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Advice for small business owners and contractors


  • Emergency Preparedness for Business
    Emergency Preparedness Checklist with pencil Businesses are often the most unprepared when it comes to emergencies. In a study conducted by Liberty Mutual, 73% of business owners reported no plan for responding to an emergency. If employees do not know what to do during a disaster, a company’s operations can be disrupted, or worse – its reputation can be undermined. On top of the resultant damage to public image, an emergency can result in significant financial liability, especially if it is not covered by insurance. Whatever your business’s size and risk level, there are ways you can plan ahead for emergencies and ensure that they don’t become disasters: 1) Prepare a Business Emergency Plan and Training for Employees: Businesses must have an emergency plan in place. A business emergency plan should outline the responsibilities of employees during an emergency, what supplies are needed, and where they can be found. The Electronic Emergency Plan Builder is a free online tool created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that allows you to create a business emergency plan. To ensure employees are familiar with the plan, hold regular training sessions where they can ask questions about the plan in detail. Common questions might include: -Where will we be evacuated to? How far away is it? -Who should come in during an emergency? Who should stay home if possible? -What should we keep with us if we are evacuated? -What should we do if there is a live shooter in the building? 2) Make Business Continuity Plans that Account for the Worst Case Scenario: No business can expect to remain fully operational during an emergency. However, it is possible to ensure the disruption of work is minimized by planning ahead. Depending on the severity of the emergency, some businesses may carry on their usual operations remotely. Others might be forced to return to an alternate office temporarily or even evacuate entirely. The key is being aware of all possible outcomes and having a plan that accounts for each one. 3) Ensure Business Insurance is Updated to Cover Disaster-Related Damage: Business insurance can also help protect against loss or damage that results from an emergency. Talk with your agent about updating your policy to include business interruption coverage, which offers money for lost income while you are closed due to an emergency. Make sure the policy covers any service that would be needed in case of emergency, such as a water extraction after a flood. Having a policy in place can soften the financial blow of an emergency and help keep your business running. In conclusion, emergencies can happen at any time, and unpreparedness is not a viable option. Businesses that take the threat of an emergency seriously and prepare ahead will be better equipped to weather these events – preventing disasters from becoming catastrophes.  
  • Advice for Creating A Successful HVAC Company
     Licensed FILE #: 419986032 Preview Crop Find Similar HVAC service logo with heating and cooling concept

    An HVAC service company can be quite lucrative. People will always need someone to service their HVAC system. However, you will have to take the following steps in order to ensure that your HVAC company is a success.

    Have a Plan in Place
    Many people like to fly by the seat of their pants and hope that their company is a success. However, in order to get the most of your company, you will need to have a plan in place. Think about your vision, your goals, and what you will do to reach those goals. You don’t necessarily have to create a complex plan, but it should cover the basics.

    Hire the Right Employees
    Much of the success of your company depends on the employees that you hire. That is why it is important for you to spend a lot of time making sure that you hire the right people. Not only should you make sure that you have the right employees, but you should also take the time to properly train them.

    Additionally, you should try to retain your employees. Happy employees are the ones who will stay at the company. For example, you can reward your employees when they do a good job. You can also communicate with them and let them make suggestions about how to improve the company.

    Marketing
    You will have to invest time and money into marketing if you want your company to be a success. It is easy to market in the internet age. You can promote your business on Google and social media. You can also create your own website.

    However, even though we are in a digital age, you can still use the conventional means of marketing. For example, you can still put up flyers around your area. You can also invest in billboard marketing. It is also important to note that word of mouth marketing is one of the best ways to promote your business. If you keep your customers happy, then they will gladly tell their family members and friends about your business.

    Invest in a Good-Quality Equipment
    The type of materials and equipment that you have will determine the type of job that you do. That is why it is a good idea for you to invest in good-quality equipment. The right equipment will also make it easier for you and your employees to do their job.

    Find a Mentor
    The best person to learn from is someone who has been in the field for a long time. You should seek out guidance from other HVAC professionals.

  • How to Take a Locksmith Business to the Next Level

    Locksmiths will always be needed. If you decide to start a locksmith business, then you can potentially make a lot of money with it. There are several ways that you can make the most of your locksmith business.

    locksmith assisting a customer

    Be Professional And Punctual
    Your customers expect you to show up on time. They also get frustrated when they have to wait, especially for lock-out services. Being punctual is one of the best things that you can do in order to help your business. This will help you build great relationships with your customers.

    If you are professional, then your customers will likely tell their family members and friends about your business. This can help you grow your business.

    Get on Social Media
    If your business is not on social media, then you are missing out on a lot of business. You should be active on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Instagram. You also need to have a good website. You may want to hire a digital marketer so that you can ensure that your business is seen when people do a Google search.

