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Cleanfax Restoration Insider / Equipment & Tools / Restoration

Contents Inventory Systems

May 19, 2014
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Successful contents restoration depends heavily on the pack-out. An orderly pack-out paves the way for an efficient restoration workflow, and a disorderly one results in wasted time and eroded profit margins.

Contents inventory software can help expedite pack-outs, shorten turnaround and improve profitability, so selecting the right solution is critical. Restoration professionals should consider five questions when evaluating their options.

How much detail can it capture?

Restorers often say that they avoid a lot of headaches when they thoroughly document inventory during the pack-out. Minimal detail is rarely enough. For example, the inventory list must contain more information than the word “sofa.” A much more useful description would be “microfiber three-seat reclining sofa.” In addition, the inventory must contain notations and photos that show the pre-existing condition before the sofa was removed. It should also show the exact room and structure where the sofa was found. This type of detail can pay huge dividends when it comes to claims of damage and other concerns when items are packed back. If the sofa had a tear in the fabric the owner forgot, minimal detail does nothing to help — photos and notations immediately solve the problem.

Although few dispute the value of a detailed inventory, pack-out professionals must balance detail with speed. Professionals can’t spend hours handwriting notations. Profit margins aren’t high enough to pay workers to collect that kind of detail using standard methods, and the promise of fast service means items have to be packed and removed quickly. So the ultimate test of a contents inventory system is the tools it provides to quickly collect highly detailed inventory information without slowing down the pack-out. 

Is it mobile?

A contents inventory system must effectively take advantage of current mobile technology to substantially improve efficiency. Android- and iOS-based apps allow restoration companies to outfit teams using affordable mobile devices that, in many cases, they already own and use. It is no longer a good idea to invest in proprietary, expensive and cumbersome hardware when deploying a pack-out solution.

A mobile solution lets restorers take advantage of features on their devices to capture photos, record voice notes and quickly make notations that document each item during pack-out. This robust documentation minimizes questions when the invoice is submitted.

Does it facilitate teamwork?

Longer cycle times translate to higher operating costs and reduced customer satisfaction. Restorers must arrive at the loss site, pack out, and return to the warehouse as quickly as possible. This workflow cannot be slowed by a device bottleneck. The best way to optimize the effectiveness of onsite staff is with a pack-out system that supports multiple devices for all who are documenting the inventory. The information from all those devices is then seamlessly merged into a cohesive inventory.

Does it integrate with other software?

Redundant entry is one of the most frustrating time wasters, and it offers new opportunities to introduce errors. Pack-out pros cannot afford to waste time re-entering the same information in multiple systems. The successful pack-out solution must communicate with the restorer’s estimating system and offer a seamless transfer of data without redundant work.  

How much training is needed?

An intuitive, flexible interface that understands the pack-out workflow is the best headstart on learning a new tool. Online training options and 24-hour support are also important backups if help is ever needed.

Faster, better contents restoration

When used effectively, contents inventory software can help solve many pack-out challenges. Restorers who consider these five questions when looking for their next system will be able to find the right solution that enables them to increase efficiency and provide better service.

Ryan Smith is Xactware’s assistant vice president of XactContents.