Loud Smith Media and Publishing


Writing Books for Business - Week Forty-Nine

Writing Books for Business - Week Forty-Nine

Josh, Liz and I brought our Henri Nouwen books to this prayer time and we talked about how no matter the depths you dive into God, there is more to discover.  We practiced one of the spiritual disciplines that was written about in his book and then we lifted up prayer requests for each other.  Liz said that her pro-bono Lubbock catering deal last week went well and that she had several of the people there come up to her and not only thank her but also to tell her that they would be calling her for paid gigs in the near future.  See.  You do something nice for people and it usually comes back around.  Josh just said that his landscaping company was rolling along even as he tried to implement some of the tips from this business group.  He said he needed prayer for a whole new culture to be built so that everyone would complain less and work harder with a smile on their faces.  I just asked for general prayer for my family.  My wife is going in for her yearly doctor’s appointment and she always dreads it.  I hope and pray there is nothing seriously wrong with her.  I doubt that there is but you never know.  And if there was and she died, my life would crumble.  I probably need to work on my God-reliance…

At the larger group meeting, we had an insurance claims adjuster speak to us.  His name is Wesley.  Wesley did a brief introduction about his company and what they did to make sure that people got the right money for what had happened to them.  He told a quick story about a fire damage claim and then he got into the meat of his talk which was another marketing talk.  It’s funny because I have been so tied to “word-of-mouth” business throughout my time as head of my company.  But, after hearing all of these talks on marketing, I am definitely open to doing more of what has been mentioned.  I digress.  Let’s get back to Wesley.  He talked about how all of our businesses needed to move from business card to book.  In other words, he told us that while business cards might get used by some people to link up to clients, there is a way to legitimize our companies even more by writing books for Kindle and even print books through Create Space (Amazon’s print on demand company).  He said that when business people meet up and you have a high-quality but slim book to give them, they will immediately respect you more than if you just handed over a business card.  He said that every company is filled with workers who have interesting life stories and even work stories.  Wesley said that if we had someone to interview employees and then to transcribe what they had to say, then we could put together the story of our businesses quite simply and very cheaply.  He said that the days of giving away pens and golf balls with your businesses’ name on it were over.  We needed to be at the forefront of writing books to increase our legitimacy. 

Several people were not into what he said and hit him with hard questions.  But there were others, like me, who thought his idea was very smart.  I know that when I meet someone who has authored a book, I am immediately impressed and figure that they are someone to be trusted more so than others who only hand out business cards.  Call that naïve if you want, but I’m just being honest.

So that’s that.  Readers, let me know what you think about this idea.  Thanks in advance.



Updating Equipment - Week Forty-Six

Updating Equipment - Week Forty-Six 

Prayer before everything got going was good today.  It was a simple time because we followed the A.C.T.S. model (Adore, Confess, Thank and Surrender).  It is never easy to confess your junk in front of other people, but there is something very important about confession – it definitely takes a load off of my insides and allows me to restart without having any heavy burdens weighing me down.  We decided to share with each other after praying this time so that we made sure to keep prayer as the central focus of our early meeting.  Liz said that her Lubbock catering business was going to team up with the short-term furnished apartments speaker from a few weeks back – they are having a big “welcome to your new temporary home” party around the swimming pool on the weekend and sought out Liz to handle the food part of it.  She said that it was cool how this group was starting to do some profit building networking.  Josh told us about how his father was continually getting better and thanked us for lifting him up.  He also said that his lawn care maintenance company was doing great.  I just said that I needed to devote more time to my family – especially my kids.  I had been doing less work for about a month and dedicating that extra time to them, but in this past week I have been pressing the gas pedal pretty hard at my job and neglecting my home folks.  I have to stop doing this.  I forgot to mention that Carl, who is a fire claims adjuster, joined us for our pre-business meeting time.  It was refreshing to hear how his life and work were going and he asked if he could join us more often.  We agreed.

Anyway, at the larger business gathering we had a guy named Stan who is a suit at a computer software company come in to talk with us.  He started off by saying that most of what he was going to be sharing was basic information, but that if it wasn’t taken care of it would really hurt our businesses.  His talk was all about how we needed to make sure that our workers had the most up to date equipment so that they could do their jobs.  He said that a lot of bosses try to cut corners on things like cell phones, computers and even trucks/transports.  Stan said that this was something that had happened at his company and he explained how employees were left to do some fairly difficult tasks while using outdated equipment.  When one of the leaders spoke up to the boss about it, there was an angry growl from the top down saying that there was not enough profit to justify buying all new equipment.  So for about six months everyone there tried their best to handle tasks with old stuff but their efficiency suffered and profits dipped.  Finally when the request was made again (this time more desperately) new equipment was bought and workers were able to do their jobs easily.  This made for a happy workforce and there was great return on the leaders’ investment.  (Unfortunately, a few very good workers had gotten too frustrated and moved to another company).  Still, the point was well made.  I thought about how my workers sometimes complained to me that their tools were old.  They also moaned about how we didn’t give them business cell phones – they were having to use their personal phones for business.  So, I have decided to take a close look at what my employees are using to do their jobs and to replace the outdated things with new things.  It was a basic lesson, but a much needed one.

