Restoration Company CRM Must Have’s

restoration company crmRestoration business owners know that a good CRM is key to managing relationships with the different people you work with whether that is customers, insurance agents, adjustors, independent contractors, or anyone else that is important in managing a job.

Relationship management is difficult and when you are working on multiple jobs, you need a way to keep the information straight for each client. But, there are a few different features that your CRM should have to help you build your reputation as an organized restoration company that gets the job done with little to no delay or mistakes.

At iRestore, our goal with our restoration company CRM was to give restoration business owners exactly what they need to manage multiple jobs securely and easily. Because of the experience our own people have in the restoration industry, we had inside experience when we put this CRM together.

Key Elements Of A High-Functioning Restoration Company CRM

  1. Organization – A CRM is worthless if it cannot organize information the right way. You need to be able to manage jobs, store notes, and communication with different people working on a job. You also have to manage your employee workload, and your equipment to make sure you have enough manpower and the right equipment to get the job going and keep it going without delays. An error here means telling the client (and possibly the insurance agent), that you have to delay the start date. Not fun!
  2. Time – Time is always a factor in restoration jobs. You have emergency disasters that you need to respond to fast. To do that, our CRM includes a unique routing system so that you can effectively map out stops during your workday.
  3. Avoid Issues – CRM’s shouldn’t just manage your information, but help you manage them better. That’s why iRestore’s CRM synchronizes all contact information within specific projects. Making duplication of contacts and contact notes a thing of the past.
  4. Communication – Don’t worry any longer about having to write down phone numbers and emails. With this CRM, you have the ability to click a button and call or email whoever you need to. Save time and curb procrastination by making communication so much easier!
  5. Accessibility – One problem many restoration companies run into with different CRM’s is with accessibility. Your information doesn’t have to wait till the end of the day to be entered into the contact system. You don’t have to worry about forgetting to note information because can’t access the system till the end of the day. This platform can be used on computers, iPads, and on your phone. Easy access = better time management and efficiency….which ultimately leads to fewer errors and mistakes.

And this isn’t all that iRestore’s Restoration Management Software does. Our company was driven to provide the best software for restoration management and we believe we have. Find out for yourself. You can request a demo of the software and try it out for yourself. Want more information? Call us and talk to a specialist about how this CRM stands out from the others and can make your life as a restoration company owner so much better.

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!

 

 

Top Tips For A Restoration Startup


restoration business development, startup restoration business development, startup restoration business growth
It has been more than 20 years since my husband and I started our full-service restoration company. Today, I have the privilege to meet and share tips with others who are starting up. The most common request? Lists for things such as contracts, equipment, procedures, any list to give a roadmap to success.

My husband and business partner dug out our original start-up to-do list from his files as we celebrated our 20-year company anniversary and it is now framed in the hallway. As we reviewed the list, we laughed at the simplicity of the handwritten document that included polo shirts, which is obviously of the utmost importance (ha-ha). Is it that simple?

Our company colors, green and gold, were less strategic and more out of a desire to reflect what is now known as Shared Value #10: We pride ourselves on our presentation and professionalism as a company. We had no money but wanted branded vehicles, but guess what? We already had a gold pickup truck and a green minivan! Voila – our company colors were born! No need to spend money on painting vehicles.

Armed with a vision, yellow legal pads filled with notes and ideas, a toddler, a baby on the way, and no income stream, we borrowed money, cashed in an $8,000 retirement account, and got started.

Today, the fleet of over 70 vehicles is gold with green lettering. We love our careers; the opportunities we have had to grow personally and professionally, the gratification of having served thousands, and the people we have the opportunity to work alongside of in our award-winning full-service restoration company.

My husband will reflect on the momentum of our company’s launch and sum it up very simply, “Failure was not an option.”

