Monday, March 13, 2017

Bill helps weed out dishonest contractors who misuse Assignment of Benefits contracts

In my 25 years in the roofing business, I have come across all kinds of contractors.

The good ones follow the rules and comply with the ever-changing state and federal regulations that govern our industry. The not-so-great ones don’t.

Over time, a legal provision known as Assignment of Benefits has emboldened a cottage industry of roofers to abuse the system and take advantage of homeowners and their insurance companies.

It often works like this: A roofing-company employee, typically a salesperson, canvasses neighborhoods after a rain or hail storm, telling homeowners they are entitled to a free roof. They pressure homeowners into signing an Assignment of Benefits contract, known as an AOB, which transfers benefits of the homeowner’s insurance policy to a contractor.

George Ebersold is president of the Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association and general manager for Tom Tanenbaum Roofing Inc. based in Orlando.
George Ebersold is president of the Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association and general manager for Tom Tanenbaum Roofing Inc. based in Orlando. (Shaina DeCiryan / Shaina DeCiryan www.shainadecir) (Shaina DeCiryan / Shaina DeCiryan www.shainadecir)
When used appropriately, AOBs can help homeowners get work done quickly without having to pay money upfront. However, when abused, AOBs allow sketchy companies to do unnecessary work or inflate the cost before an insurance company can inspect whether there’s damage or a new roof is needed at all. Then, if the insurer refuses the claim, the contractor files a lawsuit in an attempt to collect.

Unwarranted claims and lawsuits end up costing homeowners in the form of higher insurance premiums and give hardworking, respectable roofing companies a bad name. Especially fueling the situation are one-way attorney fees, which allow attorneys suing insurance companies to collect legal fees if they win, but don’t allow insurance companies to collect legal fees if they prevail. Remove this incentive to sue, and much of the AOB problem goes away.

Homeowners should know that they don’t need to sign an AOB to get roof repairs done and not all roofing contractors use them. However, contractors who properly use AOBs inspect roofs for damage, provide a written estimate and wait for the homeowner’s insurance company to send an adjuster. If the adjuster agrees to the claim amount, the homeowner can submit the claim on his or her own or sign an AOB to have the contractor handle it. Everyone is on the same page, so there are no surprises.

Unfortunately, bad contractors use AOBs to prey on homeowners with the promise of quick, hassle-free repairs. They build false trust with homeowners by saying they are working on roofs throughout the neighborhood. Homeowners stop listening once they hear “free roof’’ and don’t understand what they are signing.

As president of the 780-member Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association, I support Senate Bill 1038 that would curb AOB abuse and put some of these dishonest contractors out of business.

We can no longer allow AOBs to be used as a weapon against good, honest roofers and their customers. We must take action to ensure the greedy action of a few doesn’t hurt the rest of us.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Business Guide To Instagram Stories — How To Use It And Tips For Success

Last week, Instagram launched its most significant and talked-about new feature to date –Instagram Stories.

This Instagram update allows users to share photos and videos in a slideshow format, which then disappear after 24 hours. Yes, you’re right, it does sound a lot like Snapchat.

Over the past 18 months, Snapchat has been at the forefront of a shift towards ephemeral, transient posting on social media. In this new era of social media, content is no longer curated, edited and scheduled; it’s fleeting and constant and everywhere all the time.

In the beginning, the instant video was brushed off as a micro-trend but the stats show that this is a force to be reckoned with. Snapchat boasts over 100 billion daily active users, with a staggering 10 billion snaps being viewed every 24 hours.

Snapchat has quickly grown to become the third most popular social channel, creeping up just behind Instagram and Facebook. So it was really only a matter of time before other networks hopped on this digital bandwagon and got in on the interactive video action.

In this business guide to Instagram Stories, you will find everything you need to know to use your Instagram account to its maximum.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

YouTube Marketing: A Small Business Guide

As my series on using social media marketing platforms to market your small business comes to a close (check out past installments on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn), we arrive at what is possibly the most niche platform in terms of content: YouTube.

If you want to use YouTube to market your small business, you’ll be creating videos, plain and simple. While this seems obvious, it’s worth noting that while social platforms like Facebook lend themselves to creating, posting, and sharing a variety of types of content (videos, images, long-form text posts, short updates, and so on), creating content on YouTube means you’ll be investing your time in video production and video production only.

This note isn’t meant to dissuade you, but rather to point out that a strong interest in creating video content is necessary before jumping into YouTube. Don’t just start a YouTube channel in an effort to take advantage of all possible forms of social media marketing if you aren’t actually interested in making videos. The process of creating videos is time-consuming and has a bit of a learning curve, so make sure that this platform is one you really have time for and interest in.

Friday, January 13, 2017

How to Amplify Your Personal Brand

As entrepreneurs grow a new business, they often focus on the well-being of the company at all times. However, you might want to consider how your own brand impacts the impression you have on clients and other members of the industry. Amplifying your personal brand is a great way to expand your company's reach and set a foundation for your next venture. Here is how to be successful.

Define your brand

When starting a business, you have to make choices that define who you are as a boss and as a member of the industry. To make sure your best qualities are front and center, write down what is most important to you as a business owner and citizen. What are your values and how does your company help you communicate that to the world? The answer to this question is a key part of developing your personal brand. Take note of what makes you feel passionate during the day, whether it is during or outside of business hours. Then try to incorporate some of your core values into your own brand.

Compare your vision to reality

Just because you want to be seen as a pillar of the community does not mean that others view you in that way. In order to know where to direct your energy when amplifying your brand, match your vision for yourself with your reputation among employees and colleagues. Though you may have to go about it in a subtle way, finding out how people think of you will be valuable as you move forward.

Successfully completing this process also involves reading reviews of your company and seeing how you are perceived on social media. It might sting to read negative feedback and confront criticism, but there is value in knowing what is out there for people to see. If any current perceptions are inaccurate, you can work toward correcting them as you build your brand.

Amplify online and in person

Building your personal brand involves a multichannel approach, starting with what people will read about you when they type your name in a search engine. Strengthen your online presence by writing posts for your company blog, contributing to industry blogs and publications and posting frequent content on social media sites. When people get to read a few hundred words about you that are written in your own voice, or see your name associated with useful business tips and industry trends, they will start to understand where you are coming from and where you want to go.

Back up your digital campaign with personal appearances at industry functions and networking events. Trade shows are always looking for speakers to communicate their struggles, triumphs and hopes for the industry as a whole. By getting involved as a speaker, you can earn the role of a thought leader, and share your insights and ideas.

Connect with mentors and mentees

Your professional and personal network can have a big impact on the future of your brand. As you spread the word about your own efforts, consider finding a mentor. Not only will you be able to learn from their advice and grow as a leader, but having a mentor will send signals to others in the industry that you share the same values as (or at least a relationship with) respected figures.

On the flip side, take young business leaders under your wing as you take the next step into seniority within the industry. While you continue to grow, you can share your advice and experiences with the next generation of entrepreneurs. Their success will reflect on you in a positive way.

By amplifying your personal brand, you will be able to grow your business and eventually take the next step in your career. Start with these tips, and when you move on to your next business venture, the industry definitely will not need an introduction.