Friday, April 20, 2012

Fix Up Your Home! Hiring Your Contractor.

"Itch" for a New Look at Your House?

  Important Tips for Contractor Hiring!  


Every spring brings many home owners get the "itch" to get the new driveway, fencing, walls, new sod placement, or even a new roof project going. For a few of us this is pretty simple as we may have experience in performing this work and all that's required is some weekend time, materials, friends, and a back ache!

But for the rest of us without the experience to "Do It Yourself", it can be a daunting and expensive experience to say the least. Certainly most all contractors are honest and provide quality work at reasonable and fair prices. But being unfamiliar with construction and contracting it's important not to leave a door open for "that's an extra charge", "that's not part of our contract", or, "we'll be back next week" style contractors who can break your bank.

Tips for the homeowner seeking to hire a contractor can be quite extensive but there are some basics that can save you a whole lot of headaches and provide assurance that your project when completed not only puts a smile on your home but on your face as well. A small amount of your time spent getting some details before the project begins will save you a lot of time if troubles arise on your project after it begins.

Make sure your selected contractor has all the right tools. Be sure to speak with your contractor about their tools and equipment to be certain they have what it takes to get your job done. If your having a new roof put on your home you don't want your contractor to show up without a ladder!

A Simple Start and good practice to begin with is making notes of what it is you want, what you want it to look like, when you want it completed, relevant sizes, dimension, colors, materials or styles of materials you want to see used. You can organize your list and give it to contractors to more define your project from both of your views.

Get more than one quote. It is typical in the construction industry for clients to obtain quotes from at least three contractors. Do  not feel bad about doing this, if your potential contract has been in business for any length of time they will not be offended in any way, it's the way this business is done everyday, this is very important to do.

Getting the contractors company information is also very important when hiring a contractor and something you must do before hiring or signing a contract.

Insurance - Ask your potential contractor to provide you with proof of insurance, a insurance certificate prior to hiring or signing any contract.

License - If the project you are seeking to have complete requires a contractor or trades person to be licensed ask them for documents supporting this. Also, be certain to obtain all documentation of bonding and workman's comp insurance.If you are unsure the following link will offer assistance in licensing requirements and lists of licensed contractors in your state.

References - Ask each of your potential contractors to provide references and a list of recent projects completed in your area. DO NOT HESITATE to do this, again, this is standard practice. Be sure you are given contact information to speak with the persons a contractor has provided work for to hear or see what a great job your potential contractor has done for them.You may also perform a Google search on a contractor for complaints and issues.
Before you close any deal or sign any contract be sure you have gotten a written Proposal from each potential contractor. Request contractors provide you with a proposal which notes all of the work which is to be performed/completed. Compare this to the notes you made prior to beginning the hiring procedure to see that everything you want completed is included.

Sign on the dotted line - Have a contract written out that clearly states the time frame in which the work must be done and the payments to be made. Make sure that the items included in the contractors bid proposal are included in the contract.

As with anything else word of mouth is always a good start, ask friends who've had like work done on their homes or property for their honest opinion about a contractor!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Your Employees & Production, Increase Both at No Cost.

Just as seismologists say an increase on a Richter scale of only one point represents a 10-fold increase in the magnitude of the quake. Likewise each percentage point over 100% of your employees effort in your company represents a 10-fold increase in production and output in their respective division of your company.

The big question, what makes an employee give your company more than "100%". It should come as no surprise that the first step in this process of achievement for both your company and employee is truth. According to the Guinness Book of World Records Marilyn Vos Savant claims the highest measured IQ in the world. An interviewer once asked Ms. Savant "What is the most powerful concept and what makes it powerful?" Ms. Savant replied with a simple but profound answer: What is the most powerful concept? Truth, What makes it so powerful? It is so powerful because whether we like it or not, there isn't a darn thing we can do about it."

 "No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar."
Abraham Lincoln

Of course the mentioning of truth above is not to say that an employee must know every detail of your business matters but truth in matters concerning an employees involvement, position, with your company should always be every bit of that, truth. Businesses, families, and even friends never survive when truth isn't a foundational part of the relationship.

It's important to remember that human beings, including yourself, thrive in situations where they have a good sense of their value and importance in even simple matters. Acknowledging directly to an employee his or her abilities, competencies, and their importance to the success of a project  is more then a boost to the employee, its a boost in production. Having a personal sense of responsibility in a companies daily success is a very motivational tool an employer can implant in an employee.

