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The Importance of Communication in Autonomous Roles

By | Contractors, Public Adjusters | No Comments

Contractors and public adjusters do a lot of work on their own. Whether it is scoping houses, supervising projects, or cranking out paperwork, it isn’t uncommon that they do all of it with little to no guidance or input from others. Autonomy is what helps many of these businesses run successfully; when the employees know what needs to be done, and get it done without needing to be told, it makes the whole company more productive and profitable.

However, just because someone can do something without input from others, doesn’t always mean they should. Communication is essential in the workplace, even when it isn’t necessarily needed. In autonomous roles, such as public adjusting or project management, communication can improve both individual and company performance in a lot of ways. Below we talk about some of the most important reasons to keep the lines of communication open at your company.

Keeps Everyone Connected

While it seems like an obvious point, communication keeps everyone connected. That may seem like a “well-duh” kind of statement, but in autonomous roles, people tend to only communicate with the other people that they need to get their projects done instead of communicating with everyone. When people take the time to communicate with all their coworkers, it fosters the culture of the company, which can sometimes get lost when there are lots of singular roles in a business. Even just asking about someone’s day in passing in the parking lot counts as communication that can help build a culture. When employees like the culture they work in and feel comfortable with their coworkers, they are more likely to stay at that job and enjoy doing their work.

Decreases Problems And Confusion

From scheduling crews, to ordering materials, to keeping property owners properly informed there is a mass amount of information and tasks that keep every project moving forward. For the most part, each person is focused on their projects and the tasks that they need to accomplish, which works, it’s how the work gets done. But when everyone is focusing only on their projects, things can get lost. If project managers aren’t communicating crews might get doubled booked, materials might get dropped and there’s no one there to unload it. If salesmen aren’t communicating they may knock too many of the same doors, call the same property managers, and make no progress. But if everyone communicates on at least a base level, it can eliminate a lot of that confusion. Talking with other project managers and planning schedules together can make sure there are always crews available. Coordinating with the other salesmen on the best way to attack a neighborhood can mean you’ll get more jobs, and not bother people by knocking on their door twice. Keeping yourself up-to-date with what is happening with other projects and other employees can solve problems before they start, and keep the company running flawlessly.

Improves Customer Service

Similar to communicating to avoid confusion, communicating with other coworkers can help improve company customer service as whole. If a project manager is on vacation, and the insurance company calls, someone else can help them if they have been talking with their coworkers and keeping tabs on their projects. If more people know what is happening with certain projects, anyone can help when problems arise. The more people that can help with problems, the better your customer service will be, which is likely to lead to referrals and good reviews from happy clients.

Fuels Accountability

Autonomy is awesome because it means making your own schedule and having more control over how you do your work. But it can also be easy to get behind, put things off, and let things slip through the cracks when you are the only one responsible for you. Communicating with coworkers and managers frequently fuels accountability; if you know someone is going to be checking-up, you want to have everything done. Whether it is asking about scheduling, following-up on a question, or passing on paperwork, if someone else is going to be asking you about your projects, you want to be prepared to answer them. Communicating doesn’t mean tracking schedules and taking away autonomy, but is a way to make sure that the people working alone are still doing all the work that they need to do.

Best Practices For Training New Hires

By | Contractors | No Comments

Having a good system for training new employees is essential to keeping them at a company. Training new hires helps them embrace the culture, methods, and goals of the company so that they can be highly effective in their new role. A lot of companies, especially in the construction sector, train quickly; with the goal being for the new employee to be on their own as soon as possible, but taking the time to slow down and train them properly will be more effective for both you and the new employee in the end. Below we will dive into a few tried and true best practices for training new hires that, if used, will help your company and your new employees thrive.

Have A System

One of the biggest ways to make your training effective is to have a system; take the time to sit down with relevant parties to new hires and let everyone give their input on what needs to be taught for each department. This information can then be compiled and organized into a system for training new hires that will allow them to gain the most training and knowledge necessary to do their job well. Having a system means that each and every new employee gets all the information that they need without it being extra work for current employees; the system sets everyone up for success by ensuring all relevant information is given to new hires as soon as they start.  Using a set system also makes it easier for you to identify gaps in training, and allows you see where changes can be made to make new and current employees more effective at their jobs.

