The Importance of Habitual Behavior in Business

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The human mind is a complex, and often times mysterious, thing. The more we learn about how it works the more confusing it all becomes. Even if we can not explain how or why we think the way that we do, we can learn how to best utilize the system that we have to work with. When it comes to learning a new habit there are a number of things we need to keep in mind if we want to master a new skill set.

When you first learn to do something new it is almost always awkward and challenging. Even though it may not feel like it, this is actually a good thing. Because we get frustrated it can help kick in that little extra adrenaline that we so desperately need sometimes in order to power through tedious and laboring tasks. It is all in how you perceive this "grind" as some people classify it as stress while other as motivation. The majority of us can get through the initial stages to the point where we can at least somewhat perform the task at hand. A solid ego alone will get you to this point as no one wants to initially fail. It is getting beyond this stage that can get tough as the plateau can sometimes seem to go on endlessly.

Many times, we pick up a new skill set to an admirable level and then are content leaving it at that. We all strive to be masters but just can't seem to muster up the energy or time to take us there. It is important to set yourself lofty goals that will pull you through the tough times. It is not always going to be fun and there are going to be periods in which you question why you are even bothering anymore. There will be other times where it seems like no matter what you do you just can not get any better at the task. It is when we have become unconsciously competent at something that we are able to perform almost mindlessly, a lot like driving a car. When you have practiced something enough to get to that level the mind needs to utilize less resources and is happy to just coast along on autopilot. In fact, the mind may even get quite upset if you attempt to take it out of this mode. 

The question then becomes how to use the mind against itself to overcome our own limitations? Well, repetition is key to all learning and needs to be applied here tirelessly. You need to devote a specific amount of time everyday to achieving your task. You need to track your success in a dispassionate and analytical fashion. Seek to consistently improve but set long term goals instead of looking at short term fluctuations. Master this discipline and you will be able to tackle any problem in the future. Being able to create a new habit on demand, no matter how small, is what makes us unique.

Algorithmic Marketing: Thinking Like A Machine

Machine Intelligence Marketing

As algorithms get more and more complex, we are fast approaching the time when machines will have some semblance of consciousness. Google has done a great job tweaking their formula so that black hat SEO techniques no longer work, and in fact they now can cost you dearly. Every where you look the professionals are recommending that you make a strong move towards content in your marketing efforts, but that can be a full time job in itself. You have to write rich content that other people are going to be interested in reading, and then you have to either have a huge fan base to share it with or pay astronomical fees in order to get your post in front of people. There are many more aspects to a perfected digital marketing plan and SEO techniques, but when you distill it all down to its essence we are really attempting to appease these primitive artificial intelligence programs. 

With that thought in mind, it makes a lot more sense why one would want to focus on a data rich and stimulating environment. If a machine ever does develop consciousness the last thing they want clogging up their environment is a bunch of spammy repetitive garbage. Good information is literally priceless, it can make or break entire nations. Its impact would be exponentially more important to a being that lives within it, possibly even feeds off of it. So write as if you are trying to please a higher being, even if you just use it as a helpful motivational technique as it has been proven to work already with religion. 

If you have ever thrown your cell phone and broken it because it was frozen, or thrown the remote control at your TV, then you can relate to how annoying it is needlessly wait. If there is something that is broken it should either get fixed ASAP or get replaced. This is important when you are creating your website as well, to Google, algorithms, and everyday users. These little lags that get reported when you do a speed analysis may seem inconsequential but again you need to think beyond what we are used to. When an algorithm is reviewing your website it is important that it can retrieve the information that it is looking for as quickly as possible. Anything that is slower then average, or just plain buggy, will and should be treated as inferior. Make sure that you are standing tall to both the machine when it runs its reports on your service speed as well presenting yourself in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Compress your high definition visual images so they are not taking forever to load and make sure they are mobile friendly.

Lastly, stop worrying about all those back links because these advanced algorithms can spot the scam from a mile away. It is a lot like those people on Facebook that take pride in having thousands upon thousands of friends. Then, when it comes to the real world, the only person they actually interact with is their cat fluffy. Quality links that are relevant to your site are all that matters. Try to focus on a few tough to get ones that will really improve your status, through pagerank and from a social stand point. Trust me, it is tough for everyone to get away from the old and easy techniques in order to boost your websites SERP. But time is moving on and these technologies are continuing to evolve rapidly. Within the next few years we will be interacting with vast machine intelligence's on an everyday basis, and it is better to just learn how they think and respect it then to endlessly try to manipulate the system.

