The Most Common Problems in the Restoration Industry (From the Perspective of Your Customers)

Corbin Smith
KnowHow Team Member
If you had to guess, what do you think would be the most common reasons a restoration project fails? Delays? Bad customer service? A final invoice that comes in too steep? These are common answers from a restorer’s perspective, but a customer might have a very different opinion on the same subject.

If you want to be a 5-star restoration company, it starts with knowing what’s important to your customers. In our analysis of over 1,000 bad online reviews of restoration companies in the United States, these are the two biggest pain points customers encountered when a project went off the rails:

Poor Communication

From the perspective of customers, failure to communicate well came in as the number one problem in the restoration industry, with it being mentioned in nearly 40% of all 1-star reviews we analyzed.
When examined closely, there were three types of problems that consistently emerged, leading customers to take their grievances online to Google Reviews to settle the score:
  • Employees not showing up at the agreed upon time
  • Turbulent hand-offs between restoration and remediation teams
  • Customers calling with concerns or complaints being ignored
These derailments are especially dangerous because customers are already in a fragile state of mind when restoration services are needed, so it’s understandable that if they are ignored, not kept up to date, or stood-up at an appointed time, they would be frustrated.

One horror story in particular had a customer describing being stuck in a hotel for months, unable to get any updates on their situation, or when they would be back at home:
"Once our kitchen was gutted for mold treatment our house sat for weeks with no activity. Our contact was not reliable, he would push out dates and lie - I was in a hotel from August until December."
Situations like this are a lose-lose for all parties involved: the customer grows increasingly anxious, and the business’ margins get eaten into, and to cap it off they end up with a bad review - a permanent “black mark” online, to showcase how they treated this customer.

The good news is, if your business is suffering from bad communication practices, it’s not too late to improve your online ratings. Here are some tangible steps you can put into practice to avoid being plagued by communication-related 1-star reviews:
  • Set expectations throughout the company that phone calls and emails need to be returned ASAP.
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable: teach your staff that a quick phone call or a 5 minute conversation with an angry customer is much more effective in the long run than letting the customer sit on their frustrations.
  • Monitor and take action when staff aren’t adhering to customer satisfaction procedures. This can look like a quick conversation with staff, or weekly lunch ‘n’ learns with the team to get everyone on the same page as to what healthy communication looks like.

Poor Workmanship

Customers complaining about visibly poor workmanship was another one of the most common problems in the restoration industry, being mentioned in almost 30% of all reviews analyzed. This is a consequential complaint, as customers are spending thousands of dollars to get their personal property fixed, expecting it to be done right.

Here are a few of the most common contributing factors that led to customers complaining about poor workmanship:
  • Finished products that deteriorate after only a few weeks
  • Jobs that were clearly left incomplete
  • Negligence on behalf of the staff
Oftentimes, the breakdown happened towards the end of the job when it was time to finish off the last 10%. In our analysis, we saw that once the majority of the work had wrapped up, staff and managers tended to lose focus and not bring things over the finish line.

Over the course of our review, we also saw multiple examples of staff getting lazy, cutting corners, or simply not knowing the proper way to do things and leaving it up to guesswork. Whether intentional or not, these all led to the same result: a 1-star review complaining about poor quality workmanship.
However, like almost every problem that comes up, poor workmanship does not have to be your business' downfall. If you’ve already fallen victim to these reviews, it’s never too late to start implementing the proper processes and guidelines your staff can follow to turn things around. As we say in our e-book ‘Delivering 5-Star Restoration Experiences’, “Instead of viewing it as
an indictment, view it as found money: low-hanging fruit (e.g., returning a phone call) that could begin to drastically impact your business’ professionalism and customer satisfaction”.


Here a few simple things you can implement today:
  • Create step-by-step processes employees can follow that defines what “done” looks like
  • Don’t let individuals with poor work ethic define the culture within your company. Hire people that are driven and up for the task of delivering 5-Star experiences
  • Define expectations at the outset of the job
  • Send out a trusted manager at the completion of each job to sign off on the work, and make sure everything is 100% finished
Implementing these few simple tricks into your business will help turn you into a 5-Star restorer customers can trust, and keep turning back to time and time again.

Looking for more tangible ways to start eliminating 1-Star reviews?

We recently released a first-of-it’s-kind e-book that breaks down our 1,000 bad review analysis into an action-packed, hilarious, and informative read. Restoration business owners and employees alike will take away countless lessons and tips to increase lead generation by improving your online review presence. Download the e-book at https://www.fivestarrestorer.com/