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Getting ready for Christmas in August?

Getting ready for Christmas in August?

I cannot believe that I am writing about the Christmas season in August when the sun is still shining (minus the solar eclipse yesterday), but it seems like the holiday season gets here earlier and earlier every year. And I decided that I hate waiting until the last minute to buy gifts, decorate, etc. So, here we are – in the summer – getting ready.

One part of this whole process is decorating. What is too early to put the tree up? And when do you reach out to a company to come and decorate your yard? When should I get someone to put up my Christmas lights? One thing I have learned is about this last issue – holiday lighting. I used to think I could do it well by myself (like Clarke Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation), but I have determined that I won’t risk my neck one more year. I’m not getting up on my roof ever again if I don’t have to. I’m 44 years old and I don’t think my balance is good enough to stay up there. Why break my neck when I can let other professionals take their own chances?

Anyway, I have learned that if you want to get a quality job done with Christmas lighting, you need to reserve your place early – like now. And I think I found the best company for this tedious job. I found a lawn company and holiday lighting company who specializes in making your lights just perfect. They are called Lubbock Roots (www.lubbockroots.com) and they have a stellar reputation for turning those lights on bright. But, they are not a fly-by-night company, which will just take your order in December. It turns out that they take reservations as early as now and when they run out of spots, they are done. So, I and several other people have already got our spaces reserved and I have to say that this company is as professional as I have encountered. They asked me a lot of questions about what my desires are and I was impressed that they can give me exactly what I am looking for.

So, I still need to do my gift buying and my tree decorating, but at least I have found my holiday lighting company – not bad for summer right?

I hope this helps all of you out there who are searching for a good company to do your Christmas lighting. If you have any other Christmas prep ideas for me, please feel free to comment. Thanks in advance.

What to do after fire damage…?

What to do after fire damage…?

When you have fire damage that has destroyed parts of your home/apartment and its possessions, there are some important steps that you need to focus your mind on – I know it will be hard to get out of the paralysis that has happened to you, but it is vital that you make some moves so you can get your life back on track.

  1. Ask for a current copy of your insurance policy
  2. Check out your current insurance policy to see what fire damage claims can be made
  3. Do a detailed damage report citing what has been lost to the fire damage – include the property and the possessions that have been affected and make sure to determine how much money you would need to restore and replace what you have lost
  4. Call your insurance company and explain to them what has happened – Get them to come out and to do their appraisal of damage to property and possessions
  5. If their appraisal seems to be too low, immediately call a company that employs insurance claims consultants and ask them to become your mediator in the process of getting your insurance company to pony up the right amount of money. I recommend using Abba Claims to be your public adjuster representative – see abbaclaims.com because they are both professional and effective
  6. Give the folks at Abba Claims (or whichever claims company you choose) your detailed damage report and the number of your contact at your insurance company so that they can take over for you
  7. Prepare for a new appraisal meeting to be held between your insurance company and your Public Adjuster
  8. Receive the money from your insurance company you deserve
  9. Pay for what needs to be fixed and what needs to be replaced
  10. Move on with your life and stay safe!

Those are the steps I would recommend to anyone who has had fire damage – Hope that is helpful.

Facebook and Outsourcing Social Media

Facebook and Outsourcing Social Media – Week Thirty-Eight

Josh said that he needed prayer for one of his landscaping clients because they were always complaining. No matter what he and his crew did to remedy the problems (and they all had gone above and beyond what was expected) this client was angry about what he saw was “wrong work.” Josh said that this client had this reputation, but that he took them on anyway – big mistake. So, Josh was asking specifically that he would be able to fire this client without there being a huge fight. We prayed for this and also for Liz as her Lubbock catering group was being given a lot more responsibility. Basically, they were getting so many more clients that it was becoming stressful. She wanted us to join her in prayer so that she could stay grateful as she went about her business. I was having to hire new employees and so I needed wisdom as to who to bring on. Seemed like all of us had legitimate problems to bring to God. After we prayed and before we started the larger gathering, I went over to greet the Lubbock Pre-K administrator. I told her how much I appreciated her inclusion in our group last week and simply encouraged her generally. She was happy that I came over and said hey. By the way, there are seven groups of three who show up to pray now. We should have a speaker about how these prayer times were helping to grow our businesses, etc. Maybe it will be me, but I hope it is the Pre-K teacher.

