Restoration Business Leadership | iRestore Restoration Software

Restorers Need to Ask: To Reply All Or NOT Reply All

By Lisa Lavender M.T.R., M.F.S.R., M.W.Rcommunication in business, company culture, restoration business leadership.

When I created the weekly tip for success, “Know when to Reply All and NOT to Reply All,” I did not expect to receive so much enthusiastic feedback. After hearing the horror stories, the frustrations and the passion surrounding the topic, it was clear that it demanded an entire article. The topic seems a bit silly and if you are reading it, you may already be reply passionate. I encourage to you to add any reply tips in the comments below for all to enjoy. You can use this article as a tool to help train and inspire good reply to etiquette.

Email is one of the most popular forms of communicating in our day-to-day lives. It comes in all forms: Internal, external, instructions, updates, announcements, junk, and more. For many, it is a critical means of communication that we rely on to function.

It is also a skill to use properly. Like all forms of communication, it reflects on our presentation and professionalism. We have to “manage” the email madness. In my ongoing personal quest to “Stop the Email Madness,”  I estimate that I probably spend about 3 hours a week deleting unnecessary “Reply Alls” or the more complex redistribution of information to others because the respondent did not appropriately “Reply All.”  This can cause a flurry of broken communication and inefficiency. Some of you may have had or observed embarrassing situations from haphazard replying. Some of you may have thought or said, “Stop Replying to All!”  Proper replying leads to improved email effectiveness and efficiency for all.

REPLY TO ALL  

The following is a list of things to consider while applying good judgement: 

  • Small groups of participants
  • Work plans, questions and answers, meeting follow ups, etc.
  • Consider that the creator of the string was deliberate on who was on the initial email
  • Whenever everyone on the email needs to know the response; this can apply to a variety of scenarios. This is my personal number one passion as I have to recommunicate with people who get disconnected because someone should have “Replied All” 

NOT REPLY TO ALL

Another short list of considerations that should be applied with good judgement:

  • Large groups
  • General announcements, Dissemination of information, etc.
  • Thank you. I do like thanking and acknowledging, however, imagine an email with 50+ people and each one replies to all with a Thank you. That is fifty extra thank you emails to delete. If is it a large group and I want to express enthusiasm or gratitude, I will sometimes simply thank the sender.
  • Donotreply senders: This is not a person by the name of Dona Reply; this is from an account that is not designed to Reply to All – Do Not Reply = donotreply.
  • When saying something inappropriate or you may not want someone on the string to see, proceed with caution. Or do not share your thoughts in email at all. Yes, there are many horror stories here. Which leads to….
  • Pay attention to who “All” is…pay attention in general. Someone may have included the wrong contact by mistake (guilty!). Maybe a key person was missed. Maybe the person replied to only you with information that is needed by others.  

OTHER REPLYING ETIQUETTE 

REPLY: This sounds simple. It can be difficult to keep up with our email communications. We also have the added complexity of checking our Junk and Spam filters to make sure that important communications are not overlooked. We cannot ignore emails, or not respond in a timely manner, because it can have a ripple effect that includes straining relationships, workflow issues, and more. Not replying to an email can be the equivalent of saying, I do not care, I am not listening, I do not want to collaborate with you and more. I personally strive to be timely and diligent in my replying. Even with my “reply to” passion, I sometimes falter on my own best practices. I take it seriously, apologize, and work to get better.

MOVE SOMEONE TO Bcc: This is good etiquette when being connected to someone and an email string will ensue that is not relevant to the connector. It may sound like: Jane, I thank you for connecting me to Tom, I have moved you to BCC. I will coordinate the next steps with Tom.

ANNOUNCE CONTACTS THAT YOU ADD: Consider this the equivalent of announcing that you put someone on speaker phone and those who are present for the call. I do this often when needing to facilitate or inform key people that I work with. It may sound like: I have added Joe, Director, who can help us facilitate the next steps.

FORWARD: This was a special request for the article. Be thoughtful and considerate when forwarding emails and/or adding people when it may not have been the intention of the sender to share. If in doubt, ask the original sender. If you do appropriately forward an email to inform others, forward it with an FYI or brief description. This will allow the receiver to know if there is an action item in the email or if you are just passing along information to keep them in the loop.

BCC: If you were Bcc’d, it was likely the intention of the creator that you are not to reply, and you are only on the string for informational or awareness purposes.

JUNK AND SPAM: I was recently on a string that was a fraudulent invoice. All participants were Bcc’d. Many of those in receipt, began replying and then began replying to all. All the participants became exposed further, and it was an email scam mayhem string of replying to all. Finally, someone said, “STOP REPLYING TO ALL!”

