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What goes on your application?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Wed, Jun 17, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Well the first is obvious, the name of your company and that this is an application you can add address and phone number if you would like or if there are more than one location of your business.

PooleAndersonApplication Image taken from Poole Anderson Construction, online application

Instructions to the applicant such as to fill out the application in ink, I would add blue ink (blue is the accepted legal color, not black which can be later said to be a copy or forgery, blue shows it is an original)

A statement that your business is an equal opportunity employer and follows all the laws, I will not list the statement in full here.

Not to attach a resume unless it is to become part of the official application, but that all information still must be filled out in total on the application even if listed on their resume. This way it is in the hand writing of the applicant and they cannot say later you attached a false resume to their application, or they did not know a mistake was listed on it.

When asking them to fill out their name, make sure it is their legal name and it is fine to also ask for other names they have been known as, this can be helpful when running a back ground check, or the name that they would like to be addressed by if hired.

Ask for their current address and to list any address they have lived in the past 3-5 years, also good for a background check.

You probably already know the things you can not ask on an application or in an interview like, marital status, age, whether they have children, or if a women, plan on having children, their religion etc…

But there are things you can ask for as ways around asking these questions:

By having them list their birth date and to mark a box stating that they are of legal age (18 or 21) to operate certain equipment, for insurance reasons. Only once hired can you ask for a list of their dependents for reasons such as for insurance, not before on an application. But they might ask you in an interview about your insurance coverage and you should only state the individual policy price not covered or paid in part by you the employer, which might have them ask you ‘What would the family rate be?’ I would then remind them that question should wait until further along in the hiring process. This comes once you are formally offering them the position and they get to learn those answers before they deciede if they will accept.

As long as they ask the question that gives you this information you did not ask for you are safe. But you must be careful not to indicate that any of the unasked information might have been or was used in the hiring process for that job. Never make notes on the application itself during an interview, use a separate piece of paper. You can ask if they can legally work in the United States and require proof later before hiring, if they have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, have points on their driver license etc. these are part of public record. You can ask if there is any day they can not work or would rather not work. For instance have a list of Sunday thru Saturday on the application with instructions for them to circle or mark the days of the week they are available to work. Same with times of day they can work. Of course you can also include in the job description the days and times that are required for the job they are applying for and if they will not work on a certain day (due to their religion) they are the one making themselves unable to be hired, not you.

Ask for not only the standard list of past employers, business references as well as personal and their education but industry specific certifications as well and any training they have already received. You should also state that copies of these certifications are to be provided if hired to be placed in their file. These can be very useful to save you money for you as a business and for marketing. You can also state that they must be able to be bonded if you would like. This also can be good for you for insurance reasons as well as in marketing your business.

You can ask them to list the languages they speak and if they can read and understand English this is to be sure they will be able to read and understand signs, labels and vebal instructions during work.  

You may want to ask if they have applied before, many states do not require you to keep or consider for new hire people from past application times, check with your state as to how long this may be.

You can ask if they know or are related to anyone current or former person that has worked for your business.

You can ask if they are physically able to perform the work as discribed in the job discription or if they have not been given one, list peramitors here; able to lift up to 50lbs, twist and bend at the waist so many degrees (range of motion), able to hold object over head for at least two minutes, etc.

You can ask if they have reliable transportation but unless they are applying for a position where they will be required to drive one of your vehicles you can not ask for a MVR, that is for insurance purposes only.

You must include a statement at the bottom of the application just before the signature line that tells the applicant that all areas must be filled out completely, nothing left blank, must be accurate and may be followed up on and any lack there of can be used as reason not to except them as a candidate for employment, while an employee or for termination if they become an employee and any information later are found to be false.

Make sure your application is as detailed as you need it to be, do not worry about it not fitting on one page front and back like a store bought one. Some of the best jobs I ever had, had applications 4-5 pages long. And the information you need to be sure the applicant will work is much different than one wanting to work at a fast food joint or movie theater.

You might want to add a section next to each past job asking for a description of the work they did at that job, ask for the name of a supervisor or co-worker that is still there with phone number if different then the main number, and ask why they left. If there are gaps in education or employment ask what they were doing for that time even if it was not work in the current field they are applying for. Answers to these may give you a clue as to other aspects that could affect their job performance with your company or reasons why they would make the best fit. Any negative information you find that may cause you to not consider the candidate should be brought up to the candidate so they can challenge the information. If not and you do not hire them, and they later find out what you where told was miss information, they could come back legally against you in some instances.

