Our MSC's Storm Point of View
The flood waters in Kansas City and Houston were extremely high and dangerous
Hi, my name is Lauren. I am the Marketing Support Coordinator for SERVPRO Gadsden. Basically I support the Sales and Marketing Reps in a variety of ways. I maintain our website and social media pages. I attend Business Expos to raise our brand awareness. I assist with CE classes and lunch and learns. I maintain our Workcenter Marketing Database. I work directly with the customers for questions they have on their jobs.
But in July 2017, I helped with the first storm since I started with the company. Kansas City flooded and because we participate on the SERVPRO Storm Team, we were asked to join efforts in Kansas so we did. I got my first look at how SERVPRO Storm Teams work.
Once we committed to participate in this storm event, we started to get our crews ready to go. Vehicles were serviced, supplies were purchased, hotels rooms booked and debriefing conference calls with the Storm Team began, all the while calls from hundreds of homeowners in the Kansas City area were "flooding" our call center. We joined forces with dozens of other franchises around the country to respond to the needs that Kansas City had. I was pleased to be the Storm Team Coordinator for our franchise. Once our Sales Rep, Theresa Smith, was in route, I was given dozens of homeowners' names and numbers to call. These were home and business owners who had called our 1-800-SERVPRO number asking for help. One by one, I called each person on the list, telling them we were on our way, setting appointments for Theresa to see each homeowner individually and assess the damage. Our crew was in route at this point and was ready for work once Theresa signed up people in Kansas City. This process continued for a couple of weeks. I would call the customers setting up appointment, Theresa would provide on site estimates and the crew would do the work.
I enjoyed this new adventure very much. I enjoyed talking with these homeowners. They were tired and frustrated but always so glad to know that help was on the way. They expressed how thankful they were that we were "here to help". I felt that I even bonded with some of these homeowners over the course of these two weeks, sometime just being an ear to listen for them.
So after all the jobs were finished and we were about to send our crew home, we were notified that Kansas City had flooded again. The storm had been reactivated. We sent Theresa back up to Kansas City to start this process again.. So I found myself starting over this process with new homeowners. These poor people, I was thinking! I hated that they were dealing with the same issue again. I just tried to be a voice of comfort and hope as I made my phone calls. Two more weeks...we were finished and sent our crew home! And lo and behold, a week later Kansas City flooded again! This time, our owner Chris Lamey, traveled up ahead of our crew, to meet the homeowners that I had been calling. I was becoming a pro at this process and I found customers really relying on me for info about how the process would work once we arrived. I was learning so much about not only Storm but also about the water mitigation process and I wasn't even there!! It was a pleasure serving in this capacity and doing something new and mostly, helping these homeowners.
We spent another 2 weeks on this time in Kansas City. Just as we were finishing up, Harvey hit Houston. But that's another story....
Everyday Is Gameday
Our owners, Chris and Jenny Lamey, at the 2017 National Convention
In June, our owners Chris and Jenny Lamey attended their first SERVPRO National Convention in Seattle. This annual meeting attended by over 1700 franchise owners is a great opportunity for SERVPRO corporate to communicate the plans, strategies and opportunities for this next year. It was a great time to come together with other franchise owners and share best practices in business operations. Chris and Jenny attended over 20 workshops combined during their time at convention that ranged from training on internal systems used for enhanced workflow like DryBook and Workcenter to marketing workshops that focused on brand image and presenting a consistent brand to our marketplace. Being with franchise veterans of 50 years and with new franchise owners alike was an experience that excited them even more going into this next year of business.
The theme of the convention EVERYDAY IS GAMEDAY couldn't be more appropriate for our business. To use the sports reference, we know that sports teams must train and strategize and condition and plan to be effective on the field or court during game time. Showing up to a game without the proper preparation can and will be a disaster. So too with what we do everyday. We must train our staff to properly execute the processes and procedures needed to meet our customers' expectations. We must strategize constantly on what we can do to improve the way we conduct our business. We must plan ahead in order to be most effective. If we do this, during "game time", we will be at our best!
Down...set....hike!! Let's do this!!!
Houston Called...We Answered
Pray for Houston!
As we were just finishing up a storm event in Kansas City, Hurricane Harvey pounded the coast of Texas wreaking havoc particularly in Houston in surrounding areas. Harvey brought rain and lots of it and the already saturated ground couldn't absorb anymore rain water and the city found its neighborhoods and industrial areas flooding...and badly. Rivers created, homes were underwater, roads impassable. People needed to be rescued from flooded areas, so volunteers came from near and far to do just that. They brought boats and jet skis and kayaks and life preservers and food supplies and water and baby items and they just came. Neighbors helped neighbors.
And then more help came. In our case it was a sea of green trucks that within hours of the SERVPRO Storm Team activation, franchises from all over the country loaded trucks with demo tools and drying equipment and cleaning products and they headed to Houston to do their part.
