Do You Clean It Or Is It Destroyed?

Sometimes it is painfully obvious that an item is destroyed and you cannot clean it. But for the times that it’s not quite so obvious you really need to apply some common sense here and ask yourself a few questions.

First and foremost you need to know if this item is even something that the homeowner wants to keep. Quite often we hold onto things with the thought that one day we may use them and want to keep them around the house just in case. And when there is a fire in the home suddenly homeowners realize that those things they were holding onto are just collecting dust and not something that they have even been using so they are happy to use the fire damage as a reason to chuck these items in the garbage and call it good. Generally these items may not be logged on the destroyed that goes to the adjuster. But be sure to discuss this with your homeowner and be sure to get them to sign off that the items are not to be logged to the insurance company for payment.

The next thing to think about is the value of the item. And when I say value I don’t just mean monetary but emotional value for the homeowner as well. You need to think about whether or not the item’s value makes cleaning cost prohibitive or if the emotional value makes it a must to restore regardless.

There is a very delicate balance needed here so you keep both your adjuster as well as your homeowner happy with your bottom line results.

Remember to always have your homeowner sign off on all destroyed items before they are disposed of or taken off the premises if possible and get approvals from your adjuster on all electronics or any items over $500.

Whatever you decide it is very important for the success of the job that you be in constant contact with all parties involved so everyone is on the same page and understanding exactly what is being destroyed and why.

Here is a video from our Youtube Channel that I thought you may find helpful when deciding what call to make when it comes to food that has been potentially affected by smoke or soot. Let me know what you think by commenting below.

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10 Ways To Boost Employee Morale


Let’s face it there are some big challenges when you are the boss. There’s the checkbook to balance, bills to pay, marketing to be done and business plans to be written. But there are some things that if not done and done well will make all the other things on your to do list a mute point. One of those things is your employee’s morale. Or as I like to call them your Team.

This can be a scary topic for most business owners because they themselves don’t feel like they know how to be a motivator. And Morale is all about motivation and positivity.

Some of us have a natural leader inside of us and can motivate and boost morale in just about anyone.

But for those of us that aren’t even sure how to do that for ourselves here are the top 10 things you can do to make sure your Team’s morale is always at the top of the charts.

Set clear goals and expectations: The quickest way to frustrate someone is to not give them direction. People really do want to please and get the job done right but if they don’t know what the job expectations are they will get frustrated and feel unproductive and morale will go down the drain in a hurry. If your expectations change every day well that would be like changing the rules of a football game at half time. It just isn’t fair and you will frustrate your Team. So have good clear job descriptions for each Team member’s position and hold each member to those expectations.

Give positive feedback: We all want to get that gold sticky star after our name on the chalkboard because it let’s us know that we are on the right track. And that we will get attention when we do good not just when we do something wrong. How discouraging would it be to only hear about your faults? Your Team really needs to know when they get it right so they can do more of it. You get back what you put out. So if you want positive you have to focus on giving positive.

Remove frustrations or barriers: These can be physical or perceived. It could be anything from broken equipment, not having the right equipment to get the job done, lack of training, lack of leadership, unrealistic goals, personal circumstances, and not feeling good enough for the job or even poor communication. This is where being in tune with your Team is so vital. Sometimes your Team may not even know they have a frustration but you can see it in their performance or demeanor and can pick up on it and handle the situation before it’s even a real problem. Have a plan in place for your Team to voice their concerns when things aren’t working.

Acknowledgment: A great way to acknowledge someone is to have an employee of the month program or some kind of reward when a quarterly or monthly goal is met. This doesn’t have to be a huge monetary thing. In fact sometimes just walking to a Team member and telling them that you see what they do for the company and for the clients and others and that you really value them is a huge thing to do. If you have weekly or daily Team meeting (which I highly recommend that you do) use this opportunity to praise your Team and talk about the positive things you see them doing. If you give a monetary reward it can be something like a Starbucks Gift Card, cash or plaque. Better yet take them to lunch so you can get to know them better and spend time around them. Building a connection with your Team is huge for company morale. Praise and praise often.

