadlines for each step of the restoration project to be completed by. Make sure these schedules and deadlines are effectively communicated with team members, and that proper planning and coordinating are done in accordance with the schedule. Again, the best way to communicate deadlines and schedules across multiple platforms and to multiple technicians is by utilizing restoration industry software, you can create and share schedules, set deadlines, and send reminders and alerts to team members. Coordinating equipment drop-off, monitoring, and pick-up schedules becomes much more organized when it is done in one place that everyone can see. Utilize the software available specifically for restoration companies to help you create more organized schedules and set attainable deadlines for projects and you will be amazed at how much more efficient your time management will be.

Stay Organized With Restoration Industry Software

In summary, our goal at iRestore is to help you become more organized so you can reap the benefits that come from better organization skills. Our restoration industry software was developed with you in mind, and will help make everything more accessible and organized so you can focus more on restoring homes and less on the behind-the-scenes details. 

Job Scheduling and Planning: Yes, You Can and Must!

restoration job management software
Photo credit: baloon111/ iStock / Getty Images Plus Via Getty Images

Lisa Lavender M.T.R., M.F.S.R., M.W.R.

After over 20 years in the industry, exact timelines are a bit fuzzy. However, I remember the lightbulb moment a few years after starting our restoration and reconstruction company and thinking, “This is not good!” It was the beginning of another busy day, everyone was gathered in the garage and managers were holding clipboards. It was loud and chaotic. It was an exercise in figuring out what needed to be done and who should be doing what. I was relatively inexperienced and had no formal or informal training. What I did know is that it had to change and there was a better way. The money lost by one person standing there “waiting” to find out where they were going and what they were doing, multiplied by the number of people and days; ouch! This deserved attention.

My story is just the beginning of explaining why job planning and scheduling in your company are so important. It is the first step to improving – identifying there is a problem. Job planning and scheduling in restoration is both a skill and an art. It is a critically important functional area in juggling the juggle of life in restoration. One could argue it is more important than ever when operating in a world that could make scheduling seem pointless. There are endless supply chain chinks and labor shortages. For some absenteeism of staff is at an all-time high.

It is true that planning and scheduling are not easy, and has become more complicated than ever. So, the question is: “Are we managing the resources we have the best we can under the circumstances?” Managing our resources the best we can is a function of our capability to plan and schedule.

Let’s start with some of the reasons it is so important to consistently monitor and improve scheduling and planning activities:

  • Profitability: At a high level, planning and scheduling will impact the effectiveness and efficiency of your production activities. Our ability to properly manage resources has a direct impact on profitability. Poorly planned and scheduled jobs will take longer to complete, which will have a series of negative impacts. Schedules provide a structure to allocate and manage resources to tasks and elements of the project in units of time. At a company level, an example of just one impact is the cost of every minute of every individual’s time spent idle.
  • Customer service: Timely and relevant communication to all interested parties regarding timelines and progress is important. Even if something goes off schedule, there needs to be a schedule in the first place to go “off”. This leads makes it possible to proactively communicate the change to customers and effectively deal with the impact to the schedule.Managing expectations is more important than ever before. For many, times have changed and some timelines, especially with repairs, are much longer than in the past. Being honest and upfront in managing expectations is the best course of action. To proactively manage the expectations, the operation must have a schedule which presents realistic and meaningful information.

    Honoring the commitment of 24/7 emergency services and delivering exceptional overall service experiences requires skilled management of the company’s schedules and resources.

  • Culture: Planning and scheduling functions help set the tone and lead the way for everyone in the organization. Being organized, prepared and efficient are a few of the things we want everyone to strive toward. If planning and scheduling are disorganized and inefficient, leaving others not knowing what they are doing, this sets a standard and tone within the company. It becomes a cultural norm in approaches to our work.
  • CAT volumes: As referenced in “What the CAT Just Happened?” there is a basis for responding to catastrophe (CAT) volumes effectively that can be used to effectively manage throughout the event.

