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Most Affordable Rates Always Providing Good Advice Most Comprehensive and Affordable Rates Personalized Attention

Most Affordable Rates

“For all your business insurance needs, I highly recommend The Carmoon Group. They provide a comprehensive yet easy to understand coverage with the most affordable rates. – very professional and timely in service…” ~ Moira Dean, Manhattan, NY

Always Providing Good Advice

“We decided to find a new insurance that specialised within our industry. We have now been clients of The Carmoon Group. I personally would describe their service as being prompt, always providing good advice and displaying our insurances in a manner that is easy to understand. I would definitely recommend The Carmoon Group.” ~ Bradley Morris, Trenton, New Jersey

Most Comprehensive and Affordable Rates

“The Carmoon Group was recommended to us by a business colleague and we have been very pleased with its service. They have been responsible for all our Liability Insurance. I have always found The Carmoon Group to be professional and helpful and would definitely recommend them – they have the most comprehensive and affordable rates in the whole state of New York.” ~ - Matthew Brightman, New York, NY

Personalized Attention

“It has been pleasant to get such personalized attention, especially with my account being such a small policy. I am confident that The Carmoon Group is looking out for me, finding the lowest possible cost on my policy, while providing excellent recommendations to be sure I have the coverage I need.” ~ M. Bailey-Bates, M.D., Annapolis, Maryland

Carmoon Ltd. is the industry leader in providing customized insurance solutions for businesses, homeowners and families in the U.S. Our professional staff has one objective – to provide you with outstanding service and the broadest coverage available at the best possible price. Our highly trained agents are available now, ready to help you design a targeted solution tailored to your budget and your needs. Find out why Carmoon is one of the most respected providers in the insurance industry. Select any option below to learn more about how we can help you to being planning for a secure future today.

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Business Solutions

Portrait of an attractive African American business woman smiling confidently We create individualized insurance programs for each of our clients.  Our custom solutions include General Liability, Business Automobile, Disability and many more.

Surety Bonds

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Answer These 4 Questions to Learn Your Construction Insurance Needs

Construction worker's insurance needsOwning a successful construction business is gratifying. But every successful venture comes with inherent risks. Employee accidents, natural disasters, fires and third-party injury claims are just a few. That’s why it’s so important to protect your assets with a comprehensive insurance plan.

But how do you know what kind of insurance you need? Here are a few things to think about before you buy.

What Are Your Biggest Risks?

All construction businesses have different insurance needs. A road crew on a highway project, for example, faces very different risks than welders working on a 22-story highrise. Further, your insurance needs today are probably very different than they were even a few years ago. 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you consider your current insurance needs:

  • What are the major risks my employees face on the job?
  • What equipment would I need to replace if there was a major disaster, such as a fire or windstorm?
  • How much is my business property worth today versus when I first took ownership?
  • How vulnerable is my business to third-party lawsuits?
  • Do I have enough liability insurance to cover court costs, attorneys fees, and settlement costs if I’m sued?

Once you have an idea of your risk profile, work with your insurer to structure a risk management program tailored to your insurance needs.

What Are Your Priorities?

Buying the cheapest coverage may seem like a good idea when you’re thinking about your bottom line. But the most inexpensive coverage isn’t always your best bet. For example, you can usually lower your premiums by choosing a high-deductible insurance plan. But will you be in a position to pay that deductible if your company suffers a substantial loss?

Some small construction businesses may decide to opt for the all-inclusive coverage offered by a Business Owner’s Policy or BOP. This option bundles general liability and business property insurance, usually at an affordable price. But BOP policies aren’t for everyone, especially companies who have a lot of heavy equipment or machinery that moves from place to place.

As a rule, it’s wise to base your priorities on worst-case scenarios. Ask yourself this. Is it worth saving a little money on annual premiums if I can’t rebuild my business in the event of a major loss?  (Statistically, up to 80 percent of small businesses never fully recover from a major catastrophe).

Is Your Insurer a Good Fit?

If you’ve been with the same insurer for a number of years, it may be time to ask yourself if that company still meets your insurance needs as well as it did before. A broker who specializes in small business coverage may have been perfectly adequate when you were just starting out. But they’re not as likely to know the unique needs of your construction business as someone who works with construction professionals every day. What’s more, a broker with specialized construction experience can steer you away from coverage you don’t need and help you find the kind of coverage that’s right for you.

Have You Considered Cyber Security?

