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Evolution, as explained by a water damage expert.

sucessful business modelOn The Spot Cleaning and Restoration began as one person with an idea. The idea was to provide a great service at a fair price. Not a revolutionary idea, but a solid game plan none the less. The plan with any business is to get started and build to a comfortable size that makes sense for the market or area it serves. As any business owner knows, this is easier said than done. The trick is to grow to a size that mirrors the needs of the service area, while controlling the overhead, or operational costs to accommodate the amount of work coming in. Again, this is not a unique idea, rather a fundamental foundation for business in a free market.

This is so simple that anyone can run a successful business right? Not exactly, just like a home, the foundation is a very small part of the finished structure. All of the parts that are seen and touched are on top of the foundation.

When was the last time somebody went in to a home and said “what a great home, I really love the foundation!” This will probably never happen, but if you walked into a home with a crumbling foundation it would most likely be pretty obvious.

On top of that foundation is where the real home is built. In business this is represented by things that go in to your service or trade that compliment your foundation. If the foundation is providing a great service at a fair price, then the home is all of the other things that your customer see and feel that ensure that this happens. This includes products or merchandise if it is a store front business, or end results of work completed if it is a service or trade type business. It doesn’t stop there however, all of the other things that factor into the end result are part of this as well. Employees or human resources are a part of this, as well as, all of the things it takes for them to provide the service or goods necessary.  This includes tools and equipment right down to the actual work space, and everything in between.

Wow, maybe running a business isn’t easy after all.

For arguments sake let’s pretend that we have a business that is working well, has a great model and provides a great value to the customer it serves.

Life is good!

Not so fast, buckaroo! Now let’s say this same business, has been running along like a well-oiled machine and all of the sudden the market shifts for some reason.

Now what?

This is the problem that effects business in every industry, every day! If you don’t think so, look at the Eastman Kodak company. They were a juggernaut in the financial fabric of the U.S. economy for decades then a hand full of nerds came along and decided that they were going to develop a product that would change the world as we know it. Out of the Silicon Valley, came these products called personal computers that will probably be looked at as the most revolutionary invention/discovery it the entire history of mankind, maybe even more important than the discovery of fire.

“I object! Speculation, Your Honor!”

“Over ruled. Council, I don’t know where you’re going with all of this but you better get there quick!”

Sorry, I always wanted to say that. Thanks for helping me cross something off of my bucket list!

The point is, that after we all had computers at our finger tips, it was only a short time before the film/ media industry was decimated by the digital camera. The digital camera was the meteor to the film/ media industry’s dinosaur.

So it can happen and does happen in every industry, and if you become complacent your customers and industry will leave you behind.

This rings true for the cleaning and restoration industry as well. The old ways of doing things don’t produce the same results today. There is a standing joke in our business about checking for moisture in a wet structure. It goes something like this;

“I know the carpet is wet because I knelt down and my knee got wet”.

“Oh, you used your (picture me doing air quotes with my finger) Scientific Meters!”

This might have been a pseudo-acceptable method years ago but in today’s industry it doesn’t cut the mustard.

We have more things at our disposal than ever before, whether it be software, thermal imaging and detection equipment, or air movement and dehumidification equipment. All of these things, on top of countless other technological advances in our industry, have made it very easy to deliver the best results possible to the customers we serve.

While all of this seems great, it all comes at a price. As I mentioned before this is a free market economy, so anyone with the drive and inclination can compete for a share of said market. Competition is essential to this system because it give the customer choices. Any time this happens it fosters the philosophy that prices will be driven down to compete for the business available. This is a good thing for the consumer. It also lets the business owner find ways to be profitable based on supply and demand for those same services.

The reality is that while our industry has and will forever be evolving, this is the same for every industry. Our business is very dependent on the things that happen in the insurance industry. There has been a lot of attention paid to insurance reform over the last decade and this will continue to be true in the future. While the main focus has been on the health care side of insurance, it is also true for life, auto, and property & casualty insurance.

I want to be clear on this point, reform is a good thing if handled properly. Reform is intended to streamline the process, and what that means is making all components run efficiently in order to deliver a superior product at a premium price.

What this means for all of us in the restoration industry is that there will be a heightened level of accountability. As insurance adjusters are looked at to be good stewards of the insurance companies’ monies, they will in turn have a heightened set of expectations for the restoration professionals to justify the work necessary to mitigate a loss and restore a property to pre loss condition.

These are all good things for the consumer because the intent is to keep costs down across the board.

These are also good things for our industry because, that means that only reputable companies that operate with integrity and the best interest of all parties in mind, will be able to survive in this new climate.

This is the same founding principle that was implemented when this company was just a guy with van and a dream. If we can stay true to that while being flexible enough to evolve with the industry and with our customers’ needs, then we can not only survive, but thrive far into the future.