Most company owners would give
their left arm to have a couple of hours to explain to a customer just how
great their company is. Almost every action, attitude and guideline in a
company can be called marketing – clean equipment, uniformed (and pleasant)
employees, professional Yellow Pages ads, an easy-to-use Web site, etc.
But one area often overlooked is when a customer spends time looking
at invoices and job documentation: many companies provide poor documentation to
their customers, and lose a golden opportunity.
Cleanliness is the standard for everything in a good restoration
business. A dirty truck, technician or piece of equipment would never be used.
The same standard should be applied to job documentation. Handwriting should be
neat and legible. Pictures should be clear. Meter readings should be
understandable and make sense. A few simple things can be implemented to
improve the cleanliness of your company’s paperwork:
moisture readings, provide a key to what all the readings mean. Then your
customer doesn’t have to try and decipher their meaning.
sure that all different paperwork is clearly labeled for its purpose.
paperwork with multiple pages, number pages clearly (e.g., “p. 3 of 5”).
technicians with digital cameras and spend a little training time showing them
how to take good pictures.
maps should not look hastily drawn, but should have crisp lines and meaningful
representations of moisture migration, inspection points, material types, and
Clear notes are another part of excellent documentation. Handwritten
and printed notes, e-mails and phone documentation can be included in this
category. Be sure the date and time is on each note, and also indicate who
wrote the note. Document names, if it was a conversation, and the topic of
conversation. If the note was about an observed condition (e.g. “Upon arrival
at the residence, it was noted that the dehumidifiers were not running.”), add
details about what caused the problem: was a breaker tripped, was the unit
malfunctioning, or was it simply turned off? This bears repeating: legible
handwriting is a must for the technicians in the field. Notes are useless if
they cannot be read.
Excellent documentation ties up loose ends. It answers all the
pertinent questions about a project before they are asked. Every project has
unusual circumstances; for these, add extra notes, documentation, pictures,
etc. For example, if a water loss required extra air movers, be sure to
thoroughly document why the air movers were added, making sure it is a logical
(and hopefully indisputable) reason. If a procedure took twice as long to
complete and there is an extra charge, explain why.
Another aspect of tying up loose ends is your understanding of that
customer. You may know an insurance adjuster well enough that you can predict
their “pet peeves” about a job. Excellent documentation addresses these
potential problems and prevents them from taking root and growing.
Be sure to take advantage of reports that can be produced
automatically from systems you already own. Remote monitoring, moisture
documentation and estimating products all have functions that can take the data
you have gathered and produce professional reports, tables and graphs.
Finally, all documentation needs to be double-checked before it goes
out. Is there a person in your office who is very detail oriented? That person
should be checking all of your documentation. Develop a check sheet ensuring
that all forms, documents, notes, etc. are included in the file. As the final
check, look at the documents the way a teacher would. Would you give that
documentation an “A” grade? If not, you need to improve.
Everything you do in your business says something about your
business. Clean, clear paperwork and excellent documentation says good things.
Incomplete documentation, unclear readings, loose ends and a lack of
explanation says bad things. You should consider the documentation you prepare
for customers to be a part of your marketing effort. Building owners and
managers value a well-done documentation packet because it gives them
confidence that their structure was remediated effectively.
If your business produces poor
documentation, it is hurting your profits and growth.