Most construction companies today do some business online. And many companies use the internet to connect across various aspects of project development. As a result, construction businesses often have access to a wealth of data, such as intellectual property, architectural drawings, and financial information, to name just a few. What’s more, many companies now use HR software to store sensitive employee information. This may include payroll data, social security numbers, and even bank accounts. And all of these areas are subject to a cyber attack.

If your construction business does any business online, think about whether cyber liability insurance is right for you. Cyber liability insurance typically covers data breaches of all kinds. These include privacy issues, data loss due to viruses and malware, internet-related intellectual property infringement and more. It may also cover lost sales if your business needs to shut down temporarily due to a data breach, and the cost of notifying your customers of what occurred. It will also cover your court costs and the amount of any settlements if customers sue you for damages later on. 

At The Carmoon Group, we specialize in helping small and medium-sized construction businesses meet their insurance needs. With nearly two decades of experience providing high-quality insurance to construction professionals, we are confident that we offer the best coverage at the best price. Give us a call today to schedule your annual insurance review, or contact us online now. We’ll get back to you right away.

Use Social Media to Boost Customer Engagement

tree with social media icons attachedIf you’re like most small businesses owners, you either have or are considering a social media presence to increase customer engagement and boost sales. But if you’re new to the social media landscape, you may be unsure about which path to take. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram are all viable tools. But integrating them into a cohesive social media strategy can be challenging, to say the least.

There are many different ways to approach social media, and none of them are inherently right or wrong. That’s why the best strategy for any company starts with knowing who you  — and your customers —  are.

Identify Who You Are

Before you start mapping out your social media strategy, give some thought to what values and ideas your company represents. Ask yourself, “Why would a customer choose me over a competitor? What unique value do I offer my customers that they can’t find anywhere else?”

If you’re not sure about the answers, ask your best customers to tell you why they keep coming back to you. You may be surprised at what they have to say.

Once you’ve got some ideas, use them to write a statement that describes your company’s core values and goals. Then make this statement your social media “platform” — the basis of every post, image, and tweet.

Need an example? Here’s a great one from Ben and Jerry’s ice cream:

  • Our product mission drives us to make fantastic ice cream –for its own sake.
  • Our economic mission asks us to manage out company for sustainable financial growth
  • Our social mission compels us to use our company in innovative ways to make the world a better place.

Know Your Customers

After you’ve developed a clear idea of your company’s mission and values, it should be relatively easy to hone in on who your customers are. Using Ben and Jerry’s as an example, you could define their customers as people who:

  • love ice cream
  • believe in shared and sustainable economic growth
  • are committed to the greater good

Next, create a customer “persona,” — a profile of the kind of person you want your marketing strategy to reach. Are you, for example, marketing healthy organic produce to 30-something moms of young children between the ages of 2 and 6? That’s a good start. But a more detailed persona will make it easier to connect. Ask yourself, “Where does this customer live?” “What are her attitudes about life?” “What kind of friends does she have?” “How much disposable income does she have to spend?” These fictional insights will help you create exactly the kind of content your ideal customer will want to see. 

Keep It Real

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when developing a social media strategy is trying to promote their product rather than telling a story about who they are. Your customers might come to your website or Facebook page to learn about your products, but they’ll come back because you touch them in a personal way.

How can you accomplish this? There are probably several thousand ways. Share personal anecdotes and company news. Share stories about ideas you’re passionate about that relate to your business in some way. Hold a fundraiser for your favorite charity and post photos of the event on Facebook and Instagram. Share an inspiring story and what it means to you. Offer free insights and advice.

Connect with your customers on an emotional level and they will want to come back for more.

At The Carmoon Group, we work with small businesses to develop strategies for success. We specialize in risk management, but our expertise extends to marketing, financial strategies and more. Give us a call today to talk about your needs. Or contact us online and we’ll get back to you right away. 

Are Remote Workers a Good Idea for Your Firm?

remote worker sitting at a laptop with a cup of coffeeThe debate about hiring remote workers has been going on for years. In one camp are those who think a remote workforce is less efficient and more difficult to control. In the other are those who point to the benefits that using remote workers provides — for instance, access to a larger talent pool and a happier and even healthier workforce.

Whichever camp you’re sitting in now, it’s worth taking a look at some of the pros and cons.

