Grow Your Restoration Business With Air Duct Cleaning Services

Many restoration contractors are looking for ways to grow and expand their business. It makes sense to consider a service that has good long-term potential, a service that compliments existing services, a service that is not difficult to enter and a service that offers good profitability. Air duct cleaning is just such a service.

The concern and need for good indoor air quality and better energy efficiency will probably never go away, so the market for air duct cleaning should stay strong for a long time. Plus, many fire and mold contaminated restoration projects need the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system cleaned and coated. Duct cleaning/coating is a good way to expand a restoration business and get benefits like:

  • Excellent gross profit margins (40% to 60%).
  • Significant add-on revenues with existing clients.
  • Ability to attract new customers.
  • More diversification can help during challenging economic conditions.
  • Eliminating scheduling and quality control issues sometimes associated with using a subcontractor.
  • Easy integration with your existing business systems (estimating, marketing, accounting, etc.).

There are many questions restoration contractors have regarding this service. Some of these are:

What is air duct cleaning?

Duct cleaning is more than cleaning air ducts. A more appropriate term to use would be “HVAC system cleaning.” The HVAC system includes everything in the air stream. The goal is to remove all the accumulated dirt, debris and other contaminates found in the system. This is called source removal. A basic list of cleaning tasks for residential air duct cleaning include:

  • Visual inspection before and after cleaning.
  • Remove, clean and replace supply air vents and return air grilles.
  • Install access openings as needed and then re-seal after cleaning.
  • Clean supply air ductwork.
  • Clean return air ductwork.
  • Clean the blower/motor assembly in the furnace.
  • Clean the air stream side of the heat exchanger.
  • Clean the secondary heat exchanger if present.
  • Clean evaporator coil and drain pan.
  • Wash air cleaner if present
  • Replace air filter
  • Coat the ductwork if needed.

What equipment is needed?

In generic terms a typical equipment package to inspect, clean and decontaminate a HVAC systems include:

  • Vacuum collection system to put the ductwork under suction.
  • Agitation and cleaning tools like power brushing systems, air washing/whipping systems.
  • HEPA filtered wet/dry vacuums for contact vacuuming.
  • Air compressor.
  • Duct accessing tools and service panels.
  • Visual inspection system or digital camera.
  • Sanitizer and fogger, coil cleaner, etc.
  • Equipment for applying coatings like cart or robotic spray systems and a commercial airless sprayer.
  • Personal safety equipment
  • Miscellaneous items like hand tools, drop cloths, ladders, etc.
  • Plus, a truck or trailer to transport the equipment.

What does it cost to add air duct cleaning services?

The cost to add air duct cleaning services will be determined by the type of services you want to offer (residential or commercial or both), the type of equipment you select and the level of cleaning and what services you want to offer.

For residential, a basic equipment package will cost from $6,000.00 to $7,500.00. For commercial, a basic package will cost from $9,500.00 to $12,000.00. Additionally, for coating ductwork you would need a spray cart or robotic system and an airless sprayer. Equipment suppliers can typically give you several options to choose from that will best fit your needs and budget.

Summary:

Air duct cleaning offers many benefits to the Fire/Water/Mold Restoration Contractor that can help to expand and strengthen their business plus, it is relatively an easy add-on.

How to Transition From Freelancer to Successful Lifestyle Business Entrepreneur

As a freelancer, it is easy to get stuck in the rut and believe that you have to be the one who does everything. However, being the one who performs all the work limits the time you can actually spend building a successful business.

Do you want to be successful?

Then you have to understand how to build a business rather than just having a series of projects. To build a business you need systems.

Part of building systems is learning to:

Adopt the right mindset

If you want to grow a business, the very first step is to have the right mindset. If you maintain the mindset of a freelancer which is project based rather than system based, then building a business will be a foreign concept to you. To adopt the right mindset, you need to adopt the business mindset. There are many books published that tells you how to build a successful business using systems. The most important thing you will need to learn here is that building a successful business involves systems.

Plan

You need to have a plan about where you want to go. Do you just want to make few bucks or do you really want to build a successful lifestyle?