So readers, what do you think about this subject?  Have you been keeping up with your equipment needs?  If not, how do you think this is affecting your business?  Thanks in advance.

Fire Insurance Claims

In this world all sorts of difficult situations arise to shake our lives up.  One of the worst of these situations is when you have a fire happen at your home or business and destruction follows - All of your possessions are affected either directly or indirectly with smoke damage.  This kind of terrible blow is bad enough in itself even when you do have insurance.  Insurance companies don't always help like they should when you make fire insurance claims.  That's why you need to hire a fire claim adjuster to aid you in dealing with your insurance company.  These people come in and work alongside you to get you the money you will need to replace and repair your home or business.  I know someone who swears by claims adjusters because he had a fire happen and was getting the runaround from his insurance company.  So, he hired a group called Abba Claims (www.abbaclaims.com) who had highly trained adjusters who got the insurance company to give him a fair settlement.  These professionals worked hard to be his partner in dealing with the whole insurance process (which can be quite a complicated task).  

Now hopefully, you haven't ever had a fire and hopefully you never will.  But if you do take note of this above mentioned company.  You don't have to work this process alone.

Have any of you readers used a public adjuster to help you with a fire insurance claim?  If so, please comment in the comment section and let the rest of us know what your experience was like.  Was it a good one or a frustrating one?  Have you ever had a difficult time getting insurance companies to pay you a fair settlement?

Anyway, I would be interested to hear from you if you have experienced loss like this.  Thanks in advance.

Facebook Ads or Google Adwords Debate

Facebook Ads or Google Adwords Debate 

Today at our ever-growing business gathering we had a debate between two business leaders about whether or not Facebook ads are effective at driving traffic to a targeted website landing page or whether they are a waste of time and energy.  One of the people in the debate was a leadership speaker who has built his business from nothing to being a national force.  He, Andy Neillie, has had to use all sorts of marketing methods to get his business up and running said that he had tried Facebook ads but found them to be weak in driving traffic.  He advised that Google Adwords is a much better source of exposure and customer collection.  He based this belief not only on personal experience but also because he thinks Facebook is more of a social media platform catering to fun – people don’t go to Facebook to find business opportunities or to shop.  Many people agreed with him about this.

In the other corner of this debate was Josh Sanders, head of a leading Lubbock landscaping company who also built his company from the ground up.  Josh argued that he had had a lot of success with Facebook ads and even though he uses Google Adwords to diversify his marketing dollar, he thinks that if you use the complex targeting opportunities on Facebook, you can catch the eyes of those who didn’t plan on clicking off of Facebook to buy products or learn about a company from their landing page.  Josh also said that you have to run the types of ads that are stand out and exciting sounding for your specific demographic. 

It was a friendly debate and really got me thinking about how I spend my marketing dollars.  To be honest, I haven’t used any money on either platforms.  I have stuck with the traditional print and flyer marketing, but now I think I will give both Google Adwords and Facebooks Ads some of my budgeted marketing money to experiment with what these guys were saying.  I’ll let you know which (if either or both) work to get people to take a look at my website.

Until then, feel free to comment about what side of the debate you are on and why you think your side is right.  Thanks for weighing in – I look forward to what you have to say.

Houston Public Adjuster Company meeting Huge Needs…

Houston Public Adjuster Company meeting Huge Needs…

During this time of recovery from Hurricane Harvey, there is obviously a lot of water and flood damage to be dealt with (among other pressing matters).  For those of you who are dealing with the aftermath of this monstrous storm and have been able to return to your homes, I’m sure you have found a mess unlike anything you’ve ever dealt with before.  For that, I am truly sorry.  And I am also sorry for the emotional scars that go along with a loss of this magnitude.  If I could do anything significant to help beyond donations and clothes drives, I would.  Unfortunately I can do nothing else but offer some advice.  I hope that it aids you in your attempt to climb out of this very real hole.

For those of you with flood damage claims and water damage claims in the insurance world (which is a whole different thing to struggle with), I want to recommend a Houston Public Adjuster who has gathered his fellow employees to give a helping hand to all of you as you try and navigate getting your possessions and your lives back.  This Texas Adjuster who has helped hundreds of people all across the state find their way back to normalcy after all sorts of disasters, is now available to you.  His name is Ches Bostick and his company’s name is Abba Claims (www.abbaclaims.com).  They will walk alongside you as you attempt to get the right amount of money back from your insurance company so that you can buy back all of what you had.  This partnership that they form with people who employ them is one of professionalism and passion.  They help you fight for what you deserve especially when you don’t have the strength to fight for yourself.  I’m sure there are plenty of other insurance claims consultants out there who can help you, but I just know from experience that Abba Claims is one I know you can count on. 

(As a side note, I know that there were several fires caused by this disaster and Abba Claims is excellent with fire damage claims.  Their Dallas office is fantastic at handling these fire insurance claims.)

