The Need for National Guidelines and Testing in the Home Improvement Industry

It is time for Washington to step up and put legislation in place that will force states to better regulate the home improvement industry. Up to now Washington has left the regulation of the home improvement industry up to state regulators, and for whatever reason(s) many states have fallen considerably short.

There are still some states that do not even have contractor licensing in place for home improvements. For some of the states that do have licensing, the license requirements do not include that the applicant demonstrate the ability to do any type of home improvement work. (That is like saying I will issue you a license to cut hair but you don’t have to demonstrate that you know how to cut hair……… ouch!) Then why do states bother issuing licenses if there are no requirements to demonstrate competence? Revenue? Or could it be that they need more consumer complaints for Consumer Affairs and BBB to handle? The unfortunate consequences of this problem are that homeowners are the ones who are paying the price by receiving poor workmanship and a cascade of home improvement problems.

Let’s be honest, the home improvement industry does not seem to attract the most reliable, honest and competent individuals. The lure of a quick buck and the relative ease to “qualify” to do home improvement work, brings many a “character” to your door. When I was a contractor I needed to hire people for a variety of field positions. Most of the people, who I interviewed and sometimes hired, seemed to have the same type of problems with past employers. These problems consisted of substance abuse issues, honesty issues, and reliability issues. The labor pool never seemed to have an over abundance of talent and employability to pick from.

I remember always reading article after article that dealt with the significant manpower shortage in the home improvement industry. The bottom line of each article would always be the same, “If you can find an honest, reliable and competent person to work for you, pull out all the stops to keep them!!!! Do whatever you need to do to keep that person happy because you’ll never know if you will be lucky enough to find someone to take their place.” As an owner, it was a very constant and stressful problem to deal with. You were almost afraid to try and increase project production because you knew you would have to try and find someone to do the additional work. Finding employees was always an adventure, an adventure that I never looked forward to.

For the last 10-15 years the number one problem in the home improvement industry is the lack of manpower. Many contractors are training and hiring minorities to try and solve this major problem.

If you were to talk to your state authorities about what is being done to improve regulations and screening in the home improvement industry, they will probably tell you something is in the works or there is no money for more regulations (testing). I have been hearing this for 30 years. The county in which I live (Suffolk County, New York) still does not require any demonstration of home improvement ability to obtain a home improvement license. The fee has consistently gone up but the requirements have pretty much stayed the same. We are one of the highest taxed counties in the country, so I refuse to believe there is no money to develop and implement a better policing and screening process in the home improvement industry.

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Modern Management And Common Sense: 8 Challenges for 2012

