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What to Know About SEO

Posted By Housecall Pro, Tuesday, August 8, 2017

How many times have you heard someone refer to SEO and wondered, “What on earth is that?” Everyone always emphasizes the importance of SEO, but what is it exactly and why should businesses be using it? 

We spoke with Organik SEO, a digital marketing agency located in San Diego, to learn all about SEO and how small businesses should be using it. When Organik SEO first started out, they focused exclusively on local SEO for service based businesses. Since then, they’ve expanded into other aspects of digital marketing and offer SEO, Google Advertising, social media marketing and more. 

Here’s what the team had to say on all things SEO:

What exactly is SEO?

SEO is the process of getting search engines to better understand and rank your website above your competition. SEO is really the foundation for any successful marketing campaign, since these days most of your customers are looking online to find a business. 

Why is it important?

It's important because in this digital day and age, your website is the best way to get in front of your potential customers when they are actively seeking out your service. As technology continues to advance, today’s customer adopts new behaviors faster than ever and you need to arm your business with tools to keep up. 

For your customer, making a purchase is no longer about picking up the yellow pages; it's about grabbing their phone, doing a quick search online and seeing which business comes up. Your customers are already looking for the services you offer, you just need to be able to show up at the right time.

Who should be using it?

If you own a business and have a website, you should be doing some level of SEO. You need online exposure to drive your business. Your website is your best sales tool and SEO is how you leverage it to its full potential.

What are some must do basic SEO tactics?

For a locally focused service based business, you need to start with a great website that is:

·         Mobile friendly 

·         Easy to navigate

·         Has strong “calls to action” 

·         Has easy methods to contact you via phone, intake form, email etc.

Additionally, the site should be built on a content management system (CMS) that makes it easy for you to update and add pages to your website so it can continue to evolve with your business. 

These elements will help ensure that qualified visitors will have a good user experience when they arrive at your website. Once that’s done, it's time to look at what we call “on-page” SEO elements. These are items that the search engines are looking at to try and decipher:

1.    Who you are 

2.    What you do 

3.    Your unique differentiators

4.    Your primary service offerings

5.    The geographic locations where you offer your services

Elements such as meta descriptions, title tags, image names, and headings are important indications to a search engine to determine your relevancy, yet are often overlooked. 

Once you’ve established proper on-page SEO you want to begin developing a stronger local SEO presence. The first step is to claim, verify and optimize your Google My Business page with the proper name, address phone number, URL, service offerings, images, etc. The next step is to work to establish listings and citations of your business on other directory websites such as Citysearch, Yelp, Kudzu, Yellow Pages, etc. Taking the time to properly build these out with robust information will help the search engines recognize that you are an established business within a local market. 

Do you have any overarching do's and dont's for small businesses that are just getting started?

DO: Earmark an annual budget and plan for digital marketing and SEO between $25-$100K - Think long-term, thrive long-term!

DON’T: Build a website on a content management system that you don’t own (i.e. Wix, GoDaddy, or Website Tonight)  and avoid budget hosting providers (that can result in website downtime, hacking vulnerabilities, backup issues, site speed issues etc).

DON'T: Work with a marketing company who seems to overpromise with lofty goals and KPI’s, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is (there is definitely no such thing as guaranteed organic rankings and they can not get you ranked #1 on Google tomorrow!). Be sure to hire someone that is transparent and wanting to educate you as to their process so you’re not just throwing money at something without understanding what you’re paying for. 

DO: Find a marketing company that will act as an extension of your business or bring someone in-house.

DO: Perform an SEO audit of your current site. Maintaining a website and your authority with search engines like Google is similar to maintaining a car, you have to perform routine diagnostics.

If you can share anything specific to plumbing or service professionals who you've seen or helped benefit from SEO, we would love to hear examples of it helping grow their business.

Our plumbing and service based clients have benefited most from online review strategies within their SEO campaigns. This helps in two ways:

1.    When you have a lot of online review you give your local rankings a boost within the Google search engine. 

2.    Consistent online reviews lead to more business for you with trusting customers

When it comes to local service industries, we’ve found that many users will research the credibility of the company their looking to work with. Online reviews help you go beyond online web pages and offer a stamp of approval from many other individuals in a given market. 