Use The Right People

Some people are good teachers, and some people just aren’t. Even people who are really good at their jobs aren’t always awesome at explaining it to others. When you are deciding who will be training new hires, you want to pick the people who are good teachers and who don’t mind taking the time to show someone how everything works. You want to use the people who can thoroughly explain and outline how task works, but also someone who makes the trainee feel welcome and understands that there will be a learning curve. Questions are essential in the learning process, so having people who can and are willing to answer questions is important because it will help the new hire learn faster and ensure that they are fully understanding all the tasks required of them in their new position.

Three Tips For Handling Stress At The Busiest Times Of The Year

By | Health and Wellness | No Comments

Depending on the region you live in work can ebb and flow based on the weather. For the most part, summer and fall are the busiest times of year for most contractors and public adjusters because the weather is best for building, and storms are usually the most damaging. That also means that you are your busiest during those times as well, and things can get crazy in a hurry.

Regardless of when your company is at its busiest, it can get difficult to get everything accomplished and not feel like your hair is on fire 99% of the time. Handling stress when almost everything you’re working on needed to be done yesterday, and you have more and more tasks coming in daily can be difficult, which is why we compiled our top three tips for handling stress at the busiest times of the year.

Take Little Breaks)

When you are really stressed taking a break can seem like a waste of time that is only going to make your day harder, but more often than not, taking even a small break can make your day a lot easier. Giving yourself even five minutes to step away from work and clear your head will help you to re-focus and feel more capable when you sit back down at your desk or head to your next inspection.

Some of the ways that our employees take little breaks are:

  • Going to fill-up their water bottle and taking a lap around the office
  • Focused deep breathing your car
  • Having a snack or actively taking a quick lunch break
  • Stepping out to get a coffee or tea

Most of these things take only a few minutes but they give you a chance to step away from work a few times each day, and remind yourself that you will be able to get everything done.

Find Time For You)

For a lot people, work isn’t the only thing that demands your attention. Family, friends, and other plans are there as well, pulling you in different directions and adding to your workload. When work gets stressful, it can make your other obligations seem more stressful as well (and make it easier to take your stress out on them). One good way to combat all that stress, is to find time for you when things get crazy.

While it might seem like that means doing more things, taking even 10 or 15 minutes for yourself can be a game changer. Some of the things Scoperite employees like to do for themselves are:

  • Get up early to have time drink your coffee by yourself
  • Stay up a little later than your family to read, watch TV, etc.
  • Meditate or deep breathe using a guided app
  • Pick a household chore that you don’t mind doing to do by yourself and focus only on that

You know what works best for you, what puts you in the best mood, so find the time to do it every day. You will thank yourself later.

Don’t Over-Plan)

When there is a lot to do, it is easy to over-plan your days and over-estimate your ability to get things done. During busy times of the year, new tasks pop-up and demand your time every single day, despite the tasks you already had planned for the day.

For every day, plan out the few things that absolutely have to get done; whether it is appointments with homeowners, sending out invoices, or getting an estimate written, plan what has to be done that day and nothing else. That way if other things come up you still have time for them, and if nothing else happens, you can add a few more things to your list and knock those out early. When things get crazy, it is easier to go with the flow rather than feel overwhelmed with each new task that gets added to your to-do list.

Best Practices For Upselling

By | Contractors | No Comments

When it comes to construction, one of the best ways to increase profits is to upsell customers. Whether it is for better products, better warranties, or just more peace of mind for them, it is good for you when your employees can get customers to make improvements and upgrades beyond the original scope of work.

Upselling, however, isn’t always easy. Whether your salesmen are new and timid or homeowners are a tough sell, it can take a lot of convincing to get a commitment to a better product, service, warranty, etc. There are a few things that you, as a leader in your company, can do to make your team more effective in their upselling efforts.

