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

How Better Employee Management Increases Profits

Ever struggle with employee management?

If we’re honest, challenges with employees are something that most business owners have faced, regardless of their size. After all, employee productivity is directly tied to your business’ profits, while generally your employees just don’t have the same level of vested interest in your company. This then, is where the discrepancies lie, and why so many owners and employees fail to see eye to eye.

Having good employee management systems in place is your secret to ensuring that your workplace runs smoothly and efficiently. Of course, this starts by having clear objectives and goals outlined for your team to follow, and milestones for them to meet, and also involves striving to create a workplace environment that allows them to excel, thrive, advance, and achieve a work-life balance. Having the right software and tools in place, such as payroll processing software, time tracking solutions, and project collaboration tools, can help you in your quest to keep things running smoothly as well.

We all know that motivated and productive employees can have an impact on your bottom line, but what exactly does it look like and how does it boost your profits? Read on to see some of the exciting benefits of excellent employee management!

Lower Turnover Rates

Let’s face it; losing a valued employee can leave a big gap in your company. It can be costly too. Not only will you have costs associated with advertising the vacancy and finding a new employee, but you’ll also have to take into consideration time spent reviewing resumes, conducting interviews, and performing reference checks, as well as lost hours if the employee quits on short notice. Once you do find someone, you’ll have training costs to onboard the new hire. Better employee management can help you to reduce your turnover rate, helping to keep your costs down, and revenues up!

Better Customer Service

Excellent employee management can also help you to ensure that you find and hire the right people for the job. When you hire the right employee and give them access to the right training, and offer a decent incentive, you can drastically increase employee satisfaction, which in turn will lead to happier, more satisfied customers as well. A well-trained and positive representative can help to provide your customers with excellent customer service. A win-win for everyone involved!

Streamlined Efficiency

When your employees have all been trained properly and know how to do their job well, they’ll be able to perform their duties with ease and confidence. In a business where time is money, this certainly counts! Don’t overlook the importance of providing proper training, and a rewards-based incentive program, where performance is tied to rewards.

A Good Reputation

Finally, good employee management can increase employee satisfaction, resulting in employees who are happier to stay for longer. Companies with a high staff turnover generally get poor reviews on job-review websites like Glassdoor, which could influence a future potential employee’s decision to submit their resume to your company. Work to keep your staff happy and they’ll be more likely to stay for longer. Plus, having longtime staff can help to boost your appeal to customers and further cement your reputation as a committed, reliable, and reputable company. After all, if your employees don’t want to stick around, what does that say about your company as a whole?

Untrained and unsupervised staff can have catastrophic results on your company. But employees who are able to exercise their strengths on a daily basis are 8 percent more productive and six times more likely to be engaged. Work to improve your employee management practices, and employee engagement and satisfaction will follow.

How do you work to motivate your team?

Five Steps To Hiring The Best HVAC Staff For Your Company

Your company is as good as its weakest link. In fact, even having staff members that are at a mediocre level can be detrimental to the success of your company. Why?

In a few words; your competition is sure to be working hard to hire great HVAC staff, if you are not doing the same you risk being left behind.

Of course, accepting this fact is one thing, but knowing how to address it can be quite another. Allow us to outline a five-step process to hiring the best HVAC staff for your company.

The Hourglass Technique

According to HireBetterNow, this is one of the key components of a successful hiring program. What does it entail?

Just like an hourglass has a wide top but narrows as it goes down, a clear objective when hiring HVAC staff for your company should be to attract and screen a large number of candidates.

In fact, the larger the pool at the top, the higher the probability that you will have some exceptional candidates as you get closer to the bottom.

How can you attract a large pool of candidates without compromising on the needs of your company?

The Right Job Advertisement

Take a look at the majority of advertisements for HVAC staff. What does the main focus tend to be? Is it not about the job? Of course, this is a vital element of the advertisement and necessary experience and skills certainly need to be outlined in the advertisement.

However, HireBetterNow reminds us that a great employment advertisement talks about the person rather than the job.

