Strange Mold Facts
May 20, 2015
Be Prepared For Mold…
June 11, 2016

Reduce stress, improve efficiencies and boost profits

Mold is easily disturbed.  Your client is frustrated with the problem and the cost.  The insurance folks know mold jobs can be very expensive so they have capped the payouts, they want the area dried quickly, and are scrutinizing every penny spent.

With so many moving parts to consider for each job, it can be quite difficult to keep focused on profits.  Juggling the demands of the specific job, paying attention to your client’s needs and fears, directing your work crew, and jumping through hoop after hoop demanded by skeptical adjusters and cost-wary insurance companies is what you do.  It can be quite hectic and very stressful.

To relieve the pressure, consider “bulletproofing” each critical process – like source containment. Bulletproofing is “knowing what you are doing” by intentionally defining, documenting and training to the process.

When done thoroughly, the bulletproofed process says, “This is how we do it.”  This written set of procedures provides answers for workers, customers and insurance partners and lends credibility to your company.  It details everything from the sequence of activities, which materials are used and your costs.  It is the baseline to use when judging if the job is being done right and certainly a good measuring stick to see where there is room for improvement in the future.

“Needs Assessment” – Where Bulletproofing Begins

Start bulletproofing with your “needs assessment” process.  Generally, every mold job begins with an assessment of the damage, a statement of the problem and how it can best be addressed.  This is no different than the doctor who first diagnoses the problem and then treats its.  You will first diagnose the cause of the problem and prescribe your company’s remedy or remediation plan.

Falling somewhere between “way-too-small” and “catastrophic” – most mold jobs are likely to need some level of source containment.  Being a trained professional, this needs assessment will be second nature to you.  Even so, be intentional – include and define how you do the “needs assessment.”  It will serve as training guide for future employees, a refresher for current ones.

Clearly state the circumstances where rapid response and source containment are to be deployed.  Once you know when, where and how source containment should be used, it will be easier to effectively convey expected benefits to your prospects.  Being sure and confident about your plans reassures the prospect you are the right choice.  Here is where the foundation of trust is built.

 Explain to the prospect and insurer how source containment is important for this job.  Include how mold is easily disturbed, how your process stops more from getting in the air, how cleaning will be more effective, and how displacement will be less likely.  Quantify where you can.

Be willing to invest a bit of your own resources to protect the prospect’s health and property – whether or not you get the job!  This will be a huge competitive advantage in closing the sale.

“Don’t Keep Your Light Under a Bushel Basket”

Grandma Sarah was fond of saying, “Don’t keep your light under a bushel basket.”  This is really good advice.

Restoration professionals are accountable to about everyone:  their work crews, the occupants, the property owners, the adjusters, the insurance companies and government agencies.

As accountability partners see your process is solid and how it protects their interests, they will know working with you is a good idea.  Shine your light on the way you do source containment.  Connect the dots.  They’ll be glad you did and so will you.

Bulletproofing because Health Matters

 The old saying goes “if you’ve got your health, you have everything.”  Good health matters.

Protecting health is why bulletproofing your source containment process is important.  Effective source containment prevents higher concentrations of airborne spores.  In turn, less toxic air makes the site safer and minimizes the need for displacement during remediation.

Still, err on the side of caution by recommending that those occupants who are very allergic to mold; who have high sensitivity to mold; or who have compromised immune systems (i.e. – the elderly, infants, or those who suffer from chronic diseases) seriously consider seeking professional medical counseling before choosing whether it is safe to stay during remediation.

It may be a good idea as part of your process to keep on hand a “health matters” checklist to prompt your crew and your clients.  Do clients have certain conditions?  Do clients take specific medicines?  In the midst of the chaos, when your customer sees you care about their health and property, they’ll trust you to look after them.

Having been on the customer side of the wall, I know for a fact that you may be the only face of compassion during this time.  As a customer, we have a lot to take in – not the least of which is the physical assault from massive amounts of mold spores.  With a competent source containment process deployed, we can breathe easier because our physical, emotional and fiscal health is protected.  Don’t under estimate the emotional and fiscal relief when displacement is not needed.

An average water damage / mold remediation job might save the occupants as much as 50% or more on their claim.  Ours would have saved 35% according to an Xactimate side-by-side comparison.

For the non-occupant property owner, there is stress too.  Stopping mold in its tracks will be a welcome relief here too because their physical property is less damaged and the rental income stream continues uninterrupted.  Liability is likely to be mitigated by proactive source containment.

The insurer benefits every time the occupant and property owner benefits because your process protected their policyholders.  The proactive nature of source containment gives the insurer a measure of goodwill – which likely translates into fewer lawsuits and smaller claims.

Health wins are a bit more difficult to assess in terms dollars.  Helping your partners understand your process allows them to subjectively decide what happened and how it protected them or saved them from a higher out-of-pocket cost or loss.  Don’t’ try to quantify feelings, safety or goodwill.  Being a high caliber first responder makes you a high value partner.

