Tag Archive | "tips"

How to Be a Sought-After Contractor

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How to Be a Sought-After Contractor

Posted on 28 October 2019 by cradmin

Recently, Western Specialty Contractors, the self-appointed largest specialty contractor group in the nation, released an article titled How to Avoid Common Mistakes When Selecting Your Contractor. This is not only great information for consumers but also for contractors. This article is perfect for contractors, showing you a few great ways to, in the colloquial, not be “that guy”.

The six points brought up in this article provide a good start for anyone who wants to go above and beyond for their consumer customers.

  1. Don’t make yourself a commodity. According to Merriam-Webster, commodities are goods or services that are so ubiquitous that price is the ultimate factor. You don’t have to be the lowest priced fabricator/installer around to get customers. In fact, thinking of yourself as a commodity only leads to imperfect work with no follow-up. Savvy consumer will look at all of the benefits you add before considering price.
  2. Be an expert at what you do. Literally, any unskilled worker can fabricate and install a countertop. However, doing it well is in the realm of expertise. Often, hiring an unskilled contractor leads to more problems than the money is worth. For instance, if you provide a guarantee, fixing errors and conducting repairs could very well put you out of business. Consumers are urged to research their contractors’ qualifications by asking for referrals from previous customers. Will they have to hire a different contractor to fix all your mistakes? This is where reputation comes into play. Make yourself a reputable contractor in your area of service, and price will play less of an importance.
  3. Be dependable. If you offer a warranty, like most contractors do, always see it through, and try not to be difficult about it. If repairs or adjustments are necessary, fix the issues. The longer you are in business, the better your reputation of dependability will be. Never run away from a problem. In that way, you offer your customers security.
  4. Be proactive in your communications. Good contractors always communicate with the customer. They go above and beyond to provide all the information a consumer will need before it is asked of them. No one likes to track down a contractor over a situation that was never explained to them, especially if it is a fairly common situation.
  5. Don’t ignore your reputation. Every tip in this article helps you build a reputation, which is not something to be ignored. Always provide your customers with lists and examples of whom you have worked for in the past. Case studies and testimonials also help a great deal. Offer references that are verifiable. Allow new customers to talk to your older customers.
  6. Stand out from the crowd. Consumers are being taught to not “treat all possible solutions the same”. Other than price, make it known to your customers what other services you provide. This includes materials, safety, scheduling and much more. Remember, if you do quality work the first time around, expensive repairs will not be needed, thus degrading your reputation. Value comes from many different areas. Sell on value and not on price alone.

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Health & Safety Watch: OSHA Offers Tip of the Week

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Health & Safety Watch: OSHA Offers Tip of the Week

Posted on 24 September 2018 by cradmin

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has redesigned its homepage and added a new feature: the Tip of the Week. Beginning the week of September 24, every Monday, a new safety tip will be featured to help employers and workers alike.

The first Tip of the Week is to “find an authorized trainer and avoid fraud.”

If you, as an employer, ask or plan on asking employees to obtain an OSHA card from an Outreach Training Program 10-hour or 30-hour course, be aware that there has been an increase in fraudulent activity regarding these programs. Knowing the facts about Outreach Training can help you avoid this type of fraud.

Following are a few vital facts about obtaining an OSHA card:

  • Only authorized trainers are allowed to teach the 10-hour and 30-hour OSHA training courses.
  • A list of authorized trainers is available from OSHA, denoting which type of training the trainer is authorized to conduct.
  • Taking the course does not guarantee employment, and employers should be aware when such promises are made.
  • OSHA does not require these courses to be completed, but other courses for specific hazards may be required to meet OSHA standards.

For more information visit the OSHA Outreach Program website. To report fraudulent activity, contact the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General.

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Five Pitfalls that Derail Decision Making

Posted on 22 May 2013 by CRadmin2

By Michael Menard

Despite the wealth of information available to us, many of today’s best and brightest business leaders still make poor decisions. This is unfortunate because sound decision making is at the heart of every company’s success.

Even if you have the best education and years of experience, it’s still possible, and common, to make poor decisions. Why? Today’s decision makers are up against a long list of pitfalls and obstacles that prevent them from making sound choices. Fortunately, once you know what you’re up against, you can take the proper steps to correct it.