Our clients that have seen the most success from online reviews have made a point to use the review strategy across the business. We’ll consistently work with those clients on email templates, responses, and exploring all of the platforms available to get online reviews. 

Having an SEO strategy is a key factor to boosting your exposure and driving more business. Now that you know what SEO is and why you should use it, you can begin doing some of the new tactics we learned from OrganikSEO to grow your business. 

If you're interested in learning more, visit Housecall Pro at housecallpro.com.

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Cybersecurity and Small Business

Posted By Federated Insurance, Wednesday, July 19, 2017

It’s nearly impossible these days for businesses to operate without the help of Internet-connected devices, which exposes them to cybercrime. It’s the small- to medium-sized businesses, however, that are especially vulnerable: half are victims of cybercrime and nearly two-thirds of those victims go out of business.1 Hackers increasingly target small businesses because there is a low risk they will be caught and a high probability they will be successful. 

Maintaining personally identifying information (PII) on a computer connected to the Internet creates a nearly unavoidable risk. More than likely, names, addresses, and employees’ employment information are stored. If PII is acquired by someone without the authority to do so, in most states that is a security breach (data breach).

Banking, credit, and vendor account information is also vulnerable. Even if that valuable information is not stored on an Internet-connected computer, employees who have access to it can be duped into handing it over to criminal actors.

Best Practices and Security Tips

Tip 1: Train Employees in Information Technology Security. Training should be offered especially to those who are responsible for accounts payable, human resources records, and wire transfers. Training for all employees should be reinforced periodically.

Employees should be instructed to refrain from clicking links or attachments in e-mails, and not to pay an invoice until it’s confirmed that the sender actually sent it. Even if the e-mail appears to be from a trusted source, employees should learn to always copy and paste links or type URLs into a browser to see if the address is valid.

Tip 2: Funds Transfers. Put a policy in place to have an in-person or telephone conversation to confirm e-mail requests for funds or personal information. It can greatly reduce the likelihood of fraudulent transfers or information sharing.

Tip 3: E-mail Authentication. Phishing can be substantially reduced by verifying that the e-mail originated from the domain it is associated with. If your domain is hosted, it’s worth taking some time to look at how your e-mail is set up to ensure proper authentication schemes are used.

Tip 4: Change default passwords on your router and other Internet-connected devices.

Tip 5: Use a trusted VPN service when using WiFi.

Tip 6: Back up your data regularly both to the Cloud and to a removable device.

Tip 7: Update firmware and software regularly.

Security professionals used to strive for perfect security, but today they accept that goal is unachievable. Instead, they strive for optimal security by combining best practices with a risk management program that considers purchasing data compromise and cyber coverage through a knowledgeable insurance provider.

Cyber ShieldSM from Federated Insurance is a two-part coverage program designed to help provide essential protection against many of the critical cyber and privacy exposures businesses face. Data Compromise Coverage and Cyber Coverage can help your company recover from intentional or accidental breaches. Visit federatedinsurance.com for more information or to find your local Federated representative.

 

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Family Succession Planning with Trusts

Posted By Federated Insurance, Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The goal of most parents is to see that their children and grandchildren succeed. As long as the parents are alive, they can help their children as needed. But, what if the parents die? Family succession planning involves helping the next generation succeed by properly protecting their assets and incenting the type of behavior parents find appropriate. This can effectively be done using one or more forms of trusts.

Minor children – It is generally not advised to give an inheritance to an 18-year-old, but this could happen without proper planning. If a child is under 18 when the parent dies, the court will impose a guardianship. Generally, the inherited assets must be turned over to the child when he or she reaches legal age. Having a trust can prevent this. Think of the trust as doing what you would have done if you were still alive. It is unlikely you would have made a large gift to the child on his/her 18th birthday. Rather, you would make sure the child’s needs are met, college and perhaps a wedding is paid for, or you may want to help pay for a first house or to start a business, etc. The trust can be designed to do just that. Additionally, it can be designed to make lump sum distributions at certain ages. All things you would likely have done if you were still alive.