With a freelance business, if you stop working, you stop earning. Obviously, if this is as far as you want to go with your consulting projects, then this is fine. But from over ten years of consulting, I have learned most business owners want more. They want success and financial freedom and are always concerned about ways to achieve it.

Financial freedom is not a random act but needs to be planned. Determine where you want your successful business to be in three years. And develop steps to achieve that plan.

Delegate

If you are stuck in the routine of accepting, completing and then moving on the next project, there is good news for you. Delegation is a very effective way of assigning routine tasks while you focus on the tasks that only you can do to build your freelance business. In the beginning delegation seems to cost more money. But the key is to focus on the long term goal which is your success and financial independence. When you delegate, you always have something going on as you are already looking for the next client while your employee/ contractor is working on your current project.

You can also delegate your client acquisition system by using referrals to build your client base. Of course you will need to provide exceptional service for this to be successful.

Moreover, you can delegate your customer service/ follow-up process to an online administration service. You can even delegate your blogging to guest bloggers.

When you delegate the essential parts of your business system, you can take extended vacations and still bring in income. When you can walk away from your business from a period of time you are beginning to achieve success and financial freedom,

Delegation is a necessary pre-requisite to growth. You risks becoming irrelevant if you do not delegate. We all know technology changes and if you are too busy working on projects, you have less time to work on your skills and stay relevant in your field.

Automate:

Nowadays, there are so many technologies out there than can help automate parts of your successful business.

You can use auto responders to improve your customer service. Auto responders can be your first course of response to let your client know you received their request and will get to them within 24 hours.

Another useful automation tool is project management software called basecamp. We all know that sometimes the meaning of a word is sometimes lost in the translation when communicated through email.

With basecamp every aspect of your project is kept on one page: All correspondence, to do list, revision drafts, etc. are all kept in the same place. At any time, any team member or client can see what is going on with the project. I think this is cool as it is such a big time saver. It cuts down the amount of time you spend on emails by half.

Using basecamp increases business success with your client management system.

Build passive income:

In honesty, I hate this term passive income as there is a lot of confusion as to what passive income really is. Some people see passive income as a lazy way of building successful businesses on the internet. However, there is no lazy way out. What most people call passive income is really hours of upstart sweat equity which finally produces cash flow over an extended period of time? We do not see behind the curtains of most successful entrepreneurs hence we do not see all the hard work that went on behind the scenes. Most people want the results without the sacrifice.

With that said, using passive income sources like affiliate marketing, product sales or digital products, can boost your income by providing a consistent stream of income. This in turn contributes to your success and financial independence.

In this way your income is not tied strictly to your clients. This gives you more choice as to what type of clients you will like to work with.

Understand your numbers:

This is the topic no one likes to talk about. Most freelancers believe that as long as you are making enough money, the financial details are not relevant to your successful business. Think of your car, and think how long it will actually run if no maintenance was ever done. Your car will not run very long. A business is the same way; you need to perform regular checks to make sure all parts are still functioning efficiently.

Until you learn to look under the hood of your business, you cannot really succeed. It is when you begin to understand how the numbers work in your business that you begin to see patterns that can propel you to the next level. Understanding your financial statements and knowing how to use it to project into the future is paramount to business success.

Are you a freelancer, website designer or consultant? Do you want to build a successful business? Then take the time and read this information and respond to this post with one action you will take to move from being a freelancer to actually owning a successful business.

Starting a Gardening Business – Why You Should Not Spend Your Money on a Lawn Mowing Franchise

Starting A Gardening Business: If you are thinking about a career change move or you just want to earn extra money from part-time work, then starting your own lawn mowing and gardening business may be just the right thing for you.

Before we go any further, there are three (3) main ways of getting into the Lawn Mowing and Gardening Industry. These are:

  1. Start your own business from scratch
  2. Buy an existing lawn mowing run or round from an independent contractor or operator, or
  3. Buy a franchise from Jim’s Mowing or some other franchise system

So, why should you exercise caution before You spend Your Money on a Mowing Franchise? Let’s have a look at what possibilities exist if you buy a Lawn Mowing Franchise.

