How Contractors Insurance Benefits General Contractors

There are many benefits to being a contractor, but it also comes with a lot of responsibilities.

You may be working flexible hours, but you have to finish the job within the timetable you and your client have set for it.

The income may also be way better than if you were an everyday employee, but you also have to set aside a budget for contractors insurance.

Some contractors may see contractors insurance as an unnecessary expense, but the smart ones know that they have to get insurance coverage if they want to protect themselves and their business from anything untoward that may happen to projects they’re undertaking.

Contractors insurance is absolutely necessary, even more so if you are a general contractor.

What is a general contractor?

A general contractor, also known as a main contractor or a prime contractor, is the one in charge of a building project. General contractors oversee the operations of a construction site, manage employees, subcontractors, and suppliers, and communicate the progress of the project to all parties involved.

As the main man on a construction project, a general contractor is responsible for safeguarding more employees, subcontractors, tools, equipment, and construction materials than your average contractor. It goes without saying that for work of such magnitude, a general contractor must have the right kind of contractors insurance coverage to get the job done without any hitches.

The benefits of contractors insurance

Contractors insurance protects your company from claims

Construction work always has risks attached to it. One of your workers could suffer an injury or even lose his life while on the job. Or, an accident caused by a wayward tool could hurt a third party within the construction site. Even property damage can happen in the middle of a building project. When any of these happen under your watch as a general contractor, you can expect lawsuits to come your way.

To protect your company from claims by injured employees, you must have workers’ compensation insurance. When you have this type of coverage, you should be able to provide for medical expenses and lost wages for your employees who suffer an injury or fall ill due to the work that they do for you. This type of insurance should cover any claim they make, and that means you won’t have to pay for them out of pocket.

General liability insurance, on the other hand, provides coverage for claims made by third parties who have sustained injuries or suffered property damage in the course of the construction project. It will cover the claims from the get-go and spare you from a costly and exhausting lawsuit.

Your tools, equipment, and materials are protected too

It is not unheard of for tools, equipment, and materials to go missing from a construction site due to negligence or theft. They could also be damaged in the course of the construction. As a general contractor, you are ultimately responsible for all of the above. Fortunately for you, all these assets can be protected by builders risk insurance, which typically covers materials, fixtures, equipment, and even the structure itself.

It ensures compliance with state and legal requirements

Contractors insurance is a requirement in practically all states. When a general contractor carries general liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and several other types of contractors insurance, he is assured of an operation that is above-board and in keeping with the laws of a given state.

It boosts the reputation of your contracting business

Clients who commission building projects will always want their interests to be protected from anything that might happen during construction. More often than not, they only consider general contractors as candidates for their project if they have appropriate insurance coverage.

So if you have the right insurance policies, you can be sure that your company’s name will always crop up. With the boost your insurance coverage provides for your business’ reputation, your company’s chances of bagging any given construction project will vastly improve.

It gives you some peace of mind

As a general contractor, you are fully aware of how risky and unpredictable things could be in the industry. One day things are going well, then somebody gets hurt, or a portion of the construction project collapses the next day. For all the advantages of being a contractor, it is a pretty stressful job, because there are so many things could go wrong that could end the project—and your business—in the blink of an eye.

Thankfully, contractors insurance is there to allay all your fears. While no one wants anything untoward to happen at construction sites, the idea that you are covered for any eventuality is more than enough to bring your stress levels down. With contractors insurance coverage, you will have the peace of mind needed to go through any project or job with a sure footing.

Blockchain Technology: Could it Revolutionize Construction?

Initially, the idea of blockchain technology was for the virtual money transaction of cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin and Ethereum. However, the system is highly transparent and setting high accountability in the process made it gets adopted by other sectors too. With no mid-party involved or glitch in the process, a blockchain is 100% decentralized. This feature of blockchain makes it have an added advantage over other virtual money options and practically impossible to breach.

The construction industry is the major driving force of the economy is fragmented and challenged to improve in terms of productivity, efficiency, and embrace and adopt the new technology.

What is Blockchain technology?

The blockchain is decentralized information, such as transactions and agreements, distributed across various networks of the computer. The information can be viewed and accessed by the community of users and not have any central manager or central authority, such as the bank or government.