Special needs children –People who have children with special needs (physical, mental, emotional) can make sure the child’s needs are met after both parents are gone. Many of these individuals are eligible for public assistance of some type; however, if they inherit outright from their parents, they may become ineligible for the assistance until the inheritance is spent. Parents of special needs children should consider setting up a trust that will supplement the child’s needs without disqualifying him/her from assistance.

Children with chemical, gambling, creditor, motivation problems – For children with issues that a sudden influx of money could exacerbate, parents should consider putting the child’s inheritance into a trust for protection from themselves and from creditors and predators. The trustee could have the discretion to make partial distributions when certain milestones are met (e.g., chemical-free for a certain time period, credit under control) or for accomplishing certain goals (e.g., college graduation, dollar for dollar match of legally earned income, etc.).

Children’s spouses – Sometimes, parents are more concerned about their children’s spouses than they are the children themselves. If marriage stability, debt issues, etc. is a concern, the parent should consider putting that child’s inheritance into a trust that provides lifetime income to the child, but with an ultimate distribution to the grandchildren (bloodline trust).

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Pay new hires for onboarding prior to start date?

Posted By Federated Insurance, Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Question:

We will soon be implementing pre-employment online onboarding. As such, individuals who have accepted an offer for employment but are not yet employed will complete pre-employment paperwork including I-9, W-4, etc. on a one-time basis. They will also familiarize themselves with a few select policies. The paperwork is not burdensome. They can complete the paperwork on their own time at home and at any time prior to their first day. The paperwork is not part of the worker's assigned job duties.  Do the soon-to-be employees need to be compensated for the time it takes for them to complete the paperwork?

Response:

Yes. Generally, any time an individual spends under the direction and control of the employer is compensable, and this also would include time spent completing new-hire paperwork, training, testing and/or being oriented to a new job, even if this occurs prior to commencing duties. The best practice is to have employees report for work on the first day and go through the regular orientation and paperwork process, training, etc., thus making the "hire" and "start" or "onboarding" date the same day. In sum, the employer must ensure that new hires are properly paid for all time spent "working," even if this is only to fill out new hire paperwork and undergo training or orientation before commencing actual work and even if such tasks are completed from home.

Want to learn more about how to handle issues like this?  Click Here to listen to our podcast about pre-start onboarding.
 

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Paper or Plastic? Accepting credit cards in your contracting business

Posted By Estimate Rocket, Monday, July 17, 2017

Paying with credit cards is the norm for many people nowadays, but contracting business owners tend to steer clear of accepting them. This may seem like a safe choice, since there are fees associated with accepting card payments, but not accepting credit and debit cards may actually be costing you business.

Accommodating your customer’s payment options removes objections.

In the past, we've talked about selling, and giving your customer everything they need to make a decision. Method of payment is another decision they have to make, and by accepting credit and debit cards, you’re making it as easy as possible for your customer to take the action you want them to take - in this case, paying you!

Paying with a card is “friction-less” spending.

It’s often easier for people to spend more money when paying with a card because they don’t feel the same effects of paying a large amount with a card as with cash or check. Someone may spend more with their credit card because of the benefits offered, like cash back, points, or rewards for certain types of transactions. If there are additional benefits to using their card, it’s likely they’ll think less about bigger purchases.

So, how do you account for the fees?

Even though accepting credit cards has clear benefits for both you and your customers, you may be hesitant to start. The cost of fees may seem too high and, in some states, it’s illegal to charge a credit card transaction fee, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid accepting cards altogether. By building fees into your original pricing and overhead costs, you can easily cover those fees. Let’s say you currently charge $40 per hour for your labor. If you increased that labor charge by just $1.50 to $41.50, the cost of a 3% credit card acceptance fee would be completely covered. Not all of your customers will want to pay with a card, though, so what happens then? An easy solution is offering a 3% (or the percentage of fees you’re paying) discount for customers paying by check or cash.

Getting Started is Easy!

There are a variety of options out there for accepting credit and debit card payments. The key is figuring out which one works best for you. Recently, we rolled out credit card processing in Estimate Rocket using Stripe, so you can easily accept payments online and have all of your invoice and payment info in one place! If you’re already using Estimate Rocket, check out this guide and this video about getting set up. If you’re not using Estimate Rocket yet, start your free 30-day trial here! Do you already accept credit and debit cards for your business? Let us know about it in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!