If you decide to purchase a franchise, the first expense incurred is what is called the Initial Franchise Fee. This fee, usually around $20,000 (and in some cases more), gives you access to the business system. However, you need to get customers to start making a living / profit to help re-coup the initial fee.

Now, in most cases with all these lawn mowing franchises, the franchisors offer an income guarantee (sometimes called the work availability guarantee) to the franchisees – sounds great, but there is a catch! The catch is the franchisee must mow lawns for prospects, who later sign off saying the franchisee did mow their lawn satisfactorily. The idea here is these prospects may decide the free service was good and come on board as a real Jim’s customer. If the franchisor decides the franchisee has approached enough prospects, then the guaranteed income (usually around $1,000) is paid. This guarantee is good for around 13 weeks or 3 months.

The problem with all this is the guarantee only lasts for 3 months and even if the franchisor pays this out completely, the source of these funds is usually the Initial Franchise Fee. So at the end of 3, 6 or 12 months, the franchisee may not have enough customers, and the guarantee has run out – hence not enough income or profit.

So, at the end of the day, make sure (if you are buying an existing lawn mowing business or franchise) that you are confident you can get the customers you need for a viable business income!

Types of Work Performed by Water Main Contractors

Water main contractors perform many types of jobs related to pipeline construction. This work encompasses installing, repairing, replacing, removing, and maintaining water and sewer pipes, storm water drainage systems, and underground fireline.

Due to the complexities of jobs, water main contractors must go through extensive training to learn various installation processes. They also receive training in state and federal regulations which include EPA, OSHA, and HAZMAT. In addition, contractors have to receive certification to become licensed prior to working on water pipeline systems.

One important job performed by contractors is system maintenance. It is crucial for water pipes to be routinely serviced to ensure systems are free of leaks and defects. Leaking pipes can cause municipalities to lose a tremendous amount of domestic drinking water. Damaged water mains can create flooding in residential neighborhoods and along public streets.

Replacing or repairing water pipes is a costly endeavor. At present, many U.S. cities are pouring over budgets to find ways to pay for modernizing systems. Some regions are still using pipes that were installed over a century ago.

Regions within the Midwest and along the Eastern seaboard are debating over replacing or repairing antiquated wooden water pipes which were installed in the late 1800s. The cost to repair wooden pipes is much higher than repairing PVC pipes because few contractors have the woodworking skills needed to fix these outdated systems.

Municipalities that have century-old systems constantly struggle with ongoing loss of water caused by leaking pipes. Whenever drinking water continuously seeps into the ground taxpayers pay higher water bills and will eventually have to foot the costs of replacing older systems.

In addition to working with municipal water pipelines, water main contractors also perform jobs on underground fireline, indoor fire suppression systems, and fire hydrants. Anytime property is demolished, contractors are called in to shut down water mains or removed previously installed systems.

Due to the fact that the U.S. is undergoing massive projects to modernize public water systems, this field of work is experiencing rapid growth. There is great need for general laborers, design engineers, project managers, heavy equipment operators, and office workers.

Working in the field is a physically demanding job that necessitates being able to work outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions. Although the work can be hard, the pay scale is above average and there are many opportunities for career advancement.

One field of pipeline construction that is growing by leaps and bounds is green technology. Since water pipeline is typically installed underground there is a growing need for non-toxic, environmentally-friendly water pipe components. It is believed this sector of pipeline construction will expand by as much as 25 percent within a few years.

Whenever water main contractors are needed it is important to hire reputable companies that employ highly trained workers. Contractors need to have necessary permits for each job, along with business licenses and insurance policies. It is recommended to acquire job cost estimates from a few contractors, along with referrals.

5 Steps To Becoming An Online Contractor

There are a number of reasons the online marketplace has become a highly popular way for businesses of every size to recruit freelancers for specific projects. It is obviously a lot cheaper for businesses to recruit online as recruitment costs are small when compared to traditional methods of recruitment, and there are fewer legal obligations as well.

It is also easier for business to recruit online, as they can see examples of work, and they have a pool of people worldwide to choose from.

