Summer Preparedness Part 2: Your Household

Bags are packed; the car is loaded. And away we go!
What fun we’ll have on our vacation.

Pump the brakes!

We don’t want to be a party-pooper, but we want to remind you that while your home is unattended, if something goes wrong while you’re away, you’ll be in for an unpleasant surprise upon your return.

Prepare your house while preparing for vacation.  Create a checklist and check off these important items before you leave the house.

It’s always useful when doing a plumbing inspection to run all the faucets in your home at the same time.  Flush all the toilets and work your way from the bottom (basement) of your house up to the top floor(s) checking pipes and surrounding areas. 

Close valves and turn off water supplies to the entire house or to your least-used pipes, such as to the washing machine and water heater.

Consider also turning your water heater to “low” or “vacation” mode. 
Why burn up fuel heating water you’re not using while you’re away from home? Check drains for clear drainage to prevent any backups from unexpected water surges, especially your storm drains.

A quick inspection of all pipes and plumbing systems alerts you to any potential problems.  Do a quick check for leaks, the kind of small leaks you might be missing during your normal day-to-day living, but the kind of small leak that could become a big leak while you’re away.

Unplug extension cords.  Unplug appliances. 

Storms can cause electrical surges that can damage your connected appliances, or worse, cause a fire.  Also, look for loose wall plates, loose plugs or any other potential hazard that could create an electrical event and maybe a fire.

Air quality 
How’s the air in your home?  Is there any chance that dampness in the air could create a mold condition while you’re away? Are all the windows closed? 

If you have a dehumidifier, set it up in strategic locations around the house in the weeks before your vacation.

Set the thermostat to a temperature, hot or cold depending on time of year, that doesn’t use unnecessary energy while you’re away.

There are smart home devices including security units you can quickly and easily install to help protect your home from interior and exterior threats while you’re away.

Smart locks, home monitoring systems, and apps for your smartphones that allow you to monitor your home from the beach hundreds of miles away are all worthy investments for your holiday peace of mind.

With a quick visit to your local post office to fill out of a simple form, your mail is held by the Postal Carrier until after your return from vacation.  If you get newspaper delivery, notify your carrier of your pending holiday to hold deliveries while you’re away. Piles of mail and newspaper deliveries attracts vagrants and burglars.

When was the last time you reviewed your insurance? Don’t wait until it’s too late. Call now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329 for a free, no-obligation annual review. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Monday Morning Motivation

You know that I LOVE to start my week with positive words of wisdom. Here we go:

“Sometimes, things may not go your way, but the effort should be there every single night. -Michael Jordan

Last week, I’m sure I kept you in suspense with what I mean by “Goals vs. Effort”.

The concept of ONE NUMBER is separated into three areas:

  • Goal
  • Approach
  • Effort

Example: What is the effort necessary to (literally) climb that mountain.

We review the trail map: there are 30 paths to get us there:

  1. Some are difficult and challenging
  2. Some are manageable
  3. Others are that smooth green line AKA “a cake walk.”

The last one, more often than not, may be a likely option for some of us to take. However, we decide to plan the excursion.

We train by going to the gym for a month, and hit the stephill climber in anticipation of the mountain climb. This is the effort.

We have our provisions: we bring a liter of water and two energy bars.

Some of us worry about the goal. We may commence a level of effort we deem necessary to achieve the goal. We may not spend enough time thinking about the right approach for our goal. We may apply a lot of effort with no particular approach in mind. This could lead to us not attaining the goal to our satisfaction.

The magic is choosing and sustaining the approach. This will help to identify if there is an approach problem or an effort problem.

Let’s Create a ONE NUMBER for You!

Morning Motivation – Week of June 10

I LOVE starting my week with positive words of wisdom. These words inspire me. I LOVE sharing the same words of wisdom with you for inspiration too! This week’s words of wisdom are:

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”
~ Tony Robbins

Last week, I talked about setting up your “Number One” goal.  An example of a goal could be focusing your marketing and sales efforts by understanding how to leverage your “One Number.”

You may be asking, did he say “number one” or “one number?”  
I said BOTH!

When I’m talking about a “number one” goal, it’s not the same as your top priority goal. For example, growing top line revenue is a primary goal.

What, then, is a ONE NUMBER goal?

The ONE NUMBER goal is a measurable numerical digit that you choose that relates to a desired outcome based on a list of goals that will grow your business.

Let’s get specific with using MY NUMBER ONE goal setting as an example:

The Goal:
I want to add to our list of referral partners.
Therefore, 5 is my ONE NUMBER goal. You choose the “by when” date.

Action Steps:
-I establish the number of calls I need to make to find new potential referral partners.
-I set out to make 30 calls weekly to prospective referral partners.
-I secure 1 to 3 new appointments with prospective referral partners.
In my experience, 3 appointments on average becomes 1 new referral partner.