You can ask why they are applying, what they have liked or not liked during previous employment. But these can  be questions you can also bring up during the interview process and not have listed on the application.

For some of you that have businesses in a state like GA, a right to work state, the employer has right to hire/fire laws and you may not have to give any reason as to why you did not choose someone so long it is not one of the illegal ones, but for many of you the employee holds more cards than the employer does in this process and you have to make sure you stay on the right side of the law. As with any of our blogs the information given here are general guidelines and you should check what the laws are currently in your state. Tomorrow we start on the Handbook.

Tags: Business, Application, Hiring

Hiring procedures for new employees

Posted by Linda Chambers on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Things you need to understand and think about when looking for a new employee.


Most of you never went to college to take classes on hiring, so unless you have earned a degree in Human Resources, everyone needs help in this area. Most of what I know I learned myself while running my own business, managing other's businesses and working with very good HR people over the years. Here is the short version of what you need to know.

1. Deatails of your businesses hiring procedures need to be written down somewhere, preferably in a handbook, which we will discuss in detail in the next blog.
2. Your procedures MUST be the same for EVERY applicant, so not to come under scrutiny by the Federal Fair Practices Act.
3. That this written procedure includes the end game as well as the beginning and that you have listed reasons and procedures for employee termination (firing) as well as hiring.
This way, no unhired prospect, current or former employee can win in a law suit against you. This is not to say they can not file one, anyone can do that, but you just want to be sure they will not win and walk off with a big payday for it.

Tags: Business, hiring procedures,, Hiring

How to manage your time to be the most productive for your business.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 @ 08:34 AM

If you are lucky enough to have reached the point where you can have a crew or two working for you handing the actual work of your business congratulations.

But now how do you use this new found freedom of not working daily out in the field on a job site to improve and grow your business the best way you can?

Well that can not be easily answered in just a short blog post, so sorry in advance for this ones length. It will take each person a lot of time, trying a number of different things over days, weeks, months and even years to get this accomplished. But there are ways to make this process move along faster.

First you have to know the type of person you are and what work style gives you the best results. It is not going to be the same for every business owner out there and you have to learn and nurture what yours is.

You can buy books, get into a program, go to seminars put on by other very successful people but there is no guarantee that even if you do exactly what they did you will be as successful even if they have a carbon copy of you and your business, which of course no one is or does, even as a twin or with a franchise.

You first have to not only know your business but know yourself. What makes you the most productive? Look back over the last month or so and make notes as to what tasks you have had to do, what steps did to take  to get them done and do you think you did them the most effective way? If you could have had perfect control what would you have done to get those tasks done sooner? better?

Ex: You had a company ask for a bid and it took you 3 days to get it ready and deliver it to them and they went with someone else that was not lower in cost but faster in their response. Examine what steps you took to do that task and what could have been done better. Where you delayed by scheduled work? Well that problem is now solved. Did it take you too long to get an accurate calculation of the scope of the work? Did not have time to get to the site, Google Maps didn't have a clear view of the area or building? So time will not be as big of a facture moving forward what else could have helped?

Next you need to know how and when you are the most productive.

Are you a morning person, like to start the day early and get as much done right away to leave the rest of the day open for new things as they come in? Are you a slow starter and like to build up to more difficult or more time consuming tasks as the day goes on? Are you a list maker that can work down a list item by item completing each one in order? Do you need complete separation from distractions to get a task done? Can you delegate tasks and not feel you have to micro manage and revisit tasks others are doing for you? Do you work better by breaking a big task down into smaller pieces that you can do in short burst of time and maybe not in a certain order and be able to do other things in between them?

You need to know what works best for you and then create and implement a routine. No one can tell you their perfect system and know it will work the same for you.

But here are some tips others have used to be more productive and you can see if they will work for you.

Organize your day or week into blocks depending on when you have found your are most productive. Some as I mentioned are early risers, some are night owls while many are at their mental peek mid-day from 11 am to 2 pm. Some people want to start the week off with the biggest task they will have to have done by Friday while others want to clear all the small tasks out of the way and work best undisturbed under a deadline on Friday. If possible set these blocks of time to be undisturbed, turn off the cell phone, don't look at e-mail, let everyone know that during these few hours every day or on certain days, like Tuesday and Thursday you are not to be interrupted.

