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How Restoration Contractors Can Let Go to Grow

restoration management softwareWhy is letting go so hard? As a recovering micromanager myself, it often sounds like this:

  • Nobody will do it as well as me or do it right. How do you know if you do not give them a chance?
  • It is easier to do it myself. Have you tried to clearly define how to do it?
  • It is too hard to do. Not everything we are doing is that hard and others can do difficult things.
  • You do not have time to train anybody. And you never will – if you do not let go. 
  • I need to know what is going on. You can with the right systems, processes, reporting, and visibility.
  • Nobody else cares as much as I do. How can you be sure of that and how can you change that? Why don’t they care?
  • I cannot find the right person. The right person will not be a magic wand. 

Resistance to letting go is the nemesis of growth. When you let go:

  • You grow, not only potentially in rank or size of the company you are leading, but you also grow professionally. Your leadership and management abilities get challenged and honed while you let go to grow.
  • Your Company can only grow if many more people can do what needs to be done in alignment with company objectives.
  • Others are given the opportunity and the tools to grow in their positions if they are given the chance.

The following are a few tips to help let go; some of these tips are interdependent. For example, if you use the 70% rule of delegation, you should also have checks and balances, systems, and the ability to review key metrics and information. These are tips that I personally have employed. The benefit of employing them is that you, your company, and others can grow. You can get time to rest and recharge and pursue opportunities that help your company thrive.  

  1. Develop Repeatable Processes And Best Practices: This is not as hard as it sounds. Once you identify the task, start breaking down the steps and best practices that create the desired outcomes. This will be the guideline for others to follow. Document and communicate to the person(s) who will be responsible.
  2. Give People The Opportunity To Establish A Do-It-Better Mindset: This tip is more about changing your view. Instead of thinking, nobody will do it better than me, think about the opportunity of someone doing it better than you did. This is possible when given clear expectations, a road map, and trust.
  3. Consultant Or Coach: It is okay to seek help. If you know that you are having trouble letting go and it is stagnating your growth, consultants and coaches can help you overcome the mental blocks, as well as the process and strategy to employ the letting go in your company.
  4. Reports, Metrics, Information: Maintaining a reporting system that allows you to monitor processes and outcomes is key to making sure that everything you let goes of is running smoothly. Whether it is one functional unit that you are managing or an entire company, there are a variety of ways to keep your pulse on things without doing it all yourself. Be disciplined in your reviewing of reporting systems. A functional unit or an entire company is never going to be “set it and forget it,” Ron Popeil
  5. Respect The Chain Of Command: As you let go, the process may entail establishing reporting lines and chains of command. Be careful with the transition and selection of those to who you have entrusted to do their job. If you break the chain of command to transfer some responsibilities, your efforts may be futile, and you are not giving trust and opportunity to the person assigned the responsibilities.
  6. Use The 70% Rule Of Delegation: Many years ago, I was exposed to this concept. It has had a profound impact on how I make decisions on assigning myself a task or delegating. I use the 70% rule daily as a “still in recovery” micromanager. There are many things we all want to do ourselves because we either like doing them or we think we can do better than anyone else. The reality is that if we stop there and act, we will stagnate ourselves, the company, and others.

When making these decisions, and setting aside the fact that someone may be able to do more than 100% of what you do, I sometimes employ a part two of the thought process. What is the worst thing that would happen if it were done 70%?

As an actual and maybe ridiculous example, I want to order all the food for our classes. I want to control the food; nobody will get just the right combination and quantity. I need to let it go and trust and if by the slight chance that we do not have bananas one morning or 50 pounds of extra frozen meat in case of a food emergency; it will be okay, and the world will not end.

  1. Do Not Enable As You Let Go: If something goes wrong, or if mistakes are made, you may have to take action. However, do not slide back and just fix the immediate issue. Stick with the letting go strategy and continue to develop your team members to their full potential.
  2. Clearly Define Expectations And Assignments: This concept has been making my list in many of my most recent articles as it is often the root cause of not getting the outcomes that we desire. Another light and easy example that can be applied to even more complex issues: The company was out of bandages in the first aid box. It was an inventory maintenance responsibility that slipped through the cracks over the years. Solution: A position and person was assigned the role of inventory, ordering, and restocking once a month. The person in the position enthusiastically accepted the responsibility and the problem was solved.

What should you let go of to grow? As a manager, leader, or owner, as you let it go, you, your company, and others will be able to grow and enjoy much Restoring Success.

