Breaking the mold
It seems that there is no lack of mold jobs that need professional remediation. The question is, what techniques do you employ to land more mold jobs for your company?
First, every company is different in its expectations.
Some companies want all the mold remediation proposals they write, while others will go to a job site and find they don’t want that job at all.
Then they offer no proposal at all.
The following suggestions will assume that the homeowner or commissioning agent has hired, or is going to hire, an indoor environmental professional, as outlined in the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning & Restoration Certification (IICRC) publication, S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation, to perform an assessment. (See “Qualified inspections” sidebar)
Mold work, as in any service business, starts with initial contact from the potential client to you, the restorer, by telephone.
Most potential clients simply want help with what they fear is a mold problem in their home.
They want it fixed.
This is a very important phone call.
You no doubt already have in place a system for landing carpet cleaning, furniture cleaning or other business.
You can use some of the same techniques, such as what stands out about your company.
Find out how they got your contact information; simply ask if a friend, colleague or family member made the referral.
This helps you discover their early expectations of you, and begins to lay the groundwork for a good working relationship.
After all, if you had performed mold work for one of their friends and that was the referral instead of a “Yellow Pages” call, your odds of success are greater.
Discuss with the potential client the dilemma, his/her viewpoint on the scope of the mold damage, and your experience in remediating problems such as this.
If you are being called upon to potentially perform the remediation, then your visit should be done after a qualified professional performs an assessment, in which case you should be able to view the report.
Then you need to set up your visit to the home.
Should you charge for a proposal? Yes.
Let the potential client know your policy on remediation proposals.
Perhaps your policy is to apply a percentage or all of the cost of the proposal to future restoration efforts.
Charging for this service gives the customer a level of commitment from the beginning.
You want customers who are interested in having a healthy environment.
During the visit, you may find work in the home that you do not perform, such as waterproofing, duct cleaning, crawl space encapsulation and more.
In cases like this, it is good to have answers to what the potential client needs, so have a good working relationship with other contractors in your area who you trust.
You can either refer the work to that contractor, or subcontract the work out.
That’s a business decision you’ll have to make.
The mold report and proposal
Much depends on how the client feels about you.
Unconsciously, many people make decisions based on emotion.
Therefore, your presentation and demonstration of knowledge of the subject will influence the homeowner’s decision.
You can break down your proposal into line items, which will show the potential client the steps you will take and will help justify the cost.
These line items can include air filtration during remediation, containment needed (including set up/take down), drywall removal per square foot, insulation removal per square foot, HEPA vacuuming per square foot, etc.
Others who conduct inspections and give proposals may figure their cost and charge a flat rate and give that as a quote; there is nothing wrong with that.
If an insurance company is involved, it will no doubt demand an itemized list, as well as having a third party perform a scope and protocol that will likely include sampling.
Just remember that your proposal may be used for future price shopping, so it doesn’t hurt to show your expertise in your mold report and proposal.
It may be appropriate to include an explanation of what was found during your visit, along with the proposal for work.
Your own qualifications
The skills you may have, from the initial telephone call to the inspection, proposal and beyond, may be excellent, but most important are your own qualifications to do the work.
Attend industry certification schools.
Comply with local and state regulations (these vary from state to state) and do everything by the book.
Don’t stray from the standards; you may only end up in court, having to justify every one of your actions.
The sting of non-payment for not performing properly or, much worse, a lawsuit that can destroy your business, soon destroys the sweetness of landing a mold job you shouldn’t have attempted to take.
The IICRC publication, S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation, is very valuable as a guide for your mold work.
Joe Pierron has been heavily involved in the cleaning and restoration industry in the Atlanta, GA-area since 1995. He is an IICRC-Certified Master Water Restorer and Master Restoration Technician, and now concentrates on water damage and mold remediation. He is also a member of SCRT and IAQA. He continues to research the area of indoor environment. He also instructs a seminar entitled, “Mold and the adverse human health effects.” Visit Pierron’s website at www.dmasterinc.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.