Construction Industry and Blockchain technology

The construction industry is widespread and involves dynamic grouping of many companies. A centralized and confidential system is hence needed to store all the information. Blockchain being a mode of financial transactions is a potential for the construction industry. Blockchain if implemented properly with the construction industry can aid project management and supply chain management. With the software already working in the same direction, that is to upgrade and transform the construction industry with blockchain implementation, the idea is to revolutionize the entire construction industry towards better adaptability of the blockchain. The construction management software is believed to ease the construction business but is limited to keeping records and tracks of the data and keeping the overall process smooth. However, with the implementation of the blockchain technology, the construction industry will not be able to smooth out the whole process but also will be able to sort the financial aspect. The construction industry majorly deals in the contracts of long tenure. With the contracts being finalized on the blockchain platform, it could be a major boon to the construction industry in the years to come. This would also overcome the limitation and challenges of construction management software. With blockchain being implemented the project data and the output can be recorded and processed more efficiently. The real-time data can be tracked through this which also can update about the cost of the project completed at a different time. This can ease the payment release and there won’t be any middleman or third person required to update the data. Hence blockchain can also be considered as an upgrade of the construction software.

Blockchain besides its listed factors also helps streamline the procurement process. This helps reduce the level of fragmentation and complexity of the projects. The streamlining and monitoring of the process at every step would not only help in the efficient use of the resources but also would deliver quality products and services with higher accountability. Blockchain technology could also help in demand forecasting and drive more accountability.

Blockchain Revolutionizing the Construction Industry

With above-mentioned benefits of the blockchain implementation in the construction industry, it is believed that full-fledged implementation will not only be beneficial and effective but will also be a revolution to this major industry. This upgradation is a mix of digital revolution and business change. However, the change is for good. Blockchain technology has the potential to overcome many challenges of the construction industry, such as the real-time update, payment related issues, timely completion of the project, etc.  It will also help to shift the current payment issues towards transparent and fair payment practice. By reducing delayed payments and disputes over finances, small and medium enterprises would be benefited and can avoid continuous cash flow risk. The industry can be made more trustworthy, as a whole. By using smart contracts for the work to be done, business process and administrative tasks can be automated to increase efficiency and implemented on the contractual terms. This process would result in more cost savings, the increment in the low margins of the industry as a whole and better control over project costs. 

With all the mentioned benefits and blockchain being one revolutionizing factor in the construction industry, it is highly preferable and advisable to upgrade the present construction management software to blockchain technology. The blockchain not only tracks and monitors the ongoing process but also takes care of the project management as a whole, payment management with on time and transparent process being followed, better supervision of procurement and supply chain management, smart asset management and challenges ahead for implementation with better forecasts. The time is right for the construction industry to break free of the barriers of a physical system or software and upgrade to better technology with blockchain implementation and improve day-to-day work efficiency with simultaneous increase in the transparency of the process.

           Author Bio– Sawailal Jangid is a Software Analyst at SoftwareSuggest. He is very enthusiastic and optimistic towards his work. He loves to dig deep into various software such as Performance Management System, HR Software, construction management software. He loves to dig deep into various categories of software.

Why You Shouldn’t Overlook Vent Cleaning

Normally, HVAC is considered to be what’s known as an “emergency business” – Meaning someone has an AC or Heater that breaks and they NEED it immediately repaired.  In some parts of the world it would be a true emergency as if a heater broke temperatures could get to lethal levels. 

This is not so in a place like Monterey, CA where my business, All Seasons Heating and Cooling, is located.  Monterey has fantastic weather pretty much all year around.  In fact, this might be one of the worst places in the world to have an HVAC business.  Here, heating and cooling isn’t a necessity, it’s a luxury. 

Dirty HVAC Vent

This is why I have recently been exploring opportunities in the third part of the HVAC business – Ventilation.  It’s a well-known fact that when client’s ducts get dirty this can have an effect on the quality of the air in their home and it can even contribute to allergic reactions or other symptoms.  This can decrease the quality of life of the customer and they may not even be aware of it. 

My brother Shane is a Pharmacist and he recently started asking his patients with asthma and other allergies if they had recently gotten the air ducts cleaned in their houses.  Almost all of them answered no.  One patient decided to have a duct cleaning done and found that there was a layer of mold and dust mite droppings that had been deposited over years or even decades.  After the duct cleaning was done the patient reported that their allergic symptoms had almost completely gone away. 

I have also seen this time and time again and although not all of the evidence is out, I believe that this is a huge problem that most people are completely unaware of – Which is completely different than the other two “emergency business” services we offer.  Where emergency services don’t require much “selling” at all, this service does.  Emergency services are best marketed on google as that’s the first place people go when they have a pressing need.  Whereas vent cleaning is best sold in two different ways:

  1. Interruption Marketing:  This is where you have to make a potential customer aware of a problem they didn’t even know that they had in the first place.  Facebook is a perfect market to advertise this type of marketing on as most people browse Facebook just to pass the time.  Think of Facebook as a big party and google as a business convention or even a store, if you go up to someone and immediately try to sell them something at a party they would think you’re weird and would try to get away as fast as possible.  Google on the other hand, is like a business convention or even a store, people are there to buy and they have intent so they are more open to being sold to.  On Facebook you have to build awareness before you sell someone, so it’s best to not sell directly on Facebook but have a link to a website page or landing page that does the selling. 
  2. Add On:  If you’re already having your technician go to someone’s house to perform routine maintenance on someone’s heater or air conditioner, you could upsell them and do a free ventilation inspection to see if they are in need of a superficial or thorough cleaning of their vent system.  If they are, you can inform them of this, let them know about the potential side effects of not having clean air in the house, and sell them an appropriate service. 

