To say that 2020 will be a year we won’t soon forget would be an understatement.

It was a year we experienced turmoil, unrest, uncertainty, big changes, huge profits, big losses, and one of the most unusual election years in history. It was also a year of awareness. Awareness of how much we miss buying our friends a drink after an industry event or hands-on class. Awareness of just how much we are dependent on one another. Awareness of how important social interaction is to our business and an awareness of just how unprepared we really are for a catastrophic event.

A catastrophe is an event that causes great and often sudden damage or suffering. I think this definitely defines the year we all just experienced.

Seems ironic doesn’t it? We are in the catastrophic events business, after all.

Our industry is trained and educated better than most to handle these types of situations and yet some found themselves drastically unprepared and uncertain how to move forward safely and efficiently. Sadly, some in the industry moved forward anyway and are now suffering the consequences.

There are those who say things have changed and we now have a new way of doing business. I disagree. Maybe this year just raised the bar for our industry and has made us acutely aware of just how much we weren’t holding ourselves and our teams to the higher standards we should doing all along.

Today, I see three areas we could all focus on even more going into 2021.


1. Education

It was shocking to me how many restoration companies jumped into the COIVD-19 cleaning arena with little to no education on proper cleaning procedures. It is your responsibility to know the difference between disinfecting and sanitizing, and the proper equipment and procedures needed to do either. Not only on an ethical level, but on a legal and safety level as well.

You need to understand what legal requirements are in place in your state that need to be reflected in your paperwork, contracts, and even marketing. In April, the FCC started warning the general public about false claims that were being made about virus prevention and disinfection. There are already lawsuits being filed against companies that made such claims.

Your company and your team would do well to be trained and certified on infectious disease cleaning whether you do fire cleanup, sewer backups, or water damage, as you don’t know what you may be dealing with going into a structure. Don’t forget proper containment training as well. Education includes understanding how to correctly use all equipment necessary on a job as well.

Certifications and training not only ensure we get the job done safely and properly, but also protect us in case of a lawsuit.


2. Systems & SOPs

Standard Operating Procedures are imperative now more than ever. Gone are the days of the “fake it till you make it” mentality. If you operated your company with this motto in 2020, you are probably feeling a lot of financial stress right about now.

The level of uncertainty that seemed to compound daily this year was daunting. Systems take away uncertainty and allow a greater ability to create consistency and normalcy, not only for your company but for your clients as well. Without them in place, you are open to client stress, employee fatigue, and anxiety, not to mention errors and inconsistent results.

Safety is also at stake. Proper protocols and procedures to keep you, your team, and your clients safe is vital. Along with systems, you have to have accountability. Inspect what you expect.

smiling people

Image from fizkes/ iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

3. Client Experience

In my opinion, this is one of the most overlooked areas of focus in most businesses these days. If you focus on this one area, you will never have to market your services again.

This is the marketing!

Psychological fatigue is real and on the rise in 2020. Our clients are bombarded with so much stress and anxiety today just trying to get through daily life, let alone deal with a fire, flood, or sewer backup in their home or business.

A friend of mine, Jeff Jones with GBAC, said it so well: “We are caretakers of the human condition.”

This has never been more true.

It’s so important for us to put ourselves in our client’s shoes and treat them with compassion, empathy, and grace. Our responsibility is to orchestrate their expectations and give them an awesome experience they will be so over-the-moon about that they will become our raving fans forever.

If your client doesn’t have an awesome experience with your company’s service, you need to ask yourself “what did we miss?” Most clients will tell you if you ask the right questions on your initial interview with them exactly what it is that they need or want from you. From there, your job is to over-deliver.

The only way to know if you are knocking it out of the park in this arena is to ask your clients for feedback. And I don’t mean just on Google. Ask them for written testimonials using a custom form for your company. Better yet, ask them for a video testimonial! Too many companies leave reviews or testimonials up to chance by asking for one on the way out the door.

Most of the time, I get my testimonials half way through the job when I hear, “you guys are incredible!” Or “I don’t know what I would have done without you!” The best time to ask for feedback is whenever your client is singing your praises.


Avoiding a Left Hook in 2021

What’s that Mike Tyson quote about being prepared until you get punched in the nose? Some of us got punched hard this year with life in general. Don’t let this be you when it comes to handling your restoration business during a catastrophe.

Ask yourself: where am I in my business in education, systems, and client experience? Where would I like to be? How am I going to get there?

Be brutally honest with your answers and set some huge goals for 2021 in each of these arenas.

Move forward into 2021 prepared with clear direction, purpose and vision. Let’s not waste the lessons that 2020 worked so hard to teach us all.