Dealing with the Concerns of Cleaning Cat 2 & 3 Impacted Soft Goods

The Reality:

Homeowners, adjusters and agents will often question the cleaning ability of the Esporta System for Category 2 & 3 water damage, or mold claims. Or, worse, default to the standard practice of “automatically” designating soft contents as non-salvage on these claims, not even considering the possibility of restoration. You will want to be fully prepared for this opportunity; since the ability to clean impacted soft goods effectively is unique to Esporta users, a new concept for adjusters, and no longer a health risk for the homeowner.

With all this in mind, we need to be proactive on this topic. It is vital that we communicate the ability to provide this service, early in the claim, and, as part of our marketing initiative, to avoid losing current and future soft content revenue. Staff members who come into contact with agents, adjusters, property managers and homeowners need to fully understand how to share this information and what marketing tools are at their disposal. Sales and marketing teams need to incorporate the Esporta soft content technology discussion into their visits and offer Soft Content Technology CE Classes.

Educate & Inform:

Only when you change how an adjuster thinks about what can be safely restored with the Esporta technology, will you change how they behave and speak to the policy holder on future claims.

With this as our main goal, your staff needs to know how to present their services for this type of contamination. With the lab-tested Esporta technology; you will seamlessly be able to restore the soft contents from a sewage backup, the same as you restore the hard contents and structure from a sewage backup; to pre-loss condition. However, first we have to get permission to process the soft contents!

How do we do that?

Story Selling – Tell the story:

What is the Esporta difference? Is clean really “clean”?

The reality is our families do not live in a sterile bubble – there are bacterial levels in the air and on every surface we touch. Department of Health personnel visit restaurants and public facilities on a regular basis for inspection. The Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) visits food processing facilities to measure cleanliness, and often use an ATP tester to verify 3 levels of clean:

  • Sanitary: Tables at a restaurant.
  • Disinfected: Food preparation areas and facilities.
  • Sterile or Medical: Surgical instruments.

Esporta wants to be measured by a higher standard:

In 2007 Michael Pinto of Wondermakers Inc. was selected to do independent testing on the Esporta System to determine the cleaning capability for restoring Category 2 & 3 water/sewage damaged textiles and soft contents. He soon realized that there was no industry benchmark for what was considered “Clean” or “Safe” for laundry. For example, hospital laundry is processed in scalding hot water & bleach. The “assumption” is the bedding & scrubs are “clean” but, even in a hospital, there was no testing procedure in place to “confirm” that.  In the restoration industry, the challenge is even greater because you cannot safely process 99% of soft contents in scalding hot water and bleach. Even worse, the benchmark for restoration has always been sensory; if the “restored” clothing “looked and smelled clean” they must be clean. The result; every restoration company, until now, based restoration results on opinion. You can see why this might be a very big issue!

Mr. Pinto started with the FDA’s established safe levels for food preparation as the benchmark for clean. Using the Esporta technology, the goal was to restore textiles and soft goods to this same, established level – in other words; clean enough to eat! The result; to make the soft contents more than “safe” to return to the homeowner. In fact, because of the Esporta process, they would be cleaner and more sanitary than they were before the category 2 or 3 loss.

Let’s keep that to ourselves and make another example part of the story;

Think about it this way; many documentaries have been made, and articles have been published that tested the cleanliness of hotel rooms, airplane seats and tray tables. Items you would assume would be more than clean. The results were eye-opening; hotel TV remotes, bedspreads, and a variety of airplane surfaces proved to be loaded with bacteria when swabbed by an ATP tester. They “looked clean and smelled clean” but were far from clean.  By contrast, the independent, third party, lab proven wash programs of the Esporta System, verified by the same ATP sample test results, confirm that the wash load is “safe” and clean, for return to the homeowner. This proven, tested Esporta technology advantage is a major differentiator for your company.

Here’s another example to share;

Michael Pinto was recently asked to do a segment for his local TV station, on the cleanliness of rented “Bouncy Castles” prior to the back-yard BBQ season. He found contamination levels in the range of 1500 RLU. Remember, “food grade” RLU is single digits! Mr. Pinto’s advice to parents? Ensure your children wash their hands really well with soap and water before eating a hot dog. This story illustrates what clean really is, in a relatable example, and gives them quite a contrast to what you can do with clothing.