I hope this has helped some of the other contractors out there.  Even if you do live in a place where HVAC is an emergency, you still probably have slow seasons and that’s where duct cleaning and vent cleaning can help you increase revenue, keep your technicians busy, and potentially help a bunch of people in the process. 

Zach Humason, Owner – All Seasons Heating & Cooling
Zach@allseasonsmonterey.com
www.allseasonsmonterey.com

5 Reasons You Need Contractors Insurance

Discover the reasons why every contractor should have proper contractors insurance coverage.

Being a contractor is a dream job for many people, which isn’t really surprising. After all, who wouldn’t want to be your own boss, with full control over your work hours and substantially better pay than a regular, salaried employee?

However, for all the fantastic things that being a contractor brings about, we should never forget that the job comes with a mountain of obligations. Getting contractors insurance is one of those inescapable responsibilities.

Why does anyone in the contracting business need contractors insurance? Here are five reasons.

1. Protection from claims

If any property damage or injury occurs within the area where you and your employees are working on a job, you can expect the affected party—which could be the client, the client’s family, or anyone else who enters the work area—to sue you in court. It is not uncommon for contractors to close down their business because of such claims, which can reach dollar amounts that can sometimes be prohibitive.

You can avoid all that, however, if you have general liability insurance, which will shoulder the cost of any claim triggered by an accident in the workplace.

2. Coverage for injured employees

Accidents happen all the time in the workplace. Should an employee of yours sustain an injury while performing contracting work for you, workers compensation insurance should take care of your injured employee’s medical bills and lost wages. Employers who fail to provide this type of insurance expose themselves to lawsuits from the injured workers.

3. Payment for legal expenses

More often than not, contractors insurance is also designed to pay for the legal expenses that come with being on the receiving end of claims from affected parties. Attorney’s fees, court expenses, and other legal costs are typically covered by contractors insurance.

4. Enhancement of your business’ commercial reputation

Back in the day, clients didn’t bother that much about performing background checks on contractors. As long as they have a reputation for doing excellent work or if they got referred by a friend or a family member, contractors get hired, no questions asked.

Today, clients have become so much smarter. Referrals and reputations don’t count for much these days if the contractor doesn’t have proper insurance. Customers know it’s for their own protection, as it’s a guarantee that they will be compensated fairly for any damage or injury that may arise from a project-related accident.

In other words, having contractors insurance can boost your business’ reputation and increases your chances of getting hired by the more conscientious clients of today.

5. Peace of mind

Being a contractor is great, but there will always be that nagging feeling that no matter how careful you and your employees are when doing your work, one accident could ruin everything for you and your business.

Get contractors insurance, and you can say goodbye to that nagging feeling. You will have that peace of mind that contractors who don’t have proper coverage never get.

 

Payroll Mistakes You Should Avoid

Payroll is always a challenge – don’t let these common mistakes make the job even more difficult…

All businesses work to ensure their payroll is as efficient, and accurate as possible – and compliant with a long list of strict regulations. With so much administrative detail to consider, and the added pressure of strict deadlines, mistakes are inevitable and it’s rare that a pay cycle takes place without one issue or another. The real problems start, however, when those mistakes are ignored, or left unaddressed… and snowball into missed deadlines, unhappy employees, and costly penalties.

Given the importance of payroll, it’s vital your employees know how to identify and respond to the kind of mistakes that can trip up the pay process. With that in mind, check out this list of the most important payroll mistakes to avoid…

Misunderstanding Your Needs

If you don’t think carefully about what your payroll needs to do, you’ll end up with a system which is too costly, too slow, or doesn’t deliver the compliance performance you’re looking for. Practically, this means thinking about issues like how many employees you’ll need for your payroll, what resources you’ll direct towards it, or how frequent your pay-cycle will be.

Mis-classifying Workers

One of the most common, and classic, payroll errors is the misclassification of employees – unfortunately, it’s also one which tax authorities take extremely seriously. Misclassification essentially involves incorrect tax treatment: inaccurately classifying workers as independent contractors, for example, instead of full-time employees. While the mistake can stem from a lack of focus during induction, in worst cases dishonest employers use it to gain favorable tax treatment, which is why it’s treated so harshly.

