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11 Tips for Growing a Successful Contractor Business

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Building a business is so rewarding.  You have the privilege of working in an area you love, and you have the accomplishment of growing something you are proud of. You provide a service that is widely needed by many people.

Here are 11 tips to build or grow a successful contracting business:

  1. Best business practices are important. Implement systems to handle bookkeeping, scheduling, invoicing, training, and project management.

Teach your employees what they need to know (step by step) to use these systems efficiently. Having systems in place allows you to maintain your current level of success and scale in the right way when you are ready to expand.

  1. Assess your business. Things that you want to take into account are whether or not your business is stable financially, if you are getting repeat sales and referrals, how your ratings and reviews are showing up and what your employee turnover rate is.

To accurately assess these, you want to review your books, pay attention to reviews people are posting online, talk with employees and customers. If you need to make improvements, be sure to do that before attempting to grow your business further.

  1. Customer Support is key to growth. Your prospective customers want to talk to a person during normal business hours. You can hire someone to handle phone calls or you can send calls to your cell phone or promise to return calls on your voicemail within a certain time frame.

Also, be sure to set up automated email and social media messages during off-hours. A simple message informing customers that their message was received, and they’ll receive a response within 24 hours should be enough to keep them satisfied.

Be sure to follow up, return calls, and handle any issues in a timely manner.  Don’t make your customers have to do the follow up.

  1. Join an association. Industry associations, such as the Associated General Contractors, aren’t just great for networking. They can also help you develop essential business skills and recommend products you should use for different jobs as well as other resources you may need.

A quick Google search in your particular area will let you know local and national associations you may want to check out or join.

  1. Always be marketing. Marketing isn’t just to land a few new customers. It is how you get the high paying jobs and how you keep customers happy.

Marketing isn’t just sending out a postcard in the mail.  It means having an online presence, interacting with your audience through email, social media and blog posts and sharing your expertise in valuable ways.

Make sure your address, phone number and hours are available online and easily searchable. Network in your community both online and offline by attending chamber of commerce meetings or answering questions in a local forum.

  1. Be flexible. When you go above and beyond for a customer, you will most likely have earned a customer for life, as well as many referrals to their friends and family.
  2. Have a mentor. A mentor is someone that has already reached the goal you are striving for and can guide you. They will help you to not make the same mistakes they did and can teach you how to manage all the different aspects you need to such as managing money and customers and introducing you to vendors or investors.
  3. Hire people that know more than you. By hiring people who are smarter and more talented than you are, you can rest assured that they can handle assignments without your supervision. This frees up your time to do the things that only you can, in order to grow your business.
  4. Watch your finances. Don’t become a statistic because you couldn’t cover your overhead expenses. When sending out bids, be sure you factor in all the costs involved with the project and give the customer a ballpark estimate. Make sure you are invoicing regularly and staying on top of what is coming into your business and what is going back out.
  5. Outsource. There are only 24 hours in a day so you can’t do it all yourself. What can you delegate to someone else, so you free up more of your time? Consider delegating admin and accounting tasks first. That way you will ensure they are getting done and you don’t have to spend hours of your time doing them yourself.
  6. Staying small is OK. Don’t feel like you have to expand if you don’t want to. If things are working well as they are and you are happy with the workload and the income you are making, stay small. This will help you to continue to have a positive cash flow and low expenses.  It is also much less stressful since the workload is easier to manage.

If you would like to review your insurance policies to make sure they are covering what your business needs, the Contractors Insurance Agency would love to help.  Just give us a call and let’s make sure you are covered for anything that may come up.

 

Are Your Insurance Policies Working For You?

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You spend a lot of time and effort working on your client’s projects and putting your all into them so the results are great.  It’s time for your insurance policies to put in that same effort for you!