TIPS TO EMAIL CREATORS: To help control bad replying, as the creator, you can help manage the situation.

  • Use To, Cc, and Bcc deliberately. As a rule, the TO contacts have some kind of action item. Ccs are there for the information and possible ensuing communications.
  • Tell the recipients how to reply. Please Reply All with your response. Or Reply with questions directly to me. 

Email etiquette is something we have to train on and talk about. I hope this seemingly silly topic can contribute to your Restoring Success.

Things I Learned From Running A Restoration Company

company culture employee managementBy Lisa Lavender M.T.R., M.F.S.R., M.W.R.

I absolutely do not know “everything” and am grateful to learn new things every day. As I consider myself an operations person, my work is never done. I have learned and continue to learn from mistakes, others, and anywhere else I can find knowledge. As I continue to expand and grow, I keep saying: “It is just like running a restoration job!” I do not know if those that I work with are finding it obnoxious. However, I keep finding myself amused.

You may have heard of the best-selling book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum. You will find his first nine of sixteen thoughts listed below and see that they are quite profound:

“1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don’t hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
9. Flush…….”

At a glance, you can see the value of these lessons shared by the author.

I am still learning in my role operating a restoration company. The things that I have learned in restoration thus far have been put to good use in other ways — in restoration software, restoration training, and six years as a co-owner and operator of a professional arena football team. I also have had the opportunity to share what I learned with friends in other unrelated industries.

As I continue my career journey, I am grateful to learn, apply, and share some of the things that I have taken from my experience in the restoration industry. The following list has served me well thus far:

  1. Proactively Manage Expectations
    Customers, members of the team, and all involved are best served when we proactively manage expectations. We should train and develop our best practices around this concept.

    1. Be upfront and honest.
    2. Explain the process and/or experience: As we seek to master this in our organization, this applies to both “negative” and “positive” elements of the experience.
  2. Manage Projects
    Project management skills are essential to not only restoring homes and businesses but also executing anything that needs to be done. Projects should be managed efficiently and effectively by:

    1. Establishing a scope of work
    2. Setting timelines and accountability
    3. Budgeting
    4. Managing Resources – in-house and subcontracted
    5. Effective communications
    6. Orders of operations – i.e., critical paths
  3. “Start With The End In Mind”
    Stephen Covey nailed this one and it should be used as a guiding principle in all we do. We must have clear objectives and desired outcomes as we define the path and all the necessary steps. I learned to embrace this in restoration, and it is most helpful to keep top of mind as an approach to executing many tasks and projects.
  4. People First
    At the end of the day, our people in the organization are the greatest asset and make the difference. The right people, values, and leadership are always of the utmost importance to reaching goals. There are countless ways to develop management and leadership skills. There are so many opportunities to grow and develop. A good start is a true and genuine care for people which will propel you to continuously grow and lead you in the right direction. Even if you make mistakes, people who feel cared for and respected will stick together and rise to the challenges.
  5. Things That Get Assigned Get Done
    Be clear on expectations and assignments of responsibilities. The story of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, Nobody reminds us of this important lesson:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wgucw8ZJijc
  6. Communicate
    This may be the equivalent of “Flush” in the kindergarten book. It is a vital element for effective internal operations, serving customers, managing resources, and even marketing and business development. Not just communicating, but good communicating and listening are critical.
  7. Best Practices 
    Clearly defined expectations that are documented and repeatable are important to create consistently excellent outcomes. Best practices can lead the way in supporting growth, accountability, and training.
  8. Be Resourceful And Never Stop Learning
    You never know what you need or what you need to know.
  9. Continuous Improvement – You Are Never Done
    The world is constantly changing and evolving. Accept that your work is never done and enjoy the challenges and the opportunities as you go.
  10. It Does Not Work If You Do Not Use It
    This applies to equipment, software, knowledge, and the NeoraFit Wellness & Weight Management System that I purchased.

May sharing the things that I have learned help bring you much continued Restoring Success.

Originally published in R&R Magazine online.

The Motivation Paradigm

restoration business management

Photo credit: eclipse_images/e+ via Getty Images

Lisa Lavender, M.T.R., M.F.S.R., M.W.R. and Stephanie Beattie

Ultimately, successful outcomes require a combination of leadership and management.

Management is a relatively easy concept to grasp as, by its literal definition, it means the process of controlling things, processes or people to a desired outcome. Leadership is more complex and abstract, and there are almost as many definitions of it as there are articles about it. We offer the definition presented by Kevin Kruse in What is Leadership?, published by Forbes in 2013: “Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of other, towards the achievement of a goal.”