Why is this of significant benefit to the employer?

When you clearly define the type of person that you are looking for within your company, it becomes easier for that person to find you.

Someone may have a lot of relevant experience, but if they have a lazy streak, don’t work well with others or lack the ability to problem solve, they may make a much poorer choice than someone who has minimal experience yet shows the perfect personality traits to learn quickly and easily.

Indeed, once you have clarified the type of person you want for the job you are in a much better position to attract a large pool of promising candidates.

Carry Out A ‘Motivation Test’ On All Applicants

Once you have advertised the available posts within your company you will likely be inundated with applications. Not all of these applications will lead to an ideal member of staff.

One way of weeding out the applicants who lack motivation and the ability to ‘see something through’ is to create an extra step in the application process.

How should you go about it?

Create a brief questionnaire which will further clarify the level of experience, knowledge, and communication skills that the applicant is able to offer. This step is as much designed to see whether the applicant takes the time to complete it as it is to gain the information which they provide in the questionnaire.

In fact, according to ServiceCEO, this one step alone can weed out 20% of the applications from people who clearly are not that dedicated to working for your company.

Implement A One Week Trial

Taking potential employees on service calls can, according to ServiceCEO, help you to see how they interact with customers.

For less experienced candidates it will show you whether they are able to accept constructive criticism and turn it into something positive and for experienced candidates, it will allow you to see whether their work is up to the high standard which your company is known for.

Of course, you don’t need to make this trial a full week if you don’t want to, you may even feel that a one day trial is enough to gauge whether a potential candidate is right for your company or not.

However, the additional time that a week-long trial provides will also help you to get to know the candidate as a person, including seeing their strengths and their weaknesses in action.

In addition, other long-standing members of staff who have already gained your trust and approval will have the opportunity to interact with the candidate and provide you with valuable feedback.

References Are For Analyzing

There is a reason why we always request references before we hire any new member of staff. Indeed, great employees tend to be great employees regardless of who their boss is. The same can be said for poor employees.

If someone was a poor employee for their previous company, they are very likely to be a poor employee for your company too. How can you get the most from the references that your candidates provide?

In simple terms; invest time.

You need to make contact with the references for each candidate and ask the right questions to understand whether the person is right for your company.

Remember, skill and experience are great, but you also need to know that they are the type of ‘person’ who will fit in with your current HVAC team and be a hardworking employee who is always ready to give of their best.

Investing time to analyze the references is an excellent way to separate the good candidates from the exceptional ones.

Certainly, hiring the right HVAC staff for your company is a crucial factor which will ultimately determine how successful your company proves to be.

Remember, the ideal candidate will not only have the relevant experience, knowledge, and skills but will also possess the character traits and personality that is required for the position.

The hiring process for HVAC staff should not be rushed, rather it requires time, patience and diligence. However, when you are willing to invest such efforts into the hiring of staff for your company you will soon see that the benefits make it all worthwhile; having an incredible team of skilled, motivated and passionate HVAC technicians is a sure way to see your business soar.

Author Bio:

Bill Bradley is a heating and cooling consultant living in Chicago, Illinois.

His years of experience as HVAC consultant made him knowledgeable on all the latest HVAC techniques and able to use the latest technology to provide quality services.

5 Tips for HVAC Construction Contractors on Getting Bonded

Anyone who performs contracting work that involves installation, maintenance, or repair of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC) is required to hold certain certifications and licensing. In order to receive the proper licensing to operate legally, new contractors and technicians must first be bonded. An HVAC construction contractor bond is a critical part of the process, as it provides a type of insurance to customers. Essentially, the bond company provides a guarantee on the work being done by the contractor, and initially, covers any claim against the contractor should the work not be performed per the original agreement. Contractors are not off the hook when claims arise; they are required to then repay the bond agency for any claims it covered for them.

While bonds for HVAC workers and technicians are important, they can be as costly as they are confusing at first. Here are five proved tips for securing a bond as an HVAC construction contractor that makes the process both easy and affordable.

