Browsed by
Tag: Annissa Coy

The Hazards Of Restoration On A Hoarder Job

The Hazards Of Restoration On A Hoarder Job

1-RR0716-Contents-Corner-Inside-a-Hoard

When it comes to dealing with a fire there are many challenges. And if you find yourself in a situation where you are dealing with a homeowner who has been hoarding, there will be unique challenges that you will need to navigate.

There are lots of articles that have been written going in-depth on the psychological side of hoarding and its impact. It would serve you well to read some of them if you are going to tackle contents cleaning jobs that involve a hoarder so you are better equipped to help your client on a psychological level in these types of scenarios.

People become hoarders for many reasons:

  • Depression (by far the most common)
  • Trauma (death, divorce, abuse, loss of some kind)
  • OCD/ADD/ADHD
  • Heredity (grew up in a hoarding home) and Genetics
  • Fear of becoming poor
  • Fear of forgetting (items hold memories)
  • Perfectionists (until they find the perfect spot for something….)
  • Don’t want to be wasteful
  • Brain Injuries/Stroke/Anneurysm
  • Dimentia
  • To Push Others Away/Safety
  • Kleptomania/Impulse Control
  • And literally hundreds of other reasons

Understanding these reasons will go a long way in helping you understand your client and how best to handle the cleanup with them.

Here is a recent article that I wrote for Restoration and Remediation Magazine where I go into the steps that are necessary to be able to handle a job like this.

Check it out and let me know what experience you have had working in a home where someone has been hoarding.

Don’t Make This Mistake In Your Business

Don’t Make This Mistake In Your Business


It is a huge mistake and one that is quite easy to make even for a seasoned veteran.

Don’t let your knowledge and expertise get in the way of helping your client with what they need from you the most.





Some Key Information For Those Affected By Wild Fires

Some Key Information For Those Affected By Wild Fires

Carlsbad fires 2014

 

Wildfires are a huge tragedy in our country.

Every year millions of acres and hundreds of thousands of home are affected by them. The cost not only to the Departments and Agencies that fight them but to the innocent homeowners is astronomical.

Statistics for 2012 show that 67,774 wildfires burned more than 9.3 million acres in the United States costing the US Government almost $2 Billion trying to suppress them.

The tough part is that this cost the statistics show are not taking into account the emotional and mental price that some endure when caught in the path of such a destructive force.

When I decided to get into this industry more than 14 years ago it was because I wanted to help families and homeowners weave their way thru the difficult maze of fear and shock that they inadvertently found themselves in when they are thrown into a situation that was neither their fault or their choice.

My heart hurts for all the the families and innocent people that have recently found themselves in the midst of the wildfires that are ravaging Carlsbad and areas in Southern California. There have been lives, family pets, homes and untold amounts of precious keepsakes lost in the blink of an eye.

A good friend of mine once asked me if I had a super power what would it be? I didn’t know what to say at the time But now I know. It would be the power to wipe out a fire when it was just a small tiny flame stopping it from growing into a raging inferno that devours all in its wake.

Unfortunately I possess no such super power so I will do what I can. Which is to help with educating those who have been affected so that they can take some control over their situation.

So I am writing this post not only for those who have been affected but also for any Restoration Companies that are helping clean up after these fires in hopes that this information will reach those who need it.

In my experience there are 3 key things you need to know if you live in an area that has been affected by a wildfire. There is a very different criteria with a wildfire verses a regular house fire. In a regular house fire you can usually see the damage caused by the flames but when it is a wildfire most often you cannot. So those affected don’t even realize that they have damage in their home or to their belongings. I hope you find these helpful in someway either for yourself or for someone you know and please pass this information on.

