PLR Expo: The biggest event in the Canadian contents restoration industry

Almost every major industry has its own trade show or expo event, and this year property loss and contents restoration has an event all its own in the PLR Expo. It stands to be truly monumental for companies and contractors dealing in contents restoration, and iCAT is taking full advantage of the opportunity to showcase its revolutionary products and industry knowledge.

The PLR Expo is being held at the International Plaza Hotel – Toronto Airport from September 23-25, 2013, and will feature more than 35 of the industry’s most cutting-edge organizations, including iCAT. With so many different vendors and contents restoration authorities in one place, this event will serve as an opportunity for industry professionals to meet and share best practices, helpful resources and other valuable insights.

The event will feature several key presenters who will speak to the many needs and obstacles contractors face when entering a jobsite. Donald Cooper, MBA, CSP, HoF, a thought leader and passionate visionary in the areas of marketing, management and business innovation, will give the keynote presentation. Other speakers include Michael A. Pinto, CSP, CMP, the chief executive officer of Wonder Makers Environmental, Inc.; David MacLean, a seasoned conference and retreat leader who speaks on innovation and inspiration; and Andy Sherwood, an Independent Associate of Priority Management.

iCAT is pleased to be a presenting vendor at the PLR Expo and will have a booth showcasing the game-changing software and systems that have made us an industry leader. The many presentations being hosted at the event will revolve around accelerating the packout process and streamlining onsite cataloging efforts—an area that iCAT has modernized.

iCAT aims to bring with it not only the tools and resources contractors are in desperate need of, but also the authority that has led our company to establish a refined presence as an innovator in the world of contents restoration.

In our presentation at the PLR Expo, called “Good to Great is Just Not Good Enough!,” attendees will discover how to provide phenomenal customer service to their most important customers: their employees! We’ll explore how one simple act can transform the way employees and customers feel, and the impact it can have on overall operations. This memorable presentation will come from iCAT’s very own Mitchell Rogers and Russ Jacobs.

Afterward, attendees of the expo can mingle among the booths of various presenters and see how each vendor addresses these needs.

Or, attendees could just come straight to the iCAT booth, meet our executive team and witness first-hand that “iCAT Knows Contents.” They’ll experience how the Fast Packout app makes cataloging in the cloud simple.

The PLR Expo is going to be an exceptional event for the contents restoration industry, and iCAT is excited to be a contributing vendor. For more information, check out, or for a complete event agenda, go to

Delivering value to insurance companies and adjusters

Living up to the expectations of insurance adjusters while packing out and inventorying job sites is an everyday part of a contractor’s life. Each time you get your foot in the door at a new site, there’s a brand-new sense of duty that vests itself within you. But what if there were more to that idea—even more than exceeding the high standards of your insurance adjuster clients?

Well, there is: surpassing the expectations of the insured.

Real Time Insurance Adjuster Software

Using iCAT’s software and Fast Packout app, your ability to go above and beyond is made simple, as you can create value that resonates far beyond insurance adjusters all the way to the insureds themselves. The best part is that there’s no added stress to you, the contractor. Thanks to the tools made available through iCAT, your role remains the same—it’s the value you’re able to deliver that expands.

iCAT leverages the cloud and other key technologies to make this possible for restoration contractors. For example, take iCAT’s cloud inventory system, which allows every item you catalogue to be viewed by insured homeowners. While you’re doing what you do best, each item you inventory populates a comprehensive cloud contents database that’s accessible by everyone involved in that particular claims process.

In addition to the adjusters seeing the process move forward in real-time, so too can the insureds, if they desire. This makes for a transparent process that insurance claims adjusters are happy to deliver to their own clients.

So how does this help you? It’s all about rapport. When you’re logging item after item into that database, you’re allowing the insured to breathe easier. The same is true for the adjuster assigned to the claim. As a contractor, you now have the power to quell the entire claims situation, right down to the end homeowner.

Having an up-to-the-minute contents inventory isn’t the only tool in your arsenal with iCAT and Fast Packout, however. You also have accuracy and efficiency on your side. With identification and cataloging times cut in half, you’re able to deliver speedy, precise results in real time. What more could an adjuster ask for?

At the end of the day, the faster and more accurately you’re able to do your job, the happier everyone involved is going to be. There’s a lot riding on your shoulders, including the satisfaction of the claims adjustor and the insured, so why not give them more than they expect?