Communication: Almost every single conflict that has ever happened in my company with my Team members can be traced back to poor or lack of communication. In fact some of the conflict wasn’t even there it was just perceived because there wasn’t any communication between two Team members. People are social creatures and we crave interaction. And if we don’t get it we interact inside our own head and we are really good at making things mean this or that when in fact it doesn’t. In order to have good communication you need to have an open door policy within your company. This means you always encourage conversations amongst your Team. The conversation may be about upsets, concerns, clients, other Team members or even ideas for improvement or new business. There needs to be rules however about how we communicate. Conversation needs to be for a productive purpose. Never should yelling, back stabbing, lying or gossip be tolerated. Period. If the communication is to tear down and not build up or create a solution then it should have no place within your Team.

Take immediate action: This is very important. Without it your Team will lose respect for your and not trust you. For instance if it is brought to your attention that someone on your Team is being mean, rude, disrespectful in any way or not following company policy or rules and you do not take immediate action to stop the situation from happening your Team won’t believe you. They won’t believe that you expectations or goals are really important to you and they won’t feel like they can trust you. Lack of action will tell your Team that it’s not really important to you and if it’s not important to you it won’t be important to them either.

Listen: One of the biggest complaints that I hear from Team members is that they don’t feel like they have a voice or that they are heard. When you have a Team member come to you sometimes you don’t need to do or solve anything. You just need to shut up sit down and open your ears. They may in fact already have the answer they just need support and maybe to bounce the answer off of someone they look up to so they know they are on track. If you are more worried about being heard instead of hearing you cheat them of the opportunity to be empowered to grow and become more confident in their own skills.

Help them get what they want: Your Team needs to feel that there is something in it for them too. Find out what goals your Team has for themselves and then help them achieve them. They will be infinitely happier as they are achieving things for themselves. This can be anything from a promotion at work, going back to college, buying a house or even wanting some free time to spend with their kids. Some people will say leave your personal life out of the office but I’m here to tell you if they are unhappy in their life it will come to work whether you want it to or not. If you find a way to support your Team in all areas of their life they will want to support you and thus your company in the same way.

Let them plan the fight and they won’t fight the plan: A friend of mine of by the name of Richard Rossi said this to me several years ago. One of the most brilliant things I have ever heard from a business owner. He has 70 Team members and runs a company that has more than $80 million in gross annual revenue. The culture in his company is one of freedom, awareness, responsibility and accountability. His CEO of his company has been worked for him for 24 years and has never worked anywhere else. So what makes a person never want to leave a job? Because he is not an employee that goes to a job of drudgery everyday where he doesn’t have the opportunity to make a difference. Richard has daily Team divisional meetings where goals are discussed and their execution is planned by the Team. So there is total buy in because they, the Team, came up with the plan. It’s not something that is being forced upon them they chose it. And a big moral buster is a feeling of hopelessness or helplessness which these people do not ever have because they always have the power to make things better and different. Empowerment trumps low moral every time.

Always have their back: If it is at all possible for you to stand firm in your support of your Team while in front of outsiders then do so. Sometimes I know this is not possible because of something serious that you have to take an immediate stand against like abusive behavior, yelling at another Team member or client. In those instances you would potentially refer to #6 and fire them on the spot. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about supporting your manager’s decision in front of other Team members and then going behind closed doors to coach them on things you want done differently in the future so that your manager does not lose face in front of the rest of the Team. If a client is being abusive to one of your Team then fire them IMMEDIATELY! It is vital for your Team to know that they are important to you and that how they are treated is just as important to you as how your clients are treated. If you wont’ stand behind them they won’t stand behind you.

I hope you have found this helpful and that you will view your Team and the importance of their morale as a key component in your company culture.

What are some of you doing to keep your Team engaged and excited? Comment below and share with us all. :)


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Be Completely Dedicated To Your Work

When a homeowner is in the middle of all of the devastation they really need you to be in it for the right reasons.

It’s so important to understand just what your client is going thru during an insurance loss. They not only need your help cleaning and restoring their home but also saving and restoring as much as you can of their personal belongings.

And doing this means knowing proper cleaning techniques, how to deal with the adjuster and helping them to understand and let go when items cannot be saved.

