How to Check In On Your Auto Insurance Carrier

May 31st, 2008 admin

It’s essential to ensure that your car carries enough insurance to cover for any mishap or incident, especially for those which involve other parties.  Sure, car insurance is a must, but with the numerous companies out there which offer to cover for your car, which of them can you really trust?  When it’s time to file your claim, how will such a company treat a customer who has every right to collect?  Before you sign on the dotted lines, observe these tips first so you won’t get involved in sour deals.

Don’t be lured with low premiums at the outset – of course, this factor is a plus, but you have to make sure first that the company also offers excellent customer services.  Each state accordingly has its department of insurance, and these usually have their own online sites to accommodate complaints.  Check for the insurance company’s customer complaint ratio within the state; this figure determines the number of complaints it receives for every thousand claims which is filed to it.  You’ll be surprised that even the big-named companies can have an appalling rate; the figure varies between states though, and you should compare it with that of other states.  If the same low ratio persists for many states, look for another company.  Come up with separate lists of companies which offer low premiums and those with low ratios, and compare these in an effort to come up with the one which is perfect for you.

Get an insider’s perspective on the issue by contacting established body shops within your area, and asking for their own recommendations.  The manager is the usual person which insurance adjusters contact in instances which necessitate claims, and they can tell you which of the car insurance companies are easy to deal with, and which are tightwads when it comes to claim processing.  The pace at which a car is repaired is affected by the claim process, and some companies also try to hard-sell aftermarket parts in place of originals, in order to cut back on potential costs.

There are also two other means of checking in on how a car insurance company fares with its customers, one of which is to verify with J.D. Power ratings – this is essentially a collection of information from numerous policyholders across states, rating a company in terms of options, premiums, claim processing, and consumer satisfaction.  It’s a good way of assessing how the car insurer fares with the competition.  You can also verify if the company has the financial strength to finance a claim, by checking in with the ratings published by Standard and Poor.  If you are dealing with a company which is established and well-known in the industry, then it can competently pay out claims, but smaller carriers entail claim risks for your policy.  All carriers usually offer the same general policies with minor tweaks, but the difference lies in their ability to answer for claims without detailed inquiries and delays.  Check these factors out by yourself to get a first-hand assessment of a carrier, or choose to have the work accomplished for you by hiring an agent.

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Fitness Programs Bring Out the Best In Employees

May 30th, 2008 admin

Everyone who has spent an entire day at an office between rush hours knows how stressful the daily grind can be. And with the current popularity of rotating, round-the-clock shifts, the pressure is further exacerbated by erratic work and sleep schedules, affecting the employee’s productivity, and the company’s output as well. Employees who spend most of their time at the desk tapping away on a computer terminal are at a health risk, since prolonged immobility encourages the buildup of fat and lowered body resistance, and no company wants to have an employee who is too sick to go to work.

This is probably the reason why many companies, particularly those in the IT industry, are sizing up their biggest competition yet – an unhealthy workforce. The usual day of an IT employee usually revolves around the cubicle, with short and infrequent stops to the water cooler or the coffee maker. The bagels don’t help either. And considering the prolonged postures which they have to assume in front of the computer, the strain to the back and the limbs, combined with the mental and pressures associated with the regular quotas, can be too much even for the most hardnosed team player. A proper fitness program is crucial in bringing out the best in employees, and conscientious companies know it.

Research has shown that physically-active team players not only contribute more to the company, they are also better representatives of the company’s labor profile. Physically-fit employees have reduced stress levels even during the periodical deadline rush, and they are able to deal with last-minute assignments more efficiently than those who are otherwise burned out with the current load. A fit workforce can also save the company in the long run since there are fewer health risks to answer for, fewer health insurance duties to cover for, and an upsurge in employee attendance leads to better productivity and more gains. Of course, a program which must be implemented across the board should be as efficient and sustained as any of the in-house policies.

Initially, there should be an awareness program in place to inform the employees of the company’s goal; they should also know about the immediate and long-term benefits of all the activities included in the program. The message may be sent out to employees through a combination of numerous methods: pamphlets, symposiums, newsletters, memos, and even inter-department contests and pop quizzes. This measure should be maintained as long as the fitness program is in place. Incentive is also a good reason for an employee to participate in such a program; the company may provide the employee who lost the most inches in the waistline with an extra day off (with pay, of course).

Such measures may be held on a regular basis so that employees have a goal to look forward to. Finally, the company should provide methods which allow the employee to involve himself in a fitness regimen. An in-house gym or activity court may be built within the company compound, or employees may be provided with subsidized membership to a nearby fitness club. Considering that an IT employee may spend most of his or her waking hours at the office, the company can give back to such a contribution by ensuring that the employee enjoys a more fulfilling life, in the pink of health. Not only will the mutual efforts boost both the company and the employees’ morale, both will also reap in the long-term benefits which a fitness program can provide.

