Posted by: CS&A Insurance | March 6, 2013

How to Build a Book of Business

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Steve Elliott with CS&A Insurance gives the inside scoop on How to Build a Solid Book of Business. Although Steve is specific about the commercial insurance industry, his advice can be utilized with all general types of sales oriented businesses. In 3 short years Steve Elliott has excelled in becoming one of the top insurance producers at Chappell, Smith & Associates, Inc. dba. CS&A Insurance.

Remember to check out our blog:

http://FocusedOnRisk.com

And our web site:

http://www.ChappellSmith.com

Please subscribe to this YouTube Channel and “LIKE” us on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chappell-Smith-Associates/147827512207

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If you would like more information on Steve Elliott or CS&A Insurance visit our website or call 800.999.1109. You can also follow us on Facebook , Twitter and our YouTube Channel.

Posted by: CS&A Insurance | February 27, 2013

Social Media is Becoming a Staple for Many Businesses

Posted by: CS&A Insurance | February 20, 2013

Communicating Wellness through Social Media

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Workplace wellness remains a vital initiative for companies striving toward a healthier employee population and reduced health care costs. A significant part of any workplace wellness program is employee communication and education, and social media can be a beneficial way to expand those efforts.

Why social media?

In order for your health and wellness communications to be effective, they must be reaching your employees. Odds are, many employees and their families are already on social media, so taking your message there is a strategic way to expand the reach of your wellness communications. Here are some additional benefits:

  • Employees on social media are more likely to pay attention to communications there than ones you email or post on a bulletin board.
  • Research shows that social networks often influence people’s behavior. Furthermore, many consumers already search online for health and wellness information—you have an opportunity to deliver the information employees are looking for in the place they’re already spending time.
  • It’s an effective way to keep a pulse on your employees, to see what they are saying about your wellness program and where they have questions—so you can look for opportunities to improve. Social media offers an opportunity for conversation and interaction, which your other wellness communications are likely lacking.

Get started

The best places to start communicating are Facebook and Twitter, as they are likely the most popular among your employee population. Create Facebook and Twitter accounts separate from your company accounts—these new accounts will be employee-focused and can include internal communications, wellness and benefits communications.

For an internal social media initiative to succeed, it is vital that you promote it to employees! In one sense, it’s easier than promoting a social media presence externally, because you have a captive audience, but you do need to think carefully about your message. Don’t simply announce that your company has created internal accounts; rather, share the benefits for employees, such as:

  • Access to regular health and wellness tips for living a healthier lifestyle
  • Education to help them become smarter health care consumers and save money on health care
  • An opportunity to connect with other employees and discuss wellness trends or issues
  • Easy-to-access information, available anytime
  • Ability to ask questions or share feedback about the wellness program
  • Updates on wellness events, incentives or contests, so employees are always in the loop

As you’re getting the message out, promote it in several areas. Add a tagline in email signatures, post links on your intranet, post announcements around the office, etc.

Gain momentum

Have a wellness communication plan before you get started, so employees don’t follow you and then get disappointed by a lack of consistent posts. Begin by building up friends or followers. Search for and follow/friend all your employees, and also any industry experts on health and wellness.

It may make sense to post similar content to both Twitter and Facebook, as you might have different employee audiences on each. Do remember, though, that Facebook offers the opportunity to post more in-depth updates. Here are some ideas of what to post:

  • Wellness tips, both self-generated or retweeted from others
  • Information about wellness activities, incentives, events, classes, etc.
  • General information about aspects of the program
  • Success stories within your program (with an employee’s permission)
  • Frequently asked questions

Make sure to interact! This should not be a one-way communication channel. A major benefit of social media is the ability to converse and elicit feedback. If employees comment or ask a question, be sure to reply so they know you are listening and want to hear from them. And go further by asking for input—ask employees to share creative wellness tips or what their favorite exercise trend is, for example, to get them talking.

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If you would like more information on Wellness Programs and Incentives for your employees, please feel free to contact Gary Thompson with CS&A Insurance at 800.999.1109. If you would like more information on CS&A Insurance visit our website. You can also follow us on Facebook , Twitter and our YouTube Channel.

