5 Books That Will Help You Run Your Business Better

One of the challenges in business is to be open minded about growing and adapting your thinking. A really good way to do this is to open your mind to new perspectives and new ways of thinking.

A mentor of mine taught me that success leaves a trail. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel you just need to walk down the path already forged by someone who has been there done that and successfully achieved what it is that you want to accomplish.

So the first thing you can do is find someone who has achieved what it is that you want and then study how they accomplished it. Who did they talk to, interview? Did they take a particular class or did they hire a coach? (This by the way is something that I would recommend that you do) And most importantly did they write a book?

I believe that words are incredibly powerful and that you can never read too many books.

I could literally live in a book store with a comfy couch and a latte…just sayin…:)

A person can give themselves a college education with a library card. Think of how powerful it is to be able to have a what to do manual right in front of you and even more importantly written by someone who has maybe been in your shoes and can relate to what you are going thru.

Being in business is tough and sometimes lonely if you feel stressed or just don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of. In college classes they don’t really teach you outside of the fundamentals of a balance sheet and business plan. And there is so much more than that to know to survive and thrive in your business.

Most business owners open up their doors because they want freedom and have a dream. Not because they are great managers or marketers. Which are two very important elements to possess if you want to have success in your business. In fact a lot of business owners don’t understand the first thing about their financial books or how to track their profit centers.

The good news is that there are a lot of great marketers, financial advisors and managers that have written books for us to learn from. The more information you have the more informed decision you can make when planning your goals within your company as well. You may be a seasoned business owner or just a newbie doesn’t matter. We all have a learning curve as times are changing in how we do business.

Now there are many books that I could recommend for you to read but let’s start with just a few. If you don’t like to read then buy books on audio and listen to them while driving to the office or on the treadmill.

Here are 5 books that I feel are a must read for any business owner:

  1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Napoleon Hill
  2. Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life: How to Unlock Your Full Potential for Success and Achievementby Mark Victor Hansen
  3. The Success Principles(TM) – 10th Anniversary Edition: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield
  4. Triggers: 30 Sales Tools you can use to Control the Mind of your Prospect to Motivate, Influence and Persuade. by Joe Sugarman
  5. All Marketers Are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works–and Why Authen ticity Is the Best Marketing of All by Seth Godin

It is so important to learn to think outside the box especially when it comes to marketing your product or services. These books can help you develop your own way of doing things in your business that are in alignment with your goals both personally and professionally. If you aren’t sure how to set goals there is a great book written on goal setting by Jack Canfield. These books can also give you a solid foundation to build from. Because most of the time it’s whats between our ears that needs the most work.

You should also read as many books about your particular business as you can. It will make you a better business owner the more you understand your particular market sector.

Look we can’t know everything about everything and we don’t need to if we know where to find it. School is never out for the Entrepreneur and you shouldn’t want it to be. Business would be boring if we stopped growing and learning. Innovation would come to a halt and new ideas would cease to exist.

We don’t always have the answers when we hit a road block so seeking the help of an expert is key.

So go online or to the book store and start expanding your mind just a bit.


Ps. If any of you have already read any of these books I would love to hear what you thought of them??

The Software You Need To Be Using If You Are Doing Insurance Work


There are several programs out there that you can use to bill the insurance company for your restoration job. But the one that I am going to talk about is the one that is most widely used and accepted in our industry and is necessary if you want to be on most Preferred Service Provider programs or PSP.

And trust me you want to look into as many of these programs that are in your area and get on them if they are good.

The software is Xactimate.

Xactimate is the insurance program that the majority of insurance companies use. If you are going to be on a preferred program an insurance company may actually require that you use Xactimate billing.

It’s important that you get this program and use it in your company. It will make things smoother for you and make you more usable by every insurance company across the board. You can use it on more than one computer. I believe the current fee is a $250 setup fee and then $250 a month or $1500 a per year if paid all at once. It’s not very expensive compared to how much money you can make with it.

This program is setup to communicate with insurance companies and in the way that they want to be communicated with.

You see when billing an insurance job you need to be able to break your charges down in the manner by which the insurance company processes them on their side. If you don’t you create more work for the adjuster and become a pain and that is not what you want.

What you want is for them to want you on every one of their jobs because you make their job easier. If you make their job more difficult than it already is they are going to potentially recommend that the insured they are working with consider working with another contractor. And if the job is one that is being run thru their PSP program you won’t get it unless you use Xactimate.

To understand how valuable this software is you need to understand how insurance companies process their claims on their end.

