Contents has become the new hot button of the restoration industry and renewed insurer interest means new opportunities. Unfortunately, the contents departments of many restoration companies are not equipped to take advantage of this trend. The reality is many companies would prefer not to do contents because they view it as the least viable part of their business. This lack of interest often translates into turnaround delays and sporadic restoration quality.
As demand for quality contents restoration intensifies, doing just an average job may not be good enough. Companies will need to bring their “A” game in order to land a spot on the preferred contractors list. For some companies, only a tune up and realignment of services may be needed. But for many others this means drastically changing course and making tough decisions that have been postponed for too long. Before embarking on a contents division makeover, it may be beneficial to look at contents from the view point of the adjuster and determine a course of action that will facilitate the needs of all parties concerned.
What adjusters really need?
Everyone in this business knows that restoration is a demanding occupation and things can get hectic in a hurry. Restoration contractors frequently face deadlines and are always under pressure to perform professionally. But consider for a moment the position of an insurance adjuster who just got handed a half million dollar loss. The homeowners are distraught and want their life back and desperately need their prized and irreplaceable possessions returned in new condition. Pressure from the homeowner to deliver on a promise of a job well done can be intense. The pressure from corporate for quick turnaround and job settlement within the allotted parameters of the claim can be even more daunting.
It’s the age-old battle, restorers feel they’re not being paid enough and insurers think they’re paying too much. It seems that battle lines are always being drawn in the sand. Restorers throughout the country have had both positive and negative experiences when dealing with adjusters. When things don’t go our way, it is usually due to lack of communication and misinterpretation of previous discussions.
Professionals have respect for each other’s point of view and always look for common ground. Being transparent with all business dealings and intensifying communications cultivates a feeling of trust and is key to developing long-term win-win relationships. Consider these points as you begin to restructure your contents operations.
Cleaning quality is king!
Bringing your “A” game means acknowledging that cleaning quality is king. It’s impossible to build a successful contents cleaning division without putting cleaning quality front and center. Cleaning quality is of such concern to insurers that they would rather write off the loss than entrust the job to a company with a history of delivering mediocre cleaning quality.
Many of us have been through the following scenario, delivering freshly cleaned contents back to the insured when suddenly the customer detects smoke odor emanating from a box of contents. In an instant, the entire job becomes suspect. This scenario plays out far too often and usually sets into motion a chain of events that may be impossible to recover from.
When the insured becomes dissatisfied, the adjuster is at a disadvantage. This puts the customer in the driver’s seat, which very often results in the adjuster writing off a portion of the loss or worse. This also means that invoices submitted for restoration services must now be discounted. The reality is, unhappy customers are less likely to renew their policies, even if the adjuster ends up negotiating a successful resolution with the policyholder. All of these outcomes are possible when cleaning quality takes the backseat.
Another concern for adjusters is time. Insurers accrue additional costs for every day a claim remains open. Bringing your “A” game means expedient turnaround. Working with contractors who are capable of fast tracking jobs is an added bonus for insurers. Providing consistent quality and faster turnaround times gets invoices paid much faster and also gets you noticed.
Bringing your “A” Game also means offering additional restoration services. Many companies have come to the realization that offering more in-house services gives them an advantage. Although specialty cleaning services such as electronics and soft contents restoration can be subcontracted, restorers who depend on these services put themselves at a disadvantage. When restorers hire other companies to perform service work they relinquish control of cleaning quality and are subject to the subcontractor’s timelines.
Returning contents back to your customer that another company restored is like playing Russian roulette. Most of the time the outcome may be successful, but it only takes one unlucky incident to damage your reputation. Providing a full range of restoration services in-house sets you apart and can quickly lead to increased market share and high profile loss opportunities.
Getting in on the ground floor
The business of contents restoration has been going through a transformation. Recent technological advancements in restoration equipment, cleaning agents and recovery techniques now make it possible to routinely restore contents once considered non-salvageable. These advances also make it possible for restorers to deliver high levels of cleaning quality on a consistent basis, which also accelerates productivity.
New contents management strategies have synchronized contents restoration procedures, making it easy to integrate all phases of the restoration process into a seamless flow of production. With the introduction of new job management and cataloging software, field operations have been streamlined and the document side of the business has been simplified.
These developments have encouraged many adjusters to take the restoration route rather than replace content items or cash out the claim. Contents restoration is on an evolutionary path and the future for our industry has never looked brighter. Getting on the ground floor of this movement however means re-organizing, re-educating and re-tooling. Those who see this opportunity and decide to take advantage of it will need to bring their “A” game.