15,000 Fires Will Start In A Laundry Room This Year

In the past year, our old clothes dryer failed and it was time to buy a new one.  Much to our surprise, the guy who installed the dryer pointed out how much lent had accumulated in the vent duct as a result of a small tear in our lent trap.  It was an accident (fire) waiting to happen.  We got lucky…. many do not……..

According To The US Fire Administration:

  • there are an estimated 15,000 laundry room fires per year.

  • these fires cause an average of 15 deaths and 400 injuries per year.

  • 80% of dryer fires occur in residences.

  • 70% of all dyrer fires are the result of operations deficiencies -  “failure to clean.”

Warning Signs

  • One obvious warning sign of a clogged vent is when heavy clothes such as jeans or towels are taking a lot longer to dry.

What To Do If You Suspect Lent Is Building Up In Your Dryer Vent

  • Although some will disconnect and inspect the dryer and vent duct  themselves, many elect to hire a professional to do it for them.  Consult your repair guy for his recommendation as to how often this should take place.  Please note: the purpose of this blog post is to raise awareness for this potential problem not to necessarily give expert advice on how to install or maintain this household appliance.

A Couple Of Other Dryer-Related Tips:    

  • Never put foam, rubber, or plastic materials in the dryer.
  • Never put towels used to clean up flammable liquids in the dryer, even if they has been washed.
  • Clean the lint and debris from in and around the dryer regularly.
  • Inspect your lint trap for tears before every use.  Replace if torn.
  • Exhaust vent should be as short as possible with limited bends to provide adequate airflow.
  • Do not let dryer run if you are not home or if you are asleep.
  • Also, make sure your smoke detector(s) are working properly.

Bottom Line: 

  • Dryer fires can be prevented with proper installation methods, a little maintenance and using the dryer for its intended purpose.

Additional Sources: 

Questions?  Give me a call (815) 979-4045.

BY THE WAY, IF YOU LIKE READING MY BLOG, PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY! 
YOU CAN ALSO CONNECT WITH ME VIA FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, AND TWITTER.  THANKS!

Frank Haney

 

$1,000,000 Question: Are You Memorable To Your Clients?

Another way to look at this is, what is the cost of being forgettable?

A colleague shared the below-mentioned quote with me this week and I thought I would pass it along to my clients and those in my network.    

It is not your client’s (or prospect’s) job to remember you.  It is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t have the chance to forget you.”

To be honest, I have no idea who actually said this.  However, I would suspect that this person is extremely successful and has many happy clients.  I would bet that in addition to “knowing their stuff” this person finds creative ways to communicate with the people they serve and is always on the look-out for ways to add value.

Now not every conversation you have is worth a million dollars but I think this one is if time is factored into the equation.

Many companies talk about being sales focused or service focused.  Both of these approaches are focused inward and are out-dated.  Both are missing the boatThe key to is to client-focused!

Important questions to ask yourself:  

1. What are you doing to be memorable to your clients and prospective clients?  How do you compare to other vendors, supplies, or service providers in your client’s world?

2. What is your competition doing?  Remember:  “Memorable” is a relative term.

3. What are people in other industries doing that you could duplicate?  If it works for the financial service industry, then could it work for me?

4. Again, what is the cost of being forgettable?

5.  What is one thing you could do RIGHT NOW (today, this week, or this month) that would make you more memorable to your clients and prospect?

6.  Is SoCiAl MeDiA pArT oF tHe EqUaTiOn?

Special thanks to Damian Czechorski at Williams-Manny, Inc. for contributing to this blog post.

Questions?  Call me at (815) 979-9121.

Frank Haney

Relationship-focused insurance agent dedicated to protecting your business and family.

Agency: Williams-Manny, Inc. – located in Rockford, Illinois.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only.  There is no legal advice being suggested or offered.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for the actions take or not taken by the readers based upon the above-mention information.

