Like many restoration contractors, Tom Laska has heard the noise since he started ICC Restoration & Cleaning Services more than 25 years ago: Adjusters disagreeing with contractors over work estimates. Outsiders viewing the restoration industry as crooked. The often adversarial relationship between carrier and contractor.
But unlike many restoration contractors, Laska made a decision early in ICC’s tenure that he was going to instill a transparent business model within his company to greatly reduce – or even completely eliminate – many of the outsider misconceptions.
“When I started my business, ultimately, my entire focus as a company is we wanted to be the best restoration company,” he says. “We didn’t need to be the biggest, we just wanted to be the best. That philosophy has always been carried forward.”
Part of this transparent philosophy is seemingly simple: Only charge for what you’re doing. But other aspects of it involve a higher level of documentation such as meticulous notes and detailed photos in order to show that everything was done accordingly, to the point where a third party can look at it and know that only necessary steps were taken to bring the property back to pre-loss condition.
“When you are working in an ‘open book’ mode, anyone can see what steps are being taken on the loss at any moment,” Laska says. “And if the adjuster doesn’t have the answer or documentation they are looking for, let’s have a conversation. Let’s make sure (adjusters) have enough information on hand to understand what you were trying to do at the job. I think that’s one area that ICC excels in.”
While the transparent model has been there since Day 1 with ICC, it’s become more and more emphasized in recent years. ICC was named a finalist in 2013 for the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota’s Torch Award for Ethics after being nominated by someone within the community it services.
In 2014, ICC was once again selected as one of the 11 finalists in the Torch Award for Ethics category. Only this time, it won.
“It’s huge, very huge for our company – it does solidify what we talk about, about that transparent business model,” Laska said. “You go to work every day, you work hard, you persevere. You keep going, you get knocked down. You keep getting back up, dust yourself off, and keep going. It’s one more way to say ‘People, that’s why we go to work every day – that’s why we continue to help the people we can help.’”
“Restorer’s Perspective” is an occasional feature highlighting how a company is flourishing in a particular area of restoration and/or remediation. If you have a success story you’d like to share with the industry, e-mail R&R Editor Eric Fish at email@example.com.