Morning Motivation – Week of January 28, 2019

It’s Monday once again, friends!

Are you ready for this week’s motivational quote? I know you’ve been eagerly awaiting its arrival!

The new year is well underway, and I don’t mean just on the calendar. The sun is coming up on an age where people will measure your ability to serve them based on three specific categories you’re definitely not tracking today:

  • Velocity – How fast can you deliver what you sell?
  • Friction – How easy is it to do business with you?
  • Connectedness – How easy is it for your customers to communicate with you?

How you answer these three questions – as well as how you build and align your efforts and interests to serve this – will determine your success or failure in 2019.

The nuts and bolts of your answers, the answers to the HOW questions (which are far more important than WHY questions any day of the week) are what you need to be shopping for right now.

Go out and find your HOW. Read up on it. Research it. Ask around. Buy it. Invest in it. Because how you get your shelves stocked and shiny and screaming out to the people who need you to thrive? Well, that’s the big deal.

Need help finding your HOW? Let me know – I have resources that I can share to help you with your business in 2019 and beyond!

Carlos

Recap: New Business Owner Tips

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.”

–Guy Kawasaki

Small businesses are the key to making a neighborhood special and unique. As a Boston small business owner, you know both the rewards and struggles inherent in running your own business. If you’re looking for some motivation and advice for running your business (and let’s face it – you should always be looking for advice!) then look no further than the Vargas and Vargas Insurance blog from last week. There, we highlighted several tips for new business owners, such as:

  • When it comes time to bring in additional people to work in your business, make sure to look for quality employees.
  • Show others how great your business is, and then let them spread the word! Good marketing is infectious, so get the word out and let it spread – your network is a key part to bringing in new clients.
  • Focus on your business, but don’t forget to take care of yourself too. Eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly to stay healthy.

Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is always here to help you with your Massachusetts small business. We also happen to provide the best small business insurance in the area! Want a free quote, or some insurance advice? Just call 617-298-0655 and speak to one of our friendly and knowledgeable commercial insurance agents about your business’s unique needs.

The 2019 Complete Car Buying Guide

A car, in its most simple form, is an object that is designed and built to get you from point A to point B. However, there is much more to a car than that. AAA reported that in 2016, people spent an average of just over 50 minutes driving daily – that’s about 300 hours a year!

The next time you commute to work, make a run to the grocery store, or go on a road trip with your family, consider how much time you spend in your car and what would make that time more productive, relaxing, or otherwise efficient.

When to Start Looking for a New Vehicle

Every person has slightly different standards that will dictate when it is time to purchase a new car. For most people, though, it will come down to one of three factors: money, safety, and features.

The money aspect is simple to explain, but difficult to calculate. The question to answer is this: will you spend less on a new car than you do maintaining your current vehicle? To do the math, you will need to consider the cost of your new vehicle, including potential savings from getting better mpg, eliminating repair costs on the current car, the profits from selling your current car, and more.

Safety is a relatively easy thing to judge. As technology progresses, so too do the safety options available on new vehicles. For example, ask yourself: Does your car have advanced airbags, blind-spot monitoring, a back-up camera, and forward-collision warning? If not, it may be time to think about getting a new car for your own safety, as well as that of your passengers – especially if you transport small children.

If you’re a techie, you may be ready to look for a new car whenever there is a new feature available that you don’t have. Many people upgraded their vehicles when infotainment systems became prevalent, now consumers are looking for built-in navigation, as well as voice control and integrated apps for more personalized music. Just be careful with all of this technology – it may lead to more distractions while on the road.

What Vehicle Is Right for You?

Depending on what category you fell into in the previous section, you may be looking for a car that is a good value, has plenty of safety features, or the latest technology. Most consumers will be looking for a mix of all three of these criteria when searching for a new vehicle.

When choosing a new vehicle, make sure that you consult services like Consumer Reports and Kelley Blue Book to get started, and always test drive several makes and models to get an idea of what will work for you and your family.