Inside of these blocks, do the things you don't want to do first. It is easy to do the things we love to do and hard to even think about starting the ones we do not. But if you put that hard task first and not allow yourself to move on to something else until it is done, the feeling of accomplishment once it is finished is much more pronounced and will make it easier the next time.

Focus on one task at a time, the biggest first. A lot of smaller tasks can trip you up into not getting the bigger usually more important thing done within the time you have set. Plus it is easier to move the smaller less important tasks forward into the next block of time you already have set up.

Work in the moment. If you are overwhelmed with how much you have to do, that is all you will think about instead of the task at hand. Do not try to multi-task and do not allow interruptions to stop you.

Have a To-Do List broken down into different sections. You might even want to create your own.


The three things that have to get done today no mater what, then the rest of To do today, this week, this month, for a long term goal. Try to get everything off your to do today list by a certain time each day, one or two off the this week section, each week one or two off the this month section and try to work on a least one task a week off the long term goal section.

Deal with it only once. When an issue comes up that should not be ignored, deal with it now and have it over and done. Ex: A customer calls not happy with something on a job, take the call, find out what the problem is, and if possible resolve it right then. If you need to speak with a crew member before it can be resolved, call him right then get his side, tell him how you want it handled and call the customer right back with what you have instructed to be done and ask if that is satisfactory. Do not tell the customer you will have to first speak with your employees once they are back in the office and will get back with them later or tomorrow. Or if the solution is not satisfactory to the customer keep going until it is. Then you are free to move on back to your set tasks.

Set up a calendar for repeated tasks, this is one that I do. For instance, I have to submit a script for a monthly video by the 8th of each month, at the first of the year I look to see when the 8th falls each month during the year. If it is during the middle of the week I can plan on needing to know my subject and set time during those few days, at least 3 hours in total, to write the script, enter and download all the photos needed for that video. If it is on a Friday I want the time set up and done before I take lunch. If it falls on a Monday I can start on Friday afternoon and set my block of time Monday right after lunch. At the end of each month I need to have decided on what our product specials will be for the next month, find a photo, create the Facebook cover shot to be ready to post it on the first which can take at least 1/2 hour of time, what my daily Facebook and Twitter post should cover during each month so that I can write them and set them all up in Hootsuite as many at a time as I can in the time I have set for that day, that can take a few hours to research, enter and schedule. I also have tasks that fall only once a quarter like filling out and filing our quarterly sales tax return before the 20th of the following month. Things like that should be an item put on your weekly to do list when that time comes around.

The calendar is also a way to set up long term goals. I have to choose and know when the industry shows we will attend are during the year, will we just exhibit or am I also going to be a speaker and set up all the tasks that will be required to do the best job I can at these events. I have been doing some tasks for these events for this upcoming Fall since January. Things like choosing event swag, will it go on sale or be discontinued before we need to order it. How much and of what type of products will we take, what will be our booth drawing prize, will we be featuring a new product, if I am presenting am I revamping a previous talk or making a new one from scratch, will we need new collateral materials made for the events, signs, flyers, SDS's catalogs, etc.

And one I love, Don't be paralyzed by perfection. Some people are afraid to make a decision or say they have finished a task because it may not be perfect. It is better to let something be done or go out the door that may not be 100% perfection rather than hold on to it hoping to remove every flaw and miss opportunities. I am never 100% happy with a blog post or an article, or a presentation, but that allows me to go back and improve on it and send it out again in a new better version a little while down the road.

Well again congratulations on your new found freedom of not working daily out in the field but hello to the new challenge of making the best use of this time to move your business onward and upward.

Tags: Business, business plan, productivity,, time management,

What are Virtual Phone Systems and should I use one?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jan 29, 2015 @ 12:29 PM

Today's technology is moving at a break neck speed with every week bringing new ideas and better ways to do things in your life and for your business.

It use to be that a business could not survive without a yellow page ad and some one sitting in an office ready to answer that phone call.

Then we moved on to where you did not have to have an office as long as you paid for someone, sitting who knows where, that would answer your phone (via transferred phone number) at a answering service that you could call into to get your messages.

