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August 18, 2022

How to get paid last: a restorer’s guide to loaning money

It only takes a quick scan of any online restoration community to understand the vexation restorers feel having their estimates regularly challenged and scrubbed.

In the latest benchmarking survey from Cleanfax, 35% of restorers reported that it’s taking them 6-8 weeks to get paid for work that they’ve already completed. 😱

You too can join the ranks of frustrated restorers world-wide.

Here's how:

1. Cobble together a “solution” using a bunch of different apps ⚒️

There’s a word for this:

To make or repair in an improvised or inventive way, making use of whatever items are at hand.

Example: “The restorer MacGyvered a bunch of apps together to capture the job documentation he needed but it took him forever and the invoice still received pushback from the adjuster.”

It’s true restorers have had to be inventive when it comes to fabricating an end-to-end tool to fit their unique needs, and while that’s admirable, in 2022, with all this technology, should they have to be this creative? Isn’t restoration work demanding enough?

If you’re competitive and hungry for your business to excel, you know that these days, you need to be able to get-in-and-get-out WHILE capturing a certain caliber of documentation in the field.

The majority of these piecemeal digital solutions still require another team member back at the office to sort through the data and organize it into a presentable format, causing duplication of work. So, give yourself a break and stop cobbling together different solutions that only get parts of the job done. Invest in one platform that is easy, reliable and solves for a multitude of your pain points, but doesn’t promise the world.

Restorers need a mobile app that’s purpose-built for them, so they can capture documentation in the field that will stand up to even the highest standards (which are only predicted to increase). It needs to work for a variety of jobs, be portable, and simple to use. Plus, due to the nature of restoration work, it needs to be reliable - even in conditions where there is no internet connection, like after a hurricane. Bonus points if the provider you choose has a support team you can actually speak with, human-to-human.

When you’re knee deep in a sewage backup you’ll be thankful you ditched the clunky workarounds and found a bespoke solution.

2. Don’t take an extra 2 minutes and embed videos into your reports. The photos alone will tell the “gist” of the job’s story 📸

…But why wouldn’t you? Using the Encircle video feature you can walk through the job in 2 minutes, capturing details that will keep everyone on the same page, and leave no room for misinterpretation.

Trust us when we say that if you think pictures speak a thousand words, video surpasses that. So video AND pictures? A lethal combo, an adjuster’s dream.

Properly identifying the initial scope of work on Day 1, especially through a tangible medium like video, sets the expectations for everyone involved in the project. It also serves as a baseline, helping you identify when the scope of work must be increased due to unforeseen circumstances or hidden damage.

Using Encircle’s video feature, you can embed videos right into your report, laying solid ground work, accurately depicting the state of affairs, and putting you in the driver’s seat of the claim. Whereas regular video cannot be uploaded to XactAnalysis, or larger file sizes may restrict emailing, embedding video in an Encircle report is simple. Avoid the exasperation of a video file being “too large” to send and bouncing back.

Our customers have seen repeated success using this technique to create initial video scopes, describing the situation and context of the loss as they walk through the job, filming as they go.

Right off the bat, the act of noting the cause of loss, the resulting damage, and anything else that could potentially impact the job or costs, has helped them get paid faster with less pushback. As a result, they’ve been able to take on more volume.

Learn how one customer utilized Encircle’s video feature and moved up preferred vendor ranks quickly, going from average, middle of the pack, to top 10 in the entire U.S. Contractor Connection network here.

On the picture-taking front, taking thousands of slightly similar photos and just labeling them numerically, with no descriptors or discernibility can take a lot of precious time for:

a) your team to organize, and
b) a reviewer to examine.

You know what we’re talking about…


…and so on.

If you're capturing photos in the kitchen, why can’t they be automatically labeled and organized under the label Kitchen? The good news is: they can be.

Rather than having to waste hours manually labeling photos, Encircle keeps things nice and tidy, intuitively labeling photos based on the room the restorer is physically in. Built to replicate the user’s physical world…Encircle mirrors the world that restorers work in, digitally, and that’s why it’s so useful for capturing field documentation efficiently.