Kayla Suhm Logical Engine
Estimate Rocket

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The Secret to Success: Customer Service

Posted By Housecall Pro, Thursday, July 6, 2017

What do you think the most important factor is for your business’ success? Some might say it’s having good supplies. Others might say it’s the people you hire that make your business successful. While those are very important contributing factors, we believe that the most influential key to consistent and long-term growth is your customer service. But what does great customer service look like? Maintaining a healthy relationship with your customers is a lot more than just greeting them with a smile and providing them with quality service. In order to improve your customer retention and boost repeat business, you need to form a relationship with your customers, letting them know you value their business while leaving a lasting impression. We know how stressful it can be to manage your business and keep up with all of your customer relationships, especially as your company expands. With everything being automated and on-demand, it has become more and more difficult to keep up with customer expectations and show them that you appreciate them. Luckily, we have help from field management software to help boost the quality of your customer service and keep your customers coming back for more. We’ve narrowed down the three most impactful ways you can improve your customer service:

Communication is Key

How many times have you had to fix issues with customers that are upset because of a miscommunication? Sometimes communicating with your customers and employees can be difficult. Wires get crossed, information gets lost in transition, and misunderstandings happen all the time. It can be difficult to maintain communication with customers and employees, especially with multiple appointments scheduled in a day lasting anywhere from 40 minutes to 4 hours. These communication issues are far too common and leave a negative effect on how your customer views you and your business.

The best way to solve your communication issues is to create an open line between you and your customer. One way to do this is to send your customer notifications and updates from start to finish. This line of communication begins by confirming that the job has been scheduled. Once you’ve ensured that you’re both on the same page, your next step will be to send them a message to let them know you are on your way. This will show your customer that you value their time just as much as you value your own. If it’s a long job, it’s important to keep them updated on the progress. You should let them know about any updates or setbacks and notify them when the job has been completed.

Once the job is finished and you’ve received their payment, you’ll want to make sure they receive their invoices and are notified that the payment has been processed. Being able to do all of this from a field service management software will save you both time and money, while also creating a record of your interactions for reference later. You’ll find that by having a record of your communication with your customer helps to prevent possible miscommunications in the future.

Make it Convenient

In a world of smartphones, your customers are used to a high-tech lifestyle, where almost everything they want is available right at their fingertips. This makes having access to online and mobile payments, invoicing, and booking a necessary convenience to keep up client retention.

As a customer, you can pay for almost anything online or with a phone. Your customers practically expect to be able to pay on the spot with their receipt delivered straight to their email. Now, with field service management software, you’re able to do just that. Having the ability to send your customers their estimate or invoice and processing their payment while you’re on the job adds the value of convenience to your transactions while giving you peace of mind knowing that your payment is being collected on the spot.

Similarly, this same convenience can be found through scheduling your appointments. Many of your customers are constantly on the go, making it difficult to find the time to call your office to book an appointment. By giving your customers the option to book online, you’re giving them the freedom to schedule their appointment on their own time exactly the way they want to.

The convenience of booking through your website, Yelp page, Facebook or a third-party app, also saves you time and increases business. Customers that find you online can schedule a job with you right away, automatically appearing on your calendar and reducing the risk of being forgotten, double booked or lost in translation

Keep it personal

While technology is great for making sure your customer remains satisfied, a big fear amongst business owners is the risk of losing the personal connection you have with each other. However, with many field service management apps you can not only maintain that personal relationship, but you can also expand it.

You’ll notice that as your business grows, so does your customer base. Sometimes keeping track of each of your customers and maintaining a relationship with each one can be a job in itself. It can be easy to lose track of who they are and all of their personal details, but with features like customer notes and tags, you can keep all of those personal details organized and easy to access within your app.

Another feature that helps grow the relationship with your customer is direct and digital marketing. By sending them automatic reminders when it’s time for another service, or extending a special offer to your most loyal customers, you can drive more business for your company while also letting them know you care about them.

Field service management software doesn’t just help you run your business more efficiently, it also helps you drive repeat business and maintain long-lasting relationships with your customers, ultimately saving you time and money. With enhanced customer communication, booking and billing convenience, plus consistent marketing, you will be able to offer your customers something that your competitors don’t while staying top of mind for existing customers. Additionally, it reduces your chances of having an unhappy customer, eliminates unnecessary work, reduces your hourly costs, and prevents any miscommunications.

