Ten things I want for the contents industry in the next decade:

My history in restoration started in 2011 working for a specialty sub-contractor that only handled contents. From there I worked as an education officer and magazine editor at Fireline. Today, I help elevate companies to higher standards of asset recovery. To say that I have seen changes in the contents industry is putting it mildly. The thought of a company only surviving on contents work was a stretch when I started. Today big money is at the table making that bet. (I see you Belfor)

So what can we expect in the next ten years. Higher quality standards, or more of the same? Regardless of what may come to pass, here are ten things I expect (want) to see.

  1. An urgency to get ART in the hands of real professionals. I still shutter at the thought of how I may have handled artwork in the past. Restorers need to be less cavalier about handling delicate art pieces and find a quality art restorer. My preferred vendor is in South Carolina and I will call him about a job anywhere in the country.
  2. Universal acceptance of inventory software. People ask me all the time; “what software should I use?”, and my answer is usually “just pick one”. Yes, you may prefer one over the other for a very good reason, but the fact is that they all basically do the same thing which is keep track of your client’s stuff. That one thing is paramount. It’s one of the few promises we make. We may not be able to guarantee the restoration of any particular item, but we can at the very least promise that we will bring it back!
  3. Universal acceptance that we can clean better and faster with ultrasonics. Anyone that tells me ultrasonics is just another tool has not sat at a hand cleaning table ever in their life. I train companies all the time on ultrasonics. The look on their faces when they see the cleaning results are the same as when a child puts on glasses for the first time. It’s that meaningful, especially if you are someone spending endless hours at the hand cleaning station.
  4. Insurance carriers directing work to companies specializing in contents will increase. Contents is specialized work. It requires ample space for storage. Specialized cleaning agents and knowledge. It is the aspect of the job that the claimant can more easily scrutinize. Therefore, channeling that work to contents-only or full-service contractors, is in the best interest of all the stakeholders.
  5. Education will improve. Contents training used to be a portal for increased equipment sales. In some cases, it still is. As the contents industry grows so does the expertise of industry leaders. I expect to see more voices in the arena, and I welcome them. The more of us with real hands-on experience teaching the better we can serve our customers.  

Industry Trends

  1. More opportunities to own a contents restoration business. Early pioneers of contents restoration proved that a contents only business model was indeed viable. Now smart people with deep pockets have caught on and have begun franchising. If you want to do the work and feel that a national brand will give you a leg-up, then you have a few choices. Some offer branding and national marketing. Other companies just as good offer attractive licensing agreements. If you want to know more, you can let your fingers do the walking.
  2. Tighter profit margins. Ugh, I know. You know it too. Between third party administrators making deals on your behalf and insurance companies paying out on devastating floods and fires more regularly, someone is getting the short end of the stick. Unfortunately, it’s the vendors and the homeowners. Understanding how to invoice has never been more important. Get proper Xactimate training and get involved with groups like the RIA to advocate for your rights as restorers.
  3. Access to education will move online. Nothing will replace the value of real hands-on contents training but traveling to a seminar to listen to a low-key sales pitch from an equipment manufacturer is not the move. Keep your eyes peeled for excellent training opportunities online.
  4. More soft goods serviced in-house. The need for multiple sources of revenue will move restorers into providing more in-house services. If you are not satisfied with the service provided by your local textile restorer and you’re not dependent on them for leads, adding soft goods to your list of services may be a no-brainer.
  5. Quality contents managers will continue to be in high demand. These organizational gunslingers do not grow on trees. If you are lucky enough to find one, pay them well.
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