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When a disaster hits, the focus of any organization is trying to clean up and get back to a normal routine. Even with help of professional restoration services, it can be a frustrating and challenging time. The process might also likely be unfamiliar, which adds to the difficulty.
Related: Emergency Management Planning
Understanding some of the restoration logistics involved with the process for commercial properties – and getting a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into planning and recovery work – doesn’t only alleviate frustration. It can also help business owners, facility managers and commercial property decision-makers identify, select and assist a restoration company to help you get back on your feet.
Restoration Services and Priorities
The highly sought restoration companies are ones that have a reputable response time 24/7 to assist businesses that have experienced a loss.
One of the first issues to address is aligning the restoration strategy with the priorities of the organization and its leadership. Every building has different priorities, which might change depending on the severity of the loss or the specific circumstances surrounding the disaster.
For some, it might be keeping the business running to maintain cash flow and keep professional partners happy, while others might be more concerned about team member retention. If a closure or interruption lasts too long, businesses risk losing team members, and rehiring and retraining can be expensive.
With that in mind, successful restoration companies understand the first step in the restoration process is asking a series of detailed questions beyond “What is the nature of the emergency?”
Questions to be prepared to answer include:
- What losses have occurred?
- How is this going to impact your business?
- Are you going to be able to stay open?
- Is there a creative solution we can implement to help you stay open?
- If not, what’s the plan to expedite reopening?
This might entail overnight work or some other unconventional cleanup and restoration strategy. Restoration companies need to be flexible and responsive to every client, but particularly sensitive to your operational and logistical needs, and proactive about addressing specific concerns and professional priorities.
Emotions might be running high in the wake of an emergency, and restoration companies need to be sensitive to that.
Specific restoration strategies obviously differ depending on the nature of the emergency. However, severity of the damage isn’t the only factor attributed to adding time and expense to a recovery.
In the aftermath of a loss at an industrial facility, there’s often expensive machinery that must be broken down to parts and thoroughly cleaned for recertification. This can be an incredibly labor-intensive and time-consuming process.
In a multifamily complex, the restoration company isn’t just coordinating with the building owner, but with individual tenants – all who have their own personal possessions and concerns. That’s a formidable logistical challenge requiring significant resources.
Additional complications can arise when a business and a building have different owners and different insurance companies, adding new layers of logistical complexity that might result in potential delays.
Partnerships and Personnel
The size of the response team required to address a disaster can vary from one person to hundreds, depending on the nature of the disaster and the severity and extent of the damage. Size of the facility and the specific requirements of the restoration are also considerations when leading a response team.
A recent industrial fire in Michigan was largely contained but created a large amount of soot. The cleaning process needed to get the equipment up and running quickly required between 60 to 70 team members working virtually around the clock at a single site for four days straight.
Demand variability makes it critically important for a restoration company to forge strong and enduring relationships and training partnerships with all trade partners.
Ideally, a restoration company should have the professional relationships in place to ensure it can reliably deploy the high-quality personnel and resources needed to handle whatever a restoration challenge demands.
Coordination and Communication
Prioritizing restoration tasks in the event of a large regional impact from a catastrophic event can be a challenge, and requires both organizational flexibility and the ability to perform a kind of regional triage.
For example, a hole in the roof is more pressing than some missing siding. Communication and coordination between team members is always important, and is particularly urgent in the wake of a large-sale disaster.
After damage occurs, businesses hope to remain open during the restoration, if possible, or return to normal as soon as possible. It’s the restoration professionals’ responsibility to listen and assist with an efficient solution to make that happen.
Experienced restoration companies have dedicated in-house personnel responsible for communication/coordination, and should have the proper training in place when communicating with businesses to ensure the correct questions are being addressed on the front end.
Plus, these companies assign individual project managers to act as a single point of contact for every client. This avoids confusion and streamlines and simplifies communications. Project managers are responsible for planning and overseeing everything from scheduling and strategy, to insurance company approval, repair execution and project completion.
Today, technology has dramatically increased the speed at which information is transmitted. The best restoration companies now have powerful software that automatically files all incoming information (e.g. emails, photographs, documents, estimates from the carrier) and organizes it by job number.
The software also plays a key role in maintaining records throughout projects and makes information available to clients to help provide a clear timeline. Those master databases are connected in real time to all employee communications platforms to ensure all essential information is both accurate and accessible.
Prepare for Restoration Logistics
Facility and property managers might have many questions both before and during the restoration process. No one knows the facility and the business better, and your guidance and insight are often an important factor in the restoration equation.
Very few businesses are ever truly ready for a disaster. One of the most important things decision-makers can do takes place before a disaster occurs.
Some restoration companies offer specialized emergency preparation programs and services, conducting a facilitywide review to locate water and mechanical shutoffs and identify critical systems locations (essentially anything that typically causes or exacerbates a loss). They can develop a response plan to ensure team members know what to do and who to call in the event of an emergency.
This investment can possibly reduce future downtime and mitigate or minimize the impact of a disaster, leading to potentially dramatic long-term savings.
Zolman Restoration is a full-service restoration company specializing in fire, smoke, water, mold and storm restoration services to commercial and residential properties.
Jeff Katkowsky (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of Zolman Restoration.
Shaun Quinn (email@example.com) is director of operations.
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