Restorer's Perspective: The (Un)Professionals You Can(’t) Trust: A Call to Action
Why do we as a whole, the disaster restoration industry, allow unethical and fraudulent contractors to continue to operate within our industry? I know you’re probably saying to yourself “…what? I ABSOLUTELY do not allow this! If I see these types of unethical acts, sometimes I say something to the contractor!” If anyone should understand or recognize the level of unlawful practices going on within the industry, it should be us, the “professionals.” So again, why do we continue to let this happen?
Why are we not working together as a whole to remove these types of people or companies and once they are exposed, why are they not barred from operating within our industry? If your answer is “that’s just the way it’s always been,” then that answer alone is a sign we need to go to much bigger lengths to change the direction of our industry.
There are enough of us that we could collectively lift up our industry and ignite the change that is blatantly needed!
Most of you are aware, I’m sure, that there are certain contractors that offer referral fees so high that it openly invites fraudulent behavior to generate leads in order to capture those referral fees. Why is this not something we as an industry care more about? It’s great to have associations, certifying bodies, suggested industry standards, and guidelines, but where are the governing laws that hold us accountable? Why do we not care more that we, as an industry, are often so easily and wrongfully labeled as crooks, thieves, or unethical just because of the trade or career path we’ve chosen?
Restorer or Insurer: Who Will Act First?
Insurance companies are hemorrhaging millions of dollars annually at the hands of these fraudulent and unethical contractors, and I can assure you that will not continue. These very large insurance companies are not in the business to lose. Either we, the contractors, need to be open to being held to a higher standard by our peers within the industry and remain committed to education and ethical standards, or we better prepare to see some insane verbiage in policies placing all new limits on losses, or making coverage for these losses extremely expensive so homeowners will end up opting out. I believe that both of the latter situations are lose-lose for us, so why not take initiative and change the industry as a whole, as opposed to doing nothing and having the value literally sucked right out of the industry by much larger powers with much larger resources because again, they will not continue to lose?
Finding a Solution: Governing Bodies
I believe the best way to go about this change would be to create a contractor-run governing body in each market. This governing body would be made up of term-limited, elected contractors who carry all necessary licensing and have a proven track record of operating ethically and would be proven to be an individual of outstanding character.
I think that directly below these elected individuals, in this governing body, there should be a “task force” or “policing” team of inspectors responsible for holding contractors to our industry standards of practice under penalty of law. As an industry, we need to tighten up and no longer turn our heads or look the other way with these types of contractors. Instead, we need to report them and expose them so they are removed from our industry completely. To some of you, this may sound extreme, but trust me, we are facing an extreme situation as an industry and we need to take drastic measures to ensure the continuity of our profession.
I can’t speak for you all, but I choose to do this line of work because I am extremely passionate about helping others through a difficult situation. Water, fire, mold, and biohazard clean-up will always be necessary, but an industry that chooses to turn the other cheek while well-dressed and witty thieves are smiling and robbing insurance companies and owners will not.
Let’s take pride in what we do and take the steps necessary to prevent this from continuing. You may think the task at hand is impossible, but I assure you, it all starts with a conscious decision to take a single step in the right direction. Change is fueled by action, not by hope, so this is a call to do exactly that. Let’s take action against these fraudulent contractors and choose to lift our voices about this issue that has run rampant for far too long.
Whether you have a great idea for a certifying body or association or you just got called out to a job to clean up behind one of these contractors, let’s start right here, right now. Ultimately as an industry, we are the problem, but we can also be the solution. Let’s restore faith in our industry, and operate at high levels of integrity, collectively, and continue to reap the rewards of the impact we have in other’s lives.