The latter being probably the most difficult and most important to your client.

In order to do this and do it well you really have to be committed to your work.

I feel very passionate about this and I shot this short little video explaining how serious you should be about this process and why.

After you watch this video please let me know by commenting below what your thoughts are about it too...

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Do You Think I Am A Ten??

I often wonder if business owners ever ask themselves this question these days.

Think about it…

When was the last time you were asked by a service based business how you would rate them say on a scale of 1-10? 10 being AWESOME!

I am guessing your answer is probably never.

I’m not sure why they don’t ask us. I mean don’t they want to know what we want so they can give us more of it?? If they aren’t making us happy wouldn’t they want to know they aren’t??

I had one business tell me they didn’t ask because they thought it might open them up to more complaints…REALLY!!

That kind of mentality is business suicide.

In this connected world that we live in today you can bet your bottom dollar that if your clients are not happy with you or your service they are tweeting, Facebooking and texting about it to all of their sphere of influence not just there friends and family. So you had better be asking them to tell you first so you can do something about it.

It continually blows my mind when I dine out or when I am standing at a cash register and the person taking my money from me doesn’t look me in the eye or speak directly to me let alone ask me how my experience with them has been for me.

I don’t owe you my money. No one is forcing me to spend it with you it is what I am choosing to do. So I expect you to acknowledge me and make me feel good about handing over my hard earned money to you. I expect you to provide me with immense value and you had better stand behind what you sell me or I am gonna call you on it.

And when you do all these things that tell me you actually care and that I am not just a bank deposit to you, I will give you my loyalty for life. In fact I will tweet, Facebook and tell my entire sphere of influence and anyone else that will listen about my experience with you.

And I will do this because you will stand out as being VERY different than the others.

Because I will never forget how you made me feel like I matter and that I made a difference when I did business with you.

You might think I am arrogant and who am I to say these things and try to put these requirements on you and your business.

And why should you care what I think anyway right??

Because I am your customer…and possibly your biggest fan.

Posted in Client Experience, Marketing | Tagged , , , , , ,

Not Every Fire Is A Packout…

Sometimes cleaning up after a fire is not as difficult as you might think. Especially when you don’t have to packout the entire house in order to clean and deodorize the structure.

Your homeowner as well as your adjuster will love you for a clean in place over a packout anyday. The homeowner will be out of their home for a much shorter time and feel way less stressed because of it. Especially around the holidays.

It’s a win win win for everyone involved.

In fact we had this happen on one of our last jobs and I did a short little video for you to see how and why.

Posted in Uncategorized |

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

At Firehouse we try to express to our clients and our coaching members just how important you all are to us but we especially want to step back and take a moment to really really express our gratitude durring the Holiday Season.

We found the typed word just wasn’t going to do so we did a short little video that we hope you enjoy:)

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The Devastation Is Far From Over

On October 29th Super Storm Sandy hit the United States devastating New Jersey and New York as well as wreeking havac on 22 other states before calling it quits.

After many lives were lost and millions were left without power the worst seemed to be over.

But is it really??

Personal Belongings On The Curb

The waves are no longer crashing into the shore and the winds have stopped blowing but the storm is far from over for those left behind .

In fact for some the nightmare has only just begun.

Streets Are LIttered With Peoples Lives

These pictures were taken by Travis Coy who is currently in New York working long hours helping people save their homes from further damage.

It is hard to imagine the kind of hopelessness that you might feel when home, the place that you once felt safe and secure in, where those you love gathered and created memories together is now ripped to pieces or covered in contamination. No longer the place you can rest in and get peace.

No the nightmare is far from over. Now the cleaning, demolition, repairing, logging of lost belongings and tears for what is lost that can never be replaced has only just begun.

And to top it off all those affected with loss from Sandy have to figure out how to handle things with their insurance company while trying to understand a policy that they probably never glanced more than cursory while sitting in their agents office signing on the dotted line.

It is the responsibility of a restoration contractor to help their client walk thru the insurance claim process and understand what they need to do when dealing with their adjuster.