Harnessing the Power of Experiential Learning in your Training Programs

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GlobalStock/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

August 31, 2022

Training is an important function in any operation and is critical to our companies’ effectiveness and efficiency. It has a direct impact on our key objectives from profitability to customer service. For all individuals, training is critical to their success, growth, and morale. Field experience, on-the-job training, and apprenticeships are a few types of experiential learning that we likely already employ.

This holds true in all industries and professions. It is happening on an ongoing basis whether we are deliberate about it or not. You can draw a parallel to programs for electricians, plumbers, physicians, and our industries and professions. Can we better harness the power of this type of learning and improve our outcomes? Yes, we can.

In How to Train Someone From Outside or Inside the Restoration Industry, “experience” is part of our training process. Even if you are not proactively managing or executing experiential learning in your organization, it is happening and natural. Your organization likely already respects and values experience. It may be a requirement of positions that you are filling, or a qualification when someone is being considered for advancement.

Experiential Learning is an entire field of study in and of itself. There are many great resources readily available to learn more about it, Northern Illinois University, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning provides the following overview.

You can relate to the value of experience when you reflect on your own professional journey, observe the team, or consider apprentice and intern programs. The concept applies to all positions and skills in your organization.

A few of the benefits of experiential learning are:

  • The more we do things the faster we get. This applies to a wide variety of skills from keyboarding, estimating, processing contents, or setting equipment in a water loss.
  • Learning is enhanced when someone can apply information in an experience-based format.
  • Our ability to troubleshoot and manage complexities often derives from experience.
  • Have you ever reflected on how you said something or handled a situation? Most soft skills are developed through experience and reflection.
  • Learning from mistakes is a cliché for a reason.

The following are some easy-to deploy tips to get the most out of your experiential training:

  • Define with trainees
    • Objectives
    • Timelines
    • Define specific experiences
    • Define specific skills and abilities to be gained
  • Assessments and Documentation
    • Mentors, supervisors, tools to check in throughout the learning processes.
    • Assessments can be utilized to both evaluate the outcomes and document the training.
  • Audits, QC, and/or Reviews
    • If using real work and jobs for training, develop checks and balances so that customers and the company are not impacted by a trainee’s lack of experience. A few examples:
      • Estimator — estimate reviewed by a seasoned estimator before submittal.
      • Water Tech — allow the trainee to set up the equipment, perform other duties, come back, adjust, and explain why you may have made changes to the set up.
  • Training Culture
    • Training Overhead: This is a consideration when your field trainers also have the responsibility for job profitability. Allow for the recording of extra time in the context of training to be recorded to an overhead account.
    • Name It: Give it a name and keep it top of mind. “We are always training and retraining each other in our day to day.”
    • Why: In our busy day to day, it is easy for us simply fix, correct, and forget to focus on teaching opportunities. I refer to this as finishing the sentence as it does not take long and can help others learn and engage them. Take the time to explain the reason behind your thinking. Example: We want to do it this way because…
  • Field Trainers
    • Train the trainers: Some are natural, some are in need training.
    • Reward and acknowledge, In A New Tech Under your Wing, you will find more tips and “What is more valuable than a great technician? A technician that can teach others to be as good or better than they are.” Celebrate those who teach and train in the day to day. 
    • Make it a job duty to be performed.
  • Use Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model 
    • A well-recognized approach to the experiential learning model was developed by David Kolb and provides some insight and understanding that may help you develop and formalize your programs. The articleKolb’s Learning Styles and Experiential Learning Cycle, summarizes as follows, “Ideally, activities and material should be developed in ways that draw on abilities from each stage of the experiential learning cycle and take the students through the whole process in sequence.” McLeod, S. A. (2017, October 24). Kolb – learning styles. Simply Psychology.

Experiential learning can take place in many different ways, and it can range from on the job, to replication and even using eLearning. To help you develop your programs, the following is a sample from RTI’s Digital Training Solution. It is defining the objectives of field experience for Water Tech Level 2 followed by a digital assessment which will allow a supervisor to determine if the expectations have been met and/or give insight to proceed with the team member’s development.  

There are many ways to create and innovate your approach to training. Share your tips in the comments below. May developing your experiential learning programs in your company bring you much restoring success! Developing people is one of the most rewarding things we can do.

Managing Restoration & Reconstruction Jobs

restoration management softwareiRestore, restoration management software, gives you all the tools to proactively manage your jobs. 

