The Best Disaster Restoration Companies
The Best Disaster Restoration Companies
The Best Disaster Restoration Companies
Every disaster restoration company claims to be the best at what they do. Everyone has a marketing department that tells consumers how they’re better than the competition down the street. The world today is filled, in every industry, with people competing to be heard about the latest and greatest hype that will eventually leave consumers disappointed. It’s today’s burden in our information age. Fortunately, there are objective ways to measure great companies, in any industry. Standards to which only the great adhere. And, there are ways to objectively measure the best disaster restoration companies.
This is probably not the most comprehensive set of standards to which disaster restoration companies should be held. Just by virtue of us writing this through Delta Disaster Services, we are obviously biased, and our opinions should be taken with a grain of salt. The only organization, in fact, that could probably come up with the most comprehensive and fair measurements of the best disaster restoration companies would be the IICRC since they are the governing body for all disaster restoration companies.
However, we think our list is a good starting point that has at least most of the basics covered. If you see anything below that you think should be omitted, or anything missing from our list that you think should be added, send us a message on Facebook, contact us on our website, or give us a call. Our goal is to give homeowners better tools to choose the right restoration contractor for their disaster cleanup situation.
Making It Primarily About The Homeowner, Not The Loss, Not The Profit
This is probably the most obvious point, and the least easily measured in an objective way. However, none of the following points really matter without this. In fact, we would argue that all the following points are really just sub-points to this one. No company’s perfect and there’s always going to be those people who are unhappy no matter how well they’re treated. But the main point here is that the best disaster restoration companies focus on their customers to make their lives and homes whole again.
The IICRC is the governing body for restoration companies. They provide training, certifications, and entire compendiums on the proper ways to handle flood damage repair, smoke damage repair, contents cleaning, mold remediation, biohazard cleanup, and virtually every type of work associated with our industry.
The IICRC offers basic classes on water damage repair and other disaster cleanup services, along with more advanced classes for commercial jobs and highly specific situations. Like plumbers, electricians, and other trades, restoration technicians have levels of expertise: apprentice, journeyman, and master restorer.
The best disaster restoration companies have master restorers on-staff. Master restorers, however, are incredibly rare. Most restoration technicians are apprentice restorers, managed by journeyman restorers. Delta Disaster Services, for example, has the only two master-level restorers on the entire Western Slope of Colorado. When it comes to your home, make sure you have the very highest level of restorer possible reconstructing your house. Like any trade, journeyman restorers are still capable of doing great work. But when you’re looking for the best, you want masters.
Reputable Owners & Crew
The best disaster restoration companies drug test and background check their employees. And, those employees are led by an owner and management team that utilize honest billing practices and put the customer first. Just ask around when you’re thinking about hiring a company. What’s their reputation like in our community? That kind of question shouldn’t be hard to discover. Look past their marketing efforts and see what’s really going on behind the scenes. People in your community will know, good or bad.
Works With All Insurance Companies
This one’s pretty simple as most disaster restoration companies do work with all insurance companies. The ones that avoid working with insurance companies aren’t in business for the long-haul. They’re also often the guys with a truck and some fans, but no real or recent training from the IICRC. Anyone who makes a business or career out of the disaster cleanup services industry works with all insurance carriers.
Quality, Speed, & Efficiency
All companies make mistakes from time to time. Quality is more about how often a company does the job right the first time than about being perfect every time. Speed and efficiency matter, too. Technicians that take additional trips back to the shop or the local construction supply store because they forgot something add extra days to the reconstruction time for your home.
Customer Service & Overall Communication
The best disaster restoration companies treat their customers well. Unfortunately, in this industry, no, the customer is not always right. Especially when you get into reconstruction. But companies should always explain steps of the restoration project to their customers, and customers should always get the final say on any work done in their home. Any discrepancies between advice given from the disaster restoration company and concerns on the part of the homeowner should be thoroughly explained.
Customers should be informed when technicians are on their way, and when they’ll return. Customers should be kept updated with a general timeline of progress made thus far, and expected time to completion.
When flood damage repair is needed in a home, it’s needed now. A reasonable response time for good disaster restoration companies is about 1hour plus drive time from their shop to your home. Any more than that and you should look for another company.
Extent Of Services Offered
Virtually all disaster restoration companies offer water damage repair, mold remediation, and fire damage restoration. Some offer reconstruction as part of their services offered, but only a few actually perform that work in-house.
When looking up restoration companies online you may have seen the term “full-service,” as in, “we offer full-service disaster cleanup.” This term can be misleading because it implies to many people that the restoration contractor will take a job from initial flood damage repair all the way through reconstruction. What they often really mean is that they offer full-service mitigation only.
There are two basic parts to any restoration job: mitigation and reconstruction. Mitigation is the removal of water damage, mold, or fire damage. Reconstruction is putting everything back together so it looks like the disaster never happened in the first place.
Offering reconstruction can be difficult for some companies because it’s hard on cashflow. Others don’t want to get into it because they just want to focus on mitigation. Among companies that don’t offer reconstruction services in-house, many have a company that they refer work to, and with whom they’ve had a strong business relationship for years.