I blog about three things:  insurance, how I use social media to better serve my insurance clients and build my business, and business development ideas I have learned along the way.

What Is Comprehensive Auto Insurance Coverage?

Comprehensive auto insurance coverage covers damage to your car from theft, vandalism, fire, wind, flood, and other non-accident causes.  Windshield cracks, hail damage, and falling objects (ex: tree falls on your car) are covered under comprehensive coverage.

This coverage is sometimes referred to as “other than collision” coverage; however, the one exception would be collision with an animal (ex: hitting a deer).  Collision with an animal is covered under comprehensive coverage.

Comprehensive, like collision coverage, carries a deductible.  Many people carry a lower “comp” deductible compared to collision coverage deductibles due to claim size and pricing differences.  As an example: a business owner might have a $500 Comprehensive Deductible (Other Than Collision) and a $1,000 Collision Deductible for his auto fleet.

Although some choose to drop comp and collision coverage, most purchase these coverages when their vehicle is worth $5,000 or more.  If you can’t afford to replace your current car (regardless of value) with out-of-pocket money, then carry “comp” coverage in cash your car is stolen.  Lastly, anyone leasing a vehicle or carrying an auto loan will also need to carry “full coverage” – both comprehensive and collision coverage to compliment their liability-related coverages.

Questions?  Call me at (815) 979-4045.

Frank Haney

 

10 Insurance Questions For Busy Professionals

Ok, raise your hand if you love talking about insurance…….

Anyone?!?

Anyone?!?

Bueller?!?

Bueller?

Although there can be some pretty disastrous consequences if you ignore or neglect your business or personal insurance, it is easy to see why that could happen:

Do you feel like you are busier today than five years ago?  

Busy professionals tend to back-burner insurance discussions.

The urgent can get in the way of the important.

Whether you are a small business owner, executive at a not-for-profit, teacher, engineer, or someone who works in a sales-related position - terms like “wearing a lot of hats” – “multi-tasking” – and “doing more with less” probably applies to you.  And after you get done with work, there are numerous family and volunteer commitments that require both time and energy.  As a result, you ignore (or forget about) things like your insurance and then have a real problem at the time of a claim.

Do You Know Where Your Insurance Policy Is Located?

I know, I know – this is simple stuff; however, think about this for a minute.  I am not talking about insurance invoices from 10 years ago or an updated policy when you were with a different insurance agency or carrier.  If your answer is “yes,” then great!  That means, at the very least, you can look-up an answer to one of my questions if you are unable to recall from memory.

However, if your answer is “no” then you most likely will not be able to answer the 9 questions that will follow - you do not have an avenue to even find the right answers.

Why Answering “No” Scares Me 

If you don’t know where your policy is located, then you probably don’t know what is in your policy.  You have no way of confirming what is covered and what is not covered.  You don’t know when your insurance renews, what your coverage limits are, and what deductibles you have committed to paying in the event of a claim.

So, do you know where your insurance policy is located?  In your office file cabinet at the office?  In your insurance binder on the shelf?  In a drawer in the extra bedroom at home?  Scanned and saved in your computer?  Scattered in multiple places?  No idea but I am going to figure it out today?

Questions?  Call me at (815) 979-4045.

Frank Haney

 

What Do You Actually Control?

My #1 goal this year: Focus on “controllables” in my business and personal life.  However, to do that, I am going to have to let someone else worry about the “uncontrollables”…….

One could create a long list of things they do NOT control (market conditions, other’s people’s actions, weather, etc) but only a short list  of things they do control.

As an example, my “controllables” in my role as an independent insurance agent:

1. How many calls I make to prospective clients.

2. How many pre-approach letters I mail.

3.  The amount of time I spend on professional development to ensure that I give my existing clients the best possible consulting.

4.  The amount of time I spend planning (vs. reacting).

5.  The amount of time I spend on presentation preparation.

6.  How many blog posts I shoot-out to those in my network (& beyond) regarding insurance, social media, and business development.  Side note: I do this to add value to existing relationship as well as to grow personally and professionally.  It is amazing how much great info one comes across when they share ideas with others.