Twenty years later, here are our tips for starting up…

The Short List

There are many pathways that will lead your startup to Restoring Success. Your startup’s success is how you define it and there is not a right or a wrong. Embrace your vision and get moving. Here are some things to consider as you begin:

  • Why and Drive: Every business has a profit motive and building a financially strong company is a priority; however, restoration is about something bigger and it is important that there is a purpose, vision, and motivation that goes beyond profit. It is like many other businesses where you can easily lose money and will face all types of challenges. Many view restoration as a “recession-proof” industry without vulnerabilities. It is not.
    • Stay in touch with “why” you want to start a restoration company.
    • Drive for your success. An unwavering focus and drive to your goals will be an important fuel to power your launch.
    • Pros-Cons-Challenges: Our youngest son, who wants to be a restorer when he grows up, summed it up and explains his motivation. You can also pick up some tips on the moisture meters you will need for your start-up: A Restorer, Hero in our Community
  • Leverage your Assets: Assets may include but are not limited to: soft skills, technical skills, facilities, equipment, and relationships. In general, utilize your strengths and develop your weaknesses and/or surround yourself with individuals that complement your skills and soft spots.
    • Experience and Expertise: You may have experiences and knowledge from other jobs, businesses, education, and childhood you will be able to bring to your company. Form a foundation and make your company special and unique. I was an accountant who grew up with a father who was an insurance underwriter. My husband was a claims adjuster who grew up strapped to a roof by the age of 10 and helping his dad build cars. Regardless of your background before entering the industry, embrace your talents and know-how in your new company. Do not dismiss anything as irrelevant. One of my many favorite things about restoration is that it is somewhat of a melting pot of diverse individuals with unique backgrounds that bring expertise and apply it to their restoration career. The individuals and companies are special and can find foundations of success in their uniqueness.
    • Relationships: Leveraging your existing relationships will help you start your company. A marketing strategy is sound and important, but do not discount existing relationships. It may be customers of an existing business or friends and family. Consider your existing contacts and leverage them when building your business based on trust and long-term relationships.
  • Guidance and Information: Today, there are many options and resources that can help you get a solid start in your new company. Evaluate your needs and seek out the best fits for you to help you get started. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses and draw on others who can add value. Remember, there is no right vs. wrong. There are many paths to success and different approaches to the business. Find what feels right and make it your own. Keep an open mind and learn different perspectives and approaches. When you can learn from the mistakes and successes of others, take it.
    • Franchise
    • Consultants
    • Training and resources
    • Software systems
    • Mentors and industry friends
  • Be Resourceful and Have Resources: You will not have everything and everyone you need out of the gate. Actually, that may never happen in restoration. Be prepared to think out of the box and prepare resources. Today, we have a beautiful textile restoration department with commercial and specialty equipment. When we started 20 years ago, my husband went to the laundromat and worked through the night.
    • Examples include but are not limited to: subcontractors, suppliers, rental companies, banks
    • Be prepared to solve problems along the way. Ask for help and use your drive to make things happen. In the early days, your ability to respond and deliver quality results will help propel your new company. I vaguely remember our first commercial loss in the early days. I do not remember the logistics; somehow, we assembled a large team, worked through the weekend, and had them open by Monday. I do remember feverishly scrubbing a special chair and thinking, “I want them to say, WOW when they walk in on Monday.”
  • Reinvest: When planning, and upon starting your new business, plan to continually reinvest. If your vision includes growing beyond your initial startup, you will need to invest in people, facilities, equipment, and systems.

Enjoy the journey and excitement. May starting a restoration company bring you much Restoring Success.

 

https://www.randrmagonline.com/articles/89197-tips-for-restoration-startups

Restoring Success Meets The Intentional Restorer: Nothing is Scarier than Scope Creep

I have three simple golden rules with a fourth to beware of that apply to the profitable execution of a scope of work.

  1. Get paid for what you do
  2. Do not pay more than you get paid
    1. Subcontractors
    2. Materials
  3. Manage your in-house manhours
  4. Mistakes happen and cost money; they must be managed to keep to a minimum.  Learn from mistakes and have a spirit of continuous improvement.

If we start with the premise of a job with a thorough and accurate scope of work, we now must execute it to company standards and objectives that may include quality, service, and profitability. The golden rules seem simple and like common sense; however, in my experience, it is the breaking of these rules that often result in missing the mark on profitability objectives.

