What happens when your contents division loses a trusted employee?Today’s workforce is mobile and has more choices than ever when it comes to deciding how to earn a paycheck. Freelance opportunities like Uber, Lyft and delivery services like Postsmastes have given more people the opportunity to work their own hours without supervision. More traditional brick and mortar employers are faced with increased wage demands in cities where referendums have increased the minimum wage. So, how do you keep the employees you have and how do you attract new talent?

  1. Leadership is important. When I went to work for a restoration company, I always knew management had my best interest in mind as long as I had the company’s best interest in mind. The leadership displayed by the people I worked for was mirrored in how I treated the customers and my co-workers. Pride in working for a company has nothing to do with branding or corporate color-schemes; it has everything to do with how well everyone works as a team.
  2. Someone has to know what they’re doing. It’s okay to not know everything but it’s critical that somebody knows something. Employees who see visible failures like; broken items returned, contents not properly cleaned or deodorized, lost contents. These occurrences make people wonder if they should be working somewhere else. The best way to solve this is by making your employees part of the solution. Create a process that makes sense. Put your people in a position to succeed!
  3. Don’t play favorites. During the holidays I spent some time with a friend who was telling me about how he trained a new hire. He brought him up to speed on everything he needed to know to be a successful water technician. Now that new hire is his supervisor. There is nothing that should keep my friend from being promoted except that he did not come to the company with any established personal relationships. If an employee feels the game is rigged, he/she will be looking for a better situation.
  4. Get training so you can train the next class. Think of an employee who would be devastating to lose. She’s great with customers; she knows how to operate your ultrasonics to maximum efficiency, she’s been in enough situations to make you feel confident that the job can be handled right. Now imagine her leaving.  Who’s going to run the sonic? Who’s going to be my lead in the field? Who knows how to handle the back end of our inventory software? Understand that these are all temporary road blocks. You can always bring in an expert to right the ship and mold your next great employee.
  5. Anybody can offer a job. Just as anybody can get a job. What separates a job from an opportunity is the potential to grow. So many of us have found careers in this industry. Either as estimators, project managers, general managers to regional managers to sales. Opportunities are everywhere in our industry, but only at the companies that can grow and create those opportunities. Share your vision and find the people who want to join you for the ride.


Remap patterns in your organization to create better culture.

Training is a must. It is the path of least resistance for companies looking to add contents to their line of services. The alternative is time spent on trial and error inside pack outs and at the cleaning line. To be sure there is nothing wrong with that approach. You will eventually figure things out. For example: How do I know the exact number of people to bring on any given pack out? I know because I’ve been on several with a variety of personnel combinations.
The problem with training of any kind; be it fitness or cognitive, is that there is always a tendency to fall back on habits. Some habits (like a daily shower) are good. Problems occur when habits are messy and inefficient.
Anyone can pack out a house. Most of us have done this when moving at some time in our lives. We cannot however take that experience and apply it to a fire loss or a water loss when time is of the essence and a clear inventory is vital. So there is training. We learn procedures that lead to efficiency. More importantly, the procedures are calculated to push contents through your facility for different cleaning methods. (Aqueous, delicate hand cleaning, upholstery, electronics etc.)
Training provides steps. Follow the steps and see your way to the end of the claim with certainty that everything inventoried went back clean, without odor and without damage.

But why not fall back to the old way? Ditch the digital inventory for a few room photos and item description on boxes. It will be faster and less stressful.
False! Cutting corners on the pack out will only push problems into production. Lost items and longer clean times leads to sacrificing quality control.

Remap your organizational behavior patterns completely by:

  • Committing fully to a tablet style software system that executes reports and holds people accountable for their inventory.
  • Hold people accountable. Tasks are a part of project management. Each pack out is a unique project. Assign tasks!
  • Label everything! The number of iPad’s, vaults, cleaning stations, etc.
  • Measure success. Cleaning logs, average times spent at the pack out combined with referral letters and fewer crises (you know what I mean), reinforces the new path you have set.

In short time the old way will seem Ludicrous to anyone on your staff. New hires will be brought into a successful culture and bad habits a distant memory.


David Gavilanes entered the contents restoration industry at a pivotal time when ultrasonic technology and inventory software became the standard for quality. It was at the Contents Team in Raleigh NC where David quickly ascended to Field Services Manager after successfully overseeing the transition to inventory software and along the way created field standards which drastically cut pack out times. Sales and marketing assignments soon followed and David hit the road to meet with agents, adjusters and contractors to create relationships that are still in place today.

In 2013, David became the Director of Advertising and Public Relations for the Contents Industry Review.  The job entailed more than the title suggested. Responsibilities included laying out the magazine from scratch, soliciting advertisers and articles while occasionally contributing as a writer himself.

In the summer of 2016 David departed the CIR to start Real Contents Training. One of his earliest responsibilities at the Contents Team was to train all staff on software and then Pack Out procedures. David knew there was not a training program out there that taught as efficiently as he did when he had to train for real life situations. David went back to Raleigh to harness the information needed to develop Real Contents Training. Now, in addition to his program, David Gavilanes is also the trainer for Omegasonics.