Posted by: CS&A Insurance | February 13, 2013

Keep the Drive to Reach Your Goals

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There is an opportunity that comes with the start of a new year. That was evident when I walked in the gym shortly after the start of the year and it was twice as full as usual. However, just barely over two weeks later and I can already see the crowd thinning out, not losing weight, I mean they are not there. What is the difference between people that have the ability to stick with a goal and see it through and those that find it a challenge to do so? I have found three habits that work well and help me reach what I have set out to do. I have not accomplished everything I set out to do, but I try to give myself every opportunity to succeed. Implementing these three practices gives me that opportunity and I feel it will do the same for you.

  1. Write your goals down and keep them in a place you will see them on a consistent basis. Old habits die hard and it takes a few weeks for new habits to develop, if your goals are out of sight they will be out of mind.
  2. Tell somebody your goal and ask them to keep you accountable. This person should share your passion to see you succeed. Maybe they have already accomplished what you are setting out to do or they share the same goal as you do. That is why success coaches exist, gyms have trainers, and teams have captains. They help you do the little things and keep you accountable. It is tough to feel we have disappointed another person and when we have an accountability partner we are much more likely to follow through on a commitment rather than fall back on old habits.
  3. If you are going to climb a mountain at some point you reach the halfway point. What I mean is have some incremental points in your quest to reach your goal where it is evident you are making progress. If your goal is to run a marathon, then celebrate mileage points of 13.1, 16, and 20 miles. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds then celebrate losing 10 and 15 pounds when that happens. If you goal is business oriented then celebrate incremental success in sales, revenue, controlling expenses, or whatever it might be. Reaching your goal is the ultimate success, don’t let that be your only success. Celebrating incremental success helps build momentum and breaks your goal down into more manageable pieces.

Reaching a goal is a great thing as it is the realization of a dream, so surround yourself with individuals who will encourage you and not be threatened by your ambitions. It is never too late to start or restart your drive to reach your goals. Best of luck to you and I’ll see you at the top.

If you would like more information on Todd Lee or CS&A Aviation Insurance visit our website or call 800.999.1109. You can also follow us on Facebook , Twitter and our YouTube Channel.

Posted by: CS&A Insurance | February 6, 2013

Flood Insurance Update 2013 with Mary Lewis


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Mary Lewis of CS&A Insurance talks about the recent changes that underwriting insurance companies are implimenting in 2013. Don’t be shoocked if your Homeowners or Business Owners insurance premiums increase. With recent natural disasters as well as the economy Insurance Underwriters are re-evaluating how they rate your insurance premiums. Also FEMA has mandated an increase in Homeowners Flood Insurance.

Click here for the 2013 Flood Insurance Update:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD0fUFYSBKg&feature=share&list=UUnWNPnG6qi5WfDymExUucUg

Take a look at 2011 Flood Insurance Update for more information:
http://youtu.be/bSoKDxuta1M

For more information call 800.999.1109 or please visit our website:
http://www.ChappellSmith.com

Flood Coverages Resource:
http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/31e859a2

Posted by: Jason Shaffer | February 4, 2013

Finding the Hover Button

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One of the most humbling experiences in my Army career was learning to hover.  I came across a video this weekend that a buddy took of me trying to find the hover button, and thought it would be good for a laugh…

I heard the instructor pilot’s voice over my headset, “Okay, you have the controls.” Are you crazy, I remember thinking to myself?  I didn’t know what a cyclic was until just the other day, and now you want me to do four different things with each of my extremities and keep this spinning, shaking, contraption in a stationary three-foot hover?  “Uhm, okay, I have the controls.”

My plan was simple, I’d just hold all of the controls exactly where they were at, and everything would be fine.  In my left hand I held the stick that made us go up and down; its name escaped me.  My feet were solidly placed on the pedals, but since I didn’t want to turn anywhere I wouldn’t need to worry about those.  In my right hand I held the cyclic with a Kung-Fu grip that would have made GI-Joe jealous. Just hold what you got, I kept telling myself.

Hey, it’s working!  Oh, wait a second we’re drifting to the right a little bit. Alright, I just need to move the cyclic back to the left. Well, maybe that was too much, now we’re sliding left.  Wait, why are we going higher now?  The stick on the left, yeah, that’s what it’s for.  Just push it down a little bit.  Oh crap, we’re falling, we’re falling.  Quick, pull it back up to where it was.  The nose is swinging around now.  Why is that happening?  I didn’t do anything with the pedals!  Are we going backwards now?  Oh, we’re drifting again!  Descending and rotating right, but somehow drifting left, and accelerating backward I realized it was time to cry uncle, “YOU HAVE THE CONTROLS!”

