A Restorer’s Perspective on Technology Advancements

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Paul Davis Restoration of Greater Rochester, New York, has grown 10 times over the past eight years, largely driven by our embrace of the many technological advancements that have been made available to this industry during that timeframe. Being open to new technology and its benefits has played a major role in our 30% growth each year since acquiring the franchise location. 

Over the last 10 years, technology use in the restoration industry has rapidly gone from a convenience to necessity. The best way for me to portray the importance of technology would be to give you the example that comes to my mind when I consider how technology has changed this industry.

Many of us have been here.

It is an initial inspection for a large fire loss and you need to document the loss, sketch, and estimate. It is dark, many of the windows are boarded up and the power is off. Your headlamp is almost out of juice and are now using a flashlight tucked under your arm as you take thorough photos of each room. You have a mechanical pencil, tape measure, and graph paper as you sketch every door, window, and room. It takes hours. When you get back to the office you begin to move the photos around and organize yourself, only to realize you cannot tell how many recessed light fixtures there are in the living room because your photos do not show the entire ceiling. You pretty much lost the entire day. Don’t lie, this type of thing happened to all of us.

The above is just hypothetical scenario, but the point is, you probably can think of three or four things you do now to expedite that initial inspection or make it more effective. Technological advancements and improvements over the past decade in the restoration industry have been critical in improving communication, accuracy, and efficiency in almost every aspect of the job. 

Documentation and Data

Job site documentation can be a challenge. Getting good data from field staff to the team in charge of estimating and billing is probably one of the most important things we want to get right from an accuracy and profitability standpoint. And, as our businesses grow, that information becomes more and more important. Without good systems and technological support, it can become a mess very quickly. Over the years, job management, time tracking, and drying tracking software systems have made mitigation job tracking significantly easier and more defensible to carriers and allow for creating scalable systems and procedures.  As software companies continue to innovate and integrate other technologies into their job management systems, additional efficiency gains can be expected for those who embrace the technology changes.   

Additionally, the use of job management software with an integrated CRM has had a major effect on our ability to pull useful data from the field and make educated, data-driven decisions that have allowed us to make positive changes for the company. Using these programs, I can tell you in minutes our gross margin on each different type of work we do. I can also, in the blink of an eye, tell you the gross margin on a very specific type of project. Do I want to know what our gross margin is for water mitigation projects that we obtain through specific Third-Party Administrators that we perform the initial visit after hours? No, problem!

3 Dimensional Scans

3D scan technology like Matterport and DocuSketch have probably had the biggest impact on our business over the past five-six years, eliminating the need for hundreds of photos and manual upload. The larger the loss, the more critical it is that we have a virtual walkthrough at our disposal. 

Many of the 3D scan software platforms will spit out a full sketch, and while they still need some tweaking and verification of measurements, they save hours of time for someone building an estimate and square footages. Additionally, these platforms often have virtual measurement tools that will allow you to measure building material with a few clicks of a mouse. 

Not only do these scans help us with estimating, but they have done equally as much for communication and customer service. If an adjuster is across the country, a scan like this will give them a much clearer picture of the loss, expediting an often-arduous process. 

At our location, we take three or four scans per large loss. One initial scan of the damage and property, one after mitigation and demolition, one after framing and rough-in (for Certificate of Occupancy and code compliance recordkeeping) and one final scan of the completed project.

As far as technological impact goes, it is hard to say anything holds a candle to this advancement. These scans have allowed us to make our processes and documentation more scalable and have saved countless hours. In addition, these scans greatly increase our accuracy of reconstruction estimates due to the detail it allows increasing our profit margins. Not to mention, we do not have to drive a half an hour to take a single photo of recessed light fixtures anymore.

Field Operations

Technology has not just impacted the way we document; it also has had major impacts on how we work in the field. Remote monitoring and equipment tracking systems present another opportunity to reduce labor and fixed costs and improve profit margins. Restorers can now get notified if their equipment is turned off, what the readings are at any given time, or if it is malfunctioning. 

Additionally, our industry seems to always bring forth cutting edge technology to help us dry, deodorize, clean, and remediate structures safely and more effective. Embracing these improvements and staying up-to-date on the latest technology and advancements has allowed us to continuously improve the way we serve our customers.

Conclusion

Let’s face it, the restoration industry is unlike any other. It is certainly not an easy business to run successfully. We must be salespeople, building science and hazardous material experts and knowledgeable about almost every other building trade, all while we deal with people in their greatest time of need. As an industry, we are constantly adapting and learning, as we all continue to move forward, we must continue to embrace technological advancements in our industry for ourselves and for those we serve. 

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David Savage

David Savage has owned Paul Davis Restoration of Greater Rochester, NY for the last eight years and with his team serves their customers in their time of need performing water and fire mitigation, mold remediation and asbestos abatement, as well as reconstruction services. David is a Master Water and Fire Restorer and his company has grown 13x over the last eight years by putting the customer first and embracing technology. He has been married to Kristen for 21 years and they have two sons Gregory(17) and Patrick (12) and they have travelled to 39 states with a goal of hitting all 50 in the next two years.

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