Branching out into restoration
07 March 2013
Cleaning specialists who have traditionally focused purely on carpet and upholstery care are benefiting from broadening their skill base so that they can apply their equipment and experience to fire and flood restoration work,explains the National Flood School
Edinburgh Cleaning Services (ECS) realised the potential of adding fire and flood restoration to its portfolio five years ago. The business development plan came about after ECS operations director Fraser Watson found out about the National Flood School through ECS supplier Restoration Express.
Since then Mr Watson has attended a number of courses at the flood school, gaining qualifications and credibility that have helped transform the firm from primarily a carpet and tile-cleaning concern to a company called upon by the insurance industry to deal with fire and flood damage.
Mr Watson said:â€œOnly about 20 to 30 per cent of our turnover now comes from carpet cleaning.The rest is fire and flood work and almost without exception that is working on behalf of insurance companies.
â€œThe evolution started in 2006. I did some carpet cleaning courses because that was our core business and as a result of those I realised I had equipment that wasn't being used to its full earning potential because it could also be used on fire and flood restoration projects.
â€œThat led to a more formal business development plan in 2006 and
Courses attended by Mr Watson include Carpet Cleaning Technician,Odour Control Technician, Fire and Smoke Restoration Technician, Applied Structural Drying and Water Restoration Technician - all of which are run in conjunction with internationallyrecognised trade standards body The Clean Trust (formerly the IICRC - the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification). Now all technicians employed by ECS are qualified to at least Water Damage Restoration Technician level.
Mr Watson added:â€œWe will continue to develop by increasing our breadth and depth of expertise through the National Flood School. â€œIn a tough economic climate it's essential to keep ahead of the competition, and adding in-demand skills is a way of increasing sales and market share.â€
Restoraction in Stroud,Gloucestershire, has also increased turnover and maintained margins with the help of the National Flood School. Founded in 2002 as a general property maintenance business, it moved in to the fire and flood restoration sector in about 2005.
Andrew Bartlett and key Restoraction employees have attended a number of flood school courses, including Fire and Smoke Restoration Technician,Odour Control Technician and Applied Structural Drying.
Restoraction director and senior technician Andrew Bartlett said: â€œAll technicians have to reach a base level and then you build on that and keep developing yourself and your employees. â€œWhen you add to your firm's expertise and credibility you also add to its bottom line.
â€œThere is real pressure on margins in this economic climate, which makes it all the more important to build on your expertise to differentiate yourself from the competition and to persuade customers to look at value and quality rather than just price.â€
About 80 per cent of Restoraction's turnover now comes from fire and flood insurance claims, compared to just 20 per cent five years ago.
Chris Netherton, managing director at the National Flood School, said:â€œWith the recent weather conditions there will be big demand for credible, qualified operatives to deal with the consequences of burst pipes.
â€œFire and flood jobs are year-round, though, and if companies want to work with insurance companies and claims handlers at the top end of the market they need to be able to demonstrate real expertise.â€
National Flood School courses combine classroom work, videos and hands-on workshops.
Many of the programmes feature the school's purpose-built Flood House. Believed to be the only one of its type in Europe, the Flood House is an eight-room structure made with materials and techniques typical to UK buildings.
It is flooded with 1,500 litres of water and then used to demonstrate drying techniques - a powerful training tool for the insurance, restoration and building industries.