I need a list of 150 referral partners to get 15 appointments to get 5 new referral partners.

The “ONE NUMBER” goal is 5 referral partners.

Next week: Goal vs Approach vs Effort!

Summer Preparedness: Part 1: Vacation

You’d think preparing to go on vacation would be as tranquil as the vacation.  Too often it’s not.  The hectic days leading up to vacation time include preparing for the departure from home and office and preparing for the vacation. 

Here’s some tips that might help you prepare more efficiently…and more calmly…for your vacation.

The dreaded packing of the suitcase ritual can make anyone crazy!   Prepare for your packing process well in advance.  After all, many of the clothes you’ll take on vacation are not the clothes you wear everyday, are they?   Spend 20 minutes a week for the three weeks in advance of your vacation and pack small amounts at a time.  Setup your suitcase in one spot, where you won’t move it.  Then add to the suitcase in small increments. 

Passports, credit cards, plane/train tickets, printed itineraries need to be collected well in advance and stored together.   Any office supply store has perfect sized, closeable plastic envelopes and containers that  are ideal for collecting your important travel documents into a single convenient location.  Try to use a bright color for the container so it’s easy to find in a hurry, or in the dark.   If all else fails, a resealable plastic storage bag, the kind you use in your kitchen, is a great solution too.

In your address book on your Smartphone, create a new address category where you can save important phone numbers for easy access.  This way, in the event of an urgent phone call  you can pop open a single address category and access all the numbers you’ll need to call, text or email.  Remember, you’re on vacation!  If you have to make urgent contact with folks back home, you’ll want to do it quickly so you can get back to the real work of relaxing!

Checklists are the best way to efficiently prepare your home for your absence.  Windows locked? CHECK.  Alarm company notified of vacation dates? CHECK.  Lamp timers installed and correctly set to match sunrise, sunset? CHECK.   Think like an airline pilot: create a checklist and review the checklist at least two weeks before you leave for your vacation, and then once more the night before or morning of your departure.

Preparing your insurance for your vacation may be the easiest part of your holiday preparations.  One call to your Independent Insurance Agent to review your insurance policies can help you determine what you have, what you will need, what you’re covered for while you’re away on vacation.

Call us today to be prepared to vacation without a worry.

Call now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329.

Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Morning Motivation – Week of June 3

I LOVE to start my week with positive words of wisdom and here are this week’s:

“And what is the greatest number? Number one. ~ David Hume

We all have things that we want to achieve in our lives:
* Getting into the better shape
* Building a successful business
* Raising a wonderful family
* Writing a best-selling book
* Winning a championship

….and so on, and so on, to name just a few.

For most of us, the path to these “wins” starts by setting specific and actionable goals. This is how I approached my life, until recently. I would set goals for classes, for weight-lifting at the gym, and for the type of clients I wanted to attract to my business.

However, I realized that when it comes to actually accomplishing the tasks it takes to make progress with those specific goals, there is a better way to approach this process.

It comes down to the difference between goals and systems.  Let me explain.

Let’s talk about your goals, specifically your “Number One.”

Goal: Focus your marketing and sales efforts by understanding how to leverage your “One Number.”

* One Number
* One Job
* One Measurement
* One Source (at a time)

What is the ONE NUMBER? Stay tuned for next week!

How Much is Your Property Worth?

Some possessions in your home are more valuable than others.  These items can be a curated collection, such as fine porcelain figurines, baseball cards or comic books.  Other valuable items can be heirloom jewelry or fine art pieces, including paintings, sketches, and sculptures.

The value of these special items is not defined only by a monetary figure.  There is also the intrinsic value, the emotional value to you.  There is a fond family memory surrounding a particular heirloom object. What about the satisfaction of assembling learning about a particular collection of items, such as sculpted glass paperweights or famous autographs. This can be appraised but cannot be monetized due to the emotional value they hold.

Your homeowners insurance likely only covers a minimal amount of these valuable items, not necessarily covering the true market value in the event of a calamity that damages or destroys these valuable possessions. 

These special items need to be appraised by a professional to create a monetary record of their worth.  The expense of such an appraisal is well worth the cost in the event of a claim against your Homeowners Insurance and your desire to obtain the proper recompense for the damage or loss to these valuables.

There are two avenues to obtain an appraisal of your valuable items.  The first, and possibly less-costly, is to obtain an appraisal through a recognized expert.  For example, a jeweler can complete an appraisal of your heirloom jewelry items.  Likewise, an expert in art, or objets d’ art can be consulted to provide an appraisal opinion for other items you may own.  

