2013 Specialised Restoration Conference

Well, what a weekend we had!

Thermal imaging, junk removal, media blasting, products that suck, air filtration and feeling like a million bucks were just some of the topics that were thrown around at the Jena Dyco 2013 Specialised Restoration Conference at Rydges Melbourne on 10th & 11th May.

The event saw lots of info shared in the speaker sessions, and even more between friends and associates – old and new – over a drink and a meal afterwards.

The energetic Warwick Merry led 120 delegates through a day and a half of varied speaker sessions which saw a wide range of valuable knowledge from various sectors shared amongst delegates.

Some of the speaker highlights included Roger Christiansz from FLIR Systems Australia demonstrating the efficacy of using thermal imaging technology on water damage restoration jobs; Building biologist Nicole Bijlsma from the Australian College of Environmental Studies discussing the health hazards that can be present in properties and how the work of building biologists ties into the restoration sector; Shirley Guthrie from Professional Claims Management sharing the secrets to writing an effective insurance report; and Larry Carlson from Phoenix Restoration clearing the air on filtration.

We had wonderful support from our sponsors who were present at the mini-trade show. Delegates were able to to chat with sponsors and check out their latest products and services during the breaks.

But it wasn’t just about the knowledge. In addition to the speaker sessions and mini-trade show, delegates had the opportunity to mingle and catch-up with friends during the breaks and at social events. The 1800-Got-Junk? Mystery Dinner gave everyone the chance to let down their hair after a full-on day of speaker sessions, with the music pumping and the drinks flowing well into the night.

We’ve had some wonderful feedback from delegates about the event. If you missed it, don’t stress too much – we’ve produced a DVD of the event, including the speaker sessions and PowerPoint presentations, so you can re-live the conference from home. The DVD is also a great training tool to use with your staff. To order a copy of the DVD, click here.

Did you attend the conference? Click here to let us know what you thought.

We’re also excited to announce that we will be holding the Specialised Restoration Conference again next year on the 31st & 31st May. We look forward to seeing everybody in Melbourne next year for what we hope will be even bigger and better than this year!

-Lucy Eldred
Jena Dyco Conference Coordinator.

So, You Moved Into a Meth Lab

By Julian Morgans
Featured in Vice Magazine

You and your husband are regular 9-to-5 types with a kid named Joel. You move to a regular 9-to-5 type suburb where the rent is manageable and the neighbours seem nice. Then Joel starts getting sick. His skin breaks out and he coughs at night. Soon you get headaches and feel exhausted and something is wrong but you can’t figure out what. Later, after all the testing for gas leaks and mould infestations, someone mentions meth labs and it clicks. The coffee coloured stains in the laundry, the crystalline film over the range hood, the omnipresent scent of ammonia. Your house is a former meth lab and you’re getting sick from the residue.

To continue reading, pleasego to: So, you moved into a Meth Lab

Can sun fading on carpet be fixed?

Sun damage to carpet can be a problem in any property, but it is particularly an issue in houses with lots of big windows where there are patches of carpet that are exposed direct sunlight on a continual basis.

There are two key problems caused by sun damage to carpet.

The first and most obvious is the colour loss.

Even though it looks bad, colour loss isn’t the biggest problem with sun damage. It’s an issue that can be rectified by contacting a specially trained colour techncian, who will be able to match the dye and inject colour back into the fibre.

The second, lesser-known issue with sun fading is that it damages the integrity of the carpet fibre.

Walk over to one of your windows and feel the carpet beneath it. It feels quite brittle, right? The sun is actually damaging the carpet.

This is where it gets tricky.

These two problems – colour fading and damage to the integrity of the fibre – are related.

If the structure of the carpet fibre has been seriously damaged by the sun (ie. left to fade for years at a time), it may actually lose the ability to hold the dye. This means that it may not always be possible to restore sun damaged carpet back to its original condition if it as been left untreated for a long period of time.

If the fibre isn’t too damaged, then there shouldn’t be any problems with re-dyeing sun damaged areas of carpets.

The crux of this issue is that the areas of carpet surrounding windows are not high-traffic areas in a property; generally the first time people notice the effects of sun damage is once the colour starts to fate, at which point the carpet fibre may already have been affected and damaged.

The best way to avoid this issue is to implement a maintnenace plan for carpet that will continue to be sun-damaged. Regularly rejuvinating the colour back into areas of sun-damaged carpet will not only help keep the colour looking fresh, it will also help maintain the quality of the carpet in terms of feel and texture.