Staying Organized: The Biggest Challenge of Any Contents Restoration Professional

As a contractor, staying organized while rifling through a disorganized mess on the job site may seem like an oxymoron. When everything is already out of place, amassed in jumbled chaos, picking up the pieces and staying organized while you catalog each and every item has been a nearly impossible challenge—at least in years past. But no matter how daunting it may be to find order in this bedlam, it nevertheless needs to be done.

The easiest way to approach organization is with organization. Many contractors have developed systems of their own to make this happen, whether it’s a step-by-step process, a failsafe check system or recurring way of doing things that gets them and their teams into the right habits. It’s like brushing your teeth—you do it the same way every day until it simply becomes routine. After a while, you’ll have the motions down so well that it will immediately feel wrong if you skip a step or forget to perform a check.

Once you’ve got a system down with which you’re comfortable, it’ll be easier to approach a job. But as you already know by now, no two sites are ever exactly the same. Sure, you’ll encounter similar contents from site to site, but ultimately each new job site is a fresh take on the same problem. So, how do you cope with organizing yourself at a singular item level?

Equip yourself with the right tools and a focused mindset. The right tool is iCAT’s Fast Packout app; a focused mindset is one that allows you to know what the next step is before you need to take it.

Let’s explain.

You know that each and every item in a space must be properly logged into the Fast Packout app. You also know that each item has its own properties and values. Some deal with the now, including pre-existing conditions, where you took it from, what it is, how much space is required to package it and if the item is delicate. Others deal with the future: Will the item be cleaned or disposed? Will it be stored and returned as-is? What type of cleaning method will you use?

This gives you a start and end point, with your overarching goal being to register and package these items accurately and as quickly as possible based on their properties, values and obvious next steps.

As a side note, your packout technicians should be aware of the “now” issues, but hyper-focused on the “future.” At the packout stage, every action you take matters, dictating performance at the facility and every stage after that related to the claim. This, in turn, impacts your entire contents division.

The most successful packouts are highly organized and simultaneously consider the “now” and the “future.” It’s the best path to happy clients and a profitable contents division.

It may take some time to develop your process for becoming organized, but the time you’ll save in the long run and the quality of work you’ll get out of an organized process are unparalleled. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have Fast Packout with you, every step of the way. You may also find a certified iCAT Contents Trainer near you to help you with this learning curve, giving you the insights you need to use the solution to its full potential.

The state of the Modern Contents Movement©

When a home disaster like a fire or flood impacts someone’s home, time is of the essence when it comes to identifying, cataloging and reporting contents. This sense of urgency is two-sided, as both the homeowner and insurance claims adjuster want a quick resolution to the claim.

For contractors, however, there has never been a simple way to get this process done. Sure, evolving technology over the past few decades has sped up the process a little, but the fact remains that many contractors today still need to analyze and inventory each individual item on a job site. There’s a lot of frustration with this process, even with iPad technology that uses your servers to store data.

That’s why iCAT Solutions spearheaded the Modern Contents Movement©. Back in 2009, we decided that enough is enough, and that there had to be an easier way for contractors to catalog contents and complete the pack-out process without investing hours or days into a single site. The movement has taken the contents restoration industry by storm.

While iCAT and the Fast Packout app have a lot of features, the bottom line is that contractors can now use their mobile devices, whether it’s a smartphone, iPod or iPad, to identify and catalog items. Then, using the power of the cloud, these contents are instantly stored in real time. There’s no need to go back to the office and transcribe or transfer data — the entire process is completed in one step.

The Modern Contents Movement is significantly changing how contractors interact with and serve their clients, who are mostly insurance claims adjusters. If they wish, contractors can give adjusters access to online databases, giving them real-time information pertaining to progress being made on the job site. They can also share this information with insureds, making for much happier adjusters. Thus, it’s no wonder why many insurers prefer to work with contractors who use iCAT’s technology.

So what’s next in the Modern Contents Movement? While there has been a lot of progress made in the industry over the past five years, there’s a lot more to come. iCAT is in the final stages of beta-testing two important technologies that will create more efficiencies for contractors.

The first is photo recognition technology. This will allow contractors to literally take a photo of an item, using their mobile device, and the technology will quickly recognize and catalog it. The technology will eliminate the need to fill out any virtual or physical forms at all, further reducing the time contractors need to spend on a job site, as well as shortening the administrative process associated with naming contents.