Now having said that, you would never want to speak to the terms of the insurance policy or state wether or not something would or would not be covered unless the adjuster has told you so. This can be a slippery sloap that can put you in a deep hole quite quickly and have you at odds not only with the adjuster but the homeowner as well.

In these kinds of conditions you will also find lots of homeowners that have no insurance or at least no coverages for such a storm. And they have just possibly lost everything that they own with no hope of being able to replace any of it.

Anyone affected by such a major catastrophic storm will be emotional, irrational and dealing with alot of stress.

Give them a lot of grace, kindness and hope.

It’s what they need more than anything and you are the one that can give it to them.

In my opinion it’s the greatest service y9u can provide.

I’m sure you were probably expecting me to talk about dryng out contents, logging destroyed items and bagging up laundry. That is indeed important and a huge part of our job but I will always insist it is not the important part.

To all of those who are there in the front lines, including my amazing son Travis that are helping those in need make sense of it all while putting lives back together you should know that you are making a difference.

And you are why I love this industry so much!!


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If You Want Your Clients To Buy From You Then Stand Behind What You Are Selling Unconditionally

I recently had an amazing experience with a customer care department of a large international coffee machine company. The day started out pretty normal with me making a double shot americano in my kitchen when something good happened to me.

My espresso machine quit working.

Doesn’t sound like something good does it? But that’s exactly what it turned out to be. And all because of Marie.

I tried a couple trouble shooting tips from the owners manual with no luck so I called the customer care number to see if a tech could help me.

After 2 rings I was transfered to a directory that asked me to select the correct department for my particular machine and then it started ringing again. Now Remember I still have not had my morning Java so I was let’s say maybe a little cranky at this point and was impatiently waiting to be put on hold till the next agent could help me.

But to my surprise the phone was answered…by a person not a machine!! And her name was Marie. She asked me what happened and upon finding out that I had been robbed of my morning cup of heavcn she immediately apologized and walked me thru some diagnostic steps.

After about 5 minutes of trying to get the machine to reprogram and function properly she asked me when and where I had purchased my machine. I told her about 18 months ago at William Sonoma. Marie then informed me of a fact that I was already aware of and that was that I was 6 months outside of my warranty. :(

At this point she asked me if I would mind holding for a minute. While on a very brief hol I was contemplating how I might get my morning fix and suddenly she was back.

With some pretty amazing news…

She told me that her manager was allowing her to email me a fedex pre paid label so I could ship my machine to NY and that she would send me another brand new machine in its place!! They were actually honoring their warranty even though I was six months outside of it.

I was beyond surprised and happy! And Marie even asked me if I could find another way to have my morning coffee for the next 7 days until she could get my new machine to me. How awesome is she. :)

Needless to say I will be their client for LIFE and a raving fan forever.

And I ask you…

What are you doing to make your clients feel like this?

Do you really put thier needs and concerns first and foremost?

What can you change or do even better in this arena?

One of the things we do at Mobile Clean is we unconditionally guarantee that when we are done cleaning there will be no odor. If there is a problem with odor we come back and re-clean and re-inspect for free. This really blows clients away when you put out a powerful promise like this.

In almost 12 years we have only been called back twice. Once was a freezer that the odor came back in and the adjuster just replaced it and the other time we recleaned some kitchen cabinets and all was good.

Our clients should never fear doing business with us or fear that we won’t stand behind our work or product.

Too many companies today focus on the transaction not the life time value of a client.

After my coffee machine experience I am even more determined to step up my game and take care of my client warranty or not.

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Why Crossing Your T’s And Dotting Your I’s Is So Important

I know that you guys are all probably getting tired of hearing me harp all the time on how important it is to get your paper work signed, sealed and delivered right from the beggining on each and every job.

So I want to share with you what just happened on one of our recent jobs and how crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s saved our bacon.

We did a pretty small job for a contractor that we work with on a regular basis and all seemed to be cut and dry. The homeowner was very easy going (almost too much so in hindsight) and very laid back about most of her things.

The job only took 3 days with a small crew and there was no structure involved.

We put all the cleaned inventoried contents into a mini storage unit and gave the homeowner the key upon our completion of all content cleaning.