Here are 5 tips to get the most out of your insurance policies:

Choose the Right Policy

When multiple policies offer overlapping coverage, choosing the right one can be tricky. Let’s say you are at fault for an incident that results in structural damage. You are covered under the builders risk policy for unexpected events that occur during the course of construction. You also have a contractor general liability (CGL) policy that covers you for property damage that you cause.

You may think that you should use your CGL policy for this, but that could end up costing you a lot more money. Talk to your insurance provider to determine the best route to take so you can keep your premiums affordable in the future.

Know What Your Policy Covers (and doesn’t)

Do you know what your insurance policies cover and what they don’t? By spending a little time reviewing the policies and asking questions about items you are unsure of, you can ensure that there are no gaps in your coverage.

If you see some obvious gaps in our protection, you can reach out right away to make sure that is covered.  You may need to add an umbrella policy in order to increase coverage in the event of a large claim.

On the other hand, if you notice coverages or endorsements built into your policy for risks that don’t pertain to you, give us a call at Contractors Insurance Agency and let us help you get that removed and reduce your premiums.

Protect Yourself from Theft

A high percentage of insurance claims come in due to theft or burglary. More than 75% of stolen equipment is less than 5 years old.  Make sure your equipment is covered adequately with the following coverage:

  • Commercial property insurance: Protects your tools and equipment stored at your place of business from burglary or theft.
  • Builders risk insurance: Protects your tools and equipment from burglary or theft from a project site.
  • Inland marine insurance: Protects your tools and equipment from burglary or theft when you are transporting them to and from storage, project sites, or even your home.

In the event your equipment does get stolen, the above policies can help you cover the cost of replacing what you need to.

Review your Policy Annually

When was the last time you sat down and had a conversation with your insurance agent? If it has been awhile, you want to be sure to have that talk now. Checking in regularly with your insurance agent can help you ensure you always have the correct coverage in place to protect you and your business at all times.

Some changes that could affect your coverage would be if you bought or sold a vehicle, fired or hired employees, or changed the scope of work that you perform.

Advertise Your Coverage

Did you know your insurance policies also add to your marketing efforts?

When you are promoting your business, be sure to always say that you have insurance coverage. It shows that you are serious about your business, that you are a professional, and that you can pay for an accident, injury, or unintended occurrence that happens while you’re doing your work.

Make sure you mention it on your website, social media, blog, advertising, business cards, and any other marketing you do throughout the year. Let clients know that you are insured, and happy to provide a certificate of insurance as proof of your coverage. Your insurance coverage gives you a leg up on the uninsured competition.

Those tips should help you to ensure that you are always protecting your business fully and getting the most out of the premiums you are paying.

If you have any questions on your coverage or would like to talk to us about putting some in place, we would love to chat.  Call Contractors Insurance Agency today!

 

Measuring Success in Workers Compensation

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The old adage says, “What gets measured, gets managed.” What does that mean for workers compensation? What can we measure to truly improve outcomes for everyone in the workers compensation system?

There is certainly no shortage of data, but what we do with it, how we measure it, and, most importantly, how we apply it are key components to improving the system for everyone.

The most important element of any program is treating injured workers well and getting them back to health and work as quickly as possible.

Three-point contact, adjuster caseloads, and the speed of communicating with the injured worker are all metrics to be extensively measured. But are these still relevant? Does success for these measurements lead to better outcomes, or should they evolve?

There is no definitive answer except that measurements are important if they ultimately lead to better outcomes.

Allowing metrics to evolve with advancing technology is important. The first communication with the injured worker is very different than just a short time ago. Some employers are now able to view employer video footage within hours of a claim being reported. Now, the first conversation with the injured worker can focus on them, not discovery.

The most important metrics to measure are those that focus on three core factors.

  • The speed with which the claim goes through the system
  • The quality of the medical care
  • Efforts around return to work

Keeping a balance on the metrics measured is key.

