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Is my hood cleaning company certified, are they insured, does it matter?
You absolutely want to work with like companies and you’re probably insured, right?  Seems obvious, if you have a business you’re insured.  But not always.  And you may even be certified or at least you are in business because you have customers that like your product.  Certification is a way to ensure that the output, in this case, service, is meeting the standards, is as expected, is what you paid for.

This same question about certified and insured hood cleaning is a common topic even within industry circles.  Customers have said that as long as the job is done and they have proof for their insurance company, fire and health inspectors, and those guys don’t ask about credentials, why should I?  Vetting qualified providers seems like it should be someone else’s responsibility.  And I can’t say I don’t agree.  Very often I find that customers are shocked that hood cleaners aren’t already licensed or certified.  They look at hood cleaning like other trades.  But kitchen exhaust cleaning is more lumped in with cleaning than with fire prevention, so it falls outside that license requirement.  Seriously.  Even though your hood cleaner is removing flammable and charred carbons from the interior of dark, concealed ductwork.  Taking someone’s word shouldn’t be good enough to confirm a job is complete, and yet often it is.  Because few owners and managers will climb into the ceiling or to the roof to flip a fan and look at that ductwork.  And knowing all that, there is still no required certification or licensing in most states or jurisdictions.

In Chicagoland there are no fewer than 10 hood cleaning companies (KEC) at any one time, but year to year many will go out of business. Why, because it’s a tough industry, but entry and exit is easy because of the lack of licensing or certification. And once you start looking at the costs of insurance and training, the non-tangibles that everyone deals with, you realize fire safety industries are especially expensive. Many large service companies will use a combination of traditional schooling, along with in-house training programs and on-the-job training to build-up quality service teams. But, that comes at a cost. And often, when a customer looks at competitive bids, they aren’t comparing apples to apples.

So does training and insurance change price? Of course it does. Is it worth the cost? We think so.
And with almost 30 years in the industry, we can tell you a little bit about it. One story stands out. Many years ago a customer decided to put off service, blamed costs, said they’d find someone else, cheaper. They faxed (hey-we said many years ago) a letter telling us to cancel them as a customer. The next day they had a fire. The restaurant closed. It eventually re-opened. When their insurance looked to us, we simply provided them with the fax. Now when I say they ‘put off service’ here is where the expertise of an educated team is so valuable. How do we know WHEN to service a customer? Because we follow NFPA 96 standards which outline frequency based on volume, we also can look at layouts, cooking equipment, your filters and troubleshoot why build-up is excessive and work with customers to develop better in-house processes to keep build-up down. We also understand ductwork and what is needed to keep it clean, because you can’t clean what you can’t reach! And insurance, well that is helpful when you look at your own costs, a fire is expensive and an under-insured service company means higher premiums out of your own pocket, not to mention that many businesses have closed and never re-opened due to being under-insured. Preventative maintenance is generally where fire prevention and hood cleaners fall, but maybe it should be preventative fire maintenance, since so much more is on the line.

Get to know your provider, ask the questions. Don’t accept that all service companies are alike. If your business means everything to you, partner with a team that values their business in the same way! Call Averus, 800-393-8287, www.Averus.com for more information or for a free consultation.

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