Here are the top five decision-making pitfalls that get in the way of organizational success:

1. “We need to change, only not today.” (Avoiding the decision)

Saint Augustine (b. 354 d. 430) prayed, “Lord, make me chaste, but not yet.” It’s one thing to know about change and imagine future benefits, but we often avoid deciding to take action right now because change means some level of immediate discomfort. Realize, though, that no business or individual grows without change and risk. However, risk aversion is basic human nature. The paradox is that we want something different without having to change. This is like teenagers who want their parents out of their lives but first want to be dropped off at the mall.

With the economic downturn, many companies have employed a bunker mentality. They’re staying put and not taking action. Instead of playing to win, they are playing not to lose. Without a realistic vision of what’s both possible and probable, organizations will continue to play it safe and delay making decisions. But this so-called safety is an illusion. Organizations must keep moving, employ their assets and create value. That value comes from the decisions they make and the projects they implement. Remember, any decision is a choice, including the decision to do nothing.

2. “It’s such a simple decision.” (Oversimplification of the challenge)

Telephone numbers are seven digits long because most of us can only keep this much information in our short-term memory. We naturally chunk information into intelligible bites. Likewise, difficult and complex situations can overwhelm us, so we unconsciously and erroneously make them simpler. However, this natural tendency to simplify information can hinder decision making.

Of course, let’s not confuse oversimplification with the highly valuable ability to reduce a problem to its essentials. After all, decision making needs to be both effective and efficient, but we must distinguish between these two words. We can be efficient without being effective by doing the wrong task well.

No matter how well-intentioned we are, under pressure, our desire for simple answers to complex questions increases dramatically. The red flags go up. When we imagine we don’t have time or resources to address a problem adequately, we start to look for a single explainable cause that fits into our existing framework. Paying too much attention to what we see directly in front of us is called the present bias. Oversimplification discounts contributing factors and exaggerates what already stands out for us. Oversimplify and we set ourselves up for poor decision making.

3. “Everything is great!” (Happy talk)

Project advocates would never get the ear of senior management without predicting optimistic outcomes. Politicians would never be elected if they didn’t promise a sunny future. Optimism is ingrained in American culture. Attempts to confront it with reality are consistently dismissed with the discussion-ending judgment of negativity.

Who wouldn’t rather think they are going to enjoy a positive future rather than pain, suffering and gnashing of teeth? However, because of unrealistic optimism, who hasn’t miscalculated how long it will take to get to a destination? Who hasn’t underestimated the real cost of time and effort to reach a particular goal? The optimism bias shows up every time a company has to restate its earnings. Project-cost overruns, delays and benefit shortfalls result from this combination of wishful thinking and the inability to recognize complexity.

Of course, optimism is not a bad thing. It can stem from genuine responsible confidence, and confidence may lead to bold, necessary and effective action, but optimism without a foundation sunk into the ground of reality is unstable and delusional. The optimism bias underestimates necessary contingent factors, as any insurance salesman would be happy to point out to you.

4. “I can’t wait that long.” (The time factor)

Given the choice, would you prefer to have $100 today or $300 tomorrow? Most of us can defer immediate gratification and wait an extra day for a significant monetary increase. However, studies show that if we have to wait one year for $300 or we can take $100 today, most of us demonstrate present bias and go for the $100 right now.

The perceived length of time to realize a benefit has a significant impact on our selection, so let’s change the time factor. Imagine you are given the choice between gaining $100 one year from today or $300 in one year and one day. Most people given such a choice can wait the extra day. Studies show that under similar conditions, as the time to realize the benefit is increased, the majority of us would reverse our decisions. Without short-term reinforcement of long-term goals, our objectives remain mirages and greatly affect our decision-making ability.

5. “According to my Magic 8-Ball…” (Magical thinking)

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” The evil queen in Snow White wanted to know about the future, and so do we. She had a magic mirror. We have educated guesses. While any prediction about the future or how a decision will turn out is a guess, educated guesses are more likely than magical thinking to deliver results we want. However, we should be aware of our tendencies to oversimplify, as we discussed, by focusing only on what we think is relevant.

Cognitive scientists call this bias anchoring. Once this anchor has securely fixed itself in a crevice in the seabed of your mind, it’s not easy to shift. Then you interpret information based on this what-you-think-is-relevant anchor. It gets worse. You ignore other possible relevant factors. Not only are you focusing on wrong information, but you’re ignoring information that could be vital to long-term success. Falling prey to magical thinking and not testing your assumptions can capsize the whole enterprise.