At the larger gathering we had a female speaker named Joanne who came from a marketing company. Joanne talked to us about the importance of using social media to get more exposure for our businesses. She didn’t just say that and sit down. She actually got us to pull out our laptops so she could give us specific tools for our Facebook accounts. She mentioned using Facebook ads, but what I took away from her talk was when she said that we shouldn’t just outsource our social media accounts to someone who was not part of our companies. She said that it was easy to ruin your social reputation by having other people have a crack at what we should be doing for ourselves. I took this piece of advice and applied it to my blog as well. I had hired a college student to do my blogs and my social media up to this point and I decided that even if I didn’t do the work itself, I needed to pay closer attention to the sort of posts that were going out to my followers. Why risk all of our hard work and have it tarnished by a busy college student?   I thought this was the best idea that came from the talk.

(An insurance claims adjuster asked several questions because he had not been using social media at all. Joanne answered all of his questions and these answers really made the talk complete.)

So readers, what do you think about this idea of controlling your own social media and blogs? If you agree with Joanne, how do you find the time to do this plus do all of your work? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks in advance…

Until next time…

Building on a Solid Foundation

Building on a Solid Foundation – Week Thirty-Seven

Prayer today included the Lubbock Pre-K administrator for the Christian Private School because the other two people in her group were not present. We all re-introduced ourselves and shared about how each of our businesses had grown from being in this weekly meeting. Anne, the Private School teacher echoed our reports. She said that enrollment in her school had grown exponentially ever since she had joined this group and started putting the teachings into affect. We congratulated her and then went on to prayer. Josh asked for prayer for his Lubbock lawn care company and Liz her Lubbock catering business. We then bowed our heads and started to speak aloud our thanksgiving and our surrender. Anne spoke powerfully to God and showed us how a hardcore Christian prayed. Not that our unprofessional prayers were any less important, but I could sense a lot of wisdom coming from Anne. She was a welcome addition.

As for the larger business gathering, we had another architect speak to us about how to build a business from a solid foundation. He said that if the foundation was shaky then the entire building was going to be weak and even endangered. He said that we as leaders needed to rebuild from the bottom up if we wanted to have success. He asked us to give careful consideration to how we formed our business and asked us if we were willing to look at our foundations – how we began and how we have built from that point. It was a good talk and one that made me think. I didn’t know how my business was founded. I pretty much had just started it and hired good staff to help me achieve my vision for a successful heating and cooling business. I knew I needed to revisit my foundations and strengthen them – do some good “architectural” changes so that when storms hit us, it would not crumble. I’m not totally sure how to do this so I talked to this architect afterwards and he told me how to examine my foundations. I’m glad I asked. He clarified it and made me confident about my future efforts.

So readers, what do you think about resetting your business on solid foundations? What does that look like for you? Let me know with your comments. Thanks in advance.

It was a good week’s meeting. I felt challenged in a good way.

 

 

Choosing the Right Lawyer for your Business

Choosing the Right Lawyer for your Business – Week Twenty-Two

The Pre-K leader caught me before my group of three met for prayer and asked me how we did our prayer time from week to week. I explained that we mostly shared prayer needs for the Lubbock lawn care and Lubbock catering (and my business) leaders and then if something was outside of work that needed prayer we lifted that up as well. The Pre-K Lubbock leader said that they were doing the same things but they had also added a book to read at home – a book specifically dealing with prayer in the marketplace. She handed me a copy of it and asked if I would look over it during my week and ask my group if they wanted to add it as homework. I gladly took it from this spiritual person and said that I would be more than happy to introduce it to my group of three. Anyway, after talking to them, I joined my prayer group and showed them the book that was given to me. They seemed excited to add this new tool to our weekly prayers – we can all use extra knowledge about prayer. During our prayer time, we reported on the things we had been praying for and everything was positive. Liz did say that she was dealing with some minor sickness and explained how it was affecting her mood in family life and at work. Josh said that he was needing to shake off some procrastination he had picked up over the week. I asked them to pray for my general stuff – I couldn’t think of anything that needed specific prayer. I have been meditating on verses from the Bible every day and I think that is keeping me more intimate with God. I get a lot out of those alone times and I think I get most of my specific prayer needs met there. Maybe next week I will have more to share with them.