Delays to Final Pay

Don’t get complacent about the regulations surrounding the delivery of final payslips. Every territory has its own rules on how and when final payslips should be delivered – so employers must make sure their payroll team knows what to do when an employee quits or is terminated. Bear in mind, errors in final pay can open businesses up to heavy compliance penalties.

Reimbursing Expenses

Many employers don’t deal with employee expenses correctly (travel, entertainment, food, etc) – and so incur tax expenses which might otherwise have been avoided. Think about how you implement your reimbursement plan: it may be cheaper from a tax perspective to adopt an “accountable plan” (or similar strategy) to deal with expenses and avoid certain payroll taxes.

Poor Record-Keeping

Good payroll is built on record-keeping: if your payroll records system isn’t up to scratch, you’re inviting problems – from short-term missed deadlines and compliance issues, to long term audits and financial penalties. Don’t neglect your data-handling and record-keeping system: train employees to use it, and update it as your needs change.

Failure to Scale

As your business grows, don’t assume your payroll can stay the same – make sure your system is built to scale up with your needs. Similarly, don’t ignore the benefits of outsourcing: a payroll service provider can quickly add capacity and procedural efficiency to your deployment as your administrative burden grows – or at least until your own payroll infrastructure can be brought up to speed.

Not Updating Software

All payroll systems use some form of software to facilitate the pay process every month – but it’s easy to forget to update these platforms to current compliance standards. Software updates are vital not just for compliance reasons, but to maintain cyber-security and keep your employees’ data safe. Out of date software poses an increasing liability the longer the problem is allowed to persist – remember to implement an update schedule that ensures your system is protected at all times.

Ignoring the Basics

Don’t neglect the fundamentals of payroll – that is to say, basics like the tax year, tax codes, social security rates, where and when to remit tax payments, and so on. It might seem obvious, but this information is the foundation on which the rest of your payroll infrastructure rests. Tackling this challenge is a matter of doing your groundwork, and involves everything from arranging adequate employee training and subscribing to industry publications – to simply sending out email reminders, and putting up information posters around the office.

Author’s bio: Kimberly Morrison is activpayroll’s UK Service Delivery Manager. She manages the UK payroll department and ensures the payrolls are delivered on time and as accurately as possible, using the information provided by the client.

13 Digital Marketing Tips for HVAC Contractors

To survive in today’s marketing landscape, HVAC contractors fully understand that an online presence is required. Resistance to digital marketing techniques was rampant in the heating and cooling industry, until failure to implement such techniques started to directly impact the livelihoods of contractors and their families. What was once considered a forward-thinking outlook, is now one that is non-negotiable. Any small to medium sized business owner can relate to the concept of adapt or die. So yes, internet marketing can be time consuming, frustrating, and downright painful, but it is also a path to earning revenue, and supporting your employees and their families. Here are 15 digital marketing tips to get you started on the right track:

1) Follow The Data

There’s lots of old habits in the internet marketing industry, and many of them are no longer effective. Just because something worked 10 years ago, doesn’t mean it will today. So how can contractors determine what will work? Follow the data. Using tools like Google Analytics, the performance of websites, pages, and advertisements can be tracked and analyzed. Here’s what data might lead an HVAC contractor to:

  • Audience: Who your audience is and what they value
  • Engagement: Which types of content engage consumers mores effectively
  • Process: The consumer’s journey proceeds through several checkpoints, all of which must be optimized

2) Track Everything

It’s not possible to follow data that doesn’t exist, which brings us to our next tip: track everything. The aforementioned Google Analytics is a great tracking tool, and it’s free. Other paid options like Moz and SEMRush allow companies to track their online campaigns, and services like SpyFu even empower companies to track the campaigns of their main competitors. Here’s what to look for:

  • Clicks: How many users are clicking on your site after seeing it on search results
  • Links: What kinds of links are coming to your website
  • Rankings: How are your Google rankings fluctuating over time

3) Be Social

You don’t have have to go to fundraisers to connect with other businesses in 2018. All of it can be done online through social media. Whether its B2B networks like LinkedIn or more customer-centric platforms like Facebook and Instagram, there’s no shortage of options for HVAC companies looking to expand their brand awareness. Some of the best content to publish on social media includes:

  • Blog Posts: Written posts from your website’s blog
  • Curation: Endorsements of 3rd party content that your audience might find helpful
  • Promotions: Discounts or other promotional materials

4) Content Quality Over Quantity

Flooding the net with 300 word blog posts won’t draw any meaningful attention to your brand. Instead focus on crafting higher quality, longer-form blog posts of 800 words or higher. These pots have a greater chance of being shared via social media, as well as linked to from 3rd party websites. There’s no shortcuts to creating great content, it takes time and consistent efforts to reach its full potential. Quality content is:

  • Engaging: Holds the average reader’s attention
  • Unique: Cannot be found elsewhere on the web
  • Valuable: Offers important or noteworthy info to the reader

5) Brand Your Company

To establish a favorable online presence, consumers should associate each instance of your company with its overall ethos. To do so, a web-ready logo must be included with every representation of your company. That means business listings, social media, and perhaps most importantly, your company website. An effective digital brand is:

  • Appealing: Provides distinguishable value to the consumer
  • Consistent: Remains uniform in image and description
  • Visible: Is regularly apparent on all corners of the web

6) Stay Flexible

In a realm as uncertain as internet marketing, it is important for HVAC companies to refrain from becoming attached to a single idea or methodology. Because Google regularly evaluates its algorithm, change is the only constant. Contractors should be ready to adapt to new information, and to implement processes that might not align with initial theories. To be a digital success in 2018, the status quo must be relinquished. Changes come in the form of:

  • Behavioral Tendencies: Changes in the behavior of your target consumer (i.e. increased use of voice search)
  • Data Shifts: Prompt and considerable changes in tracking data
  • New Information: Recently released info regarding algorithms or new technology

7) Out With The Old

Manipulative tactics used to rule the SEO industry, but Google has gotten much better at detecting and penalizing such behavior. Tactics that fall under this category are known as black-hat SEO tactics. Link schemes, sneaky redirects, and the aforementioned keyword stuffing. Just because these methods worked 15 years ago, doesn’t make them worthwhile today. In fact, the opposite is true. Steer clear from:

  • Auto-Generated Content: Low quality content written by AI for SEO purposes only
  • Keyword Stuffing: User intent matters more than verbatim keywords in today’s market
  • Link Schemes: Posting URL’s in blog comments and forums to drive up inbound links

8) Link With a Purpose

Earning quality links from 3rd party sources can be a slow but rewarding process. The best way to earn links is by writing objectively great content, that provides value to your target consumer. While inbound links are rightfully appealing because of their potential influence on SEO, they aren’t the only type of link worth pursuing. Internal links from one website page to another is helpful for navigation, as are external links leading to relevant content. Every link should be:

  • Helpful: Provides value to the user through assistance of some kind
  • Relevant: Relates to the topic of both the linked and destination page
  • Sensible: Applied with anchor text that makes sense to the reader

9) Monitor Business Listings

Some heating and cooling companies wonder how listing directories gather their contact information, if they have never manually submitted it to a given website. The answer is data aggregation. Services like Neustar and Acxiom collect contact info from public records, and disseminate it to directories throughout the web. Because businesses often change some aspect of their contact information during the company’s tenure, misinformation can spread quickly. Make sure listings are:

  • Accurate: Possess accurate name, address, phone number, and website info
  • Branded: Display your company logo and about-us description
  • Claimed: Are controlled by your company, usually through business verification

10) Map Your Location

Modern searches utilize location information to match users with nearby business. To be matched to appropriate consumers, you must map your business location using geo-coordinates. Once your business is marked on Google Maps and other GPS devices, customers will find your information more easily and therefore be more likely to contact you. You’re HVAC company is also more likely to appear on:

  • Google 3 Pack: The map portion of Google search results
  • Knowledge Graph: The boxed profile on the right hand side of search results
  • Mobile Search: Results for nearby mobile users

11) Target Mobile Users

Most website visitors in 2018 access your site via mobile device, most commonly their smartphones. While desktops have not been removed from society completely, their usage rate has lowered significantly, and it is time for businesses to adapt. Design a website with the mobile user in mind, first and foremost, and make it as simple as possible for smartphone users to locate and contact your HVAC company. Aspects of mobile usage includes:

  • Display: How your site presents on a smartphone or tablet
  • Location: The presence of geo-coordinates for mobile matching
  • Navigation: How simple it is to navigate your site on smartphone or tablet

12) Define Your Audience

With more information available than ever before, defining your target audience is critical. To properly market to consumers, you must know their respective needs and preferences, and trends that manifest in the aggregate. This way, you can narrow your focus and appeal to a defined group, with the hope that many convert into leads. For example, your market might be especially interested in energy efficiency tips. Here are some ways to define your audience:

  • Age: The age range
  • Location: The general location
  • Needs: Which services they need most frequently

13) Hire a Professional

As prideful as they are, many heating and cooling professionals believe they can handle every aspect of their business without outside influence. Of course anything is possible, but the question for contractors should always be, what is best for business? In this case, what is best for business is investing in an HVAC internet marketing service to handle your online promotion. Marketing pros help with:

  • Content Quality: With more resources at bay, pros can produce higher quality content
  • Scheduling: A professional doesn’t forget to post on social media because they’re busy, it is their job
  • Time Management: Outsourcing digital marketing services gives contractors the time necessary to devote on their everyday operations

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About The Author

HVAC Webmasters is a digital marketing company for heating and cooling technicians across the country

Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HVACWebmasters

Contractor Fraud Cases on the Rise – Here’s what to Look For

In the construction business, fraud has taken center stage in recent years. According to a recent report published by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, financial loss from a typical construction fraud cases averages $245,000, far higher than other industries. Fraud in construction can cost far more, not only to the customer but the construction contractor managing the project. This is often due to faulty workmanship, job abandonment, and unnecessary billing for items or work not completed.