Pro: Remote Workers Are More Productive

In 2016, the employee engagement firm TINYpulse did a survey of remote workers. The firm asked them if they felt they were more productive when they worked at home. According to Forbes, fully 91 percent said yes. In another study, the travel website CTrip let half of its call-center employees work from home while keeping half of them in the office. After nine months, they found that remote workers were nearly 15 percent more productive than in-office staff.

Con: Remote Workers Are Harder to Track

The flexibility of remote work can lead to confusion about goals. Managers and direct supervisors are responsible for knowing what employees are working on and how that work is progressing. In the absence of direct contact between remote workers and their employers, progress is harder to track.

Pro: Remote Workers Are Happier

The flexibility of working from home has its benefits. According to the TINYpulse survey, remote workers scored 8.1 on a scale of one to 10 when asked the question “How happy are you at work?” Employees who worked in a traditional office setting scored 7.4. Not an enormous difference, certainly. But it’s significant when you consider morale and attrition rates.

Con: Remote Workers Are Isolated

While the majority of remote workers are happy and productive, some employees will feel isolated and cut off from the team. This leads to problems when remote employees can’t access the help they need to get the job done. In fact, a recent report by ProjectsAtWork listed poor communication and access to expertise as the top two challenges remote workers face.

Pro: Finding and Keeping Talent is Easier

There’s no arguing that hiring remote workers gives employers greater access to talent. Searching for the right applicant in a single location is far more challenging than casting a net across 50 states (or the globe.) What’s more, it’s easier to keep good people if you can offer them the option of staying put versus moving hundreds of miles for a new job. According to Nicholas Bloom, Ph.D., a Professor of economics at Stanford University, Jet Blue has been hiring workers who live up to 300 miles away for years. The company says the policy has improved the quality of their workforce enormously.

Con: Collaboration Suffers

Over the past several years, a number of well-known tech companies, including Yahoo and Reddit, scrapped their remote work policy and started requiring employees to show up in the office every day. When Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced the change back in 2013, she made the following statement.

…Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.

Reddit”s then-CEO Yishan Wong, more or less echoed Mayer’s sentiments when she decided to close the company’s offices in Utah and New York and require those employees to relocate to San Francisco or lose their jobs. “…The separation has kept us from effectively being able to coordinate as well as we needed to on a full-company level,” Wong said at the time.

Obviously, the decision to use remote workers or let some of your workforce work from home is a very individual one. According to Bloom, the best place to experiment with remote workers is on tasks that are more “robotic” and easily tracked. And it’s important to realize that change always requires some trial and error. As Reddit’s Wong said (quoting a colleague from Mozilla) “…Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.” But it may be worth it to give it a try.

At the Carmoon Group, we are always looking for innovative ways to help our small business clients succeed. If you’re in need of some advice or want to explore ways to expand your business, give us a call or reach out online. We’re here to help.

How to Hire Great Employees for Your Construction Business

young worker at a drafting table an example of great employees As just about every owner of a construction business knows, finding and keeping great employees is a big challenge these days. According to the National Association of Homebuilders, there were about 200,000 unfilled construction jobs in the United States as of the last quarter of 2016 — an increase of over 80 percent in just two years. That’s one reason why hiring great employees and keeping them on board is such an integral part of your success.

How do you make sure you hire the best people for the job? Here are a few tips from the experts at The Carmoon Group.

No. 1. Build Community Relationships

High schools, trade schools and junior colleges are fertile ground for new prospects. But you can’t just stand outside and hand out flyers (although that’s really not a bad idea.) Build relationships with the administrators of schools in your area, and hold informational job fairs once or twice a year. These can serve a dual purpose — attracting qualified candidates to your business and sparking interest in the industry among kids who may not have a career path yet.

No. 2. Don’t Wait Until You Need Someone

It may seem counterintuitive, but hiring people on an as-needed basis is a sure way to find yourself in a pinch. Certainly, you don’t need to hire workers six months in advance of being in a position to give them hours. But if you wait until June to hire for a July 1 project start date, you’re almost certain to get the short end of the stick. If you want more than just a warm body, you should be looking for and actively recruiting great employees all year round.

No. 3. Create Written Job Descriptions

It’s very easy to hire the wrong person if you don’t know what you’re hiring for. And oddly enough, this is often the case. Create clear, well-defined job descriptions for every role in your company. This will let you hone in on exactly the qualifications and skill set your ideal candidates should have.