Needless to say, adding colour repair to your business is a great add-on service. It will allow you to educate your customers when you go into their home and help them to maintain their carpet that is prone to sun damage.

Want to learn how to repair sun damaged carpets? Attend the IICRC Colour Repair & Restoration course to find out how!

Can you fix a carpet that has burns in it?

Of course you can!

Generally speaking you can fix any type of damage to carpet. The key consideration you need to take into account is whether it is worth fixing it or not. You need to keep the following question in mind:

What’s the cost of repair versus the cost of replacement?

So if you are dealing with a small cigarette burn in your living room it is cheaper to repair. But if you have fire damaged carpet throughout your whole house, obviously it is more cost effective to replace the whole lot.

There are a couple of smaller burns that are easy and cost-effective to repair which you will commonly come across on the job.

Cigarette Burns

Even though there are less people smoking indoors these days, cigarette burns on carpet are still very common.Generally the area of damage caused by these burns is very small. Can you repair cigarette burns on carpet?

The best way to repair these burns is to find some excess carpet in the house (either at the back of a wardrobe or from a floor mat made of the same carpet) where you can pull the repair material from.

The main issue with this method of repair is that the barely used carpet that you pull will not have much damage from traffic, where as the area of carpet where the burn has occured will more likely than not be a high-traffic area. This means that the look of the repaired section may not match the area exactly, but this difference will not be noticible.

Will you be able to notice the repair work? If you looked at it closely with a magnifying glass, yes. If you glanced at the carpet as you were walking in the door, no.

Iron Burns

The other type of burn that technicians frequently come across are iron burns, either from steamer irons or hair-straighteners.Can i repair iron burns on carpet?

Obviously these burns will be larger than those caused by cigarettes, so the ease and ability with which you can rectify the problem will depend on the kind of carpet you’re dealing with. If it is a patterned or woven carpet it will be more difficult to repair, and depending on the damage there is the potential that it won’t be possible to repair at all.

These burns can be dealt with the same way you deal with cigarette burns (by replacing the area with excess carpet pulled from other areas of the house). The main problem that you will come across dealing with iron burns is repairing the issue without leaving any trace that you’ve been there; the larger the area of the burn, the more dificutl it is to hide the damage.

Should I add these services to my business?

While you won’t be able to make these services the core focus of your business, they are excellent add-on services. IICRC Carpet Repair & Reinstallation Course

This is particularly the case if your target market is the property management/rental market. Think of all the tenants who run around frantically the week before their lease ends trying to repair all the minor damage that was caused during their lease. These clients need to get the property looking the same way it did before the moved in. Carpet repair services (as well as carpet cleaning and stain removal) are great for that market.

Want to gain the skills to repair carpet burns? Attend a IICRC Carpet Repair & Reinstallation course to find out how.

The importance of communication in restoration jobs

Written by Scott McFadzen,
Mackay Carpet Care and Restoration Services
Scott McFadzen of Mackay Carpet Care and Restoration Services

‘A good restorer is a good communicator!’

….or at least that’s my personal slogan when it comes to dealing with restoration insurance jobs.

A huge concern for loss adjusters working on flood damage jobs is that there is little to no communication between the restorer, the insured (the client), assessor and other contractors concerned.

This slows down the process of  the claim and causes undue stress to an already stessed and tired assessor. Assessors want the claims off their desk with the least amount of worry, and the quicker the better. It’s a never ending process for loss adjustors; as one claim goes out, another claim takes it place.

So, how can we restorers help the situation?

Here are some steps that may help us in keeping assessors on our side

  1. Take a great first report

    I know that at times I have been guilty of slack reporting – haven’t we all?

    We all recognise the scenario; it’s late in afternoon and you can’t be bothered going back to the truck to get your first visit report, steadfastedly promising yourself that you’ll definately do it in the morning. However the next morning rolls around and you’ve forgetten all your measurements, and remember that chip in the tile that you couldn’t be bothered taking a photo of? Even though it was there before the damage, now it’s your problem.

    A great first report  is a vital step in keeping the claim flowing steadily. We can provide the insured peace of mind at first visit. It looks professional to the client and our office admin will be very happy. Us restorers are are usually first onsite; we see the damage before the assessor evens get the call. Our photos and first assessment is vital to the claim. If we see something that is urgently required we may even have the authority to get things done before it is too late.

  2. Take amazing photos

    As restorators we sometimes forget the importance of photos and what they represent in a claim.