The second method is to engage a Certified and Licensed Appraiser.  Typically we think of appraisers as professionals in the real estate trade, to appraise homes.  But Appraisers are trained in specific valuation methodologies.  There is a regimen that Appraisers follow to assemble a high-grade valuation of your personal property.  This regimen is based on professionally-accepted standards necessary for an appraisal to be certified.

While the cost of the latter valuation method may be higher than that of an expert opinion, you may want to incur the higher cost to provide your insurance carrier with the best possible valuation.   If you are using an expert opinion, be sure the documentation they use is acceptable to your insurance carrier.  You don’t want to find out that your carrier will not accept valuation documents when filing a claim.

Call us today to discuss how to appraise the true value of your treasured possessions and how to understand your coverage. That’s what happens when you work with an Independent Insurance Agent! Call now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Morning Motivation – Week of May 27

I find that starting my week with words of wisdom helps me to stay productive and in a positive mood. What do you think?

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn

If you remember, last week I shared with you the first three “free traffic” sources for your business website : search engines, free ads and articles. Here are my recommendations for the final two sources of free traffic for your business website:

Giveaway Marketing

Offer something of value that you can give away for free. Think of an informational booklet, or even an entire book; these are good examples of giveaways. Consumers love to get free stuff, especially if there’s information they can use without committing to a purchase. With a giveaway of this nature, you’ve become a resource for someone interested in what you are providing. You’ll want to include links back to your website so that they know how to connect with you.

Participate in Forums and Online Groups

This is a free way to earn that ever-important marketing asset: trust and respect. When you participate in online forums with valuable advice and insight, you become a resource; you become a trusted professional by virtue of your online reputation. Focus on groups specific to your industry and comment on questions posted in the group. Be sure your comments are not simply stale “business card” posts with your contact information and a “call me” statement. Engage with the question by answering it. Better yet, start the conversation by posting your own questions. If you are willing to give something away, you’ll receive positive results.

When forum members get to know and trust you, they will seek you out by virtue of curiosity. They’ll visit your website at their leisure. You’ll see the organic hits to your site increase as a result. Better still, when they need your professional guidance, they’ll reach out to you directly of their own accord.

An important note about participating in online forums: timing and consistency is everything.  If you visit the forums specific to your topic of interest and get involved, the likelihood of targeted free traffic to your site increases exponentially.

These are my suggestions for effective methods to drive free traffic to your site. These methods take time. But if you have more time than money at this point, I promise you, these techniques work.

Which of these five sources of “free traffic” will you try first? Hit “Reply” and let me know which works best for you. Tell me, how I can help you try something new in your business?

Agency vs. Online

“You get what you pay for.”  

Everyone loves to shop for a bargain, a discount, a reduced price, more features for less money.  One might also say, “You don’t get what you don’t pay for.”

When you’re buying insurance, the “don’t get” part and the “don’t pay for” part can lead to you paying a lot more money than you bargained for later on when you need the insurance the most. 

Your insurance is supposed to be there to anticipate risks to your life, your livelihood, your wealth and your health.  If you pay for less coverage because you need to get that bargain price, you’re putting all of the above at serious risk.

Time is money.  Spend your time with an independent insurance agent.  The independent agent is working for your best interest, both in today’s premium pricing and in tomorrows unforeseen costs. 

For me, it’s difficult to be objective on this topic. I’m an independent agent in business for several decades. I can’t be objective when it comes to protecting my clients and providing them with the best insurance their money can buy.  

If your sole objective is the lowest premium price, we can certainly help you with that goal. If your objective is the best premium price with comprehensive coverage that prepares you for worst case scenarios, we can help you with that as well.

If your objective is all of the above with the added value of a trusted, local, experienced insurance professional, the one who thinks of you as a real person and not an unknown internet shopper, then the Independent Insurance Agent is the only way to go.

So, what is your objective: solely price, or price combined with quality service, local experience and good old-fashioned “looking out for my reputation by looking out for the customer” business sense?

That’s not to say you can’t get lucky and find a direct connection online with an Insurance Carrier who can provide such experience, accessibility, superior service and price.  It’s easy enough to spend your time searching. 

In our experience as Independent Agents, we’ve heard the stories, lots and lots and lots of stories about consumer experiences when working with online quotes and purchasing from an unknown representative on the internet.  Pretty much every time, these horror stories result because the consumer focused solely on lowest price.

Too often the lowest price online quote comes with no explanation of what exactly it is the consumer is buying.  The coverage can be horribly mismatched with the customer’s needs. Many times, the online quote fails to consider local conditions that must definitely be taken into account to provide an accurate insurance policy for real risks unique to a locality.

Your local Independent Agent knows about those risks that may be unique to where you live.  And your Independent Agent wants to work for your best interest, not the interests of the quick “low-price” sale.