No. 4. Pay Well

This one may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many owners of small construction firms offer a pay scale that is well below market rate. The reason: because they’re small, they think they can’t afford to pay more. But when you don’t offer prospective employees a competitive wage, you attract either inexperienced workers or those who are barely qualified for the job. This ultimately hurts your productivity and winds up costing more in the end. Plus, those inexperienced workers won’t stick around for long. They’ll move on to more lucrative positions as soon as they get some hours under their belt.

No. 5. Train Your Employees

Again, this sounds like a no-brainer. But many construction business owners assume that new employees can simply jump in with both feet and get the job done. Or they assume that a more seasoned worker will take the new person “under his wing.” Typically, neither of these approaches works well, if at all. Even experienced workers need some training if they’re going to meet your expectations and do the job well.

No. 6. Recognize and Reward Talent

When you hire a star, don’t sell them short by failing to recognize their potential and giving them an opportunity to advance. Millenials, in particular, want to know that there is a path to advancement and what that path is. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that a management position is the only or even the most desirable place for a superstar to go. Many great employees don’t have the skill set or the desire to manage others and fail miserably in the role. Work with your great employees to come up with a career path that works for them.

No. 5. Provide More than a Job

When jobs are plentiful, prospective employees can pick and choose. And people who work for you know they can easily leave if things don’t work out. That’s why it’s so important to provide more than just a job. Things like work/life balance, a safe, comfortable workplace, and feeling heard when they express concerns are important to employees. Don’t waste the time and effort you put into hiring good people by failing to give them what they need.

At The Carmoon Group, we work with your small to mid-size construction firm to help you succeed. We offer risk management programs, financial guidance, insurance products and a name you can trust. Give us a call today to talk about your needs. Or contact us online and we’ll get back to you right away.

Do You Need Commercial Auto Insurance?

big rig truck in a garage needs commercial auto insuranceIf you own a company that uses cars or trucks in the course of doing business, you probably know that auto insurance is a must-have. But if you’re like many small business owners, you may not know that your personal auto insurance does not cover you or your employees when you’re using a vehicle for business activities. Even if you’re driving your own car, you need commercial auto insurance to protect your assets in the event of an accident.

Note: One notable exception to this rule is rideshare drivers. We’ll talk about them in a bit.

What Does Commercial Auto Insurance Cover?

Also called “fleet insurance,” commercial auto insurance covers all types of business automobiles, including cars, trucks, flatbeds and vans. Commercial auto insurance can cover a single vehicle or an entire fleet of vehicles, such as a fleet of limousines or taxicabs.

As a rule, commercial auto insurance differs from personal auto insurance in that it only covers your vehicles, your drivers and any third party injuries or property damage they cause. That means it doesn’t cover items carried or stored in the vehicle, such as tools, products, samples and the like. However, you can generally purchase additional liability coverage for these items if you wish.

Who Is Covered by Commercial Auto Insurance?

Generally, you or anyone who works for your company is covered by your commercial automobile insurance. However, it’s essential that you let your insurance company know who your drivers are. Your insurer bases its rates on its degree of perceived risk. So, it will look at the driving records of all of your employees who will be driving a vehicle your business owns. If an accident occurs and someone not listed on the policy is behind the wheel, your insurance company may deny the claim.

What Does Commercial Auto Insurance Cost?

Commercial auto insurance typically comes with higher liability limits and higher costs. According to estimates from Trusted Choice, the average cost of commercial auto insurance in the United States is:

  • $1,200 to $2,400 for commercial car insurance
  • $800 to $2000 for commercial truck insurance
  • $5,000 to $10,000 for taxi insurance
  • $35,000 for commercial bus insurance
  • $2,500 and up for tractor trailer insurance

However, it’s important to note that these numbers are averages. Your actual rates will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Your driving record and the driving records of your drivers. That’s one reason it’s important to hire only qualified, properly trained and licensed drivers. A single “bad apple” can raise your premiums by as much as 10 percent.
  • The value of your vehicle(s): Before you buy a new truck with all the latest bells and whistles, ask your insurance agent how much it will cost to insure.
  • The structure of your policies: Generally, it’s less expensive to buy in bulk. So cover all of your vehicles under a single policy if you can. You may also want to buy your commercial auto policy from the same company that provides your liability and other coverages. Most insurers give discounts for this kind of “bundling.”
  • Other discounts: For example, some insurers will offer discounts for having GPS tracking devices installed in your vehicles.
  • How many miles you and your employees drive: Obviously, the more miles you drive the greater your risk of getting in an accident. Where you drive matters, too. Insurance rates are typically higher for companies operating in large cities than those in rural areas.