Understand Surety Bond Pricing

One the simplest things you can do to ensure you’re receiving the most cost-efficient bond as an HVAC contractor is to take a moment to understand how bond pricing works in the first place. The cost of a surety bond is represented as a percentage of the bond amount required for a specific job. Depending on the strength of your personal credit and business financial records, the bond price will range from 1 to 10%, with higher prices for contractors with less than ideal financial history. Also, contractors with previous claims history against surety bonds from work performed in the past may pay higher prices for a new bond. Fortunately, there are steps to take to reduce HVAC construction bond prices for future work.

Check Your Credit

Surety bonds are based heavily on a contractor’s personal credit history. This means that any financial mishaps of the past have the potential to work against the pricing of a surety bond. Negative marks like missed or late payments, a bankruptcy or foreclosure, or tax liens or court judgments bring down a credit report and score fairly quickly. Bad credit doesn’t mean you cannot get a surety bond as an HVAC contractor, but it does increase the chance that you’ll pay more for it.

You can reduce the price of your contractor bond by regularly checking your credit and working to improve or eliminate negative marks. Credit reports from each of the three credit reporting agencies can be accessed once per year at no cost. These reports provide a detailed view of your payment history, credit utilization, and overall financial track record. Any errors listed on your credit report can be disputed either online or in writing, which will ultimately improve your score. Being diligent about paying what you owe or clearing up accounts in collections also works to boost your score. Use these tools to improve your contractor bond pricing for future jobs.

Have Records of Business Financials

Alongside your personal credit, bond agencies also may request to see business financial records. This adds another layer of detail about your ability to manage your obligations, and provides a detailed list of accounts receivable (who owes you). With up-to-date business records, bond agencies have a clearer picture of the strength of your business. Most contractors are able to secure a new bond that is affordably priced when this information is provided in addition to personal credit history.

Work with a Strong Bond Agency

Getting the best bond as an HVAC contractor also requires working with a surety bond agency that understands the job requirements and financial obligations that go hand in hand. A bond company with a strong financial rating and a history of working with contractors in your field is a smart place to start. Additionally, agencies that work with several different surety companies is beneficial in ensuring you receive the amount and pricing for the bond that meets your job requirements.

Avoid Claims When Possible

Although a surety bond for HVAC contractors is meant to provide some peace of mind for the customer or owner of the job, claims against the bond can be costly. Not only do contractors have an obligation to repay any amount paid out by the surety bond should a claim be made, but they are also in danger of having more expensive bonds for future work. If your bond company offers claims assistance, work with them when a claim arises. In any case of a potential claim, make a good faith effort to settle the claim before it becomes official with your bond company.

Taking steps to understand HVAC contractor bond pricing and how personal and business financial history play a significant role in securing cost-effective bond pricing for new jobs. Similarly, working with a financially sound bond agency and avoiding claims when possible helps ensure your access to an affordable bond as an HVAC contractor.

10 Tips for Minimizing Workplace Negativity

Workplace conflicts can be one of the greatest causes of employee stress. Nothing affects employee morale like consistent workplace negativity. It saps the positive energy of the organization and diverts the attention of the staff from work and performance. Employee’s stress and many other conflicts such as bullying claims and workers’ compensation can be prevented if managers act quickly to resolve the issues between co-workers and maintain a healthy work environment. Nowadays, negativity is an increasing problem in the workplace environment. Human Resource is one of the key departments of every organization and is one of the primary solutions to dealing with workplace negativity.  In such cases, the duties of HR must be performed vigilantly for the benefit of the organization as a whole. Negativity can arise when individuals are unclear about their respective areas of responsibility so that one person believes that another is trying to take away his authority and responsibility. HR must inform all employees about the harmful and detrimental impacts of negativity within the organization. In some situations, workplace negativity may arise when two workgroups are pursuing incompatible objectives. HR must promote good communication among the employees. If the staff has healthy professional relationship among each other, then employees can communicate with each other about any negative situations that are happening in their life. On a personal level, conflict can arise when one individual thinks that he can tell another person what to do, but the other person refuses to follow his instructions or recognize his authority due to jealousy or any other reason. Conflict may occur due to the nature of the work involved so that for one person or group to ‘succeed’, another group has to ‘fail’. Organizational Development (OD) can also play an effective role to minimizing negativity and conflicts in the work environment. The most appropriate measures of dealing with workplace negativity will vary according to the circumstances. Conflicts can be resolved primarily by paying close attention to the needs of the co-workers, maintaining organizational hierarchy, organizational development, taking disciplinary action, emphasizing the interests and rewards, managing conflicts of interest and ethical conflict resolution, good communication, establishing certain job roles, maintaining disciplined attention and effective team management.