Getting the Best Deal

The key to getting a great deal on a vehicle is to do your research. The car’s sticker price and what the seller is willing to let you pay may be different numbers, and there are several websites that will give you an idea of what others are actually paying for the car that you want. Also make sure that you know what upgrades you want to the vehicle’s trim if you are buying from a dealership – that way you can ask for extra features if the salesperson won’t lower the price.

When you’re negotiating the price of the car, make sure that you are cognizant of both the bottom line and the monthly payment. Some salespeople will have you focus on the monthly payment while trying to hide the fact that they’re spreading out the payments over a longer period in order to make it seem like a great deal.

After Purchasing Your Car

There are a few tasks that you should put on your ‘to-do’ list once you do purchase a car. If you purchase from a dealership, they can provide you with resources to get your new car registered (at least temporarily) so that you may drive it off the lot legally. Purchasing a used car? You should make sure to have the car thoroughly checked by a professional for safety (though you probably did this before you signed the purchase papers).

No matter in what condition you bought your vehicle, make sure that you keep all of the important paperwork in a safe place so that it is available when you need it in the future.

If you haven’t already, look into getting a great Boston car insurance policy for the vehicle. Having great protection for your new vehicle is critical, and auto insurance can also provide liability coverage for accidents in which you are involved.

Want to speak with a professional Massachusetts auto insurance agent about your car insurance needs? Call 617-298-0655 – that’s the number for our agency, where we will put you in touch with one of our friendly and knowledgeable agents so that you can get your questions answered, and even get a free and no-obligation quote on insurance for your next car.

Morning Motivation – Week of January 21, 2019

Happy Monday, friends!

You know that I like to start each week with some positive words of wisdom:

The New Year is upon you. I’m watching the sunrise on the first day of this year and drinking a plain black cup of hot coffee while Kathy is sleeping in. Meanwhile, I am thinking about the absurdity of retail stores in the modern age. It’s all because of needing a pair of slippers…

The Bummer of Empty Shelves

I told you last week that I had wandered into some big box retail stores for a few last minute stocking-stuffers. Every store I visited seemed to somehow be missing huge swaths of items on their shelves. On the 29th, I wandered into a Bed and Bath store to find (of all things) a pair of men’s slippers. But when I finally tracked down a nice woman in a grey shirt, she pointed me to the three pairs of men’s slippers that were left in the store – all were size Small. (Having wide feet, this meant no slippers for me.)

Compare this to the Amazon app on my phone, or Alexa who I can just ask to pick me out a pair of slippers. They’ll be here the very next day!

But This Isn’t a Story of Slippers or Retail Stores

This is about the marketplace. It’s about you. It’s about your website and your business. Amazon just exists as an easy analogy. Ask yourself the following questions about your business:

  • Do people even really know what you sell? Is it explicit enough?
  • Is it clear from your website how and where to buy it?
  • Are your “shelves” stocked? Can people see quickly that you have their item?
  • Do you deliver what you sell fast enough to satisfy today’s market?
  • How are you staying top of mind with your clients and referral partners?
  • Have you stayed ahead of the curve with methods and means to stay connected to your clients and your referral buyers?

Look at those six questions. Ask yourself whether your business– however big or small– passes the test. And where you find yourself lacking (because most of us including me can’t answer these all with a yes) ask yourself how you’ll fix these issues fast.

Remember, you and I are in the same boat – just trying to build a better business. If there is ever anything I can do to help you in this endeavour, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Carlos

Recap: Monthly Maintenance

“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.”

– Margaret Thatcher

Taking care of your home can seem like a colossal task – but just like any big job, it is much easier to handle when broken into more manageable pieces. Consider, for example, the post on our blog from last week about a few simple monthly home maintenance tasks that you should have set on your schedule to keep your home running smoothly.

