The Importance of Customer Service in the Restoration Industry
Where has customer service gone? SERVPRO has never lost it.
Do you ever feel like customer service is a dying art? I’m not just talking about waiting on the phone for 45 minutes trying to get through the “automated system” and talk to an actual human being, I’m talking about human interactions with businesses that make you want to return to that business, and recommend that business to friends and family who inquire.
In the restoration industry, word of mouth and return customers mean the world to us. It’s not only the confidence in knowing that we cared for them the right way the first time, but it’s a customer entrusting us to care for them again…that is what really reassures us that we are doing a good job.
So when did customer service start to be less important? When did people stop caring so much about the entire experience the customer is having, and look at them as someone who they are obligated to “Take care of” or “Help” I think many customer service skills have become less important due to more and more interaction via the internet and remotely working.
At SERVPRO, we cannot do Fire Restoration, Water Restoration, Mold Remediation, and Bio-Hazard Clean-up from a remote location. We have had to stay front and center in peoples lives, always, even through a pandemic. We are very much a hands on company, both literally and figuratively.
What we hope to hear as a small business serving the Willamette Valley, is that our customers had a good experience with our services. Because when we come into a home or business that has experienced a loss, we want to leave our customers in a better mood than we found them in…at every single visit.
Here at SERVPRO of Salem West we are in the business or caring for peoples homes and businesses, and in a way we are very much in the business of caring for and helping people. There aren’t many jobs that see what we do, and we consider it a privilege to serve our customers day in and day out for the past 20+ years.
Commercial Property Water Damage in Independence, Oregon
Commercial Property Water Damage in Independence, Oregon
Most people don’t expect a property damage to occur, and that’s why there’s little to no evidence of having a response plan in place.
Very few property owners and facility managers invest their time into planning and discussing as many What-If scenarios should something happen.
“What would we do, if…”
By starting with that basic question and filling in the blank with a plausible scenario, decision makers can better respond to most every situation that could occur in a building.
This doesn’t make a property damage not occur, but better equips the building occupants to make decisions, the first of which is always safety.
Most buildings will experience some level of water loss during the life cycle of the building. But most occupants may not know what to do. So, here’s a short list of immediate steps to take.
- Knowing where the water shut-off is located. Is there a main riser room or does each individual suite have its’ own shut-off?
- Do you need a special tool to turn the valve?
- Who do you call for immediate extraction and drying services?
- Who is responsible for any other necessary remedies?
To assist owners and building managers create a plan, there are tools such as the SERVPRO Emergency Ready Profile. This simple app-based tool is easily downloaded to mobile devices and walks the user through setup, start to finish.
Once all the key details, contacts and vendors are input into the system, the app can be shared with others. With the pictures, and location descriptions for all utility shut-offs in a building, users and occupants will be equipped to be their own first responder while reducing time to shut off. Which ultimately means less damage, shorter downtown and less cost.
Being prepared makes good business sense.
Go to www.ready.SERVPRO.com to create your Emergency Response Plan.
Why kitchen water damages are often the most costly!
When we think about the kitchen in a home we think about cooking, food, dishes, and appliances.
Often these days we also think about the finishes in the kitchen. It’s fairly common for counters to be made of Quartz, Marble, or Granite. Also cabinets have become more costly in the last decade, and even more costly in the last year with the lumber prices skyrocketing. Often the thing people splurge on is the appliances in a kitchen, which can run anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
The average cost of a kitchen renovation today in America is $22,184 dollars. Or roughly $150 dollars per square foot! This makes the kitchen the most expensive square footage in your home. With bathrooms only coming in at $18,000 (Master Bath, much less for guest bath).
So taking all the costs into account, it’s easy to understand how a customer can be very upset when we arrive onsite at a water loss in a kitchen. Many times water losses in kitchens means we have to take out all flooring and cabinets to dry the underpayment (and sometimes subfloor!) Most of the time water losses in kitchens are due to dishwashers, refrigerators, insta-hot devices, and freezers. Sometimes kitchen losses are due to an adjoining laundry room having a water loss from the washer.
This is why our SERVPRO technicians will try and dry wooden floors in place if possible. It saves the homeowner time without a kitchen if it can be achieved, and also many times saves the customer from having to file a costly claim with their homeowners insurance.
