- Unlike other SBA loans, owners do not have to put up collateral or personally guarantee the loans. They also are not required to search for a loan elsewhere before applying for the SBA loan.
- Interest rates cannot exceed 4%, and the maximum loan amount is $10 million.
- Part of the loan can be forgiven. Costs related to payroll, including health care, mortgage or rent and utility payments incurred in the eight weeks after you receive the loan can be deducted from the loan amount and not repaid. However, if you reduce your headcount at that time, that will also decrease the amount of loan forgiveness. Adding headcount will increase the amount forgiven.
Independent contractors’ wages can be included as employee payroll costs in the loan, according to the Chamber of Commerce.
- The bill includes a payroll tax holiday. Owners have until 2022 to pay 2020 payroll taxes but will need to pay 50% by the end of 2021.
Are you a handyman, electrician, plumber, painter, remodeler, carpenter, designer or provider of another household service? During these unchartered times, we’re doing our best to provide you with ideas to support your business.
First, it is important to take care of your health and the health of your team members and your family. Know your financials, your inventory and the status of your supply chain.
Next, pivot as needed. If you typically provide services in person, as many of you do, it’s time to rethink your sales strategy.
Have you considered going online?
If you are a contractor who provides household support, then it’s time to start thinking about ways to offer tutorials or one-on-one video consultations with your clients. Here are a few examples:
Are you a plumber who fixes dishwashers?
- Allow your clients to purchase a Facetime session with you, during which time you walk them through fixing the issue themselves. Perhaps you can charge a reasonable fee that is lower than your in-person fee. Tools like Calendly are good for scheduling appointments like this.
Are you a handyman who’s good with crafts?
- There are hundreds of thousands of kids at home for the next few weeks. Can you offer an online tutorial for a build-your-own garden box, sandbox or birdhouse?
- Can you sell DIY kits with all the materials they need – then drop off the materials or have designated pick-up times?
- Include a link to a step-by-step video that you prerecord, then post it on social media, OR, offer a live virtual training at designated times.
Are you a craftsman who installs closets?
- People are sheltering in place, which means they have more time to focus on spring cleaning and organization. Can you provide a tutorial for closet organization? Perhaps you start with a free tutorial, then offer a one-on-one service for purchase.
Here are a few places to get started with virtual calls:
Now’s the time to look at how you can benefit your customers and ease their concerns. Ask them what they need and how you can be helpful during this time.
Finally, leverage social media to communicate with your audience.
We hope this brief guide gets you thinking about ways to pivot your business. If you have any ideas, please feel free to share them in the comments section.
Michael Fusco, president and co-founder of Fusco & Orsini Insurance Services, was invited to speak at a conference of the Insurance Agency Owners Alliance, or IAOA, on January 24, 2020. The annual event drew more than 800 owners and 100 vendors and insurance companies to the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina.
“The theme of my interview was to share and collaborate on ideas to help improve our sector,” says Fusco, who the meeting coordinator chose for his experience building a successful agency. “There were a lot of newbies in the audience. I shared mistakes I learned from – and expanded upon training and finding the right people.”
The interview-style session was a first for the IAOA Conference, which Fusco says evolves with each event.
“This year it was in San Diego. Next year, it’ll be in Tampa,” he says. “The group has been incredible; I’ve learned so much from interacting with fellow agency owners from around the country.”
Founded by Nick Ayers and Dave Jackson in 2015, the Insurance Agency Owners Alliance is a fast-growing association of independent insurance agency owners in the country. They aim for selfless innovation and collaboration with fellow agents by banding together for events, webinars, videos, podcasts, luncheons, and more.
“The intention is to bring independent folks together, to collaborate, to share ideas,” Fusco explains.
In addition to rubbing shoulders with other independent insurance agents, some of his strategies revolve around maintaining flexibility and continuing to make changes when necessary.
“The industry’s ever-changing, and you have to be on top of it. The technology is changing rapidly; you have to know what’s out there and stay ahead of it,” Fusco says. “Technology is everything. Automation, marketing, CRM – it’s all about tech.”
Fusco coaches fellow agents to plow through the tough parts of the business and keep learning.
“Subscribe to as many different industry-related publications as you can,” he says, suggesting reading material such as Rough Notes, Insurance Journal, and Coverager. “Learn from people who have been there and done it.”
Dear F&O Friends and Family,
We would like to extend our warmest wishes for a peaceful holiday season and an abundant new year.