  • Check your HVAC filters and determine if they need to be replaced.
  • Clean your dish disposal in the kitchen by grinding a few vinegar ice cubes.
  • Use a combination of degreaser and hot water to soak your range hood’s filter.
  • Ensure that your fire extinguisher has adequate pressure and is accessible.
  • Clean your sink aerators and shower heads with vinegar

If you ever need help with a home maintenance task, call a Boston professional! Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we know many qualified professionals in the area, and would be happy to provide you with a referral.

And to ensure that you will have a smooth recovery in case anything ever happens to your home, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 to talk about your home insurance policy. Having a great home insurance policy is crucial, and to make sure that your home insurance policy is up to date, you should talk to your insurance agent yearly to update it based on your changing needs.

Tips for First-Time Business Owners in Massachusetts

Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we love our neighborhood, and one of our favorite things about the local area is the diversity of the businesses. Instead of shopping at huge national chains, we love to make our purchases at the local ‘mom and pop’ shops that make the area unique.

As a business owner, you are no doubt always looking for ways to make your business better (and make yourself a better business owner). In service of that, we want to share with you some of the tips that we have found useful in our journey of becoming one of the businesses that ‘makes it’ and even, dare we say it, thrives!

Build a Great Team

The vast majority of small businesses start off as a one-person operation. At some point, though, you will need (or you already have) brought on another (or several extra) sets of hands. The quality of the people that you bring in to business is a critical factor in determining your business’s success or failure. You have to realize that experienced workers will cost more, but the extra quality that they will bring to their work will help your business stand apart. So, before you hire your neighbor’s college-age kid that’s home and looking for a summer job, do a cost-benefit analysis of whether they are the right person for the job.

Networking is Critical

You can have the perfect product, but you won’t sell anything unless you have help getting the word out about it. Instead of being a lone wolf when it comes to marketing your business, use the power of networking to spread the word. Think of it like this – if you can recruit 10 raving fans, and they each recruit 10 more fans, etc., the results are exponential! It’s much more effective than one-on-one marketing.

One of the best ways to network is to meet new people and give them your ‘elevator pitch’ – it may sound like business school 101, but it really is that important. You need to know how to explain who you are and what your business does succinctly. And remember that you will need several different versions depending on your industry. You may need one for potential clients and another for referral sources, for example.

Prioritize Your Customers and Clients

As a business, you want to keep old clients while also recruiting new ones into your fold. Remember, though, that when looking for a place to shop for a product or service, many potential customers will look at reviews for the businesses that they are considering shopping at. This means that in order to bring in new customers, you need to make sure that your current customer experience is excellent, and that your satisfied clients are leaving you great reviews online to promote your business.

Carefully Evaluate Opportunities

Small businesses are given a lot of opportunities. As the new owner of your small business, it is your job to evaluate potential opportunities and to decide whether they are worth it. Remember – small businesses only have a limited amount of resources (including funds) so you need to pick and choose wisely. It is inadvisable to try and take advantage of every offer that comes along, since you could easily stretch yourself too thin and end up suffering.

Learn to Adapt to Circumstances

For a new business, things can change on a dime. You need to be prepared to roll with the punches. As famed businessman Michael Scott would say, “Adapt, react, readapt, act.” When your business is still small, you have the flexibility to make things work – unlike your bigger counterparts that are plagued with regulations and red tape. Take advantage of this to figure out what works and what doesn’t, just make sure to account for the fact that you will hopefully need to scale up your processes in the future!

Take Care of Yourself

When you’re running a fledgling business, it’s easy to get caught up in doing everything you can to make your business perfect. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, though! Make time to sleep, eat right, and exercise – that will keep you in shape so that you can continue to shape and grow your business for years to come.

Take Care of Your Employees

You can’t make your employees take care of themselves, but you can give them the tools that they need to do exactly that. Ask your Boston insurance agent about adding employee coverage to your business insurance policy – it’s a great way to show your employees how important they are to you and your business.

If you’re looking for business insurance for your new Boston business, talk to the local agents at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. There’s no better small business to use for your commercial insurance policy – we are an independent agency, so we can compare quotes from several insurance providers to find the one that’s right for you and your new business.