Now you do not even have to have a person at all to answer any and all of your phone numbers, that will record messages and even get the person that is calling directly to the person or information they need just by following an on line phone tree.

In the past decade over a dozen Virtual Phone companies have started up and some are better than others, by either the services they offer or by their cost for the features offered.

Here is a list of the top 12 contenders that are out right now:

• Grasshopper
• VirtualCallSystem
• InPhonex
• VoiceMeUp
• Callcentric
• Phone Power
• Jive Communications
• BroadVoice
• Ringio
• Halloo

Read more:

GrasshopperLogoSo why is Grasshopper on top? I will go over for you the pro's and any con's I could find of using Grasshopper virtual phone service for your business.


•Takes number of phone lines and with the web connects them into one integrated system. Toll  free, landlines, mobile and even other VoIP accounts.
•No hardware is needed.
•Get a toll free or local numbers as needed. Even Vanity numbers.
•Lines can be added or removed immediately from an online dashboard.
•Incoming calls will be answered 24/7 usually at the first ring.
•Recorded greetings can be in your own voice or with their Voice Studio.
•Have more than one business? You can have different welcome messages for each.
•Free on hold music.
•You can pay for only what you actually use, per call and length of the call.
•Unlimited plans are available for high volume users.
•Free activation to start service.
•Free 24/7 live technical support.
•No long term contracts, month to month service.
•First 30 day money back guarantee.
•Can change plan up or down each month as needed,like with the change of seasons.

•A top customer service rating.
•Businesses no longer have to buy and supply phones for employees with dedicated phone  numbers.
•Any employee can use their own device to receive and even make business calls (with an app).
•Calls can be transcribed and e-mailed to a phone as they happen instead of having to be called  up and listened to at a later time by a user.
•Faxes from callers are sent as a PDF in an e-mail.
•Analytics that can tell you where and when each call came from and where it ended up.
•Calls can be set up to go to a call queue to go to and be answered by one person.
•Unlimited amount of call handling, no busy signals for customers.
•Information extensions, like mailing or e-mail address, hours of operation, etc.
•Block robo callers or solicitors numbers at any time.
•Call screening, caller ID by phone number and name.
•Call transfer if after you answer the call you need to send the caller to another person or voice  mail.
•Need to speak to all your crew managers at once but don't want to have them all come in for a  meeting, just make a conference call and talk with them where ever they all are all at once,  saving time and money.
•Employees can use a mobile app to make calls to customers that only shows your businesses  caller ID, NOT the employees phone info.


•On the entry level plan you are paying a base $12 then a per call per minute fee which can add    up if you or your customer are not mindful of the running clock and you start getting a lot of calls.
•Some customers calling in do not like having to first listen to a message and go through a phone  tree to reach you or leave a message, they want a person from the start.
•You may have to be mindful of an employees phone and plan limitations and make compensation  to an employee that is using their personal phone for your business if they can't use the mobile  app.
•Employee could misuse your paid out going phone number (that is part of an app) for their  personal calls.
•Since this service is 24/7 your phone could be going off at all hours and be hard for an "A" type  personality to turn switch the service off and stop working.

As you can see I could not find many Con's and looked on line for dissatisfied customers without much luck. I did find a few but for the majority of users they have been very happy with the service some for many years.

So if you want to give your business a larger than a single owner/operator appearance or a professional aire, I suggest looking into one of these especially Grasshopper.

Tags: Business, customer service, phones

Are Credit Card charge fees just the price of doing business?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Jun 02, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

This question came up recently on a contractor Facebook page and I think it is a good one to address since it effects almost all pressure washing contractors.

How do you pass the cost of credit card processing on to customers?

First you must look at how much business you do each year that is paid by credit cards, and what cards are being used. This way you will know if you should even bother with it.

If you are doing say $250,000 dollars a year of business and only about $10,000 of that is charged on cards so is that $300 or .0012% of your total sales worth that much for you to change your whole way of doing business?

