By Beth Hinton
The call just came in and the whole office kicks into high gear. It doesn’t matter if it happens once a day or once a week, when that phone rings and it’s a customer, or adjuster, or even a plumber needing help with their broken pipe or sewage backup, your office is ready to get to work. Now, things are going to happen.
If you are prepared, have a plan, and put that plan in motion, the project usually works out. Even if part of that plan is to reach out to additional resources for help, or at least be on stand-by, the plan is functioning. If you aren’t prepared, things can go from good to really bad extremely fast.
For every restoration company, the length of time you all stay ‘pumped up’ is often decided by how well organized your strategy is working. Proper restoration project planning has to start far earlier than that call. It must anticipate all the key issues and hurdles and must establish clear and simple tasks and performance guidelines. If this is done before the call, there’s a chance that the high will last way past the mobilization of the crew.
First, send your most qualified expert with people skills to the job. They are the ones that will make all the difference in whether you sign an agreement for the job and how well the job will go. That person’s initial visit, examination, and first moisture readings will have an enormous impact. The things they say to the client can often make or break the deal. What they observe and how they react to what they find can change the course of a project – especially if it’s a large job.
That initial person on-site should be able to Sign, Sketch, and Scope the loss and then be able to accurately describe it to the staff on the phone, or to a larger support resource.
The 3 S’s of project planning to follow are SIGN SKETCH SCOPE. The importance of these three tasks cannot be overstated. Think about the potential pitfalls that can come from this simple encounter:
- SIGN – if your first responder does not get all the proper paperwork executed at the start of the project, your risk goes through the roof. There will be major liability issues to deal with, and at the end of the day, it may be difficult – if not impossible – to get paid for your services. After all, your work authorization or contract may not be valid!
- SKETCH – part of your responsibility to the client – and their insurance carrier – is to support your invoice. Creating a sketch of the affected areas identifies your tasks and gives everyone a visible outline of your work. For your teams, it gives them clear and unambiguous direction when they are going over the work to be done. An accurate and detailed sketch assists with proper documentation.
- SCOPE – we assume that the first responder is one of the more highly trained and skilled individuals in your company, and as such is going to be able to assess the damage and establish a proper restoration project plan. This is so important to your overall performance and ultimate success, and a failure to accurately assess the damage and what it will take to fix the disaster will jeopardize the successful completion of the job.
How can I guarantee that my restoration project planning is being done correctly? That’s an answer that can only be found in your initial response protocols and systems. How is your response set up? Is it the “next man up” who shows up, or is it directed to a certain person with specific skills to be the first responder? Do you have a pre-set “start package” of paperwork that MUST be filled out at the start, or do you fill them out as needed?
Finally, do your crews approach the project with a “spike the job” mentality, bringing equipment in their arms off the truck at the start, or do you take time to assess, measure, and plan your work? Answer those questions first and you will quickly see just how your company is set up to succeed – or fail. Spiking the job often conveys that you are desperate to get the job – and that alone comes across loud and clear. It usually scares the client, and they look elsewhere for a more competent company.
The contradiction between speed (“emergency services”) and prudence (“restoration project planning”) messes up even the most seasoned business owner at times. That energy we talked about earlier can turn us away from good business practices, especially if the project looks like a big one or if we get a sense that the client may be looking to go in another direction. Your desire to get the job at all costs, may, in fact, become very costly in the end.
(Editorial contributor: Bill Giannone, co-founder of the Crest Network)
To learn more about how to evaluate whether to repair, replace, or rent the right restoration equipment for your project, contact Beth at (719) 240-4930 or Wade at (719) 240-4929. Schedule a call by filling out the form on the contact page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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