Now bring it home and ask for a few items to clean so they can see the results firsthand;

Do your children have stuffed animals? Have they had them since being a new-born or toddler? Have you ever wondered if they might be a little “less than clean” now? How much time have they spent on the floor, in the bathroom, on the playground, maybe in a dog’s mouth? Explain they will be cleaner, after being processed in the Esporta, than they were the day they bought them. How is that possible?    A soft toy for sale in a retail store would have been made somewhere else, wrapped in plastic and shipped in different climate/humidity conditions, and touched by many hands in the toy aisle – a more than ideal environment for bacterial growth. 

Knowing all this, the point person on the claim can effectively respond to these questions and potential issues. However, since the condition of textiles and soft contents impacted by sewage or mold can understandably become an emotional discussion, it is still important to proceed with;

  • Patience- take the time to answer questions simply and clearly – don’t get defensive.
  • Empathize- understand their concern, admit you were a sceptic as well before seeing firsthand what the Esporta can clean.
  • Dramatize- include dramatic ATP test results from sewage and mold claims on a wide range of items. Present testimonials and before and after pictures.
  • Visualize- ask permission to run some affected items of clothing, especially sentimental items, to “test” and show the results to the homeowner and adjuster before proceeding with the rest of the claim.

But don’t wait until you’re at a Cat 2 or 3 claim, have your marketing department:

Educate & Inform: the pro-active solution before a claim is called in!

  • Educate your adjusters via lunch and learns, open houses, CE Classes, brochures and social media.
  • Discuss your investment in lab proven Esporta technology that can restore a wide range of textiles, soft contents & leather items to food grade clean, regardless of the contamination.
  • Ensure they understand that unless items are fully restored, in a lab proven process that confirms the items are safe to return to the homeowner, the items impacted by Category 2 or 3 water or mold must be disposed of according to IICRC S500 Guidelines.
  • Ensure they understand that restoration drycleaners should not be processing soft contents impacted by Cat 2 & 3 water with their traditional washing machines…these claims need to be processed to IICRC standards.
  • Demonstrate and educate with the ATP tester – let the agents and adjusters know you will sample items from each wash load and document items that “pass” and are safe to return to the homeowner. Clothing does not just look and smell clean, they are proven to be “food grade” clean.
  • Confirm that your operators are trained and certified on the operation of the Esporta Wash System for processing textiles and soft contents impacted by Category 2 & 3 water and sewage.
  • Remind them this is the solution to “Fast & Simple” claim settlement, and happy homeowners.
  • Remind them that if the soft contents do not process to pre-loss condition, there is no charge for the cleaning – they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Category 2 & 3 water claims and mold Esporta support documents & resources:

  • Michael Pinto Lab Report – The evaluation of the Esporta System on sewage contamination
  • Michael Pinto video on Esporta website – Why he used “Food Grade” as his bench mark
  • ATP Testing instructional video on the Esporta website
  • Tri fold brochure called “Sorry for your loss”
  • USB with the Esporta Presentation Video that explains the detergents & the wash process
  • Esporta Presentation Video from our website that explains the detergents & the wash process
  • MEDIA tab on the Esporta Website dramatic pictures & video.
  • ZEP letter stating the ability to kill MRSA, staphylococcus, viruses & spores to 99.9997%.

In conclusion:

To maximize the opportunities, we need to be proactive with agents and adjusters before a Cat 2 or 3 water damage claim happens. Using the knowledge and tools you have with your Esporta system and resources, you will be able to change how agents and adjusters both think and “feel” about what’s now possible on these “challenging” losses.

But wait, there’s more; think about this “water” quote we are all familiar with, and how it applies to Esporta users; “a rising tide lifts all boats.” When you get the opportunity to process soft contents from a cat 2 or 3 water loss, and quantify the results, proving you can now restore items that have traditionally been discarded, adjusters naturally think; how much more can you restore on a “regular” loss? This natural extension or “assumption” enables you to differentiate what you do from your competitors, and leads to more market share, not just for water claims, but for all claims.

When it comes to Cat 2 and 3 water claims; Restore...Don’t Replace.


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