If the water is contaminated, that is another situation entirely, and SERVPRO always recommends that the flooring be removed and replaced if saturated beneath the surface area.
Whatever the loss and whatever the cause, trust SERVPRO of Salem West to help you through the stressful time of a homeowners loss. Our employees are capable, trained, and want to provide our customers with the best possible outcome in the end.
Mold Remediation In Rental Units
If an apartment complex reports a mold situation in the bathroom, you expect the property manager to deal with the remediation and the repairs following. But, let's say that after the property manager inspects the apartment, they find that the vent in the bathroom has been broken for over 2 months, and the tenants did nothing to remedy the situation, like filing a request for repairs or calling the office to report the fan being inoperable.
Many times, mold remediation can be in the thousands of dollars range. So it is always a good idea to report mold as soon as you take notice of it within your rental. If you don’t, or if you neglect to report an issue that may be causing the mold in the first place (example: leaky pipe, inoperable bathroom fan, broken toilet seal) you the tenant could be held liable for the mold remediation and any repairs that need done after the remediation takes place.
Here at SERVPRO of Salem West, we do our best to find the cause of loss at each job we show up to. Identifying the cause, we can prevent the issue from reoccurring once the mold has been remediated. Whether we are called by a renter or a property manager, we will be upfront with our findings and give our customer real solutions and pricing (we also partner to provide financing, should a customer need it).
Bottom Line: Always report something that is broken or inoperable in your apartment or rental home. You should also make a copy of the report and keep one for your file. A email chain is a great way to communicate between tenant and landlord, because it leaves an open paper trial on both ends and eliminates miscommunication of “he said, she said” when phone conversations take place.
Locally Owned And Operated For Over 20 Years!
When people think of the SERVPRO brand they think of a large, nationwide corporation. What is largely unknown is that SERVPRO is franchised, so each location is unique and it’s own separate business. SERVPRO of Salem West and SERVPRO of Lincoln and Polk Counties are both owned by a local family here in Salem. This same family has owned these franchises for the past 20+ years. The owner still hows up each day at the office and shows passion for the business.
Some of our employees have been apart of our business for the past 15+ years. We have many people that have been here for 5-10 years. Our core team at SERVPRO of Salem West is passionate about our goals and our customers. We are always looking for good people who show interest and compassion when it comes to working with people suffering losses to their homes or businesses.
SERVPRO is more than just a brand, we are a community of dedicated technicians who live within the SERVPRO ideals and values. It usually happens pretty fast when a person decides if this job isn’t for them, it’s usually on a crawl space job, or an extra strenuous job that some people are just not cut out for. That is okay too. We are not for everybody, but it’s exciting when we find someone who truly enjoys and is passionate about working in the restoration industry.
Many come to us with no on-the-job restoration experience, that is why SERVPRO offers our training programs in-house called ECTP (employee certification training program) this is a why a new technician can learn about their industry and their responsibilities before they even set foot within someone’s home or business. If an employee passes these tests and shows enthusiasm when out in the field and has a passion for our work, many go on to attend an IICRC program to get nationally certified in the industry.
Lack Of Rains Effect On The Willamette Valley
Here in the Pacific Northwest we get lots of rainy days, but we get more sunny days than people living in other states might think. Oregons stormiest and wettest months are coming to a close, and as we move into mid-may we approach the warmest and sunniest days of the year. Many of us saw an unprecedented last year in storms and climates affected by wildfires.
The wildfires, although not a storm, were spread easier and wider due lack of precipitation in the willamette Valley from January-September 2020. The dry conditions caused a small wildfire to grow exponentially and violently across any area they were started in.
We also saw an ice storm this past winter that was unlike anything we have seen in the region before, this storm took out the electricity for many Salem residents for more than a week, it also caused a vast amount of damage in the area due to trees on homes, and sump pumps failing in basements (that are widespread within oregon as we have many mid-century homes).
On average in Oregon we have 152 rainy days a year. This year so far we are listed as “Much less than normal” when it comes to precipitation. There have been more severe or usual weather occurrences, but not more rainfall over the past 12 months.