Compare next time you need to purchase or renew insurance.  Consider the time spent by your Independent Agent just on the initial interview questions.  Those questions, and your answers to them, affect the advice you’ll receive on the best coverage for your unique situation.  

Now match that to the experience of filling in some boxes on a webpage and receiving the instant gratification of the lowest premium price in seconds!  Price: great!  Coverage: unknown because it relies on the consumer knowing, in advance, the eventualities that come into play when assessing your needs of future risks.

We’d love to be on one side of your comparison shopping! 

Call us today to experience the true value of your money when you work with an Independent Insurance Agent! Call now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Morning Motivation – Week of May 20

The new week brings new prospects! Are you ready?

Here are your words of wisdom for the week:

“It pays to cultivate popularity. It doubles success possibilities, develops manhood, and builds up character.” – Orison Swett Marden

Last week, we talked about the importance of bringing traffic to your business website, and I promised to share some sources of “free traffic.” If ever there was a siren song of the digital age, “free traffic” is it!

  • Can you get free traffic to your site?
  • Can you build a business based on this traffic?

The answer is YES and YES. However, you must learn how to do it and you must be consistent with your activities.

Are you ready to get on that “super highway”? (See what I did there?)

Here are the main sources of free traffic:

Search Engines

Get your site listed in the venerated “top ten” search results; this is “organic” content. The most effective way to achieve organic search results is to provide quality content – lots and lots of content.

When your website proves to be a useful resource for visitors, you will do well. If you try and outsmart the search engines to get the traffic, you will be “spinning your wheels” (Oops, I did it again!), and it simply won’t work.

Create a content rich site and the search engines reward you by displaying that site when people search with the keywords within the content you provide. The content must be high quality. It must be original. Check out our Vargas and Vargas blog to see our own humble example.

Free Ads

Free ads are a mixed blessing. Free sounds good, right? They usually don’t work. That’s bad!

If you can get a free ad in a place where ads are usually sold, like the free ad you get for subscribing to classified ad sites that are visited by people, it might be worth the time. Be careful of how much time you invest.

However, the ad blasters and automated submitters do not work in my experience and should probably be avoided.


Without a doubt, marketing with articles/blogs is the #1 free traffic method. You don’t need to be a professional writer to do this. All you have to do is write a short article 300 to 500 words in length, that describes a problem people face and that provides a few solutions you know people are searching for.

Once your article is written, post to your site and to your social media channels. Submit to article directories, ezines and groups on social media. Some website owners are generous and will share your blog to get the widest possible distribution. However I personally have never had success doing this.

Write and submit an article a week and very soon your website will get interested visitors who are proven to purchase. Or, you may wish to write and post more often. Remember, “lots and lots” of content!

Next week, I will share with you the final two sources of “free traffic.” Stay tuned!

The Two Most Effective Steps When You File A Claim

Your Insurance is in place to protect you from risks that may affect your wealth and your health.  When an incident occurs, you’ll want to file your claim in order to receive payment for your loss as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Luckily, there are two easy steps to ensure a smooth claim process.  Best news of all, you can manage these two easy suggestions in a short time, maybe even while you’re binge watching whatever is the latest and greatest on Netflix. 

#1: Paperwork

Gather your insurance policies to an easy-to-find (and easy to remember) location.  You might want to consider scanning your policies to PDFs and saving those on your Smartphone, home computer, or Cloud Storage. 

If you’re saving paper or scanning to PDF, be mindful with how you label each document.  Using the Insurance Carrier’s name along with the purpose of the policy is helpful.  For example, “ABC INSURANCE Homeowners Policy.” 

Use different color post-it notes strategically placed on each paper document to easily flip through multiple policies. If you’re storing PDFs on a computer or Cloud drive, create different folders for each policy and be sure to “rename” each PDF for easy search.  In a pinch you’ll want to quickly locate “XYZ MUTUAL INSURANCE 2017 PONTIAC.”

#2: Photos

Smartphones make it easy to snap photos of your belongings around your home or to grab a quick photo of damage to your vehicle after an incident. Be sure to have the date stamp feature enabled.

In your home, while running your vacuum around or changing the bed linens, snap photos in each room where you have valuable belongings.  Take a photo of the entire room, too, with different angles. Capture clear, up close photos of individual valuables. 

Upload your photos and save to your home computer or Cloud Storage. Or both.

We’d be honored to spend a few minutes with you to discuss how to organize your files, review to see if your valuables are insured properly or to prepare the step-by-step of the “what to do” and “what not to do” after a claim.

When you’re organized in advance, your claim can be processed efficiently. This gets you paid faster in order to begin the repairs.

You can call us now for a free educational moment or to review your existing insurance policies to be sure you’re covered for every eventuality. Call now at 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.