How to Start a Water Damage Restoration Business

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Water restoration companies assist homeowners in repairing water damage from floods or leaks and also provide basement waterproofing services to curtail future problems. The good news about starting a water damage restoration business is that you provide a service that most homeowners do not want to tackle as a DIY project. Therefore, they're likely to seek out your company when they need you.

Because the restoration business is competitive, positioning your company as reputable and reliable can assist you in securing more clients. To do so, you'll want to get a water remediation certification and a contractor license (if applicable) as well as adequate business insurance. You also need to set up your budget and have a marketing plan. Before you jump the gun, you need to have some water damage remediation education and experience.

Extensive Training or Education

Because you'll need licenses and certifications to legally perform this work and to boost your clients' confidence, the first thing to think about when starting a water restoration company is whether you currently have the right education to obtain those qualifications. If you cannot confidently troubleshoot and solve a variety of water damage situations, then it would be wise to gain more experience with an established company, read as much as you can on the topic and attend training courses before branching out on your own.

Yes, you can potentially start this type of company by serving in a managerial role and hiring experienced employees to do the work. However, how will you know that they're doing a good job or can adequately handle customer complaints if you cannot "talk shop" about these issues? Even if you see yourself eventually spending little time in the field, you should maintain your education so that you can always help out in a pinch.

The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification has a helpful "find a course near you" search feature on its website to get you started, and you can also search for online courses for added convenience. The IICRC offers over 25 different certifications to which you may be interested in applying.

Mold Remediation Contractor or Inspector License

Because water damage often leads to mold, mold remediation will become part of your repertoire. That means you'll need to qualify for a mold remediation contractor license but only in the few states that require this license: Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. The requirements for a mold remediation contractor license will vary in each of these states, but you'll often need to show proof of adequate liability insurance, show proof of a minimum level of education (such as an associate degree in a scientific field) and pay a fee to take the exam.

Note that an inspectors' license is often offered as well, but most states have laws that govern both licenses to prevent a conflict of interest. Although you can have both a contractor and inspector license for mold remediation, you can't inspect for a client and then contract for that same client. You can only perform one of those services for the client.

If your state doesn't offer a mold remediation contractor license, earning certifications related to mold remediation can help boost clients' confidence in your education and ability to handle even the toughest problems. This is one way you can set yourself apart from your competitors and earn more business.

Water Remediation Certification

Earning certifications related to water damage remediation can help you when starting your own restoration company. Remember that unless a major weather event occurs that causes water damage to a large number of homes and businesses, your client pool is rather small at any given time. That means a lot of competition exists in this market. You need to give potential clients every reason to pick up the phone and call you while giving no red flags that send them to another remediation company.

Listing all of your certifications (and providing links that validate your certifications if possible) is a great way to increase trust among clients. Because the IICRC in particular offers nine certifications for restoration and additional certifications for textile cleaning and inspection, you have plenty of options.

If you earn enough certifications, you can also apply to become a master water restorer through the IICRC. The certifications required for this prestigious designation include applied microbial remediation technician, applied structural drying technician, health and safety technician, water damage restoration technician, carpet cleaning technician, color repair technician and commercial carpet maintenance technician. As you expand your business, consider paying for each of your employees to work toward these certifications as well. Boasting a fully certified team would certainly be one way to set yourself apart from the competition.

Get Adequate Business Insurance

Next, you need to make sure you have business insurance with appropriate coverage for this line of work. If you live in one of the states that require a mold remediation license, you'll be required to show proof of a minimum amount of insurance before you can qualify for that license. Regardless of where you live, talk to an insurance agent about your company's needs.

What happens if your client still experiences mold or water damage after your services? What if one of your employees falls ill due to mold exposure? One of your company trucks could even be involved in a car accident. From inconvenience to theft to death, the possibilities are varied and endless.

Insurance protects your business, but you can also protect your personal assets by incorporating your business. Doing so prevents your personal money or property from being bargaining chips during a trial. After registering your business with the IRS and state and local governments, you can complete the incorporation paperwork on your own or have a lawyer prepare it for you. Either way, go ahead and get this done even if you plan to be a sole proprietor as you get started.

Budget for Equipment, Employees and Marketing

Finally, no business can operate without a detailed budget, water restoration companies included. Make a list of every piece of equipment you might need to complete a variety of water remediation jobs. Then, think about the type of vehicle you'll need to haul that equipment plus a safe place to keep the vehicle(s) when not in use. Research and estimate the cost of everything on your list.

Next, think about the employees you might need to have on your payroll. Having an assistant or secretary to take calls, create a schedule for dispatch and process payments will be extraordinarily helpful as your business begins to take off, and you'll need to think about how many technicians you need to complete jobs efficiently. Don't forget to include yourself on the payroll. Finally, you'll want to have enough funds to hire a marketing agency that can handle your website and send more clients your way.

Don't forget to research your competitors to find out what they charge for water remediation services. You'll want to stay near their price range in order to attract clients to your company without seeming like you overcharge or have a price that's low because your quality is low. Once you have a complete budget, think about funding, including business loans, grants and investors and make a repayment plan if needed. All that's left is to do your best work!

References

About the Author

Cathy Habas specializes in marketing, customer experiences, and behind-the-scenes management. Cathy has contributed to sites like Business and Finance, Business 2 Community, and Inside Small Business. She served as the managing editor for a small content marketing agency before continuing with her writing career.