SummarySo called “modern management” has been studied seriously for about 100 years. Many of our management practices are rooted in 20th Century thinking. Has common sense been forgotten? • Why Aren’t Senior Managers More Interested In Marketing?CEOs, COOs and Managing Directors are ultimately responsible for the continued success of the business. Yet most of them take only a passing interest in marketing.They’re more interested in planning, financing, ROI, production: all those areas that produce statistics they can read and analyze to death.The reality is, if your marketing’s poor, sooner or later, those figures will be, as they say, “trending downwards”. Discussion will rage about “reversing the trend”, “product mix”, “expense reduction” and all that hard data stuff.The real problem could be poor marketing. Remember, everything isn’t marketing, but marketing is everything. • Why Don’t Masters Degrees In Business Administration Require Business Management Experience?Colleges and universities all over the world bestow MBAs. Few require any proof of business management competence or even extensive actual management experience. And few managers bother to check to see whether the content of an MBA program match the management needs in their business.Doctors, pilots, lawyers and many other professionals must undergo rigorous postgraduate practical training to prove their worthiness to practice. Tradespeople have to be able to prove practical competence before being allowed to “ply their trade”. In most Australian states new car drivers must have at least 2 years incident free driving experience before being granted an unencumbered licence.Why doesn’t the same apply to MBA graduates? And why don’t colleges and universities describe the skills that an employer can reasonably expect an MBA graduate to bring to a postgraduate job?I’ll probably be accused of being anti-intellectual, anti-academic and anti-MBA. But I believe that it’s perfectly reasonable and businesslike to expect MBA graduates to bring proven practical skills to the business that employs them. Shouldn’t managers insist on that? • Why Do Businesses Persist With Rigid Start And Finish Times?When we offer a new hire a job, we usually state start and finish times. Why? It’s 2011. Using modern technology, many people can work readily and easily from almost anywhere.There’s just no need for people at the same meeting to be in the same building to have a successful meeting. Using video conferencing and webinars, they don’t need to be in the same continent.Email means that there’s no need to circulate copious copies of written material. There’s no need for the bureaucratic rigidities we all grew up with.And there’s just no need for all employees to “start at 9 and finish at 5″. • Why Do Managers Confuse Employee Behaviour With Performance?”Behaviour is what you take with you”, Dr Tom Gilbert wrote some years ago. “Performance is what you leave behind”, he continued.Behaviour’s important only where it has a negative effect on performance. We can reasonably expect employees to be polite, civil and courteous with each other. But it’s unreasonable to expect them to be “pleasant” and “emotionally controlled” at all times.Emphasising behaviour has a negative effect on performance. It tells employees that being “nice”, wearing certain clothes, following certain social mores, eating particular food and other peripheral issues are far more important than the results they achieve at work. • Are “Pep Talks” Merely Ego Trips?Maybe we managers have delusions about being very successful sports coaches. What on earth is “a good talking to” or a “verbal rev up” supposed to achieve? The assumption that a manager can cause a definitive and lasting performance improvement merely by talking with employees, insults the employees’ intelligence.There is a place – a small place- for the pep talk. It may feed a manager’s ego. But far greater workplace success will result from role and goal clarity, effective incentive and rewards, system improvement and of course, sound listening skills. • Why Don’t Managers Demand Proof Of Competence Before Offering Jobs To Strangers?Staff selection is a hidebound affair. Business has been using the same basic process for at least 75 years. It starts with a job description. Then follows a job ad, resumes and written applications, shortlisting, interviews, reference checking and eventually a job offer and a new employee.Rarely, except in relatively low level jobs, do we require demonstrable proof of competence from a candidate. We use various tests including psychometric instruments. We have so called “in depth” interviews. We check references thoroughly. But we don’t get the applicant to actually do anything… except talk.Prior to the job ad being placed or the selection consultant being engaged, all candidates were complete strangers. The referees they nominate are usually strangers too. The candidate may even have taken “interview training”.The chances of error are high at any stage of the process. But we don’t seek demonstrable proof that the candidates can do what they claim to be able to do.Our initial decision about who to shortlist was made based on a resume or written application. There’s about 70% chance that it was prepared by a professional writer. Does any of this make sense? • Why Do Managers Spend So Much Time In The Office?Back in the 1970s we called it “management by walking around”. Be seen. Talk to employees. Ask questions. Be available.These days progressive companies don’t even give each manager a separate office. There’s really no need. There’s no need for “management spaces” in the car park or a special management area in the canteen. These things are merely the accoutrements of office. They don’t help anybody do better work. Yet we persist with such trappings. In the 21st Century they can’t be justified. • What About EPC?EPC – Expectation, Perception and Consequences – have a major effect on how we form our opinions.Quite rightly, managers are concerned with “facts”. But that’s easier said than done. In order to “get the facts”, you have to deal with opinions. The opinions that people hold are facts to them. And opinions drive actions.In 1973 Peter Drucker wrote, “Executives who make effective decisions know that one doesn’t start with facts. One starts with opinions.” Mark Twain put it more bluntly years earlier. “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for certain that just ain’t so.”What I’m saying may not fit comfortably with some theories of modern management. But employees and work colleagues are people. Expectation, Perception and Consequences are most important to those who hold them. Managers must work through them in order to reach “the facts”. ConclusionIt’s time to seriously question lots of the so-called “management theory” that’s prevailed for so long. It’s costly and inefficient in the 21st Century. The eight issues I’ve raised are just a start.

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Top Influencer Marketing Strategies for the Social Business