 

The 3D Printed Future of Construction


3d construction

They have literally managed to print a human organ. That's right, a working human organ that can be actually transplanted into a person as a replacement part. With that in mind, I don't think it is of much surprise that companies are now working on printing housing as well. In fact, it is kind of surprising that it has been developed farther already. The implications of this technology for the construction industry is just mind boggling and sooner then later a lot of professional contractors may have to learn some new skills in order to support themselves.

At this point, it seems more of a programming problem then actual mechanics. Engineers understand and can easily utilize the basic concepts and functions needed to 3d print complex structures. The materials that get used are still a work in progress but as far as housing goes there have been some major breakthroughs in cement mixtures. It is a little hard to fully imagine but in the near future we will simply have technicians programming these machines that will work day and night on these construction projects until they are finished. The time it takes to build, the cost of "labor" and materials, designing and even site accommodations will all be drastically reduced. This will allow the average consumer to purchase customized houses and will also open up homeownership to a whole lower income class. 

Affordable housing that is quickly and well built is something desperately needed across the world. Those that can't afford much in life typically do not get the best of educations either and thus are susceptible to getting cheated out of the little money they do have. Picking a plan for a printed home that other people have already reviewed will be such a pleasure that we will all wonder how in the world we used to deal with all the old crap involved in the process. With the integration of smart home technology, the possibilities will literally be endless.

Licensed Roofing Contractors in Detroit, Michigan: 0% Loan

licensed roofing contractors, detroit MI

With the interest free loan going live today, it is more important then ever to find licensed roofing contractors in Detroit, Michigan. The city is supposed to have a list of qualified individuals that can perform the work but be careful as this list is not all the difficult to get on. Make sure that you do your own research as well by searching online and asking people that you know for personal referrals. It has taken a lot of time and energy to put this innovative program together, the last thing that we need is a bunch of shoddy work getting done.

The Detroit 0% Interest Home Repair Loans website it fairly simple to navigate, they have all the qualifications and steps clearly outlined for residents. Take advantage of this program while it last, because as we have seen many times before with these Detroit programs they are limited in their funds. Once everything is used up, it is doubtful we will see a similar program for quite some time. If you ever have any questions regarding the licensing of a contractor you can always visit the states website at: http://www.dleg.state.mi.us/verify.htm. If you need any more help there are classes that the city is actually holding to teach residents about the entire process. 

Replacement Roofing Prices: 2015 Guide

Michigan Roofing

There are many variables that you need to account for when estimating the price of a new roof, it truly is an art form. But for most homeowners, and even some contractors, it is enough to just be able to get a base line measurement and use a basic formula in order to get a price. As most customer are smart enough to forgo the recover option now a days, we will focus on replacement roofing prices alone.

It is important to take into account every single aspect of the proposed job. That means that pitch, all the flashing, any special considerations for property protection, shingle drop, and of course materials. These are generally where the roofer will make the mistake as multiplying the perimeter area by the pitch factor is so easy that a child could do it with no problem. There are many satellite technologies that now exist in which you can even pull a specific roof report for any desired property. That means the proactive homeowner can now measure their own home and have that with them when prospecting a roofing company to hire. 

To keep things simple, a great base price for a simple to do 1 layer ranch in a 30 year architectural shingle should fall between $2.50 and $3.00 a square foot. The details discussed above are of the utmost importance as they are what make that professionals stand out from the amateurs. The same products are available to everyone at nearly the same price, it is how they are installed that matters most. In the end you may end up paying a little bit more for a reputable company that is fully insured and has top quality installation techs. The better the installers are the more they obviously expect to get paid.

A lot of people get really caught up on the specific shingle manufacturer that they use, and although this is a very important subject to consider it need not be something you lose your hair about. Everyone has their opinion and a favorite shingle that they use, but overall the difference in the products just come down to a few clear distinctions. A shingle can be reliably measured based off of its weight, strength, weathering, wind, and impact resistance. If you go to consumer reports they will be able to tell you everything that you need to know without any misleading marketing material. 

Top Rated Roofing Companies: What Matters Most

Michigan Roofing

It is funny when you look around at all the top rated roofing companies in Michigan and then the awards that they have received. Everyone is familiar with Angie's List Super Service Award and it is a great accommodation that requires a contractor to put customer service first. But then there is just everything else that you can imagine out there from some mythical Master's level in shingle installation to Green Certified specialists. Training is very important and in no way are we advocating that it should not be a priority. But if we are all honest with ourselves these awards are handed out like participation trophies in elementary school soccer, everyone gets on whether they win or lose. Many of these awards and certification's require the roofer to make a substantial payment to the provider, another questionable aspect to the system in itself. Now that the BBB barely attracts any attention anymore, it leaves customers wondering where to turn for an honest opinion of who is the best contractor to hire in their local market. 