Another prominent reason is the internet makes money, and continues to make money for tens of thousands of people all over the world. Despite economic conditions, and possibly because of them, the demand for freelancers continues to rise in nearly every industry you can think of.

Providing you can utilise your skills and spot good opportunities you can develop your own online contractor business whereby you win and outsource work to freelancers for a profit.

The steps outlined in this article are designed to help you become established as a contractor, build your reputation, turn a healthy profit, and grow your business.

Understanding How The Online Contractor Marketplace Works

The online marketplace is simply a few websites where hundreds of companies and individuals post jobs and projects online, inviting freelance contractors to bid for the work.

Normally, a typical ad will include:

  • Title: A good title will state what the job is and entails. For example: “Freelance web designer needed for blogging project”.
  • Description: Here, the ad will go into more detail about the requirements of the job, and it is vital you pay attention to this. It can include deadlines, location requirements, information about the business, specific requirements needed from the freelancer, and anything the writer of the ad feels you should know.
  • Budget: Normally, this is either an hourly rate or a fixed price for the whole project. Again, attention to detail is vital to avoid shocks.

The contractor, if interested, will bid for the job, outlining their skills and experience, price, and normally an example or two of previous work so the business can determine whether or not this particular freelancer is suitable for their project.

The business chooses a freelance contractor for the job. The contractor completes the work and the business pays the contractor, normally via an escrow system operated by the site that featured the ad.

To make money as an online contractor, you bid for the work for one price, and outsource to another freelancer for a cheaper price. Subsequently, you make a good return, and your popularity increases with your bank manager.

Here is a list of online marketplace sites. The list is not extensive, but the sites below are popular:

  • Freelancer.com
  • eLance
  • Guru
  • vworker
  • PeoplePerHour
  • oDesk
  • Fiverr

Note: All sites that feature project and job ads for online contractors charge a percentage of the final payment fee.

Step 1 – Identify Your Skill Set

As stated, businesses need to recruit people online for nearly every job role you can think of. Providing you can show some evidence that you can deliver the goods, many businesses will give you a go, providing they like what you show them and your price is within their budget.

So, take a piece of paper, and write down what you think you are good at. Your list may include:

  • Writing
  • Drawing
  • Customer service
  • Data entry
  • Office skills

If you have specialist experience, such as in web designing, your skill set may look something like this:

  • PHP
  • Java Script
  • MY SQL
  • WordPress

Regardless of your skill set, there is no doubt that there is something you can apply for, even if it is your first experience of the online marketplace.

When you apply for your first few roles, try to apply for ones you feel you can do yourself, as should you be unable to find a suitable freelancer to outsource the work to, you can still complete the project yourself, get paid, and start building the all-important reputation.

If you find yourself in a unique position of being unable to identify skills, do not worry as the real skill in contracting is to identify profitable opportunities. As your experience grows, you will find yourself managing a team of people whose skills could be alien to you, yet through clever business dealings, you will utilise their skills to make you a healthy profit.

Step 2 – Identify Outsourcing Costs

Anyone who is connected to business will tell you the importance of identifying business costs. In virtual contracting, it is important you have a fairly certain idea on how much it will cost you to outsource the work you win. With this information, you can identify what jobs are profitable, and which jobs are to be avoided.

To that end, visiting Fiverr is a good place to start. Fiverr.com specialises in jobs that people are willing to do at a cost of $5. Despite the low cost, the range of skills and their associated complexity is impressive.

Start with your skill set and, looking at the freelance sites, try to ascertain how much people are bidding on certain jobs. Many of the sites give an average current bid cost before the job is closed and awarded to a freelancer. Make a note of the cost for a few similar jobs.

The other aspect of costs is that some roles require more than one type of freelancer. Web design projects will probably require a copywriter as well as a web designer at the very least.

The other aspect to costs is ads. Some sites will charge for placing an ad others will take a percentage of any transactions. A few do both. The bottom line is to work out your cost before you bid.

Step 3 – Bidding For Work

So now you have an idea of your skills and of how much it will cost to outsource the work, it is time to start looking for projects.