Take The Time To Train)

Some guys are just good at selling, and upselling, they can get contracts signed and warranty upgrades agreed to without hardly any work at all on their end, but some guys just aren’t; they struggle to create a good relationship with the homeowner and to get contracts signed, much less get product upgrades in the mix.

Taking the time to train all your guys on good tactics for upselling can hugely benefit your company. Helping them to have rebuttals for denials, tools to explain the value added, and tactics to open the upgrading conversation will make them more effective at upselling, but also at selling in general. Have them practice on each other, role play the scenario so that they can get used to fending off excuses and working the benefits into the conversation; the more they practice on each other, the easier it will come when they try with real homeowners. It also gives the salesmen an opportunity to help one another out. That great salesman can show your new guys how he goes about selling, convincing, and getting the deal done. The new or timid salesmen can ask questions, and clarify things they are unsure of. Getting all of your guys together in one room gives them the opportunity to teach each other and collaborate amongst themselves the best ways to upsell homeowners.

Use Your Resources)

Part of being able to upsell is to know what it is you are persuading the homeowner to add to their project. Whether it is a product like an impact resistant shingle or anti-wear paint, or a better warranty for using only one company’s products, your guys need to know everything about it so that they can ensure the homeowner that it is the right thing for them do to.

This is where having good, strong relationships with manufacturer reps is essential. The manufacturer representatives are a wealth of knowledge, and it is their job to get your company to use more of their products. Many reps will be more than happy to sit down with you and your salesmen to go in depth into how certain products work, how they are better than others, and even ways to sell them to the homeowners. Similar to the training, working with the reps gives your guys the opportunity to ask questions, see demos, and become experts on the products and services they sell. Being able to understand exactly what they are selling and how it will be a benefit to the homeowner will make you salesmen exponentially better at gaining the homeowner’s trust, and convincing them to upgrade their project.

Why It’s Important To Unplug From Work

By | Health and Wellness | No Comments

How frequently have you included that you will “still have your phone on you” in your out-of-office message? Or checked emails when you get home from a Saturday night out with friends? When was the last time you actually unplugged from work entirely?

Phones, tablets, and mobile technologies have made work easier in a lot of ways; you can work from home rather than the office, get calls when you’re away from your desk, and make sure you don’t forget about that Saturday at 8AM phone meeting your boss scheduled you for. But all the technology has also made it a lot harder to unplug from work and walk away every once in a while.

Taking the time to truly unplug from work is becoming more and more important as people’s lives continue to get busier and more stressful. Being constantly connected means work is happening when you are at dinner with your friends, watching a movie with your family, and at 2AM when you get up to respond to a note you received earlier that day. It makes work the most present thing in your life, which can wear you down really fast. Even if you greatly enjoy your work, when it consumes most of your time you start to miss out on other things you enjoy, and sometimes, you stop liking your work as much as well.

Unplugging, and we mean really unplugging, can help you get back to enjoying work and enjoying your life. Whether that means turning off your notifications on Friday at 5 and having your weekend to yourself, or going all the way out-of-office with no emails and no phone calls that can be received. Taking the time away isn’t going to end your career or set you years behind, but it will make you more motivated when you return; when you haven’t spent all weekend thinking about problems you need to solve on Monday, the problems are easier to solve because you are approaching them with fresh eyes.

Disconnecting lets you get back to being just you, and giving work you a break; take advantage of that. Let yourself do what you love when you have the time off, so that you can you enjoy your work when you are doing that.

Managing Your Expectations: What You Can Do In A Day

By | Health and Wellness | No Comments

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, home restoration and insurance claims are time-consuming. The work seems almost never ending most of the time, and it can get complicated and stressful trying to get everything done.

More often than not, we stretch ourselves too thin; we plan too many tasks for each day and end up overwhelmed and frustrated. When there are so many things that need to get done, it is easy to look at it and think “Yeah, I can do that all today,” but in reality we have a tendency to overestimate our abilities and overestimate what we can actually accomplish in a day.

What you can do in a day is very dependent on you, how you do your work, and what tasks you have to complete; be it running around to inspections and appointments with homeowners or spending the day in the office cranking out estimates and invoices, you know how much you can get done. Most people like to think that they can get more done than they really can. They don’t account for traffic, computer updates, client phone calls, and whatever else takes you away from your to-do list.