As we reflect on the year, we’d like to thank you for your continued business and support. This was a year of many changes for our team, as we worked to improve your experience with an updated client service center; streamlined policy purchasing and communication platforms; and a full-time claims and audit coordinator to assist you.
Most notably, over the past 12 months, we launched a new management system which means enhanced data security; quicker service and certificate issuance; a new client portal and mobile application and more improvements to come!
This year, we also brought on new team members to serve you – and have partnered with additional providers to improve our offerings.
As we look toward 2020, our tenth year (!!) in business, we know the best is yet to come! We invite you to tune in for the fun, as we’ll be rolling out 10-year-anniversary giveaways on our social media channels, plus new videos and webinars to assist you.
Again, we thank you for your camaraderie and wish you many sweet and memorable moments over the days to come.
~ The F&O Family
12/23/2019 – Closing at 4:30 p.m.
12/24/2019 – Closed
12/25/2019 – Closed
12/31/2019 – Closed
1/1/2020 – Closed
Fall allergies are upon us. Here are a few suggestions to keep your team from sniffling and sneezing this season:
- Wear a mask while raking leaves or working with mulch or hay.
- Use a dehumidifier in your home to avoid mold—and clean it regularly!
- Wash bathroom tiles and shower curtains with mold-killing products.
- Discuss your child’s allergies or asthma with his or her school nurse and teacher.
- While cool fall temperatures are ideal for planting flowers and trees, try to plant things that produce little pollen, such as fir, pine, dogwood, azaleas, tulips, irises and pansies, to avoid irritating allergies.
What causes eye-itching irritants in the first place?
- Late summer allergies and lingering warm weather.
- Raking leaves or mowing the lawn, which can stir pollen and mold in the air.
- Classroom irritants and allergy triggers like chalk, classroom pets and food items in the cafeteria.
Sources: Zywave, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Climate change in the office can minimize injuries and costs
When you own a company, you are uniquely positioned to make decisions that benefit your profit margin, and at the same time, your employees. But it’s actually their position – literally – that may be challenging the balance of your bottom line.
Experts say that an ergonomically designed workplace minimizes injuries and mitigates resulting business expenses such as a workers’ comp claim or absenteeism.
The basic principle is that office furniture and equipment should be designed and arranged so that staff members have a safe, efficient space in which to work. And employers who design their businesses with ergonomics in mind are providing an office that’s, in effect, customized to the comfort and needs of the employees.
The result is a benefit to the business owner in four ways:
- Minimizes workers’ compensation claims
- Saves money through a reduction in injuries and absenteeism
- Increases corporate morale and staff productivity
- Improves employees’ long-term health and welfare
According to labor statistics, musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, cost employers more than $20 billion a year due to employee absences, insurance claims and medical costs. Patients may develop conditions over time which can affect muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and nerves.
But when you dismiss the potential for problems you can suffer greater losses, even indirectly, when you have unexpected hiring expenses due to employee absence and the loss of productivity when a worker gets injured.
Examples of proper ergonomics include eye-level placement of computers to reduce neck strain and the use of office furniture with support for the lumbar region of the back. Some of the factors cited by risk management experts are room temperature, movement repetition and posture, which can each be addressed.
The first symptoms commonly experienced by patients with MSD are pain, fatigue and discomfort. You’re wise to assess the physical abilities of your workers to become aware of people’s limitations and unique characteristics of different employees as well.
Threats to the health and well-being of your employees can also threaten the health of your company; ergo, it pays to recognize the importance of staff wellness.
If it’s time for some climate change, the office politics will likely support it. Because who doesn’t like upgraded workstations and new furniture?
Fusco & Orsini’s Mike and Ray discuss cybercrime, who is susceptible, what the pain points and costs are, and ways to get ahead of the crime that’s threatening businesses of all sizes.
First, what is cybercrime? Cybercrime is criminal activity carried out across computers and/or the internet.
Does it matter if you’re a small- or medium-sized company? Yes, absolutely. Target, AT&T, and Yahoo have all been under attack, but don’t let the headlines mislead you. Your small or medium-sized business is at risk, too.
As Mike shares in the video above:
“Last year, I made a call to one of my clients and he told me how he got a cyber breach…everything he’s done…ransom,” said Mike Fusco, president of Fusco & Orsini Insurance Services. “Until he paid these people overseas in Bitcoin to release his data back to him, he couldn’t do anything. The havoc caused not only on his clients…but his company…he couldn’t do anything for three to four weeks.”
How does this happen? A large percentage (up to 90 percent) of cyber-attacks result from human error. What this means is, cybercriminals prey on humans, not machines.