It important to note that we may need to start researching methods to better handle a heavier wildfire season than average. After seeing the devastation from last year hopefully this year we are a bit better prepared.
Here is some great information about wildfire safety and prevention tips: https://www.redcross.org/content/dam/redcross/atg/PDF_s/Preparedness___Disaster_Recovery/Disaster_Preparedness/Wildfire/Wildfire.pdf
Remember the biggest cause of wildfires is humans, most wildfires are completely preventable. Let’s be extra careful this season with our awareness when it comes to campfires, burning bans, cigarette disposal, and the setting off of fireworks. It only takes a moment that can cost hundreds of acres of burning with the right weather conditions.
How The Past Winter’s Weather Has Made Us A Better Restoration Team!
The ice storms that hit the willamette valley this past winter were unprecedented. We had so many people calling us, and so did every single other restoration company in the area. At first it was daunting, overwhelming, and trying to keep up was a task that took our team well into after work hours. We had people calling us with trees through their roofs, we had people calling with flooded basements, damaged windows, and no access to electricity. All the generators in the area sold out in a matter of hours. People couldn’t drive on the icy streets (Us included the first 12 hours).
We were too busy! Not just as a company, but as a industry within the entire area. There was not enough help to get to everyone that needed it, when they needed it. It took a couple days, but we fell into the rhythm of knowing how to have that first conversation with a distraught customer. Most were completely understanding and just happy that we could help at all, even if it wasn’t right away.
We had companies calling us saying they were referring clients to us, we had to give them the same answer that we did so many others, we have a waiting list in place for customers and we will get to you as soon as we possibly can!
It’s not easy to know how to navigate a situation like that as a company that is here to help. We are programmed to get to losses as quickly as possible, however getting to many properties quickly was just not an option overall.
If such an occurrence happens again, and hopefully it won’t for a long, long time, but if it does…as an industry and as a community I think we will be able to face the aftermath of such an event in a much less fearful way. After all, knowing we have gotten through it before gives us strength when it comes to facing the same obstacle again.
Individual Cleaning Standards: What is Clean?
I think it’s important to note that everyone has different standards of clean. I met a man once who said he kept his home meticulously clean…and he was half right. His home was very clean, in the sense that it was clean of disorganization and clutter. But there was dust covering all horizontal surfaces within the home. So is clean “organization”? Or is clean “free from contamination & dust?” The answer is the later. If a space is well organized, it can still be filthy. But a “messy” house, with toys, books, clothes, and clutter everywhere…can be completely clean!
So how clean is your home? Most spaces appear clean until more detailed inspections take place. SERVPRO keeps our standard of clean as “Sparkling, dust free, sanitary, organized” organization matters when it comes to keeping a clean home. It’s also easier to maintain a clean home if it isn’t constantly covered with clutter. But it is interesting to note, that a space can appear messy as can be, but be completely clean.
Regular and proper cleaning is good for indoor air quality and health. Keeping the dust at bay is good for people with lung conditions such as mesothelioma and asthma. Airing out your home is very important, especially if you have no central air. Moving stale air out of a space, and inviting fresh air into the space, can give your house a crisp and fresh feel.
As spring is coming to an end, many of us are feeling the push to finish (or start) our spring cleaning list. So here are some tips on keeping your house clean, organized, and full of fresh air!).
-Make the beds daily (and keep bedding laundered weekly)
-Do laundry as it accumulates, don’t save all the laundry for one day of the week
-prioritize chores and tasks (dishes are more important right now than organizing the bookshelf)
-Be happy with 80% clean, if you get your home to 80/20 you are doing a pretty good job! Try not to obsess over the details and look at it as a 100% or nothing scenario.
-Declutter! Haven’t used it in the last 12 months and aren’t planning on using it in the next 12? Donate or throw out or sell that stuff!
-vacuum every day (or every other day if carpet is not a heavily trafficked area).
-sort and recycle paper ASAP! (Mail, magazines, bills, etc)
-Keep a cleaning schedule (Tuesday bathrooms get deep cleaned, Wednesday is dusting, etc)
-Try to wash dishes right after meals, and keep counters clean by the end of the day!
-Do a 15minute pick-up/organize routine at the end of each day!
-Air out your house often when the weather is clear and air quality outside is good.
