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Our society seems to have reached a place where we accept mediocrity in all areas of our daily lives. America is now 20th or 30th in education depending on which ranking you believe. Our government in all branches and on both sides of the aisle is so inept that the only things they accomplish are those that benefit themselves.

We see indifference and incompetence at the drive-thru, check out aisle, customer service online and on the phone, in restaurants and most stores. It’s becoming prevalent even in areas typically requiring higher education and years of experience such as our medical, legal and financial systems, and guess what? Our industry is no different.  

There has been an explosion of contractors “specializing” in insurance restoration over the past decade. This industry is swarmed with companies claiming they repair fire and flood damage. Look around and you’ll see plumbers, janitorial companies, roofers and remodelers claiming they specialize in property damage restoration. 

There’s virtually no barrier to entry in the insurance restoration industry. With such a low threshold, the industry is rife with companies providing poor service, poor quality and – even worse – overcharging for the privilege of receiving substandard work.

Taking a class and purchasing some basic equipment doesn’t qualify a contractor to perform complex restoration projects. Hiring a marketing representative to show up at offices and flash a smile is no substitute for competence, and yet we see this time and time again in many industries. 

Most of these new restoration companies are targeting the low hanging fruit and doing more basic residential work. As the residential market continues to saturate, more and more companies are drifting over to the commercial world, with disastrous results.

Property damage restoration is complicated and a restoration company should be capable of providing these services. Unfortunately, we see even the simplest projects being botched and turned into a costly mess.

When it comes to PBI’s clients, there’s little to no room for error. For hospitals, hotels, institutions, universities, office complexes or other expensive real estate, a do-over is not an option. “When every minute counts” is our motto, yes, but it’s also what our clients demand, as they should.

It always amazes me when individuals or organizations with costly real estate don’t perform their due diligence before engaging a contractor. Frequently they hire someone because they met them at a networking event, they’re a friend from an association or even someone who gave them a business card at a trade show.

I fully understand the concept of “people like to do business with people they like,” but it’s far more important to do business with someone who’s competent. I’ll take a competent doctor with a terrible bedside manner over an incompetent friendly one any day.

Even so, PBI frequently gets the call to step into a project where another contractor has, to put it politely, underperformed.  And yes, this highly embarrassing and expensive situation could have been avoided with some due diligence. The next post, How to Screen a Restoration Contractor, will tell you just how to do that, and how to avoid expensive mediocrity.

Mike Popowski is President of PBI Restorations.  Reach him at