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The Perks And Drawbacks Of Outsourcing

May 29th, 2008 admin

More and more companies are taking advantage of a recent trend in the industry: the option of delegating part of your company’s duties through outsourcing. Outsourcing basically allows you to let third parties deal with services and processes which are essential to the company’s operation, those which can cost you more if these are performed as part of in-house functions. While this alternative may be appealing to fledgling companies (and even institutions with massive resources), outsourcing does have its drawbacks.

The following are a few of the things which any executive should consider before outsourcing any company duties to an outside party. For one thing, outsourcing is significantly cheaper when compared to in-house delegation; this is especially true if you choose to outsource the duties to an offshore party which asks for relatively lower rates. You can do more for less as a consequence. Since the auxiliary (though indispensable) duties of your company are taken care of, you can concentrate more on your basic competencies, such as logistics, in-house management, or product and service development. It lets you cut back on costs while you work on gaining an edge with your competitors in a tough market. Since you’ll also outsource the labor which is associated with the duty, you’ll spend less on personnel training.

Outsourcing is a competitive market in itself, especially in the developing countries, and as such, you’ll be able to compare the technologies and efficiencies of each service provider alongside each other, and choose the provider which is more competent and able in catering to your needs. As appealing as outsourcing may seem, it does have its disadvantages, and while outsourcing companies see the sudden influx of clients as a blessing, the client undertakes the option with certain risks. If the third party fails to deliver services as agreed upon due to an unexpected mishap, such as a bankruptcy, insufficient funding, and downsizing, the outsourcers receives the full brunt of the consequence. The control on the outsourced service also changes hands as soon as the duty is delegated to the service provider, and the company may not obtain the intended results due to differing priorities.

Don’t forget that service providers may consider your company as part of an extensive list of clients, and they may be partial to those which offer better rates and terms, by offering better services within faster completion periods. As if your prospects with service providers aren’t risky enough, your in-house employees may also see the move to outsource as a threat to their own jobs, and may respond accordingly with increased work turnover, reduced productivity, and substandard output. You’ll have to contend between the savings and risks of the venture, and consider it in the light of your company’s future prospects. Outsourcing is a relatively new trend, and most areas of the service sector currently embrace it with reservations.

It may take some time before it assumes a comfortable place as a normal corporate function, and you should weigh your options before you follow through on a trend just to keep abreast or get ahead of the competition.


Promo strategies for more business mileage

May 28th, 2008 admin

It’s no surprise to note that the well-worn methods of promotion in the print, radio, and television media won’t work in the user-oriented medium of the internet. When consumers can be passive receivers of information with all other media forms, an internet promotional strategy should be able to secure the browser’s active participation in order for it to be effective. As such, pop-ups and banner ads simply do not have as much appeal on the web.

If your online business is new and in need of some serious PR campaign, there are a number of ways in which you can spread the word out and keep it circulating. First, do appreciate the power of search engines, and maximize their use to your advantage. You’ll have bigger chances for customer traffic if you appear on the results of search engine queries. It is true that the top-ranked search results are in fact paid links, but at least you’ll have a chance to appear on the first page if you continuously submit your site to them. Search engines also find their way to your site by ‘crawling’ to them, but these can take a long time due to the amount of new sites which sprout up every day. Incorporate essential key words and tags, and as much as possible, include your company’s name on the title of the home page so that it also appears on the query results.

Make sure that the media gets the buzz on your company by sending out press releases, and once the customers start coming in, have a customer newsletter program in place to maintain their patronage. Newsletters can provide regular information on your company’s newest product and promotional offerings directly to the consumer, and if they are satisfied with your services, the newsletter will most likely be circulated among the inbox of friends and relatives. You can also place paid online ads, particularly on the web pages which enjoy a steady support base of the crowd you are targeting. For example, if you operate an online flower shop, place ads on online sites of wedding coordinators, homemaking websites, and those which are geared for horticulture hobbyists.

If you offer travel services, become an expert at the field and go into newsgroups and forums, offering advice while subtly promoting traffic to your site. This gives you credibility among the community, and many will be lured in by such authority by referring to the contact tag you provide with each entry. On the same note, you can also come up with informative articles which are related to your business, and then submit them to article submission websites which cater to your target market. Make sure that you include your business profile and your site URL on the bio data which comes with each article. Finally, you have to network out your site by linking it with others. This may be done free or at a cost, or with established online business directories and affiliate programs.

You’ll get more mileage if you use these methods to your advantage, and considering that the power of word-of-mouth advertisement is all the more potent in this internet-savvy age, your business is bound to take off.