  • Job Notes, Pictures, Contacts
  • Estimating and Scoping 
  • Job Profitability, Timecards, and Purchase Orders
  • Schedule and Tasks
  • Timelines and more

With all the tools to manage your jobs, your relationships, and your company, consistency in the application is a key to successful operations. With the tools and infrastructure, the next step is to apply best practices and processes consistently.  

iRestore’s Restoration Management Software For Project Management

In Restoring Success, Inconsistency:  The Silent Enemy of Your Restoration Company,  Lisa Lavender, makes the case that consistency has a direct impact on: 

  • Effectiveness
  • Efficiency
  • Credibility
  • Reliability
  • Growth (both for individuals and organizations)

Proactively managing jobs and good documentation is a key to operational success. Having the tools to be effective and efficient at managing and documenting the details of water mitigation, construction, mold remediation, etc. is the first step. Once you have the tools in place, teams must be trained, engaged, and held responsible for the clearly defined expectations of the company.  

Our FREE Job Checklist for job management gives you the tools to: 

  • Train your team on consistent job documentation and project management
  • Clearly define the most critical best practices in updating a job and managing the project 
  • Use as a job audit checklist for quality control and to hold team members responsible

Key elements of ongoing job documentation

  • Meaningful contact and information
  • Who, how, date of communication(s)
  • Are interested parties happy with the progress, status updates, and next steps or are there concerns that need to be addressed
  • Identification of challenges and the solutions to overcoming the challenges
  • Key contacts and interested parties are part of the job record

Managing Job Profitability

There are several keys to proactively managing job profitability. The following short list will help you and your team keep jobs on track and within budget: 

  • Job Costing:  Your accounting system and operations must support accurate and timely job costing methods. 
  • Transparency:  Responsible team members must have access to timely and accurate cost data.
  • Scope:  Deviations in scope must be proactively managed and accounted for in the estimating and invoicing practices of the company. 
  • Estimating:  The operations must support and maintain best practices in creating and executing accurate and thorough estimating practices. 

Develop your best practices by using this checklist. Define the intervals of updating and managing the jobs in your company and assign the responsibility. 


Project Manager must provide a minimum of a weekly update. 

Site Supervisor must provide an update daily. 

Consistent, effective, and efficient deployment of key functions in your restoration, mitigation, and remediation company requires the company to have the right training, tools, and clearly defined expectations. iRestore management software provides the tools to help your team manage critical functions and keep everything organized, transparent, profitable, and customers happy.  

Job Update & To-Do FREE DOWNLOAD

    Constructive Feedback: Delivering and Receiving For Continuous Improvement

    May 12, 2022

    My entire life I have received what I would consider constructive feedback from special guest contributor, Paul Pinchak, my father. Overall, I can attest to the fact that receiving constructive feedback allows one to see opportunities to grow, develop and feeds a drive toward continuous improvement. In 2004 my father retired from the insurance industry and has helped shape our culture and articulate our values. He has mentored and given counsel to me and many in our organization regarding management, leadership and whenever a little “constructive” feedback is in order. Many editions of Restoring Success are sprinkled with principles and values that I hold dear and were fostered by Dad.

    For over 20 years, we have valued the notion of constructive feedback, so much so that it is a stated value that we all rally around. “We maintain a positive and open work environment by providing honest and constructive feedback on job performance.” While chatting with Dad about a month ago, I had said, “I am shocked how many people don’t know how to give ‘constructive feedback,’ maybe we could collaborate in my next article?”

    Paul Pinchak on Constructive Feedback  

    Managing the job duties, and development, of others is a serious responsibility. That first step into management or supervision requires a major shift in thinking and actions. No longer is it solely your job performance to consider; now you are responsible for others as well.

    There are a wide range of approaches to helping first-time managers/supervisors settle into their new roles. Many organizations provide some type of formal training while others will leave the individual to find their own way.

    Those who manage others have a lot to think about. While adapting to the new role, deliberate thought should be given to the question: “How can I help my people reach their full potential?” For a first-time manager, the prospect of counseling may be uncomfortable and even intimidating. Whether in the context of an annual review, or a session needed to address a specific performance issue, there are a few recommended considerations:

    • Use a private setting; face to face is best.
    • Prepare for the discussion by carefully thinking through what you are going to say and how you are going to say it.
    • Bring forward facts to support the issues you are addressing, do not judge or make hurtful remarks, and avoid profanities.
    • Present constructive input using a positive approach whenever possible. Good openings include: “There are a few things you can work on…let’s talk them through” or “I’ve noticed you’re having trouble with ……., let’s see if I can give you some pointers so you can do better.”

