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?


The Secret Piece Of Cleaning And Restoration That Has More Profit Than Any Other Piece Hands Down!

It continues to astound me that so many Cleaning and Restoration companies walk away from tons of profit on almost every single job. With just a little bit more effort you could be smiling just like her all the way to the bank.

And why would you ignore a 65 to 75% profit margin that is yours for the taking??

Why would you not want to do something that can gross you up to $25000 or more in as little as 7 days?

Would I have your attention if I told you that you can get paid on your invoice almost immediately upon completion?

How about if you could add this profit center to your business for less than it would cost you to buy two air movers?

Other aspects of the Cleaning and Restoration industry can cost tens of thousands of dollars to get into. This piece can cost as little as a few hundred dollars to start up.

And the funny thing is most of you are already doing it for your clients but you’re not doing all of it and leaving a lot of money on the table in the process.

The part that is so frustrating for me is the reason companies don’t want to deal with this piece of the job is that they assume that it’s gonna be difficult and just donâ’t want to be hassled with it. They just want to get on with the dry out or the remediation because they think that’s where all the money is at.

Well if that is what you think let me tell you you’re dead wrong!

Yep you guessed it. I’m talking about contents.:)

Look you can say you don’t do contents but you are only fooling yourself. And you would be wrong. Because if you are in this business dealing with cleaning carpets, rugs or mitigation work then you are dealing with contents whether you like it or not. And most often I find that businesses don’t like it at all so they just look the other way and stack all those personal items in the center of the room and pretend that they don’t exist.

In essence what they do when doing this is literally ignore money. Just doesn’t make any sense does it?

Contents remediation and processing is not only one of the highest profit margins in Cleaning and Restoration but it really is not difficult to deal with. I promise.:)

You of course need the proper education and systems in place to handle the job. I mean you wouldn’t dream of buying a van and a truck mount and just start sucking water out of someone’s house without having the proper paperwork in place, certifications and getting educated about the process right??

To ignore them will not only hurt your bottom line but will tell your homeowner that you don’t care about them. Cause that’s the message that they will get loud and clear.

A key component to handling contents successfully and making lots of high profit is to ask your homeowner what their concerns are right up front. And if their concern is the grand piano then handle it right away. If the biggest concern is her wedding dress then handle it right away.

Where the problem arises is when we don’t address these things right away in the beginning of the job. And that is where the fear of contents comes from when these horror stories start circulating about cleaners having to buy $7000 pool tables and $10000 diamond rings gone missing. If you look a little closer you almost always find a cleaner or contractor who ignored the pool table and the ring to begin with thus creating their own nightmare.

If they had just given the pool table a little bit of their attention they could have been paid a lot of money to clean it instead. I have billed as high as $1500 to handle a pool table and it only took me 2 hours to do it.

Not a bad ROI!:)

So the moral to this rant is…

Don’t turn your back on money that is laying around for you on almost every job you are already handling. Putting it in your bank account makes a whole lot more sense to me.

I’m just sayin:)

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.

Hazmat Situation

Another family needs our help.

This time the call came from Lewiston Idaho when a daybed caught fire and put a family in the Hospital. They are all ok after just one night but their ordeal is far from over.

I want to give you an inside tour of what it’s like to be on the scene in a hazmat severe fire damage situation. This is Day One.

We are in full PPE gear to protect ourselves. For the video we did not have our full respirators on but did put them on afterwards as we realized that the soot and debris was still heavy in the air.

Now it’s time to start the clean up and restoration process so this family can start healing.

Make A Connection

The only thing you should be thinking about when you arrive on an Emergency Call Out is what can I do to connect?

Now I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking no the first thing to think about is…Who is the insurance company? Is there going to be coverage? How long will this take to fix? How am I going to add this job to my already overloaded job board?  Am I right?:)

I get that these are all really good and important things to think about. I teach the “how to do these steps” in my classes. And there is a time to find out these things but its not in the initial moments of arriving on the scene. I mean if there is’nt coverage for this loss let’s say, that’s pretty darn important to know right up front. But you can find that out at the end of your first conversation with the homeowner not the beginning.

People need to know that you really care about what happens to them. Not their insurance policy.

Those first few minutes should be completely commited to making a connection with your potential new client. You won’t find a better time to seal that bond then right at the beginning of your hopefully mutually valuable relationship.

There are lots of ways to connect with someone. And it’s different with each person. The best way I’ve found is to listen. If you ask they will tell you.

People like to tell their story and someone who has just had a fire or a sewer backup has a BIG story to tell.

Ask them “what happened?”

Then listen…

Listen for them to tell you exactly what they need from you and then give it to them.

Instant connection. It’s really that simple.