Contents Restoration – Is this a path you want to go down?

Fireline Systems

The profit margins associated with contents can be much higher than many other areas of restoration but most restorers find it difficult to attain them. The reality is, the contents divisions of most restoration companies are broken and in need of repair. In fact many companies would prefer not to do contents at all, but are married to the belief that offering contents services  increases their chances of securing the more lucrative opportunities of the loss.

It pays to know Your Customer?

Contents restoration is in the midst of an evolution and change is inevitable. This is good news for many restoration companies because with change also comes new profit opportunities. Clearly, understanding what your customers need and how to supply it, can earn you a spot on the preferred contractors list.

Listed below are the top five things that insurers require from our contents divisions.

1) Consistent Cleaning Quality

Cleaning quality is a major concern of insurers, as unhappy policy holders frequently jump ship. In many cases insurers have found it more beneficial to write off a claim, rather than entrust the job to a contractor whose service capabilities may be in question.

2) Faster Turnaround Times

For every day that the claim stays open additional costs accumulate. It is to everyone’s advantage that’s all phases of the restoration process are completed in a timely manner.  Providing consistent cleaning quality and fast turnaround is the essence of successful contents restoration.

3) More In-House Services

There are many advantages to being a one-stop shop and the common denominator is control. Offering more in-house services means you’re in charge of timelines and cleaning quality.  Adjusters are more likely to deal with companies who provide more in-house services. Involving fewer companies in the restoration process makes things less complicated for you, the insurer and the customer

4) Inventory Cataloging and Documentation

Documentation has always been a part of contents restoration. Customer logs, total loss inventory, items found and breakage forms are just some of the many commonly used documents in the business. Photographing and cataloging of inventory has also become standard procedure and virtually mandatory. Contents inventory software is a win-win-win. In addition to facilitating accurate inventory some advanced softwares systematically organize and structure the packout in a fashion that promotes cleaning quality and high flow productivity. These are tangible benefits that have a direct impact on profitability.

5) Realistic and Consistent Pricing Policies

Involving adjusters in the estimating and billing process is the key to making insurers true partners in our contents operations. Conducting open house events and CE classes, should be a regular event at your facility. These are excellent opportunities to showcase your contents restoration capabilities and gain creditability.

There is no question that in recent years Contents Restoration has taken a giant step forward. With the introduction of specialized restoration equipment, inventory software and new management strategies, efficiency and productivity have skyrocketed. These developments have prompted insurers to renew their interest in contents restoration, creating a unique opportunity for restorers to capitalize. The concept of working with restoration professionals who can consistently deliver high quality services is appealing to insurers, and adjusters are now looking to partner with capable companies.

As high quality restoration becomes the norm rather than the exception, doing just an average job of contents may not be enough. Many restoration companies are already providing higher levels of service. By reorganizing, updating management strategies and improving processing capabilities, restores can put themselves in a position to gain market share.

Prior to embarking on a contents division overhaul, an accurate evaluation of current contents operations is necessary. Begin by assessing your facility, look at work area layout, production capability and flow. Make a list of services offered and all equipment and tools in your arsenal including software and hardware.  Evaluate your current packout procedures and production protocols and assess personnel abilities. Look at management structure, chain of command, employee advancement opportunities, and marketing strategies.  An analysis of this information will help you paint an accurate picture of your contents division capabilities and help you identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks and critical areas of concern. Begin by addressing your immediate needs first, then develop a clear long term growth strategy.

Don’t put the Cart before the Horse!

There is no doubt that utilizing the right tools for the job can greatly increase quality and boost productivity. Many companies however, have found out the hard way that just buying equipment does not guarantee success. Efficiency and profitability are directly harnessed to and education. Contents restoration is a complex undertaking, that requires the implementation of specific procedures and protocols monitored by checks and balances. The most successful contents restoration operations are committed to the ongoing education of their managers and Techs.

If it’s Broken Fix it!

Unfortunately there’s no miraculous formula that will cure an ailing contents division. Listed below are five reasons why most companies struggle with contents restoration efficiency.

>  Improper packout strategies and job procedures

>  Inefficient inventory cataloging and documentation

>  Inadequate processing facility, equipment and tools

>  Lack of commitment to employee training and education

>  Failure to track cleaning quality, productivity and employee performance

The packout affects every phase of the contents restoration process and is the foundation upon which successful contents operations are built. The packout is critical and has a direct impact on cleaning quality, productivity and profitability. Packouts can be chaotic and many companies are not sufficiently organized with no specific method of operation. Consequently, there is far too much time spent at the pack out scene. Employing a systematic packout strategy, is absolutely essential and is key to success.

Contents restoration is becoming big business, and Contents Productivity Centers that specialize in full-service contents restoration are starting to appear on the horizon. Typically these operations are broken down into a series of departments that include the following: Ultrasonic cleaning, Electronics restoration, Hand cleaning, Soft contents,  Furniture and upholstery, Rug cleaning and Specialty cleaning (documents and minor art restoration).


For decades contents restoration was accomplished using slow, labor intensive hand cleaning methods. Cleaning  quality was often inconsistent because it was dependent upon the capabilities of the individual. Contents processing has continually evolved and we’ve come a long way. It’s now possible to deal with heavy duty cleaning challenges and delicate tasks simultaneously in a continuous flow of production. We are now capable of cleaning much faster and more consistently, and restorers utilizing today’s advanced cleaning technologies are able to recover items previously considered non-restorable.