  1. Diagnose workplace negativity and pay attention to employees’ concerns

Negativity is often the result of a loss of confidence, control or community as stated by Gary S. Topchik, the author of Managing Workplace Negativity. Knowing what people are negative about is the first step to diagnosing workplace negativity. Whilst trying to resolve the conflicts and minimizing workplace negativity, do not bring the issues that the individuals do not want to talk about. Resolving workplace conflicts and minimizing workplace negativity can lead to a positive professional culture and healthier professional relationships.

  1. Maintaining an organizational hierarchy at all levels and providing opportunities to employees to make decisions

Most of the negativity related to delegation of work can be prevented if an organizational hierarchy is maintained within the organization at all levels. This can be done by maintaining a matrix organizational structure for some of the activities of the organization. So that if employees turn negative, they can be counseled by the relevant individuals irrespective of taking up to the Head of the staff. Obviously, conflicts can arise i.e. the project manager might want to skip some tests to make up time; however, the quality control department won’t want accept that. Both will then put the employee under some pressure. However, the matrix structure should allow the employee to ask the two managers to discuss the problem, as it is certain that they are both involved in the conflict. Employees may also get jealous of each other professionally or personally and may react offensively against each other. The management must keep these situations in check and shall work to minimize workplace negativity in among the different departments of the organization.

  1. Organizational Development (OD) and training employees to work as a team

Organization development is the planned and systematic approach to enabling sustained organization performance through the involvement of its people. The Australian Human Resources Institute has described the benefits of Organizational Development. They include putting the minds of employees to work, enhancing the quality and speed of decisions, making conflict constructive rather than destructive and training the employees to work as a team. This can be done by team-building, career development, training and HR courses, innovation, talent management, change management, organizational assessments and coaching and leadership development. In this way, employees tend to work as a team and believe they are part of a larger group working towards a common goal. The management should work to develop workplace policies and procedures that organize the work efficiently and minimize workplace negativity within the organization.

  1. Taking disciplinary action in order to criticize negativity

Every organization requires its employees to meet certain performance standards and behave appropriately at the workplace. Disciplinary or corrective action is the way to communicate to the employee to improve his conduct and performance. Disciplinary action may be taken when other ways to minimizing negativity e.g. counseling, performance appraisal etc. have not been successful. However, for the serious cases of misconduct, the management may choose to advance straight to the disciplinary action.

Before deciding upon which disciplinary action to take, management has to keep in mind the very purpose of the discipline. The goal of this disciplinary action is to guide the employee towards a better performance or an appropriate conduct. The process has to be constructive and should not be meant for punishing the employee.

  1. Emphasizing the incentives and rewards for good and positive behavior

It is important while training employees to emphasize on the incentives and rewards. The following steps can be taken to promote positivity and undermining negativity in the workplace among two different department or parties:

  1. Comprehensive and convincing explanations can be offered as to why the concessions sought by the other party cannot be accepted.
  2. Expressing willingness to review the matter or concessions pursued by the other party in the future.
  • While attempting to finalize the main contract, providing an ancillary contract consisting additional advantages in the future for both parties
  1. During the final phases, subtly stating the consequences, must the negotiation fail and emphasizing the advantages to both parties leading them to a win-win.
  2. Conduct meetings with your staff and listen to their complaints on a regular basis