There is a common element when it comes to managing or leading people. We are trying to get people to do something. It may be to engage in the purpose of the organization, or it may be a task like updating a job file. At this point, there are endless ideas to consider, podcasts to listen to, riveting conversations to be had and materials to read. However, let’s consider the notion that a key element of either leading or managing a person involves an understanding of their motivation.

Motivation refers to the desire, willingness or drive of an individual to accomplish something. We have all probably said at one time or another, “He is not motivated” or “She is highly motivated.” It is not uncommon to see a resume that starts out with, “I am a highly motivated…”

How often have we asked a person, “What motivates you?” Have we ever asked ourselves, “I wonder what motivates him/her?” Many of us may not truly understand what motivates us, or others. We need to look at this from a different point of view. What is the behavior connected to someone’s reason for doing something?

The motivation paradigm is described as the reasons we do the things we do in the manner we do them. Over the years, I have taken the position that money does not motivate, nor is it necessarily an effective tool that creates desired outcomes. Appreciation ranks higher than money, believe it or not, when it comes to motivation. Why? Employees would rather work for a company that values and appreciates them than earn more money. The money isn’t enough if you work for a company that you don’t feel connected to.

To gain a better understanding of how money fits in and what research shows about the motivational power of autonomy, mastery and purpose, you may want to watch The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. When we consider the power of autonomy, freedom and self-direction, we may better understand some of the findings that show an increase in productivity for many who work at home. For example, “When employers grant the freedom of the home office, employees reward this trust with hard work,” Matt Munro writes.

The insights about the increase in productivity of those working at home allow us to take things further. As we embark on leading and managing people, what if we could understand what truly motivates our individual team members? Could it modify or improve the way we manage and lead them? You may already have seen or heard of some personality analysis tools. I recently had the privilege to learn more about motivation and the tools available to help us motivate others from Stephanie Beattie, CEO of the Center for Disaster Recovery.

Stephanie is a certified practitioner in Motivation Factor. This assessment tool unlocks and ignites the specifics – things we should focus on and things we should not. It provides awareness to know what moves us forward and what holds us back. It specifically determines what we need and where our talents can be used in organizations to propel leadership and production. She has seen that a motivated employee with core competencies correlates with high performance day in and day out. I asked Stephanie to share with our readers some insights. Her knowledge and passion were powerful as she began to explain the dynamics and the how to harness it.

Q. What do we not know about motivation?  

We often do not know that components of our individual motivation are directly impacted by things that drain each of us. An energy drainer occurs when your life circumstances do not match your expectations. We don’t consider that something is impacting the employee, friend or co-worker and their ability to maintain continuous motivation.

Q. What are the main categories of motivation?  

  1. Intrinsic motivation: How well we use our talents to support our role or contribute to the success of the company or project.
  2. Motivation capability: How motivated the person is to get up and do their job daily; this is specifically connected to our energy drainers.
  3. Strategic connection: If an employee is not connected to the business, it is usually due to their lack of understanding of the company vision, mission and goals.

Q. How can we harness and engage people based on their motivation?  

It is important to know what their actual needs and talents are. Consider this:

  • If you have a need for personal power, this can mean that you want to have an impact on things. Being able to influence your circumstances is most likely crucial for you. You may dislike apathy and be frustrated by “victim” mentality.
  • If you have talent to win, this can mean you love competition, a sense of victory, achieving perfection or accomplishment. You may feel particularly fueled by being the best you can be.
  • If you have a need to be heard, this can mean you feel a natural urge to contribute your thoughts, ideas and opinions. You may feel frustrated when others don’t listen or if you don’t have an opportunity to voice your thoughts.

This information and understanding allows us to work more cohesively with the individual and assist them in their motivation. Remember: If we focus on supporting one’s needs while using their talents, we can harness the power of performance, production and fulfillment. Motivated staff are happier, speak positively about the company they work for and will enthusiastically be part of a company that supports them to the highest level.

May harnessing the power of motivating others bring you continued Restoring Success.

Originally Published in R&R Magazine

The Resilience of Restorers

restoration business development
January 7, 2021
Lisa Lavender, M.T.R., M.F.S.R., M.W.R.

“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” African Proverb

If you are reading this, it is likely that you overcame challenges, learned new things, pivoted, showed resilience, supported others, and more, after navigating 2020.

Although challenges and change are inevitable as we journey on into 2021, we should move forward with a new sense of confidence and accomplishment. After all, you did it! You, your team, and your company did it! You navigated a year full of endless challenges and should celebrate the achievement.

There are possibly endless lessons and reflections that we can learn from and share as an industry. I look forward to serving on the R&R Panel, Lesson’s from Covid-19, presented by The Experience University, February 10, 2021, learning the lessons of others, sharing my own, and building a solid future together as an industry.

