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

We Decided To Put On An Extra Class…You Coming?

Due to popular demand we have decided to add an extra class into our schedule this year.

Normally our schedule is April and October. But for those of you that missed our Spring class the good news is you won’t have to wait until October to add a huge high value service to your cleaning business.

We have added a special class this June on the 12th and 13th at our Washington State location.

What will the class cover?

How Much will I need to invest?

Check out the details here and see what our students have to say about Firehouse.

www.firehouseeducation.com/upcoming-classes

See you in class!! 🙂

Talk soon,

Annissa

Do You Clean It Or Is It Destroyed?

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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

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...

Going Out Of Business

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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.



Know What You Are Dealing With

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When cleaning someones home you will come across some pretty interesting stuff at times. On this particular job we came across this unique piece of history.

We had the fun of cleaning an antique slot machine that was handed down to our homeowner by her father when he passed away.

The very first nickel slot machine was created in 1893 by Gustav Schultze. This particular slot machine we cleaned is from the 1960’s and was one of the first of its kind to allow a player to play with 5 nickels at once. Now I have never put money into a slot machine so I don’t even understand the significance of this but it sure sounds pretty cool. 🙂

Now the home owner does have a rider on her insurance policy for this piece as it has an official appraisal and is worth $24000! So one of the first questions that we ask a home owner on the very first day of every job is “do you have any riders on your insurance policy?”

Not only is this important to know when cleaning something as you may decide not to use an aggressive cleaner on something that has antique value for fear of removing delicate finishes but you will want to charge more for handling the item. You have a lot more at risk when you are handling a single item that if damaged could cost you a ton of money.

On one job I was paid $1500 just to bubble wrap and transport a table valued at $18000+ to another speciality contractor to be refinished. I charged more than just Xactimate pricing when I clean a piece like this slot machine.

If you are a cleaner or restorer what is the mosty expensive or most unique item you have been asked to clean?




What Equipment Will I Need??

So this question goes back to my original post How Much $$ It Really Takes? and it has the same answer…It Depends.

It depends on what services are you going to do completely in house and what aspects of the cleaning and restoration are you going to sub to others? So you need to have decided at this point what services you are definitely going to offer. Remember the more you offer the better chance you have of getting the job as insurance companies don’t want to deal with a bunch of different contractors on each job and the homeowners want one go to company so they feel like they are in good hands.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t sub out specialty things like textiles, grand father clocks and artwork. I am just saying the more you handle within your company the more control you have over the job and the insurance company as well as the homeowner will see that.

The equipment and supplies that you will need will depend on what you decide. You can start out small and always grow into more in house services too. I like this concept because it means you don’t have a huge initial outlay before you even know if you are really that crazy about contents and structure cleaning. I will talk about the supply side of things in my next post.

Another good thing to think about is that if you even just dabble into the cleaning side of restoration it can help you secure reconstruction jobs as well if that is your main focus by getting your foot in the door so to speak.

Now that being said let us talk about equipment. J

I am going to talk about several pieces of equipment from several companies and let you know what I have found that I like to use. That doesn’t mean other equipment isn’t any good it means this is what I’ve found I like.

And as far as the little pieces like hammers, screw drivers, scissors, etc. I am not going to get into great detail about most of these little tools as their cost is very nominal in price at about $50-$100 total.

Industrial Hepa Vacuum~ This is a must have piece if you will be doing any kind of restoration cleaning. Not only will it remove soot particles without smearing on things like fabrics, paper and unfinished wood but it won’t throw what you are removing right back into the air. It is so vital to remove even the tiniest bit of smoke or soot particles as they will cause odor.

There are many different types and models. Pullman Holt is the brand that I like but there are many others out there as well. I use the large canister type mostly but also really like the back pack model. Whatever you use you just need to make sure that you have a good assortment of attachments that come with it. The price of a good Hepa Vacuum can range from about $500-$1500. Replacement filters for these little babies can also be something to consider when deciding which model to buy. Mine costs about $350 each to replace but some can cost as much as $800 each when you need to replace them.