After you have created accounts on some or all of the sites listed above, you will see you can start looking for jobs that require the skills you identified in Step 1. If you are feeling confident or no skills came to mind in Step 1, take a look at a few featured jobs. Whichever kind of job you are applying for, make a note of the following:

  • Requirements of the job: What skills does it require? What are the deadlines? Does it require any special requirements, such as country of residence requirements of the workforce? Is the job a one-off project or an ongoing role?
  • The budget or cost per hour: Normally a maximum is stated.

Once you have this information, you can decide whether the job is within or outside of your budget as you are already aware of your costs. You may find the budget is borderline in which case you may want to go back to Step 2 to try and pinpoint costs.

Once you have identified a job, it is time to apply for it. When you submit your bid it is important to address the points in the brief to show you understand what’s needed, and it is also important you highlight the selling points of what you can do rather than the features.

So if you’re bidding for a graphic design job, saying you are “familiar with Adobe Photoshop” is OK; saying you have “designed brand artwork using Adobe Photoshop” is a billion times better.

A crucial factor is bidding, especially for contractors. A good method of pricing is simply to add a mark-up to costs and then a little extra to allow for mistakes in costs and bidding. It can not be overstated how it important it is that you do not make a loss.

When pricing, ask yourself how many people will you need to complete the project? As stated, a web design project will probably need a copywriter, and in some cases a graphic designer in addition to the web designer. These have to be factored in to the bidding process. If you need to, return to Step 2 to ensure you are savvy about your costs where the project is concerned.

Most online businesses do not make much profit from a single sale, but make their money through selling a lot of products or services. Amazon and eBay work to tiny mark-up percentages but make their money through shifting volume.

This could be a good method to follow and, with experience, costing a job will become second nature. If you can, always provide a good working example with your bid to show you can deliver the goods.

It is normal practice for the job owner to want to talk to you and this is a good opportunity for you to clarify exactly what is needed for the role. Do not be afraid to ask questions, especially if there is ambiguity on some aspects. Some of the briefs you will see can be very vague. Often the client is not always aware of what they want, and you may have to take the lead.

At the very least, agree a deadline, price, and a good idea of requirements. Most of the sites use an escrow system, and it is a good idea to use escrow to protect yourself from unscrupulous clients. Apply for as many jobs as you can.

Step 4 – Outsourcing

Once you’ve landed the role, spoken to the client, and agreed deadlines and requirements, it is time for you to outsource your project. In the first instance, see if the role can be covered by fiverr.com as this will keep your costs down. If it can’t, place an ad on one or all of the sites listed above.

When placing an ad, ensure you include:

  • An accurate brief, including deadlines, requirements and terms
  • How much you are willing to pay, obviously taking into account your mark-up
  • Place ads for as many people as you need

Choosing Your Freelancers

Once you start to get applications for the various roles you post, you will probably see working examples they have completed in the past. Choosing the right freelancer will be a question of balancing their skills, cost, and your gut feeling about whether or not you think they are any good. Cost is arguably the most important factor for a virtual freelancer. Take your time and assemble your team (if more than one) carefully.

Once you have your team, you should speak to them and clarify requirements, deadlines (preferably a day or two before your deadline to allow for corrections) and payment terms. Ensure you agree corrections and support work if applicable, as often a client may require adjustments when the work is submitted. Once agreed, the work begins.

Step 5 – Submitting The Work To The Client

Once the work from your freelancers comes in, it is imperative that you check the work to ensure it is on-point. Do not be afraid to ask for corrections and most freelancers will expect to do a bit of tweaking. Once you are happy, submit the completed project to the client. It may be the case that corrections are needed, in which case ask the freelancer to revise their work.

Payments And Relationships

Once you have a few projects under your belt, providing they are a success, you will start to forge relationships with clients and contractors. It is important to establish trust as a good service provider as a virtual contractor, and a good provider of work to the people you outsource too.

All successful business is founded on trust and this is especially true for the online marketplace. Always ensure work is delivered on time and to a good quality, and ensure your contractors are paid in a timely fashion as agreed.

The virtual contractor world can be forged into a career. Like all businesses, taking advantages of opportunities and forging good relationships are key to success.