Insurance companies only pay for the property that was damaged by the loss that occurred. So if a room has two walls that need repainted they will only pay for those two walls not the entire room. Or if 17 lineal feet of floor trim is damaged they will pay to replace only 17 lineal feet not the entire room. This is assuming that it is able to be matched.Â

So the insurance company estimates repairs by the square foot, lineal foot and sometimes by the individual each item. You obviously need to understand which is which in the insurance world but Xactimate will automatically break those down for you by an area after you enter the entire dimensions of a room. The program also allows you to put in special things like notes and pictures attached to the particular item entered.

In Xactimate you can also easily break your bill down by the room and by the line item. And enter all the details that you want. And trust me you want tons of details on each billing.

When you are doing billing to the insurance company I want you to remember that they are not standing on the job site. They are not seeing everything that you have done like the homeowner has. For this reason you want to be very, very careful and detailed in your explanation of charges on your bill. The more detail you can give on a bill the less chance that you are going to have the adjustor call you or question you about anything. They will feel more comfortable pushing it right through so that you get paid right away.

Getting your scope of repairs and cleaning out to the insurance company very quickly is important. Not only does the adjustor want to process the claim quickly and get it closed. The faster you get your bill to the insurance company then the faster that you are going to get paid for the job. And that is what having a specialty program like Xactimate will do for you.

So as you can see to use an excel spreadsheet or a program like say Quick Books to send in your restoration billings you could be sabotaging your own invoices and thus success.

~ Annissa

The Truth…How Much $$ It Really Takes??

The number one question that people ask me about contents and restoration cleaning is…

“How much money am I going to have to invest in equipment and supplies to get started?”

And my answer is always one word…”Depends”.

To begin with asking how much money will it take for me/my business to get into restoration cleaning is like asking how much money will I need to buy a car?


Do you want new or used?

Where are you located?

What fazes of the cleaning process do you want to do in house and what do you want to sub out?

Are there equipment rental facilities near you?

Are you willing to JV with someone else?

Just to name a few.

If you want to buy a car you can go to a Kia dealership or to a Mercedes dealership. Obviously you will be having two very different conversations with your pocket book when you decide which dealership to go shopping at.

The same is very true for getting into the cleaning aspect of restoration.

I know companies that use 48,000 square foot facilities and yet I do all my cleaning in less than 320 square foot of space. So it’s easy to see there are several ways to get the job done.

And obviously there is going to be a huge difference in cost between the two. Insurance, Utilities, initial cost investment, upkeep etc.

However…you have some questions to ask yourself before we can answer the “how much money is it going to cost me” question.

1. What type of services am I going to offer?

2. How much money do I have to invest in startup?

3. What type of Education and Classes do I need to take?

4. What size facility will I need?

5. Employees???

6. What kind of software do I need to bill out to insurance companies?

7. What equipment and supplies will I need?

8. How do I market my services?

Because there are so many questions I am going to break them down over several posts.

So let’s begin…

1. What type of services am I going to offer in house?

Restoration cleaning can be anything from full on handle anything in the house or structure that was damaged or just handling specialty items like area rugs, upholstery or artwork. Some people say that if you don’t handle every single aspect of a job that you won’t get the work but that is not true. I use sub-contractors on my jobs all the time to do work that I don’t have the equipment to handle and don’t want to buy it. Such as piano guy, grandfather clock guy, HVAC guy and maybe plumber guy. 🙂

Now the more services that you handle “in house” the more money that you get to keep in your pocket. But if you are just starting out and are limited on how much you can initially invest then sub-out some of the specialty item cleaning and you can still make a smaller profit percentage until you can invest more in equipment later on as your business grows.

For instance you can do laundry in house and buy an $80,000 Esporta Machine…

Or you can JV with a cleaner to do the laundry for you and you get a percentage of the total billing and not have to put out all that cash or get a loan.

You may also want to offer complete structure cleaning services within your company as well. I would highly recommend this as it does not require a lot of equipment and the profit margins are huge!

As I said earlier you can sub-out to specialty contractors certain pieces of your job but it is very important for you to remain in charge of the quality and service that your sub contractors provide on your job. You will need to have a good understanding and knowledge of what processes are needed for your subs to complete there part of the job so you can inspect what you expect from them.

Another important piece of cleaning belongings is electronics. The equipment to do this can vary from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. So this may be a good item to sub out at first unless you can rent the equipment (which we will talk in detail about on another post) and have the proper training on how to use it.

There is a portable system made by Fireline that is quite inexpensive.

And a system made by Odell that is considerable more.

Both of these systems are good and work well. It again just depends on you and your budget.