The price may also determine which type you use at first as well as the size you choose. The backpack style is definitely cheaper in price than say the canister is. And they have a 3 gallon and a 5 gallon model that are priced differently as well. What I like most about the Pullman Holt is their quality. I have had mine for 9 years and have never had any problems with it. It takes a beating and keeps on going. 🙂

Air Scrubber~ There are several different sizes of air scrubbers. I use the Hepa500 from Dri-Eze because it is so easy to move around and travel with. The size of your air scrubber will determine how much volume of air space that it can handle. So you may need more Air Scrubbers if they are smaller and you have a larger area to clean but if they are smaller they may be easier for you and your team to manipulate.

The purpose of the Air Scrubber is to remove the millions of particulates in the air from the loss be it fire, water, sewer backup, etc. After a fire in particular the air inside the structure is extremely full or debris and you nor your team should be breathing that. The proper amount of Air Scrubbers should be running as long as you are in the structure. The cost can be from about $550-$1200.





Air Compressor~ You will need this to blow out certain items that can usually only be cleaned using dry processes or to remove loose soot particles before wet cleaning an item. The Compressor can be basic. The one I use is a Makita from Home Depot and it is a small portable one. Mine cost about $280.

Ozone Generator~ Ozone is a proven deodorizer and works very well. However I will tell you that I don’t like to use it. It leaves a chemical smell on object that takes several days if not weeks to air out and it is very dangerous and can kill humans, animals and plants. Cost is about $800.

Hydroxyl Generator~ Hydroxyl is a natural process that is used to deodorize and disinfect areas and surfaces. I have used Hydroxyl for almost 3 years now and find it to be very effective on all odors. The thing I love most about this machine is that it is completely safe for humans, plants and animals to be in the area while it is being used unlike Ozone.

Unlike Ozone there is no chemical smell after you shut the machine off. It actually smells like nothing just fresh air. Ozone also can damage many things like leather and rubber where Hydroxyl does not. It is completely safe. Hydroxyl not only deodorizes contents but all structure components as well.

The downside is that this machine runs about $3000. This is something that can be rented however to ease the financial burden.

Airmover~ There are several models and types of airmovers. And they range in price from about $200 to $800 depending on the make and model. You can also rent these for as little as $20 per day from a commercial rental store.

The important thing here is to buy a professional airmover not a fan from Home Depot. You will need airmovers to use Ozone and Hydroxyl Generators as well as to dry out items that have maybe gotten wet from the fire department putting out the fire. You will also need one or two for your drying room to dry contents that you have wet cleaned.

Dehumidifier~ This is definitely a piece of equipment that you can rent just like the airmover. The Dehu is not something that you will need on every job either if you are dealing with mostly fire clean ups. You will always need them on water, sewer back and possibly trauma scene clean ups. In case you have never used one before they are for pulling moisture out of the air that is usually put there by the airmovers that you have set on the jobsite. It costs about $70 to $120 per day to rent and anywhere from $1400 to $4000 to buy.

Ultrasonic Machine~ This is my favorite piece of equipment to play I mean work J with. The Ultrasonic is the most valuable brilliant piece of equipment when doing contents cleaning and restoration. Not only can you clean items faster but also better than you ever could by hand.

Now this little baby is quite expensive at about $13000 to $16000. However you can rent them as well. You may even be able to partner with a blind cleaning company to lease use of one they might have. This would be a piece that I would highly recommend that you buy as soon as you can. I have seen them for as little as $5000 used.

Now they come in many sizes so you want to be sure to get one that would be big enough say to fit a large laundry hamper in. This size will allow you to clean items like electronic as well. If you are going to clean electronics with it you will need to use special chemicals and deionized water.

You can find table top models that are much cheaper but really don’t do you much good for contents cleaning as most contents wont fit in them and it will slow up your process a lot.

Electronics Cleaning System~ The Odell system for electronics cleaning is a really good system. As is the Fireline portable system pictured to the right. The price of these systems can range from $700 to as high as $25000. So this is not a purchase that I would recommend until you are definitely serious about contents.

Electronics are a high profit item however it also an easy item to sub out to another company that has all the big expensive equipment. You still make good money when you sub it out but defiantly not as much as if you did them in house. But just like the Ultrasonic Machine I would recommend making sure you are ready to make this kind of big investment especially when you can lease or rent these for way less than purchasing and save your cash flow in the beginning.

