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Contractors – Tips to Save on Electricity

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We are a small business too and we know that electricity can be a large part of your overhead. A survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) found that energy costs are a top-three business expense for more than one-third of the nation’s small businesses.

You can make this expense a little less of a hit though.  We have some great tips to share with you.

When choosing a retail energy supplier, be sure to look into all the information. Visit a variety of provider websites to view pricing and plan options. Look into the supplier’s credit rating, their customer service, and technology offerings.

The Financial Fraud Research Center estimates that a whopping $40 to $50 billion are lost to fraud each year in the United States alone. Know your utility and energy supplier, safeguard your personal information and call them back when they call you so that you know you are getting to the right place and person.

Solar power can be a valuable tool in your overall energy strategy with little or no up-front costs.

Your business can take advantage of the investment tax credit (ITC) with solar systems. There are also other tax incentives for investing in your business’s energy efficiency so be sure to look into those as well.

Saving energy should be across the board.  It is not just the responsibility of you as the owner, but also of your team. Get everyone involved.  Tell them where you are at, be open to their ideas and suggestions and work together to save on your energy costs.

An annual maintenance on your HVAC system will ensure it is running the most efficiently it can. Also keeping your filters clean makes sure it isn’t working too hard throughout the year.

Natural light can be great if you are using it to warm up your office in the winter.  You can also use blinds to deter the sun from beating on you in the summer so your office stays cool.

Setting your thermostat so that it stays at a certain temp when you are in the office and out of the office will help too.  This will ensure it kicks in automatically if it is too hot or cold in your office based on what you have it set as.

Turning off machines such as your computer monitor when you are out of the office can save a fair amount of energy.

Ever hear of energy vampires? This is equipment that is still plugged in when not in use that sucks energy up in smaller amounts.

By improving the fuel economy of your business’s vehicles, you can significantly reduce costs.

You may want to talk to other local business owners also and see if they have additional tips that may help, and share some of your own with them.  We are all in this together.  If you need us, we are here at Contractors Insurance Agency.

How to Delegate Effectively in your Contractor Business

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When you own a business, you wear many hats and to grow and to get more done, you need to have people you trust to delegate some of the workload to.

Delegating is great for your team.  It shows you are trusting them to be responsible to do tasks and it builds trust with them.  You are helping them with professional development and teaching them new skills which shows great leadership.

While the benefits of delegating are clear to many, (save time and money, get more accomplished, grow your business) many business owners still fail to delegate effectively because they are their own bottleneck.

They don’t want to take the time to teach the skills to someone because it’s easier to do it themselves. What if the other person doesn’t do it like they would, what if things fall through the cracks? There are so many reasons business owners come up with to keep their own plate overflowing and themselves feeling overwhelmed. And their team is looking for more and maybe even moving to a different company because they are not being challenged where they are.

Keep in mind that your team wants to do a good job for you, and they want to be successful.  The right team knows that the better the company does the better everyone on the team does.

While initially when you delegate it is a little more time consuming to get someone else up to speed, in the long run it will take you less time when they know the skill and can take on the task.

Some of the tasks to delegate would be administrative tasks such as scheduling meetings, answering calls, checking/responding to emails and invoicing. If you are sending emails out such as newsletters or posting blogs to your website, you can have an administrative assistant take that on as well.

Another time to delegate is when you are not skilled at the task yourself.  You may be taking three times as long to complete a task that you could hire someone else to do.  Think of what your own time is worth and look at the cost of hiring someone for that task and figure out how much you could be saving and even bringing in with new business that you have time to focus on.

Here are 7 tips to delegating effectively:

  1. Be sure you have the right person doing the task
  2. Know why you are delegating the task
  3. Provide complete direction on how to do the task
  4. Be available to answer questions and provide resources/training to get things started
  5. Delegate responsibility but also the authority to make decisions needed regarding the task
  6. Check over the work initially and provide constructive feedback
  7. Be sure to thank the person and let them know you appreciate their work

Over time you will get better and better at delegating. In turn, you will have more trust, commitment, and loyalty with your employees. You will improve productivity and be able to grow your business as well.

If we can help you with any of your contractor insurance needs here at Contractors Insurance Agency, please let us know.