    Of course, there will be times where a more direct approach is called for: “It has come to my attention that” or “As I am sure you can appreciate, this is not acceptable. Going forward you need to address this. Do you have any questions?”

    There is no one standard approach to giving constructive criticism. Always, it is designed to bring about improved job performance. Considerable skill, and thought, is required. Sessions will vary in length and complexity depending on a number of considerations. There is a time and place for creating a helpful and supportive theme, and there is a time to be firm while sending a serious message.

    One important lesson that experienced managers will agree on: When it is time to address an issue, doing so should not be delayed. When a performance issue is not addressed in a timely manner, it will leave the impression that all is well. Unfortunately, it is all too common that managers put off that difficult discussion. By doing so, there is quiet acceptance of the unacceptable behavior. This is called tacit approval. Addressing a problem long after it presents itself will make it that much more difficult to deal with. Also, there may be a negative effect on others who can see that the issue has not been checked.

    There is a wide range of acceptable styles to counseling. As managers and supervisors develop, they should become more comfortable dealing with a variety of personalities and challenges. Most people want to do their best and should be open and receptive to constructive input if presented properly. If not, you may have the wrong person in the job.

    Lisa’s Constructive Feedback on Paul Pinchak’ s Brief on Constructive Feedback

    Although I like the focus on new managers, there is opportunity for all levels of experience to reflect and consider their ability in providing constructive feedback.

    The concept of “helping people reach their full potential” is an important frame of mind of those in a leadership position, however we must also understand that the concept of being constructive is to deliver the feedback in a way that evokes a positive reaction and behavior change. If you deliver feedback and do not get these outcomes, it may be indicative of an opportunity to improve. The ability to positively coach and deliver feedback to others not only influences the individual but can have an impact on the morale of the entire company.

    It is a great starting point to focus on managers delivering feedback, but I also think that every individual regardless of role and position needs to be able to accept and embrace constructive feedback as the receiver. Sometimes ego, perspective and other factors get in the way of one’s ability to receive constructive feedback. When receiving constructive feedback, it is important to stay objective; do not let emotions get in your way and look at it is an opportunity to grow and improve.

    Constructive feedback when viewed as an opportunity to improve can come from a wide variety of relationships, a few examples include:

    1. Direct Report to Supervisor
    2. Customers
    3. Colleagues and Peers

    I once recall a customer who had a fire that resulted in the extensive restoration of both their home and contents. Once complete, the customer reached out to me extremely happy and grateful to the team and then said, “I am an operations person. I am extremely pleased but would like to share with you some notes that I have that may be opportunities to improve.” I invited him to share his feedback at a company meeting. He connected with the group by sharing the positive impact that the team had on him and his family. He shared specific special moments. He also shared opportunities areas for us to improve. Even if using a surveying tool, you may notice all exceptional marks of 10and then a dip to an 8 in “communications,” this may be an opportunity to accept constructive feedback.

    The tips presented for a single interaction are excellent, but I would like to add that the delivery and receipt of the feedback is best when there are healthy relationships between the individuals. An organizational culture based on trust will best provide the safety and security to accept feedback as intended. My father’s stream of constructive feedback is consistently delivered with nothing but the best intentions and that is another reason it is so well received and effective both to me and others.

    May delivering and accepting constructive feedback bring you much continued Restoring Success.

    When Failure Is Not an Option: A Mindset Powered by Passion

    Photo courtesy of Restoration Technical Institute

    (Originally posted March 31, 2022 at R&R Mag Online)

    One of the many things I like most about being involved in the training side of our industry is the opportunity to meet people new to the industry who are on a mission. Whether it is a new owner or a person who has been challenged to make an impact in their organization, the drive and excitement is infectious.

    I recently met an owner/operator of a new restoration company and afterward thought, “What if I could bottle that and share it – the mindset and the passion?”

    To clarify what I am referring to as “When Failure is Not an Option – A Mindset Powered by Passion,” it does not mean that you will not fail, make mistakes or suffer setbacks. It means you are focused on a mission and a vision. Even when you may be learning the hard way, by error, you remain intensely focused and driven toward the mission at hand.