It’s Never Too Late

If you’ve ever realized that a decision you made was less than stellar, don’t feel bad. It happens to us all, but by understanding the top five things that get in the way of most decision makers, you can analyze your decision with a new perspective and make the best choice for you and your organization.

About the Author

Michael Menard is the author of A Fish in Your Ear: The New Discipline of Project Portfolio Management and cofounder and president of The GenSight Group, which provides enterprise portfolio-management solutions for strategic planning, project portfolio management and business performance optimization. To learn more about Mike Menard please visit www.afishinyourear.com.

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How to Be Memorable at Networking Events

Posted on 01 April 2013 by CRadmin2

By Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE

There is no point going anywhere if people don’t remember you were there. Networking is an important part of building your business and developing good social contacts. However, if you go to business events and no one remembers you afterward, what was the point in attending? Such contacts only work if you make yourself memorable. Happily, this doesn’t mean you have to be bizarrely dressed or loud and boisterous.

My professional life is spent helping other professionals speak more effectively to large and small groups. It never ceases to amaze me how many talented and well-educated people attend networking events yet overlook their big chance to be memorable by developing a mini-presentation for audiences of one to five. All speaking is public speaking. Outside the privacy of your own home, you are speaking in public no matter the size of your audience.

Here are some strategies that let you walk into a room with quiet self-assurance, confident that people will enjoy meeting you and will recall you afterwards:

1. Arrive looking your best. If you have a hectic day before going to a business meeting, keep a change of clothes in your office or car so that you can arrive unwrinkled.

2. Wear your name tag. We’re all more likely to retain information that we see and hear at the same time, so wear your name tag up on your right shoulder. That way, people can read it as they hear you say your name. Some women put their name tags down on their handbags or other people may put them in the most inappropriate places. Put it where people are not afraid to look!

3. Develop a memorable signature. Men can wear ties that people will comment on. An investment banker I know wears a money tie. At certain meetings, industry events and the National Speakers Association, I stand out because I wear distinctive hats. When people are asked, “Do you know Patricia Fripp?” the usual reply is, “Yes, she’s the one who always wears the amazing hats.”

4. Develop an unforgettable greeting. When you introduce yourself, don’t just say your name and job title. Instead, start by describing the benefits of what you do for clients. A financial planner says, “I help rich people sleep at night.” One of my responses is, “I make conventions and sales meetings more exciting.” Almost invariably, my new friend has to ask, “How do you do that?” Immediately, I get to market myself: “You know how companies have meetings that are supposed to be stimulating, but they’re often dull and boring? Well, I present practical ideas in an entertaining way, so people stay awake, have a good time and get the company’s message.” People remember the vivid pictures you create in their minds more than the words you say.

5. Greet everyone. Don’t ignore someone you recognize because you’ve forgotten his or her name. Smile and ask a provocative question like, “What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you since we last met?” or “What is your greatest recent success?” or “What are you most looking forward to?” And never be afraid to say, “The last time we met, we had such a great conversation. Will you remind me what your name is?” Bestselling author Susan RoAne tells people, “Forgive me for forgetting your name. Since I passed forty, it’s hard to remember my own.”

6. Overcome any shyness. Much of the value of networking events can be lost if you allow yourself to focus on being unassuming or fundamentally shy. For many people, mingling with a room full of strangers can be an unpleasant or even scary experience. Focus on the benefits of meeting exciting new contacts and learning new information instead of any butterflies in your stomach. Until you’ve gained confidence, a good way to do this is to offer to volunteer for a job that requires interacting with other attendees, such as volunteering to be a greeter. A greeter stands at the entrance with a labeled name tag denoting them as such. They have a specific job: “How do you do? I’m Chris Carter. Welcome to the Chamber mixer. Is this your first event? Please find your name tag; the food is in the next room, and our program will start in thirty minutes.” Soon you will start feeling like the host of the party. You’ve met many new people and will get cheery nods of recognition throughout the event, making it easy to stop and talk later.

7. Travel with your own PR agent. This is a powerful technique that maximizes your networking. Form a duo with a professional friend. When you arrive, alternately separate and come together, talking-up each other’s strengths and expertise.