What Is Rideshare Insurance?

Since the birth of Uber in 2009 and its cousin Lyft in 2012,  the issue of insuring the drivers who work for these “transportation network companies” (or TNCs) has been quite a contentious one. Lyft and Uber drivers are classified as independent contractors and use their own vehicles for transporting fares. And the TNCs commercial auto insurance covers them during the period when they driving to pick up or drop off a fare. But they don’t cover them during the down time in between (known as “Period 1.) So if a driver has an accident while waiting for another fare, the company’s insurance will not kick in. 

This created a big problem for Uber and Lyft drivers since virtually every personal auto insurance policy excludes coverage if the driver is engaged in a commercial activity, which ridesharing is. They either needed to buy commercial auto insurance at rates they could ill afford, or risk having an accident when they were technically uninsured.

Starting in 2017, however, a handful of insurance companies, including Farmer’s, Allstate, MetLife and MetroMile, began offering a hybrid policy called rideshare insurance. In most cases, the coverage kicks in only during Period 1. However, in some states, some insurers are offering to cover the full ride. Costs and availability of rideshare coverage vary considerably. So, if you’re a rideshare driver and want to find out more, call participating companies for a quote.

Learn More

Whether you’re shopping for commercial auto insurance, business insurance or coverage for your home, The Carmoon Group has an insurance program to meet your needs. Just give us a call today to make an appointment for your free insurance review. Or contact us online and we’ll get back to you right away.

What Is Wrap-Up Insurance?

plans for a large construction project needing wrap-up insuranceWrap-up insurance is a type of construction insurance that covers all contractors and subcontractors on a large project under a single policy. There are two types of wrap-up insurance: owner controlled (OCIP) and contractor controlled (CCIP). Project owners and general contractors often purchase wrap-up coverage for projects costing $10 million or more.

Both OCIP and CCIP cover virtually all risks and potential liabilities associated with a project. Coverage typically includes Commercial General Liability, workers compensation, employer liability, and excess liability insurance. Some policies also include builder’s risk, pollution liability and other endorsements.

Wrap-up insurance is loss-sensitive coverage, which is less costly than coverage purchased at a fixed cost. Premiums correlate with the level of claims activity, and deductibles are usually quite large. Thus, the overall cost savings associated with wrap-up insurance depend on keeping claims activity low.

Owner Controlled Wrap-Up Insurance (OCIP)

Owner controlled wrap-up insurance is purchased by the owner of a large construction project and covers each individual contractor and subcontractor on the job. Although OCIP is expensive, it typically yields cost savings because the owner is buying coverages in bulk. Further, the project owner saves in overall administrative costs because it is dealing with a single broker and insurer rather than (potentially) dozens of individual companies and plans.

Wrap-up insurance also provides the project owner with a much greater degree of control over the policy structure. Thus there are no gaps in coverage (as there might be with individual plans.) Additionally, the total liability limit is typically much higher (up to $100 million) than individual contractors will qualify for.

Contractor Controlled Wrap Up Insurance

Contractor controlled wrap up insurance differs little from OCIP except that the general contractor or construction manager on the project purchases the coverage. Some underwriters offer better rates for CCIP than OCIP because contractors are in a better position to implement safety standards on the job. Such standards, which include on-the-job safety training, fall prevention measures, drug testing and the like,  are critical to keeping claims activity — and costs — low.

Learn More

At The Carmoon Group, we’re in business to help you succeed. We offer comprehensive insurance coverage for construction contractors of all types and sizes and are experts at helping you manage risk. Give us a call today, or contact us online to set up an appointment for your annual insurance review. You’ll be glad you did.

How to Talk to an Angry Customer

man holding up an drawing of an angry face looks like an angry customerWe’ve all been there. An angry customer calls or shows up at your place of business “gunning for bear.” Obviously, you want to do all you can to defuse the situation and make your angry customer happy again. But if you’re like most small business owners, you’re not always sure how.

One truism of customer service that many of us forget is this: Words matter. What we say to an angry customer is just as important as how we say it. Certain phrases tend to calm while others tend to annoy or enrage. Knowing which is which is an important part of knowing how to turn unhappy customers into allies again.

Here are a few examples of what we mean.