There are so many resources available, that are built to help manage your business. We recommend that you research your options and choose the solution that works the best for you. In order to make sure that the software you choose is the right one for your business, see if it provides all of the key features that are essential for enhancing your customer service. 

If you’re looking to boost your customer service and want to learn more about how you could benefit from a field service management software, visit Housecall Pro at housecallpro.com.

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Selling doesn’t have to be a bad word

Posted By Estimate Rocket, Monday, July 3, 2017

Most of us cringe when we get a sales call or anticipate our next trip to the car dealership. The words “selling” and “sales” are often associated with stress, high pressure, and spending a lot of money, but it doesn’t have to be that way!

 

A sale can and should be educational, build a relationship, and be worthwhile for both you and your customer.

 

Not everyone is a natural born salesperson, but if you run a business, it’s a skill you need to have. If you weren’t born with that talent, here are some tips to help you make your next sale:

Know your product

 

We’ve all heard that “knowledge is power”, so the first step to being able to sell your product is to know it inside and out. Being knowledgeable about your services has multiple benefits, including giving you the confidence to talk about what you’re offering, presenting the benefits in a way your customer can relate to, and being able to offer advice when necessary.

Practice

Ever notice that the 3rd pitch you make is more likely to close than the 1st pitch you make? You’ll never improve any skill without practice. Try "selling" your service to someone you know first, like a family member or friend who isn't familiar with the ins and outs of your industry. Chances are, they'll ask some questions you may not have anticipated. This exercise will prepare you for similar questions in the future, and help you keep your mind open when a potential customer asks a question or has a concern you may not expect.

 

Educate and build trust

Build trust by listening to your customer's needs and wants. We’re so used to being "sold to" in the negative sense, that when you actually take the time to figure out what your customer is looking for, rather than just pushing the highest priced service, they'll be impressed.

 

Once you’re familiar with what your potential customer needs and wants, educate them by giving them everything necessary to make an informed decision, not just the advantages.

 

Don’t use scare tactics to convince them to buy. The goal is to inform customers and guide them to make a good choice. This isn’t to say you should avoid sharing your opinions, but don't try to intimidate them into buying. In this article by the Harvard Business Review, Scott Edinger, author of The Hidden Leader, says that your goal should be “to work in collaboration” with your customer.

 

If your client can tell that you're looking out for their best interest, it goes a long way in building trust. They'll come to know you as an expert in your field, view you as a trusted advisor, and return to you with questions, their business, and hopefully referrals.

 

Sell to existing and past customers

How often do you give a company repeat business because you already know and trust them or because it's easier than doing the research to find someone new?

 

It’s much easier (and less expensive) to make a sale to an existing customer than to gain a new one [source]. So, rather than spending all of your time and money trying to acquire new business, take a look at your existing client list too!

 

Use technology to your advantage with strategic email campaigns and reminders. Keeping the line of communication between you and your customers open is a key part of getting repeat business. You'll stay top of mind and be the first one they contact when they need more help.

 

As we mentioned before, a sale can and should be worthwhile for everyone involved. Keep these tips in mind next time you’re facing a potential sale and you’ll have a loyal customer in no time!

 

Are there any other sales tips or tricks you use? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!

 

 

Kayla Suhm

Logical Engine, Estimate Rocket

June 15, 2017

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HR Question of the Month

Posted By Federated Insurance, Monday, June 12, 2017

Position Changed. What do we do with the Employee?

Question: We hired an employee last year. The company was looking for someone with a certain background. However, since then, our company has changed directions and will no longer require someone of this caliber. We will be keeping the position but changing the rate and experience to less than what the current employee is at. Can we terminate for these reasons? If not is there another way that we can handle this?

