The final part of this three-part article focuses on crime scene cleanup business models.

Companies that already deal with waste disposal and indoor air quality are better suited to add crime scene cleanup services than the average commercial cleaning business.

“If you have a company that specializes in water damage, fire restoration, smoke and odor removal, or mold remediation, it’s going to be a lot closer fit, because you already have some of the equipment and you’re used to, and understand, containment and positive and negative air flow,” says Griffin. “Cleaning a nice office building or even a dirty office building has no comparison to cleaning up body fluids.”

Tillman says many companies provide all of these services — crime, fire, meth and hoarder — because the equipment and supplies are similar and it adds more revenue streams. He suggests that traditional cleaning and CTS Decon be two separate divisions within the cleaning company. Another possibility is to offer “lighter” CTS Decon services to both existing and new customers. These services may include cleaning blood after someone trips on the stairs or cleaning vomit in an office.

“They could expand their offering without it totally being a different business,” says Tillman. “They could use their judgment to say, ‘Yes, we can handle this job,’ or ‘No, we need to call in an outside contractor.’”

Sooner or later, most customers will need these types of services, says Tillman.

CTS Decon work costs more than the average cleaning job and is priced differently, so it needs to be marketed differently. Although commercial cleaning businesses typically give a price per square foot, CTS Decon is all about the degree of contamination.

“You could have a minor scene where there’s three drops of blood in a one square foot area or a 50-by-50-foot area where there’s three drops of blood,” says Tillman.

CTS Decon jobs are priced by the hour because not every contaminant can be seen at first glance. For example, after cleaning the obvious blood in a bathroom, workers may need to clean up blood that seeped under a bathtub or into a crack in the tile.

This work is often covered by homeowners insurance and adjusters know that experienced contractors cost hundreds an hour.

“The typical national average rate is somewhere between $150 and $300 an hour,” says Tillman.

Cillian says reputable companies in his market charge hourly rates ranging from $80 to $250.

Insurance companies are now identifying key service providers in an effort to control prices and work with trusted companies, says Griffin. They want to avoid liability issues from working with fly-by-night companies that take shortcuts, such as putting waste in a black bag in a dumpster.

“If you’re not on that approved list, they’re not going to recommend you to the homeowner,” says Griffin. “They tend these days to go towards a smaller group of certified and approved vendors who do this kind of work.”

BSCs should market the CTS Decon side of the business by connecting with first responders or those in the position to give referrals, such as police and fire departments, medical examiners, and the clergy. A good idea is to have two business cards and phone numbers to separate the typical cleaning and CTS Decon divisions. Also, have a mobile-friendly website so customers can find it quickly in an emergency.

Despite the hardships of CTS Decon work, Cillian finds satisfaction in his job. On one case, he spent three weeks in a house after a murder — partly to clean and partly to help the family. His training includes 40 hours of crisis management.

“We spend a lot of time with these families,” he says. “This is very personal. It isn’t cleaning mold. It isn’t cleaning carpets or water damage. This is a relative they lost. So you spend time with them and comfort them.” 

Susan Thomas Springer is a freelance writer based in Sisters, Oregon.

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