    This doesn’t mean that we need to go to professional photography classes, but we should at least buy a great HD camera with a video. It’s easy to resort to our smart phones, but these can sometimes distort photos and should not be used in high profile cases or cases where we detail is required.

    Photos have been used in evidence many times in court cases in the U.S. and in Australia. Photos are vital for proving things that may have been there before you started the restoration and suddenly disappeared while your company had the keys for their house. We take for granted that our clients are all perfect and would never try anything that is untruthful. Photos also can show recordings of your drying conditions, which can be vital later on in mould cases.

    Don’t forget that you can also use photos for marketing purposes, provided the client has consented for you to do so.

    Most importantly, your photos can be sent to assessor before he gets on-site, so he knows exactly what he’s getting into. What is this doing? Helping the assessor with claim function; in other words, we are communicating!

  3. Talk with the home owner

    This is a very important part of the job. Remember, you are in their home. This is not something that you should take lightly.A good technician is a good communicator

    A great restorer once said to me that when you are in someone’s home you are in ‘their castle’. Talk it through with the home owner and let them know what youare doing and what the machines are doing. Let them know about the noise and power usage if possible.

    It’s also a good idea to provide a data sheet that shows the power usage per machine per 24hrs. This stops them contacting the assessor months later when the power bill arrives, and saves the assessor from having to open the file again, effectively restarting the claim. Back on his desk!

  4. Email the assessor within the first 24 hours

    Once you have completed the first report, email it through straight away to the assessor. Don’t wait until he rings for it; He’s more than likely to be a little bit upset if he is ringing for it!

    If the assessor consents, send the report to the insured as well. This sometimes is not done and discretion is needed when sending reports to insured because some information included in the reports can cause undue worry to the home owner. If you are unable to send the report to the home owner, at least discuss with them what you have done and how things are progressing.

  5. Communicate

    Through the entire drying and remediation process we must keep the lines of communication open. A great relationship with assessors is just like a great marriage; you need to communicate effectively to make it work!

    This means that if you require contractors, materials or job changes the assessor should be made aware of it immediately; an assessor is not going to be happy if they are made aware of changes days afterwards or if they hear of it from other people.

    Phone calls are great, but a transparent line of written communication is better. Emailing can be traced and viewed anywhere, anytime by the assessor, and can be used as proof should anything go awry with the job.

    So, tell us in the comments below –  are you a good communicator?

ANSI/IICRC S500 Draft available for public review

The ANSI/IICRC S500 Draft Water Damage Restoration Guidelines have been revised and are now available for public comment until 13th May 2013.IICRC s500

Items that have been revised include:

  • Significant strengthening to the science supporting our work as restorers;
  • The relevance of the Standard and Reference Guide to commercial projects has been significantly strengthened; and
  • Addition of an easy to read table that outlines which the reccommended procedure for dealing with various materials or building components.

Have a say about what’s going on in your industry

Why should you get involved and comment? Because it’s your industry, of course!

The IICRC relies on its members who are on the front-line, doing water damage restoration jobs every day to provide them with valuable and realistic feedback. Your opinion can help to shape the industry for everyone involved.

Download the guidelines now at http://iicrc.org/standards/iicrc-s500/ and email your comments to mili@iicrc.org by 13th May to have your say.

What’s the ANSI/IICRCs500?

ANSI/IICRC S500 provides a specific set of practical standards for water damage restoration.

It does not provide comprehensive water damage restoration procedures; rather, it outlines the foundation for basic principles of proper restorationIICRC practices.

ANSI/IICRC S500 does not include exhaustive performance characteristics or standards for the manufacture or installation of structural components, materials and contents (personal property).

For more information about the IICRC and ANSI/IICRC Standards, visit www.iicrc.org.

5 tips to help you get insurance restoration jobs

Insurance work is a staple source of income for any restoration company.insurance

For the big restoration companies or network groups who have nation-wide presence, getting insurance work is often a given. But the majority of the industry doesn’t work that way – most restoration companies are small- to medium-sized businesses, who are most likely to be hit with a wave of insurance work only after a catastrophe.

While this means that the smaller businesses are rolling in it after a big flood or storm, it also means that it makes the ‘non-flood’ seasons even leaner by comparison. Not only does this affect the yearly cash flow, it also affects other areas of the business such as staffing and operations, not to mention the overall stress levels of you and your team.

So how you can you increase your insurance work and make sure that it forms a more consisent part of your cash flow? Take a look at the 5 tips below which will help you to rethink your relationship with insurance companies, and help you win more insurance restoration jobs.