The seasoned veteran sitting in the right seat coolly took the controls and instantly had us in a stabilized hover. He was completely calm; apparently blissfully unaware that we were mere seconds away from being entombed in a crumpled mass of counter-rotating parts that used to be a helicopter.  Looking over at me, the instructor chuckled as he flew us back to where the chaos began. “Okay, you have the controls” he said, “let’s try that again.”

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If you would like more information on Jason Shaffer or CS&A Aviation Insurance visit our website or call 800.999.1109. You can also follow us on Facebook , Twitter and our YouTube Channel.

Posted by: Christopher Turnbull | January 28, 2013

Are you prepared for a personal tragedy?

Fire fighters and huge flames

We had a staff meeting this morning. One of the topics of conversation was about a client’s home that burned down over the weekend.  Fortunately, no one was hurt and they had insurance to pay for the loss.  However, it was a good reminder that there’s more to being prepared for a tragedy than buying insurance.  For example, if your house burned to the ground today, do you have a list of all your personal belongings and contents in your house?  At a time of stress are you going to remember all of the things that were in every drawer and closet throughout your home?  If so, you must have a photographic memory. For the rest of us, we need to be aware that an insurance company can’t fairly reimburse us for the loss if we can’t remember (and document) what was in our house.  A friend reminded me after his home caught on fire from a faulty clothes drier that there are a lot more than things to think about than big items like home electronics, furniture and valuables.  For example, don’t forget about over-the-counter medications, toiletries, food in your pantries and freezers, holiday decorations, clothes, tools and equipment in your garage, items in your attic, etc.  You paid for them and may be entitled to reimbursement.  However, you need to document these items as well as their value for your insurance company.  Help them help you.

In addition to insurance and a list of contents in your home, are there other things you can do to protect your valuables from loss?  Absolutely!  Let’s start with some questions: Do you have a fire safe to store valuables like jewelry, photos, important documents, guns, and treasured mementos? Why not?  Look around your house, what would you do if all your treasured mementos and photos were destroyed today?  What about important documents such as Wills, insurance policies, deeds, passports, etc.?  Have you thought about the important files you have on your home computer (i.e. pictures, tax returns, financial information, etc.)?  A lot of us have back-up drives plugged into our computers in case it crashes or catches a virus, but what if it burns up in the fire too? You can’t replace many of these things once they’re destroyed.  Why not prepare before a tragedy occurs?

We can’t stop there!  What would happen if you or someone in your family didn’t survive the fire?  Do you have a Will?  Are you going to let the State decide how your personal assets are going to be distributed?  How is your spouse or surviving relatives going to handle your personal affairs if they don’t know your intentions?  What if there are disagreements or disputes between family members?  How are they going to access your bank accounts to pay for your funeral and your debts?  It could take several weeks or even months before a judge grants approval or appoints an executor.

OK, so you have a list and pictures of your personal property, a fire safe to protect your valuables, and a Will.  Do you have life insurance?  Why not? How are your spouse and children going to survive financially without your income?  Are your children going to be able to go to college?  Have you set aside enough money for estate taxes that may be due?  Are they going to have to sell the house to survive? What about your business partners?  Do you have a buy-sell agreement? How are they going to buy your portion of the company?

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security and believe it can’t happen to you.  Tragedies do not discriminate, and occur without notice.  Are you prepared?

Here is a Home Inventory Checklist that may be of use for keeping track of your assets and personal belongings:

Please call Mary Lewis at CS&A Insurance if you have questions about homeowner’s coverage or Gary Thompson about life and disability insurance.  They can be reached at (615) 435-8300.

If you would like more information on Christopher Turnbull or CS&A Aviation Insurance visit our website or call 800.999.1109. You can also follow us on Facebook , Twitter and our YouTube Channel.

Posted by: CS&A Insurance | January 21, 2013

Cold or Flu? How to Spot the Difference

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Though the common cold and seasonal influenza share several symptoms, there are points of differentiation that will help you identify which you may have and seek proper treatment. It is important to tell the difference, as the flu can result in more serious health complications, while the cold likely will not.

Common Cold

Typically, symptoms of the common cold come on gradually, and may start with a sore throat or irritated sinuses. The most common symptoms of a cold are nasal congestion, sneezing and runny nose. Symptoms can also include a cough, mild headache and minor body aches. Young children may get a low-grade fever as well, but a fever in older children or adults typically indicates the flu.

People are generally contagious during the first three days they have a cold. Symptoms tend to go away within a week.

