Which Trends are Shaping the Future of Field Service Management?

Today’s competitive scenario effects reflect the need for adopting new technological innovations to stay on top and lead the market. Moreover, it becomes equally important to equip your sales force with a contemporary solution, which can even make its management seamless and boost its productivity.

Companies nowadays have even started strengthening their field force with competent field force tracking applications to monitor their sales team activities and performance. Automating your sales processes not only enables you to track their activities and movement, but also give elevated customer service.

Field Force Automation has numerous business benefits and even helps organizations to win a competitive edge. With the latest evolving technology, the dynamics of field force automation constantly keep on changing.

Till date, we were just introduced to the limited functionalities of best field service management software such as defining their routes, reports generation, tracking executive’s live location, defining their routes, etc. But the latest changing trends will take field service automation to an advanced level. So, let’s throw some light on the latest trends, which experts’ belief will carve its future:

Seamless Connectivity

With the field service management, there is seamless connectivity between the staff, business owners, and customers. The leaders are instantly updated in case there is a problem with the carriage. In case there is a request by a customer, and if there is a delay in delivering products to the staff at the office, this portal can alert the customer of a delay, or even customer themselves can check on the app and calculate how long it will take before the product reaches with the help of GPS.

Similarly, the drivers are alerted of the nearest route to reach their intended destination, which even helps to saves fuel consumption, thus saving the company of extra expenses.

Increased Productivity

Leading agents who work remotely can be so much difficult to predict how effective they are with the work assigned. With the field service management software, you can even determine how efficient and productive your team delivers. This is because, with the help of an app, the agents can easily check what items need to be delivered so as to prevent dispatching wrong items to the wrong individual.

Also, the leaders can give an appointment to the customers and honor them as per their schedule without even feeling worked out; this is one of the pain points in field service.

Cloud-based Data Storage

With the recent leap in the technological advancement, field service management could not have possible to allow a seamless flow of work in a cloud-based portal. In the former year, it was a drudgery of work, but recently the work is becoming much simpler. Phones are designed to operate highly technical software that would even otherwise not have been possible, and huge data can be accessed in the cloud portal.

Thus everyone in the organization gets hold of information and can even provide help when necessary to the fraught customers.

Reduction in Customer Complaints

The complaints of customer are inevitable in the field of service delivery, especially if the tracking is done manually. In order for your business to leverage its success, Field Service Management enables you to automate tasks to your agents in order to reduce customer complaints.

With the help of the app, you can assign field scheduling for construction to assign new tasks to workers who are free to take on new tasks even when you are not on your dashboard. This even reduces the delays in time.

Reduces Costs and Increases Profit

The integration of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cloud, and IoT based portal reduces the purchase of hardware and much labor. This saves money for the business.

The power of an app to predict the shortest distance to reach a customer destination, and the right products to be dispatched plus the right person who has the right talent to perform some of the certain tasks with expertise and experience, reduces the cost of production while delivering quality services to the customer. This increases profit to the organization.

Field Service Management is essential if you want to use your business success. Its ability to increase the retention of customer due to stellar service provided, increase profit due to low production cost and its ability to use the AI, IoT and cloud-based technology portal for effective productivity is what you need to take your business to the next level.

Conclusion

More than 90% of the field service executives feel that the need for adapting the service models to customer’s needs. When the field service software solutions have embraced all the trends which are mentioned above and have become tech-savvy, to say the least, field services will be transformed forever.

Why Company Culture Matters & 5 Quick Success Tips

Overseeing a successful team of contractors is about more than finding people with the right skills and offering them competitive salaries. If you’re going to gather the best people with the right skills — and get them working together effectively and efficiently — then you need to build a company culture that’s both appealing and supportive.

But why exactly is company culture so important to people? Here’s why it’s so significant, plus 5 quick tips to help you maximize the appeal of working for you:

Why workers care so much about company culture

Job satisfaction has always mattered to people, but when you need work and your options are limited, you have to take whatever you can get. This is one of the main reasons why company culture didn’t previously seem that consequential: employers knew that they could get away with just about anything, so they often put minimal effort into keeping people happy.

These days, the internet has produced two massive changes in the employment world:

  • Firstly, it’s much easier to engage in professional networking and find job opportunities outside of your area. You can use LinkedIn, maintain a business site, and reach out to relevant people through social media when you’re looking for something new.
  • Secondly, the threat of social media condemnation makes it much harder for companies to get away with treating their employees poorly. All it takes is one worker’s negative account of your employer to go viral, and your reputation will take a major hit. There are also sites like GlassDoor (an employer appraisal hub) to think about — earn a negative rating, and people will learn to avoid you instead of forming their own opinions.

Because of this, contractors are much better positioned to choose their projects carefully, and only work with (and for) people and/or companies that will treat them well (including providing suitable insurance). You can offer a solid deal, but if someone suspects they’ll be unhappy with you, they’ll be hard to convince.

The performance benefits of a strong culture

Supposing you persuade a host of skilled workers to join your team, company culture doesn’t stop being important. This is all due to the productivity benefits of having workers who feel supported, engaged, and challenged. When everyone truly feels part of a team pursuing a shared goal under a shared ethos, they’ll cooperate more effectively with their colleagues, and be more willing to work hard to help reach that shared goal.