Esporta System~ This lovely little unit is used to clean laundry, shoes, purchases, belts, hats and pretty much anything that we call soft items. It can also clean stuffed animals, some toys, etc. The Esporta Machine can run as high as $80000 so again this would something I would purchase after I had my company up and running to the point where I was able to be serious about taking on laundry type items.

You can also use this machine to do these types of damaged items for other companies as well to make some money.

 I personally have always used a garment cleaning service for my soft contents because I do my contents mobile. This is definitely not something that you need in the beginning or even at all. There are many contents cleaning and restoration companies that sub this kind of work out rather than handle it on there own. I do want to stress however that there is really really good money to be made in laundry.

Truck Mount or Portable Cleaning Unit~ When cleaning contents you will be dealing with upholstery, mattresses, certain drapes, pillows and rugs. These items will most likely need to be cleaned using a professional steam cleaning unit.

There are basically two types. One is called a truck or trailer mount and the other is a hot water extraction portable unit.

Now I want to make sure and clarify that I am not talking about going to the grocery store and renting a Rug Doctor when I say a portable cleaning unit. Those types of unprofessional units will only damage contents not clean them.

I have pictured here a van and two different types of trailer mounted units as well as a very good professional portable unit. The price range for these can be anywhere from $70000 to $4000.

I want to stress that you do not need to own any of these units to be able to clean contents and structure. This is a very easy item that you can find a good sub contractor to do for you.

I have used a portable from US Products and several truck mount type cleaning units and they have all been really good. I am not going to get into which truck mount unit is better than another because that would be a very long post with way too many opinions I am sure. 🙂

I also want to touch on textiles for a moment. I am actually going to direct you over to my friend Lisa Wagner to let her give you the expert opinion on rugs. Textiles are a very unique piece of contents cleaning and restoration and should only be handled within your company once you have a trained Textile Pro on your team and the right equipment to take care of them. Lisa does offer world class training and education if you want to delve into that niche.

Well I know that this was a long post but I hope you gained some value and tons of knowledge about what equipment is need to clean contents as well as structures that have been damaged in a loss of some kind. Please don’t be shy let me know if you have any questions or need any help finding any of these pieces.

Next we are going into the supplies you will need and how much you will need to initially invest in them.

~Annissa

The Difference Between The Client And The Customer





Before we can talk about the difference between the client and the customer I thought we should look up the definition of each.

And this is what I found:

A Customer:A person or organization that buys goods or services from a store or business. A party that receives or consumes products

A Client: One that is under the protection of another :dependant on.

This really fits how I describe the difference between the two. You see a customer is a transaction and a client is a relationship.

Customers are what we get when we take a persons money and do nothing to create a connection with them and not worry about ever getting them to spend their money again with us sometime in the future.

A Client is what we create when we make a connection and build a relationship with a person or business that can benefit from using our products or services. It’s what we get when we get to know the person who may someday hand us over their hard earned money knowing that we will be there for them and take good care of them. A Client is what we create when we create an experience around the relationship we build with them.

So ask yourself…Do I have customers or clients in my business?

I hope you answered the latter. If not you need to go back to the drawing board and create a system that enables you to turn those customers into relationships.

To really get the magnitude of this topic you really need to think about the lifetime value of a client vs. just having a customer.

Let’s use a pest control business as an example. Say an average client will spend $150 a year on services keeping the bugs away. And let’s say your average client is with your for 10 years and refers another 5 clients to use your services. That is a lifetime value of $9000.

Now let’s consider that you treat this client like a customer instead and they only have a transaction with you not a relationship and that one transaction goes badly. It is estimated that customers will tell twice as many people about a bad experience than a good one. So that means that by having this person or business as a customer not a client you just lost $16,500! As you can see having customers not clients has an exponential effect on your bottom line. Now if you are a Restoration contractor you can add another zero or two to this equation.

Not to mention is costs a lot more money to get a client than to keep one. Let’s talk about keeping a client.

