Choosing the Right Restoration Software
Restoration software helps contractors get a leg up over their competition.
Many regular people seek out the services of a restoration company in their time of need. Often, this is due to some seasonal disaster, like a spring windstorm that causes a tree to fall onto a building’s roof, a wildfire in summer that burns the deck and causes smoke damage throughout a home, a tornado in autumn that takes off the roof of a house or an extreme winter cold spell that causes a house’s pipes to burst. The busiest season may differ for each restoration company, but it’s at these times that people need restoration contractors most.
Yet consumers often have plenty of choice when a natural disaster hits, as the restoration industry is highly competitive, with many smaller players. Someone looking for a contractor to do restoration work will often go with the business they see as the most reliable. Sometimes, this means the first to send a representative to their door, though this method for choosing a contractor often isn’t the best. Restoration software helps contractors get a leg up over their competition, which frequently means just beating a competing company to the punch. Yet, to choose the best restoration software for their business, contractors should first consider what their company needs.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Restoration Software
Disaster restoration is different from any other sector within the construction industry. Unlike other construction companies, a restoration contractor usually gets jobs through an insurance company or third-party administrator. They also regularly require the input of a property manager and subcontractors, who must be kept up to speed with the project status, along with associated paperwork and decision-making. The software helps organize these efforts.
Modern restoration software means employees can conduct business onsite rather than return to an office to complete or complete paperwork. Cloud-based restoration management platforms also allow field teams to send detailed information, including photos or videos, to show the extent of damage in real-time. This helps reduce the risk of inaccurate estimates or other errors. The best restoration software is easy to use, secure, and compatible with current systems while also having features to help restoration businesses function better and provide customer support.
Ease of Use
Complicated software is a bane to most businesses that try to incorporate it. The best restoration software is user-friendly. Cumbersome applications that aren’t easy to learn create a burden for employees rather than resolve workflow issues, often not producing the claimed savings in time and money. However, just because software is easy to use doesn’t mean it’s not sufficiently robust to add value. Any seasoned contractor will readily admit that more accessible solutions (as long as they don’t cut corners) are usually the best. Restoration software must thus provide value through its features while being easy to learn and use, especially for those who don’t spend their days working in front of a computer.
The best restoration software offers an intuitive interface, allowing users to navigate options quickly. It should enable information to be input in various formats to keep users focused on what needs to be done. Simply designed interfaces allow even trainees to grasp concepts easily, speeding workflow and keeping everyone productive. Even if the software has sophisticated features, software shouldn’t be challenging to learn.
User experience relies on the ability to navigate through a software application easily. The best restoration software allows employees to easily and quickly find the necessary information. Time is money, and simple navigation of a restoration platform speeds workflow.
No business software should take too long to learn how to use. The best restoration software will offer comprehensive tutorials and other training resources that help a contractor’s workforce learn the new system quickly. The more rapidly software can be implemented, the more quickly tools that optimize a company’s operations can go into effect.
The vast majority of restoration contractors will be using specific software applications already. Unlike yesterday’s closed systems utilizing proprietary software, the best restoration software depends on open APIs (application programming interfaces) operating with open-source and proprietary applications. Integrating with existing apps that contractors and their teams have used for years allows more seamless integration. Plus, it enables the inclusion of new functionalities when an innovative app resolves a problem. This helps contractors build upon the platform to create a more efficient working environment.
Gone are the days of standalone software, especially regarding business platforms. These tools must work with a restoration company’s hardware and way of doing things. Software must also be able to integrate with what’s already in use. If it isn’t compatible, it won’t be able to help the business scale its operations, not to mention the time and effort it takes for staff to learn how to use these new tools.
Features and Functionality
Restoration contractors need a broad range of software features to support their business operations, from accounting software for office staff to moisture-mapping apps for field teams. These features must help rather than hinder the functions of all who will use the platform, regardless of their role within the company. Ideally, it will provide real-time information on all restoration projects across all aspects of a job, from sales and marketing activities to the signed contract to the note thanking customers for their business. Above all, the best restoration software will have the features necessary to help resolve any issues without introducing new ones.
The best restoration software should include the following:
- Ability to integrate with current software and systems.
- Automation that streamlines workflow to improve efficiency.
- Capabilities to customize the platform according to specific business requirements.
- Capacity to scale operations to allow for business growth and changing market conditions.
- Communications in real-time via multiple channels, including email, messaging apps, social media, telephone and text.
