Looking to vet new tech for your property restoration business, but nervous about getting started?
We sat down with a panel of industry experts to get their take on the steps you should take before you begin your search, what criteria to evaluate new tools with, and how you can successfully implement the restoration software, once you’ve chosen it. Here are some of their key takeaways.
Before your search: Create a shopping list for your team
Searching for new software for your restoration business can be both a daunting and exciting experience — there are so many intriguing features and capabilities being offered by so many solutions that you may be eager to jump in and try them all out. But before doing so, you’ll need to step back and focus on your team first. These features may be interesting, but will they actually deliver value to your organization?
It’s important before starting this search to truly consider and understand your company’s needs; what improvements do you need to make to your processes? What outcomes are you wanting to achieve? What will improve your operations, without negatively disrupting your treasured team?
Take a look at what parts of your process are currently working for your team and what needs improvement. Remember, no matter how great the new tech sounds, you shouldn’t have to force a piece of restoration software to fit into your workflow — it’s meant to help your process, not shape it entirely!
Pro tip: Focus on your team first and foremost, and then create a grocery list of all of the ingredients that your team will need for success.
During your search: Consider multiple solutions & integrations
Now that you’ve created a list of all of your team’s needs, you can start the next phase: actually evaluating different restoration software solutions.
But wait, most restoration software solutions don’t meet all of the needs that you set out. At this point you may be wondering why there can’t just be one piece of restoration software that does it all — wouldn’t that be so much easier than having a multitude of apps?!
The reality is that each software company and application specializes and gets really good at doing different, but specific things. Unfortunately, there is no “silver bullet” that does everything that you need at a high enough caliber. The property restoration industry has a complex plethora of software requirements, and no one app can fulfill all of these needs properly.
Pro tip: Be skeptical if a software claims to be able to solve all of your problems; any solution that tells you that they have it all is probably too good to be true. If you’re going through a sales pitch, change the questions that you’re asking to go a bit deeper.
Instead of trying to find “one app to rule them all,” look for multiple applications that solve one or two things at a world-class level. It’s much better for your company to have apps that integrate with the other solutions that you need, than a bunch of apps that don’t talk to each other!
In the property restoration industry, software needs to be able to talk to each other, automate, and drive downstream processes. Can the restoration software that you're looking at legitimately connect to other systems that you’re evaluating or already work with? Will this integration allow data to flow from the field to the office in real-time? Will it eliminate a manual process and free up a human to do something more productive? It’s important that you then step back and ask yourself “do I actually understand what the integration does, and does it actually help me?”
Take a look at whether or not the solution you’re evaluating has an open API (Application Programming Interface). A truly open API is publicly available and provides developers with access to a proprietary software application or web service. If the software you’re looking to purchase has an open API, it will be that much more accessible and likely easier to integrate with the other solutions that are critical to your business. If this is the case, you’ll be able to create truly integrated workflows that make your team more efficient and effective.
Pro tip: A lot of software providers within the restoration industry have been in the space for several years now and architected their software for what was the proper design structure at the time. But back then, APIs weren’t capable of what they are today! Take a look at your tech stack to ensure that it is at a current level and able to adapt to what’s now becoming available between systems.
After your search: Get buy-in from both the top and the bottom
On to phase three: implementing the restoration software that you’ve chosen. In order to be successful in this stage, it’s critical that you have the right people on your team not only leading the implementation, but also supporting it and cheering it on. This support needs to come from both the top and the bottom of your company: the leadership team and the weakest links.
From a leadership perspective, you may get buy-in from a majority of your leadership team but have a few people that aren’t as keen. Even though it could just be a few leaders, they could potentially drag down the whole implementation process fairly quickly, sabotaging your efforts.
In the early stages of implementation you’ll need to keep an eye out for such leaders and ensure that they are all on the same page. Your leaders need to be cheerleaders for the software in order for it to be a success! Be open to collecting feedback, and make sure that you’re fostering a safe environment in which everyone feels comfortable communicating.
Inversely, you need to not only look at the most influential people in your organization, but also the weakest links. These are the people on your staff who are always complaining and slowing others down. Train these individuals to be more powerful, open minded, and have more information regarding the software. If that person is influencing the rest of the team, your chances at getting buy-in are going to be higher.
Pro tip: As you’re implementing a new piece of property restoration software and bringing it out to your team, put yourself in their shoes — try it out for yourself! As a leader, when you put yourself in your crew’s shoes, it becomes easier to understand their experience and communicate your vision to them.