Business Blog for Company Owners

by Matt Solis
April 12, 2013

In March, American Ratings Corporation (ARC) held Diamond Certified Expert & Digital Workshops at several locations throughout the Greater Bay Area. In addition to presenting an opportunity for local Diamond Certified company owners to meet each other and talk about doing more business together, these workshops presented unique opportunities for learning how to maximize digital growth in an increasingly digital marketplace. Read more

by Jim Stein
April 01, 2013

Spring is a season of renewal. In nature, new grasses grow, flowers bloom and birds nest. For consumers, moods brighten, house projects are planned and cars are serviced. For company managers, it’s a time to achieve performance numbers, optimize employee skills, satisfy customers and generate more referrals. Competitors don’t sleep, so it’s wise for Diamond Certified companies to maximize their usage of Diamond Certified to differentiate themselves as Highest in Quality and top-rated for customer satisfaction. That’s why we’ve created Diamond Certified Spring Training. If you qualify for Diamond Certified, we’ll show your team the best ways to present your company as top-rated: in person, on the phone, by email, through social media and on the web. Read more

by Joy Lanzaro
March 04, 2013

One of the most common complaints I receive from consumers who request mediation is related to breaches in the unspoken contract of timeliness. Contractors, mechanics and other service pros, please hear this: Next to your competence, the most important thing you offer your clients is time, or more specifically, timeliness.

The expression “Time is Money” as it pertains to service and repair contracts means timeliness has the potential to buy you goodwill, respect, patience, flexibility and, most importantly, more time! Like any relationship, timing is everything—people equate it with value, so it’s a critical component of professional communication, similar to tone of voice or body language. Read more

by Jim Stein
February 20, 2013

How well does your team work together? We know that teamwork in sports—or lack thereof—is usually the difference between a win and a loss: the muffed handoff to the fullback (ouch), the perfect execution of blocking in a 20-yard run (first down), the pick-and-roll pass inside for the bucket or the grounder to the right side to score the runner from third (high five!). Each are critical plays that, when well executed, propel a team to victory. In your business, processes are even more complex, and the difference between creating a satisfied and dissatisfied customer often comes down to teamwork: the promised return call that’s made (trust), the detailed notes on special materials (quality), bringing in a specialist team member at the right time (expertise), Read more

by Jim Stein
January 14, 2013

A few months ago, I booked a flight to the east coast for my wife and told her she would get a confirming email. She smiled and said, “I hope the email says I’ve been upgraded for free.” I thought, “Well, who doesn’t wish that?” That thought stuck with me as our team began planning extra benefits for 2013. From day one, our core philosophy has been to improve the Diamond Certified Program every year, and this year is no exception. So, I’m very pleased to say that for 2013, all Diamond Certified companies have been UPGRADED! Read more

by Joy Lanzaro
January 07, 2013

California has recently eliminated any ambiguity concerning “construction consultants”—per Assembly Bill No. 2237, they’re now defined as contractors who must adhere to the same requirements that apply to all licensed contractors. In other states, construction consultants market their services to DIYers and owner-builders who have skill gaps and choose not to hire general contractors to manage their home improvement projects. Construction consultants offer a wide range of à la carte support opinions, from planning to project management, but they don’t assume any responsibilities for safety, best practices, code compliance, performance expectations or warranties. Read more

by Jim Stein
December 17, 2012

We published a lot of business tips in 2012 that covered a wide variety of topics, but here are the 10 we think are most important for ensuring your company’s success in 2013.

1. Restoring faith
If you notice your customers can’t say what they want but definitely don’t want anything you’ve suggested, it’s time to restore the team. Focus solely on the decision-making rationale they find meaningful without judging them. Brainstorm an idea and tell them they’re free to respond in one of three ways: acceptance, acceptance with conditions (list the conditions), or rejection of the product or proposal along with the documented and measurable criterion used to reject this option. Read more

by Joy Lanzaro
November 29, 2012

Contractors: Have you ever presented a client with a perfectly rational approach to fixing a problem only to have them reject it without any concrete reason? Things grind to a halt, you think they simply can’t be satisfied and you’re ready to give up…except that means taking a financial hit. Here are some strategies for avoiding the friction of indecision.

When your customers just aren’t “feeling it”
Every decision is a product of weighing both logic and feeling. If a reasonable and logical proposal gets rejected, that means it’s not appealing to the customer on another level. Try tuning in to the customer’s impressions. You might say, “I notice you’re having difficulty switching gears. Read more

by Joy Lanzaro
November 19, 2012

Contractors, mechanics and other consumer service providers are in the Trust business. Every time a service professional breaks from expectations, the customer is confronted with a choice between trust and self-preservation. While missed appointments and failure to call might seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, these breaches in social contracts confront customers in a significant way. Once compromised, the cost of restoring trust can exceed time and materials and may be the difference between profit and loss.

Let’s use the example of my 3/4 Arabian mare, Sasha. Her cooperation is reliable under a specific set of conditions for which she’s been prepared and tested. My job is to continually earn Sasha’s trust over an ever-widening range of conditions. Read more

by Jim Stein
November 15, 2012

Our entire team at American Ratings Corporation wishes you and your loved ones a wonderful Thanksgiving season. For me, this is the time of year to give thanks to special people and reflect on outstanding deeds—an ideal precursor for personal and business planning.

Besides focusing on family members and friends, I’d like to take stock of what we’ve achieved in the Diamond Certified Program this year. I’m thrilled that, despite a sluggish economy, both consumer awareness of and preference for Diamond Certified companies increased in 2012. To accomplish this, we:

  • Employed a team of writers to add more than 30,000 “How To” expert articles to our website’s industry category pages,
  • Read more