And if you need help with getting your new business on track, call the agency and ask to speak with Carlos Vargas about his business coaching! He is available to help you get your business running and will help you take it to the next level.

How Do I Know if My Car is Eligible for Classic Car Insurance?

There is nothing quite like seeing a class car rolling down a city street, especially when it is contrasted by a mass modern vehicles. Antiques exude a class and elegance that are seem to be lacking from most cars manufactured nowadays. This is why it is important to protect and preserve classic cars that have survived the test of time. Many have a special place in history, such as a Ford Model T. If you are fortunate enough to own a classic car, be sure to consider purchasing an insurance policy that will specifically cover your prized vehicle. Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA will be able to give you more information on classic car insurance and let you know if your car meets the qualifications.

Classic Car Insurance Eligibility

In order to qualify for classic car insurance, your vehicle must meet certain requirements. It can either be classified as a ‘classic car’ or ‘antique car.’ Here are the distinguishing factors between the two categories:

  • Classic car – A vehicle that is 10 to 24 years old with historic interest, such as a muscle car or hot rod.
  • Antique car – A vehicle that is 25 years or older with historic interest.

Additionally, you must be able to prove that your vehicle will be used on a very limited basis, that it has been preserved in its original condition (or in the process of being restored), and that it will be stored in an enclosed building or storage unit.

Whether your classic car holds sentimental value for you or restoring antique vehicles is a just a hobby, it important to protect its worth. It would be a shame for an unforeseen incident to destroy a piece of history that you hold so dear. Contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA if you are interested in learning more about classic car insurance.

Morning Motivation – Week of January 14, 2019

Happy Monday to you, friend!

I have another great quote for you this week, as well as my continuation of last week’s message!

Just a few days ago, Twas the Day Before Christmas

I went to some real live brick and mortar stores for a few stocking stuffer gifts for Kathy (we stopped exchanging gifts years ago) and found that most retailers had all but given up. Target was dirty and their shelves were filled with big open gaps of “I don’t care.” Kohl’s was the same. All kinds of places looked like they weren’t even going to try to keep up with the intent to look vibrant and ready for business.

But Amazon was ready! They wanted my business, and they were ready to show me how fast they could deliver (literally and figuratively). Lots of other places that weren’t Amazon did okay, too. They acted big and ready.

And then this other store said, “We’re out until January 3rd, so if you place any holiday orders now, they’re not arriving before mid-January.” And this was online retail. Well, okay then!

The World Changes Every Day

That may sound scary and daunting, but it’s no more scary than deciding what you want to eat from day to day. There are plenty of variables in life, it’s not too scary. You just have to commit to the mission and the goal of your business more than the straightforward practice.

If you want to win, the big plan is to serve your customer or buyer in some very vital way. Everything you put in place for your operation then must be in line with their needs.

Why did subject lines on newsletters and blog posts change? (Did you read my message last week?) It was because people are too “busy” (or so they say) to click if your link says “Best business tips ever.” You’ve got to give them even more reasons to open.

That’s what’s true in all of all this. It’s all in service of your buyers in some way, and whatever you’re doing that doesn’t serve that or that doesn’t better increase your capabilities for that is probably wasted effort.

Happy New Year (how long can I keep wishing Happy New Year?), Happy Monday and happy new selling year!

I’m here for you.

Carlos


Recap: What Does Home Insurance Cover?

“The best we can do is size up the chances, calculate the risks involved, estimate our ability to deal with them, and then make our plans with confidence.”

– Henry Ford

To protect your home, you have a home insurance policy – but do you know exactly what coverage is a part of your policy and what risks you may be more susceptible to? Every insurance policy is different, but there are a few basic coverages that you can expect.

Your home insurance will likely cover:

  • Damage done to your home or property due to perils stated in the policy.
  • The possessions of you and your family, including those not kept at your home.
  • Liability issues arising from injuries taking place at your property.

