Winning the Cash Flow ‘Shell Game’ Helps This Disaster Recovery Specialist Reduce Financial Risk


When a home or business in suburban Houston needs cleanup or restoration — whether due to a flood, storm, fire or some other catastrophe, large or small — Servpro of Spring/Tomball is ready to help. From cleaning up smoke damage to drying out textiles to tearing up baseboards, the Servpro Industries franchise can do just about everything necessary to make a property new again.

“Even though we're not a new homebuilder, we could build a house from the slab up,” says Anthony Scott, co-owner of Servpro Spring/Tomball, which he purchased in 2003 with business partner Robby Sells.

Always Prepared for Action

As U.S. Marine Corps veterans, both Scott and Sells know a lot about being prepared to respond at a moment's notice. Sells, a former infantryman, oversees the company's production work and manages marketing activities and new business development, while Scott is responsible for hiring, administrative tasks and financial operations for the franchise.

“My work in the Marines Corp is akin to what I do now,” Scott says. “As a first lieutenant, I was an executive officer of a firing battery. Later, as a captain, I was a logistics officer of an artillery battalion. In both of those roles, I had to wear many hats and was responsible for beans, bandages and bullets. Today, I coordinate outside vendors, subcontractors, employees, equipment and more.”

Staying Ahead of the Cash Flow 'Shell Game'

Because Servpro of Spring/Tomball responds to emergencies and disasters of all sizes, which are unpredictable by nature, it's challenging to forecast how much money teams will need to help cleanup and restore customers' properties. Another complex aspect of the business is that it is a “service first, cash later turnkey operation,” Scott says.

“On the emergency services mitigation side of our business, we perform all services up front, before we ever receive a dime,” he explains. “It becomes a cash flow shell game, and somehow, you have to get ahead of that game.”

Scott says that's one reason why the business started using PEX Visa® Prepaid Cards. “I didn't want to hand out credit cards to employees and risk them running up significant bills that weren't paid for already,” he says. 

Since Servpro of Spring/Tomball started using PEX about two years ago, Scott says back-office processes have become more streamlined. “Before, I was constantly writing checks or going to the bank to get cash,” he says. “That took time out of my day and kept me from doing other things for the business. It also kept employees and customers waiting.”

The ability to send cash to personnel in the field, exactly when it's needed, also enables the company to quickly help its customers recover from an emergency or disaster. Scott explains that superintendents often need to special order products, such as cabinet doors, that may not be available off-the-shelf from a home improvement store. Servpro team members also accompany property owners to stores to help them select and purchase appliances and other items that must be replaced.

“Employees are provided a set budget, and they can use a PEX Card to make purchases on the spot,” says Scott. “At any time, if one of our superintendents forecasts that they need to make a bigger purchase for a customer, I can get that money to them quickly. I can just go onto my iPhone and push money over to the card. I don't have to keep anyone waiting.”

Jane Irene Kelly, who has two decades of professional writing, editing and reporting experience, writes about business and technology. Jane is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and resides in Pennsylvania.

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