- Data analytics tools that facilitate decision-making.
- Features to enhance scheduling and project management.
- Mobile accessibility enables teams to work from anywhere.
- Real-time reporting capabilities that help keep stakeholders up-to-date.
- Topnotch security to protect sensitive data.
Once a contractor’s specific restoration software provides all the necessary features, it’s essential to consider its impact on various teams and how it will enhance the company’s competitive advantage.
When choosing a restoration management platform, how a restoration company grows during boom times or whether an economic downturn should be considered. All businesses must adapt and scale according to market conditions; the best restoration software allows a contractor to do this. A key advantage of custom restoration software with an open API is that it will enable restoration companies to do just that.
While software is essential to any business today, it’s also made businesses vulnerable to cyberattacks. Any software these days must consider security. According to the Annual Cyber Threat Report by ReliaQuest that gathered data between February 2022 and the end of January 2023, construction is the most targeted sector for cyberattacks, including ransomware attacks. Though larger construction businesses tend to be more frequently targeted, smaller contractors are also seen as inviting targets since they tend to have less robust security.
Three security features the best restoration software will have to include:
- Data encryption: Protecting data through encryption helps prevent access to sensitive information from unauthorized entities; without an encryption key, criminals cannot access stolen data, which is why all digital data should be encrypted while in transit and when stored.
- Backups: Recovering data after a cyberattack – or even after a physical disaster – is essential, which is why it’s crucial to have a partner that enables frequent backups and provides reliable data recovery capabilities; the best restoration software partner should be able to support data storage and recovery, whether it’s cloud-based, on-premise or a hybrid of both.
- Compliance: Regulations regarding data extend to restoration companies to prevent hackers from accessing sensitive data, and even smaller contractors need to comply with these requirements.
Restoration contractors increasingly adopt software for various business purposes, so ensuring these digital channels are secure is particularly important.
Restoration contractors understand how to provide support for their customers during a project. When it comes to providing customer service, restorers are among the construction industry’s best. Restoration software providers should also be able to provide sufficient technical and customer support for their products. No software is perfect and free of issues, so it’s imperative that a third-party provider also be a reliable partner.
If a provider’s customer service is horrible, this is a red flag, and restoration contractors should consider carefully whether to use that company. In fact, contractors should apply similar criteria to a software provider to any subcontractor they might use. As such, the best restoration software platform should support their product 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and 365 days per year without fail.
Remote technical support and customer service should be available through multiple channels like text, phone, email, or chat. Support response time, too, should be under ten minutes and preferably closer to five or less. Just like a restoration contractor tries to accommodate customers, insurance companies, subcontractors, and other stakeholders, third-party providers should be able to resolve issues quickly and easily. Additionally, restoration software isn’t static. It requires security patches and other maintenance, so it’s important to ask a provider about updates and how it intends for the platform to evolve.
Price is often a factor for any business. The same goes for restoration software. But as with customer service, restoration contractors understand that low initial cost may not translate to good value over a longer-term period. Materials and labor may be less expensive initially, but using cheaper options often becomes more costly than paying for quality materials or work.
For this reason, restoration contractors must first look at which platform’s features suit them best. Restoration software that’s inexpensive but doesn’t meet a contractor’s needs isn’t good value. Many restoration software providers offer flexible pricing models and payment options as well. But in the end, the best restoration software will offer the best value.
Return on investment (ROI)
Any investment made by a business should result in a sufficient return. ROI is based on a simple formula: the gain received from the investment minus its costs. Generally, the longer the period over which software has been implemented will result in a higher return. Measurements of ROI can get messy, as there are many other factors involved, so a contractor may decide to look at just one aspect of this, like sales and marketing ROI.
In fact, the best restoration software can make this easier. A restoration management platform should have software tools that enable the measurement of revenue and expenses before and after onboarding it. Restoration contractors can then look at their spending on marketing and compare it to revenue growth, using data analytics tools to create a comparative analysis. Restoration companies can then show which jobs are more directly related to a specific marketing campaign to ascertain its effectiveness and the company’s ROI.
How Albi Can Help Your Restoration Business
While we think Albi is the best restoration software available for many in the industry, we also understand that different restorers have different needs. That’s why we’ve built our software with an open API to ensure flexibility no matter the business environment. With Albi, you can use the software tools your teams are used to while also positioning your restoration company to add innovative apps as they’re developed. To learn more about Albi and how it can work for you, we invite you to book a demo or sign up for a free trial today.