1. Your home and belongings may be covered with smoke or soot even though you cannot see it: You cannot always see smoke and soot intrusion with the naked eye or by wiping your hand over a surface. (which I do not recommend using your hand as the oils on your skin can actually cause more damage if there is soot present on the area you touch) Have your home and your belongings tested for damage. A Certified Cleaning and Restoration Company can easily do this testing for you. When testing they will use a special sponge to wipe different areas and surfaces in your home so they can see what areas are affected and how badly. When your home is in an area ravaged by a wildfire the smoke and soot can travel a long distance depending on wind and get sucked into your heating and air-conditioning unit. Even though you can’t see it on your walls, furniture and horizontal surfaces, your home could be covered in harmful soot.

2. What you can do to help minimize damage:  Assuming you have already called your insurance company, there are some very important things you can do yourself once you know that your home or belongings have smoke and soot intrusion to prevent further damage. As I mentioned above have your home tested by a professional to see what if any you have for affected areas. Changing out the filter on your furnace/air-conditioner right away is a good idea. It will likely be done again once your air ducts are cleaned and furnace checked out but that could take some time to get done and in the meantime your filter is probably full and unable to let your system breathe. Put vaseline on any faucets or metal fixtures in your house that you have been affected. Soot is very corrosive to metals. Remove your house plants and replace their soil after soaking them throughly to rinse off any soot and smoke from their roots or leaves. Some insurance policies do not cover house plants so if you want to save them its up to you. Also if you have an aquarium your fish inside it may not be covered either. Regardless you must act quickly to save them. Remove them right away from the affected area. Clean the filter system and replace the water in the tank as soon as possible. Keep your house temperature cool. When the temperatures rise it causes pores to expand and allows the smoke and soot to penetrate deeper into some materials. If you have corian or granite counters wipe them off with a wet soft cloth. Do not eat open food from affected areas such as fruit on the counter, open bread or crackers that may be sitting out. This includes open containers of dog or cat food as it can make your pet sick if it is contaminiated. Do not turn on computers or electronics until they have been looked at by a professional to make sure they are not contaminated. Turning them on could cause damage. Remove fire arms if you have any in your home and take them to a gun smith to be looked at as soot can etch them very badly and most restoration companies will not handle or transport firearms. Save your receipt for this as you may be able to get reimbursed under your contents policy. Hire a professional Restoration company that is experienced with this type of cleaning once you have checked their references. Ask to see the testimonial from their last fire cleanup job.

3. What not to do: Do not wash affected laundry in your own washer or dryer as it can damage them. Do not start throwing things away that you feel is damaged beyond saving as you may be able to get reimbursed for such items under your contents policy once your adjuster has seen them and they are inventoried. Do not use your household vacuum to clean up soot from furniture or carpets as you will contaminate it. (This may not apply if the vacuum is already contaminated by the fire and you feel that using it to get soot off of other items that may help save them) Do not wash contaminated dishes in your dishwasher. Do not handle this on your own or with the help of a neighbor down the street. It is usually a recipe for disaster as this type of work is a very specialized field and takes a well trained professional to get the job done thoroughly.

It is your decision and yours alone who you choose to hire to handle the clean up in your home or business.

I hope you have found this information helpful. It is important to know that you are responsible in the eyes of the insurance company as the insured to mitigate and take any necessary action to stop further damage or loss to your property. That may be but not limited to some of the items I have mentioned above. The most important thing you can do is hire the right professionals to help you by making sure that they provide you with references and guarantees on their work.

If you have any questions or further topics you would like me to cover please comment below this post.

I wish you all the best.

Annissa

Do You Clean It Or Is It Destroyed?

Do You Clean It Or Is It Destroyed?

1932241_10152814515939754_3711799629136289471_n





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.(this may vary depending on your demographics)

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.




Be Completely Dedicated To Your Work

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...

Do You Think I Am A Ten??

Do You Think I Am A Ten??

I often wonder if business owners ever ask their clients this question.

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.



The Devastation Is Far From Over

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!!

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

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

100-guarantee-100-guarantee-seal-1




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 heavan 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 hold 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 16 years we have only been called back twice. Once was a hot water tank 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.

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

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.

Going Out Of Business

Going Out Of Business

images-67

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 checkout our upcoming class dates and let us show you the way to higher profits.