Because legally that is what you have to do. Did you know it is illegal (against your signed contract) to charge any customer a credit card processing fee just for them to pay with a credit card? Well it is. Credit Card companies lobbied for this years ago to stop retailers from deterring their card carrying customers into paying via other methods, thus losing them money. It is part of every credit card contract except Discover. You must sign these before you are able to process these companies cards and if you are found to have broken them, it can cost to a lot in fines and loss of excepting them as payment. It is also part of the Truth in Lending Act. The Federal Truth in Lending Act states: 167, (2) “No seller in any sales transaction may impose a surcharge on a cardholder who elects to use a credit card in lieu of payment by cash, check, or similar means.”

The way around this is easy but not always simple. You must offer a cash or check discount instead. In other words you must build in the 3% or what ever your processing fee is going to be, some cards are higher, like AMEX, and then give the majority of your customers the discount off the total when they pay. This can make for added headaches in bookkeeping and with automated bookkeeping systems like QuickBooks. This means you must build a line item for a cash or non-credit card discount for each invoice that is not paid by credit card.

The only other way around this is to build the 3%, as a cost of doing business, into your normal pricing to cover any instances when a card would be used. But if the majority of your customers do not pay by CC, do you want your other customers to shoulder that burden and extra cost? Plus it would not be a fact you would want to advertise to your cash customers.

When I first came to Soap Warehouse this is what was done but it caused so much book keeping trouble and since a large number of our customers already paid by credit card it was not worth trying to do the cash discount route. Last year we spent just over $4,000 in all merchant and banking fees connected with credit card processing. A small amount when figured against sale totals, so this cost is just one of others like product packaging that is worked into total product cost from the beginning so we do not even have to think about it later on. For most 5 gallons of items the amount figures out to be less than 30 cents each. Not an amount I feel would cause a customer not to buy a product. Product packaging far out weighs that small cost usually running $2.50 to $10 per item of added cost. But you can not sell or ship a soap product with out the bottle, jug, pail, box or drum. These costs are just as necessary as the cost of the ingredients to make them, and the labor to produce them.

Here is an article to continue reading about this issue:

Tags: Credit card fees, Business

Give information to your readers.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, May 12, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

Improve your web site with informational or educational links, pages, blog posts and or white papers available for down load for readers. The more content and the more often you update this content will increase your sites SEO, increase the number of visitors, get loyal readers and over time new customers. 

Here is a list of suggested topics for various types of cleaning contractors: 

Roof washers 

What is that dark stuff on my roof? (This is all most a must have to explain Gloeocapsa Magma algae) 

Wash don't replace your roof. 

How a cleaning a roof increases the life of your roof and your home.


House washers 

How a wash will increase the value and life span of your home.

A mold free home is a healthy home.

Exterior home safety.


Fleet washers 

Spending on maintenance saves money.

Clean vehicles saves fuel costs.

Clean vehicles improves company image.


Window cleaners 

All windows are not the same and what makes them different to clean?

Why double or triple pane windows fail?

How window coverings keep your house cooler? or warmer? (which ever you need in your area)

The list could go on and on but idea is the same. Search the web for info to use and see what your competitors are doing but Please create your own educational pieces and don't just copy, plagiarize, someone else's work from their site. Give readers information and education on your site and in your blogs to keep them coming back and eventually buying your service.

Tags: web marketing, Business, SEO, white paper

What really is a Business Plan and Why should I make one?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Dec 02, 2013 @ 10:45 AM

Many small business owners just decide one day, for what ever reason, that they want or need to work for themselves and up and start a self business. But sooner or later there will come a time when this single person business will be asked for or need a business plan. Maybe it is the bank for a loan or to open an account or a CPA that files your taxes, but no matter the reason why, every business owner should make a plan to help them manage their business during its life.

If you do not have one already the governments Small Business Administration is a good place to start to get a template of what should be included in a plan. And if you are really new to business and just jumped right into it you might even want to back track and take a look at the steps of starting a business they offer as well, You may find you have missed a few things you should still think about doing.

A business plan is just a road map of where you are to where you want to end up. It will include things like your mission statement, the who, what, where and how of your business. What type of work you will perform, in what locations, who is your prospective customer, what prices are you expecting to charge or how you will calculate your pricing, what equipment you will buy, at what cost, will you spread this cost over a set number of years, will you do all the work yourself or hire employees, how will you deal with these employees, and what your expected profit will be in a set period of time from the start of your business.

