What is Restoration Management Software?
Profit margins tend to be tight for contractors involved in property restoration. Software that can support greater profitability is increasingly seen by restorers as a solution to many difficulties within the restoration industry. But with modern property restoration, software-as-a-service (SaaS) is the norm, charging what may seem to some smaller restorers as rather steep monthly... Read more »
Profit margins tend to be tight for contractors involved in property restoration. Software that can support greater profitability is increasingly seen by restorers as a solution to many difficulties within the restoration industry. But with modern property restoration, software-as-a-service (SaaS) is the norm, charging what may seem to some smaller restorers as rather steep monthly payments. Yet understanding how property restoration software works and how it can increase restoration companies’ profitability will help them choose the platform that best suits their needs.
Understanding Property Restoration Software
So, what is restoration management software, and why is it so important to contractors who restore structures after disasters? In short, these software platforms provide tools that help team members communicate with stakeholders, dispatch field teams, invoice jobs, schedule appointments, and take care of other important responsibilities. According to McKinsey, businesses in every industry continue to pursue digitalization that can improve productivity by 15 to 30 percent if applied appropriately. The benefits of digital transformation are many, varied, and applicable to the restoration sector.
Business benefits of property restoration software include:
- Ability to scale up or down operations by offering access to resources during busy times while allowing restorers to scale back when money is tighter.
- Boosted communications capabilities that enable team members to communicate with customers, field workers, insurers, office staff, and other stakeholders.
- Documentation that’s both complete and accurate so that the company can get paid expediently.
- Lower costs from reduced need for paper and office supplies and optimizing workflows.
- Regular software updates that enable businesses to keep on the leading edge of technology.
- Streamlined processes that typically involve automation of mundane yet important tasks to free up time so team members can perform more challenging and fulfilling work.
Plenty of other benefits can be gleaned from properly implementing property restoration software, though restorers should consider the features that best fit their needs.
Features Property Restoration Software Should Include
Depending on the platform and the contractor, property restoration software should have features that best suit a company’s business strategies. For businesses that deal mostly with water-damage to property, restoration software should aid with the collection of moisture readings and reports that track drying progression. Other companies may find that tracking their most valuable equipment and assets helps them streamline project management, while also allowing restoration contractors to do more with less. For others, sending out photos and videos in real-time helps move projects more quickly through insurers’ red tape. All these capabilities can be gleaned from looking at a platform’s features.
Features to look for in property restoration software include:
- Water damage capabilities: Documentation of water damage is particularly important if a restoration contractor wants to get fully paid, so for any restorer involved in water damage restorations, this capability is a must.
- User-friendliness: Although not every platform will be user-friendly, interfaces should be easy enough to understand so routine tasks are simpler than doing them manually or with older technology.
- Reports: Automated reporting using collected information from past jobs helps restoration contractors make data-driven decisions by making it easier to analyze historical data.
- Integration capabilities: These days, open-source APIs (application programming interfaces) have become the norm to make integration easier, allowing third-party property restoration software apps to function on a platform.
- Documentation capacity: Since field teams spend most of their time away from the office, it’s important that they can document progress by making it simpler to share such things as diagrams, notes, photos and videos, both remotely and in real-time.
- Communications: By creating an easy means to communicate with all stakeholders, it should also enable project managers and field teams to share videos, schedules, photos, messages and other things to help track progress.
- Cloud-based platform: The cloud is becoming increasingly integral for business software platforms to simplify processes like sending out marketing emails or scheduling, along with providing almost unlimited data storage and remote accessibility.
- Accounting capabilities: The ability to track expenses and income is necessary for any business, and it’s especially important for contractors who often spend much of their time away from the office.
While the exact features needed depend on the contractor, it’s also important to consider how property restoration software works in the real world.
