Things I Learned From Running A Restoration Company

company culture employee managementBy Lisa Lavender M.T.R., M.F.S.R., M.W.R.

I absolutely do not know “everything” and am grateful to learn new things every day. As I consider myself an operations person, my work is never done. I have learned and continue to learn from mistakes, others, and anywhere else I can find knowledge. As I continue to expand and grow, I keep saying: “It is just like running a restoration job!” I do not know if those that I work with are finding it obnoxious. However, I keep finding myself amused.

You may have heard of the best-selling book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum. You will find his first nine of sixteen thoughts listed below and see that they are quite profound:

“1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don’t hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
9. Flush…….”

At a glance, you can see the value of these lessons shared by the author.

I am still learning in my role operating a restoration company. The things that I have learned in restoration thus far have been put to good use in other ways — in restoration software, restoration training, and six years as a co-owner and operator of a professional arena football team. I also have had the opportunity to share what I learned with friends in other unrelated industries.

As I continue my career journey, I am grateful to learn, apply, and share some of the things that I have taken from my experience in the restoration industry. The following list has served me well thus far:

  1. Proactively Manage Expectations
    Customers, members of the team, and all involved are best served when we proactively manage expectations. We should train and develop our best practices around this concept.

    1. Be upfront and honest.
    2. Explain the process and/or experience: As we seek to master this in our organization, this applies to both “negative” and “positive” elements of the experience.
  2. Manage Projects
    Project management skills are essential to not only restoring homes and businesses but also executing anything that needs to be done. Projects should be managed efficiently and effectively by:

    1. Establishing a scope of work
    2. Setting timelines and accountability
    3. Budgeting
    4. Managing Resources – in-house and subcontracted
    5. Effective communications
    6. Orders of operations – i.e., critical paths
  3. “Start With The End In Mind”
    Stephen Covey nailed this one and it should be used as a guiding principle in all we do. We must have clear objectives and desired outcomes as we define the path and all the necessary steps. I learned to embrace this in restoration, and it is most helpful to keep top of mind as an approach to executing many tasks and projects.
  4. People First
    At the end of the day, our people in the organization are the greatest asset and make the difference. The right people, values, and leadership are always of the utmost importance to reaching goals. There are countless ways to develop management and leadership skills. There are so many opportunities to grow and develop. A good start is a true and genuine care for people which will propel you to continuously grow and lead you in the right direction. Even if you make mistakes, people who feel cared for and respected will stick together and rise to the challenges.
  5. Things That Get Assigned Get Done
    Be clear on expectations and assignments of responsibilities. The story of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, Nobody reminds us of this important lesson:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wgucw8ZJijc
  6. Communicate
    This may be the equivalent of “Flush” in the kindergarten book. It is a vital element for effective internal operations, serving customers, managing resources, and even marketing and business development. Not just communicating, but good communicating and listening are critical.
  7. Best Practices 
    Clearly defined expectations that are documented and repeatable are important to create consistently excellent outcomes. Best practices can lead the way in supporting growth, accountability, and training.
  8. Be Resourceful And Never Stop Learning
    You never know what you need or what you need to know.
  9. Continuous Improvement – You Are Never Done
    The world is constantly changing and evolving. Accept that your work is never done and enjoy the challenges and the opportunities as you go.
  10. It Does Not Work If You Do Not Use It
    This applies to equipment, software, knowledge, and the NeoraFit Wellness & Weight Management System that I purchased.

May sharing the things that I have learned help bring you much continued Restoring Success.

Originally published in R&R Magazine online.