Outsourcing soft contents restoration is a pretty common practice for restoration companies. However, as innovations in cleaning technology grow, some companies like us are making strides to bring that work in-house. We have found this new service not only adds a new source of revenue, but also allows us to have control over how items are cleaned and cared for during the restoration process.
Until last year, we had been handling our soft contents restoration by outsourcing. We were mostly satisfied with that arrangement, but that was only because we didn’t know there was a better option. We simply didn’t realize the inadequacy of the traditional washing machines our textile cleaning partners use. Now don’t misunderstand me, there are companies out there who specialize in soft contents restoration and use top-notch techniques and equipment. However, there are some that do not.
Looking Beyond the Traditional Washing Machine
For many items, traditional washing machines are just useless. Of course, when it comes to dry clean only items, those companies do great work and are still a resource for us. But dry clean only accounts for merely five percent of the modern wardrobe. When we learned the capabilities of the Esporta system versus traditional machines, we knew that the other 95 percent belonged right here, in our shop. We could see enormous growth potential in soft contents.
Today, after almost eight months as certified Esporta operators, and over $230,000 in revenue, we’re happy to say the results have been even better than we had imagined. Investing in this wash system months ago was one of the best business decisions we’ve ever made.
Return on Investment
We’re now able to serve our customers better and more efficiently than ever.
1. Time is Money
Consider the time factor, for instance. We can turn around soft contents for our customers in three to five days, on average. When we outsourced, it sometimes took weeks. That difference is a huge selling point when customers want nothing more than to get their lives back to normal as soon as possible.
2. Restoring More
The Esporta is able to restore a larger percentage of items in a claim than traditional systems. We can now effectively recover about ninety percent of soft contents in a claim. That number is a big deal to the insurance companies, and it’s an excellent selling point for adjusters and agents. In many cases, it is much more cost effective to restore items than pay for full replacement.
3. Forget “Non-Restorable”
We also love the fact that Esporta is able to restore items that dry cleaners typically classify as non-restorable.
Our very first soft contents job demonstrated that point perfectly. The customer’s apartment had been flooded with category-three water from a toilet overflow in the unit directly above theirs. Almost all their clothes were contaminated. To make matters worse, by the time they were referred to us a couple of days later, there was mold growing on some of the items that they had thrown in plastic bags while trying to move things out of the affected area. It was a disgusting mess.
Our customer assumed those items were all non-salvageable, but there was one particular item she wanted to save, if possible: an expensive Coach handbag that was special to her. This was a true test of our new wash system.
Our initial ATP testing on the Coach bag showed a reading of 2,460 RLU - extremely contaminated. As a basis for comparison, the acceptable standard is 30 RLU or less, which is even better than the minimum standard for food grade cleanliness. Covered in mold and heaven knows what else, the bag looked as bad as it smelled.
When the wash process was complete, new ATP testing on the bag showed results of 22 RLU. We were amazed! Our customer later commented that it looked like a brand new bag. We showed her the ATP test results and she was thrilled. We ended up restoring almost all of the customer’s soft contents, and she wrote us a glowing letter that turned into a great marketing tool.
4. Making an Impression
It made a big impression on the adjuster too, and our sales manager was happy to share the story with the insurance agent who referred the claim. We were only on our first claim and we already had an impressive sales story and great “before and after” photos. We’ve had several other stories since.
We saved a wedding dress and an $800 pair of boots, and we really put our Esporta to the test when tornadoes hit North Mississippi last December.
Other ServiceMaster franchises have had similar success. Scott Mim and his brother, Adam, operate the ServiceMaster franchises in central Alabama. They recently spoke of a fire claim they handled.
“The soot lay up to 1/2 inch thick on the shoulders of the garments. A restoration drycleaner had already visited the site and said they would not attempt to clean any of the textiles. We processed that claim in the Esporta System and restored everything - 100% of the items. The adjuster was very pleased as we saved them over $10,000 in replacement costs,” Scott remarked.
A New Demand
Every job ServiceMaster of Cornerstone has done has left a very powerful impression with everyone involved with the claim, which led to more jobs. It wasn’t long before we were getting requests from area disaster restoration companies to handle their soft contents. We got so busy at one point that our team had to work shifts just to keep up with the demand.
Restoring soft contents and textiles in-house have significantly accelerated our profit growth to the point where we have now installed a second iS4000.