The second innovation is iCATLKQ, which will allow contractors to provide a whole new service in the form of like kind and quality valuation. Soon adjusters will be able to turn to contractors for both contents inventory and LKQ valuation, making for an all-in-one solution.

If you’re keeping track at home, this means that contractors can not only reduce the time they spend on a job site by up to 50 percent (thus potentially doubling their business), but they can also offer an entirely new service to their insurance adjuster clients.

Yes, the field of contents restoration is indeed in a period of major overhaul, and iCAT Solutions is at the forefront of the changes taking place. As we move forward with even more innovations, we will continue to provide contractors with the tools, resources and technologies they need to enhance their business — and hopefully their profits.

The joys of cataloging contents

Any contents restoration contractor knows just how fun it can be to enter a job site and take on the monumental task of recording and cataloging damaged contents. The hours upon hours of digging through damaged items, crawling through dark spaces and identifying and recording each and every piece is every contractor’s dream of a perfect day.

Yeah, right.

The fact of the matter is that contents inventory and pack-out is not for the faint of heart. It’s a tough job, not to mention a time-consuming one. Working against you is the fact that the success of your business depends on how fast you can complete this process.

There’s also another aspect to pack-out that makes contractors’ lives difficult: logistics. Keeping track of and cataloging contents, and then delivering data to insurance claims adjusters, is a process that’s riddled with errors and inefficiencies. It’s a task in itself just to keep everything organized.

For those contractors who are (relatively) new to the field, you should take solace in the fact that this process used to be much harder. Before the Internet, contractors had to identify and record everything by hand. They then took physical forms back to the office and entered the information into a database. Years later (at least it seemed to take that long), contractors could deliver the data to adjusters.

Since the mid-1990s, this process has become much easier thanks to the servers that could store this data. This added a significant degree of efficiency to the process, although packing out is still an enormous challenge.

But then, in 2009, it appeared: The Modern Contents Movement©. Created and led by your friends at iCAT Solutions, we’ve made the pack-out process much less of a hassle.

Not to get too promotional here, but it’s kind of a big deal. Our Fast Packout app gives contractors the ability to instantly identify and catalog contents using their smartphones or mobile devices, while updating their databases in real time via the cloud. Adjusters can have access to this database, so if they want to, they can have up-to-the-minute updates on the packout process. This allows contractors to be extremely responsive to adjusters, who in turn can be just as responsive to their own clients. It’s a win-win-win all around.

We’re also about to release our photo recognition technology, which means that you can literally take a picture of an item and identify it — even if you have no clue what it is.

OK, enough bragging. The bottom line is that contractors no longer have to dread the contents cataloging and pack-out processes. In fact, you might just have a little fun doing it!

Marketing “BIG” and winning

I was recently reading a very interesting article on marketing stunts, and was both intrigued and impressed by the creativity that these companies showed in finding ways to expose their brand to the consumer marketplace that wouldn’t easily be forgotten. See if you remember any of these stunts.

1996 ~ Taco Bell purchased ad space in the New York Times to announce that they had purchased The Liberty Bell, and would be renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. The ad copy explained that the company was taking steps to assist the country in reducing debt, and that they hoped other corporations would follow suit. It was all an April Fools joke, but it generated enormous marketing exposure for Taco Bell in a unique and memorable way.

2007 ~ Marvel Comics killed Captain America. Comic Books? Seriously? Yes, seriously! Marvel Comics is a publishing giant, and an entertainment industry mogul (purchased in recent years by Disney) and in 2007 they killed one of their most iconic characters. Nobody in the industry believed that they would leave the character dead, but even in the face of skepticism and doubt, their marketing stunt captured the attention of news outlets around the world, garnering the company coverage and attention in the New York Times, on CNN and all over the internet (15 years earlier DC Comics had similar success with the very public killing of Superman.)

1999 ~ Amongst the dozen plus examples that I was reading about, this one was far and away my favorite., a retail website, paid a town named Halfway (in Oregon) to change its name to for a year. In return the town would receive a compensation package. The details of the package aren’t what makes this so great. What makes it great is that in its ridiculousness, the media picked up on the marketing scheme and got it such attention that five months after’s IPO the dotcom monster Ebay purchased it for three hundred million dollars.