Then, there are restoration companies who offer both mitigation and reconstruction services in-house. Typically, the communication between contractor and company is stronger with disaster restoration companies that offer both, than companies that must send customers to a separate reconstruction company. Delta Disaster Services, for example, offers both mitigation and reconstruction in-house, and we’ve earned a lot of business in Grand Junction, Fruita, Palisade, other nearby towns as a result.
As a sub-category under services offered there are a host of “secondary services” offered by some restoration contractors. These services are often required to complete disaster cleanup jobs:
Commercial restoration (some companies only perform residential work)
Contents cleaning (and the type of contents cleaning. Is it brush-and-soap cleaning, or is it state-of-the-art technology cleaning?)
Structural shoring and repair
And a host of other services…
It’s a good idea for homeowners to find out what services disaster restoration companies in their area offer and hire the one that offers the most services. The more services a company offers the less number of companies a homeowner has to deal with in the restoration of their home or property.
Modern, Well-Upkept Equipment
No flood damage repair, mold remediation, or fire damage restoration job can be adequately completed without good equipment that’s regularly cleaned and well-maintained. Good companies clean their equipment between every job. No one wants to hire a company that just left a sewage job, with equipment they didn’t clean.
National Network, With Local Decision-Making Power
Having a national network is a big advantage for disaster restoration companies. Franchises come with in-house master restorers, high-level managers with prior adjusting experience, business coaches, marketing trainers, and standard operating procedures for virtually every aspect of the business. It’s easier for good companies to become great if they’re backed by national experts.
However, not all franchise models are good. The best restoration contractors still retain the ability to make the decisions they need for their market. No company will flourish to their full potential if too much oversight is placed upon them. If a company isn’t allowed to adapt to their market, they will never make it to the list of great companies.
Size Operation & Ability To Handle Large-Scale Losses
This is another area where having a national network really helps. No matter how good the local disaster cleanup company may be, if they don’t have enough equipment or enough employees, they won’t be able to handle very many jobs at one time, and they won’t be able to handle large losses at commercial facilities, hotels, hospitals, or government facilities. That’s why the best disaster restoration companies either have equipment far in excess of what they’d typically need for any number of smaller disaster cleanup jobs, or they have a national network who can bring in that extra equipment and labor, as needed.
Experience & Years In Business
Of course, companies that have been in business for more than five years stand out from new companies. Anyone can make money when they first start and have hype on their side. But only the best companies can last through the ups and downs of markets and economies and changes within the industry. Only great companies deliver high enough quality and customer satisfaction levels to get referred by word of mouth, given a long enough period.
It always pays to find the companies that have been in business for at least 5 years or who are part of a franchise system that gives the same level of support and expertise to newer operations.
This isn’t the absolute top measurement on our scale for finding the best restoration companies as there’s always the exception to the rule. There will always be that newer restoration company out there who finds a way to deliver the very best disaster cleanup services in their area. But that type of company is very rare. And as a rule, experience and years in business is still a good checkmark for finding the best companies out there.
Not a lot of people think about this kind of thing, but the people backing the disaster restoration companies in your area have a big influence on their overall ability to provide consistently strong work quality, efficiency, communication, and overall results. Delta Disaster Services of Western Colorado, for example, is backed by the massively successful Western Constructors. It’s a company with a sterling reputation, incredible construction experience, and decades of successful construction projects.
Many disaster restoration companies start with nothing but a dream. Some start with an investor on wall street. Some start with the successful backing of another local company, who already knows and loves the community. But overall, the best companies at the very least don’t have business backers that get in the way. If the person running the company is purely about profits, it’s only a matter of time until they start to ruin their company and cause problems for homeowners.
Cashflow can be related in a lot of ways to the business backers category, but it’s a little different for one main reason: the ability to begin and finish jobs. Particularly large-scale jobs.
It may come as some surprise to homeowners, but particularly with fire jobs or medium- to large-scale reconstruction jobs, there is a substantial front-end investment on the part of the disaster restoration company. Laborers and technicians need to be paid for work they’ve performed. Materials purchased to reconstruct the home are also paid for upfront by the disaster restoration company.
Plus, especially when it comes to fire damage restoration, disaster cleanup companies don’t get paid for their work for very extensive periods of time. Insurance companies only pay jobs in full after the work is completed. The problem is that fire jobs, between inspections that need to be performed by the fire department, police department, and insurance company, structural shoring, contents cleaning, restoration, and reconstruction, can take 6-18 months to be completed! Sometimes, insurance companies will give partial payments upfront to help cover the cost of labor and material. But 6-18 months is a long time to not be paid in-full for work already performed.
Now, multiply that problem with numerous fire damage restoration jobs and dozens of reconstruction jobs, all going at the same time. Only companies with very strong cashflow and resource management can afford to take on such a task. Yes, afford, financially. It’s not cheap to get into the disaster restoration industry, and only the very best companies can streamline large jobs with a strong cashflow.
Partners & Associated Services
Really good disaster restoration companies that don’t offer every service imaginable (and no one does) all have have a long list of other companies to whom they refer. Only amateur companies leave a homeowner with a partially-reconstructed house and no recommendations for who they should call to put it back together. If a company does not perform reconstruction services themselves, or any of the secondary services listed above, that’s not necessarily a huge problem (although it’s certainly not the best), so long as they can provide you a good company that can handle your home’s needs. But again, we have to say that the best disaster restoration companies do provide more services than their competition.