As for the overall business meeting, we had a speaker who was a lawyer that focused on immigration law. This guy was dressed to the nines and was impressive in his look and his speech. I thought he would be good at speaking about making a great first impression, because he sure made a good one on me. But instead of that, he spoke about how important it was to choose the right lawyer (not in his field) to represent our businesses – no conflict of interest. He said that even if we hadn’t had any customers take us to court or accuse us of wrongdoing in our work yet, there are always times that come our way where we will need to have proper contracts drawn up. He also said that just because we hadn’t been sued yet, we might get pulled into a lawsuit. He said that we should do really careful research about local lawyers who specialize in business law – who is the best to take care of our businesses under legal strains. He recommended that we find this lawyer before some sort of legal problem came up. He said that it always easier to find someone good when there is no pressing problem. Everyone in the audience agreed and some of the people said that they had lawyers on retainer already because they had already faced legal actions. It was a good talk and it showed me that I better take this seriously since me and my team are always entering other people’s houses and taking care of their heating and cooling needs. Who knows what might go wrong and who knows what customers might accuse us of – I don’t want to be reactionary about having a good lawyer. I will be proactive in my pursuit of a good business lawyer. It was a good week.

Summertime Child Care

Summertime Child Care

I have been in many conversations with parents about how much they love the warmth of summertime but hate the fact that they don’t have much for their children to do during these times. In the fall and spring, they are usually in some sort of school, which takes up most of the kids’ days and parents don’t have to think too hard about where to have their children at a given time. What are the best options for kids of all ages in the summer? Where are you going to put your kids so that they are learning and playing and having good summers while parents keep working – most families have both parents working and they cannot just stop what they are doing to hang out with their kids all day at home. (I know a family who is heavily involved in Lubbock catering gigs and wouldn’t be able to slow down just because their kids are out of school.)

I live in Lubbock and can only speak to my hometown, but I think that most of my suggestions can be found in most other cities. What can kids be a part of nowadays?

  1. Basic babysitting – There are a lot of teenagers who are wanting to make some money for the summer. Why not get some good references and find a solid person to take care of your kids.
  2. Vacation Bible Schools – There are so many Vacation Bible Schools, which operate on different weeks, that you can get your young kids (Lubbock Pre-K through 3rd grade) through most of the summer.
  3. Sports Camps – Even though these camps cost some money, it might be worth it to gauge your child’s sports interests and to get them into these places. It will keep them off of the constant indoor video games trail and into athletic pursuits.
  4. Chess Clubs – I could include reading groups (mini people book clubs) since my focus here is really educational resources. But one great resource that is catching fire is chess. If you can find a chess teaching group at the local college, I highly recommend putting your kids into one. It stretches their brain while showing them how to problem solve. The book clubs are good for them because they can talk with kids their own age about books they like – doesn’t feel like school because there is so much peer engagement.
  5. Robotics clubs – I know that in Lubbock there are clubs that teach kids how to create robots, which is super cool. Why not get your children into this fun and academic ride?

 

Okay – so those are my main suggestions – maybe you can combine some of these options to place your kids into valuable summertime activities. Good luck and feel free to send me your ideas. I’d love to expand the list.

Wedding Prepping in Lubbock

Wedding Prepping in Lubbock

There is so much prep that goes into getting a wedding ready. From invitations to cakes, brides and grooms have so much responsibility on their heads in one of the most stressful times of life. I recall my wedding prep and thankfully I have one of the best mother-in-laws on the planet who did most of the preparation for my wife and I. Without her, everything about our wedding would have been super disorganized. Instead, it went off with ease and we were able to enjoy the day from having our pictures made to having our honeymoon car ready and gassed up. At the same time, she picked our cakes (with my wife’s blessing) and chose our venue.