    Offer Service 24/7
    People need locksmiths at any time of the day or the night. For example, someone may get locked out of their car or home at night. That is why you need to offer services outside of the conventional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours. It is best for you to offer 24/7 hours.

    Get Feedback
    Your customers are the best resource that you can use to grow your business. You should ask them to give their honest feedback. You can use the feedback that you get in order to improve your business. You can also ask them to review you online.

    Many people look at online reviews before they choose a particular business. If you happen to get a negative review, then you should respond to it and resolve the issue as soon as possible. Negative feedback can also be used to improve your business.

    Expand Your Skills and Services
    The locksmith industry is always changing. You can keep up with those changes and expand your own skillset by taking a training course. Training courses will also teach you about the technology that you can use to make things easier for you.

    Include lock-out services, lock re-keying, lock installation, lock repair and lock replacement.

    Use a Local Business Number
    Customers don’t want to call a toll-free number. They want a local business number. It makes them feel more comfortable when they are calling it. You can get more leads by using a local business number.

  • Simple Ways to Boost Foot Traffic

    If you have a brick-and-mortar store, then it is important for you to do everything that you can in order to increase foot traffic. You will have more opportunities in order to engage with your customers if you have more foot traffic. You can do the following things in order to increase foot traffic.

    black and white photo of people walking on a tile floor

    Boost Curb Appeal
    The way that your store looks will determine whether someone wants to go inside there. There are several things that you can do in order to boost curb appeal. You can do simple things like sweeping up the store and cleaning the windows. You can also paint the building.

    In order to find out exactly what your store needs, you should take a good look at it. Ask yourself what you can do in order to make the building look better.

    Sell Food
    People are naturally drawn to areas that have food. An easy way that you can get more people to come to your business is to sell food. You don’t have to serve people a full course meal. You can sell things like sandwiches and snacks.

    Add Curbside Option
    You may be wondering why you need to add a curbside option if you are trying to get more people to go inside of the business. However, a curbside pickup option can help you attract more customers. People will appreciate the fact that they have the option if they need it.

    Create a Welcoming Environment
    A clean and comfortable environment will encourage customers to spend more time in your store and keep them coming back. Be sure to maintain clean carpets and floors as this is one of the first things people notice when they enter a store. Lighting is especially important. Avoid harsh cold lighting and add warm bulbs that highlight your merchandise.

    Hire the Right People
    The customer service experience is one of the things that keeps people coming back to a particular business. That is why you have to make sure that you hire the right people. Make sure that everyone you hire is friendly and good with people. They should also receive the proper training so that they will be able to help customers.

    Get Online
    People today are spending more time online than ever before. That is why you can get more people to come to your business by maintaining an online presence. Make sure that you are active on websites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You will also need to have a website that showcases the products and services that you have.

    Offer Discounts
    People love discounts because everyone is looking for ways to save money. You can give people discounts for getting their family members and friends to come to the business.

  • The Importance of Keeping a Clean and Healthy Office Environment

    In the business world, first impressions are crucial. Your office’s appearance creates a mental image in the eyes of clients who come into your establishment. The first impression essentially sets the tone for the rest of the relationship. It is important to keep the office environment premises clean, safe, and hygienic at all times.

    On the other hand, keeping a clean office environment is about more than just getting a good first impression. It has a significant impact on your company as a whole, particularly internally, since it has a considerable impact on the morale and performance of your staff.

    Here are four benefits of a clean and healthy office environment.

    Improves Morale
    The organization of a company is one of the most important factors in its success. A well-kept job environment has a positive impact on how workers perceive their occupation. When workers are accustomed to arranging and cleaning their work environment, they improve both their morale and the company.

    As a result, workplace morale rises, and a pleasant atmosphere prevails. Furthermore, clients and visitors feel at ease and happy when doing business in a clean and healthy place. This is important to foster a positive relationship between the business and its clients, which is beneficial to the company’s bottom line.

    Encourages Professionalism
    As the work environment is organized, from the sorting of papers to the filing of folders, workers become more orderly, which encourages professionalism. Any employee, regardless of industry, is supposed to offer outstanding customer service. The visual aspect of the workplace, particularly the interior, is crucial in promoting your brand.

    One thing that every worker must do regularly is to keep their working space orderly and clean. This element of professionalism must be ingrained as it represents the ideals embraced by your company. Working in a tidy workplace is particularly soothing and energizing for everyone.

    All clients expect professional services. Professionalism begins with the discipline used in the workplace. When everything is tidy and organized, the business will thrive.

    Ensures Safety and Healthy
    A safe and healthy workplace is one that is clean. When every corner of the office is tidy and neat, injuries and illnesses are avoided. A fresh breath of air is important for preventing germs and contaminants from entering; thus, disinfectants can be used.

