The 5 Best Restoration Training SOPs for New Estimators

The 5 Best Restoration Training SOPs for New Estimators
New estimators consulting SOPs to help them make accurate estimations.

Starting as an estimator without the proper restoration training can feel like trying to drink from a firehose. But how can disaster restoration estimator training stay ahead when the role of an estimator is constantly evolving?

The complexities of an estimator’s job have increased just as fast as technology has—and the hose isn’t shutting off any time soon. With endless tools and software to learn and each insurance company imposing its own set of requirements, it’s no surprise that estimators face a steep learning curve.

Gone are the days of quotes on paper and resolutions over the phone. According to our latest State of the Industry Report, it now takes estimators 8+ weeks before they become competent in their roles as they navigate a maze of guidelines and procedures.

It’s time you used Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to reduce the chaos and shorten the restoration training period. SOPs help estimators manage the influx of information, tasks, and documentation protocols with confidence and precision.

Mitigating Financial Risks Through Effective Estimator Training

An estimator’s ability to assess and document damage, determine project scopes, and calculate costs is directly tied to the two areas of your business that matter most: Your finances and customer relationships.

By ignoring the need for structured disaster restoration estimator training, you’re leaving the door open for underestimates that might thin out project margins or overestimates that lead to lost business. Both scenarios can hurt your business—but the financial implications can impact more than just the numbers.

Flawed Estimates Without SOPs: The Ripple Effect

What’s the true cost of poor restoration training and a lack of standardization?

Imagine this: An estimator is called to a large commercial building after a serious flooding event. Lacking clear, step-by-step SOPs to follow, the estimator completes the inspection but misses critical signs of structural damage and underestimates the extent of water damage.

In this situation—which might sound all too familiar—the estimate issued to the insurance company greatly underrepresents the actual scope and cost of the work. As the doomed project begins and progresses based on the flawed estimate, the actual extent of the damage becomes obvious. Everyone’s in for a nasty surprise as there’s a drastic increase in the amount of labor and money needed to complete the job.

Suddenly, you’re dealing with several negative ripple effects:

  • Significant delays after the team is forced to stop work midway to reassess and expand the project scope, throwing off the project timeline.
  • Financial overruns as your restoration company is stuck between a rock and a hard place—deciding between absorbing the extra costs or negotiating with the insurance company and client for additional funds, putting a strain on these relationships.
  • Damaged reputation after word spreads that your business did not deliver a reliable or accurate estimate, risking the loss of future opportunities.

This scenario not only demonstrates how important it is to have the proper disaster restoration estimator training, but also to equip estimators with the latest know-how supported by comprehensive SOPs.

The truth is, an estimator's role is evolving rapidly in step with the technology needed to successfully do a job. Last year’s learning can quickly become outdated, even if restoration training has been provided.

Avoid the costly ripple effect by adopting expert SOPs.

Mastering Estimator Software: Xactimate

Speaking of technology, Xactimate is the platform handling about 80% of all claims estimates. Its widespread use across the industry shows how important it is for new estimators to be proficient in this software—but don’t worry, our disaster restoration estimator training SOPs cover that!

Here are a few things Xactimate offers to make an estimator's life easier:

  • Up-to-date localized cost data
  • Comprehensive estimation tools
  • Project management capabilities
  • Ability to integrate with other industry software

That catch is, because the software is so comprehensive, it could lead to a steep learning curve. Effective training on Xactimate is an important learning process. Additionally, having step-by-step SOPs available to estimators on-site means they don’t need to rely on rote memorization, outdated guides, or calling you for answers.

The Top 5 SOPs for Disaster Restoration Estimator Training

Training and onboarding new estimators can be challenging—navigating complex software like Xactimate, keeping up with the constantly changing demands, and more.

The right SOPs can offer clear, step-by-step guidance that addresses the common hurdles new estimators face. This way, estimators can go from unsure rookies to skilled, confident professionals capable of making big contributions to your business, faster.

