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When a tornado tore the top off a high-end bank, the contents pros were faced with numerous challenges. How did they deal with all of them?
One at a time.
First, the team boxed up the money.
All the workers had been pre-qualified and the project managers had all undergone background checks, so there was no question of their integrity. Bank employees assisted with the pack-out of the cash and important documents. But the contents pros were surprised to discover that some of the thousands of documents were worth hundreds of thousands (potentially millions) of dollars – and they only had three days to complete their pack-out.
Everything was triple-checked. Every box was labeled and sealed. And a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) police unit moved the boxes to an undisclosed location.
Then, the contents team – the exact same personnel – unloaded the documents and made sure every one of them was accounted for.
Next, much of the bank’s heavy furniture had to be removed from the damaged building and the elevator was out of commission for much of the job, so the contents specialists called on their structural associates who swung into action with a “Tele-Handler” that reached up to the second story and lowered the massive desks and other equipment to the ground.
Self-adhesive, shrink-wrap plastic protected the carpets, a 6-mil plastic dust barrier was erected to protect a massive fi tank and special “pathways” and “staging areas” were created so that the contents pros could move important items freely – all other areas required direct authorization and accompaniment by a project manager.
30 office of contents were moved, cleaned, restored and returned – virtually every move that was made saved the insurance carrier significant sums. Every item, every desk, every box and the contents of every drawer was meticulously logged before and after the moves.
At one point a protected species of bird (probably displaced by the tornado) had moved into the project site and was “dive-bombing” cars in the drive through! The contents pros brought in a specialist to relocate them and learned a great deal about the law and the proper handling of such a situation (if bank employees or restoration crews had harmed the birds, heavy fi would have been levied).
The contents team blended their efforts seamlessly with the structural crews and when asked by a columnist what he was most proud of when the job was completed, the restoration company owner replied, “We were most proud of the way all of our divisions came together.”
He had brought a mobile command center on site and each team leader checked in and cross coordinated their efforts. “We were all very impressed with the group dynamic and how smoothly they could transition from working separately to working together, as if that was what they had been doing all along.” Any adjuster, who has had the opportunity to work with a trained contents team knows the joy of having them work through challenges – fl creative and moving like an assembly line of restoration.
Ordinary “cleaning crews” don’t have the training, the experience or the capabilities to complete such exacting tasks – real contents professionals do. When faced with new situations, they adapt, create new techniques and proceed.
There is rarely a more difficult moment between an adjuster (or agent) and a homeowner than when the insurance representative has to say that the insurance funds have been depleted.
For decades contents pros have been showcasing the new processes they use and the significant amounts of money they save for insurance companies. Repeatedly, they search for small and large ways to funnel resources back into the working capital so that valued items can be restored and the precious dollars that are available can be “stretched” to serve both the owner and the carrier. Something as simple as a project manager discovering that boxes of children’s clothes (in a household where the children have long since grown) won’t need to be restored, can redirect funds to the restoration of valued clothing.
Restoring (instead of replacing) smoke damaged and water damaged items saves the carrier massive sums in many cases. A single designer purse can be restored to pre-loss condition and save hundreds of dollars.
A desk (as in the bank article above) can be hauled away as refuse or restored in such a manner as to save the insureds and their carriers a small fortune – and when there are 30 of them in a single building, the fortune saved is no longer small!
Contents specialists have long known that when they are able to assist the adjuster to conserve the available funds and maintain their processes within the policy limits, they can create a harmonious conclusion to the project and earn the trust of the carriers for when future jobs manifest.
Just as an example, a recent report stated that soft contents, damaged by smoke, water and mold can account for up to 40 percent of affected contents in a typical loss.
The contents pros are constantly looking for ways to restore valued items (and finding them!) Every team manager is trained to work with insurance adjusters to maximize the use of available funds in order to achieve both the homeowner’s desires and the insurance company’s budget. There are rarely surprises when dealing with a contents restoration company, and when such surprises occur, they are virtually always a bonus for the adjusters and their bosses!
Contents managers know that it is imperative that the team and the insurance representative “speak the same language.” Of course computer programs like Xactimate, and Digital Photo Inventory techniques certainly help. But there is an easy language that fl between seasoned professionals.
A project manager might say, “We’ve got sticky soot all over the figurines I recommend that we use the ultrasonics machine.”
And the adjuster says, “Can’t do it. The boss had a bad experience with ultrasonics. Is there anything else you can do besides toothbrushes and cotton swabs?”
And the contents manager says, “We once ran soot-covered porcelain figurines through a dishwasher and they came back darn near perfect. Let’s try a few pieces. If it works, I’ll assign two workers to checking all the pieces for hairline cracks and to make sure all the soot is removed -- and if it doesn’t, we’ll go back to the old fashioned way…”
And so it goes. Two professionals quickly finding common ground.
How do you know when you are speaking with such a professional? Well when the pros run out of answers they know, they will create a new solution -- beginners and amateurs can’t.
In these increasingly hectic modern times it is becoming more and more common that an adjuster may not be able to get to every site, instead opting to use computers and experience when creating an estimate. Which is why contents project managers have become more and more aware of their role as the adjuster’s eyes and ears.
So, in the early stages of a job it is likely that the contents professional will give him (her) a quick call.
It might sound something like this, “Hi Sam. They are going to ozone the whole house this afternoon to mitigate the smoke odors, but before they do I thought I should point out that there are a bunch of wooden Tiki statues in the second bedroom – about 30 of them. They look pretty old and some are shellacked with some shiny stuff.
I’m sending you pictures right now, but I think we should get them out of here and clean them up in the shop. Ozone can be really hard on aging, glossy finishes.
A quick phone call and a couple of pictures might have just saved thousands in replacement costs – not to mention the ire of the owner!
Insurance adjusters learned long ago that they can trust contents specialists to be their “eyes,” when it comes to the restoration of a client’s valuables.” If that is too long, try, “Adjusters know they can count on the eyes of the contents specialist.
Something new! The contents pros have done it again! We all know about cleaning and disinfecting, but now the contents pros are introducing “protectors” that block bacteria and mold from ever forming. They are referred to as “biostatic antimicrobial surface protectors.”
They have been around for a while. You will find them used in shower heads, cutting boards, even plastic rulers – but now you will see them used as a “finishing touch” in decontamination jobs (sewage back-up, mold, etc.) and they bring a whole new level of service from the real contents professionals.