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Getting Creative

26 Mar

Sometimes stuff just happens and you have to get creative.

Creative really means, anything but business as usual.  The situations we have come across made me wonder if we just invented stuff.  Sometimes I felt if these were patents, we would be rich.  It’s not that we don’t make customers happy; for we have many many surveys from extremely happy customers.  It’s not that we lacked experience; for we have some very experienced people.  Many of our customers are repeat customers.  Sometimes stuff just happens; now what?  What are you going to do now?

1) Keep cool – so you can stay focused on the solution

2) Know where your resources are – so you can assign assets and people to roles

3) If a customer is involved, make sure empathy and taking appropriate ownership is evident

4) Make sure you have systems in place – this means redundancy of 3-4 deep

5) Know when the stuff needs to be resolved – What’s your deadline?

6) Lastly, in reviewing the situation you may realize following your gut instincts can often prevent stuff from happening

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Insurance Issues

25 Mar

I have never been a fan of insurance.  Of course you can’t go without it, but it seems to operate using it’s own set of rules.

Make sure your agent is working for you.

Get competitive bids EVERY year.  You’ll need access to your loss history and your current agent is likely to drag their feet getting you a copy.  Insist on it.

One year, we learned within about 1 week of renewal they we weren’t going to be renewed.  Nothing we did, just our carrier’s priorities changed.  We suddenly went into scramble mode to get bids FAST to insure continued coverage.  Not to ever get caught empty handed, we committed to getting multiple bids every year.

How’s your deductible?  Our deductible is $5,000.  I recently learned this may not be for the best.  In general, I will deal with my issues without looking to insurance.  I have found where I had no control over the matter.

Once we had an apartment where we did a project several years back file with their insurance for some wind damage.  Ultimately, an expert came out and made a one line comment that my company had to have touched the soffits in order to tear or and re-side the apartments.  Their insurance company promptly wrote them a check and filed a claim against our insurance company reiterating the experts opinion.  Even the the crew, myself AND the apartment’s onsite maintenance manager ALL said the soffits were not touched.  The property manager even told the insurance company’s attorney that no, the soffits were not touched.  Their attorney then went to the counsel assigned by my insurance company and would go no lower than $3,000 to settle the matter.  Presumably to cover his own cost.  Our counsel was aware of all the details and even agreed with us, but in the end forced my hand to settle at $3,000.  The price of innocence.  I didn’t have to pay for our attorney, but I was forced to accept the settlement.  Later I learned that if my insurance deductible had been $0.00, my insurance company would have been more inclined to fight for the $3,000.  I learned this from a police officer of all people.

We had another incident where we were being drawn into a cosmetic claim.  The homeowner insisted that we were at 100% at fault for some odd caulking issues.  In our industry, subcontractors are common and had the owner not shared a friendship story about the painter, it might not have stuck out so much why the painter wasn’t being held as a contributor to the homeowners problem.  Somehow the painter was able to avoid implication altogether.  Even with my insistence that any solution would need the painter’s participation.  Ultimately, we had to sue the painter to force them to defend  their role and include them in the settlement process.  People aren’t as likely to sue people they have a positive emotional connection to.  Tough to beat a friendship.  Make sure all parties come to the table, you’ll increase the likelihood of a settlement and mitigate the size of your claim.  Be empathetic and responsive to your to your customers to avoid galvanizing them against you.

Business Issues & Circumstances

25 Mar

Some business issues you can predict.  Depending on your business, there may also be an infinite supply of issues that occur seemingly out of your control and were unpredictable.

I’ve certainly had my share.  Sometimes, in spite of our collective experience, things came up that never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined occurring.

Some areas I will be covering include:

1) Insurance issues

2) 401k issues

3) Employee issues

4) Customer issues

5) Vendor issues

6) Regulatory issues