It is amazing what we are capable of achieving in modern times be utilizing the power of the "crowd". They are writing some of the most complex algorithms ever invented and closing in on actual artificial intelligence. If you want a new logo made for your company, go ahead and upload the basic concept to a crowd sourced site and have people from all over the world compete for your business. Since so many large companies are now actively relying on this resource, you can do the same thing yourself when looking to get that next home improvement project done without spending a ton of money. Simply set aside a good hour and pick out 3-10 local companies using Google Maps or even a baseline review site. Individually search each companies name and compile a report of the information that you find. How many good reviews do they have in general, not just on one specific site? Are there any other honorable mentions such as community work that they have donated? Be as thorough as possible, which means go through at least 2-3 pages of search results. From here you should get a real good idea if the contractor is reputable in general or just according to one specific site. If the latter is the case, it makes you wonder what the real relationship is there. 

Roofing Reviews: They can make or break your business

Michigan Roofing Reviews

The other day our company encountered a situation in which we had just finished a job and were doing the final inspection with the customer. Everything was cleaned up, the roof looked great and it all got finished in one day. 99% of the time we would just collect our check from there and ask for them to post a good review online. The customer sure did agree to post a review, but wanted to negotiate the final price if we wanted it to be good. After tactfully reasoning for a few minutes, we both decided it would be in everyone's best interest, morally and legally, to just let the obscene request go. This is the first time that we have directly encountered a situation like this, but we hear stories quite often now. We can all agree that this is hopefully a rare situation that you need not worry about too much, but it makes you wonder just how much a positive review is really worth.

Placing a value on a home improvement lead is easy enough to do. The going rate is anywhere from $45 all the way up to $200 a piece. There are many variables to consider including the quality of the lead and how many other people have access to it. The problem with an online review is that contractors are stuck in a defensive position, waiting for them to come in of their own accord. This is a poor way to deal with any potential problems as a business and can leave you walking on eggshells as you wait for the next one to get posted. By simply asking for the review upon job completion you can flush out a lot of undisclosed issues the homeowner may still have. However, some problems don't occur to the customer until days or even weeks later. They may get a flat tire the follow weak from a left over nail and then decided that they should go share this atrocity with the world by posting a 1 star rating. The only way to prevent these sort of unforeseen problems are to implement a follow up survey within a couple weeks. There are third party services, such as GuildQuality, that will do this for you if you do not have the in house staff to support the process. However you decide to tackle the problem, make sure that you have some sort of game plan in place as it is bound to keep occurring in the future.  

Staying Honorable When The Competition Wages War

Michigan Roofing

It is a cut throat world out there. Competition can be fierce and margins slim, while you have to work harder than ever before just to win over a customer. The more information that is readily available online, the easier it is for homeowners to quickly learn enough about home improvement to ask contractors the right questions. The materials are a commodity and everything else comes down to the labor. The only other things that a  contractor has to work with are the presentation and the companies reputation. If either of those factors fall short it is common to see the fangs really come out.

If you have been in the industry long enough, you have surely heard countless stories from customers about the competition and the crazy, despicable things that they have supposedly done. Such stories need be taken with a grain of salt, but when you hear something repeatedly there has got to be some truth to it. Such as negative things directly said about your company or reports that another salesman is picking apart your contract. Hearing that someone is out there bad mouthing you, messing with your crews, or even actively looking to hurt your business can be painful. It is in how you deal with these inevitable occurrences that truly define you.

Our first reaction to an attack is run away or fight back. This is just basic biology and something that each of us struggles with everyday. Although these survival instincts can be useful in extreme situations, they typically cause more problems then solve them. Take in all the information that you can regarding what is being said about your company and then tailor your pitch to inoculate the customer against it. If they are attacking your leading shingle then make sure that you are presenting it as a recommendation and mentioning that there are other options available. If they are claiming that you are not insured just make sure to bring a copy of the policy with you. If they are claiming that you do poor work, bring customer testimonials and links to online review sites to prove them wrong. Instead of getting angry use it as an opportunity to better your pitch.