While the health benefits are first and foremost, you can be sure that everyone affected by the mold problem is silently (or sometimes not so quietly) calculating the costs.  My wife focused on the safety issues and I focused on the money.

Now, let’s look at each participant in the process and discern how source containment might affect the scope and cost with respect to their interests.  What are their financial wins when your source containment process is effective?

* Please note: estimated costs are used for illustration purposes, fully understanding each company calculates their costs differently.  All examples assume some level of participation by insurance and restoration companies.    Some of the numbers used are from our firsthand experience and some is as related by numerous restoration professionals.

“Financial Wins”

 We’ll begin by recognizing that occupants fall into two general categories:  property owners and renters.

Property owners, who are also occupants, will have many of the same concerns as occupants who rent or lease.

As an occupant, they will be affected by insurance concerns (deductibles, caps on mold losses, future premium surcharges, being moved into sub-standard policies and losing multi-policy discounts).  The financial concerns associated with displacement (temporary rentals and associated adjusted living expenses) can be brutal.  This doesn’t include the opportunity cost of overseeing the remediation, restoration, and the insurance adjuster instead of being at work earning a living.

As a property owner of the home, business or other rental property, the focus may also include structural damage, loss of rental income, and liability for damage of others.  Limiting the spread of mold to other units cannot be overlooked.  Responding quickly, taking action with source containment shows you care and helps protect the property and rental income.

Insurance companies and their adjusters will find a “win” in much the same way the occupants especially considering most clients are eager to pass along the costs to the insurer.  Any cost the insured occupant or property owner incurs will have a direct impact on the claim.  Even with “caps or limits” on mold, the insurer has an interest to come in below cap or limit.

As a restoration professional, chances are you’ll need to make a case for source containment to the adjuster because you are adding an expense up front.  Because you have bulletproofed your process, you’ll be able to connect the dots between this line item and the many savings.

Let’s assume your source containment is charge is in the $4-$6/square foot range.

Next, let’s assume upon hearing your charges – the adjuster’s response is in the 100 decibel range or about the same as a Boeing 757 taking off at 300 feet.   For this example, the source containment barrier covers 8’ x 10’ or 80 square feet and the charge is between $320 and $480 including your labor, some MoldHold and your profit margin.

The conversation might go as follows:

You:    (Handing the adjuster an Xactimate estimate of costs) “We found visible fungal contamination that needed source containment.”

Buster the Adjuster: “I don’t know about this MISC:  Source Containment – MoldHold.  Was it necessary?”

You:    “There was sufficient mold present that a rapid response was absolutely necessary, particularly in light of the sensitivity of the occupants and the likelihood that working around it would disturb it, creating significantly more contamination to remediate later.  We used the product MoldHold, then did area containment (see the ZipDoor line item).”

Buster the Adjuster: “I think $480 seems a bit high.”

You:    “At first it did to me too.  Then I realized three significant benefits.  First, by securing the site so quickly with this particular product that actually seals the mold to the wall, I could begin drying instantly and prevent further contamination.  Second, by doing so, I my air scrubbers will be more effective because less mold is in the air.  Chances are I will get a good report back on testing the air and will not need the additional expense of a re-clean and re-test.  Thirdly, the secured site will prevent the occupants being displaced and significantly reduce the A.L.E.s your company is going to have to pay.”

Buster the Adjuster: “So let me get this straight, I pay for the source containment and you can begin the drying sooner (hmm, saving us a few dollars by finishing the job sooner and less cleanup); you are likely to spend less time having to re-clean and re-test ($350); and most importantly our customer sees us as protecting them (mumbles something about “goodwill”) and doesn’t have to move out.  How many people did you say live here?”

You:    “There is Mr. and Mrs. Aguamucho and their three children, ages 2, 4, and 6 – a total of five. Oh, and they have a cat (Mr. Jitters) and a black lab (Sir Barks-a-lot) that would need to be placed in a kennel.”

Buster the Adjuster:  “Hmm.  What would you say the A.L.E.s would run if they have to leave?  $12,000?  $15,000?  Let’s say they have to pick up the bill for boarding Skitters and Barky?”

You:    “At least $12,000 or more.  If typical, your company will save 20-45% on the total claim.  They are going to like that they don’t have to have their lives disrupted by moving out. By the way, I can get you a piece of the contained sheetrock for your inspection if you like and give you our written protocol on how we do source containment that you can pass up the line if you like.”

Buster the Adjuster: “Seems like this is reasonable given the quick response, the increased likelihood of the job ending on a good note very soon, and the savings because these folks won’t be racking up the A.L.E.s.  Yeah, I’d like to see the sample and have a copy of your protocol.  You mind I if pass the good news along to the family?”

You:    “Sure.  Thanks for working with us as a partner.”

The end result of bulletproofing your process is that the little details are not overlooked and every member is informed of what you are doing and why it matters to them.

by Scot LeVelle