Now that we have considered some of the reasons planning and scheduling are so important, let’s consider how best to approach them. On a very high level, if you ask yourself, “Are the resources of the company being managed as well as they can be, even in the face of the day’s challenges?”, and the answer is no, then there is an opportunity to improve. The following is a quick checklist to help identify issues with the job planning and scheduling function:

  •  Are people standing around during the workday waiting to be told where they should and what they should do?
  •  Can anyone in the organization answer a customer’s simple inquiry about when a task will be done?
  •  If you need to schedule a specific task, can you easily find your availability or the date the task can be performed?
  •  If something impacts the schedule, is there a system employees can view to address and communicate the impact?

Planning and scheduling is a complex function that takes organizational systems, tools and best practices. For individuals, it is a skill that can be measured and developed. The following are tips and considerations for developing your existing system or creating a new one:

  • Digital or software: Employ a digital system and/or the use of applicable software. This will give you some structure for a solid planning and scheduling system:
    • Accessibility and transparency: It should be accessible for all who need it to do their job. Consider a schedule that shows where everyone should be, but isn’t available to team members. The benefits of a system that is not accessible and transparent will have limitations.
    • Efficiency: A software-driven system will deliver the best efficiency in managing the entire function (I am laughing as I recall our paper system and near-holes in squares from erasing).
  • Scopes of work: To plan and schedule a job properly, you must have good scoping systems and practices in your organization. This applies to all jobs, from a small water loss that may take two people four hours, to a complex rebuild of an entire structure.
  • Account for all Resources:
    • Human:
      • Staff
      • Subcontractors
    • Equipment, tools and vehicles:
      • In-house
      • Rented
    • Materials and supplies:
      • Inventoried
      • Acquisition process
    • Other examples (This list could be endless):
      • Inspections
      • Permits
  • SOPs and/or best practices: Your organization should have standard operating procedures and/or best practices that support optimal outcomes in planning and scheduling.
    • Clearly defined expectations
    • Clear assignment of all responsibilities
  • Experience: Experience should be applied and shared with others. Those with experience know that the time of year, weather reports and/or that age of the property of a specific project can impact a job schedule and, potentially, the entire company’s schedule. Anticipate impacts and complexities to the schedule, and use experience to proactively manage (Like a scheduling crystal ball). Share this experience with others in the company so they can learn and grow.
  • Time: This may seem obvious, but a system must acknowledge and honor dates, times, units of measure and an order of operations.
  • Reporting, display and accessibility: To get the best outcomes from the system, it should accommodate this at the following levels:
    • Per employee and/or resource
    • Per job
    • Global company

May job planning and scheduling bring you much Restoring Success. You are invited to join us for a free webinar about job planning and scheduling on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. You can register here:

Boost Up Your Relationship Management System (CRM) Through Restoration Industry Software 

As we brace ourselves frestoration company crmor another year with possible restrictions and supply chain problems, one observation across all service industries has been the increased use of technology. COVID-19 has really sped up digital transformation and technology. In just a few months’ time, the pandemic has brought new ways in which companies in all sectors and regions do business. According to a new McKinsey Global Survey of executives, their companies have accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years. 

When asked about the impact of the crisis on a range of measures, executives say that the number of people in technology roles and funding for digital initiatives has increased faster than expected. But the key to investing in your business infrastructure is to maximize your existing team with their core strengths. In the restoration industry, you strive to balance your customer needs, your staff’s skills, and your resources to give great service at a profit. So how can you improve the workflow?

Designed by restorers for the restorer industry, the iRestore customer relationship management system allows you to easily manage all of your relationships at both a company level and individual level. Managing and tracking all relationships, including your previous customers and subcontractors, let’s you and your staff coordinate, gather and share information for a better customer experience. 

Serving a new customer gives you the opportunity to build relationships based on credibility and trust. Friends, family, and neighbors who have a disaster are likely going to hear from your previous customer regarding who they should call for help. When your software helps you track leads, your team will improve repertoire with potential clients. 

The iRestore system has the tools to build long-term relationships and strategic success and growth. For example, while in the field the team will have instant access to all information, including all job-related activity with voice-to-text notes.  