    Maintaining dry and clean floors is critical in avoiding injury and incidents such as slips and falls. As a result, cleaning companies have been established to assist in maintaining a clean and well-organized workspace. Visit https://minutedrycarpetcleaning.com/ to learn more about scheduling regular carpet cleaning. 

    Generates Positive Outcomes
    It is guaranteed that a clean workspace fosters good vibes among workers. When an employee works in a company that values order and cleanliness, they are driven to give their all, particularly for the customers.

    Furthermore, satisfied workers result in satisfied customers. When everyone is happy, the company remains healthy and flourishing.

  • Building Your Small Business by Building Your Community
    Illustration of a crane building the word community

    Small businesses can thrive within their city or town by becoming involved and invested in the community. Donations, sponsorships, and support for non-profit and civic organizations offer the valuable payback of word-of-mouth advertising and new customers who appreciate your goodwill.

    One of the most effective ways to show you are a stakeholder in a community is through involvement or support for the school system or youth activities. People appreciate help and support for projects and programs that benefit their children and word travel quickly among parents.

    Direct involvement related to your business can work particularly well for trades. Schools and youth centers operate on limited budgets and have buildings that can always use repairs and upgrades. Refitting a space with eco-friendly lighting or helping solve a chronic plumbing problem will be gratefully and frequently acknowledged. HVAC companies are always in demand.

    Landscaping companies can lead a community effort to spruce up a neglected schoolyard or park that hosts youth sports. Providing a visible improvement will have people talking about your business through several seasons.

    If donating services and repairs is impractical, there are still plenty of opportunities to support the needs and interests of community youth. Launch a scholarship in your company’s name. Sponsor a field trip or an event such as a soccer tournament. Offering a donation or help with a youth project such as providing meals to local families in need will boost your reputation as a community partner. Connecting with the PTO to see where you can have the greatest impact will get you noticed by a network of moms that will build you a client list.

    Some companies even team up with student fundraisers and offer a discount on their services to donors. Almost anything you donate or provide will get your company’s name out into the community among people who will need your services sooner or later.

    Youth sports organizations are great opportunities to connect to the community. Does a hometown team need help with equipment or uniforms? Do fields need better night lights? Could the turf use some work? Many cities and towns have a Police Athletic League that organizes tournaments and other activities for children and teens. The local PAL would probably have a slew of suggestions about how to become involved.

    Coffee shops and small restaurants that can provide light food for different events are always appreciated. Food is a tried and true ice breaker, especially for community meetings about proposals and issues that bring together people with opposing views. And it’s a great way to give people a taste of what you have to offer.

    If there’s a hometown parade, enter a float. Donate to the Fourth of July fireworks fund. Participate in holiday events and celebrations, particularly for athletic teams that pick up championship titles.

    It can be helpful to partner with one well-known non-profit organization. Faith communities are a great resource. Congregations have their own charitable projects and would welcome some support.

    Although community involvement means donations of time and money, for small businesses it’s usually time and money well spent. A successful community is usually home to successful businesses. When your community wins, you win.

    For a good example of building success through community involvement visit https://www.carpetmdinfo.com/.

  • Is a Cleaning Business Profitable?

    If you’re one of the thousands of people thinking of opening your own cleaning business, you may have had the same thought as everybody else, “Is a cleaning business even profitable?” Understandably, people have a lot of questions when it comes to cleaning businesses. Unlike other companies, you really don’t see the transactions nor the everyday hustle and bustle of an office building. Thus the following includes further detail about the probability of a cleaning business.

    woman wearing rubber gloves and apron behind cleaning icons

    The Demand is There
    No matter if you live in a mid-sized city or a sprawling metropolis, the demand for cleaning services is there. Parents who are both working constantly may need someone to come in once or twice a week to clean up the home. Entrepreneurs and large companies are also seeking people who can clean a few floors without really having to hire them as full-time employees. In addition to having the demand, because your services are so widely needed, you may be able to increase your prices, thus improving your profit margins at the end of the month.

    Opportunity to Continue Growing
    Those who have taken the leap and open up their own cleaning services can tell you that they did so not only because of the possible profits but also because of their growth potential. Because the number of possible clients is not limited to one industry within your community, you can expand if you are willing to bring more people onto your crew. This, of course, does mean investing in training, supplies, and employees, but growth does not come without a cost.

    You May Offer Various Types of Cleaning Services
    Unlike a shoe or clothing store that can only sell one particular type of item, cleaning services have a whole plethora of services they can offer to clients. This means that you always have the chance of upselling clients with a more detailed and more expensive plan. For example, if you’re cleaning residential homes, you may want to promote the fact that you now offer office building cleaning services. If you have a carpet cleaning company, you can offer upholstery cleaning and other types of floor cleaning with your existing equipment. If you are doing your job correctly, many of your existing clients may recommend you to their jobs or friends and family.