If you are making significant changes to your program, be sure to discuss these with the actuaries so they can adjust their modeling accordingly. Employers should meet with actuaries frequently to monitor trends that are impacting their program. It is important to show actuaries how all the metrics work together to see the whole story, rather than looking at any one metric in isolation.

Going forward, the industry will need to learn to trust the metrics more. It is time for stakeholders to rely on the technology, rather than what their guts are telling them should be right.

At the same time, it is crucial to make sure the customer is happy, regardless of what the measurements show. Measurements do not matter if the injured worker has a bad experience. There is no single measure that will guarantee success. The metrics can lead to positive outcomes when they are viewed as one factor in the overall injury management program. Organizations need to be willing to evolve and change with technology and the experiences of injured workers.

At the end of the day, it is how well we care for injured workers that is the most important thing.

If you have any questions about your workers compensation coverage please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our licensed agents at Contractors Insurance Agency.

 

Let Safety Drive Business Success!

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Workplace safety is not just a list of rules. It’s a process. It takes commitment, effort, and is ultimately  something most businesses have opportunity to improve.

Keep the following in mind as you review your current processes to let safety drive your business success:

  • Keep it simple and take one step at a time.
  • Lead your business with safety, placing a focus on preventing injuries and losses.
  • If you do not react to an injury or loss, that is a missed opportunity for the future.
  • Workplace safety should be done because it is the right thing to do.

Here are seven best practices to focus on as you design your safety and health program, or enhance what is already in place as you evaluate your current process:

  1. Establish safety and health as a core value: Communicate to all workers your No. 1 goal is to keep your employees safe.
  2. Lead by example: Demonstrate safe behavior in everything you do and make it a priority in your daily interactions with workers.
  3. Implement a reporting system: Establish a system for workers to report all injuries, illnesses, near misses and safety concerns.
  4. Provide training: Train workers on the safe methods for performing their job, as well as how to identify and report unsafe conditions.
  5. Conduct inspections: Inspect the workplace on a regular basis – using a checklist to guide workers through the process – and assure that unsafe conditions and behavior are corrected.
  6. Address emergencies: Plan for identified emergency situations, including communicating the instructions to all workers, and periodically conduct a drill to test the plan.
  7. Make improvements: Take time to discuss safety and health issues with your workers. Seek input on workplace changes and implement hazard controls to improve overall safety.

Below is a link to some of OSHA’s helpful resources to improve your safety process: https://www.osha.gov/shpguidelines/download-recommendedpractices.html.

Benefits of Product Liability Insurance

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Your customers expect you to have safe and reliable products, and failing to meet these expectations can lead to huge financial losses. If one of your products harms a customer in any way, they can sue your business, leading to costly legal fees and settlements. These costs can easily reach six figures.

While you may do everything in your power to ensure your products are safe, mishaps can still occur without warning. That’s why, to protect against claims and ensure the longevity of your business, you need product liability insurance.

Product Liability Insurance includes:

Coverage for manufacturing or production flaws – One of the key features of product liability insurance is its coverage for manufacturing or production flaws that cause unsafe defects in the product.

Protection against design defects – Even after product testing and trial runs, potentially dangerous defects can still appear long after production. Product liability insurance can provide coverage for design errors that make goods unsafe for use by the public.

Response for packaging and warning issues – In the event that you fail to provide adequate defect warnings or instructions for using the product, your company can be sued. These claims arise when products are not properly labeled or have warning s that are not explanatory enough to reduce consumer risks while using the product Product liability insurance helps organization prepare for and litigate these types of claims.

Supplemental commercial general liability (CGL) coverage – Generally, there is limited product liability protection under a CGL policy, yet it may not be enough coverage to adequately protect your business.  Product liability policies work alongside CGL coverage, providing protection against losses caused by malfunctions or defects in your products.

Product liability is a complex exposure, and managing your risk can be a major undertaking – even if you have access to all the right resources.

To supplement your risk management strategies and address specific exposures, speak with one of our agents at Contractors Insurance Agency today.

 

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