We were one of those many franchises that answered the call to come. Our crew in Kansas City finished up work there and headed to Houston. Our owner Chris Lamey and Production Manager Kyle Hamby left a day ahead of the crew and then another crew left the following day. We diligently started calling homeowners who had asked for our help and scheduled appointments with them. They were tired and worried and frustrated and homeless and hungry and they continued to say "I'm so thankful that help is on the way".
The logistics of getting around in Houston was difficult to put it lightly. Roads still closed due to flooding. Neighborhoods still under water. Supplies were limited. Gas stations ran out of gas. But somehow by the grace of God, we saw every homeowner on our list and offered help. Sometimes that meant full demo of a house and setting up drying equipment. Other times it might mean walking a homeowner through the process so that they can do it themselves.. We saw communities come together - churches, schools, football teams- and help each other.
Our crews worked until wee hours in the morning and get up and do it again until all the work is done.
With Kansas City and Houston SERVPRO Storm events, we have had crews out of our normal service area for a solid 2 months, yet still maintaining crews in the Anniston and Gadsden markets to assist our customers locally. It's definitely a balancing act but we wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
May God Bless all those who have experienced destruction in the form of storms, flooding and any damage to their homes as a result of something out of their control. May we be able to rise to the challenge each time we are called and ease the burden of each person we meet when we arrive. Proud to be part of this hardworking team.
When a Doctor Needs Help
A local doctors office had a fire and we were there to help and restore their building. This is one of the initial photos taken.
A doctor's office. A fire. Two things that don't mix. Fortunately no one was injured. But we needed to help this practice set up a temporary office so that the doctors could continue to see patients. We know that in a situation like this time is of the essence. We got the call and responded with plenty of crew to get the damaged contents out and assess what could be cleaned and salvaged and what needed to be discarded. Contents that sustained only light soot damage were quickly and thoroughly cleaned and moved to their temporary office space so that their business could resume somewhat normal activities. Closely working with the client and the insurance company, we packed contents and began the cleaning process both at our warehouse and on site in order to get their business back up and running as soon as possible. As boxes of contents were cleaned and ready to put back into use, we transported finished items to their temporary office space. Contents ranged from waiting room furniture and files to high end instruments and tools needed needing fine intricate cleaning. Meanwhile, our crew was busy doing necessary demo in areas of the building that had to be removed due to the fire damage. Debris hauling and cleaning of the entire structure to remove soot that had travelled through the entire building we ongoing until that portion of the job was complete. Ducts of the HVAC system also needed cleaning as the smoke and soot traveled through these systems as a means of escape. We readied the building after demo and cleaning for a contractor to come in and build-back the structure to make the offices operational again.
In a fire of this magnitude, the project manager needs to oversee all of these activities in order to fully complete the job. And as you can imagine this process takes months to complete. We know that situations like these require constant communication with our client throughout the process. It is always satisfying to see a job of this magnitude come to completion. Our goal throughout this process is to minimize the stress for our customers and get them back to normal business as smoothly and quickly as possible.
When unfortunate circumstances require our services, we do our best to exceed customer expectations. We are always here to help.
Faster to Any Disaster
Storm Damage in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
In August of 2016, Baton Rouge, Louisiana got hit with one of the worst floods in US history. In just a few hours, the flood waters were rising and homes and business fell victim to the flooding rain. Residents fled their homes and business owners had no choice but to evacuate as quickly as possible.
The area was completely devastated in a very short time. Communities of beautiful homes and neighborhoods were left with utter devastation in the wake of this storm. When home and business owners were finally able to enter back into their properties, the work that needed to be done to clean up what was left was truly overwhelming.
In the meantime, SERVPRO Storm Teams were already making plans to send production crews to the area to help these home and business owners with getting their lives back together. SERVPRO Anniston and Gadsden was honored to participate with the SERVPRO Storm Teams in the cleanup efforts for the Baton Rouge area. Within hours, we were packed, fully loaded with equipment and crew, and in route to Baton Rouge. Thousands and thousands of phone calls were flooding our SERVPRO call center from residents of the Baton Rouge area needing our help. As a crew representing our SERVPRO Storm Team, it was our responsibility to contact the customers, schedule on site visits to their home or business, provide a thorough job scope and estimate of required work, and if given the go ahead from the customer, start the cleanup and drying process. We talked to dozens and dozens of home and business owners who needed an expert to help them with the mitigation process. Our franchise worked around the clock for two weeks helping as many customers as we could. Our production crews provided demo or tear-out service removing carpet, drywall, etc., tested areas for moisture and set up air movers and dehumidifiers, hauled out damaged items, among other services. We monitored equipment daily to make sure the drying process was complete. Sometimes our help meant offering a shoulder to cry on or a hug as we walked through a customer's living room which had been completely destroyed by the floodwaters. To see large mountains of saturated carpet, damaged appliances, drywall, furniture, vehicles and toys lining the streets of these once beautiful neighborhoods was overwhelming to say the least. It was hard work both physically and emotionally to walk alongside the people we met and work hand-in-hand making a dent in the work that needed to be done. Our SERVPRO green trucks were everywhere. It was humbling in so many ways to be called upon to help in a time of need.
