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How the US property preservation industry can tackle its servicing challenges

[ Both during and after the pandemic, US property preservation companies will have a number of challenges to overcome and here’s how they’ll get past what they’re facing. ]
For many industries around the world, the past 12 months will have seen a plethora of issues arise in relation to how best to carry out their job – if even able to.
The US property preservation industry is no different, with many challenges arising as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which they have had to navigate around.
While some of these problems are dwindling, others will continue for the immediate few months after the pandemic has reached a stage where many deem it as over.
However, as for anything, there are of course, solutions and here at IMS Datawise, we have identified three of the most pertinent issues and come up with ideas on how to combat them.

Staff shortfall

We’ll start with the most obvious one and that is in relation to staff, as there are many redundancies to be expected within the sector as a result of Covid-19.
There is also the strong possibility that some companies are having a recruitment freeze too, as they try and get themselves into a financial position to be able to hire staff again.
It is a very distressing time for many, so what is very important here is to ensure that you have the right level of communication with your vendor network and vendor partners while also retaining the level of trust you put in them initially.
If you can get them on the phone or a Zoom call and just find out exactly what’s going on and encourage them to be as transparent as possible while doing the same yourself, that will give you a crystal clear picture of where things are.
The importance of communication was also made by Joe Iafigliola, who is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard Properties. In an interview with DS5, he explained that while of course, local vendors have been very important, now more than ever, they are vital and having a communication line with them is paramount.
“The dependence on local expertise and local vendors has always been true, but I think that evolution just continues,” he said. “If you have a particular outbreak of a dangerous disease that is so wildly inconsistent across the country, you cannot rely on a news organization or the internet or any other source to tell you what it’s like in that specific community, because it is unique.
“It may also be temporal where it’s really good or really bad at that moment in time. You have to rely on the folks that are there to both communicate and help you come up with the best way to react to the situation.”
The obvious worry for many is that in the USA, whenever there is a disaster of some kind – be it nationwide or state-specific – having resources immediately available is incredibly difficult.
This was perhaps most notable with Hurricane Harvey, and while we’re not talking about first responders here, there is still a depletion of staff, and that has to be accounted for.
There are ways around this – you can work with the state to try and find a solution, but you do have to be aware that patience is a necessity here as everyone else is in the same boat.
You can also be proactive when liaising with your vendor network and see what their availability is like and try and get them booked in early to prevent the inevitable rush.

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Health and safety concerns

Understandably given the pandemic, there have been a number of companies who have staff on the payroll who simply do not feel comfortable doing their jobs for fear of catching the virus.
Rather than penalize both the companies and the staff, it is important to be empathetic and patient – even if there is a potential sense of frustration that comes with not having something resolved as soon as possible.
Some staff members may be in a high-risk group or live with people who fall into that category and as such, do not want to risk bringing the virus back to them.
As a result, if you can deal with slight delays, that is a better way of managing the situation and will also go down well with the vendor partner.
For those that are willing to do the job, it is imperative that they stick to the guidelines devised by both the CDC and OSHA when performing their duties, for their own safety and of course for other people.
To ensure they stick to them, communication has to be of a very high standard – you would expect them to be drilled into knowing the guidelines anyway, but having some form of liaison officer to reaffirm the guidelines to take away that confusion isn’t a bad thing at all.

Industry uncertainty

As is to be expected, there is always going to be industry uncertainty, but ultimately, the very premise of property preservation won’t be affected.
The fundamentals of it will remain exactly the same – it’s all about protecting and preserving the asset and while Covid-19 has been devastating for the industry, that won’t change.
Equally, things like the investor guidelines and the preservation guidelines won’t change either, so the core essence of property preservation will remain exactly the same.
What will be different is how much of a variable volume of work will now be seen as, with economic factors playing a huge part now and will continue to do so well after the pandemic is ‘done’.
While inspection volume has increased and will continue to rise, preservation work has gone down and will keep dropping until the pandemic is at a safe level again.
This will be most notable now, as the industry is sort of in a plateau, but may also be prominent for four to five months after things have calmed down.
As mentioned earlier, a resource could be a potential issue here, so forward planning is essential as while there may be many preservation specialists not doing a lot now, when things do even out, they will be incredibly busy.
Therefore, trying to secure their services early or even putting them on some kind of retainer will be a huge help to them as it offers them a form of security while also allowing you to know you have the staff in place to deal with things as and when things kick back into life.

Conclusion

In summary then, patience will be required to help get through what will be a challenging period for the US property preservation industry, but this will be rewarded in the long run and will also further strengthen key relationships within your vender network.
Communication will also be critical as resource could be in short supply, but it is equally as important that when resource is able to be deployed, that they follow the correct safety procedures in relation to Covid-19.
What will be welcome relief for companies is that the fundamental aspects of property preservation in the US aren’t going to change as a result of the pandemic.
That said though, companies can’t afford to rest on their laurels and expect things to fall into their lap – they will have to be proactive and seek to get things in place early, otherwise, they could be chasing shadows in the long run.
We hope that you have found this blog useful and of course, IMS Datawise can provide solutions to some of the problems raised here as well – feel free to get in touch with an advisor and we will see what we can do for you.
IMS Datawise is an Outsourced Data Audit company that supports Property Preservation and Inspection companies by providing Quality Auditing and back-office services. Get in touch with us via email at info@imsdatawise.com or call on +1 646 517 8836