Now many business owners think that they only need to make a business plan once, when they are first starting out or to fulfill a loan requirement for a banker, but a good business owner will review and adjust their business plan as the years go by as their business grows and evolves. For instance when just starting out you may have worked alone and mainly did house washing, but over time you added employees, these grew into multiple crews and you found you enjoyed cleaning and staining decks, while doing house washing, more than washing homes and your business shifted to mainly deck work. With this change your business plan should also be changed and rewritten. In fact many business plans are made to cover a finite amount of time after which a new plan is expected to be made to cover a next set amount of time. There are other places and groups available to help you with this, like SCORE, or even Microsoft Office. Even here in your own industry there are groups that have done the work for you or will help you, such as Also free examples to watch and learn from on, just search "how to write a business plan".

So during this month of December, being National Business Plan month, I encourage you to make or revisit your business plan.

Tags: Soap Warehouse, Business, business plan

Rainwater Harvesting

Posted by Linda Chambers on Wed, May 01, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

Here in the late Spring early summer is a great time to start thinking about what may happen if you have a dry summer. I wanted to bring you an article that my friend Mr. Don Schwerzler wrote a while ago about rainwater harvesting. If you own or even rent office space or are just working out of your home, starting a rainwater harvesting plan could be a benefit to your business. Water is the biggest commodity your business uses, why not try ways to get it cheaper?

"Rainwater harvesting makes a great deal of sense as a strategy for many family businesses," suggested leading family business expert Don Schwerzler at a recent family business workshop - discussing strategies that can help family business entrepreneurs as they go about Future Proofing Your Family Business

Schwerzler began studying and advising family business entrepreneurs in 1967 and is the founder of the Family Business Institute and the web organization Family Business Experts both of which are headquartered in Atlanta GA.

The rainwater harvesting presentation was conducted by Bob Drew, a nationally recognized expert in rainwater harvesting and a member of the environmental consulting team at the Family Business Institute. A process design engineer with a Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin and a MBA from UCLA, Drew serves as chairman of Southeast Rainwater Harvesting Systems Association (SERHSA) and a board member of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA).

“We have passed the point when we can take any available water source for granted”, said Drew. “Ignoring rainwater harvesting as a readily available means to increase water supply, stimulate and protect our economy, provide environmental and financial benefits and to preserve our quality of life makes no sense.”

The eastern U.S. remains largely unfamiliar with rainwater harvesting because abundant water resources have always been more than sufficient for residential and commercial use, with reserves to spare. Dramatic population increases are rapidly outstripping our resources.

In concept, rainwater harvesting is as simple as the popular rain barrel used by many gardeners to maintain their gardens and landscapes.

But rainwater management systems can be far more sophisticated.Rainwater management systems start by collecting rainwater from roofs and flat surfaces and are adaptable to any size or type of structure, from a residential house to an office building or a retail shopping complex.

A Crisis in the Making

Atlanta GA is an excellent example of a major city facing a water supply crisis.

After a summer of drought conditions in Middle and South Georgia, water levels in Lake Lanier are now close to the record lows established in the drought of 2007-2008.

USA Today reported on Nov 11th that drought conditions throughout the South and Midwest have inflicted more than $10 billion in economic losses to the U.S. economy, a number projected to rise if dry conditions persist through the winter months as expected

State and regional business leaders are appropriately alarmed about the looming gap between demand for water in metro Atlanta and available supply. That dreaded condition could reach crisis proportions as soon as five years from now.

Intensive efforts are under way to identify and establish new reservoirs to provide long-term reserves that will support metro Atlanta’s continued growth and prosperity.

In addition to those efforts, proven policies and techniques already established by regions long accustomed to drought – such as New Mexico and Arizona as well as the nation of Australia – show us that more can be done in the interim.

In those places and many others, rainwater management is widely practiced and embraced as a means of making the most of every precious drop of available water.

So, rainwater harvesting’s time has come in Georgia, offering significant benefits that every policymaker should understand as they develop water conservation policies and practices. Rainwater harvesting could provide key elements for a state water policy that supports business development (jobs) and quality of life.


Water Facts and Figures

More than half of all Georgia’s municipal water use, especially in the summer, goes to irrigation! Rainwater management could have a huge impact on water supply.

Consider this – research reviewed by a team of academic experts at Georgia Tech indicates that a relatively modest 10 percent adoption of rainwater harvesting techniques from metro Atlanta rooftops could save an average of 27 million gallons of water per day within five years.