Suppose you and Fred are secret partners. As Fred walks up, you say to the person you’ve been talking to, “Jack, I’d like you to meet our sales manager Fred. Fred has taught me nearly everything I know about sales and our product line. In the sixteen years at our company, there has never been a sales contest he has not won.” Then, Fred can say, “Well, Jane is being very generous. It’s true; I’ve been with our company for sixteen years, and Jane has been here for only six months and has brought in more new business in six months than any other person in the 53-year history of our firm.”

When you do this, you’re saying about each other exactly what you would love your prospects to know without modesty preventing you from telling them. Also, by saying something interesting, memorable or funny, you become objects of interest to your listeners. Imagine the next day when they go to work and talk about the networking event they attended. They will repeat your funny lines, making themselves an object of interest. Any time you can make someone feel good about themselves, they are very likely to remember you.

8. Always send a note or brochure the next day to the people you have met. Keep business cards, and make notes of what you said for when you meet them at another event.

These are all positive, pleasant, easy ways to be memorable. Get the most out of your networking time and energy by making yourself worth remembering!

 

About the Author

Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE, keynote speaker, executive speech coach and sales presentation skills expert, works with organizations and individuals who realize they gain a competitive edge through powerful, persuasive presentation skills. She builds leaders, transforms sales teams and delights audiences. Fripp is a past president of the National Speakers Association. To learn more about Patricia, contact her at http://www.Fripp.com or [email protected].

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Five Valuable Advertising Tips

Posted on 24 December 2012 by CRadmin2

Advertising is one of the most important aspects of a successful business. And if you are selling countertops directly to the public, you should consider how you are going to reach them. Of course, the advertising must be backed up with a quality product and friendly, reliable service, but if no one knows who you are or what you have to offer, then the rest does not matter very much. Advertising is a good way to make potential customers aware of you, and it can be used to alert your current customers about new services, new products or special deals.

It is not enough to just advertise. You must make sure to implement effective advertising strategies to get the most bang for your buck. Following are five tips for a successful advertising campaign:

  1. Understand Your Customers – Effective advertising relies on your ability to understand who your customers are and the niche you serve. Generic ad campaigns directed to the general public are often expensive and may not generate enough sales to make them worth the expense. When you know your customers, you can design ads around their tastes and drop the ads directly into their laps. If your customers are kitchen & bath retailers, obviously it wouldn’t do much good to have television or newspaper ads. Or if you are trying to reach any homeowner in a two-state area, direct mail might be a very costly premise when you could take out an ad in a newspaper or on a radio station.
  2. Establish Your Image – It is important to develop an image and present a style that resonates with your customers. Many businesses are instantly recognizable by their logo and the image they have created. You want to be one of these businesses. Other than your logo, simple details such as a font, a slogan or even a mascot can all help shape your company’s image.
  3. Don’t Be Stingy – Advertising costs money, and you should not be afraid to spend it to get expertly crafted ads into the hands of your most likely future clients. Businesses that skimp on their advertising budgets often do not realize why they are not bringing in any new customers. Likewise, don’t just spend money for the sake of spending it. You should also make sure you are utilizing less expensive means of reaching new customers, such as encouraging referrals and word-of-mouth business. Although word of mouth is a great marketing tool, it cannot be relied upon as a sole source of new business, especially if you need to increase your revenue quickly. Mass media and email marketing may be able to get the job done with a price tag that is justifiable by the returns it produces.
  4. Be Aware of the Competition – Your competitors are stealing your customers. If you do not get the word out more than them, provide superior service than them and fabricate better products than them, they are going to prosper while your business crumbles. Once you understand the competition, you can analyze which markets and which angles are under-marketed. Your competition can also provide you with good ideas for advertising that you can improve upon. Of course, outright copying may not get you any points, but don’t discard a good idea just because someone else also uses it. Just make it your own.
  5. Make Full Use of Available Resources – The burden of creating advertising materials and sending them out to the right groups of people is not one you must bear alone. No matter whether you are using traditional media, email marketing or online banner ads, experts are ready to work with you to develop catchy and informational content. Be prudent, but don’t put together a poor marketing campaign just because you can save a few bucks. In the long run, you will get poor results and the money you did spend will be money wasted.

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