The restoration industry has certain aspects about it that require a much higher level of professionalism and customer service than, say, new construction, remodeling or commercial projects. In most cases when a home is damaged by fire, flood or some other disaster, the homeowner(s) are already upset by the time the restorer gets there. Their life has been interrupted, their house is torn up, they may have to live out of a hotel for months, and they are being forced to deal with a very time-consuming and challenging situation. The last thing a restorer wants to do is add insult to injury by doing or not doing something that could add stress or make the situation worse.
The restorer’s job is twofold. First, the restorer needs to be able to restore the damage to a pre-loss condition or better with minimal delays. Second, the restorer needs the ability to sympathize with a homeowner’s situation and know how to handle the emotional and psychological issues that present themselves after a loss. At the end of the day, the goal is to hand over the keys of a fully restored home to a satisfied customer so you can get that five-star review you worked so hard to get.
Here are 10 Tips to Consider When Restoring a Residential Loss:
- Manage the homeowner’s expectations from the beginning. Explain that certain aspects of an insurance claim fall outside of your control. Some work left as an open item, concealed damage or supplements may require adjuster approval before work can begin. Go over the scope of work in detail and avoid doing freebies. Doing work for free is a slippery slope and once you say “no” later on or have to charge for something, the relationship can quickly take a turn for the worse.
- Don’t ask a homeowner to use their tools. Restorers should show up prepared and have the tools, equipment and supplies they need. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard of restorers borrowing a homeowner’s tools that never got returned, got lost or ended up broken.
- Whenever possible, have a porta potty delivered to the jobsite and refrain from allowing workers to use the homeowner’s bathroom. Blowing up a homeowner’s bathroom is a sure way to offend your client and leave a really bad impression.
- If you have to park on the homeowner’s driveway, put cardboard or a drip pan under your work vehicles so oil doesn’t stain the driveway. Oil and rust stains left by a restorer’s car or truck can really upset a homeowner, and stains like these can be tough to clean up.
- Workers should never smoke, vape, drink alcohol or use drugs while working in someone’s home. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many workers (especially temporary laborers) drink during lunch breaks or smoke weed on the job.
- Don’t play loud music, and leave the Boom Box at home. Listening to music while you work is ok as long as the whole house doesn’t have to listen to it with you. Playing loud music can also be a safety issue if you can’t hear when someone may need help. Arguments amongst workers can also erupt if everyone doesn’t like what’s being played.
- When cleaning up or doing minor demolition, don’t throw away the debris in the homeowner’s trash can. Your estimate should include allowances for general clean up and debris removal, so follow your scope or be ready to refund the homeowner the allocated line items if you don’t.
- Don’t use harsh cleaning chemicals or deodorizers without explaining to the homeowner what you are using, why you are using it, and how long the odor might last. Also, give them a copy of your safety data sheets in case the homeowner has concerns.
- Communicate with the homeowner frequently regarding the work schedule and your progress. Keep in mind that the number one thing most homeowner’s want is to get back home, so keeping them abreast of your progress will go far.
- Remember to check all doors and windows and turn off the lights when you leave each day. If a door or window gets left open and someone breaks in during the night, guess who will be at fault — you!
Here are a Few Common Courtesy Items:
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- Workers should wear a company uniform or identifying attire
- Always knock or ring the doorbell before entering
- Wear shoe covers so you don’t track dirt, mud, snow, etc. into the home
- Always be polite, courteous and professional
- Watch your language and what you talk about, especially when residents are present
- Treat every client as if they are the most important customer you have
Today a lot of homes have Nanny cams and security cameras so conduct yourself as though the homeowner is working right alongside of you.