Scope creep occurs in many facets and a variety of circumstances in our companies. In simple terms, it is when we deviate from the scope of work and fail to account for it in the revenues. It breaks the golden rules #1 and #2. The scope is typically the basis for a bill or estimate that represents the company’s revenues.  When we go outside the bounds of the scope without accounting for it, the operating results on the bottom line, can be quite frightening.

Scenarios

(Technician Level) Last Day of Water Mitigation: A technician is sent to pull the equipment, clean the living room carpet, and get a COS (Certificate of Satisfaction) signed.  

Homeowner: “While you are here, can you go ahead and clean the dining room carpet?”

Technician wants to please the very nice homeowner: “Sure, it would be my pleasure.” And so our well-intentioned technician cleans the carpet in the extra room, notices a red stain, goes to the truck for the spotting kit, proceeds to work on the stain and….

SCOPE CREEP is discovered when the job is two hours over in labor hours and the project misses the profitability target, or worse, that free service morphs into a nightmare.

(Estimator Level) Remove and Reset a Bathroom Vanity:  Homeowner decides they want a new vanity. The estimator/project manager is amicable as it does not seem that it will be any trouble to install the 36-inch-wide vanity that the homeowner will supply.  

Last day of job: Upon unwrapping the vanity, there is damage found to the cabinet. The homeowner asks the carpenter to just go get a new one in stock at the ABC Store. The carpenter goes and they are out of stock; the carpenter now must now schedule another day for pick up and to complete the tasks. This project is now all tricks and no treats and it gets worse when we discover the new cabinet is two inches taller than the old cabinet. Now, the mirror needs to be raised, the plumbing needs to be adjusted and…

SCOPE CREEP is discovered when this relatively small job is 10 labor hours over and has missed the profitability mark in addition to the customer experience turning into a horror saga.

(Executive Level) A Favor for A Friend: The owner or general manager calls all the staff to the conference room to make a special announcement, a good friend of theirs needs something done ASAP. 

When an owner, or a member of the people in a position of leadership team, brings in a project that is personal to them and wants the assignment bumped to the top of the list (regardless of what is going on) as a favor to a friend to make themselves look good, this sends a mixed message to the team. If you spend any amount of time trying to build a culture and a process that optimizes your ability to do things the right way, efficiently and with a touch of excellence, these “favors” demonstrate that there are exceptions to your values.

This favor for a friend is light on details and heavily loaded with unclear expectations. Because the normal processes have been overridden, the project is doomed to result in frustration for all parties involved.

SCOPE CREEP is discovered usually at the end of the project when the customer is unhappy, the production team is frustrated, and the owner is ready to howl at the moon. We can’t even talk about profit as there is none; this is a toxic dump of wasted energies. These projects are doomed from the beginning when they are set up as:

  • Scope = “Get it done.”
  • Budget/Price = “They’re good for it.”
  • Timeline = “Yesterday.”

The lack of an accurate and thorough scope of work and no expectations communicated to the team and customer has set the execution of the job to have the creepiest of outcomes.

Reasons Why this Happens

Emotional Discounting:  A friend of mine recently exposed me to this term and concept and I thought, YES! We do this often from doing little extra things without charging to rendering services free of charge. This article, How to Stop Offering ‘Emotional’ Discounts, explains it well and offers some tips on how to stop or control the phenomenon.

Not understanding the scope:  If those who are charged with executing the scope are not trained to understand it, scope creep is inevitable. Within most of the estimating systems used in our industry, a line item includes a very specific amount or type of activity, labor, and materials. If those executing the scope do not understand it, it will be challenging or impossible to manage it to budget and/or know when to communicate/address deviations in the scope through your company process (i.e. supplements and/or change orders).

How do we train and empower our team to prevent scope creep?