The last thing that you want to do is get into a pissing match in front of the customer. Never show them how upset you are to hear the slander or say anything negative about the other company. Take the high road and truly show them that you are above it all. This will make these attacks seem petty and will make you stand out from everyone else. Make sure that you body language reflects this confidence because it comes off as disingenuous if you have balled up fists but are talking in a soothing tone. 

Every once in a while, your competition will just go over board. It is up to you to use good judgement and decide exactly where that line is and what to do when someone crosses it. A person, and a business, will do what they need to do when backed into a corner. Just make sure that it is done in the proper place and at the proper time. There are various legal and professional channels that you can go through in order to file a complaint. You can also put a hurting to them simply by undercutting them on every bid that you can. As of lately, there have even bid advertising wars on Google with arch rivals purchasing each others adwords. However you decide to deal with it, make sure that it stays far away from your customer and their experience. It is your responsibility to protect and serve them, offering the best service possible. In no way should they become a pawn in any fights that you are having.

Crowdfunding a Construction Project

Michigan roofing

Customers and contractors are constantly trying to find new ways to get financing for their next home improvement project. Lending waxes and wanes with the economy and the players are constantly changing. Mergers, acquisitions, and a whole new slew of companies have come on the scene within the last year. However, there is still a strong need for those individuals suffering with a low credit score. Crowdfunding is the newest craze and it may provide a viable option for these customers, as well as great rates for those with less trouble.

The premise is simple enough, you go online to a website such as Prosper.com and fill out some basic information. Typically from this point, your credit and income would get analyzed by a loan officer and either approved or denied. The difference is with crowdfunding you can actually put a little story about your current situation and what you are looking to accomplish. From there, individual investors are able to contribute any specified amount of money to your account. Once the goal has been reached, no matter how many people it may take to do so, you get the loan at the agreed upon terms and rate. 

As an investment strategy, there are many people out there that diversify their portfolio and will take on the less credit worthy loans because they make a higher return on them. That is good news for everyone in the construction industry. We can now guide our customers to one of these websites instead of leaving them hanging. There is nothing worse then telling a customer in need that there is absolutely nothing you can do for them. It is important to always keep in mind that our jobs are to make peoples lives better, and sometimes this means stepping outside our comfort zone in order to do so. Contractors are not always known to be the most financially savvy individuals, and you do not need to carry a brief case or wear a suit and tie to provide this service. It is as simple as sending a link to a website and once in a while helping the elderly fill out the information. Give it a shot because you might be surprised. The worst that can happen is that the customer will still not get approved, and you are left right where you were before you started the process.

Consistency in Construction: Building a solid contracting business

Consistancy in Construction

Construction is far from the only industry that seas its up and downs. Many contractors are affected seasonally and everyone feels the pain when it comes to those long tail boom or bust cycles. It is impossible to say whether the industry causes a certain mania or if it instead just attracts those with a psychological disposition for it. Regardless of the cause, it is a common problem that many commercial businesses and residential customers end up having to deal with. A contractor has high aspirations for his business and the amount or variety of work that he can perform, only to get half way into a project and suddenly realize that he has bitten off more then he can chew. At this point, the situation typically does not end well. Sometimes the company folds, other times they just stop answering your call and move on to other work, and once in a blue moon you are able to convince them to actually finish the product.

Because such occurrences are so common, it makes you wonder what the motivation is behind such behavior. Are the individuals just bad people that are out to harm others? In most instances, the answer is emphatically no. In fact, it is usually the opposite case. How easy it is for all of us to come up with these big, hairy, audacious goals. We go through our data from last year, come up with our new projections hoping and praying for that 20% increase, and then set off to work with unbounded enthusiasm. Then reality sets in, the sub contractors start misbehaving, cash flow gets tight, or several customers have some serious complaints. Not as easy to stick to these initials goals and commitments when times get tough and the cycle thus reinforces itself.

To overcome this problem with constancy an entrepreneur need to be objective in his projections. Make sure that you are not aiming to high, set realistic expectations, and above all else plan for the worst. Optimism is a great motivator but beyond that it will just lead you down a dead end street and leave you penniless. When you decide on your core guiding principles there are no exclusions to the rules. It is a lot like how certain individuals will quote scripture or follow spiritual values only when it suites their immediate needs. Well religion doesn't work like that and neither does business. If you are committed to providing the best possible customer service then it means you have to do so regardless of the cost. Yes, there are going to be many situations where you end up having to fix a problem that is not even your fault. There will also be a few times that you will end up losing money on a job. If you don't have what it takes to do these type of things, it is better to just aim lower and try to consistently perform as an average player in the industry.