“This is an achievable goal with widespread public education and reasonable encouragement from state and regional leadership. Adoption rates in places where water supply was in crisis or aggressive policies were enacted have been much higher and could be possible here,” noted Drew.

The best part of all is that this goal can be reached primarily through private investment that produces practical benefits and measurable returns. Those returns include savings on water bills which are higher in Atlanta per 100 cubic feet than any other city in the nation, a significant reduction of destructive storm water runoff and preservation of landscaping investments during drought conditions.

According to Drew, “While rainwater usage varies by state, Georgia law allows rainwater use for more than lawn and garden irrigation and filling swimming pools.

Under specific plumbing guidelines established by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, rainwater also can be employed for toilet flushing and laundry use for individual homes as well as for commercial businesses, office buildings, warehouses, schools, hospitals, senior residence centers, restaurants and apartment/condo complexes.

Metro Atlanta and the state of Georgia would reap meaningful rewards from rainwater harvesting, too. “Rainwater harvesting can increase current water supply and can extend the capacity of existing water supplies while new reservoirs are being sited and built, a process that takes 10 to 15 years at best,” observed Drew.

As a public policy, rainwater harvesting promotes economic development. In addition to system designers, suppliers and installers, the industry creates jobs for many Georgians hard-hit by the recent economic downturn such as plumbers, electricians and landscapers. It protects the region’s economic climate, which stands to lose as much as $39 billion annually if demand for water outstrips supply as predicted, according to the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

For family business entrepreneurs, rainwater harvesting provides an immediate, tangible response to an urgent problem without significant changes in state law or time-consuming regulatory requirements.

Stormwater Management
Observations from Landscape Architect Olivia Mickalonis

One of the major components within the field of landscape architecture is stormwater management. Before any land development occurs, a landscape architect must study the contours of the land and its watershed. Where will the water flow when the land and its natural water pathways are disturbed?

It is imperative, therefore, to design for heavy rain events, as they can be very destructive. Torrents of water cause land erosion, pollution, stream scouring and sedimentation build-up, and flooding, among other things. Measures to channel, retain, detain, decelerate, and capture stormwater must be considered.

Recycling stormwater is a sustainable measure that needs to be practiced more often. It is an old technique that has been resurrected in recent years and is now in vogue. Rainwater harvesting saves money and water use. It simply makes sense to capture rain and use it for non-potable uses or made potable with additional filtering.

"In the building industry, the addition of a water harvesting system will earn a project LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points," suggests Mickalonis. "I was first introduced to rainwater harvesting while I was a student in the Master of Landscape Architecture program at the University of Georgia."

"Presently, as a practicing landscape architect, rainwater harvesting is a viable, sustainable system that I often put in my designs. It is an effective tool for mitigating stormwater, saving money and using water wisely."

For more information on how your family business can benefit from rainwater harvesting, go to their ASK THE EXPERT form to contact their family business rainwater management expert.



Tags: rainwater harvesting, conservation, Business

Free Advertising, How to get it?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, Apr 19, 2013 @ 09:30 AM

Everyone loves something for free but as they say "Nothing is Free" realistically.

The same can be said for advertising. The only true free advertising is "Word of Mouth" but even then you as a business person did something that cost you money to earn that free recommendation "Who shared it with their friends".wordofmouth resized 600

But here are some ways for just a little effort of your time you can and should get as much FREE advertising as possible.

First and foremost use every no cost on line asset you can find. This will include all business phone directories that are out there. "Yellow Pages" at or are some of the largest but there are many others as well;,,, dexknows,,,,,, Local city and business groups have listing, here we have,,,,,,,,,,,,, and I am sure even more. Even local newspapers and magazines can have on line listings, here we have and to name just a few.

To find the directories being used in your area first look up your competition and see where they pop up, then be sure to register your business there too. If you can get in some they have not heard of yet all the better. I have a local customer that doesn't even have his own web site yet he can be found in over 25 directories when you type in "pressure washing Monroe GA". Then if you end up putting in his business name and search he covers over three whole "Google" search pages. And make sure to do searches in more than one search engine. Try and as well.