In the carpet cleaning scenario above, it’s important to understand the motivation. The technician wants to do a good job, they want to please the customer, and they should be empowered to find ways to make this happen. I try to train our teams with the mindset of:

  • Do It Right
  • Do It Efficiently
  • Do It Excellently

While well-intentioned, what are a few of the things that could make this carpet cleaning and red stain removal scenario into a Nightmare on Elm Street? Have you heard the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished?” Whether we are doing scope work, change orders, or complimentary add on, we need to document our scope, clarify the expectations, and track the cost (even if it is a no charge). Within the organization, clear protocols on any deviations of scope and/or supplements need to exist and be clearly communicated to team members.

Small favors like carpet cleaning could lead to our team owning a carpet that we cleaned as a gesture of good faith. That tiny red stain could become the Creature from the Loom Lagoon, leading to a spread of toxic ooze. Additionally, those two unaccounted for hours could set the technician back from their next project and the accumulation of upset customers grows into a horde of Zombies who want to eat our flesh.

One suggestion would be to bake in the carpet cleaning after a mitigation or repair project as a satisfaction add. The book Be Intentional: Estimating outlines the importance of developing a consistent estimating process to produce better insurance claims outcomes. Empower technicians to understand:

  1. The law of unintended consequences, not making them cynics but considering the big picture.
  2. Understanding that even if we do something for “free” we need to document, get authorization of the agreed scope/outcome.
  3. Communicate with the whole team so the impact to the schedule can be accounted for.

How to Minimize SCOPE CREEP

Training and education will help minimize scope creep. From understanding scopes to company-specific processes, training should be position-appropriate and timely to the individual’s ability to contribute to the successful execution of scopes. Some team members may be responsible to execute a work order or specific instructions and not necessarily follow a complex scope, following instructions is a skill that should be deliberately developed in team members and will help control scope creep that occurs when instructions are disregarded or not followed. Scary things happen when, People Don’t follow Instructions.

Metrics and Review Systems are important to be able to proactively manage scope creep and develop the team’s abilities. Red Flags can help you identify a job that may be going in the wrong direction, identify team members that may need training, and/or identify weaknesses in company systems.

Empowerment and trust in the team will help engage them in keeping scope creep under control. Empowerment includes giving appropriate authority to execute or manage deviations from scope. For example, different positions may have different levels of authority to fully execute a change order. Give the appropriate tools and resources and the ability to use discretion and exercise good judgment when appropriate.

Don’t be scared of scope creep; manage it proactively as a team. Although it is in our nature as restorers to go above and beyond to help those we serve through a difficult time, margins are thin and overhead continues to grow. We cannot afford excessive scope creep even when it is well=intentioned.

Thank you to Jon Isaacson, The DYOJO Podcast for collaborating on this edition. Some bonus thoughts and tips from Jon to help us enjoy Restoring Success…

Those in a position of leadership must lead by example or there is no standard.

In the scenarios involving estimators and owners above, the issue is with lack of clarity on the scope, expectations, cost, and duration of the project. While emergency response is inherent to our work, chaos should not be accepted and The DYOJO shares ways in which an organization can reduce dysfunction in their video on this topic.

When a client makes a “small request” for an alteration to their project, they often honestly have no frame of reference for how this new scope affects the existing production plan. Unfortunately, many estimators and managers don’t understand these impacts either.

In his book, Joy, Inc., Richard Sheridan shares a simple process that his software design team uses for project management. I was surprised in reading the book how many parallels there were between scope creep in these two disparate industries. To ensure that clients, team members, and the organization are on the same page, the aspects of the work are assembled on index cards. An index card associates scope with time budgeted to complete the task.

The design team regularly meets with the client. In these meetings, if a client wants to make a change without affecting the duration or cost, they must pull index cards from the project board. There has to be an equal reduction of scope/cost/duration to account for new items. This is a simplified account of the process but there is nothing better than making it visible and helping all parties to see the impacts of “just a little change.”

  • Doing it right as a company includes ensuring the client, carrier and your production team are clear on what the scope of work is as well as what it isn’t.
  • Doing it efficiently as an organization means that all parties in the process are engaged in being able to read the scope, execute the scope and communicate when there are legitimate deviations.
  • Doing it excellently as a team requires everyone to be trained to read a scope clearly, communicate consistently and hold each other accountable to doing the right thing the right way.