In addition, cooperative colleagues communicate more effectively, sharing information, methods, and skills that can help the company. They also feel more supportive of each other.

For instance, I recently read a FastCompany piece about Shopify, a Canadian SaaS brand that provides user-friendly ecommerce hosting and development. In a bid to help its staff share the interesting things they’re working on, share ideas, and credit each other for great work, Shopify implemented an internal communication system known as UNICORN.

By investing in this Twitter-inspired platform, the company created a podium that allowed accomplishments to be shared with all employees throughout the company — not just management. As a result, team morale got a shot in the arm and Shopify’s employees redefined the way they collaborate — no small feat for a company of that size.

5 simple tips to maximize company appeal

Since company culture is so important for the reasons outlined above, you obviously need to take steps to create a company culture that draws people in and keeps them happy. Here are 5 quick tips for doing just that:

  • Listen to your workers. The moment they feel that their feedback is being ignored, workers will start to lose their sense of investment. Make a habit of regularly speaking to your team and asking for their comprehensive feedback on how everything is going (assure them that they can speak freely).
  • Provide proportionate rewards. You can’t always offer wild bonus schemes, but what you can do is seek to make sure that whatever rewards you can provide are suitably proportionate to individual effort. Each worker needs to know that if they work hard and excel, that effort will be suitably rewarded.
  • Be consistently honest. If things get tough, payments are going to be late, or someone isn’t pulling their weight, you need to be transparent about what’s happening. You might get some backlash at times, but workers will ultimately appreciate that you refuse to hide things from them.
  • Help workers develop. Don’t make the mistake of leaving worker skills to stagnate because you fear them moving on to bigger things. If they want to stay working with you, they will, and helping them develop will make them more likely to be loyal, not less.
  • Encourage socializing. It can be hard for team bonds to form during the regular workday. That’s why it’s useful to find opportunities for them to socialize outside of work. You could host a social event, or simply let everyone go a couple of hours early provided they spend that time together.

Company culture matters hugely for employers and employees alike, and contractors will always shy away from working with companies that don’t treat their workers well. Use the 5 tips we just looked at to start developing your culture, and your team will appreciate it.

“Rodney Laws is an e-commerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. He’s worked with the biggest platforms in the world, so he knows how to build the best online store for your business. Connect with on Twitter @EcomPlatformsior.”

Benefits of Growing Your HVAC Maintenance Program

As an HVAC service provider, you rely on your customers to make the responsible choice and schedule routine maintenance for their furnace and air conditioner once a year. Repairs and replacements provide a revenue stream as well, but nothing compares to the consistency of maintenance calls.

Because tune-ups are so critical to the success of your business, consider creating or growing a formal HVAC maintenance program to prevent missing out on a huge opportunity. With the right features, both you and your customers can benefit from having an HVAC maintenance membership.

What’s Included in an HVAC Maintenance Membership?

You can tailor your plan to match your business offerings or help you stand out from competitors. An HVAC maintenance membership should help customers save money, keep their heating and cooling systems in good repair, and reduce inconvenient breakdowns. Here are the types of things to include:

  • Deals on maintenance visits: This benefit alone should help your plan pay for itself. Consider lowering the cost of routine maintenance with an affordable monthly or yearly fee to get customers interested in signing up with you.
  • After-hours benefits: It’s reasonable to charge a fee for emergency services, but consider decreasing this or waiving it altogether for maintenance plan members. Free emergency service is a significant perk that gives your customers peace of mind when they need to call after hours.
  • Front-of-the-line service: No one wants to be told they must wait in line for AC repair on a scorching summer afternoon. Show your plan members how much their loyalty means to you by bumping them to the front of the line when they request emergency services.
  • Priority booking when the seasons change: Call your plan members a month or two before the prime time to schedule maintenance and offer to book their services in advance at a convenient time for them.
  • Discounts on repairs, replacements, and upgrades: You might waive diagnostic charges and service fees or offer plan members discounts on new system installation, indoor air quality products, and other HVAC upgrades.
  • Other perks: Shape your maintenance program however you want. Ideas include loyalty perks that reward members for renewing their annual plan and referral credits that benefit new and existing members when they spread the word about your program.