Construction contractors and business owners who operate appropriately and in-line with state and federal regulations make up the bulk of the market. However, the good actors in construction contracting can take steps to reduce fraud, improving the success of their business and the residential and commercial customers they serve. It starts with being licensed and bonded per the requirements of your state, followed by an awareness of how fraud takes place on the job. Here’s what to look for when it comes to construction fraud.

Understanding Common Fraud Types

Every construction contractor should take time to recognize the common fraud types in the business. Although not all-inclusive, construction fraud categories include:

  • False Billing – Nearly 35% of fraudulent activity in construction companies large and small correlate to billing schemes. Payments to made-up vendors or suppliers, overpayment for items or materials, and the use of job-related funds for personal items all fall under fraudulent billing.
  • Theft – Because of the location of many construction projects, theft runs rampant in the industry. Everything from lumber and concrete to piping, wires, and cables can be easily taken from a job site, and it is nearly impossible to track down after the fact.
  • Abuse of Equipment – In some cases of construction fraud, equipment is misused both on and off the job.
  • Bid-rigging and Corruption – Larger construction contractor projects are susceptible to bid-rigging and other types of corruption. Nearly 47% of fraud cases involving large dollar amounts involve these issues, including problems with bribery, kickbacks, and quid pro quo arrangements.

Once you are aware of the common types of fraud, preventing it and protecting your place in the construction contractor industry requires specific strategies.

Placing Internal Controls

First, establishing controls to reduce the potential for fraud among subcontractors, vendors, and suppliers within the business is critical to your success as a contractor. The most straightforward step to take in creating strong internal controls is a separation of responsibilities. For instance, having one person overseeing suppliers and another approving payments is a reliable internal control. Similarly, continuously comparing the estimates of projects with the actual costs helps uncover fraud if it is happening. Checking invoices for correct line-item expenses and charges, reconciling billing statements, and reviewing financial documents of the business on a regular basis all help prevent fraud from taking place.

Placing internal controls also comes down to recognizing warning signs of bad actors in the business, but this is easier said than done. This is because many construction fraudsters work sufficiently for one year or more before committing a fraudulent act, and they often have no prior criminal history or employment warning signs that would make one suspicious. The best thing to do is be diligent about keeping an eye on what’s happening on each and every job and every subcontractor, vendor, and supplier who comes in contact with a project.

 

Protecting Your Reputation

Construction fraud has a negative impact on the industry as a whole, as customers feel less confident that the work they need completed will get done without a hitch. As a construction contractor, you can focus on maintaining a strong reputation for your business to ensure fraud does not tarnish your name. Understanding your requirements for licensing, securing the right surety bond for your jobs, and completing due diligence on the work with whom you work closely all benefit your position in the industry.

About The Author

Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.

FREE Flat Rate Pricing

Black Belt Contracting

America’s Newest Social Networking Website with free Flat Rate Pricing.

With the help of our development team, I created a website for contractors to network, share ideas, and get advice from the industry’s top consulting people. The url is BlackBeltContracting.com

If you were to convert Facebook® into a social networking site for contractors and add an online flat rate pricing system, you would basically have BlackBeltContracting.com

What Can You Do at BlackBeltContracting.com?

  • Setup a Company Page
  • Invite Employees and Control Their Privileges
  • Send Friends Requests to Colleagues
  • Invite People to Join
  • Network with Contractors and Some of the Industry’s Top Consultants
  • Ask and Answer Questions
  • Attach Pictures and Share Documents
  • Use Service and Install Labor Rate Calculators
  • Build Flat Rate Pricing Books That Techs Can Use in the Field
  • Earn Participation Points and Receive Belt Rank Promotions

I would like to request a favor from you. Since this website is so new, I need a little help getting it going. I really need contractors to sign up and post questions and comments. No one wants to use the website until someone else uses it. It’s the “chicken or the egg first” concept. Basic membership is 100% free.

Please help me out by joining Black Belt Contracting, click here. As a thank you for your assistance, I set up a coupon for MrHVAC.com worth $25.00 off any purchase. Use coupon code BlackBelt2017 at checkout. This coupon expires on January 31, 2018.