Don’t Apologize, Empathize

Offering a heartfelt “I’m sorry” isn’t necessarily a bad move when talking to an angry customer. But it rarely does much to soothe angry feelings on its own. “I’m sorry” only tells the customer how you feel. It doesn’t tell him you understand his anger or frustration at all.

We all know how infuriating it can be to engage with someone who dismisses our feelings as unimportant or trivial. That’s why a little empathy goes such a long way.  Simply saying, “I’d be angry, too, if I were in your shoes,” tells your customer that you understand his frustration. It makes you more human and helps defuse the emotion at the same time.

Handle It

In 2011, American Express conducted a survey of consumers to look at attitudes towards customer service. Not surprisingly, a vast majority of those responding said customer service was extremely important to them. But a big chunk of those respondents — one in six, in fact —  felt that most companies weren’t working as hard as they could to keep their customers satisfied.  

When AmEx asked consumers what kind of response most upset them in a customer service interaction, two phrases were tied for first place:

“We’re unable to answer your question. Please call [this number] to speak to a representative from our [some other]  team.

“We’re sorry, but we’re experiencing unusually heavy call volumes. You can hold on or try again later.

The message here is pretty simple: Figure out a way to handle an angry customer in one interaction or one call, and do it efficiently. And if you can’t answer a question, don’t leave the client on hold indefinitely. Say “I don’t know the answer to that but I’ll find out. Can I call you in an hour to discuss how we can get this resolved?”

Coach Your Staff

If your employees regularly interact with angry customers, teach them how to handle negative interactions appropriately. In 2010, RightNow Technologies did a customer impact report that showed that 73 percent of customers had left a business due to interactions with rude staff. So training your staff on how to defuse negative interactions and turn them into positives is an essential business strategy.

What exactly should you teach your staff? Here are a few suggestions from Michael Staver’s “21 Ways to Defuse Anger and Calm People Down:”

  • Breathe: Three slow deep breaths is a time-tested way to calm the body and the mind.
  • Relax: Consciously relax the muscles in your face, jaws and shoulders.
  • Don’t take anything personally: The customer is angry at the situation, not you.
  • Acknowledge the customer’s feelings: “I hear that you’re angry, and I certainly understand why.”
  • Ask directed questions: “What can I do to help?” “How can I make this better for you?”

Teach your staff, too, that they don’t need to handle every angry customer alone. If it seems wise to involve a manager or a supervisor — or if the customer asks to speak to someone else — they should know it’s OK to do so.

Clarify

Once you’ve addressed your customer’s complaints, make sure that nothing has been left unresolved. You may be anxious to move on from the negative interaction, but it pays to ask “Is there anything else I can do for you?” This gives the customer an opening to ask additional questions or clarify your response.

Say “Thanks!”

Everyone wants to be liked and appreciated. And while you may not feel warm and fuzzy towards a customer who just berated you, their feedback is valuable nevertheless. Research shows that only one out of every 26 angry customers will actually voice their complaints. So your angry customer actually did you a favor by telling you that you’re doing something wrong.

 

At The Carmoon Group, we know how important customer service is to all of our clients. That’s why we work with you one-on-one to develop a risk management package that’s tailored to your needs. Give us a call today to make an appointment for your annual insurance review. Or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

 

6 Email Marketing Tips That Help You Succeed

young african american man smiling as he reads email marketing message on his mobile deviceEmail marketing is a tried and true way to reach a large number of customers. According to the marketing firm Campaign Monitor, email marketing has been the strongest driver of sales leads across dozens of industries for 10 years in a row. What’s more, for every dollar spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI and has the broadest customer reach, far greater than social media channels alone.

But don’t run off to design your next email marketing campaign just yet. First, read a few tips from the experts about what to check — and double-check–before you hit “Send.”

Test on Mulitple Clients & Multiple Devices

Perhaps the greatest challenge to an email marketing campaign today is the sheer number of email clients and the vast array of devices people use to view them. Your emails need to look good not just on Gmail, Outlook, and iOS, they also need to display properly on every device from a 20-inch desktop to a 4-inch iPhone screen. To accomplish this dizzying feat, you need to choose a strong email marketing service that gives you mobile-ready templates and the ability to preview them on a wide variety of devices. Not sure who those services are? Take a look at some of the top-rated solutions for small businesses here.