Property Restoration Software: How It Works in the Real World
Nowadays, Everybody talks about software platforms for businesses, including the restoration industry. But what is restoration management software like in the field, and how does it work in real-world situations? Restorers who have tried various software solutions sometimes bring up reasons or excuses why a software platform fails to live up to its claims. These may include a lack of training, leading to teams not using it and continuing to do work as they previously have. Other times, contractors may consider starting with a bare-bones platform with few functionalities that do little to improve the company’s performance.
For these reasons, all stakeholders using the platform must be sufficiently trained, even though getting everyone on board may initially seem a bit daunting. However, if the new property restoration software is easy to learn and has an open API, it will allow teams to integrate existing apps to make the transition much less painless. Using a cloud-based platform and an analytics app also helps companies improve their ability to put together accurate reports by enabling the storage of almost unlimited data. This, in turn, leads to better decision-making while also allowing companies to make critical decisions more quickly.
Scheduling apps can help contractors arrange appointments, job start dates, site meetings, and important dates for when project objectives should be met. Messaging and other communication software can provide all those involved in a project with real-time updates, keeping everyone informed. Certain software apps can track resources in real-time so that they arrive when and where they’re needed. Other features help make writing accurate estimates easier by providing templates and quickly incorporating current pricing of supplies and equipment. To tie it all together, a centralized property restoration software platform provides everything necessary to optimize a restorer’s business needs, while making it easier for everyone involved in a project.
Who Should Use Property Restoration Software & Why They Should Use It
Regarding property restoration, software made for the industry offers numerous features within the platform that help different team members do their jobs more efficiently. Certain facets may aid office staff with bookkeeping, for example, while others benefit field teams assessing structural damage and project managers with communicating with insurance companies. By leveraging such solutions, restoration contractors can track expenses, communicate more ably with insurance assessors, effectively serve their customers, schedule appointments from anywhere, and generally do their job more efficiently. Below are just a few ways in which software can benefit a restoration company.
Every company that wishes to become successful, stay in business and grow requires a means to manage their finances effectively. Many restoration platforms either have their own accounting software built-in or integrate a third-party app like QuickBooks to do this. Since the vast majority of restoration companies are smaller, more sophisticated accounting software isn’t normally necessary.
Property restoration software should allow:
- Basic accounting
Office staff or those tasked to handle accounts should be able to use an accounting app for tracking expenses, filing taxes and other accounting duties. It makes these jobs easier, while allowing them to perform other functions within the company.
The need to communicate is an essential part of any project involving property restoration. Software for restorers needs to enable communications through different channels, including email, phone calls, texting or messaging app. Some communication apps even having video chat functions. Communication is an aspect of any business that drives sales, assists with scheduling appointments, provides a means for organizing projects remotely and thank customers for their business after a job is done. There are numerous apps that can be used for this purpose, with those like Slack and Google Chat offering free options. This is a feature every restoration company should have in some form, as it offers benefits to everyone that uses it, whether for customer relations, marketing or other responsibilities.
Just as with communications, every business requires a way to help ensure their customers are happy with their work. For any company that restores damaged property, restoration software should provide sufficient support for customers, who in turn provide a contractor with a source for referrals. Customer relations management software should work in tandem with any communications apps the company uses, at least initially, to limit the changes needed to implement a new system.
It should have tools that:
- Store contact information to make it easier to contact customers through multiple channels.
- Send out routine notifications, like start dates for a project or thank you emails with digital gift cards to customers after jobs are finished.
- Facilitate customer feedback either with their own rating system and/or connections to a site like Yelp, Facebook or the Better Business Bureau.
- Collect demographics that help a contractor understand the clientele that they serve to enhance marketing efforts.
- Aid project managers so that they always know what’s happening with any of their projects and can communicate progress to their customers.
Customer experience is an integral part of any business, but even more so in a sector like property restoration management, where referrals make up a good portion of a contractor’s business.
Restoration contractors and project managers often have too little time, especially in the hours and days right after a disaster when calls come fast and furious. Digital scheduling tools help contractors and managers make sure they’re where they need to be when they need to be there. Digitizing these scheduling functions can help with a host of responsibilities, with appointments scheduled at the push of a button.