 1. Think bigthink big

A 1-off insurance job may just be 1 job among many for you, but for the insurance company it’s about a long-standing working relationship with a restoration company they can trust.

If there’s one thing that really grates on insurance companies, it’s that smaller restoration companies are too quick to look at the dollar value of individual jobs. The insurance sector is always thinking ahead. They like to operate on long-term service contracts, which can last anywhere from 12 months to five years.

Restoration companies need to think long-term too.

Small- to medium-sized restoration companies need to understand that it’s not so much about the individual job as it is about the relationship. You need to weigh up the short term cons against the long-term pros; putting extra time and resources into a low paying job now is worth it to ensure that you are consistently offered insurance jobs in the long term.

Understand that it is not about the individual job so much as it is about the relationship. This means that it’s important to…

2. Understand the insurance company’s focus

Insurance companies are huge. When a catastrophe hits they are dealing with lots of claims with lots of upset and stressed clients, who put pressure on the organisation. So what’s the focus of the insurance company?focus

They want the job done.

This means that you need to stop worrying about the dollar value of the job. If you complete the job in a timely fashion, to a high standard and with no ensuing issues (ie. customer complaints or subsequent problems with damage) you will get paid. Restoration companies need to recognise that the more they focus on how much and when they will get paid, the less likely they are to win repeat contracts.

Stop focussing on the final dollar amount and worry about the quality of the job. They key focus of insurance companies is keeping their clients happy to make sure they don’t loose business or end up on A Current Affairs or Today Tonight. Restorers need to keep this in mind; keep the insurance customers happy and the insurance company will always be happy with you.

Which brings us to the next point…

3. Work on your customer service

Because you have been referred the work by an insurance company, it’s sometimes easy to think that it isn’t really your customer, and it’s this kind of thinking can be incredibly detrimental to your relationship with the insurance company.

While you’re an independent contractor and not an employee of the insurance company you need to remember that you are a representative of the insurance company.

Big insurance companies put a lot of resources into their brand management, and the biggest promoter of their brand is their on-the-ground staff.

As a contracted restorer you need to remember that it is your responsibility to promote brand of the insurance company in a professional manner.

Customer Service

Ultimately it’s the end user (ie. the insurance customer whose home has been flooded) who will be reporting back to their insurance company and giving feedback on your performance. If the insurance company isn’t recieving top-quality feedback from your services every single time they contract work out to you, why should they continue to give you the work over another c

ompany?

And then there’s always the unfortunate situation where an insurance customer lodges a complaint about your service – if that happens, you can kiss your insurance dollars goodbye!

4. Get the skills to do the work

We frequently have attendees at our IICRC Water Damage Restoration course who tell us that they have been doing water damage jobs for years. Throughout the three days of training, these attendees are shocked to realise how much they don’t know about water damage restoration, including psychrometrics, how to determine how many air movers to use, and how to identify when the carpet is actually dry.

This means that there are restoration companies out there undertaking insurance work when they’re not actually sure if they are leaving the property dry or not.

It’s the same story for mould remediation, fire & smoke damage restoration, and keeping proper documentation of the monitoring process. Gaining these important skills will not only improve your technical skills, it will also help to give you a point of difference and help you to stand out above your competition. IICRC

Gain the relevant IICRC certifications for the work you do and promote them to the insurance companies.

Insurance companies like contracting to restoration companies who have proof of certification because it means they are less likely to caue damage or not complete the job to a quality service. To put it simply, hiring a IICRC certified restoration firm makes the lives of the insurers a lot easier in the long run.

5. Get your staff on board

Of course none of the above points will make any difference to your business and your relationship with insurance companies if you don’t have your staff on board. Your staff are your on-the-ground representatives. They’re the front line of your business and they have the ability to make or break your professional reputation and your brand.Successful Business People Showing Thumbs Up.

These efforts can’t exist in a vacuum; if you don’t have the support of your staff helping you to gain more insurance work and develop these relationships you’re just wasting your time.

The easiest way to get your staff on board? Make them feel like they’re a part of the process. Sit everyone down and have a brainstorming session about how you can improve your insurance work. Ask your staff what professional development they would like to help them achieve these objectives. Would they like more technical training or would they like you to help them work on their customer service? Investing in your team to make them feel  valuable to the success of the company is integral to keep your front-line staff happy and productive ambassadors for your company.

How do you make sure you win and maintain contracts with insurance companies? Share your thoughts in the comments feed below.

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