1. Navigating Water Mitigation Estimates with Xactimate

Mastering water mitigation estimates takes a blend of technical skills (like using tools such as Xactimate and Matterport) and soft skills like effectively questioning homeowners or building managers. Luckily, this restoration training SOP outlines detailed processes for both and lays the groundwork for best practices.

Key steps include creating an initial scope sheet, which is refined by consulting and questioning the homeowner on the water event’s specifics—source, discovery time, and duration. The SOP also emphasizes accuracy in sketching affected areas, crucial for entering into Xactimate, and organizing mitigation line items effectively.

By following each step, estimators can be confident and prepared when compiling a final packet complete with photos, sketches, and drying logs. The proper estimates should be comprehensive, cohesive, accurate, and compliant.

2. Best Estimating Practices for Mold in Xactimate

The process of accurately estimating mold begins with understanding insurance coverage and policy limits. Also, pay special attention to using the right line items in Xactimate and applying the HMR (Hazardous Materials) code for water-related items.

Additionally, this SOP outlines how estimators can collaborate with an Industrial Hygienist (IH) to obtain a mold protocol, which will inform the scope of work and estimate justification. Certification in mold remediation, like IICRC, adds credibility to your estimates and boosts the efficacy of your disaster restoration estimator training.

Other key steps include sketching affected areas, employing specific line items for HEPA vacuuming and containment, and discussing scope and costs with homeowners and adjusters.

3. Create a Macro in Sketch in Xactimate

Knowing how to create a macro in Xactimate will greatly simplify the mold mitigation estimating process. This SOP guides you through the process to ensure consistent, comprehensive estimates every time.

From initial login to finalizing project sketches, macros simplify the inclusion of critical line items such as containment strategies, protective gear, and cleanup protocols. Macros also bring standardization to complex estimations, covering everything from demolition to HEPA vacuuming.

By adopting macros, mold remediation estimates will be delivered quickly and accurately. Plus, your estimators will have a repeatable process that guarantees thoroughness across all projects.

4. How to Estimate for Cabinets in Xactimate

The proper restoration training for accurately estimating cabinets in Xactimate rests on precise dimensions and an understanding of cabinet types and grades.

First, begin by sketching the room and including all relevant features like windows and doorways. Don’t forget to make sure the accurate ceiling height is also noted! This SOP will provide a detailed process for using the Block tool to outline cabinets within the sketch to adjust placement and dimensions to reflect the actual layout.

When it comes to cabinet types and grades, Xactimate categorizes cabinets from Standard to Deluxe Grade. In the case of higher-end, customized designs, estimators will have to source a bid item from a cabinet maker for accurate pricing.

5. How to Estimate for Duct Cleaning

Before estimating for duct cleaning, an estimator will have to have a thorough understanding of what the process entails. Thankfully, this SOP covers a lot of ground—from cleaning the entire duct system, including supply, intake, and return vents, using specialized equipment, and possibly addressing the registers, evaporator coil, and furnace.

In Xactimate, billing is based on the count of registers and returns, with a typical small home having around 8 registers and a larger one over 20. Additional HVAC cleaning items include individual registers (HVC REG), the evaporator coil (CLN FRCOIL), and the furnace (CLN FRFA).

Advancing Restoration Training with 100s of SOPs

Last year's knowledge can quickly become this year's outdated skill, making up-to-date Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) not just useful, but essential. Without them, estimators risk falling behind in an industry where staying ahead means everything.

SOPs ensure detailed, justified estimates that align with industry standards and policy requirements. When the sheer volume of information inundates estimators and changes every year, it leads to mistakes. And that’s not even taking into account the pressure of tight deadlines!

If you want disaster restoration estimator training bolstered by hundreds of expert SOP templates, you need KnowHow!

  • Speed up onboarding time for new estimators with streamlined, step-by-step guidance.
  • Ensure accurate and compliant estimates that meet industry standards and insurance policies.
  • Strengthen your bottom line by minimizing costly estimation errors and disputes.
  • Boost operational efficiency across estimating processes
  • Improve customer satisfaction with timely, precise, and transparent estimates.

Book a demo with KnowHow to unlock our templates and discover what we can do for your restoration training efforts by standardizing your company’s how-to and making it easily accessible to all.