What's your opinion? How often have you asked an employee this? Any business or business owner who feels that their employees opinions are not important is not capturing all the profits available to them. Although as an owner of a company, a shop supervisor, foreman, or a team leader you may be considered to have more knowledge than those working in the positions you oversee. There are two things that should not be forgotten in this. The first is very simple, your company can NOT survive and profit without that little person or laborer, this is a fact. Also, never forget, your laborer performs that function day in and day out and sees more in that little job than you likely ever could. All things change, even the most efficient processes, machines, functions change, things are always improved and who better to ask an opinion than the person actually doing the work. Again, your employee will get the deserved sense of value in your company and this will mean increased production.

All companies employ personnel in some positions that can be considered simply "labor", positions not requiring a college degree or "special" training. Never let your company fall prey into thinking there doesn't have to be a direct connection everyday with your laborers. Worse yet, never let your laborers feel that there isn't a direct connection with them on a regular basis. Even worse yet, never treat them like a laborer, they are your companies back bone, let them know it. It takes very little for even the highest person in administration to spend 60 seconds with a laborer asking them a question about there job, what they think about a certain process, whether they want to advance in the company, and complementing them on the important part they play in your companies survival. Those few seconds of connection with your labor will increase production and quality. It's inherent in us from when we're children, ever notice in your child, when you compliment them about a great drawing or how great that piece of paper with stuff like beans, pipe cleaners, and buttons glued all over it looks? Even though you may not know what it even is, your child's feeling of accomplishment makes them go like gang busters to do more! But there's nothing childish about it when it comes to an employee and your profits, be in touch.

“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” Ralph Waldo

See the Profits! It's a simple fact, when a human being has a true sense of their importance and value in any given thing they are more positive and more productive. Not just in their job, but in their life and community. The production, profitability, and integrity of your company will increase several fold without spending a cent. Do you have 60 seconds? 

"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will."
Vince Lambardi

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wind Energy....What would it look like in you're back yard?

We all hear about it every day on our local and national news, new companies, new jobs, and how Green Energy is going to change the way our world works. Having lived in Southern California many years  wind energy is nothing new. Those huge wind turbines out in the desert, they've been there for years, thousands of them. We always wondered who got electricity from them, our electric bills never said anything about our electricity coming from wind turbines, and if it did come from wind turbines it sure was expensive!

Several years ago in Southern California (Late 90's) we experienced a long period of days with no electricity in our homes for several hours each day because there wasn't enough electric power to supply all the homes. This, even years ago, made us wonder why, with thousands of these wind turbines whipping in the wind just down the road we had no power! Naturally this puts doubts in ones mind about the value of these big ugly wind machines even back then, other than a great tax write off.

A Wind Farm In Your Neighborhood?
Now living in the Mid West its easy to find oneself wondering the same thing about who will get power from wind turbines here? Really the wonder is more about what wind is going to power the new wind turbines! Back in Californian, Palm Springs, the winds are very high 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Are there many places here in the Mid-West  that have the kind of winds needed to make a wind farm work? Well, there must be, they wouldn't put wind turbines in a place that isn't windy all the time, right?

Well, whether there's big wind or not there is certainly big money in wind energy. But, is the manufacturing of electric cars and wind turbines putting the cart before the horse so to speak. It may create jobs but are our current transportation and utility systems ready to support them? Even if Wind energy is capable of providing homes with energy are our current electric grids set up to plug right into these wind turbines? Is the electricity generated from these new energy sources set up so we can plug our new electric vehicle in and charge up away from home?

At a recent visit to a "Renewable Energy Fest", which was primarily focused on the electric car, questions like these were asked asked and not answered, in fact replies where like this, "that's a good question"! Many "Green Energy"companies already exist and are backed by government funding (2.4 billion for electric cars alone). These companies are ready and eager to sell you a $38,000.electric car, or asking your town to install big wind turbines in your back yards but is our current electrical grid system ready, are wind turbines integrated in our systems to actually get the electricity to homes, do we have a system in place to be able to charge these electric cars in a way that is functional? We know we can charge them at our home and drive to our destination, a whopping 30 or 50 miles away, but is there an outlet available at our destination to plug in and charge up so we can get back home?

Are we really ready for electric cars and wind farms or is the "cart before the horse"?


-What gets an employee up to 110% at the work place.
-A Paper Cover......employee of "Green Energy" product manufacturer says the company is cheating them out of wages.