The one thing that any homeowner or adjuster is going to want from you is for you to be their one stop shop. They only want to deal with one contractor and write one check in most cases. So the more you are willing to expand and handle under one roof the faster your contents processing business will grow.

Well I hope I have given you lots to think about. And hopefully didn’t freak you out. 🙂

Next post we will talk about question #2 How Much Mullah Is This Gonna Take?


Adding Content Cleaning To Your Cleaning/Restoration Business

If you are currently in anykind of cleaning business and you are not doing fire/soot clean up even on a small level you’re really missing out on a lot of profit.

You may think that fire and soot cleanup is expensive to get into and very labor intensive. But that’s not true.

Yes you can spend tens of thousands of dollars setting up a huge warehouse full of the latest state of the art equipment and there is nothing wrong with that, if you have that kind of money. But if you don’t have a spare stack of money lying around and don’t want to go into debt in order to add fire and soot cleanup to your companies repertoire of services you will be happy to know that for just a small investment you can add a very high profit center to your existing company right now.

So you need to understand that there are several levels of fire and soot cleanup within a cleaning or restoration business. There are huge contents and structure cleaning jobs that take weeks to complete with all the laundry and specialty items to deal with. And there are small jobs that take just 2 or 3 days to complete.

Now obviously there is a huge price range of job invoices as well. A large job can be $50000 or more while a small job may be only a few thousand. And the profit margin can be very high on these jobs so even a “small job” can be huge to add to your bottom line.

You can ease your way into this type of restoration cleaning in several ways. If you are a carpet cleaner you can market your cleaning services to other restoration contractors that don’t offer this type of cleaning within their company.

You can also partner up with a restoration or construction contractor that does not offer any cleaning services, structural or contents, in their business. Let them know that you aren’t looking to compete with them as you are not a building contractor but that you want to create a Joint Venture relationship for the good of both companies.

Depending on the severity of the smoke or soot contamination will determine what kind and how much equipment you will need. Alot of the equipment you can rent and don’t have to buy right away. For instance Air Scrubbers, Air Movers, Ultrasonic Machine and Hydroxyl Generators can all be rented. This can be a very inexpensive alternative to buying this equipment right off as they can cost thousands of dollars.

I have done jobs that took 2 or 3 days to complete, under a thousand dollars worth of equipment and the invoice was almost $7800. With a 72% profit margin! What will that do for your bank account?

The one thing of course you cannot rent and I can’t stress enough, is the education that you need to do these jobs and do them right. It really is the absolute most important tool you will need in this kind of work.

Actually you could just go out buy some buckets and sponges, google fire and soot cleaning and go for it. (Trust me some do)

But I would not recomend it if you want to be successful and build a good refferral based business.

So don’t let startup cost scare you away from what could be one of the best profit centers in your business.

The Miraculous Chem Sponge

I find it funny that we call it a Chem or Chemical Sponge when in fact chemicals have nothing to do with it. I personally think it should be called the Miracle Sponge because I have seen it remove dirt and soot from items that without it there would have been to other way to get the job done.

The Chem Sponge is used for removal of dry dirt, dust, hair and smoke/soot residues. On a lot of surfaces we try to avoid wet cleaning which often leads to smearing, smuding or staining and we can actually do more damage on certain surfaces than the fire did. These 2″ thick, porous dry cleaning chemical sponges are used primarily in smoke and soot removal in fire damage jobs. They work like large “erasers”, these rubber sponges drawing the dust, soot and smoke residue into the cells of the sponge material. They are very soft and squishy and come in about 3 different sizes. I preffer the 6″ ones myself.

We primarily use them on books, photos and artwork. But then can be used in some cases on walls, wood, furniture and specialty collections like porcelain dolls and coins. Basically any item that if it got wet would be damaged either in value or appearance.

The Chem Sponge is also an amazing tool to market your skills and knowledge with. Not only can it show case you ability to get things clean but it is sure to WOW! your client who has probably never even heard of one let alone seen how well they clean otherwise almost impossible to clean items. It allows you to toot your own horn and brag about your knowledge and skills without being offensive.

Using the Chem Sponge to demonstrate your companies cleaning abilities also lets your client and your adjusters know that you care enough to get the job done right using the latest technology and equipment available to you. You would be shocked at how many restoration cleaning contractors out there that do not even know that such a thing as a Chem Sponge exists. They show up to clean with a bucket and a wash cloth from Target. Sounds nuts I know but trust me I’ve seen it.

Here is a training video that I did on one of our recent job sites demonstrating how to do this. Let me know what you think. Do you see any way that you could use this tool to market your Cleaning or Restoration Company?