Proven Lead Generation Strategies for HVAC Companies

If you’re running a HVAC company and you want to get new clients, you should know that there are some impressive, time-honoured lead generation strategies which will make it easier for you to get new customers…and the profits that they provide!

Today, we’re going to share the most effective lead generation strategies with you. Use one, a few or all of them in order to make the most of your Web marketing.

SEO Often Works Wonders

SEO stands for search engine optimization and it’s designed to build stronger search engine rankings. If you want to rank for preferred keywords, using the smartest SEO techniques will definitely help you to get those coveted, first-page rankings. We believe in SEO because there are plenty of SEO processes that HVAC company owners can do on their own. Also, it’s possible to outsource search engine optimization if you want to! Plenty of digital agencies provide high-quality SEO services to their clients, for affordable rates.

Local search engine optimization is really important. You want leads who are right in your area and paying close attention to local SEO will help you to get them. In the old days, you could have relied on your Yellow Page ad to bring in traffic. Now, you need to adjust to the reality that most people use their computers, tablets and mobile devices in order to find local HVAC companies.

In fact, ninety-seven percent of people prefer to find local businesses via the Web. Google is number-one in terms of where they search.

So, how to optimize for Google and other popular search engines? Well, there are three areas that you will need to think about. One is your website. If you’re not currently adding Meta Tags, Image Tags and keywords to your website content, you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to rank higher in search engine results.

So, make a point of honing your WordPress SEO skills. By making just a few small changes, you should be able to enjoy stronger search engine rankings which help prospective customers to find your business online.

Also, we recommend adding internal and external links to each piece of Web content.

Another great way to optimize is via social media. You should make a point of adding relevant keywords (the kind that customers already use to find your website) to your social media posts. Cross-promote with SEO in mind by adding the right keywords to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or whichever of these social media platforms you use in order to attract new customers (and retain the loyalty of the customers that you already have).

Also, bilding backlinks will help you to rank highly in search engine results. Backlinks are something that search engines look for in order to establish the popularity and importance of websites. It’s possible to build backlinks by leaving comments at message boards (be careful when doing this – your comments should be relevant, or you will risk being labelled as a spammer) and writing guest blog posts which include links back to your website.

To boost local SEO, you should be sure that your HVAC Company is listed via Google My Business, if it isn’t already. As well, you’ll benefit from utilizing Google posts within your account for Google My Business.

For local SEO, focus on making sure that your business listings online have accurate information, great photos and all of the right features. There are plenty of good tips out there online about how to optimize these sorts of listings. Use them all in order to drive more local business to your website.

Pay-per-click Campaigns Tend To Pay Off

Another great way to attract the attention of people who may want to purchase your HVAC services is to participate in a PPC campaign. PPC stands for pay-per-click and it’s a Web marketing strategy that positively impacts search engine rankings, as well as the bottom line of any type of company.

Google AdWords is a smart choice. When you choose Google AdWords for PPC, you’ll pay each time that someone who’s using the Google search engine sees one of your ads, but only if the person who sees the ad clicks on it! You will pay for clicks and this means that PPC campaigns are forms of paid traffic. Since most people who want to find HVAC companies use Google in order to hunt them down, Google AdWords is the most natural choice for HVAC Company PPC.

Bing is also a great choice. It’s not as competitive as Google AdWords and its cost-per-click is typically less. Bing Ads PPC runs on the same type of auction business model as Google AdWords. This means that HVAC company owners are able to access plenty of advantages due to Bing’s lower rate of competition. For example, with Bing, you may access ad positions which are better than what you’d get with AdWords, as well as saving money on the cost of clicks. Bing is growing. Choose it on its own or do PPC campaigns at Google AdWords and Bing.

We do think Google should be your first choice. Your budget and preferences should dictate whether or not it’s your only choice for PPC.

Pros and Cons of Buying Leads

A lot of HVAC companies decide to generate new business by buying leads from big platforms. The most popular platform for buying leads is Porch.com. To help you understand whether or not this lead generation strategy makes sense for your business, we’d like to discuss the pros and cons…

If you do decide to buy leads from Porch.com, you’ll be choosing the most popular source for HVAC leads on the The team at Porch.com look for consumers and pre-qualify consumers who are preparing to move, by grabbing traffic from many other sites.

Since Porch.com provides leads who are right in the HVAC niche, they do offer benefits to HVAC companies. Porch.com offers a pay-per-lead program. When you choose this platform, you’ll pay only for qualified leads from people who are interested in HVAC services.