Shorten Your Subject Line

Although some of your clients will be reading your email marketing messages on a Mac or PC, it’s a virtual certainty that just as many will be viewing them on a mobile device. In fact, email open rates on mobile grew 30 percent between 2010 and 2015, and mobile use is growing stronger every day.

What this means for your email marketing campaign is that shorter subject lines are critical. You don’t want your carefully crafted message trailing off the page! But how long is too long? As a rule of thumb, keep your subject line under 30 characters and it will display correctly on every mobile device.

Optimize Your Preheader Text

Preheader text is the line of text that shows up directly below the subject line. Smart marketers use it to add important information that encourages the recipient to open the mail. Here’s one example of a strong subject and preheader text combination that draws the reader in:

 “How to Make the Most of Today”
And let go of yesterday for good!

But just like your subject line, your preheader text won’t be effective if it trails off the page. Mobile devices vary as to how many characters they’ll display. The longest is about 90 characters while the lowest — on Windows mobile — is 40. So keep your preheader text to 40 characters or less to make sure it displays properly on every device.

Proofread your Content

Spelling and grammar errors are the easiest mistakes to rectify, and the ones that most often fall through the cracks. And when they do, they make your email look careless and unprofessional, and send your customers the message that you’re careless about other matters too.

To keep errors to a minimum, create your emails using software that offers both spell check and grammar check (like Microsoft Word). Or use the free Grammarly app. Just upload your text to see any spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, and grammar errors immediately. Grammarly will make suggestions about how to fix them, too.

Check Your Links

This may sound like a no-brainer, but when you’re caught up in crafting a killer message and a stunning design, it’s easy to forget that the purpose of the email is to drive traffic to your website or landing page. And that won’t happen if your links don’t work.

Track Your Success

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, after you launch your email marketing campaign, be ready to monitor your results Choose an email marketing service that lets you track open rates, bounce rates, click-throughs etc. so you know if your message is getting through. Then make adjustments to your message and design accordingly.

Protect Your Hospitality Business with the Right Insurance

young business owner of hospitality businessIf you own a restaurant, bar or a catering business, you know you face some pretty significant risks. From food spoilage to employee injuries to customer slips and falls, threats to your financial stability are everywhere. That’s why protecting your hospitality business’ assets with a comprehensive insurance plan is so important.

But what kind of insurance does your business really need? Here are some suggestions from the experts at The Carmoon Group.

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance is the foundation of your hospitality business insurance plan. It protects your assets in the event you are liable for a variety of  third party claims, such as accidental injuries to your patrons, such as: 

  • Slips and falls
  • Food poisoning
  • Allergic reactions
  • Scalds and burns

Additionally, general liability insurance will protect you if a customer’s property is damaged due to your or an employee’s negligence. For example, suppose a member of your wait staff knocks over a glass of red wine that lands in a customer’s Prada purse. The inside of the purse is ruined, and the customer wants you to pay her $1,800 — the cost to replace the purse. If you have general liability insurance in place, it will pick up the tab.

General liability insurance also covers you in the event you are hit with a personal or advertising injury claim. Let’s say, for example, that you open a new restaurant and hire a local artist to create a logo. And that logo winds up looking eerily similar to that of a competitor across town. If the competitor sues you for copyright infringement, your general liability insurance will pay your defense costs and any judgement awarded by the court. It will also kick in if you are sued for slander, libel or other personal injury claims.

Commercial Property Insurance for Your Hospitality Business

Protecting your property is just as important as protecting your financial assets from third party claims. And that’s exactly what commercial property insurance does. A good property insurance policy will cover many kinds of peril, including disasters such as fires and windstorms, losses due to theft and vandalism, and even food spoilage due to equipment failure. Most policies also include business interruption coverage, which pays to help you stay operational while your premises are repaired.

Liquor Liability Insurance for Your Hospitality Business

Whenever a business serves alcohol, it is open to a number of potentially devastating claims. In fact, the No. 1 cause of legal action against hospitality businesses is assault and battery, which is typically the result of an intoxicated patron assaulting someone else.

Another tricky issue for your hospitality business is state “dram shop laws.” Designed to discourage hospitality businesses from serving alcohol to an impaired patron, these laws may hold you legally responsible for an intoxicated person’s actions. That means if you serve another bourbon to a patron whose staggering around the bar and slurring his words, you can be legally liable if he leaves the bar and crashes his car,  killing a mother and her three kids.