What struck us as particularly poignant, was how often, even in the circumstances, we heard the same home and business owners talk about how blessed they were. It says so much about the resiliency of the human spirit. Neighbors and communities are bonded together to move forward and rebuild. They will be stronger than before.
As we enter into the upcoming storm season, SERVPRO stands ready to help when disaster hits. FASTER TO ANY DISASTER and ready to work hand-in-hand with our fellow man.
What's Lurking In Your Ducts?
Before a SERVPRO duct cleaning
We all have tasks around the house that don’t make it to the top of our priority list. Properly maintaining your home’s air ducts should not be one of them. Regular duct cleaning can increase your home’s heating and cooling efficiency and improve the quality of the air you and your family breathe.
Ventilation systems are often the biggest culprit in poor indoor air quality. Make it a priority to inspect the ductwork of your home or business.
If your HVAC has been operating for some time without attention, it could be circulating one or more of the following:
- Dirt and debris
- Other contaminants
SERVPRO of Gadsden Professionals routinely inspect the heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit (HVAC). Keeping them clean can extend the life of the equipment. This can in turn save you money and give you cleaner air to breathe.
However, duct cleaning is not always necessary. We will make recommendations about the best way to address any indoor air quality concerns. This can save you money and provide peace of mind on the health of your system.
The benefits of servicing your HVAC unit include:
- Helps to restore peak energy efficiency.
- May help to eliminate offensive odors.
- Helps reduce the potential for mold growth.
In this photo our CE instructor, Daniel, is teaching some of our agents and adjusters on Mold.
One of our favorite ways to connect with our clients is to host CE classes. It gives us a chance to educate our customers on topics important to them and it allows our clients to complete required CE credits for their businesses. Throughout the year we hold various CE classes on the following topics: Fire, Water, Mold, and Ethics. We at SERVPRO have been approved by the insurance industry to host these classes for agents and adjusters. We follow strict guidelines on course content, course facilitators, and attendee certification procedures in order to meet all the requirements to host these classes for our clients.
The most recent CE class we held was in June at Silver Lakes Golf Course in Gadsden, Alabama, which is part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. On a stormy rainy day in Alabama, what better topic to discuss than MOLD. We were pleased that despite the weather we had 20 agents and adjusters from all over the Anniston and Gadsden area attend the class.
Mold is a hot topic in our area because the weather conditions in Alabama are ideal for mold growth. It is something home and business owners are calling us about frequently. And certainly something that our agents and adjusters have to field questions about often. The class objectives are:
- Understand the evolution of mold awareness
- Acknowledge mold as part of our environment
- Understand the basics of mold remediation
- Understand the effect of mold on buildings
- Recognize how mold is affecting Insurance Professionals and the Insurance Industry
Mold is a reality in our area and being informed on how to handle it is the first line of defense! "Find and remove the source" is an important tip that was repeatedly emphasized in the class.
We are pleased to be a trusted partner with our insurance clients and look forward to more opportunities to host these classes. The upcoming classes are as follows:
August 8th, 2017 - Fire
October 10th, 2017 - Water
For more info on mold, go to www.SERVPROgadsden.com
As Featured in PrimePay's Blog
Our owner, Chris Lamey, was featured in PrimePay's blog.
"What started out as a typical trip to the gym for Chris Lamey, ended in a life-changing encounter. Boasting a 20-plus year career in the golf industry, Lamey took a leap of faith and bought a struggling franchise location after this conversation with a peer:
“Hey I know this is totally out of the blue, we've never even talked business, but there might be a couple of franchises that may be coming for sale. Would you and your wife be interested in talking to us?"
And according to his wife and co-owner Jenny, they’ve never looked back.
If you’ve ever experienced any kind of water damage in your home after a storm, you’ve probably heard of SERVPRO. Whether it’s fire or water damage, mold or a simple carpet cleaning, this cleanup and restoration company tackles the mess. And from what I learned in talking to Mrs. Lamey, it’s a really good franchise to be a part of.
So how do two people without true experience in owning and operating a business: “I mean I won't lie, that first couple weeks I'd get in my car and I'd drive back home, thinking about how overwhelming it all was…”
…Turn a failing location into one that’s about to outgrow its current space and surpass corporate standard sales goals?
Creativity, trust, and support.
Though I mentioned the lack of true business ownership experience, Mr. Lamey was a sales rep for a number of years and through that, perfected the craft of establishing relationships.