    Eric Sprague shared his reflection of starting his Blue Collar Nation Podcast two and a half years ago with Larry Wilberton. “You have to be OK with being bad at something before you can be good at it…We had no clue what we were doing. We had one borrowed microphone, and the only guests we could get were friends and former employees of our restoration company. Now, two and a half years later, we have a top-rated podcast, better equipment and an amazing roster of past expert guests; all because we decided to start even though we were not good yet. So, if you have a dream, go after it. Be bad. Take your lumps. Learn. You will be all the better for it.” Eric and Larry had a dream and intense passion for delivering resources, stories and skill development to their industry.

    After 22 years in the industry, my husband and business partner, Ted, and I enjoy sharing successes, lessons learned from failures and anything else with our mission-driven friends. During one conversation, when Ted was reconstructing the start of our restoration company, he summarized his thoughts with a chuckle, “Failure was not an option.”

    Over the years, there have been many moments that I feel the intensity of failure is not an option or have been reminded of it by those I am surrounded by. It is a mindset that can help you overcome challenges, stay grateful and respectful for every opportunity to serve, and give you the courage to expand or try something new.

    When we started out, we had no money and no resources. What we did have was a fire in our belly, passion, drive, kids to support and quite simply, “Failure was not an option.”

    Meeting new leaders on a mission is an invigorating experience. There is passion combined with a specific set of traits. Maintaining this combination of passion and traits throughout our careers, or drinking it from a bottle as needed, could be a game-changer. It could also bring us and those around us success, however you define it, and joy.

    Consider passion as a driver that is powering the mindset. Passion can be defined as a strong, powerful or uncontrollable emotion. This may not sound very business-like or of strategic value. I once heard a subject matter expert state that it is not a good quality in business – that it implies chaos and lack of discipline. I actually was worried about our tagline (ha-ha): “Knowledge, Passion & Inspiration for your Success”.

    Although it is an emotion and can be described, at times, as uncontrollable, in this article by Forbes, “The Importance Of Passion As A Business Leader” many arguments for the power of passion are presented including, “Passion enables you to keep pursuing success in the face of adversity longer than anyone else.” As my dad always says, “Don’t let your strength become your weakness.” If we can harness our passion and balance, along with deliberate action, it can power us to do great things. Passion will also help lead, engage and get buy-in from those around you including those you serve. Passion is a genuine emotion that not only powers you as an individual but also allows you to connect with others.

    If passion is the driver, what else can be said about the “when failure is not an option” mindset? The following are a few common traits that seem to operate at peak performance and are fueled by passion in those with this mindset. This shortlist can be used to reflect, develop and/or self-assess:

    • Resourcefulness: There is a strong desire to learn and gather resources, along with a curiosity that drives information seeking. The Curious Restorer expands on this notion and how it helps us grow professionally.
    • Drive for results: There is an unwavering focus on action and getting things done that leads to positive results.
    • Confidence and humility: The presence of confidence without the barriers brought about by arrogance gives us the ability to absorb and focus on new information and opportunities. This is a highly attractive quality in leaders.

    If you have lost touch with your passion, feel defeated, or frustrated, I will share with you some thoughts to help reconnect with the mindset. If you are currently in the “when failure is not an option” mindset, embrace it, run with it, bottle it and share it with others.

    • The vision and mission: Have a clear and positive vision. The law of attraction and visualization of positive outcomes are some of the key takeaways in a top-selling book, The Secret. Balance the passion for the vision with doing. “As Gary Vee says, ‘The law of attraction only works if you do.’ So, think positive thoughts, prep for success, pay attention and then work like a madman to get what you want.”
    • Surround yourself with successful and positive people: In Who Are You Hanging With, the story of a failing and frustrated restorer who realized he was hanging with the wrong people tells the lesson of success creating more success. Successful people help other people succeed.
    • Engage: Read periodicals, get to industry events, take classes, and utilize opportunities to collaborate and network in the industry.
    • Mentor: A win-win could be the pairing of a seasoned industry pro that may be facing a bit of burnout with a passionate new leader. Both have much to gain and learn.
    • Consultants and coaches: If you lost your passion, find a coach that can help you re-spark your flame and find deliberate approaches to move forward.
    • Reflect: If you have lost your passion, reconnect with it. Tell others about your first job, how you got started in the industry, and share the stories of some of the mistakes you made.

    When Failure is Not an Option – A Mindset, Powered by Passion brings you much restoring success.