Browsed by
Tag: fire Restoration

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.

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.

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.



Mental Capital Should Be The Biggest Number On Your Balance Sheet

Mental Capital Should Be The Biggest Number On Your Balance Sheet

If you have been reading my posts at all or have watched any of our videos you know how important we feel education and especially  hands on education is.

We like to call this mental capital.

It’s the one thing that noone can ever take from you. Once you obtain it it’s yours for keeps. And it’s an assett that doesn’t depreciate or drop in value when the stock market dips.

When talking about mental capital in relation to your business the more you have the better you serve your clients. You will become a better communicator, marketer, employer and value provider.

With this in mind there is an event that I want to make sure you have all heard about that is being sponsored by CCINW and CFI in Reno June 27-29.

It’s called the Cleaning College event and here is a link to find out the details and register:

http://cleaningcollege.org/about/

Kevin, Travis and I will be exhibiting with our Mobile Unit at the event.

As with all the other exhibitors we will be doing hands on demonstrations with deordorization, ultrasonic and more.

If you really want to find out the latest techniques and tricks of the trade as well as being able to do hands on stuff this event is something you won’t want to miss. Let me know if you have any questions.

We hope to see you in Reno!

Till then

~Annissa

 

 

Know What You Are Dealing With

Know What You Are Dealing With

f8ab1ec05f08407c1b4dcfc5bdfc7294




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?




How To Build Relationships With Clients

How To Build Relationships With Clients





You would think that building a relationship with a client would be easy and come naturally to most businesses but it does not. In fact many businesses are terrible at building relationships.

Why?

Because they fail to do the one thing that they have to do in order to develop a good, solid, long lasting relationship and that is to make a connection.

A client wants nothing more than to feel that their needs, wants and concerns are cared about and that they will be cared about in the process. A client isn’t stupid either. They will know if you are just going thru the motions or if you are genuine. They can tell if you really care about them or if you just want their check to clear. The motto “fake it till you make it” won’t work for you in this instance. Your client has a choice and you want to be their choice every time hands down.

Think about it. How many times have you walked into a business and felt like you mattered? An even scarier question, how many times have you walked into a business and knew immediately that you didn’t matter at all?

There are companies small and large that do this beautifully.

You know the ones.

There is the coffer shop that has your drink made before you even step thru the door. The car wash that remembers your favorite fresh car smell and makes sure that the driver’s seat is always put back in your favorite spot before you get in to drive away. And even the online store that ships your orders to you next day for free.

You go back to these places and would never consider going anywhere else because you have a connection with them and know that your needs, wants and ultimately your happiness matters to them. That you matter to them.

So how do you make a strong, solid, long lasting connection?

1. Create Outrageous Value~ Give your client over the top outrageous value. Deliver above and beyond their expectations and deliver more than you promise to the point that they think WOW every time they interact with you or your business.

2. Ask Them What They Want~ Don’t sit and wonder what your client wants or needs or worse yet think you already know. Check in them to make sure you are both on the same page. Ask them what they want from you and then give it to them.

3. Listen When They Talk~ You client knows better than anyone what you need to do to connect with them. So ask them constantly. Check in verbally often and then take action on what they tell you. If you don’t they will know you really do not care and they will feel you aren’t listening to them.

4. Atmosphere~ Make sure that the culture and atmosphere in your company makes your clients feel welcome and cared about. Even if your business doesn’t have a retail store front and you only talk to clients on the phone this is vital. Atmosphere is portrayed in your décor, cleanliness, tone of voice, words, smile, actions and location of a retail establishment. Be sure it says you matter.

5. Education Based Marketing~ Your client is not a mindless drone. They are a person who wants to be able to do the right thing and make an informed decision when it comes to spending their money. So it is your job to inform them why your business is the best place for them to spend their money and there is no better way to do that than to educate them about your product, service, etc. and what they need to be looking for from you. It’s a great way to ethically brag about yourself and your business while creating reciprocity with your clients.

6. Be Ethical~ Creating a strong company culture that always puts ethics first. If you want a relationship and connection with your clients then they have to know, like and trust you. Never waver on this. If a client feels treated badly and lets face it, this can happen in the best of businesses, fix it immediately. Once you have lost a clients trust it can be all but impossible to earn it back.

Gone are the days of transactions in business. Clients are way savvier than that and demand that you earn their respect and their money by being in a relationship with them. And the good news is that there are so many terrible businesses out there doing just the opposite that they actually make it quite easy for someone like you that cares and wants to connect to swoop in and be the hero.

If you nail this in your business you will be guaranteed success and never worry about competition again.