On the other hand, coverage for the following probably won’t be included:

  • Flooding caused by excessive rainfall or other natural disasters.
  • Earthquakes – some experts say that Boston could be hit by another significant one in the future!
  • High value items including fine jewelry, antiques, and collections.
  • High-risk items like trampolines or pools, or liability issues due to dog breeds deemed ‘high-risk’ by insurance providers.

The only way to find out exactly what your policy includes or doesn’t include is to talk to your Boston insurance agent at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency by calling 617-298-0655. We can comb through your policy and let you know if you have the right amount of coverage and recommend any additional protections that you may need.

Your Monthly Home Maintenance Checklist

As a homeowner, it can be a struggle to know exactly what should be on your to-do list to keep everything in your house running smoothly. There are some things that need to be done annually, quarterly, twice yearly, as needed… the list goes on.

If you have trouble keeping track of all these necessary tasks, consider using a task manager or even an adult chore chart to keep yourself organized. Many of these are available, so you only need to try a few and find what works best for you. Some people prefer paper lists, while others like online to do list organizers like todoist or any.do.

Today, we want to focus on the things that you should be checking or doing in your home every month. This list will be different for every home, but the items below are some that will be needed by most Massachusetts homeowners. You can tailor your list as needed. And remember, these tasks may seem like (and let’s face it – they are) chores, but

First, check your home’s HVAC filters. Some people will recommend you change the filters monthly, but we find that a monthly inspection will often do the trick. Look at the filter and see if you’ve used it enough to warrant installing a new one. Homes without pets and without residents with allergies may only need to change the filter every month or two.

Do you have a disposal in your kitchen sink? Every month, clean it by grinding up a few vinegar ice cubes (fill an ice tray with vinegar and let freeze – one tray of cubes will be enough for a few months’ worth of cleanings). The vinegar will freshen your disposal, and ice sharpens the blades!

In addition to cleaning your sink’s disposal, consider cleaning the filter on your range hood. Depending on how often you use the vent, these can get greasy quickly. Soak the filter in a degreaser mixed with hot water, and rinse – it’s that easy!

Do you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen? Hopefully you never need to use it, but you should check monthly to ensure that the gauge shows that the internal pressure is in the right range, as well as that it is easily accessible in case there is an emergency and you need to grab it in a hurry.

Depending on the composition of the water in your home, your sink’s aerators and your shower heads may need to be cleaned often in order to ensure proper pressure and flow. There are plenty of products on the market that can help with those pesky mineral deposits and buildup, but first try plain white vinegar – you might find that it does the trick without the need for expensive and harmful chemicals.

About once a month, when you have the vacuum out for your normal cleaning routine, take a few extra minutes and clean a few more things around your home. This should include any dust or debris around your HVAC system, as well as the vents connected to the system. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, slide your fridge out from its usual spot (or open the bottom, depending on your model) and give the coils a dusting to keep the system running efficiently.

In addition to these monthly home maintenance tasks, you need to ensure that you are performing less frequent tasks – for example, those that need to be done seasonally. Here on vargasinsurance.com, we often post blogs recommending seasonal maintenance tasks, so stay tuned for our advice on some of the maintenance that your home needs in order to run smoothly. We post seasonal tips all year long, like Surviving Winter in Your Boston Home, Spring Cleaning Tips that Everyone Should Know, Summer Tips for Small Business Owners, and Fall Home Maintenance Tasks, just to highlight a few examples.

Do you ever feel like some of these maintenance tasks are too hard or too time consuming to complete properly? Don’t worry – there are plenty of handymen and maintenance professionals that can help you with any tasks that you need help completing. As always, the agents at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency have connections in the community and can connect you to the perfect person for the job. For our recommendation, just contact an agent and ask for a referral.

While it may be an annual home maintenance task, checking your Boston home insurance policy is a critical part of making sure that your home is protected against several types of catastrophes. When was the last time you talked to an insurance agent about whether you have the right levels of coverage? If it’s been more than a year, call 617-298-0655 and speak to a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about your home protection. We are always available to give insurance advice and free Massachusetts insurance quotes, so contact us today.