How about you married or engaged readers? How did your preparations go? Is it going great or will it go great? I’d love to hear your take on it all.

Anyway, my wedding in Lubbock got me to thinking about two main things that could have made my wedding even better and might make your wedding a wonderful day of joy and excitement. Check these out and comment at the end…

  1. Catering in Lubbock – Some people have a full on dinner or lunch planned for after they say “I do.” We didn’t. We just had cakes and finger foods to satiate our guests. But, I wish we would have chosen one of the best Lubbock catering restaurants in town to provide better foods – not necessarily more expensive foods, but tastier foods. If you are going to just provide snacks for your post-ceremony, I want to recommend using Chick-fil-A as your provider. They are known for their myriad food choices and can wow a crowd with their customer service. I’ve been to a wedding where they offered nuggets and strips from Chick-fil-A and there wasn’t anyone at their wedding who was disappointed. Pick the place you think is best, but I vote on Chick-fil-A.
  2. Outdoor wedding – If you are going to throw a wedding in an outdoor setting, especially if you are having it in your backyard, you really want to make sure you get some Lubbock landscaping done that matches the rest of your décor. I know of a great crew in this town who has handled the Lubbock lawn care for several outdoor weddings. They basically sit down with you and your prep team and show you some designs that they can do and then they handle it all. They think of everything – things you might not think of – and they beautify your setting with the chosen design. You can look them up at lubbockroots.com if you are interested.

Okay, that’s all I have when it comes to improving your special day. Let me know what you think – tell me what options you have either used or prepare to use and let me know why. I’m always open to hearing what others have to say about both the foods and the designs for Lubbock weddings.

Business First Impressions

Week Fifteen

Lubbock catering Liz and Lubbock lawn care Josh were both a bit late to our prayer meeting and so I shamed them and told them I even considered shunning them. They didn’t seem to worry about my silliness. When we did get down to prayer topics, Liz thanked us for praying for last week’s employee firing. She said that the now ex-employee took it well – no rambunctious temper tantrums or death threats. This person just said that they appreciated the opportunity to learn from the job and admitted that they probably needed to be fired. A bonus was that this person still vowed friendship with Liz. God is good. This week, Josh was the one with a specific prayer request – He said that he was really starting to feel burned out from his job (the topic last week hit him in the gut). He asked that we pray for him as he was thinking about hiring someone to take some of his work off of him – someone to work on the bigger maintenance issues. He has the budget for someone but it would make him have to tighten the belt some. So, we lifted this up in prayer as well as some other general prayers for our families and our businesses. It was good and I think productive.

The main speaker for the week was a local coffee shop owner who was battling the forces of national chains. He told us a little about how to build a loyal fan base by offering cheaper options and setting up the shop in such a way to make people experience a more intimate and comfortable shop to hang out in – lighting, psychologically pleasing colors, super clean bathrooms, a lot of plugs for those who work away from a traditional office, etc. This part of the talk reminded me some of the Feng Shui speaker, but it differed enough to make it an interesting subject. He said that he didn’t really buy into this stuff at the beginning, but after taking polls and asking customers to offer advice, he realized that these were vital pieces to add-on. He also talked about the power of an entrepreneurial spirit and how being an owner in a competitive environment can drive you to be more creative than otherwise. He told us to see competitors as catalysts for being more creative. As far as results, he said that they now have a very solid fan base that wouldn’t go anywhere else but his coffee shop. I had never been to his place, but I decided right then and there to become a frequent visitor. I wondered what it would be like if our group met there at his coffee house rather than where me meet now. I guess I’ll have to see the space for myself before making that suggestion.

How about you? What do you think about using local businesses instead of going to chain businesses? I’m interested and want to know what you think local stores can do to grab your attention and your loyalty. Thanks in advance for your feedback.