Tools like these can help schedule appointments for:
- Contract signing
- Damage assessment
- Site inspections
- Work authorization
Automating scheduling also helps prevent double booking appointments while reducing a project manager’s need to check in with office staff constantly.
Restoration Management Platforms
To tie this all together, a contractor needs a restoration management platform to properly oversee all the digital tools that help restore a property. Restoration software relies on this centralized hub, which in a sense is like a company’s digital tool shed from which all the apps and other digital tools can be accessed. Cloud-based platforms offer the best scalability, and it should ideally have an open API to allow for seamless integrations of software the business already uses as well as future technology. From this platform, users can assign duties, communicate with all stakeholders, market to potential customers, onboard new employees, store important documents, track projects and whatever other digital functions are needed.
The Advantages & Disadvantages of Property Restoration Software
Like any new technology that helps contractors restore damaged property, restoration software has its merits and drawbacks. One important way in which it offers advantages to restoration contractors is by making collaboration and communication much easier, saving both time and money. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons.
Pros of property restoration software include:
- Aiding collaboration and teamwork by making sharing of information easier.
- Automation of menial tasks allow human workers to concentrate on more complex work.
- Cloud-based property restoration software enables almost unlimited data storage that’s accessible to confirmed users from anywhere at any time.
- Delivery of alerts to remind stakeholders of deadlines helps ensure projects are completed on time and within budget.
- Saving time and expense by enabling field teams to work remotely.
- These platforms make sharing information and other resources easier.
Though there can be disadvantages to using a property restoration software platform, oftentimes these can be overcome by focusing on appropriate solutions.
Cons of property restoration software might include:
- Smaller organizations may not need so many features or users; many property restoration software providers have different levels of service with lower prices.
- Connected cloud-based providers make restoration contractors who previously used manual systems more vulnerable to cyberattacks; while perhaps technically true, anyone connected to the Internet is at risk from cybercriminals, and SaaS vendors of restoration software provide topnotch cybersecurity.
- Adoption of new technology is difficult for some people; though some platforms are more user-friendly than others, certain third-party SaaS vendors of restoration software offer comprehensive training as part of their package.
Additionally, implementing new property restoration software can help contractors avoid common mistakes made in the industry.
Avoiding Common Mistakes with Property Restoration Software
Mistakes are easy to make in property restoration. Software helps keep errors to a minimum while often also mitigating their impact. Take documentation, for example. Restorers need to document damage to justify the costs of a project, which includes making notes, taking photos (and sometimes videos), and keeping stakeholders informed. Property restoration software helps contractors document damage in real-time and then send proof to insurers to speed up the claims process. This, in turn, shows customers a restoration company is transparent and accountable, which builds trust that can lead to repeat business and referrals.
When it comes to water damage, time is of the essence for any flooded property. Restoration software often includes moisture mapping apps that can quickly show the extent of the damage. These tools offer an accurate picture of water damage, showing how water flowed and ebbed within a structure, along with which areas most need attention. Waiting too long to begin the drying process can result in additional damage, so having the ability to locate where the restoration company’s nearest dehumidifier or fans can make a difference.
Another common error for contractors, particularly those in the restoration industry, is underestimating the cost of a project. When it involves property restoration, software should have the means to calculate all expenses as exactly as possible so that an accurate estimate can be given to both the customer and the insurance company. This is why a platform used by restorers needs to support the initial inspection of a damaged structure. While accuracy in estimating will always be a developed skill, tools that aid this will make the process of quoting jobs easier.
Arguably, the area in which property restoration software can most help contractors involves communications with customers, field teams, insurance assessors, salespeople, subcontractors, and anyone else involved in a job. Communicating well with these stakeholders helps restoration companies reduce holdups and disagreements while staving off possible legal action. Effective communication, in turn, keeps everyone informed, which helps build trust between contractors and other stakeholders.
To learn more about property restoration software and how Albi can help restorers, book a free demo today!