STRUCTURE – BEHAVIOR – OUTCOME CONNECTION

- My thought structure (what is going on between my ears) drives my behavior.

- My behavior influences (but does not 100% control) my outcomes: sales, appointments, client retention, etc.

CONNECTION BETWEEN “LAST” & “NEXT”

Does your last result (last call, last meeting, last whatever) impact your next action?  Is that a good thing or a bad thing? (Confession: I need work on this one).

It is funny how this seems to come into play only when your “last” is something negative…. you missed a putt on the golf course or jumpshot on the basketball court, you missed a sale, had a bad call, etc.  I am not talking about a quick adjustment but rather being stopped dead in your tracks… as if paralyzed by fear – you start over-thinking your next action.

GREAT QUOTE ON FOCUSING ON “CONTROLLABLES” 

The following quote is posted inside the Chapel at Duke University next to the donation box (clever marketing actually):

I am one – but still I am one.

I cannot do everything – but I can do something.

And because I cannot do everything,

I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

                                  – Everett Hale

What are three things you control?  What are three things you don’t control but have spent substantial time / energy worrying about?

Thanks for reading!

Questions?  Call me at (815) 979-4045.

Frank Haney

Quiet Courage

This blog post falls under the, “it’s not how you feel, it’s what you do” category.  For 99% of us, we know what we need to do in-order to be successful in business and in life.  However, when it comes to New Year Resolutions and goal setting, many of us think BIG but do not act.

When it comes to achieving my goals, there are no real roadblocks in my way.  Success often comes down to, do I have the guts to execute when it counts?

I came across the concept of “quiet courage” while reading the book, Work The System, by Sam Carpenter.  Great book!  He says, “although there are many possible technical excuses for failure, it is a lack of what I call “quiet courage” that often precedes downfall.  Quiet courage is the opposite of procrastination.”

Quiet courage is taking that next step toward a goal even when the conditions are not ideal.  In athletics, they say great players work hard even when the coach is not watching.  Quiet courage is executing when no one is watching… when you have had a hectic day…. when you don’t feel so well…  when there is a perfectly good excuse for putting something off… when there is no immediate reward… when the second most important thing is pulling you away from what matters most.

For me, having quiet courage looks like this:

  • Blocking off chunks of time for prospecting –  EVERYDAY! This includes executing a mail /call campaign for ideal prospective clients.  I can get lost in my day with the best of them.
  • “Batching” on-going activities like email management and the returning of non-urgent phone calls so that my day is not one big interruption.  If you are like me, this is going to be a painful process.  They call it a “crackberry” for a reason!
  • Making the commitment to go to the gym 5 times per week for the next five months and train for a 1/2 marathon.
  • Making a commitment to 1-2 blog posts per week so that, come the end of the year, I have added a great deal of value to my clients and those in my network.
  • Continuing my professional development by, among other things, knocking-out a couple of CIC (Certified Insurance Counselor) classes.  It is really hard to leave the office for three days at a time for a class even though being a student of insurance is one of the best ways to serve existing and future clients.
  • Doing church, family dinners, and movie night with the kids even when my wife and I are exhausted from a crazy work day/week and would rather just decompress. 

What does quiet courage look like to you?

Questions?  Call me at (815) 979-4045.

Frank Haney

3 Ways To Prevent Electrical Fires

There are several safety-related items to keep in mind throughout the year:

- Toy safety

- Travel safety

- Thefts (at home or while shopping at the store or on-line)

- Christmas tree fires

Here are three simple safety tips from the US Fire Administration to help prevent electrical fires?

  1. Whether plugging in juicing-up your kid’s new motorized toy, or setting-up a computer, avoid overloading an electrical outlet with an extension cord or three-way adapters. If you need to plug-in a lot of things in a particular area of your home or office, then use a power strip.

