In the wake of a tropical storm, hurricane or coastal surge that drives water deep into a normally dry town or city, the national news’ third-party stories of drama and devastation quietly end prematurely.
Docudramas with expensive into graphics that obsessed over the anonymous or named storms that relocated massive water stores and upended lives come to an end. As it goes, once the main character in the televised drama of nature vs. man has dissipated or simply moved on. And, so does the story, too.
The Sound of the Cleanup is the Sound of Money
Beyond the catastrophe, there’s opportunity, too. And, it involves helping those affected restoring normalcy.
Long after the cloud have cleared and the water has receded, there’s work to be done. The homes and businesses that once bustled with normalcy are now abuzz with the sound of generators and humming machines. That humming sound in the air is the sound of mold removal, or mold remediation as it’s more properly called.
Water Removal and Mold Remediation
Pumps again relocate the unwelcome water, dehumidifiers do what their name implies, air scrubbers clean the air of mold spores and other particulates, and workers rebuild what’s deemed as a loss.
There is immediacy. There is a reason to act quickly. How much of a victim a homeowner or business owner will become is based upon how much time passes before cleanup is underway.
After the Flood: Drying Out
The materials used in modern construction aren’t generally water-friendly. And, the threat of lasting impact is real. Within 24-48 hours of water overcoming a structure, mold can begin to grow. All that’s required are normally harmless, but all but ubiquitous, mold spores be present, temperatures north of 32 degrees, and a something for mold to feed on.
Waterlogged building material seals the deal. Foods toxic molds enjoy include wood, carpet, ceiling tiles, cardboard, paper, insulation – if it’s a building material, there’s a better chance mold likes it than not.
The Water Damage, Renovation and Remediation Business
The urgency to remove water, dry out and repair structures is real. Containing losses creates a seller’s market and if there’s one business to be in post-water-event, beyond bottle water, it’s being part of the solution.
Concentrating on homes as a reference, in 2019 it’s estimated that water damage cleanup costs average between $3.50 and $7.00 per square foot. That works out to a range of $7,000 to $14,000 for a two-thousand square foot home. Again, this is an average. Extensive damage, dealing with grey or black water and remodeling compound the bill, even exceeding the remediation tab.
Costs to the Remediation Business
The costs for the company doing the work are largely sunk. The main players and specialized air dehumidification, drying, purifying and cleaning machines go from job to job.
Disposables are generally cheap in respect to the cost for each job to be done. Paper breathing masks, protective clothing, replacement filters and trash bags represent a minor cost.
The Mold Remediation and Water Damage Restoration Industry
It’s a $210 billion U.S. market. It’s also one that can be approachable. And, a leading industry publication, Restoration and Remediation magazine includes both continuing labor shortages and cost inflation among six key trends this year.
For those looking for a services-based business, there’s some obvious considerations, and options.
There are a few considerations inherent to a water remediation and mold remediation business that can’t go ignored.
First, need for the business’ services aren’t steady. While broken pipes, municipal-infrastructure based flooding and other non-weather borne events do happen, they’re unlikely to support many players in a small market. This is often combatted by offering a range of services, such as carpet cleaning or refinishing work that aren’t only water event driven.
Second, labor concerns are real. For three years running, unemployment rates have been low, and job listings for remediation labor pepper job boards and printed classifieds. Attracting, and retaining labor is deemed to be one of the more challenging issues faced by the industry. Combatting this is largely a factor of running a well-oiled business that allows suitable wages be paid.
Third, there are large, national and regional water removal and remediation businesses to content with. If established players aren’t in your area, this could be a plus. Many offer franchise opportunities. If a franchise isn’t of interest at all, you’ll want to have a marketing plan that leverages your strengths. Forming mutually beneficial relationships with like-minded businesses can create a secondary salesforce. Co-marketing and offering other services that are regularly needed can also help a startup find a place in potential customers’ minds.
Whenever considering expanding into, or starting a business anew, looking for unfair advantages is important. We’re not talking about doing anything nefarious. Instead, consider how can a new service or business compete in a market where players already exist?
There is One Standout Area: Incorporation of Technology
Many water removal, renovation and mold remediation businesses, especially smaller or non-franchise ones, lack technological sophistication. Examples of where technology include:
- Reaching customers during a flood or other water event using geotargeted and/or geofenced advertising.
- Streamlining interaction with customers, insurance providers and estimators.
- Creating phone and tablet-based web or native applications to normalize estimation and resource scheduling.
Here to Stay
One last thing for anyone considering entering this arena. Water restoration, renovation and mold removal are services that cannot be outsourced or automated. Just about every industry that can be outsourced or automated is either currently, or soon will be, experiencing this reality. This business, simply isn’t one of them.