Influencer Marketing is a modern marketing technique in which concentration is mainly placed on particular individuals rather than the entire target market. These individuals, termed influencers, are identified as people having a profound influence on the marketing activities of many other potential buyers of a brand. The explosion of social media over the last ten years has remarkably revolutionized communication and is making a similar impact in the business world. This has brought about the emergence of many potential influencers, often people very active on social media (having many followers) with respected opinions due to industry expertise.The concept of influencer marketing is more about positively impacting sales and not just increasing awareness. Therefore, the selection of a productive influencer is very brand and/or brand campaign sensitive. Most present-day consumers do not respond well to billboards, newsletters, digital adverts, commercials and other conventional marketing schemes. They often prefer independent brand research or hearing about it from a trusted person. As a result, the use of influencers in marketing is turning into one of the most successful ways to pull clients and customers for all businesses including social business (Social enterprises, social benefit companies, social initiatives, non-profits etc.).Marketing for non-profits and other social businesses demands meeting the needs of both their donors and the clients they serve. Every social organization, regardless of their source of funding, requires effective marketing to enable them to continuously meet the needs of donors and clients while earning positive value in return.In this modern business era, fundraising consulting, non-profit consulting, and the hiring of profit consulting services uncover and reveal some evolving key marketing techniques including influencer marketing strategies. The strategies of influencer marketing are constantly evolving. However, aligning with the right influencer opens the sales door to their loyal audiences and those of their networks, providing the chance to relate with these audiences non-stop.An essential factor in the establishment of an efficient influencer marketing system is identifying and engaging the most capable and best contextual fitting influencers for the brand. Social entrepreneurs can successfully improve their value in the eyes of donors and at the same time satisfy the clients they serve by effectively making use of these traits for ideal influencer targeting;1. Audience and Reach:Targeting potential influencers with huge followings on various social media platforms is advantageous.2. Relevant Connection:This highlights the importance of targeting people with posts, comments, and messages that possess some degree of cohesion with the brand’s fundamental interests and keywords.3. Quality and Trust:Quality and trusted followers for Influencers provide greater capacities for potential clients. This is measured by taking special notice of audience members who actively interact with influencers in promoting the brand.4. Activity:How frequent an individual posts or comments and their general activity as a whole plays a major role in influencer targeting as it serves to predict potential reach before a campaign is started.Although influencer marketing is typically employed as a tool for consumer brands and their partnerships, these strategies and features best apply to the marketing of social businesses;Authenticity Influencer campaigns won’t achieve their marketing goals if the audience is aware that the influencer is getting paid. Therefore, it’s very important to work with individuals with a true passion for your project. This only emphasizes that the key to a successful influencer campaign is being extremely authentic. Influencer marketing and Social Businesses are a perfect fit with respect to authenticity because potentially targeted influencers are often already outspoken about causes they support. This simplifies their identification, facilitates the establishment of a smoother relationship, and creates a more natural fit for your message.Strategic PlanningIt’s always very important to have a clear vision of what you plan to achieve before engaging with any influencer project- especially for social businesses. Also, the process of achieving these set goals and the scale on which success will be measured is of similar importance. Conducting a strategic analysis results in productive decisions on influencer action issues like; mediums with most relevance to brand audience and whether sharing brand content to as many people as possible is the primary objective or cooperating to generate new content to deeply connect with people. Early engagement with influencers is advisable to seek their opinions on how best the partnership will work.Targeting Relevant AudiencesStatistics and experience have proven that engaging with individuals and personalities with the largest social media following and fan bases as influencers to provide an endorsement for your mission doesn’t necessarily guarantee the best results. Statistics instead suggest that more audience engagement and the highest conversion rates are provided by niche social influencers with generally smaller followings. These individuals often referred to as micro-influencers possess highly targeted and more online interactive audiences. Micro-influencer inspired marketing for non-profits and other social businesses produce impeccable results. These Micro-influencers serve as passionate advocates for their brands, playing major roles in awareness and the driving of valuable action.Measuring ProductivityThe ability to quantify the success of influencer marketing campaigns has always been and remains a great challenge today. It’s anything but difficult for anyone to perceive the reasons why surveys have marketers attesting to the fact that measuring Return on Investment (ROI) for influencer marketing was the greatest challenge they came across in 2017. Tackling this challenge could begin from the initiation of a wide range of metrics like audience engagement, sentiments, and conversions to ensure more is being measured than just fan numbers. Also, the incorporation of hashtags such as #socialgood, #socialenterprise, #socialimpact, #socialchange, #innovation, #entrepreneur, #startup, #impact #nonprofit, #funding, #grantwriting, #charity, etc. into your campaign is easy and encourages people to join the conversation enabling tracking.To aid in this important quest for success measurement in influencer marketing campaigns, fundraising consulting, non-profit consulting, and profit consulting services would more explicitly advise social businesses to create dedicated fundraising pages for each of their influencers. This provides a unique platform through which connections can be established with their networks, depicts the clear dollar value of donations driven by each influencer and conclusively offers a means to assess the productivity of the partnership.Legal BoundariesUnderstanding the laws surrounding the agreements between influencers and companies during partnership is critically important. Although some influencers promote many social business causes without charge, most influencer endorsements involving highly followed individuals often require payments to safeguard official partnerships.Influencer marketing is revolutionizing the business world in general and has the potential of optimizing marketing for social businesses.

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