In order to get a client you need to build a relationship in the first place. To be able to keep a client and have them referring their family and friends you need nurture and care for that relationship on a regular basis. The way we build relationships are thru experiences.

“People may not remember exactly what you said or did but they will always remember how you made them feel” Tony Hsieh

The question then to ask yourself is how are you making your clients feel before, during and after doing business with you?

Do they feel important?

Do they feel that you care about them?

Do they feel like they can trust you?

These are such critical questions that we all as business owners need to explore. Do we have the customer or the client?

A book that I would highly recommend you put on your must read book list is The Starbucks Experience by Joseph A. Michelli. This book has the principles to help you turn the ordinary into the extraordinary for your clients who will love you for years and years to come.

How To Make Sure Your Client Is Happy

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The best way to make sure your client is happy is to ask them. Every business should be gathering feedback from their clients. A really good way to do this is to ask for a testimonial at the end of every experience with your company.

You can do this in a variety of ways. It can be gotten in writing or maybe even in video format. Video is my favorite because it is so powerful to see and hear people talking about how fantastic your company is rather than reading words. This can be difficult to get as some people are just too shy and don’t want to be on camera in which case a written testimonial will suffice.

There are two reasons why getting a testimonial are so important. One is you will have social proof that your company is a rock star and that your clients are happy with your products or services. The other is you will definitely know if you are doing everything right for your clients and more importantly what you are doing wrong.

Why is knowing the wrong more important?

Because then you can fix it. You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken right?

Too many businesses just assume that they are delivery what their clients want and don’t ask them. Getting a testimonial is also very powerful for your Team or Staff as well. If your Team members know that they are expected to gather a testimonial from each and every client asking how their experience was don’t you think they are going to be very focused on taking extraordinary care of their clients so they gat a raving review?

This is also very powerful for your clients especially if you and your Team let them know at the beginning of your relationship with them that you will wow them with an exceptional experience as you plan on getting an outstanding testimonial from them at the end. This is a great way to set the tone for the client right in the beginning letting them know that you plan to wow them. It also let’s them know that you care and that they are not just money going into your bank account. Their feelings matter to you as the owner and that is how you make a connection.

Once you gather these testimonials you need to read each and every one of them. If there are improvements to be made do them immediately. If you and your Team are doing certain things that your clients love then do more of them.

Trust me this will set you apart from the majority of businesses today. Think about it. How many times have you been asked by a business that you just gave your money to if you had an extraordinary experience with them? I’ll bet not too many. Most businesses are afraid to ask because the answer might me I’m not happy. How powerful is that to know? It may be more important than knowing what you are doing right. Because you can be doing 5 things right and doing just 1 wrong thing may be what’s turning your clients away.

I would be willing to bet that some of the answers that you get will shock you. You have to remember that you are not your client and what may be important to you they may not really care about. But what you will also find out is the little details that really do matter to them.

It’s important to not create work for your clients in this process. Make this an easy thing for them to do. Have a written set of questions for them to answer with an area at the bottom of your form for them to just share any thoughts with you that they would like to.

Here are a few examples of some questions to ask when gathering testimonials:

  1. What product or service did you buy from Xyz Company?
  2. Would you do business with Xyz Company again?
  3. How did you hear about us?
  4. What were one or two important benefits that you got from Xyz Company?
  5. How could we have made your experience with our company any better?
  6. Will you recommend our product or services to others?
  7. Anything else you would like to share about your experience with Xyz Company?

These are just few examples but I think you get the idea. You want to also have an opening sentence or two explaining why their feedback is important as well as a thank you statement at the end.

The little details that you will derive from these testimonials will help you create the most amazing experience yet for your clients.

This is so important for us to be able to make a real connection with our clients especially in restoration work. We deal with our clients at a very emotional and difficult time in thier lives. They have never needed our understanding, compassion and to know that we care about them then right now.

And that is where the magic happens.

In the little details that make your client feel special, taken care of and like they matter to you. You can give them hope that things will be normal again soon. These details may be something that you would never think of on your own and you wouldn’t know if you didn’t ask.

And the not knowing could be the difference between your success and your failure to give your clients a WOW! experience.

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

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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