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.

It’s Whats On The Inside That Counts

We go to great lengths in our business to make a good impression on our clients. We pay big bucks to put expensive graphics on our vehicles and put our team in nice professional looking uniforms. We spend thousands of dollars on training and certifications not to mention phone book ads, pens and coffee mugs with our logo on them.

But are we missing the little things that matter most and actually cost nothing to do?

It’s one of those little things that I want to talk to you about.

How are you packing your boxes?

Funny question huh? But a very important one.

I’ve had clients tell me that they felt confident and secure in our company just by seeing how we placed items in their boxes after cleaning their contents.

Using bubble wrap and packing like kind items together such as glass with glass and books with books, let’s your client know I care without you saying a word.

Some companies even put a business sized card on the inside of every box that they pack that says “Packed With Care By ________” so the client actually knows the name of the person that handled their things.

What an awesome personal touch!

How does that song go…”You say it best when you say nothing at all”…? How true.

If you are gone and your client is unpacking their own boxes what are they going to feel about your company when they open one up? What are they going to feel when they see how you taped up the outside of the boxes and put fragile or do not stack stickers on them?

Will they feel special? Cared for? Or will they feel unimportant?

So what does your packing say to your clients….?

Remember people forget what we say and what we do but they never forget how we make them feel.

Just something to think about…:)

Here’s a short video of Travis showing students how to properly pack contents in one of our Firehouse Classes.

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?

Cool Toys We Get To Use

It’s not only cool that we get to do what it is we do but it is also cool that we get to use some of the most sophisticated equipment around:)

The Ultrasonic machine is one of my favs.

Not only is it a very impressive technical machine but it does some really neat stuff too!

Just watch the video and you will see what I mean.

Less Stress Less Headaches…Sound Pretty Good?

Hi Everyone,

I am really excited about this post. I know I have been a little lax with posting this past month so please forgive me:) I was traveling to visit my grandkids quite a bit and got pretty side tracked.

But watch out…I’m back and I’m excited!

So I can see by my husband’s Facebook that he has been teasing you all with a little project that we have are working on. Kevin has a reputation for having quite a sense of humor but let me reassure you this is no laughing matter and he’s are not playing around.

Early on in our business we knew that we needed to have good, reliable, easy to use systems in place. Otherwise we would create a great company with even greater headaches. We wanted to enjoy our business not be consumed by it.

Some would say that money is the biggest concern for businesses right now but I would disagree. I think it’s stress and not feeling like we have enough time to take care of everything.

Trust me we have had our share of pain in business. In fact on one extremely painful 12 hour day after being chewed up and spit out by a very ticked off client on the phone I decided enough was enough!

I was tired of not knowing whether or not our clients were all being cared for in the same WOW fashion no matter what technician was on the job? Or wondering if my referrals knew how happy our clients were? Tired of wondering if we had good and consistent communication with our clients on all contact levels? Were we following thru with before, during and after marketing and care of our clients? Wondering how I was going to have enough time in the day to check up on all of these critical touch points in our business!!!

How could we keep up with all of this when we couldn’t afford to hire more staff?


We set out to create something that took only minutes of our time, was super easy to access and easy enough a child could do it.

After many many months of analyzing, tracking and dissecting every stage of our client touch points it became clear what was needed.

So we immediately created it and put it in place and in the first year it completely transformed how we do business. I really don’t know how we survived without it.

Seriously no hype here guys we want to give this to you.

We know that it can help a small business look like a rock star and keep a large company from going crazy:)

So stay tuned and we will post it for all of you real soon.

Till Then,

The Psychology Of A Fire

This is probably the most important topic that I am going to talk about on this blog. It’s the one thing that you can’t be ok at or even pretty good at.

You need to be the best at it.

The range of emotions that someone goes thru when they find themselves going thru a fire in their home is pretty intense. The will feel scared, angry, violated, vulnerable, depressed and confussed.

They might even feel all of these at once:(

This can pose a very intimidating sitiation for any Contents Restoration company to handle. That’s why it’s so important to have the right tools and capabilities in your tool box.

You and your team need to be willing and able to help your client not only thru understanding what to do next but how to do it. This takes compassion, understanding, patience and the ability to connect in a huge way with your client in just a few hours. Most of our fire jobs only last about 7 days. That doesn’t leave me or my team alot of time to build a close relationship with the homeowner. Yet that is exactly what we need to do so they feel comfortable taking our advise and allowing us the kind of freedom we need to get the job done.

The last thing you want is to find yourself in a situation with a homeowner that is suspicous of you and doesn’t trust you. If this is where the relationship is at from the get go, you might as well walk away from the job. It will save you and the client a lot of heartache later on.

Helping them handle the letting go process takes them trusting you and is just as much your job as helping them understand how to talk with their adjuster about the payment process of their claim.

I had the privilege of having Dr, Ned Hallowell, an expert psychologist on ADHD and ADD, tour our Mobile Clean Unit and talk with him about how we walk our clients thru the emotional side of a loss.

His feedback was really awesome!

Family Pictures And Personal Papers??

I have had several emails from students asking “how do you deal with family pictures and personal paper work?”

So I did this short video to show you just how we handle them on our jobsites.

It’s really important to be organized with what we call “return to homeowner boxes.” These are small boxes full of personal papers and photos that we need the homeowners to sort thru and either photo copy things they need to keep or throw away the paperwork that they can live without.

These items (excluding photos) are usually not really important and just aren’t cost effective for us to clean. Sealing them in heavy duty plastic bags keeps any smoke odor or contamination from getting out of the boses and into their house until they have had a chance to go thru them.

Photos we always clean with a chemical sponge and then baggie them according to photo album or container that they were stored in.

Some Of The Items We Saved

This is why we do what we do. To be able to give back even just a little bit of what they had before the fire.

With the technology and specialty processes that we have in this industry we can save more and more items from being on the logged destroyed list.

Sometimes it even astounds us at how much you can do with the right knowledge and equipment.