2.  When unplugging something, don’t pull on the cord to unplug it.  Remind your kids to do the same!  Grasp the plug firmly and pull it out  straight so you don’t bend the prongs.

3.  Replace any cord or plug that is cracked or discolored or feels hot to the touch when in use.  If one plug is one wider than the other (polarized), or if it has a third grounding prong, then replace it with similar equipment.

Questions?  Call me at (815) 979-4045.

Frank Haney

Auto Insurance Horror Story – How Saving $250 Can Cost You $110,000!

There are three types of people who should read this blog post:

1. The small to medium size business owner who wears many hats (CEO, Janitor, CFO, Company Shrink, Manager, Tech Guy/Girl, Industry Expert, Company Cheerleader, HR Director, and Insurance Buyer).  Recently, you started to wonder, “what could happen that would put you out of business?”

2.  The Young Professional who just got booted off mom and dad’s auto insurance policy.  You research everything on-line and prefer to buy that way but have started to worry that you really have no idea what you have vs. what you need when it comes to insurance.

3.  The 30-50 something family man/woman who has an auto insurance policy folder but hasn’t seen it since they moved three and half years ago….. “but everything is fine – we have not had a ticket or accident in years”

The story…  30 days ago a friend told you he saved $250 on his auto insurance.  So you called your insurance agent and told him that if he couldn’t save you $250 in insurance premium, then you would move your insurance to another agent.  Instead of discussing this in more detail, the agent made some cuts (lowered liability limits, raised deductibles, eliminated collision coverage, and cut rental car and towing coverage) to your policy and cut costs.  You and your agent never discussed the specifics of these cuts or the potential consequences.  You both just focused on the bottom line premium ….  you are now paying $20.83 less per month or about $1.74 less per day.  However, you didn’t really save money – you just bought less insurance.

One month later you get into an accident.  You rear-end the car in-front of you on your way to work.  You were alone in your car but you hit a car driven by a pregnant lady who also had three kids in the back seat.  You are at-fault. 

What are some of the insurance implications? 

Since you at-fault adn you live in Illinois, you are responsible for the bodily injury to the woman, her baby, and the kids as well as physical damage to the woman’s property (her car).  

When it comes to liability, how much is enough?  You recently decided to lower your liability limits from 250/500/100 to 50/100/100.  What does that mean? 

  • You went from $250,000 per person for bodily injury damage to $50,000 and from $500,000 per occurence for bodily injury coverage to $100,000. 
  • You stayed even on the physical damage at $100,000.

Well, the good news is that the damage done to the injured parties’ $40,000 car is completely covered.  Zero dollars will come out of your pocket.  The other piece of good news is that one of the kids in the back had no bodily injury. 

The BAD NEWS:

  • Two of the kids are hurt.  Kid I has minor cuts and required $2,000 in medical attention.  Although the $2,000 is completely covered by your insurance, the other kid needed $60,000 in medical attention and only $50,000 of it is covered.

BASED ON YOUR NEW INSURANCE POLICY:  You saved $250 on your insurance premium but it cost you $10,000.  Remember, you now only have $50,000 per person (used to be $250,000) for bodily injury coverage in an at-fault accident.

  • The pregnant woman is also hurt.  Although she (and her baby) wind-up being ok, the woman requires $150,000 in medical attention.  Why so much $$$?  It turned-out she needed to be rushed to the hospital, stayed there for three weeks, endured numerous tests, had a small surgical procedure, and required a great deal of physical therapy. 

BASED ON YOUR NEW INSURANCE POLICY: you saved $250 on your insurance premium but it cost you $100,000 for the injured woman since you only carry $50,000 per person for bodily injury in an at-fault accident. 