I hope that my recommendation helps you as you try to recover.  If any of you know of other partners who care about your insurance claims – if any of you have had great experiences with other Texas Adjusters, feel free to leave those names in the comment section and I can include your testimonials.  And if you just have a need to vent about your tough Houston circumstances, feel free to use the comment board as your target.  We all feel for you and wish the best for you.

Business Jingles and Mascots - Week Forty-Five

Business Jingles and Mascots - Week Forty-Five

I cannot believe that I have been coming to this group as faithfully as I have been coming – I’m usually the sort to start strong and be initially excited but then fall off in the middle and then die out by the six-month mark.  But, the opening prayer time with solid friends and the exceptional talks being given by other business professionals, has kept me riding perfect attendance since the beginning.  Liz, Josh and I did our normal prayer requests (Josh reported that he has taken on a new Lubbock landscaping client (short-term furnished housing firm) and Liz is just doing well on all fronts.  I led us in prayer today and I decided to have us listen more than speak out loud.  I just asked the Spirit of God to lead each one of us to the place in our lives that need attention.  For me, I felt convicted that I had treated one of my employees with disrespect a few days ago.  I was trying to be sarcastically funny, but apparently it wasn’t taken that way and I felt moved to apologize to this guy later in the day.  I never want to treat people badly and I felt guilty even though I know that God has led me to a place of repentance and forgiveness.  This is an area that I need to work on. 

As for the larger business gathering we actually had an insurance claims adjuster (who focuses on fire insurance claims) named Ches (pronounced like the complicated board game that I stink at) speak to us.  I was expecting him to focus on his industry and give to give us advice regarding getting the best private claims adjuster to help us get what we deserve in case of fire damage, water damage, etc.  But it turns out that Ches had gotten his MBA and knew some general business tricks to help us become better at our marketing.  Ches talked about how a lot of businesses don’t just have a catchy slogan (which he said was very important) but they also have jingles and even cartoonish characters to be their spokespersons.  He reminded us of the perfect example – Geico – which uses a computer generated gecko and a repetitive tag.  When I see that gecko I automatically know what he represents.  He is all about saving 15% on car insurance.  He said that if our company wasn’t into cartoon characters that we should have a man or woman to be our consistent public face.  (Chick-Fil-A cows also stick in my brain)  Ches said that the more we can grab our customers’ attention with images, slogans, characters and jingles, the better.  We want our businesses to stand out from the rest.  During his talk I immediately started thinking of what I could do to make customers identify my business better.  I don’t have a catchy tune in my head yet, but maybe a marketing team could help me come up with all of the above.

So readers, what do you think about what Ches had to say?  Are you more likely to go with a well-branded company with all the bells and whistles?  Do you have such things in your own business?  If so, how do they work?  Thanks in advance for your comments…



Being Respectable Bosses - Week Forty-Three

Being Respectable Bosses - Week Forty-Three

I called Josh this week to find out how his fire insurance claims had gone and he told me that he has this amazing company that works for him to get the right settlements.  All was well in his world and he was back to prayer and to the larger gathering as usual.  Liz reported that she was on track to have record sales with her Lubbock catering business and she attributed it to both prayer and to her putting the larger gatherings’ advice into practice.  As for me, I was not struggling at all in any way.  My health was good and I focused on praying for family and for the well-being of everyone I came in contact with.  I know that everyone has something tough going on and so I ask God to fill me and to overflow His Holy Spirit from me so that they can be changed – even if I am not directly dealing with them.  I always think of myself as just a distributor of what God gives me from above.  After all, I in myself cannot affect change like He can.

As for the larger gathering we had a two-person team that taught us about how to be respectable bosses – the sort that have integrity and show no favoritism in the way we deal with employees and clients.  They said they learned from a Fortune 500 leadership speaker that it is easy to work harder for some people because we like them and to shirk responsibility when it comes to working for those who we don’t like for some reason.  They taught us that if we are to be respected leaders then we have to be fair in our dealings with everyone.  They told us how we could evaluate our relationships in the workplace to see if we were treating people differently from one another.  They said that if we are honest with ourselves we will most likely find favoritism that can lead to internal divisions within our organizations.  This two person team explained how they had both fallen victim to creating cliques and factions because they didn’t pay attention to how they were discriminating between people groups.  They also told us how we could reset the culture in our businesses so that everyone could feel like each employee and client could feel that they were being treated as well as another.  I had to pay attention to this talk, because as soon as they started talking about their subject I could totally see how I made this mistake at my work.  I could even think of several people who I had given raises to and who I had promoted because I liked them better than another employee.  I was not running a meritocracy and this was not fair.  I wasn’t going to take these raises or promotions away, but I was going to set clear expectations for promotions and raises so that from now on I would not fall victim to favoritism.

So readers, what do you think about this subject?  Have you ever treated certain employees and clients differently from others simply because one liked that same things that you do (or for any affinity or personality similarity)?  If so, how has it affected your business?  What did you do about it?  Let me know in your comments…I always look forward to your responses and I thank you in advance.