When trouble comes…

There is an issue that I have never had to write about before because I never really had property damage, fire damage, etc. Basically I have never had to use insurance claim adjusters because my life has been free from the damage. But, not too long ago I wasn’t paying attention and I did some fair amount of fire damage to my kitchen and the hallway leading into. Don’t do what I did – Stupid. At the time, I didn’t know what to do at all. I figured I was just going to have to pay for it – but I had renter’s insurance. I thought maybe they would come out and check my place out and then pay me to fix it. I asked my friend what they thought and they told me that they had had similar things happen to them, but instead with water damage. They told me that there were a lot of insurance claims adjusters online and that I needed to call one of them and they would make sure I got the right amount – the best deal. I live just outside Dallas and so I typed in “Dallas public adjuster.” That’s what my friend suggested – so I went with it. I looked at several pages (because I’m not one of those who just roll with the first few results. Anyway, I called two of them but was not satisfied with how they explained their services. Then finally I found one called Abba Claims and when I called I felt very good about how they not only cared about my problem but also promised that they would get me that best deal. All I can say is that everything turned out better than okay. They led me through the whole process and they walked alongside me as my personal claims people. Now, I’m not looking to have any more fire damage just so I can work with them again, but if I ever did I would use these guys again – no doubt.

This is their mission statement: Guided by our relentless focus on excellence and the highest standards of professional conduct in the field of public adjusting. We are committed to conducting our business with honesty and integrity, and in accordance with the licensing laws of the State.  We constantly strive to implement the critical initiatives required to achieve our vision. In doing this, we will deliver excellence in every aspect of our business and meet or exceed our commitments to the valued customers we serve.

So, it’s excellence aimed for and it is excellence delivered at Abba Claims. (I should market for them, huh?)

What have you done about your water damage or fire damage claims? Have you ever had one before? How did they treat you? I’m interested in what you have to say about your whole process. So, please send me your comments and advice. I want to know if you feel like you got the best deal on your insurance claim. Thanks in advance…

Marketplace Prayer

Week Thirteen

As prayer time pre-meeting was about to get started, Liz brought in some of her Lubbock catering food to us so that we could start our days off right. Josh said that it was a perfect gift since he hadn’t had a chance to have breakfast and he really needed to fill his belly to get ready for the lawn care jobs he had lined up for the day. I had already grabbed a bagel before our prayer, but I had no problem gobbling up a couple of extra breakfast chicken sandwiches. Liz said that she had brought more than enough for the entire group to feast on – she wanted to bless the whole business group. Liz is a cool lady. Anyway, prayer was good and I was the focus since I was going to speak about marketplace ministry in a few minutes. I don’t mind public speaking as long as it is covering something that I feel passionate about – I am definitely passionate about bringing God into the mix of everything in life. I did wonder how the whole group would take it, but I had to surrender this worry in our early prayer. I figure people can take it or leave it…

So, I was the speaker for the day and I told everyone about what Josh, Liz and me have been doing as far as prayer before the main meetings. I talked about what we all noticed as far as the positives of this time and suggested that others in the group might think about forming small groups to bring prayer into their businesses. I also recommended to these bosses and leaders that they offer some sort of prayer and/or Bible study time to their workers. After all, most people spend most of their lives in the workplace and could probably use a supernatural boost. In the dialogue time, there were some concerns raised about how this might go over at the workplace – would the workers who didn’t want to participate feel like they were going to be looked at in a negative light in comparison to those who did decide to participate. I just answered that it would have to be made very clear that this was a completely voluntary choice and not one that would affect workers’ jobs. I also said that one small group could be formed by someone who was not in leadership so that people would find it more organic. Most of the people there admitted that even though they were people of faith, they didn’t even bring their businesses to God in their own private prayer times. They said that they had so compartmentalized their faith and their work that they didn’t ever cross paths. Many of them said that they would begin the process by first letting their prayers catapult over their own compartmentalized barriers. Only then did they think it would be a good idea to bring prayer into their workplaces.

 

I got the feeling that my speaking topic really made people think about their spiritual lives and how they could affect their work lives. I also got the added benefit of seeing people who wanted to break down their life compartments and bring God into their personal prayers about their businesses while at home. Liz and Josh said that I did a really good job with the whole thing. They said that they overheard one group of three commit to starting a prayer meeting like the one we have. That will be cool to look around and see three more people praying when we are praying. I’m thankful for the day – Please comment on what you think about this whole thing – feel free to ask whatever questions you have. Thanks in advance.