Job notes are a key part of field documentation.
While photos and videos provide visuals of damages and job progress, notes can fill in critical gaps to round out the story of what happened on site.
The experts over at Restoration Made Simple (RMS) often see restorers skipping over job notes, thinking they’ll be able to remember details later. This is especially common with smaller shops as they get started. But as you grow and scale your restoration business, it becomes harder and harder to keep track of those smaller details — and harder to break bad habits.
RMS recommends that restorers standardize a process to take quality job notes in the field right from the get-go. Read on to find out how to achieve better job notes, and how it can benefit your business….
Tips from RMS on how to take better job notes
#1: Make sure job notes are created BEFORE your team leaves the site
Techs will likely forget to go back into a job file to update it with notes once they have left the property. And, by creating job notes while they are still on site, there is a higher likelihood that they will remember more details of the job.
#2: Leverage technology to make notes easier
Adding job notes as part of your field process will feel like a chore for techs, especially at first. Use technology whenever possible to make note creation faster and easier.
For example, Encircle offers features like photo notes, voice-to-text, and note templates. Photo notes attach images to a particular note so that they will appear together in your report, while voice-to-text and note templates reduce the time techs spend typing in the field.
Pro Tip: Technology (like Encircle) that allows office teams to view field notes — along with other documentation — as it is captured will save even more time, reducing their need for phone calls and texts to field teams.
#3: Use consistent formatting for all job notes to streamline communications
The format itself is less important than using it consistently on every note. RMS recommends using a number system in your job notes. This way, all team members always know what information is going to be found with each number, to quickly locate the info they need.
Encircle’s note template feature prevents field techs from having to repeat the same text into notes, and guarantees the correct structure/formatting. Plus, using a template will make sure that they never miss an important detail or heading, instead of relying on memory.
What RMS recommends to clients for daily job notes:
On the first day on site, fill out this job note numbered 1 through 6 with any relevant information:
- What is the source? Category? After Hours? Levels?
- What is affected? What areas? Type of flooring? Type of walls?
- What did you do? (Ex: Scope, Work Auth/docs signed, marked walls, extraction, pulled pad, containment, equipment, contents, manipulation, block & pad, protect, antimicrobial, appliances, people and hours on site, lock box code, deposit collection, etc.)
- What is your next step? (return date and time, # of people needed, additional equipment needed, special instructions to access site)
- Insurance company? Claim number? Agent name (for marketing purposes)? Agent phone number?
- Any extra information that you feel is needed: Any health risks? Any children?
On the next site visit, use this same format, but simply put an N/A where there have been no changes since the first note.
And just like that, you’ve got detailed job notes that are easy for everyone in your company to access and find the information they need.
Benefits of job notes for your business
When job note processes are standardized across your company, everyone will know where to find the information they need. That means less calls and texts between team members to check in or ask for information they can’t find in the job file. And anyone searching for information to answer questions from adjusters will have easier access to details of the job, without having to dig through a bunch of photos to jog someone’s memory of what happened. It all ladders up into being more efficient as an entire company, by making information easily accessible to those who need it.
Job notes are one of the best tools to help estimators capture additional line items. Put yourself in their shoes — most of the time, these folks don’t make it onto the job site. They won’t have full context of who was there, for how long, in what PPE, etc. A well-written scope should provide most of the required information, but extra detail within job notes may allow estimators to identify additional line items that otherwise may not have been considered. This is especially important if new discoveries are made throughout the course of the job that will impact the estimate after it’s been written.
With high-quality information available at their fingertips, estimators are able to write more complete and accurate estimates, faster. And that ultimately results in maximizing your line items, getting paid faster, and increasing your profit margin on every job.
Increased credibility (in the eyes of your clients and adjusters)
Depending on the size of your operation, it could be different individuals/crews returning to the site for the next visit. Leaving a summary note with instructions for the following day’s crew ensures they are prepared when they arrive, with the right equipment, and with awareness of any special notes about the property or client. For example, noting a client request to avoid parking on their driveway prevents any issues or tension between the next crew and the client. Little gestures like this go a long way with customer satisfaction, because clients feel heard, and your team looks professional and courteous.
After the work has been completed on a job, the adjuster needs to be able to look at your documentation and understand the story of the loss, without ever having stepped foot on site. Job notes are an extra layer of evidence of your company’s attention to detail, communication, and decision-making process. This information can help adjusters understand any changes in scope or decisions made by your team that impacted the job costs. Not only does this help you justify your invoice and avoid pushback, but it also establishes your business as a credible and reliable partner for the adjuster/carrier to work with again in the future.
Closing remarks & additional resources
Restorers cannot afford to skip the creation of job notes while on site. The experts at RMS have seen that by building good habits like quality job notes with your field teams, and using technology to find efficiencies, your business can realize significant benefits.
Want to learn more about how RMS can help your restoration business become more profitable?
Want to learn more about improving your field documentation with Encircle?