What stands out for me when I reflect on these and other marketing stunts (and not all of them were successful) is the creative vision that their brands showed in pursuing the shock marketing that lead to these memorable stunts. Whether they capture our imagination through humor, playing on our emotional connections or leveraging pop culture and business trends to attempt the seemingly foolish, all of the exercises reflect a certain brazen confidence in both the product they are selling and the vehicle they have chosen to deliver it. They’re not looking for an opportunity to get some exposure….they’re looking for a chance to win “BIG.”

Reflecting on these stunts reminded me of an iCAT contractor who took a very bold step to market his company; he flooded his house!

Disaster Recovery Services were the first documented contractor to execute this incredible marketing stunt. Watching that commercial (did you click the link?) there is no arguing that Reggie Rooks Jr. believed in his company and the quality of the service they deliver! How effective was the stunt? Effective enough that I’ve remembered it from the very second that he mentioned it to me, and shared the story with dozens of other contractors. When I talk to them about marketing I often challenge them to think about a “BIG” win that will leave their competitors wondering how they’ll ever be able to follow that act. Reggie’s bold move is the example I use when I talk about doing something that will leave an indelible impression on everyone exposed to it.

Does your company have a “BIG” win in its future?

If you always do what you’ve always done…

“If you always do what you’ve always done…you’ll always get what you always got.” ~ Henry Ford

The founder of the Ford Motor Company is accredited with introducing this saying, which has become something of a motivational guru’s dream statement, inspiring people to self-examination and change. I had a boss who used to love saying it, and I consider him to be a well informed and insightful business mind. Still, when I spent time thinking about this quote from a purely business standpoint, I came to the conclusion that it was wrong….or rather that it was inaccurate. The business world, as we so often are forced to realize, is an ever-changing landscape of market opportunity and development that almost never remains static. Whether the landscape of your industry changes slightly, impacted by the release of some new technology, or radically in response to a new and more lucrative market segment opening up, Ford’s statement remains fundamentally flawed as it is presented. I believe it should read as follows:

“If you always do what you’ve always done…you’ll be lucky to get what you always got.”

While some companies in your industry are moving ahead with a mentality that they have “always done it that way,” others are already looking at the evolving business environment and seeing opportunity in change. Those companies engaged in a cycle of growth and adaptation to market forces are competing for business that static companies haven’t evolved to handle. It’s really unrealistic for companies locked in an outdated business model to expect to continue to achieve the same level of success that they have always had. Some companies may maintain their success in the short term, but ultimately they are fighting a losing battle by failing to grow with their industry.

All of this creates one very important question…how is your company evolving?

What areas of your business are preparing to change in response to new opportunity, or changing market focus? iCAT clients know that one area where change is coming to their industry is in contents restoration. They have recognized the growing focus and rising expectations of insurance carriers, adjusters and policy holders and have adapted early in an effort to improve their market position (amongst other benefits.) Now, instead of reacting to market change they are actively involved in leading it, positioning themselves as best in class operators and marketing their expanded capabilities as the new business standard their clients should expect.

That’s exciting.

If your company isn’t actively engaged in change management designed to capitalize on the industry’s expanding focus on contents, or if your operation doesn’t understand what sets a Modern Contents© restorer apart from all others, maybe it’s time for you to give us a call.

The power of a brand

It started while I was reading some business articles online and I happened upon this simple statement:

“Everyone knows the recipe for a successful brand includes carefully defining what your business represents and delivering a consistent customer experience every time.”

I instantly found myself doubting that everyone does, in fact, know that. It’s possible that I’m simply a cynical man, and the statement is more accurate than I’m prepared to believe. More likely, I think, is that the author and many exceptional business leaders know it very well, but they are presuming that this knowledge is shared by all of the people associated with their brand. Based largely on our experiences at iCAT, I can say with some certainty that that is simply not what we encounter when we engage many (perhaps most) of the brands in our industry. In fact what we see is that most contractors have employees who are completely disconnected from the idea that they directly impact their company’s brand.