THE INSURANCE COMPANY OWES:  $102,000 ($2,000 – Kid I, $50,000 – Kid II, and $50,000 – Woman) 

YOU OWE:  $110,000 out-of-pocket ($10,000 – Kid II + $100,000 – Woman).  Since your insurance will not cover this portion, you will have to tap into your personal assets.  If this happened to a business owner and the accident involved one of his/her business autos, then he would have to dip into company assets.   

THREE TAKEAWAYS FROM THIS STORY:

1.  Some people buy insurance from the following perspective: I am never going to need this stuff.  Other people buy insurance from a different perspective: I might need this stuff.  There is a big difference!

2.  Don’t turn down a ton of insurance to save a couple of bucks!  If there is a loss, then either you or the insurance company is going to pay.  If you can’t afford to pay it yourself, then you should buy insurance to cover it. 

3.  It is important to know both what is covered and what is NOT covered when it comes to your insurance policy.  It is equally important to know your insurance limits and deductibles.        

ONE FINAL POINT:

It is important to note that we have only focused on one piece of this claim: the driver’s liability that arose out of having an at-fault accident.  Future blog posts will cover other aspects of this claim: Damage to the insured’s driver’s car, deductibles for comp and collision coverage, rental car coverage, towing, umbrella policy, etc.   

Questions?  Call me at (815) 979-9121. 

Frank Haney

Relationship-focused insurance agent dedicated to protecting your business and family.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only.  There is no legal advice being suggested or offered.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for the actions take or not taken by the readers based upon the above-mention information.

Agency: Williams-Manny, Inc. – located in Rockford, Illinois. 

I blog about three things:  insurance, how I use social media to better serve my insurance clients and build my business, and business development ideas I have learned along the way.  

7 Business Development Tips

 

One of my business development goals this year is to more effectively use social media to:

 

 

  • add value to those in my network by sharing information about insurance, social media, and business development
  • stay in touch with those in my network without being intrusive
  • find people who need help with their insurance today…. or tomorrow
  • grow professionally and personally

To that end, I thought I would share a little information I came across that relates to business development.  Listed below are 7 Business Development Tips from Harvey Mackey, author of Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You’ll Ever NeedI added a little commentary after each of his tips.

1. People aren’t strangers if you’ve already met them. The trick is to meet them before you need their help.  Equally as important is meeting people before they realize they need help from someone in your industry.  In some cases, you need to be the “back-up” or “#2 person” in your contact’s network before you can become their “go to” person for needs within your industry.    

2. If everyone in your network is the same as you, it’s not a network, it’s an anthill.  Whether you are an executive or a student in middle school, coming out of your comfort zone and meeting new people can be uncomfortable.  Putting yourself in a position to meet new people takes courage.  It may help if you look at it this way….. You don’t need to have courage all the time to meet new people – you just need to have courage about 10 minutes per week.  However, that 10 minutes makes all the difference!  Don’t think in terms of building a network – think in terms of building a network of networks. 

3. In networking, you’re only as good as what you give away.  Three things I want to do in 2012 is: help people in my network connect with each other, share ideas that add value (the same way many have helped me along the way), and continue to get involved and advance causes that I am passionate about.

4. Your network is the best and most credible reflection of your success and your talents.  LinkedIn did a study and found that people with 150 connections or more made more money that those with less than 150 connections.  I wonder if that would have been true 25 years ago? 

5. If you work hard for thirty-five years and build pivotal contacts in strategic areas of business, then you can become an overnight success.  Forget networking – this is true for all types of work.  I am all for working smarter but you need to work hard first – then continuously look for ways to work smarter. 

6. The idea is not to see how many people you can meet. The idea is to compile a list of people you can count on.  Equally as important, you need to ask yourself, how many people can count on me?  Am I on their list? 

7. The wise person isn’t the one who makes the fewest mistakes. It’s the one who learns the most from them.  I agree 100%.  There is a great book on this subject: Failing Forward.   

Questions?  Give me a call (815) 979-4045.

Frank Haney

Rockford’s Insurance Coach

Do I Have Time For LinkedIn?