For years, we’ve seen an acceleration in insurance tech: tools being specifically created to give carriers better control over the review process. As these giants start to standardize these decisions and make them requirements within the industry, it’s time to take a stance and equip RCs with tools designed for them, to help restore a balance of power.

3. Make the report a fun treasure hunt for the adjuster 🕵️‍♂️

Send an unorganized, mishmash of coffee-stained paperwork, illegible chicken-scratch and hand-drawn floor plans. It'll be like a puzzle and they need to crack the code.

Adjusters are incentivized to close claims quickly, so they want to work on the well-documented claim reports first. They don’t like chasing down info—so get yours on-point and localized all in one report. If they have to hunt down for information they’ll move on to the next file, and yours will collect dust—delays, distress and discouragement for all.

Instead, try organizing the data collected in such a way that every report reads like a children’s picture book. Serve adjusters everything they need on a silver platter: one nicely packaged report that serves as a tour of the property, telling the story of the loss and the work that needs to get done. Professional reporting makes your business look professional, earning you good will, and a good reputation.

4) Play hide and seek with your documentation internally 🙈

For those who love the chase. Because who doesn’t love spending hours trying to track down information? Withhold a single piece of crucial documentation, just enough so someone has to head back to the site to collect what’s been missed—we hear gas is cheap these days.

But for real, many administrative professionals' favourite part of the day is shipping off a thorough invoice that they’re confident will get paid out ASAP, so they can move on to the next one. Everyone loves that satisfying feeling of ticking off the boxes of their to-do list, and considering your admin team is probably the omniscient “glue” of your organization, best to stay on their good side and not withhold this joy from them.

5) Don’t sweat the legal stuff 📝

But it should definitely be a priority. Unlike general construction, property restoration puts the contractor and their business at greater exposure to liability claims. A poor contract can cause delays in collection, especially if you need to go to court.

So get your contracts in order.

Consider the legal documentation you’ll need to protect your company and ensure you can collect what’s owed to you, should any disputes over payment ever arise. Implement standard processes across your company around how, when, and where this documentation will be used.

Note that some documents are designed to empower the restorer to do the work and get paid, while others are created to prevent potential problems from occurring as the job progresses. Use your best judgment determining which paperwork is needed for unique situations versus what you need to weave into your business’ operations, so your business doesn’t become bloated with documents that were designed to eliminate a one-off problem.

Here is a basic set of legal documents every restorer should have in their arsenal:

  • Written Contracts/Work Authorizations
  • Waivers
  • Change Orders
  • Health and Safety Questionnaires
  • Completion Certificates
  • Lien Notices
  • Payment Plans/Agreements
  • Sub-contract Agreements
  • Customer Right To Know

In fact, in the Encircle app, restorers can have all of these legal documents right at their fingertips. Don’t take the risk that a critical contract ends up blowing out the back window of the truck. Let Encircle digitize your legal documents and keep them safely stored, ready to roll.

We also can’t stress enough how critical it is for restorers to get their documents drafted by a lawyer who understands the restoration industry and the local laws in the jurisdiction that they serve. We recommend Ed Cross “The Restoration Lawyer” who has dedicated his career to advocating for the legal and financial interests of the property damage restoration industry.

6) Assume adjusters will pay simply because you did the work 🤞

Ah, the age old debate, estimate versus invoice.

The restorer calls it an invoice because they’ve already completed the emergency mitigation work and incurred some very real costs (labor, equipment, etc.), but to the adjuster, it’s an estimate that’s still up for negotiation.

Whatever you want to call it, when you lack sufficient documentation to back up the work performed, you leave the door open for discussion and different interpretation of the scope of work. Stop assuming—proof is what gets restorers paid.

So if you’re reading this and you’re thinking to yourself on second thought, I’d rather avoid the cash crunch and handing out free loans…

We know restorers do great work, let Encircle help you prove it.

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