The idea that somebody working in your warehouse doesn’t consider what they do impacting to your brand should be a concern for you, but if you’re part of a network, organization or group brand the situation compounds. The value of your brand isn’t just tied to how you position your company, or how well each member of your staff delivers on your customer experience commitment each time. It is tied to how well each and every operator who shares your brand, and all of their employees, deliver the brand image as well. In recent months this topic has come up on more than one occasion when I’ve been speaking with contractors in the field who share an organizational brand. The general consensus has been that they work to enhance and elevate the brand’s position in their local area of influence and expect others within the organization to be doing the same.

One of the key criteria that stood out for me when I read the statement above was “delivering a consistent customer experience.” The ability to deliver a product or service with the same consistent outcome rests squarely on repeatable processes executed to measurable standards. A challenge for any contractor, and a herculean task of an organization. Practically impossible if the best that a contractor can do is “expect others within the organization to be doing the same.” As daunting as the challenge appears though, it can be overcome. Operational systems, like iCAT in the CLOUD for contents restorers, not only provide an infrastructure that allows contractors to put in place repeatable processes, but they also empower contractors to measure their deliverable and ensure company performance to the highest level. Additionally these systems offer a best practice solution that can be shared within a branded organization, benefiting contractors individually and providing a compounded benefit to the brand itself.

Getting the most out of your brand means ensuring that every influencer is delivering on the recipe for a successful brand. When you achieve that, you will unlock the true power of your brand.

iCAT Salvage delivers in dual areas!

I find it interesting how many times I can ask a question and still get an original answer. I’ve heard everything from ‘What do you mean?’ to ‘I’m not sure I follow’ to ‘Absolutely not.’ when I’ve asked a very simple question of contractors.


Is your salvage a revenue stream?


Over a year ago we launch iCAT Salvage to a warm reception from a handful of contractors whose business was ready to leverage it. As 2012 moves closer to and end, it’s a great time to reflect on the unique opportunity it provides to contractors. Specifically I’d like to focus on two areas where this service can really assist a contractor; value added services and marketing. This industry specific auction house provides a unique blend of both of these objectives while helping to minimize storage on items that the home owner has opted not to have restored or returned.

Value added services continue to be areas of focus for many contractors who are looking to enhance their service offering while distinguishing themselves from their competitors. By leveraging iCAT Salvage, they are able to offer carriers and adjusters a true total job remuneration package that includes often valuable, though unrestorable, items from losses. While they are free to determine the proper distribution of the remuneration, contractors can now approach this service as a supplemental revenue stream that covers their costs and overhead while improving the overall claim costs of their business partners. Now that’s value!

The impact from a marketing standpoint is even more profound, as contractors can provide their carriers and adjusters with the unique opportunity to engage is the salvage auctions directly. This approach not only enhances the existing relationship by engaging the entire business, but it provides a very unique marketing avenue to distinguish contractors who leverage iCAT. So often marketing people are looking for a hook that is unique to their company, and for many contractors iCAT Salvage is exactly that. How many of your competitors can market that they have a salvage strategy that provides them with a marketing opportunity? This service provides contractors with a recurring channel of exposure to their customers, while allowing those customers to participate in the auction of some fairly exciting pieces of salvage.

For an example of exciting salvage that’s been recently listed click here.

iCAT Salvage doesn’t require a contractor be an iCAT in the CLOUD customer in order to sign-up and take advantage of the service.


Connections is right around the corner…

With connections right around the corner I find myself more excited for the show than ever before. What’s not to be excited about? We have multiple platforms to share with contents companies, although the real buzz seems to be focused on our Apple app, which supports everything from iPads to iPhones to some models of iPod Touch.

What else makes this such an exciting year? It’s the first time we’ve gone to Connections with our iCAT in the CLOUD product, which was launched in early 2012. It’s a truly mobile contents software – and that means that contractors who are excited and want to check it out can sign-up, and start exploring it with me right there on the show floor! Better still, if they’ve got one of those aforementioned devices, we can download the app and install it right then and there as well!

We’re working very hard to try and free up the schedule of our Contents Guru, so that he can accompany me to this show. With all of the excitement around our product, we think it’s an excellent time for him to attend a show and connect with users (new and existing) and talk nuts and bolts. If you’re wondering how to get the most out of your contents business, he’s the guy you want to connect with.

We’ll be in booth #906, so why not drop by?

Let’s talk contents.


The largest and most successful contents companies in the industry are powered by iCAT... and over 80% switch from competing solutions! If you are not already convinced, here are 10 more reasons why you too should be powered by iCAT.