To enjoy all the opportunity that lies within each loss and call, your team must have an easy method for compiling and organizing information. By managing and engaging information from the new positive relationships, new referral sources and new opportunities, the business can grow naturally and organically. 

iRestore Restoration Management Software 

By maximizing your staff’s time and talents, you can improve the business flow through technological tools. iRestore is a complete customer service management solution made by restorers for the restorer restoration industry. Look at a complete solution that supports excellence in service. Call or request a demonstration of how your team can be more efficient.

Checking Your Work: Attentiveness to Detail as a New Year Initiative

Restoring Success

January 6, 2022

It may be predictable, but there is something about a new year that inspires goal setting, resolutions and fresh visions. I have a personal list of things I plan to do to further develop myself in different ways: improving my effectiveness, efficiency and being more organized to name just a few.

The story of Santa, a toilet and a wrong phone number was told in “He’s Making a List” and emphasized the importance of “checking your work” with some tips for success.

My passion for “checking your work” on an individual and company level comes from the consequences I have observed, and experiences I have had, when this discipline is lacking. The concept applies to both our individual work habits and our company’s operational approach. We all make mistakes and even our best efforts may lead to errors.

We recently had a piece go out with a misspelled word. It was checked at least five times and our director of training operations proofs by reading things backwards to avoid missing a misspelled word. As a team, we missed it; it happens. Next, we examined the matter and developed our approach to checking. The program where the word resided was lacking editing tools; going forward, we will spell check in a different program with better editing capabilities.

Why such a fuss over one word? It is a reflection on our attention to detail. We are trainers and believe in setting an example in all we do. Is it possible that the 100 people who saw this error will think less of us? In the years of observing the fallout of not “checking your work” and being a designated checker, there seems to be a pattern of two possibilities: 1) gaining an understanding of how something could have been missed, versus 2) what seems to be a lack of care.

If you are still searching for a personal or companywide new year initiative, consider “checking your work.” Making progress on this can bring about great rewards. It is a very specific behavior of people who are highly conscientious, a trait consistently tied to positive performance. It is something that applies to all in the organization and can directly impact the credibility, effectiveness, efficiency and quality of service to others.

In addition to some of the tips offered in “He’s Making a List,” the following are considerations for the “check your work” initiatives in your organization:

  • Check your own work: It starts with ourselves. Whether rereading an email or examining our craftsmanship, we should establish habits to check our work, even if someone else will be reviewing it. Identify it as an important practice in our day-to-day work and coach those who may need to improve.
  • Provide training: Include steps that address “checking your work” during training. Do not assume. At Restoration Technical Institute, we incorporate this as a step in our training curriculum.
  • Measure and document outcomes: Whether in a standard of care, best practice or standard operating procedure, having a formalized process for certain types of work that includes a defined inspection and/or testing with supporting documentation of the outcome will give protection, as well as add to the credibility of the services delivered.
  • Be open to constructive feedback: It is important that when we check each other’s work and mistakes are made, identified and corrected, the spirit is positive. Avoid a potential debacle and treat it as an opportunity to do something better in the future.
  • Find a buddy: It is great to have buddies in the company to “check” everything from an estimate to a drywall job when you need fresh eyes.
  • Set clearly defined company expectations: It is difficult to check certain types of work without a clearly defined and communicated expectation. These expectations can be converted into checklists and quality control documents.
  • Establish clear assignment of responsibility: As a company, employ “checking” as a responsibility of a designated individual. For example, the “lead” on the job might be held responsible for checking the job site before leaving. Or, the marketing manager could be assigned the responsibility to check a mass email before it is distributed.
  • Formalized quality control processes and forms: There are certain tasks and/or job types that are suited for a formal quality control process with established control points. This provides consistency and is particularly helpful when there are many variables and/or details. Forms also provide documentation.

The Restoration Technical Institute is offering free access, through the end of January 2022, to our Audits, Inspections & Assessing course, designed to provide ideas and inspiration regarding inspecting, measuring outcomes and tools to help.

May “checking your work” bring you, the team and your company much Restoring Success.

Originally published at