Benefits of Maintenance Programs for HVAC Companies

There’s no doubt that maintenance programs benefit customers, but they can make a big difference for your company as well. Here’s what you stand to gain when you offer the right features and market your plan correctly:

  • Customer retention: When customers sign up for a maintenance program from your company, they do n’t need to shop around. Instead, they come to you for all their routine and emergency HVAC services. This saves your customers time and effort and helps you get more business.
  • Regular and predictable revenue: Customers are usually billed for HVAC maintenance plans monthly or once a year. This predictable income—along with the steady stream of tune-up requests that come with maintenance programs—ensures your company has cash flow during the slow spring and fall seasons.
  • More customer contact: With a maintenance plan, you’re in customers’ homes and businesses more frequently, giving you a chance to mention indoor air quality products or upgrades that improve their indoor comfort and bolster your bottom line.
  • Greater customer loyalty: The more positive experiences you can provide a customer, the better. After all, when you deliver exceptional services to your maintenance program members, again and again, the chance of getting referrals from friends and family increases.
  • Service bundling: Does your HVAC company provide other related services, such as plumbing and electrical work? If you offer a discount to maintenance plan members, they are more likely to think of you when they need these accompanying services. As a result, you become the go-to provider for all your customers’ indoor comfort needs.
  • Warranty coverage: Home and business owners become frustrated if they file a warranty claim for a repair or replacement only to learn that they accidentally voided their warranty by neglecting routine tune-ups. When you advertise your maintenance program, make sure customers know your services are designed to uphold warranty coverage, so they never have to experience this frustration.

Clearly, the right approach to HVAC maintenance plans can contribute substantially to customer satisfaction, referral rates, and ultimately your bottom line. Launch a program today to see the impact it has on your business!

About the Author

AFGO Mechanical Services has worked around the clock to establish our reputation as an HVAC industry leader. AFGO is proud to provide comprehensive HVAC services to businesses throughout the NYC metro area, including installation, retrofit, and replacement; custom maintenance agreements; emergency repairs; and more. For more information, please contact AFGO Mechanical.

Why Engineering Management Is Different from Business Management

Every business sector presents different challenges, and managers must have an adequate combination of skills to face them. In the case of engineering management, a key challenge is the unique nature of every project. This contrasts with manufacturing firms that deliver large batches of identical products, or companies with a predetermined service offering.

Construction administration involves the direction of teams from different technical disciplines, who work on several unique projects at once. Since each project differs in scope, scale and deadlines, engineering managers must be capable of breaking them down into tasks, and assigning these tasks based on priority.

How a Construction or Building Renovation Project is Delivered

Manufacturing and service companies can focus on repeatability, delivering the same product or service several times as efficiently as possible. While there is some degree of customization, the starting point is normally a predetermined set of products or services. This does not apply for engineering management, where the technical specifications are unique for every project.

Requirements are discussed with each client in engineering projects, and these are used to define a project scope. The scope is then broken down by areas such as architecture, structural design, mechanical systems, electrical systems, plumbing installations and fire protection. Each area of work is divided into specific tasks, which are assigned to engineering teams.

  • The building and its MEP installations are designed based on the project scope, and according to local building codes.
  • After an approval procedure with local authorities, the project is built according to design documents.
  • Normally, the building can be used for its intended purpose after a commissioning process and a final inspection.

At a glance this may seem like a simple procedure, but the challenge lies in the unique nature of each project. It is also important to note that construction work is performed outdoors, where there are uncontrollable factors such as weather and traffic. Engineering managers must be capable of delivering a project successfully, while meeting a unique scope and managing external factors that affect the construction process.

How Engineering Managers Handle Variability and Uncertainty

Since engineering is not a repetitive process, a constant management effort is necessary to keep projects on track. However, engineering managers can rely on technology and best practices in project management.

Risk management can make the difference between success and failure in an engineering project. The traditional approach has been responding to issues as they emerge, but this is risky and expensive:

  • Without risk management, major issues that threaten the whole project may not be evident until they are about to happen.
  • When risks are identified and preventive measures are developed, they can often be solved before they occur. Even if a problem is unavoidable, risk management mitigates its impact because the project staff knows exactly how to respond.

There is an entire chapter dedicated to risk management in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) from the Project Management Institute (PMI). This reflects the importance of risk management in engineering projects.

Other areas that must be managed actively in engineering projects are communication and procurement. If these aspects are left unattended, the project is likely to suffer from inefficiency and delays.

  • When engineering professionals from many technical disciplines collaborate in a project with unique specifications, effective communication is key. Even with qualified professionals, progress will be slow if tasks are not clearly defined.
  • Procurement also requires a management effort, since building projects often require materials and equipment that are not available on demand. Purchasing should be planned so that every component is already on site when needed.

When engineering managers handle risk, communication and procurement effectively, uncertainty is reduced. As a result, the project is more likely to meet its deadline and budget.

Why Engineering Managers Must Be Tech-Savvy

Engineering projects involve computer-aided modeling and simulation tools, which eliminate the need for manual drafting and calculations. Thanks to these tools, engineers can handle more projects simultaneously, compared with the time before these technologies were developed.

Engineering managers rarely use these tools directly, but they must have a solid understanding of how they work. This way, they can provide better guidance and instructions to design engineers.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) software goes one step beyond, since it combines modeling with team collaboration. Engineers from different technical areas can work on a single building model, visualizing how their designs interact with those from other teams. When projects use BIM, engineering managers must be familiarized with the technology to provide effective direction.

Author Bio

Michael Tobias is the founder and principal of Chicago Engineers. He is a graduate of Georgia Tech class of 2004, with a Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering with honors. His innovative approach to MEP engineering comes from graduating GE’s Engineering Leadership Program, where he designed wind turbines and biofuel power plant engines. Michael’s passion within design is energy efficiency and green technology.

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