Learning how to factor in all those problems and potential set-backs into your day is how you start to truly manage your expectations, and realize what you can accomplish in one day. If your day is filled with appointments, you allocate the hour for each appointment, but you also allocate drive time, or if you know a customer is difficult you allocate additional time for their inspection. Planning for the likely hindrances means that you are more likely to accomplish all tasks you set for the day, and you may still have time for additional things.

When you set too many things to be completed in one day, you feel like you didn’t accomplish anything at the end of the day; if the list is only half checked off, it looks like a failure and that is what people tend to dwell on. Even though you accomplished a lot and did what needed to be done, if you over-booked yourself, it seems like you didn’t accomplish enough and you add more stress to yourself. Setting a reasonable number of tasks for each day makes it easier to check all of them off, and feel like you did accomplish everything you set out to do, which will reduce some of the stress and make your workload feel more manageable.

It can be hard to switch to a system where you are appearing to do less in a day, so setting routines for managing your time can make it feel right. Try sitting down either the night before or first thing in the morning, and writing down the tasks that need to get done that day. If there seem like a lot, see what can be pushed, if it seems like not enough finish them first and if you have more time, do more then. This can also be done for the week if your schedule and tasks are not likely to change. Sit down and plan out each day; be realistic in what you know can be accomplished, and don’t stray from your plan as the week plays out. If things come up add them, or push them to a later date; you manage these tasks, so doing them in the most efficient way for you is going to make your life a lot less stressful and, hopefully, seem a lot less complicated.

Three Ways To Combat Storm Chasers And Win Jobs In Your Area

By | Contractors | No Comments

For contractors who specialize in any sort of storm damage, it is a good day when a storm hits your area. It’s time for you and your team to go out and do what you do best, repair people’s properties.

Less than ideal when a storm hits however, are the storm chasers that come racing into town; ready to take your business and do repairs far below the standard of what you and your team can offer. Thankfully there are a few different ways to combat the storm chasers and get the jobs your company needs.

1) Direct Marketing

Getting your name, services, and reputation out to potential customers is one of the best ways to ensure that your company gets jobs, and one of the best ways to do that is by using direct marketing methods. Direct marketing methods are things like sending mailers to houses and knocking on doors; things that allow you to directly show potential clients what you and your company can do.

Mailers can be sent directly to affected areas and are designed to showcase your company. It gets your logo out so people recognize it, and it allows you to inform them about your services, your goals, and, most importantly, your local proximity to them. Because people today are so well-informed, most know that it is better to pick a local contractor than someone who swoops in and out, and mailers are a great way to let them know that you and your company are local.

Knocking doors, tedious as it can be, is another great way to directly market to potential customers. It gives you the opportunity to explain what your company does well, how it can help them, and potentially even get a look at the damage right then and there, and gives the property owner the chance to ask questions and raise any concerns. Knocking doors also gets your logo our in the community again, be in on your shirts, your hats, or your trucks, people will see it and it may encourage them to take the time to look into your business for their own repair.

2) Referrals and References

Referrals and references are an excellent way to get work in general, but are even more effective when it comes to getting work that storm chasers try and take. Many people want a contractor that they can trust, and tend to turn to other people to find it; people are likely to trust the opinions of the friends, family, and trusted associates within the industry.

If you can, find previous clients that will consent to be a part of a reference list for your company. This list can be used as a tool to help get potential customers to sign a contract with your company. Give the list to property owner’s who’s doors you may knock and who’s properties you may inspect; hearing that it was good to work with your company from other people may give potential customers the push they need to sign up with your company.

Creating relationships with realtors, insurance agents/brokers, and other contractors can also be a great way to keep business flowing to you. When a storm hits, people may call their insurance company first, or if the property is being bought or sold they may call their realtor. Having relationships with those insurance agents and realtors means that they can refer those clients to your company, making it easier for you to get your foot in the door to help them.