Travis had all the proper paper work signed before work started and all the proper paperwork signed at the completion ie: authorization to pay and certificate of completion.

Everything passed her inspections after cleaning and all was going very well.

Or so we thought…

About 4 days after we completed the job and had all final paperwork signed the homeowner decided to have a problem with a laptop. Claiming to have gotten black soot and smoke all over her hands after removing it from the storage unit that housed all of her cleaned inventoried contents.

She called her Insurance Agent and demanded that everything be recleaned and re-inspected.

You can imagine my shock when I got a phone call from the Contractor telling me all of this as I know how my crew cleans and the systems that I have in place to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen.

We have two quality control inspections that everything goes thru to ensure that gets missed.

So I called the homeowner and asked her to tell me what she found. Once she was done I validated her concerns and let her know that I would leave the very next morning and personally come and inspect the entire storage unit full of contents box by box.

She was shocked that I was so quickly willing to deal with the situation that she was taken aback. She asked for me to wait a day or so as she wanted to talk things over with her husband and Insurance Adjuster.

I found this a little odd for someone that was so concerned about her belongings but I said ok.

The next day I received a call from the Contractor again letting me know that the homeowner had changed the lock on the storage unit and she did not want anyone to access it unless she was there.

Very odd behavior I must say for someone that was so laid back just a week earlier.

You see she did not have a problem with any of the cleaning we did. She wanted a new laptop. Which was between her and her adjuster.

But as I have said many times before people can experience a very big range of emotions right after an insurance loss has occurred in their home. And the more efficiently you handle the paper work that will ward off potential difficult situations between you and your homeowner the smoother the job will go every time.

I was very happy to find out that as protocol all of our sign off sheets were signed and especially the authorization to pay and C.O.C that was signed the day after all cleaning was completed.

So we will be getting paid shortly by the insurance company directly and we skillfully avoided what could have been a very tough $$ situation.

I hope that by sharing this story with you that you will be a bit more careful and maybe thorough with your paperwork.

Posted in Getting The Check | Tagged , , , , , ,

Going Out Of Business

I want to share a story with you about a really good top notch cleaning company that asked me for help last week.

They said that they were struggling and had been for the past couple of years. Each month they watched as their revenue go lower and
lower and lower.

They were desperate.

At this point they have cut their overhead,layed off employees and even sold one of the vans they were using in their business.

They told me they have been doing everything they can to stay in business and keep their head above water. And yet their bank account just keeps getting lower and lower and their hours keep getting longer and longer.

“The economy is horrible and we are tired. Do you think if we took your class and added fire cleaning there is a need in our area?”

Ok I get asked this question all the time. And my answer is always the same.

Absolutely YES!

There is ALWAYS a huge need in the restoration industry for good, carring, highly skilled, organized, compassionate companies to handle and process Contents Cleaning jobs all over the world.

The problem with companies wanting to get into Contents Cleaning is they don’t realize what a gold mine of revenue they have at their disposal and if they aren’t properly trained and ready to handle the work they could ruin a golden opportunity before they even know what they have.

The cool part about cleaners getting into Contents Cleaning and Restoration is you already have a lot of the supplies and equipment
you need. So the startup cost can be quite minimal.

I did tell them that to me it didn’t sound like they were trying to save their business. It sounded like they were going out of business
the slow and painful way.

Don’t let this happen to you.

If you are struggling in your cleaning business or just tired of being the one behind the wand and in the truck 10 hours a day then you need to do something to change that.

The great part about Contents Cleaning is you can have others doing the work for you while you supervise and oversee things.
You don’t have to be the one behind the wand so to speak to be making money.

I hate to see a good cleaning business struggling when there is such a need for them in the industry.

And fires happend all the time they aren’t depedant on the economy.

If you would like to find out more about adding this very profitable and systemized division to your cleaning company give us a call at 509-684-0767.

Reserve your seat at our next hands on class on Sept 10-11 in Washington where we will light a fire in a real furnished house and you get to walk thru the process step by step with us.

This is the only class we have scheduled for fall 2012 and fire season is almost upon us. So if you want in this is your chance.

Call and ask for Kevin at 509-684-0767 by August 20 to get $200 off your class tuition.

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