Seasonal Flu

Unlike the common cold, flu symptoms usually come on suddenly and vigorously, often starting with a high-grade fever, headache, body aches and fatigue. In addition, flu symptoms can include a dry cough, sore throat, and sometimes a runny or stuffy nose.

Symptoms are generally more severe than with a cold. Flu symptoms tend to gradually improve after two to five days, but can last for a week or more. You should stay home for at least 24 after your fever is gone to avoid passing your illness to others.

Prevention

There are strategies that can help you avoid getting sick from either of these conditions. These include frequent hand washing, sanitizing commonly touched surfaces, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you are sick, cough and sneeze into your elbow to prevent spreading germs to others.

Also consider getting a seasonal flu vaccine each year, which is now recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for all people over 6 months of age.

Treatment

For the common cold, a doctor visit is usually unnecessary.  Over-the-counter medications can be effective in treating symptoms. For the flu, a doctor may prescribe anti-viral drugs that will help decrease the severity and length of symptoms.

Potentially serious health complications can occur in people suffering from the flu. Call your doctor if you think your symptoms are worsening or if you have a condition such as asthma, diabetes or are pregnant.

Did You Know…?

Whether you have a cold or the flu, there are home remedies that can help you recover sooner. Drinking warm liquids or taking steamy showers can help soothe a sore throat and ease nasal congestion. And make sure to get plenty of rest so your body can focus its energy on fighting off the illness.

If you would like more information on how to safe guard your home or workplace from the cold and flu virus please feel free to contact Gary Thompson with CS&A Insurance at 800.999.1109. If you would like more information on CS&A Insurance visit our website. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and our YouTube Channel.

Posted by: Sean Kerr | January 14, 2013

Approved Pilot vs. Named Insured





Are you listed correctly on your Aviation Insurance Policy?

Sean Kerr of CS&A Insurance discusses the difference between “Approved Pilot” and “Named Insured”. There are many gaps in coverage that can occur if you are not properly mentioned in your aircraft insurance policy. Be sure to ask the questions and call your current agent for more information.

Click the above video to hear Sean’s discussion: http://youtu.be/FdSABZskNE4

For more information on Sean Kerr and CS&A Aviation Insurance please call 800.999.1109 or visit our web sites. You can also find us on these social media web sites: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Channel.

Posted by: Tom Chappell | January 7, 2013

Five Steps to a Healthier Business

The questionnaire

The New Year begins and with it comes a lot of uncertainties.  Nowhere are the fears of the future more prevalent than in the small business sector.  Not only must we navigate the normal problems associated with being in business, we now have the added complications caused by our own Federal Government.  Coming in 2013 are a litany of mandates, regulations and taxes.

I suppose there is nothing that can be done to mitigate this Federal over-reach.  Our only line of defense is to be among the best run and the best-organized businesses in the country.  That means going back to the basics and cleaning up our companies from the ground up.  There is no margin for error.

We could study the teachings of the Ivy League business schools but they are proving that their teaching of Keynesian Economics plainly doesn’t work.  Spending yourself into prosperity is insanity.  No, I tend to trust “old school” economics with the spend less than you make approach to business.  It has worked for me for more than 40 years and I believe it to be the only way to survive and prosper in any business, large or small.  It might be a good lesson for the U.S. government as well.

Budgeting: 

No business investor should start a business without a strong business plan.  Not just an idea, I mean a written out, on paper, well vetted and documented plan.  For a business to continue to survive and prosper, a new plan must be developed for each new year.  I refer to this as an annual budget.  No, this is not a goal setting device.  It is a forecast of things to come.  Projected income, projected expenses, projected profits.

Hard work?  Yes, developing a proper annual forecast of your business performance takes many hours to properly think through the challenges of the coming year.  Don’t expect to anticipate all the ups and downs that you will face.  That would be humanly impossible.  You can, however, project based on historical data using the actual performance of prior years.  Using tools like Excel Spreadsheets, your forecasting efforts can actually become an enjoyable and interesting project.

Once completed, don’t put your project on the shelf, use it.  A budget is a tool and should be compared to your actual month end close each month of the year.  This will give you confidence in your work and future budgets.  You will come to trust your forecasts and will manage and spend by your predictions.

 Banking: 

A strong relationship with a local bank is an absolute must for any business to survive the hard times and future growth cycles.  This aspect of business is simple if you follow some of the basic rules.

