Ask Annissa: By the Hour or Box? What’s the Best Way to Bill Contents Cleaning?
There are three ways to bill for contents cleaning: by the hour, by the box and by the item. I bill for contents cleaning by the hour and break out some specialty items and bill them by the piece.
I started out billing by the item and quickly realized that this was very tedious, time consuming and made billing kind of a nightmare. So I quickly turned to billing by the box. Doing this improved the process, making it a lot easier and much faster.
Some adjusters in my service area would question the number of boxes we used and how full or how not so full they were packed. Since we were charging by the box, they wanted to make sure that we weren’t under packing boxes just to make more money. I heard complaints that “other” restorers would pad box counts by only packing boxes half full and filling them the rest of the way up with paper.
So I decided to experiment and took the next 5 jobs that we did and completed the billing both by the box and by the hour to see how much difference there was in the bottom line. Surprisingly, each job billed both ways only fluctuated about $200-$300.
Realizing that hourly billing is also quite easy to “pad” and could cause an adjuster reason for concern, we created a system for tracking our hours on each job broken down by the day and by the employee. We are happy to show our tracking forms to any adjuster that would like to see them on any given job thus relieving any concerns they may have.
Not only do our adjusters like our streamlined way of billing, but we have made the process so easy to process that each job only takes about 15 minutes to invoice.
That being said, I have heard some restorers from the east coast say that adjusters will not let them bill by the hour and only want to be billed by the box. I would be willing to bet that if a restorer used a good easy to understand system with checklists that they are willing to share with an adjuster, how they were billing their contents cleaning would not be of concern. And often a restorer can overcome objections with a little education and conversation.