“For 23 years of his career he never went into an office, so he was running his territory. You're very much a part of your own success in that situation,” explained Mrs. Lamey.
She went on to explain their approach to business is that they are a marketing company that happens to provide cleaning and restoration services. For them, it’s all about the relationships they establish with the local Alabama adjusters and insurance agents.
They’re able to creatively combine their marketing and customer service skills to really exceed in this new life adventure.
How can you leverage your variety of skills to help run your franchise as smooth as possible? Look beyond what you think might be a practical business skill and tap into those other experiences to really make your business shine.
After undergoing six months’ worth of training that set them up with a great foundation to run the business, the Lameys were made aware of a hard-hitting reality.
“It was very overwhelming at first as each call and each job was a new experience for us. But it was a great way to hit the ground running and learn the business by doing it and not just learning about it,” Mrs. Lamey explained.
The SERVPRO franchise bases their training on a ‘stages model.’ It's been proven time and time and time again, that if you follow the stages, you will be successful. So the Lameys trusted the corporate franchise methodology and haven’t had any need to stray the course.
There’s a good chance whatever franchise you own is in business because of the solid processes in place on the corporate level. While there is some freedom in your particular location, don’t forget this idea of placing trust in your franchisor.
“Another great thing about being a part of the franchise system is the support of franchises all over,” said Mrs. Lamey.
When disaster struck in Louisiana, surrounding ‘storm teams’ (as SERVPRO calls it) packed up equipment and headed to work on helping those people out in a time of crisis. As you can imagine, that’s extremely rewarding to be able to help people get their lives back together.
With support from the community, staff members and even mentoring from I would say the late owner of SERVPRO Birmingham and the Wilson Trainership, David Wilson, Mr. and Mrs. Lamey never have to tackle any challenge alone.
Not only that, but they get support from partnering with other companies… like PrimePay. Since they cover jobs in multiple municipalities around Anniston, occupational tax filing is tricky. But by leaning on the support from their representatives here at PrimePay, the Lameys can be confident in continued success with their franchise.
“Working with PrimePay has given me the peace of mind and confidence that you care about our business and will work with us as a partner to meet our needs,” Mrs. Lamey said."
Honored to Serve
I'm of the sappy sort. I cry at commercials. I normally can't get through church without my eyes welling up. It's just how I am. But when it comes to business, I am able to check my emotions at the door. Usually. That is, until SERVPRO happened. I wasn't quite prepared for the emotion that owning this business would stir in me. I wasn't prepared for the deep human connections we would make with our employees and with our clients. It's just that human element that makes what we do so very important. We come to do a job, to help in a time of need, quite possibly in a situation that is devastating to the person or family or business we are serving. We have been called in for fires in a home a family has lived in for decades where they see their memories going up in flames. We've been called in for water damage to a brand new home that a family was just about to move into, a home they have designed and spent over a year planning and building. We have been called into another state to help homeowners clean up after a flood that devastated an entire city in just hours of flooding rain. We have been called in after a death of a family member where family members are experiencing enormous grief and pain. We have been called to serve our fellow man and that's what this business is all about. We have been called and so we come.
It made me think that in our daily lives (not just in business) that each of us has a wonderful opportunity to serve those around us. Those in our families. Those whom we call friends. And those who live and work and raise their families in our communities. It's pretty amazing that at the end of the day we are just people helping people.
Because we get to do this everyday in the Anniston and Gadsden markets and other areas we serve, we are humbled and grateful that our communities depend on us, call on us to help in a time of need. So, while our crews may not be emotional when they show up to help (after all, they are there to get the job done), we hope that they stand out in the way they provide fast and professional service with your best interests at heart. I get a little emotional when I think of the people we are honored to serve! What a blessing it is for us!
How Did This Happen?
"How did this happen?" That's a question we often get asked when we show up to do clean up work at a home or business. Most often we are the first one the scene after the home or business owner and are in the best position to assess the cause of the loss. This is one of the first questions we ask also when we get the call at our office to provide emergency services. It's important that we ask it so that we arrive prepared with the proper equipment and tools to provide clean up services that exceed your expectations. It's equally important too, though, when our customer doesn't know the cause of the loss to ask us "How did this happen?" That lets us know that we need to wear our investigative hat and not only provide the clean up services needed but also determine the cause of the damage. Was the water leak due to an old water heater line that cracked? Was a new dishwasher installed properly? Is there water coming into the home from the foundation? We want to clean up the mess today but we also do not want you to call us back in 2 days because it happened again. Finding the source of the problem is as important as restorative your home or business to the way it was before. You can be assured that we will provide you as much information as possible to prevent further damage and be in communication with your insurance agent/adjuster keeping them in the loop for a covered loss. Regardless of how the loss occurred, we will help you put everything back "like it never even happened" so you can resume life as normal. Thanks for trusting us.