Response: The employer is well within its rights to restructure any one or more positions within the organization to better meet the needs of the company. You indicate that although the employer hired an employee last year with a certain background, since then the company has changed directions and will no longer require someone of that caliber. Essentially, you advise that the employer is looking to lower the requirements of the position, and with it, the rate of pay. There is no law that prohibits the employer from proceeding with this course of action if there are legitimate business justifications for its decision. If the incumbent is employed at will, there is no law that requires the employer to retain him or her if the position has been downgraded and the employee is now over-qualified (and overpaid) for the newly-revised role. To this end, absent a contract that governs otherwise and assuming no policy or past practice is to the contrary, the employer can seek to terminate the employment relationship on these grounds and then seek to hire someone with lower qualifications, to be paid less.

That said, to minimize adverse employee relations issues and/or a potential claim, the employer may want to consider giving the employee the right of first refusal; presumably he or she is still qualified for the new role (if, perhaps, over-qualified). If so, we recommend explaining to the employee the reason for the employer's decision to downgrade the position and describe the employer's vision for the new role and new direction, along with its new and lower rate of pay. If the employee is amenable to the arrangement, the employer should be clear what is expected of him or her in the new role, and what the rate of pay will be. If he or she is not (or if there is a legitimate business reason why the employer is not amenable to offering the incumbent the opportunity to remain employed, albeit at a lower rate of pay), the employer should candidly let the employee know that it will terminate the employment relationship. The employer can then seek to recruit a candidate who better meets the new criteria for the revised position.

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Head in the Cloud

Posted By Estimate Rocket, Monday, April 17, 2017

Talk of “the cloud” is everywhere nowadays, but what is it, why is it important, and how can you benefit from it?

 

At its most basic level, cloud computing is storing your data on the internet, rather than locally on your computer or hard drive.

 

You may already be using the cloud without realizing it, by using a service like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, or Apple iCloud to store photos, files, documents, and music.

 

There’s a high chance that all of your emails are also already in the cloud. Many of the most popular email servers are cloud-based, including Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook, just to name a few. In fact, unless you have an email server in your office, your email is probably in the cloud.

 

“When you update your Facebook status, you’re using cloud computing. Checking your bank balance on your phone? You’re in the cloud again. Chances are you rely on cloud computing to solve the challenges faced by small businesses, whether you’re firing off emails on the move or using a bunch of apps to help you manage your workload.” - Salesforce

 

Here are some advantages of using cloud computing over storing all your information locally.

Lower cost

If you save all your data locally on your own hard drive, there’s the initial purchase costs and maintenance costs, plus the cost of hiring an IT person when something goes wrong. When your data is stored in the cloud, none of those costs exist. That’s not to say that storing your data in the cloud is always free, but Google Drive, for example, offers 15GB of storage space at no cost, and you can upgrade to 1TB of space for just $10 per month.

Flexible storage space

When you store your data locally, you need to be aware of the amount of storage space you have so you don’t try to store more data than you have room for. If you don’t have enough or have too much space to begin with, it can be difficult and expensive to scale up or down depending on the amount you need. As mentioned above, storing your data in the cloud makes it easy to upgrade to more storage space if you need it, and remove some if you don’t.

Accessibility

Because it’s stored on the cloud and not on your local hardware or a filing cabinet, you can access your information from your phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. It’s easy to stay organized and get your data when you need to, from whatever device you have available. You aren’t tethered to your home network or out of luck because you forgot those paper documents at home or at the office.

Security and Disaster Recovery

Storing data in the cloud may seem less secure than using your own server, but cloud services stay up to date with the latest and most reliable hardware, to make sure your information is safe. It’s easily accessible to you, and many services, like Google, use encryption to make sure your data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. You also don’t run the risk of losing your information because of physical disasters, like a flood or theft, that you may face if you stored your information in paper form or locally on a personal hard drive.

Less work for you

If you stored your own data, you’d want to make sure that all components of your computer (hardware and software) were up to date. You’d want to have back ups in case of emergencies. You’d need to know what to do if something went wrong. Cloud service platforms, like Amazon Web Services, are constantly maintaining and updating their hardware and servers so you don’t have to.

Environmentally friendly

Larger data centers often have the ability to focus more on sustainability and the resources available to use energy-saving equipment, which would be difficult to do in a home or small office environment. Many cloud services like Microsoft work hard to provide cloud storage, while also reducing carbon emissions and conserving energy.