    Overhead Cost
    One of the biggest reasons why so many are hesitant to go into business for themselves is due to overhead costs. A restaurant will need furniture, supplies, and large, expensive kitchen equipment before they can offer their services to the public. However, all a cleaning service business needs is a stockpile of cleaning supplies, uniforms, and enough capital to pay their employees. This makes making a profit within your first year that much more realistic.

    As you can see from the information above, there are a number of reasons why a cleaning services business would be profitable. Of course, it is always recommended to conduct your own due diligence before investing your funds into one.

  • The Economy is Us

    People are worried. Why throw money to soak up bad debts banks have, when people are facing potential debt or mortgage payments problems of their own, especially if jobs drop and interest rates rise – as seems sure to happen no matter what Congress does.  Even if banks are kept solvent, who is to assure that they will still help out the small businessperson?

    I have a little experience and a general philosophy here.  I started my business with family help in 1988, buying a store. The recession of 89-92 hit right after I moved the store to a new shopping center and quadrupled my rent and overhead. It was tough.  But there were good things about it. Businesses had to be smart to survive. You had to take better care of your customers. You had to forge relationships with them. It could not be a semi-anonymous thing just centered around goods and money.  People got a little more serious about life in the hard times. It was not all bad.

    Here is a little thinking on banking. My experience in business was with a small business and a locally-owned bank. When I went to get my business loan to buy my business I spoke with the banker for a long time. He explained that he was the last locally-owned bank in Knoxville, Tennessee. He explained the difference between a locally-owned bank and a larger chain bank. Local banks take local money and primarily invest it in the local economy, in giving loans to businesses like mine. There is accountability there. There is a relationship. We are business partners. I would often go over to the bank and just talk, get help, advice, and wisdom; not just deal with money. There is a lot more to running a business (and life itself) than just money.

    Larger banks tended, he said, to take the local money and invest it in broader, often removed, markets. They would invest Knoxvillians’ money more in the various funds and national or international banking schemes out there. They might make a great profit, but it was not as much by supporting the people where we lived and whom we knew personally and providing them capital to follow their dreams.

    I was tremendously struck with the fundamental difference. I had never before realized that every dollar I invested in a bank, even in my own savings or checking account, could either be earmarked to support a vague fund with who-knows-what control over it in who-knows-which place; or it could be put in the hands of my local banker who could be freer to lend it to my neighbor who ran a hair salon in my own shopping center. Or, for that matter, my business. When you boil it down that way, it is very simple.

    I became a huge fan of investing locally and investing in a relationship that provided wisdom, commitment to me and my neighbors as well as liquidity.

    Perhaps it is time for the entire nation – or even the world – to get the grandiose banking schemes out of their heads and return to investing in -and being accountable to – people they can sit down and talk with. Then we can all learn more – about money – and about life.

    A new slogan: It’s about the fact that the economy is us – ’stupid

  • Featured Partner: Focal Point Business Coaching

    Your business is a mechanism for exchanging value for money. Simple but not easy.

    A good business coach will help you clarify your goals and then spend your time working towards those goals at maximum effectiveness. And he or she will help you realize more reward for the value that you provide. This includes working with you to create effective systems, processes, and organizations so that you don’t have to “touch” everything that happens in your business.

    Specifically, Burl works with smart, passionate, and savvy owners and CEOs of triple bottom line businesses. Together, they engage in holistic-minded executive thinking, planning, and problem solving, normally on a weekly basis. It can be hard work. At times, it will be uncomfortable. It is not for everyone. But Burl’s clients find that the process is also rewarding, enlightening, and meaningful.

    Does your business add economic and societal value in one of the following ways:

    • Manufacturing, distributing, or selling healthy food?
    • Renewing the soil through restorative agriculture?
    • Increasing energy efficiencies?

    Have you proven the viability of your business but want to take it to the next level? Are you truly committed to success?

    If so, a talk with Burl is a wise next step. He will provide executive level business counsel for the price of an entry-level hire, and with no long-term contract.

    Burl Amsbury Bio: 

    Burl is a certified business coach focusing on holistic, systems-level strategies. Burl holds an MS in Management from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, as well as both a BS and MS in electrical engineering from MIT. He served as a U.S. Navy pilot and held several executive-level corporate positions before starting his current business helping triple bottom line businesses maximize efficiencies, growth, and reward. He is particularly passionate about the production, distribution, and sales of healthy food, the creation of healthy soil through restorative agriculture, and increasing efficiencies in our energy systems.