“Transparency” seems to be a new buzzword for our culture. We want full transparency from our government. We need it from our police departments and frankly homeowners, adjusters, agents, property managers, etc. deserve it from contents restoration companies.

Barb Jackson CR (spokeswoman for the restoration industry) developed a very simple method of remaining transparent that we have described in past issues of Contents Solutions. In effect, she prepares a “pre-estimate” with a strong scope, series of photographs of each affected room, and the agreement of the homeowner as to what he (she) would like done.

The participation of the owner is a key factor of the success of this method, because Barb also has a full and frank discussion with the owner about of what will be done. “Yes ma’am, we will have to discard the mattress in the master bedroom, but the headboard, footboard, and frame can be restored to pre-loss condition. The mattress is over 5 years old, so with depreciation, the adjuster won’t be able to give you very much to get a new one. There are reputable mattress stores in the area that I can recommend…”

So when she takes the pre-estimate to the adjuster, there are no surprises for the owner.

The adjuster has a look at her figures and either accepts or rejects them – but often he will modify them. If they are rejected, Ms. Jackson offers her “Plan B” (already prepared) that still provides top notch cleaning and restoration to the home’s contents, but with less details such as cleaning inside drawers (as opposed to a soot sponge wipe-down on the exterior only).

It may not sound like much, but by keeping the owner, the adjuster and even the agent on the case, “on the same page,” providing photographs of the job from start to finish and even inviting the owner to sign off on each room as her teams progress, she creates an atmosphere of “trust with verification” in which all parties are fully satisfied.

On the other hand, we interviewed an expert witness, Jim Thompson, who is a respected authority in the restoration industry, but now also works for major insurance companies (he acts as their eyes on various large loss jobs).

After a job that involved a hurricane in Texas, he was appalled when he saw, “Equipment used just to run up the billings and kept on the clock for months. Massive amounts of rental equipment used, then the walls were torn out and the roof still has plastic tarps…Is it possible to dry out a building with walls missing, and openings big enough to drive a semi-truck through?…A LGR dehumidifier placed in a room that has no wall or barrier to the outside ambient atmosphere cannot drain the Gulf of Mexico.”

Honest contents valet embrace transparency – dishonest ones fear it.