I signed-up for LinkedIn about four years ago.  Like most people, I signed-up because I was invited several times - I really didn’t know what I signing-up for or how to use the site.  Overtime, I added some connections, updated my profile occasionally, and joined a few groups.

I went from checking LinkedIn 2 times per month initially, to once a week, to 4-5 times per week the past few months.  I now have over 500 connections, a complete profile, a handful of recommendations, a basic understanding of other site features, and know how to use the search process.  That’s good, right?

I was recently asked, “Do you really have time for LinkedIn?”  It made me pause and think….  I have a demanding job, young family, and several volunteer commitments…. Is the benefit worth the investment of time with the 30-45 minutes I spend on LinkedIn per week?  Could I be doing something else that would be of more value to me professionally or personally?

After much consideration, my answer is YES! 

I am not putting myself out there as a social media / LinkedIn / time management expert.  In fact, I am far from it.  That being said, I hope that by explaining my thought process, I can in some small way help you figure out how much time, if any, you can justify spending on this social media tool.

1.  The turning point for me was when I attended a seminar at the Rockford Chamber’s Business Expo a few months back and heard a keynote on LinkedIn.  Wayne Breitbarth was the speaker and his book, The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success lays out the “why” and “how” of LinkedIn.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the topic.  He also sends out regular LinkedIn-related tips as well.  Check-out his website at www.powerformula.net.

2.  Unlike my Microsoft Outlook contact list, I can stay in-front of my LinkedIn network quickly, easily, and inexpensively.  This is huge!

3.  Regarding LinkedIn and building my business, it is about perspective.  I do not confuse a connection with a client.  I am an insurance agent - I love to help businesses and families with their insurance.  I don’t apologize for it either.  However, NOT every connection needs my help with their insurance and I am ok with that.  In some cases, the best I can do is position myself in case they need my help in the future.  In the meantime, I can increase my chances of being their go to agent tomorrow by adding value today.

4.  There is great value in connecting with people you know and trust.  One of my connections may not need my help but one of his connection might.  Some refer to this as the power of loose connections.  This is why it is important to connect with a wide-range of people; people who you know from all walks of life – both past and present.  Again, the idea that I can see my connections’ connections is a powerful tool.

5.  My competitors are doing it!(So are your competitors by the way)

6.  My connections can see my recommendations.  A recommendation is more powerful than anything we can say about ourselves.

7.  How many times has the following happened?  You meet someone and have every intention of staying in touch.  You exchange cards but then never speak to them again.    Now, I meet someone I want to stay in touch with, exchange cards, and then connect with them on LinkedIn.  If they are not on LinkedIn, then I invite them to join.

8.  LinkedIn makes sense when you understand the numbers:

  • Executives from all 2011 Fortune 500 Companies are members of LinkedIn
  • 75% of Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn’s hiring solutions
  • 120,000,000 use LinkedIn (50% inside US)
  • Average age of a LinkedIn user: 43
  • Male: 51% / Female: 49%
  • College degree: 77.6%
  • Post graduate degree: 29%
  • Biz decision maker: 49%
  • Average income: $107,000

9.  I have joined several professional groups and, as a result, have increased my industry knowledge as well as stumbled across some good sales and marketing material.

10.  You can learn a lot about people by reading their profile.  Where else could you easily find this much information about a friend, client, fellow volunteer, etc?  I am not referring to something surface like a Facebook status update.  I am referring to information about a person’s professional career, education, community involvement, passions, interests, etc.  Knowing this information can make it easier to better serve them or connect them to people who may benefit from their expertise.

So, I guess the next question is, “If LinkedIn is this beneficial, then why not spend even more time on it?”  My answer is simple: time.  I do not want to put all of my eggs in one basket.  I still believe in traditional sales activities:  calling, meeting face to face, networking events, email, letters, etc.

Questions?  Give me a call (815) 979-9121.