Marketing, Strategy and Tips to Grow Your Contractor Business

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It can be tough sometimes to grow a business.  You are an expert at contracting, not marketing, right?

If you are struggling with how to bring in new, consistent business, here are some ideas for you.

Your target audience is looking for your services online, especially now.  Did you know that in 2020 there were more than 1.6 million online searches for contractor services each month? That’s a big number and it is only getting bigger.

The best way to get people to find you easily online is through a good digital marketing strategy. The right plan can help you rank higher than your competitors, resulting in more calls and sales for your business.

Email marketing has been a go-to method for at least a decade now but new methods come out all the time.  It is important to keep up on the latest marketing tips if you are handling things yourself.  Things like chat bots on your website and voice optimization have been taking off like crazy lately!

Also changing is the number of people that decide online before they even reach out to you. They are looking in online directories, checking out reviews and asking others if they know you. And don’t worry about the competitive pricing point.  If you have fair prices, even if they are higher than your competition, you can still gain a lot of business.  Roughly seventy percent of U.S. consumers say they’ll spend more money to do business with a company that delivers great service.

Some of our marketing ideas include:

  • Having a great website design so people can easily find what they are looking for
  • Make sure you are utilizing SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Pay Per Click (PPC or “paid advertising”)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Email Marketing

A few tips for a good website build include:

  1. Be sure the site loads fast and is mobile-friendly. This means when someone types in the URL you want to make sure it comes up within 3 seconds or less and that it shows the way it should on whatever device the visitor is currently using.
  2. It needs to be secure: 94% of the sites on the first page of Google are HTTPS, which is not a surprise since Google has confirmed that they favor HTTPS sites. Talk to your hosting company to find out how to make your site secure if it is not already.
  3. Be user-friendly. Make it easy for the visitor to find how to contact you, see testimonials and photos of past work, and anything else that they may need to find quickly and easily.

Utilizing SEO

If you find that you are not getting enough leads or the right ones, you may need to enhance (or put in place) your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy. Optimizing your website and local listings can make the difference between a customer calling you—or calling your competitor.

Optimizing your site and local listings for SEO will help you:

  • Define your target services and service area
  • Reach a larger audience
  • Drive leads using a targeted keyword strategy
  • Improve the quality of leads you get

Google’s algorithms change continuously so it is important to keep up on these.  It is often beneficial to hire someone that specifically handles SEO optimization and has a knowledge of what needs to change and can perform that task for you.  SEO strategy works by leveraging Google’s ranking factors so your website is at the top of the list of websites a person sees when they search for a particular service online. With proper SEO, your contracting company can be a top-ranked business on Google’s search engine.

Use PPC (Pay Per Click) Advertising

If you are looking for leads immediately, paid advertising is a factor you need to put into your marketing strategy to make that happen. Pay per click advertising (PPC) allows contractors anywhere to be found on the first page of Google right away.

Pay per click advertising works by placing your ad in front of people who are actively searching for your services. When setting up PPC you are bidding on certain keywords that pertain to the services you are selling so that when people type in these words your ad shows at the top of the page. It is important to make sure that where you are directing the prospect to go to in your ad is top notch on your website.

Social Media Marketing

Social media profiles help spread the word about your services online, even before customers reach your website. Here are a few of the platforms that you may want to have a profile on:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Google My Business
  • Twitter

Don’t forget to incorporate social media into your:

  • Website footer
  • Marketing materials
  • Brochures
  • Business cards
  • Email signatures

Social media will not produce overnight results, but can build up a following and a way for you to engage with current and prospective customers. Stay consistent with it. Social media continues to be a major factor for Google and other search engines to determine how your website will rank online.

You can also add in video on your social media platforms, which is a great way to get prospects to really see who you are as a person and company.  Be sure to limit videos to two minutes or less to make sure you don’t lose the viewer.

Leverage Email Marketing

Email marketing allows you to nurture prospects as well as keep in touch with previous customers and even get referrals from them.

Some email campaigns you may want to consider include:

  • Keep in touch with customers
  • Advertise specials, coupons, and exclusive rebates
  • Introduce new prospects to the business and how you work

Almost 50% of email recipients make at least one purchase a year based on a promotional email. If you want to generate and close leads with minimal investment, include email marketing in your online marketing strategy.