Handling Mold Correctly in a Commercial Enviroment
What are the most important things to focus on when handling a mold occurrence in your commercial area? If mold is discovered, do you know the next steps that you should take?
You arrive at work one sunny Monday Morning at 8am, and decide to finally pull out the fridge and retrieve your favorite pen that dropped between the fridge and counter 4 months ago. You use your massive muscles and move the fridge easily…those lifting sessions are really paying off!...but then, you see it! Behind the fridge, in a place that last had boring beige colored drywall, is now a large area of MOLD.
You start to think about what to do about it, you inspect it further, you think about the rest of your team coming in at 9am, especially Mrs. Zellner with the asthmatic episodes. You think about grabbing a bottle of bleach and going to work…but then you stop, and decide to look up mold removal. Up pops SERVPRO! You see that the brand it nationally known and certified in mold remediation, you also see that their mold remediation services prevent cross contamination, and they can also determine what is causing the mold (if there is no obvious reason present).
You call the number and schedule a tech to come out within the next 2 hours. In the meantime, you call your team and let them know the situation and that you are having it looked at this morning. You give Mrs. Zellner the option to remotely work since she is worried about exposure. You mention that you are having a certified company come out who will prevent cross contamination when they remediate the mold.
A few employees choose to stay out of office in the morning hours, the SERVPRO technician arrives before 10am and inspects the mold. She lets you know that the growth was due to a very tiny crease leak in the supply line to the fridge (That explains why the mold is so low to the floor, you look closely and see water impressions on a few places on the vinyl. You turn off the water supply to the fridge to stop further damage. The SERVPRO technician gives you a verbal working estimate and the option of a Not-to-exceed agreed upon price of remediation. You two talk about insurance, your deductible is more than the quoted amount the SERVPRO tech just gave you, so you opt to pay out of pocket and are thrilled when the SERVPRO tech says that they can do the work today!
Another team member shows up and you pay the bill upfront, they set containment and get to work. By the end of the day, you have the refrigerator repair man lined up to come out the next morning. And you now have that boring beige drywall again behind the fridge.
Best of all though, you have Mrs. Zellner coming back tomorrow morning with cookies of appreciation baked just for you!
Biohazardous Situations on our Salem Streets
Let’s face it, today more than ever, we are faced with more bio-hazardous situations when we go out into public than even 5 years ago. Downtown Salem is very hard to navigate at times, and we have all come across bio-hazardous items on the street downtown.
What are the bio-hazardous items that might be dangerous that you have encountered?
For an example, any area that smells of urine is a telltale sign that the area is contaminated. It’s difficult to determine where urine is without a product to spray and identify the areas affected…so tread carefully. As a precautionary measure you can wash your shoes if you suspect you have walked in a urine contaminated space.
Fecal matter is also a common bio-hazardous item that unfortunately has become a common thing to stumble across when out and about in downtown Salem, this is an extremely hazardous occurrence and should be reported and cleaned up by professionals immediately. Don’t try to clean fecal matter up yourself, it’s much different from picking up poop with a doggy poop bag. It’s better to report it, and have a professional pick it up and decontaminate the area.
Any food items that have been half-eaten and discarded, and beverages that have been partially-drank and discarded, can easily have Bio-Hazardous materials on them from the saliva of the person last drinking and eating them (granted they are not as hazardous as fecal matter, but still should be avoided) if you choose to pick up and discard these items, make sure to clean your hands properly after handling them.
Needles, Sharp Objects, and Syringes. These should be avoided at all costs. If you see any syringe, needle, or sharp element, report it immediately. Do not attempt to pick up the item and discard it yourself. Precautions are in place for our technicians that are assigned with such a task for a reason, you can never be too careful when it comes to something that might be contaminated and can easily penetrate the human skin.
Bottom line, be aware and be careful when out and about. We look forward to the day that our streets are free from fecal matter and urine and garbage, but no one knows when that may happen. No one knows when a solution will be sourced, and until that day…take extra care when out and about. Carry hand wipes (disposable gloves if you regularly pick up garbage) and hand sanitizer. We will be able to enjoy the clean streets of downtown Salem again, but until that day, better safety measures should be taken.