When employees are faced with an ethical conflict, they need to know what to do. If there is a threat to their compliance with the fundamental principles of the ethical code, how should they ensure their compliance and deal with the threat? Conduct meetings with your staff on a regular basis to discuss any issues that they might be facing and get feedback from them regularly. Encourage all of your employees to speak up and voice their concerns, even if they are negative. Regularly listen to the complaints of your employees in order to find out if there are valid reasons for their negativity.  Choose a human resource person in the human resource department or a company manager that employees can also come to when they have concerns about any workplace issues or conflicts, and introduce that individual to your employees at a staff meeting. Make certain that you assure all your employees that their concerns will be heard on a regular basis, as this will help in promoting positivity in the workplace by solving the problems of every employee.

  1. Promote good communication among the employees

Elton Mayo was the first management theorist to draw attention towards the social aspects of working and the effects of motivation on the performance of the individuals. Motivation and productivity is affected by the relationship between management and the coworkers. Management should sit down on an individual basis with employees who have negative feelings about their work and ask detailed questions to find out the reason or reasons they have negative feelings and suggest them other positive ways to view these negative issues.

Managers need to communicate with their coworkers. When there is no communication, conflicts are inevitable, and workers resent the focus of management on cutting costs and improving efficiency. Managers must play the role of “disturbance-handlers” in resolving the conflicts and disputes and reducing negativity among the work environment. Management must, therefore, develop and apply ‘people skills’ in order to motivate their coworkers. Managers should become more involved with their coworkers, and earn the respect of the coworkers so that they stop resenting the management. The result would be improved motivation amongst workers and higher productivity.

  1. Establishing certain job roles and responsibilities

Conflicts can arise due to role ambiguities among the employees. It is necessary to create certain and fixed job roles and responsibilities to resolve the conflicts among the group members. The simplest way is by giving praise to the employees and other measures etc. This is usually common in organizations where employees are ambitious and want to succeed in a short span of time. Such conflicts can be minimized if the job descriptions are set and even if another employee works on behalf of another, he must be credited for it. He should be recognized and such a clause must be included in a proper recognition system such as “employee of the year”.

  1. Maintain disciplined attention and maintain an open-door policy

The leader must get conflict and negativity out into the open and use this as a source of creativity. Constructive conflict among individuals leads eventually to collaboration and agreement. The leaders most likely to succeed are those who make followers aware of their responsibilities. Start an open-door policy and have a suggestion box made available. This will encourage your employees to communicate on a regular basis with you and make them feel that their concerns are being heard and acted upon.

  1. Effective team management

In an effective team, team members identify themselves with the team and feel a part of the team. Team spirit and team loyalty is strong.  Positive conflict occurs when there is disagreement, but the team members are willing to discuss their differences fully and reach a suitable agreement about what the solution should be. Some conflicts are inevitable in teams: the way that the conflicts are resolved is important.  In an ineffective team, the team members fail to resolve their differences properly. Disagreements are not discussed fully. They are often resolved by an ineffective compromise that ‘patches up’ the differences of opinion, and the compromise might not last for long.

These are the 10 ways in which management can effectively resolve workplace conflicts and eliminate negativity in the workplace environment. One of the tasks of management is to evaluate the performance of the workgroup for which they are responsible. Performance evaluation is linked to planning, coordination, and control. Measuring and evaluating team performance is also necessary when there is a system of team incentives and rewards. Conflict among the staff can adversely affect the quality of work and its effectiveness and may further deteriorate the workplace environment through increased negativity. However effective conflict resolution can bring radical changes, open communication, improved dialogue, improved customer service, encourage innovation and result in constructive levels of tension within the organization proving positive for the organization as a whole. Management must, therefore, maintain the organizational performance by reducing negativity and promoting workplace positivity.

Author Bio:     

Asma Niaz is an Academic writer at Zoe Talent Solutions who loves to write stellar content on various educational topics, programs, trainings and courses. Zoetalentsolutions is a premium teaching division, which offers highly professional hr courses to excel at your workplace.