As anyone in the restoration industry knows, the business isn’t what it used to be. Increases in performance monitoring, risk exposure, administrative requirements, and ever-growing damage severities due in part to climate change have all contributed to the added complexities of running a restoration business.
There’s constant pressure to ensure that each job gets done quickly while still following standard service levels, and a global pandemic throughout most of 2020 has just been the icing on that difficult cake. R&R magazine had a great year-in-review article that discussed the impact of covid on the restoration industry, and features a take from Next Gear CEO Garret Gray.
That said, we can overcome many of these hurdles with the right tools and job management solutions in place. Let’s look at four common challenges that nearly every company in the restoration industry faces, and what business owners like you can do about them.
Challenge #1: Securely Storing Company Data
It’s no exaggeration to say that information management and data storage have fundamentally changed in a relatively short time. It wasn’t all that long ago that a large restoration company would have a dozen or more filing cabinets stuffed full of documents—a trove of information that we can now store on a single computer hard drive costing less than $100. It’s been a remarkable transformation, but just as paper files are vulnerable to the very same disasters that everyone in the restoration industry makes a living putting to rights, so too are digital files.
In addition to loss from fires and floods, digital files can become lost forever due to mechanical hard drive failure, power surges, general data corruption, and sometimes for no discernible reason at all. That’s not to scare anyone away from a digital storage solution. Next Gear’s success is built upon the advantages of a paperless workflow, after all! However, it illustrates the fact that keeping vital job and company data in a single place poses a significant risk for any business.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates that around 40 percent of businesses hit by a natural disaster do not bounce back from the catastrophe, due in no small part to the destruction of their essential data. Would your company survive the complete loss of hard drives stored onsite?
Thankfully, cloud storage has in recent years become a practical option with high reliability, low costs, and the ability to handle any amount of data a restoration company could ask for. All of a company’s information in our DASH job management platform, for example, is stored in two data centers half a continent apart for redundancy and security. From a risk management perspective, we wholeheartedly recommend reputable cloud storage as a backup, or even a primary, repository for your critical business data.
Takeaway: Securing vital company data in the cloud is a significant step toward mitigating the risk of disastrous data loss.
Challenge #2: Organizing the Data You Have
Maybe you’ve already embraced secure cloud storage to protect your data against catastrophic loss. In that case, you’re ahead of the game, but successfully selecting and organizing all your data brings its own set of challenges—and chances are you’re producing more of it than ever. Analysis firm IDC estimates that the amount of data that companies need to store and manage doubles every two years or so, and the digital photos and videos that are now a significant part of any job documentation are a major contributor to that growth.
So how do you wrangle it all? One of the major selling points of DASH is its ability to easily sort the important data you use from the rest. It’s a ‘one-and-done’ solution that offers built-in reports that bring to the forefront the most important metrics you need to run a successful restoration business. And if you want to dig a little deeper, custom reports are always an option—but either way, DASH does the heavy lifting for you.
The result is a management platform that ties back to your overall business objectives, helping you grow your business, improve your efficiency, take on more jobs, finish them faster, and get them done on budget.
Takeaway: With more data than ever, it’s more important than ever to keep it organized, searchable, and retrievable. DASH easily sorts important data through built-in and customizable reporting.
Challenge #3: Maintaining Company Performance Levels
Insurance carriers award more program work to top-performing restoration companies—it really is that simple, so if your company is performing below market average, chances are you aren’t getting your share of the claim pie. The trick is understanding what’s most important to each carrier.
Of course, different carriers not only have different metrics by which they measure performance, but different rules for their claim requirements. A few things that are certain, though, are that carriers prize restoration companies that stay on top of critical job milestones and accurately report them. Moreover, carriers generally value both excellent customer service and short cycle times for each claim—two often-competing principles that can be difficult to reconcile.
So how does a restoration professional navigate all this? DASH is a big part of that answer. The restoration industry’s premier job management tool, DASH, offers a comprehensive workflow system that helps restorers rise to the challenge with ease and automation. Combining its workflow builder and powerful integrations with both XactAnalysis and Symbility, restoration companies can streamline their operations and avoid having to guess when it comes to multiple carrier requirements. The result is the ability to better manage schedules and arrange teams more effectively.
Next Gear Solutions developed VPASS for DASH to help owners and managers track performance. Based on proven Six Sigma methodology, VPASS is a dynamic and transparent method of measuring and quantifying overall performance that predicts future behavior by factoring in past results—the first performance score engine with that capability. With it, owners, managers, and their staff can understand how they are performing and how likely they are to be compliant going forward. Used in this way, VPASS becomes a critical tool for top-performing restoration companies to leverage data-driven business intelligence to compete and capture a larger market share.
In addition to timeline performance, it is also increasingly important that your mitigation jobs adhere to ANSI/IICRC S500, the restoration industry’s water damage standard. Next Gear’s integrated MICA Mobility helps field staff collect needed psychrometric data and track the drying process; it even automates decision-making on the type and quantity of equipment needed to successfully apply the S500 standard.
Takeaway: Insurance carriers reward top performers within their managed repair networks with program work. The DASH job management platform with VPASS scoring helps anyone in the restoration industry know what a carrier is looking for and keeps them at the top of their game. MICA Mobility helps ensure compliance with the S500 standard.
Challenge #4: Finding and Keeping Happy Customers
Studies have shown that communication with customers is one of the biggest factors in their satisfaction with your work. The average customer isn’t going to know whether you deployed the appropriate number of air movers given the size of the flooded room; they aren’t going to know whether you used the right type of types of shingles or proper roof protection for the job—but they’ll know without a doubt how you communicated with them. They’ll know whether you were reachable and responsive. They’ll know whether you laid out project timelines and stuck to them, or, failing that, promptly informed them that the timeline was slipping and clearly explained why. Communication is truly one of the keys to creating satisfied customers and ensuring that all communication channels are open is pivotal to a restoration company’s success.
Once again, DASH plays a vital role here.
DASH helps everyone in the restoration industry capture and share information from the field in real time, providing a window into each job. Skip the phone tag with policyholders and instantly send photos and non-confidential notes to people outside your organization through a simple email link. Insurance adjusters, external stakeholders, and the customer all have easy access to critical information, strengthening these important relationships and ensuring jobs get finished on time and on budget.
We’ve heard repeatedly from our customers about the importance of effective communication to their business success, which led us to the creation of ProAssist, a module within DASH that connects restorers with their customers like never before—all while maintaining required social distancing measures. Property owners can input notes and photos that help you understand the job and the needed equipment before you even arrive. When it’s time to start work, effortlessly let the homeowner know you’re on your way, when you’re there, and when you’re finished. Afterward, customers can see photos of the work and rate the job done.
Takeaway: Clear communication is one of the cornerstones of customer satisfaction. DASH and ProAssist help keep customers in the know and on top of your progress on a job—and informed customers are happy customers.
Everyone in the restoration industry knows that the business has its challenges, but we know we can overcome them with the right tools. Next Gear was founded on the idea of a fully digital workflow that can accommodate the most challenging issues a contractor will encounter. It’s no wonder that restoration industry leaders across North America rely on us to optimize their operations.