First select a banker that has some measure of authority.  (I prefer the community banks.)  There is no sanity in wasting your time with a bank officer that has no authority and must ask permission to take a coffee break.

Second, begin your banking relationship prior to your need to borrow money.  Anticipate what a banker must have to measure your credit worthiness.  You should present your business plan, if you are a new business.  If you are an established business you should present both prior and current years’ profit and loss statements and a current balance sheet along with three prior years’ tax returns both personal and business.   Be prepared to describe your business strategy, display your coming year’s forecast (this is where your budgeting efforts will really pay off) and offer an onsite visit.  Your goal is to impress you bank officer with your business capability.  If you know that a banker will request this type of information, provide it without being asked.

Third and most important, begin to make friends.  You must have a congenial working relationship with your banker.  Think of it as a long-term investment.  Who knows, you may just enjoy your new friend.

The final banking golden rule is never, never, never rely on just one banker.  I always recommend developing a secondary relationship as a fallback position.  Doing this is simple.  You already have the information prepared for the primary banker.  Share this with your “lady in waiting”.  As you prepare updates for your primary banker (no less than quarterly) take the time to share this information with your secondary bank.  You may develop a new friendship.  This simple rule will keep you from being held hostage by your primary bank.

 Accounts Receivable: 

Many businesses fail because they do not establish a regimen for their clients of paying their bills on time.  It is you who must dictate the ground rules of how you will conduct business.  Never allow a customer’s balance to creep into the delinquent column on your aged receivables.   Over 30 days, over 60 days (maximum) is the very most you can allow.  It is typical for larger customers to ride (slow pay) their vendors.  They will use your money to operate their businesses if you let them.  This is a customer that you cannot afford.  There is no customer that is so large that you allow them to put you out of business.

I often hear, “Well I know they will pay what they owe.” or “They have the money but that is just the way they do business”.  Keep in mind you are not a bank.  Allowing a customer to ride your receivables puts great strain on you making it impossible to sustain your business.  You will find yourself focusing more on collections and less on your intended target of growing your business.  The true costs are enormous.  It will destroy your banking relationships and cause you to be unable to pay your creditors on time.  What customer is worth the destruction of your own business?  Remember, not all customers are good customers.  The time you spend on collections could be better spent on finding new clients that will pay on time.

 Employee Deadwood: 

One of the toughest jobs a business manager must do is to continually evaluate his employees’ performance.  I once worked for a man that said, “You must feed the lions and kill the dogs.”  What he meant was that no business can survive by perpetuating a staff of mediocre to poor employees.  If an employee is not pulling the wagon, he must be terminated.  If they are not pulling the wagon they are riding on it and are increasing the load for everyone else.

I have experienced many employee situations but the most difficult is to fire an employee that I considered a friend.  But then I realized that if he were really my friend, he would not have put me in a position to have to make such an unpleasant decision.  Ultimately, your business will not be strong until your employee base is built entirely of “super stars’ or potential super stars.  This is possible only if you hold the performance bar high enough.  It is your expectations that will create that atmosphere.  By eliminating the “deadwood” you will have fewer employees but will have the available payroll dollars to reward the superstars with higher earnings.  Then and only then will your company be positioned to grow.

Outsourcing: 

One way to make your company’s performance more predictable is through outsourcing.  This will enable you to support fewer employees and eliminate many of the future headaches that are facing us with Obama Care and other regulations and taxes that are impacting every small business.  An outsource vendor can provide services equal to or superior to those of your own staff and at a fraction of the cost.  If the vendor doesn’t meet your expectations, there is no emotion, just fire them and replace them with a new one.  Basic business functions such as accounting, sales management, routine clerical functions, IT or computer support, public relations, building maintenance, fleet management or transportation specialists, legal support, investment planning, etc. can reduce your payroll burden and staffing issues.  Outsourcing will greatly help you to focus on your business’s primary mission, your clients.

Too expensive to outsource you say.  Just compare it with the true cost of your payroll to provide those same services.  You may find that outsourcing is a real time and money saver.  It is worth exploring with an open mind.

Well there you have it, five basic steps for a small business to survive the challenges of the future.  Oh yes.  You might throw in a bit of originality.  “Business as usual” will not get it in the future.  You must be resourceful, stay abreast of the new demands of the consumer.  Your customer base will change as you move into the future and with it you will face new demands.  Be prepared to meet those demands or be prepared to join the buggy whip industry with extinction.  Your forecasting efforts should include these new business challenges.

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