We hope these tips have helped you and remember, Contractors Insurance Agency is always here to help in any way with your insurance needs.  We are happy to review your existing policy, set up a new policy for you and help in an emergency.  Just reach out!

 

3 Tips for Working Outside in the Summer

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Summer is in full swing and that can mean a higher risk while working outside.   Here are 3 tips to keep you safe while you get all your jobs completed.

Beat the heat  

Over 600 people in the U.S. die from hecanat related issues each year. These include heat stroke and heat exhaustion.  It is important to stay cool especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Stay cool, hydrate, and stay informed of changes in the weather. If you can, find a place with AC that you can take your breaks in during the hottest times of the day, work in the shade, if possible, wear a hat or something to provide shade over your face, drink plenty of liquids and wear clothing that will help your body cool down.

You also want to be aware of the sun’s strength. Sunburn is not only painful, but it is damaging to your skin. Without sunscreen on you can get burned in as little as 15 minutes, but it can take up to 12 hours for your skin to show the damage.  Depending on the weather, if it is possible, you may want to have your crew work at different times of day such as early morning until 10am and from 4pm until 9 pm so that you can avoid the sun as much as possible.

Food safety

When the weather is warm, it is more common to experience food poisoning if food is not stored properly. Be sure you have your lunch on ice in a cooler if you are bringing it with you and leaving it outside or in your car until your break.

Insect protection

Protect yourself from insect bites by applying insect repellent. Apply repellents only to exposed skin or clothing, as directed on the product label.

If we can help you in any way here at Contractors Insurance Agency, please let us know.  We are here to make sure you are confident that your business is fully protected for any circumstances that may arise.

 

5 Tips to Prevent Overwhelm and Recover from Burnout

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When you are a business owner, it can be overwhelming at times. If you are not careful, that overwhelm can turn into burnout.

Burnout doesn’t just happen if you are struggling, it can also happen when you are successful.  Especially if you don’t have the right support.

When you are a contractor, it can feel like your business is draining your energy.  You provide quotes, sell yourself and your services to new customers, deal with vendors and unexpected problems and by the end of the day you are exhausted and don’t have anything left for your family.

To avoid burnout, we have some tips for you that we think will help:

  1. Get the right support – you can’t do it all yourself. There is only one of you and many places to be. You need to look for the right support and hire people that are experts in the areas that you are not. This enables you to focus your time and energy on the things that only you can do. Be ready to delegate to them also.  You can’t hire them and then still do it all yourself.  Have confidence in your team and let them take some of the weight off your shoulders.
  2. Get Organized – If you don’t have control of your business administration activities, files, and other data, it can be a major source of anxiety. Take time to get organized and then take time to train someone to take over these areas for you. This new person will be organized and a self-starter. He or she can take on what you need them to and keep things running smoothly whether you are in the office or not.
  3. Set Priorities – It can seem like there is an overwhelming amount of things that have to get done each day. We often give ourselves more than we can handle and tasks that don’t have to be done that day. Look at your list and choose the top 3 items that have to take priority and be done that day. Then organize the rest in order of priority if there is still time left over.  If you don’t get it all done you can then easily switch that second list over to the next day and start the process all over again.
  4. Make sure you have down time – You can’t pack your schedule and not leave yourself any time to think. Schedule in breaks for eating and block off family time or time for activities you enjoy. Then hold those times the same as you would any other appointment and don’t block something else over it. Remember that you are your number one asset, and you need to take care of yourself too.
  5. No is a complete sentence – No one likes to say No but it needs to be done sometimes. If you are at capacity and there is a new job, you need to let the person know that you would have to schedule it out a bit as you don’t have capacity to start on it right away. If you are asked to volunteer or do something that you don’t really want to, you can say no in a nice way. Thank the person for thinking of you but let them know that you are at capacity and just can’t put in the time that would be required.  Most people will understand this and there will be no hard feelings.

Protecting your time and energy, taking care of your health and wellbeing, and focusing on your priorities so you don’t overload yourself are all ways that you can begin the process of recovering from burnout or avoiding it all together.

If we can help you with any of your insurance needs, please reach out to us here at Contractors Insurance Agency.

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