Is there a downside to Porch.com’s lead generation program or other, similar programs? Well, there’s usually a downside to almost everything, so yes, there is…

In terms of “cons”, you may not be the only person who has the lead that you bought. This means that a range of competitors may also be trying to make contact with these leads. This may diminish your chances of turning a purchased sales lead into a paying customer. As well, you may overpay for your leads. They may not be as valuable as the value that you paid for them.

Lastly, leads may be a bit out of date. For example, you may buy a lead and discover that the lead has already chosen an HVAC provider as they needed to make a quick decision. This is why a lot of HVAC company owners prefer to generate leads organically, through their own Web marketing.

How to Generate Leads Organically

If you want to generate leads organically, without paying for traffic (or to augment paid traffic initiatives), you’ll find that using vans as billboards is a smart strategy. This type of lead generation is known as out-of-home advertising and it’s very effective. Wrap your own services vans in decals in order to turn them into moving (or parked) ads for your business. Also, make sure that your HVAC technicians have your company logo on their uniforms and/or hats. Branding is important and getting your brand name out there, on your vans and staff uniforms, will help you to generate leads in an organic way.

There are other ways to get leads locally, including participating in local charity drives or sponsoring charities.

Most of lead generation which is organic happens online. Positioning yourself as an Internet expert will be helpful. For example, consider writing articles which free HVAC advice or help them to choose the right HVAC Company. Avoid direct selling and any hard-sell. Provide helpful information and then post the articles to your blog or other online locations. Make sure that a link to your website is added at the end of the articles. This no-sell approach will show off your HVAC expertise. It will help you to build trust and rapport with people who want information about HVAC related services. It’s a great way to generate leads organically.

Try Our Lead Generation Tips Today

Now that you know more about the most effective lead generation strategies for HVAC Companies, why not test them out today? All of them are helpful and some HVAC company owners use every strategy that we’ve discussed today in order to drive new business to their companies. Other rely on just some of these marketing techniques. We’ve included strategies that cost money and strategies which require nothing more than effort. Hopefully, we’ve added lead generation tips which are perfect for your company.

About the author:

Matthew Woodley is the founder of Woodley Digital Marketing which provides bespoke digital marketing and lead generation services to clients around the world. You can follow him on Twitter.

Top 3 Must-Attend HVAC Events in 2018

Conferences are an integral part of being a successful HVAC contractor, no matter how big or small your business. During conferences and other industry events, HVAC contractors have the opportunity to meet with like-minded industry professional to discuss what’s new in the market, how to successfully operate a business as an HVAC contractor, and best practices for performing each job to the best of your ability. In 2018, there is no shortage of HVAC conferences and events to attend. Here are the top three worth your consideration.

Home Performance Coalition Conference and Tradeshow 2018

April 23-26, 2018 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Home Performance Coalition Conference and Tradeshow is an industry must each year. In 2018, HPC has put together a highly educational agenda full of workshops, seminars, continuing education opportunities and networking events throughout the four-day conference. The focus on this year’s conference is on home performance and weatherization, as well as residential energy efficiency for HVAC and other industry professionals. Some of the workshops and keynote sessions include the business toolbox, which gives valuable information on running and building an HVAC business from the financial aspect to marketing and employee management. There are also sessions surrounding diversification of business opportunities, policy shifts, smart home trends, and innovations and collaborations among industry leaders. HVAC professionals can gather more information about registration, accommodations, and educational sessions by visiting the HPC website.

Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association Connect 2018

October 10-12, 2018 – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Each year, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association holds its annual Connect Conference and Tradeshow. This event is intended to provide a large-scale networking and education opportunity to HVAC contractors and similar industry professionals. Throughout the three-day conference and tradeshow, HVAC contractors can gather information about new products and trends in the market, as well as participate in workshops and educational sessions that offer detailed information on best practices, business management, and opportunities in today’s residential and commercial market. Registration information as well as a list of speakers, workshops, and continuing education opportunities can be found on the PHCCA website.

Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) Annual Conference

December 1-4, 2018, Austin, Texas

Each year, HARDI comes together with several high-level sponsors to present its annual conference to HVAC professionals. While the organization itself is focused on HVAC distribution partners, the annual conference is meant to provide networking and educational opportunities to HVAC professionals from all aspects of the business. During last year’s conference, HARDI offered three distinct tracks for attendees: discover, intended to optimize supplier and distributor relationships, deploy, meant to offer insight and best practices for internal operations for HVAC professionals and businesses, and deliver, focused on identifying and delivering to the needs of HVACR customers. Registration information, educational sessions, and this year’s conference theme can be found on the HARDI website.

In addition to these three large, national conferences, many associations put on smaller local events for HVAC contractors and industry professionals. Be sure to check with your community associations and industry leaders for up to date event information in your area.

Author:

Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.

Eric Weisbrot