Fortunately, liquor liability insurance will protect you if you are ever sued for this type of claim. It will cover your court costs, attorney’s fees and any other defense costs you incur. It will also pay any judgement awarded by the court (up to the limits of your policy.)

Worker’s Compensation Insurance

Protecting its workers is the responsibility of every employer. But when you own a hospitality business, it’s especially critical. Kitchen workers and wait staff alike are exposed to a host of risks, including slips and falls, burns, scalds and cuts.

Worker’s compensation insurance is no fault insurance that covers an employee’s medical expenses and a portions of their lost wages in the event they sustain an on-the-job injury and cannot return to work for some time. Most states require all employers to carry this insurance to protect their employees. 

Schedule Your Free Consultation Today

At The Carmoon Group, we offer risk management counseling and solutions for small businesses of all kinds. So, why not give us a call and schedule your annual insurance review today? We’re here every weekday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Too busy to call? Contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

5 Construction Management Software Solutions You Can Use Today

construction professionals reviewing data from software If you’re like a lot of small and mid-size construction firms, you’re probably managing most of your business operations with outdated systems and paper files. Perhaps you want to look into  construction management software, but finding the time to research what’s available is just not in the cards. That’s why we decided to do some of the legwork for you and round up some suggestions from other professionals like you.

Here’s a sampling of some of the most popular construction management solutions we found.

Buildertrends

Founded in 2006, Buildertrends is one of the most popular software solutions for home builders, remodelers, and general and specialty contractors. Based in the cloud, it includes a full suite of online tools that address project management, financial management, customer management and more. It’s features include:

Project Management

  • Bid management
  • Scheduling
  • Budgeting
  • Time sheets
  • Incident reporting
  • Photo and document management

Customer Relations Management (CRM)

  • Selection management
  • Change orders
  • Payment processing
  • Surveys and reviews
  • Mobile app (Android and iOS)

Pricing: $99 per month for one project per year. No set up fee. 30-day money back guarantee

Procore

Procore is subscription-based cloud solution that helps streamline communication and documentation between contractors, design firms, architects and engineering firms. It offers a user-friendly, module-based platform and multiple project management tools. Features include:

  • Document and photo management
  • Drawing management
  • Email tracking
  • Meeting minutes
  • RFIs
  • Scheduling
  • Bid management
  • Job costing
  • Billing and invoicing
  • Timesheets
  • Unlimited users at no additional cost

Procore’s open platform API also enables integration with other systems, such as accounting software, scheduling software, storage software, reporting software, and more.

Pricing: Contact Procore for a quote

Newforma

Newforma is project integration software that allows design firms, architects, contractors and subcontractors to interface quickly and efficiently. It allows contractors to see all RFIs and submittals in one view, share drawings in real time, and more. The cloud-based solution includes:

  • Contract management
  • Drawing management
  • Email management
  • Document and photo management
  • Timesheets
  • Task management

Pricing: Contact Newform for a quote

CoConstruct

Designed for home builders and remodelers, CoConstruct is web and mobile-based project management, financial management and client management software. It’s single-entry estimating systems allows users to enter a piece of information once with no double entry. Data flows seamlessly from estimate to specifications, bids, change orders, budgets and QuickBooks.

CoConstruct is a subscription-based system that charges users only for projects currently under construction. The software can be used at no charge for planning, bidding and estimating costs. The company provides an implementation coach and a two day group training class for those who wish to attend.

Other features include:

  • Scheduling
  • Time clock
  • Job log
  • Subcontractor portal
  • Document and photo management
  • Client portal with custom branding

Pricing: Plans start at $99 per month with no set-up fee. 90-day money-back guarantee.

UDA ConstructionOnline

From UDA Technologies, ConstructionOnline is an award-winning, web-based subscription software solution for emerging contractors in the home building and remodeling fields. It offers an integrated approach to project management, scheduling and customer engagement. The project management module includes:

  • Photo and document management
  • Budgeting and cost estimating
  • Contract management
  • Gantt-chart task management

The customer management module offers customized buyer portals, contract management and more. Customers can view project calendars, request and approve change orders, and view photos and drawings online.

Pricing: Free 10-day trial, then $99 to $299 per month.


At The Carmoon Group, we work with you to help your business grow. From insurance to risk management planning to financial advice, we’re here to help your business succeed. Give us a call today or contact us online. We’d love to chat about your needs.

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Carmoon now offers our clients the convenience of requesting a personal consultation online. If you would like someone to contact you with more information, just let us know.

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