 

As with most things, there are some risks related to storing your data in the cloud, however, the advantages far outweigh the time, money, and energy you’d spend setting up and maintaining your own “personal cloud” or keeping hard copies of all your information.

 

What cloud services do you use? Let us know in the comments, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!

 

Kayla Suhm
Logical Engine, Estimate Rocket
April 12, 2017

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Green Products Your Customers Want

Posted By Estimate Rocket, Friday, March 24, 2017

We’ve talked in the past about going paperless, but that’s not the only way your contracting business can be eco-friendly.

Offering your customers more sustainable, energy-efficient products and services is another easy way to go green.

Many products, like water saving faucets and motion sensor lighting, help reduce water, electricity, and maintenance costs for home and business owners. Reducing the amount of chemicals by using eco-friendly materials also lowers the amount of indoor pollution, which means healthier living.

You may associate the costs of building or remodeling with green materials to be high, and until recently they were. Thankfully, recent interest in homeowners and businesses becoming more eco-friendly has made prices for these materials more reasonable and comparable to traditional materials.

Also, according to the US. Green Building Council, "73% of single-family builders and 68% of multifamily builders say consumers will pay more for green homes." and a Harris Interactive poll of over 2,000 Americans "found that nearly half (49%) consider eco-friendly features more important than luxury items in a home (31%)"

So, why choose between making a profit and protecting the environment? You can do both.

Here are just a few examples of sustainable products and services you can offer that show you care about both the environment and your customer’s well-being.

Zero VOC paint

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals emitted from many household products and building materials. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects, according to the EPA. Benjamin Moore Natura, Sherwin Williams’ ProMar 200 Zero VOC Interior Latex, and Behr Premium Plus are just a few Zero VOC paint options. If you’re already using low VOC paints, don’t forget to let your customers know.

Cool roofing

Cool roofs are designed to reflect more sunlight than a typical roof, keeping the building cooler, and saving money by using less electricity to cool with air conditioning. Even if a roof isn’t designed that way initially, you can offer customers the option to make their roofs cooler. This article from energy.gov lists different types of roofs and ways they can be made cool.

Soy foam insulation

Warm and cool air can leak into and out of a poorly insulated building, costing a substantial amount of energy and money on heating and cooling. Spray foam insulation fills in gaps, reducing leakage and saving money. Soy foam insulation partially replaces the petroleum ingredients in traditional spray foam with soybean oil and in many cases is sprayed on using water. It also has many of the benefits of spray foam, including mold resistance, and lowering heating and cooling costs, but doesn’t contain formaldehyde or other dangerous chemicals.

Water-efficient fixtures

According to the USGS, the average person uses 80-100 gallons of water per day. Between taking showers or baths, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and flushing the toilet, there’s a lot of water that can be saved. That’s where water-efficient fixtures, like those with the WaterSense label, come in. Fixtures like sink faucets, shower heads, and toilets that have this label help reduce water usage, saving time, energy, and money.

Energy-efficient windows

If you’ve ever seen the heating bill for a drafty house after a cold, windy winter, you know that windows can have a drastic impact on a home’s energy efficiency and electricity costs. Energy-efficient windows can pay for themselves by reducing heating, cooling, and lighting costs. NFRC Energy Performance labels on windows and doors help determine their efficiency. You’ll generally want to see a low number for U-Factor, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, and Air Leakage, and a higher number for Visible Transmittance.

LED lighting

Older incandescent light bulbs don’t just light your home, they give off a substantial amount of heat as well, boosting your electricity bill with no benefit to you. LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and other energy-efficient lighting emit very little heat in comparison, reducing your electricity bill, but also decreasing the chance of home fires. Energy Star rated LEDs also use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting, according to energy.gov.

Sustainable flooring materials

Contrary to popular belief, you can still get beautiful hardwood flooring and remain eco-friendly. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) promotes responsible forest management, growth, and harvest for the long-term health of the forest without the use of harmful chemicals. Companies like EcoTimber provide FSC certified wood flooring, but also offer other sustainable flooring materials including bamboo and cork.

This is only a fraction of the products you can offer to make customer’s homes and businesses more eco-friendly. What other sustainable products and services do you use?

Let us know in the comments, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Kayla Suhm
Logical Engine, Estimate Rocket
March 15, 2017

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