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Starting an Online Business in a competitive market

May 27th, 2008 admin

Good business management requires acute instincts, and updated knowledge of the market; those who get ahead are those which are constantly in tune with the demands of clients, and are efficient in coming up with a solution for meeting these. Since all established businesses have put up online sites for consumers to access, your fledging business should get into the thick of the competition and follow suit in order for it to take off.

Unfortunately, the internet is a slightly different marketing medium compared to other forms of mass media, and if you want to make profits through the online marketplace, there are several things which you have to consider first. Because your website will be your foremost marketing tool, you have to ensure that it is fully functional and very easy to navigate, so that even the casual browser will be involved in your site, and will hopefully do business. Keep the look fresh and appealing, but appropriate to the product or services you are offering.

A site which offers wedding planning services should be colorful enough, but without having too much eye candy to suffocate the browser’s window. In the same sense, if you’re a consulting firm, function is more important than form; keep the site streamlined so that the client is ushered into the pages as painlessly as possible. Keep the links active, and provide efficient opportunities for order placement and feedback. Of course, the same old business rules apply. Keep your expectations realistic; businesses don’t succeed overnight, so make sure that you set a reasonable timeline for achieving your goals, especially if you are still a budding entrepreneur.

Try beginning with a smaller number of service or product offerings, adding on to them as you get enough sense of the business to attempt an expansion. Maintain a progressive development, keep updated with the latest market trends, and employ these to your advantage; for instance, if you sell exotic coffee beans, and a new, in-demand variety becomes available, make sure that you are one of the first to offer such. This gives you an edge over other providers, and the name of your company will hopefully ring a bell in your client’s minds in the future. Get a grip on the competition. Even established companies have been forced on the wayside for the simple fact that they didn’t monitor their competitor’s newest market activities.

A new trend might surface, or a product becomes too outmoded that it’s inclusion in your offerings will only hurt your business – get ahead of the pack and initiate the first move. Also, make sure that you learn from your competitors mistakes so that you’ll be able to deal with similar difficulties in the future. If you have to downsize your company just to keep it afloat, suck it up and do the reshuffle. If you have to purchase an essential equipment in order to keep up with the pace of the competition, do so, even if this means that you’d have to shell out for more than your intended budget. Flourishing businesses take risks and overcome them, and if you want your company to gain a notch in the competitive market, be prepared for your own share and deal with them.


Online Businesses Boom With Business Directories

May 26th, 2008 admin

Since any company which possesses a good sense of business has, in one way or another, an online information base for the web browsing consumer, it is inevitable that the web will become congested with too much information, thereby necessitating a means of access. Consumers and casual browsers on the internet can look up a company in just a few keystrokes, but more often than not, the results which show up are either insufficient or too full of fluff to be of any use. No doubt, the problem is fully considered and addressed, and as a result, online business directories have sprouted up on the web in the same way that printed directories have become a staple fixture on your coffee table.

In its most basic sense, online business directories provide listings of businesses with an accessible site or reference on the web. These provide a fact sheet of which products or services a business has to offer, it’s target markets, its market coverage, and other optional information such as online business hours, and ordering and payment options. A crucial installment of an online business directory is a reference link to the business’ official website. Online business directories are business-oriented search engines which enable companies to reach out to its target customers with precision, resulting in very efficient results. If consumers have a readily accessible means to their site, patronage and revenue is an inevitable consequence.

Another benefit which online business directories provide is the opportunity for companies to ‘sell out their wares’ with pitches, and since the listings are grouped into categories (for example, ‘labor resources’ or ‘investment consulting’), the client is able to line these up alongside each other in order to evaluate their true merit. It’s the companies who rely on fluff who are at a disadvantage, since these will pale in comparison to other companies which talk the talk and walk the walk. The basic and essential profiles of companies are put to light, and those which have a social consciousness, those which have earned numerous accolades from the business community, and those which are involved in famous partnerships will get the most out of the service.

This is not to say that newly-established or thriving businesses won’t stand a chance. In fact, the playing field is leveled, particularly due to the recent trend of user-generated and edited content on the internet. With the breakthrough of such sites as Wikipedia, online business directories which focus on maximum listing coverage are now in development, and it is very possible that you will have a readily-accessible profile of the neighborhood bakery or mom-and-pop diner within the near future. To state that online business directories have opened up the floodgates to accessible information is an understatement. Clients and companies share in the benefits of a healthy business interaction; the former with the opportunity to gain access to the right service at any time, and the latter the ability to reach out with increased coverage to its market. Search engines like Google, and user-editable sites like Wikipedia have proven that all-access information is possible, and online business directories are sure to contribute to the limitless potential.

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