“…(the ‘Standard’ or the ‘S500’), as published by … (IICRC), is intended to provide information about the restoration of water-damaged structure and contents and to assist individuals and entities working in the water damage restoration industry in establishing and maintaining their professional competence. Users of the S500 must keep abreast of the rapid developments in the field of water damage restoration, implement changes in technology and procedures as appropriate, and follow applicable federal, state, provincial, and local laws and regulations.”
“Furthermore, the Standard is not intended to be either exhaustive or inclusive of all pertinent requirements, methods or procedures that might be appropriate on a particular water damage restoration project.”
“The S500 does not attempt to teach water damage restoration procedures but rather provides the principles and foundation for understanding proper restoration practices. The Standard is not a substitute for restoration training and certification programs that are necessary to attain competence in the field of water damage restoration and proper application of the S500.”
”Although attempts have been made to ensure the Standard is technically consistent with knowledge about water damage restoration at the date of its publication, there is no representation or guarantee that every issue and topic relevant to water damage restoration has been thoroughly addressed.”
So, what is the S500?
It is a consensus-based, voluntary, procedural standard of care. It is a tool that every restoration company performing water damage restoration services should possess. Like most articles written about the field of water damage restoration, it focuses on the physical and intellectual procedures involved in the drying of structures, systems and contents.
What does the entrepreneur/owner need to possess before opening the doors of their company?
Here is just a partial list of items. Attorney, various contracts/documentation forms, line of credit (LOC), subscription service of all the industry standards, proper insurance specific to water damage restoration, accountant, employee handbook, report documentation programs to “tell the story,” electronic billing system, training, company job/role descriptions, loyalty to your vendor, marketing program, a course in how to run a business / business training, various licenses that may be required by your state, specialized expert list, photographic equipment, drying equipment, chemistry (cleaning and antimicrobial/biocides), etc.
Then, what is missing?
As stated earlier in this article, experts in our trade typically write about the physical and intellectual aspects of our work. We learn about new drying equipment, moisture meters, report writing software, drying and other technical procedures, determine dry standards and drying goals, and much more.
My wife Carol and I graduated from Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., in the later 1970s. The Springfield Triangle represents spirit, mind and body. The Springfield College mission “is to educate the whole person in spirit, mind and body for leadership in service to others.” This mission is based upon humanics. “Humanics, the age-old Greek ideal of the balanced individual. We believe, as did the ancient Greeks, that a person’s emotional, intellectual and physical lives are interconnected. The Humanics philosophy calls for the education of the whole person, in spirit, mind and body – for leadership in service to others. …It’s not all about books. …It’s also about bodies, attitudes and emotions. …It’s all about balance.”
This is what is missing in our industry and life. We are so focused on the physical aspects of everything we do in our business and personal lives, we sometimes forget the importance of the emotional connection, a basic human need. We have become “transactional” and no longer “personal.” The most successful companies handle problem resolution with a human voice and a can-do attitude to service, while others deal with problem resolution with software and a list of options.
The majority of friends we have are now electronic. We communicate with our fingers more than our mouths and body language. Without visual expressions and intonation, we are experiencing a high level of misinterpretation when we communicate. We forgot about the emotional connections that humans need from birth to the end of their lives. Because of this lack of personal, face-to-face communication practice and our transactional philosophies for efficiency, we are losing the sense of what others need.
Water damage is both physical and emotional.
The emotional side of the equation can be mental as well as spiritual. We don’t just dry buildings, systems and contents. If this is all you think we do, then a level of sensitivity training may be the solution. We put people’s lives back together in more than just the physical realm.
At birth, we all entered a contract called life. Eventually, at the end of this contract is death. Morbid as it sounds, we will all reach this point at some time. At 67 years old, I am closer to that point than many. No one knows when this contract will expire.
Carol and I lost our daughter, Kimberly Joy Costa, to Hodgkin’s Disease in 2000. She died a week after her 19th birthday. Our hearts were broken. This was one of the most devastating emotions we have ever experienced in life. When teaching my Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)-approved WRT program, I remind my students of the importance of hugging their children every night and telling them that you love them. I remind them that I cannot hold my daughter physically any longer, only in my heart. However, I possess a physical item that is very near and dear to my heart concerning my relationship with my daughter.
Every evening after dinner, our family would watch TV and play a little, but it was always my job to put my kids to bed. Being a foolish father, I didn’t calm them down; I revved them up. At the bottom of the stairs, I would tell Adam and Kim, “OK, high five,” with my hands above my head. As they giggled and jumped, I would grab Adam and carry him upstairs to his bedroom with Kim totting along. He had a big smile on his face because he knew what was coming next. I would give him a big bear hug, tell him I loved him, and would toss him in the bed because he liked it when he bounced. I would then lean over, tuck him in, give him one more kiss goodnight and say, “I love you and I’ll see you in the morning.” He would quickly reply, “I love you too, Dad.”
Well, they say a father and daughter relationship is unique. With Kim, I would tuck her under her covers and, every night, I would lay on top of her bed and read her favorite book, “Good night Moon.” I remember reading one night, and she said the next word! I thought I had an early reader, but both of our eyes were closed. We both had the book memorized since I read it every night.
The point of this story is simple, sincere and to the point.
If the Costas suffered a Category 3 water loss and if my “Good night Moon” book fell off the shelf, onto the floor and if a technician of a restoration company disposed of my $1.95 book, I would be devastated and hate the person and company that did this. You meant no harm, but you put your value system onto my items in my house. No one knows what is of great sentimental value unless you ask or become emotionally connected to your client and their needs.
Remember, we are traumatized. You do this work every day. This is the first time we have suffered a water loss. How about a very simple question? “Mr. and Mrs. Costa, before we get started, are there any items of great value, including anything of sentimental value that we need to know about”? Oh, how simple and yet how important. No matter how well you dried my structure, systems and contents, you failed in my eyes. That book to me is more important than my house.
If the emotionally distraught homeowner were to ask the project manager to sit down at the kitchen table and share a cup of coffee, this is probably one of the most important things you can do for this person. They may need to just talk it out, to tell their story. You need to listen. I hope that you care enough to do this for this human being. It is not just another job.
Steve Toburen, in “Strategies for Success,” states that people buy an experience, not a job. “80% of how your customer decides on the ‘job quality’ is based on how they feel about your people involved in their service experience.”
The restoration industry can become a shining beacon for others to watch and learn. Demonstrate compassion, regardless of one’s position on politics, the pandemic and all of the other distractions in life. Humans are inter-connected through spirit, mind and body. It is our time to shine! I am ready to serve. I am a restoration contractor. Join me.