3) Reviews

Similar to references and referrals, having good reviews is a good way to get business in general, but also to combat storm chasers. People get a lot of information from the internet, so whether they are searching Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, or Facebook, it is important to have good reviews of your company on all sites that people use to find you. Good reviews make it more likely that people will call you, even if they still aren’t sure about hiring you; which gives you the opportunity to explain to them how you can help, and why they should choose you.

Preventing Problems: How Scoperite Can Help

By | Contractors, Public Adjusters | No Comments

When it comes to dealing with properties, owners, and insurance claims there is a lot of paperwork, a lot to do, and lot of ways things can go wrong. Sometimes there are big problems like the wrong materials getting ordered and crews not showing up, but sometimes there are small, avoidable problems that can cause just as big of a headache.

Has a copy of a contract ever disappeared in the pile on your desk? Did part of the scope get lost between your notes and the estimate? Have you accidentally scheduled two projects to build on the same day? Issues like these can cause big problems but can also be easily avoided. Keep reading to see how Scoperite can help you prevent small problems for your company!

1) Auto-Save

Have you ever spent an hour working on a claim, creating documents, sending emails, adding notes to files, only to have your computer crash or your drive be full? It’s not a good feeling. To see that you have to start over and spend even more time on something that was technically done is enough to make anyone crazy.

With all the technology open to us today, an autosave feature is something that we take for granted, but can prevent a lot of headaches. Within prospects and claims pages, Scoperite autosaves files, photos, and messages that have been uploaded and sent, so even if your computer crashes, anything that has been fully uploaded will still be there. Say you take the time to upload and all the photos from a recent inspection that day and start to work on labeling them, but get called away from your computer before you finish. As long as the uploads were complete, the photos will autosave within the claim and will be there waiting for you to finish labeling them when you have the time.

2) Required Documents

Contracts, carrier estimates, scope notes, invoices and more are all necessary for a successful claim, but when you have several different claims to manage and keep track of at once things can get lost in the shuffle. When creating a claim in Scoperite, users are required to upload certain documents, like contracts and scope notes, in order to actually create the claim.

This means that those important documents will be in the claim from the very start, and, on the off chance that the paper copies disappear, there will be record of them. Requiring certain documents to be uploaded immediately helps users to keep all important paperwork organized, and lessen the chance of it getting lost.

3) Production Tracking and Calendar

Scheduling out multiple jobs can get complicated, especially when more than one type of work is being done at each job. It can be easy to forget to forget to mark a build on the calendar, and then forget it is happening, or double book a crew for that job or another job for that day.

Scoperite’s production tracking and production calendar make it easy to avoid scheduling mistakes. Production tracking is a part of every claim page and lets users add trades for that claim and mark whether they are scheduled for production, the date of production, and the status of production (awaiting, complete, etc.). This makes it easy to see where each job is at in regards to production and to avoid any delays or mix-ups.

Once a trade is scheduled for a job in the production tracking section, it also appears on the production calendar within Scoperite. The calendar contains all the scheduling for all trades for all claims. Whenever something is scheduled it appears on the calendar with a label containing the claim number and the work being done, making it easy to see what is scheduled when and to make sure that no crews are double booked and no part of any job forgotten.

4) Document Uniformity

While it might seem like a lesser issue, documents that look different can cause a lot of confusion for customers, and for you and your employees. When each document has a different header, layout, font, whatever it may be, it can be hard for homeowners and employees alike to know which documents they have, which ones they still need, and to keep the claim running efficiently without wasting a lot of time on paperwork.

With Scoperite, companies can create documents from within the system itself. The documents can be whatever you need, and because they all come from the same place, are similar in layout, which makes them easier to read and understand for both homeowners and employees. Documents created include invoices and estimates, and each template can be specified to you and your company. Having all the documents come from one source makes it easy to keep everything uniform, which makes like easier and might just help your branding.

5) Cloud Storage

Whether you use paper and files or computer drives, it is easy to fill-up the space and start piling things wherever they will go. Unfortunately, piling leads to losing and losing leads to more time you have to spend on things you’ve already done. Finding space to properly store everything can get tough because limits on physical space and the cost of purchasing additional drives for storage space on the computers.

