Ask Annissa: How do I Handle a Client Who Won’t Let me Remove Destroyed Items?
You need to remember that the items that end up going on the “destroyed list” and put into a contractor bag bound for the dump are more than just “things.”
They are the family vacation in the Caribbean, the trip to Disney Land or childhood keepsakes. And unfortunately, a lot of these things may not replaceable.
Each person is different and the process that they will go through when handling this type of loss with grace is different for everyone. Your job as a contents cleaning and restoration contractor is to help them understand the process in a way that makes them feel in control of the situation. Too many contractors miss these critical steps and blow it with the homeowner right from the beginning.
As soon as they feel in control and yet confident that they can trust you with their home, belongings and memories, they will let go and allow you to do the job they hired you to do.
Now everyone is different, but there are some basic steps that you will need to walk them through to gain that trust.
First thing they need to know is that you care as much as they do. You do this by listening. If you honestly and authentically listen to them, they will tell you exactly what they are afraid of and concerned about. Once you know what they fear, you can give them what they need to relieve those fears.
Maybe they are afraid of not getting paid correctly for their destroyed contents. If this is the case, walk them through the detailed process that you will use to inventory these items. Explain to them that they need to write any questions and concerns that they have and talk to their adjuster about them.
Next, let them know that the items need to be removed and inventoried but it will be up to them when those items are finally taken from their possession. Reassure them that you will not get rid of anything until they are comfortable and ready to let go of them. Often times once you do this one thing they will let go and give you the control you need.
And finally, do not try to force them to make too many decisions at once. You need to choose your timing very carefully. Remember they are going through a lot. You may do this stuff every day, but this is likely the first time they have ever had to go through something like this. Give them time to process things.
That being said, yes we have things that are time sensitive and need to get done. And yes, getting rid of the things that are destroyed is very important for the healing process. Your challenge is to have a process in place in your business that will get them to trust you and let go so you can do your job.
This is an emotional business, so learning to deal with our clients’ emotions with compassion is priority No. 1. Gain their trust and confidence so they will give you all the control you need to remove those damaged items and thank you for it.