Then there are all the business contact sites you can list your business in like,,,, Some that you may pay for like the or must be added by customers only like

Make sure you update and check your listings at least a few times a year. Keep an excel spreadsheet of all the sites addresses to your listing and with any sign in or listed features you can use on that site. For example some let you list coupons or have blog entries. You must know which have what and post on a calendar or a to do list of when to go back to each one to make changes or additions.

Next post I will talk about another free way to advertise; to create and plubish news releases about your business and what you do.

Since all of these cost you noting but your time they will be about as free as you will every find for ways to expand and improve your business.

Tags: advertising, business directory, Business, marketing, advertise, free advertising

Building Success in Twenty Minutes a Day.

Posted by Trey Miller on Wed, Jan 02, 2013 @ 12:02 PM

Now twenty minutes a day does not sound like much and I am sure you hear advertising claims every day asking you to spend just 20 minutes a day to achieve some goal like; weight loss, firmer abs, more money, etc. Well in a way I too will be promising you more money, because it has been proven that if a small business spends over 15 minutes each day on marketing they will increase their revenue significantly, more than if they even focused this same amount of time in one lump, such as 90 minutes a week. The key is consistency and receptiveness.

First by spending time each day you will create a habit to take this small amount of time out of your day. Second if you are marketing more frequently the chances will increase dramatical that a likely consumer will try your business due to this fact.

Now if you think you can't very well do much in just 20 minutes, here are some ideas of what you can accomplish in this short amount of time.

Order new or additional business cards. Business cards are one of the least expensive, with the largest chance of ROI, of almost ANY marketing item. For the new year think about making a slight change to a card to help track the effectiveness of your card campaigns. For instance, have a card with a slightly different order of information, orientation, size or color imprint of your phone or web site address just for cards you give to current customers for referrals. Make a card with a different tag line you only give to Building Management or Realtors or plan to hand out at a show or event. Cards can be ordered very cheaply from places like so that you could have 4-5 different ones available to hand out at any time. Just be sure to keep the feel of the cards and your logo the same so that no customer is ever confused as to who you are and whom they are contacting.

Open a separate Facebook page for your business, away from your personal one. It takes very little time and is a newer option that will make you look more professional and make it easier to gain, interact and relate to your customers.

Even if you do not text, like I don't, open a Twitter account for your business. It takes just a few minutes to link it to your Facebook business account so that when you post on one it also appears on the other. You can also link posts to LinkedIn.

Have a LinkedIn account if you do a lot of B2B business. Since this is more of a business vs. only a personal social media, you will gain better business contacts and SEO with it with these types of customers.

Post often to your Facebook business page or Twitter. With help from programs like TweetDeck, you can spend the 20 minutes scheduling a week or more of posts at just one sitting and then do other things for your 20 minutes on the other days.

Make a blog post some where at least once a week. If you do not have a blog area on your own web site you should really think about making one, but if not you can still blog. Use the blog feature found at many of the industry on line forums, on LinkedIn and other web sites. As long as you are consistent with your tags and links back to your own site or Facebook business page this type of organic SEO will help and build over time.

Become a member, look for and answer consumer questions at web sites like Yahoo answers at or You can look in the categories you want to be associated with to find questions you want to answer. Once you start answering and get likes to your answers you will build an on site reputation and can even have questions e-mailed to you to be answered. Being helpful with out looking for gain can bring you customers from your area.

Search for and buy a new or reliable give-a-way marketing item. There are some great sites out there that you can subscribe to for sales, product alerts and ideas for items. We use a lot.

Send out a newsletter. It doesn't have to be long. Just make sure you are giving your customers some free tips, home help or advise, no sales pitch needs to be included. Mention up coming events you will be attending, like a home show, link to interesting sites your customers may enjoy, mention a certification class you took or industry event you attended. Once your open rates are up then the occasial sales offer will more likely be opened and acted on.

Send out a targeted e-mail for a specific reason or campaign. With a well segmented customer e-mail list, sending short targeted e-mails with messages or offers will take little time but can generate huge benefits. Once a month send all your customer's birthday message, customer anniversaries, off season offers etc.

If you do not already have a well segmented list, spend your 20 minutes at least once a week making some using the resources you have available, Quickbooks, Salesforce or other CMR software.

I hope you start spending your 20 minutes a day working on marketing for a profitable New Year.

Tags: Newsletter, e-mail, Business, marketing, business cards, business plan, referral, advertise

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