As individuals, companies, and as an industry, there were many journeys, challenges, lessons, and reflections of the year, 2020. As we move forward and start our new year energized, focused on goals, and ready to take on the challenges and changes ahead, I share a couple of thoughts to keep the momentum going strong:

  • Celebrate Our Purpose: Although there may be a wide variety of ways we communicate and lead each other as purpose-driven organizations, it is easy to lose sight of our true purpose in the day today. I quote a long-time industry friend and instructor, Ron Valega, who reminds classes, “We are not just sucking poop! We are giving people clean and safe environments.” Unite as a team and celebrate the new year and future with a deeper appreciation than ever before of the great works of the cleaning, restoration, and remediation industries. After 2020, we know now more than ever that providing clean and safe environments for people to do their work and live their lives is a noble, rewarding profession to be proud of.
  • Post-2020 Huddle: In What the CAT Just Happened, it is encouraged to post-CAT huddle with the team and evaluates what went well and what could be done better next time. Take this opportunity to gather input from every member of the organization to give ideas and input on preparedness and the identification of opportunities.
  • Opportunities: Take this opportunity to think big and seek opportunities. Ajay Pangarkar, CTDP, FCPA, FCMA’s article, 3 Habits to Innovate During a Pandemic gives a great deal of inspiration and three keys to seizing the opportunity. “While tragic, this pandemic is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do things differently; to think differently. Prior to the pandemic, you know “normal times,” you could have far-fetched innovations, but if they were too extreme, no one would give you the time of day. But guess what? We can now not only dream of far-fetched ideas but are actually encouraged to do so. You now have implicit permission to try anything even marginally viable and no one will hold it against you for trying to make it a reality.” says Pangarkar.
  • Perspective: It is an excellent time to calibrate a very important meter, your Perspective Meter. Calibrating the perspective meter allows us to focus on what is important, see opportunities, and appreciate all the good by which we are surrounded.

My own 2020 experience was filled with successes and mistakes. There were a few times I had a moment and said, “I don’t know! This is my first Global Pandemic!” I would quickly gather myself and journey on, surrounded by an amazing team, supporters, and friends.

As for the lessons, like many of us, I learned quite a few and look forward to sharing them. I do know one thing for certain, although I always feel a sense of gratitude towards my co-workers and colleagues, it is this year more than ever; that this gratitude almost overwhelms me as I know that I would not be prepared and energized as I am now for 2021.

As we reflect on 2020, we must remember there was no “playbook”. Be proud, you did it!

Originally published in R&R Magazine

What’s Sets This Restoration Management Software Apart?

restoration management software, restoration management tools, restoration leadershipAs a restoration company owner, you don’t need to add another piece of equipment or tool to your belt unless it is going to keep you from having to do MORE work. When business owners learn of yet another piece of technology or software that is supposed to help their company grow and be more productive, it isn’t shocking when they are reluctant or hesitant to try it. While there are many types of software and apps and programs that really don’t provide enough for business owners to benefit from using them, iRestore’s restoration management software is not one of them.

What Makes iRestore’s Restoration Management Software Different?

But what sets our restoration management software apart from other software programs that claim to help restoration business owners work better, faster….smarter?

  1. For one, it was designed specifically for the restoration business. We had no need to include information that is unnecessary because everything is designed to cater to the needs of the restoration company and the information that business owners need to gather from their employees, customers, insurance agents, and so on.
  2. Our objective was to support the flow of restoration operations and the organization. This software isn’t just another tool. It is THE tool that restoration business owners can rely on to mesh within the organization and help you serve everyone better.
  3. It isn’t just for HR. It isn’t just for equipment maintenance. It isn’t just a tool to organize jobs. It is a tool to help with each aspect of your business. You need to keep track of employee training, certifications, and basic information. You need to track where equipment is, what jobs equipment pieces are assigned to, and when they will be available again. You need to store job-specific documents and information, including the contact information of anyone else that is involved in the restoration process. You have needs that are specific to the industry – and iRestore’s restoration management software is designed to meet those needs.
  4. What you really don’t need is another app or software that isn’t compatible with certain types of phones or computers. You don’t need another tool that will work at the office but not out on the field. You don’t need another place to store information that your techs don’t have the time to manage. Conveniently, this restoration management software is an easy, flexible, accessible software that can work on any device. You can update it in the office or out on the field. You are not limited. If you need specific information, you can get it at any time. It’s fast and easy to use.

It’s not just about what sets iRestore’s restoration management software apart from other types of software – because it just is different than other types of software. What it’s really about is the compatibility it has to work with restoration companies to enhance production, minimize mistakes, find information quickly, rely on data, and respond to your insurance agents, adjustor, and clients accurately and build your reputation as an organized and efficient company that is prepared and gets the job done!