Scoperite enables you to store all the files for current and past claims without running out of space and losing paperwork. Scoperite is cloud based, so there is significantly more storage space for all your files, helping ensure that you have all the documents you need, all the time.

Sick of Sitting? Check Out The Benefits of Using A Standing Desk

By | Health and Wellness | No Comments

At Scoperite, we value a healthy lifestyle, both at work and outside of work. For many people sitting at a desk all day makes feeling good at work a little harder, which is why we partnered with our friends at Attollo Desk to bring you the benefits of using a standing desk for parts of your day!

Attollo Desk was created to allow people to move more throughout their day and look great in your office! Attollo Desk isn’t too large or too clunky or too big of an eyesore like some other standing desks can be. Keep reading to see some of the benefits that the makers of Attollo Desk have found from using a standing desk!

1) Reduces Neck and Back Pain

Standing, instead of sitting crouched over the computer, can immediately reduce neck and back pain.

2) Lowers Risk of Cancer

More movement throughout your day can boost anti-oxidents that combat cancer causing agents.

3) Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Extended periods of sitting can increase your risk of heart disease to 147%

4) Increases Energy

Standing enables blood flow and sends oxygen to your muscles, giving you more energy and negating the need for that afternoon cup of coffee!

5) Increases Productivity

Studies have found that standing desk users are 54% more productive on a daily basis.

6) Can Make You Smarter

Prolonged periods of sitting reduces the thickness of the part of the brain that is critical for learning and memory.

7) Prevents Weight Gain

Excessive sitting is linked to excessive weight gain, because sitting inhibits an enzyme.

Why You Should Take The Time To Do CRM Demos

By | Tech | No Comments

Picking a CRM system for your company is big choice. This system is going to change how your company operates and does business, from tracking leads to filing final invoices it is going to be relevant.

We have already talked about the process of how to choose the right CRM for your business (check that out here!), but today we are going to go in depth on the value of doing demos and free trials before you pick out a CRM.

It can be easy to pick a CRM based on the industry you are in and what your competitors use; and there is nothing wrong with using a CRM designed for your industry! But there, typically, are more than one CRM option for you to choose from, and that is where you need to take the time to try out the different options.

Most CRMs give a description of overall functions and the best features and, usually, they are detailed. It can be easy to see the list of features and think, “Yeah, I need those specific ones” and feel like you have a grasp on what you are going to be getting. However, features and functions can vary widely from system to system, even if they are labeled as the same thing. Sales tracking and customer/claim/project information can look vastly different and have different functions depending on the CRM; which is why it is essential to take the time to do demos and free trials.

When you take the time to demo a system, you get to actually see, fiddle with, and understand the interface and all of its features, and decide if it is actually what you are looking for. From the pictures and short videos posted on CRM websites, it can be hard to see the layout of the system; you don’t get a good feel for the landing pages, the navigation, or the ease of use. By doing a demo you have the opportunity to click through every page, test out features, see how easy it is to navigate, and decide if the learning curve will work for your company. CRMs may seem simple and easy to navigate based the photos and marketing material on the website, but the only way to know for sure is by trying it out yourself.

Demos and trials also give you the opportunity to see the features first hand and take note of if they are actually what you are looking for or not. CRMs tout all different kinds of features from tracking, to storage, to calendars, and on and on the list goes, but most of the time you only need a few specific features to work in a certain kind of way. If a CRM says it has a calendar that can mean a lot of different things; it could be a general calendar that can’t be edited, it could be a calendar for each user that doesn’t integrate with others, it could be for production tracking, or it could be your email calendar imported into the software itself. Depending on what your company needs, that calendar could be a waste of a feature, and more or less a waste of your money. Being able to actually mess around with and see the functionality of certain features is invaluable when picking out a system; it allows you to ensure that you pick a system with the features that are going to be the most effective and most useful for your company and your employees.

Though it may seem tedious and time-consuming, taking the time to test out a CRM before you purchase it helps you to pick the exact right system for your company, saving you time, money, and more stress down the road.