What is one item that most property restoration owners and managers will agree is an issue in their business? Within the Top 5 responses will be some aspect of documentation. Anyone who has been working with water and fire damage mitigation or renovation for more than six months knows that documentation is the key to getting paid in this industry. Owners and managers regularly express that the pain of poor documentation is consistent, if not unbearable, in their businesses. So, how do we go about fixing this?
The unpopular truth is that poor documentation starts at the beginning of the process. As an owner or manager, before you can complain too loudly about the lack of thorough and consistent documentation from your team members in the field when was the last time you monitored your client intake process?
How would your technicians answer these questions:
Your client intake process is critical to setting up your team for successful outcomes. The estimator needs as many details as possible to be successful in invoicing for the work that your mitigation team has completed. Your mitigation team needs as many details as possible to be successful in responding intelligently and expediently to the needs of your customer.
Client intake is not something that should be left to chance, there should be a script and a form that gets filled out each time, regardless of who takes the call.
While many owners and managers have high aspirations for their businesses, many times what we do is not in line with what we say. Our habits do not reflect our expectations (dissonance - see Diagram 1). In chapter 9 of So, You Want To Be A Project Manager? I share a simple test for new managers,
“When you are having issues with performance, you should take a step back and ask as a leadership team, ‘Are we holding our team members to a higher standard than we are holding ourselves to.’”
While owners and managers preach it all the time, they must remember that success is a team effort. If you want your team to care about the mindset and habits that lead to clear and consistent documentation, they must observe everyone else working to do the same. You can’t just say that we all follow the same process, your team has to demonstrate it. Managers must be accountable for information flowing downstream if them want to see that example followed as information flows upstream.
When was the last time the managers or the owners went out on a call using the information and tools that their team members receive on a daily basis?
If you are experiencing the pain of poor documentation, there are no silver bullets or easy fixes. You should be encouraged to know that you are not alone and that improvements in these areas will be the result of committing to a few simple habits. Start with your client intake form and process, it may not seem like it will make a difference but accountability comes from clarifying the vision and being consistent with the process.
Clarity + Consistency = Accountability
Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, is a 19 year veteran of the property restoration industry and a business coach through his organization The DYOJO.