An attack can start with something as simple as opening a targeted email, a form of ransomware.
What is ransomware? Ransomware is a type of malware that threatens to publish a victim’s data or perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid.
Ransomware is typically sent to people via email. People will accidentally click on the email, realize instantly they shouldn’t have, close out the window and hope it’ll go away. They usually won’t report opening the email, especially if it was done on a work computer. Things may seem fine, until six months later when all their files are corrupted. Not only can their data be compromised, but the company’s entire network can also be compromised.
Funds transfer fraud is another common form of a cyberattack. Oftentimes, it’ll come in the form of an email directed to the accounts payable department. Worse yet, it’ll come from an email you recognize, like a client or vendor email, making you or your team more likely to transfer the funds.
What happens after these attacks? It’s two-fold. Your company and your clients can be adversely affected. In fact, 60% of companies fold within six months of a cyber-attack.
Here are some of the pain points and costs involved:
- You’ll likely have to hire a forensic expert, which can cost big bucks (sometimes $500 per hour) and it can take weeks to figure it out.
- There are notification laws. You must notify all your clients, which costs about $5 per person. If their social security numbers were obtained, you must provide credit monitoring to each customer for up to two years, which costs about $7 per person.
- You’ll probably have to hire an attorney who can step in, should anyone try to sue.
- You’ll have to replace your hardware and machinery.
- If you paid a ransom, you’ve lost that money.
- Your business is interrupted, so you’ll experience revenue loss from day 1.
- Finally, you’ll suffer from reputational harm.
How do you get ahead of these attacks?
- Keep up with trends.
- Let your team know what to look out for. For example, if you click on the actual name of the sender, an email address will be revealed that does not, in fact, match the name of the sender.
- Put notifications on external emails that say “this is an external email, please double-check before opening.”
- If you get an email from someone that looks suspicious, don’t reply to that email asking if it’s them. Call them or open a brand-new email asking that contact if they contacted you.
- Have a great IT company on your side to help you stay up-to-date with trends and make sure your security is solid.
How can insurance help? We’ve vetted many carriers to find the best possible coverage, should your company suffer from a cyber-attack. This carrier also provides policyholders with five risk-management tools, which are valued at $5,000. As part of this toolkit, your company will undergo a vulnerability scan and receive analysis on ways to improve. They’ll also provide training programs to your team and more.
The policies are reasonable. We know because we’ve put them in place for our own business and are helping our clients do the same. If you’d like to learn more, please contact Mike directly at 858-384-1507 or email@example.com.
Benefits packages are a cost-effective way for you to bring value to your employees and boost productivity and retention.
Unemployment is at an all-time low and there are more jobs available than candidates to fill them. You’re under pressure to hire quickly, even though you should give yourself adequate lead time to properly review candidates. To make matters more difficult, just when you find the right person, they may decide to take a position with a company that has a more competitive benefits package.
If you’re a small business owner, you may be feeling even more pressure. Many small- and medium-sized businesses don’t have the team or resources to skillfully hire.
We can relate. We, too, started as a small locally-owned team. Over the years, we grew our company and our expertise in employee benefits so that we could help other HR teams feel confident about their employee recruiting and onboarding process.
That brings us to benefits.
Sure, ping pong tables and bean bag chairs look cool in an office, but are they really benefits? Here’s a quick overview of what keeps employees around: competitive benefits packages.
Benefits packages are a cost-effective way for you to bring value to your employees and boost productivity and retention. Here are a few things to consider when offering employee benefits as part of your compensation package:
Create customizable benefits packages: If you tailor a package to meet an employee’s needs, it’ll carry more weight than just monetary value. As such, a bigger salary but weaker benefits package offered by another company won’t be as attractive.
Include health and wellness: If you include health insurance and dental and vision coverage, you will have employees who are equipped to take a proactive role in managing their health. Plus, a healthy employee means a reduction in absenteeism due to illness. Healthy employees are more likely to be productive employees, too.
Additional benefits to you as the employer:
Benefits will cost you some money upfront but are likely to save you long-term.
Group rates and lower payroll taxes: The value you present to employees with benefits, especially health insurance plans, can be monetarily equal to a raise in salary for them while costing you less due to group rates and lower payroll taxes.
Salary savings: Offering tailored, valuable benefits packages can help lower top employees’ expectations for salary. Many employees are willing to accept good benefits in lieu of a slightly higher salary.
In summary, benefits packages are a cost-effective way for you to bring value to your current and prospective employees and boost productivity and retention.
Our team is ready to help you develop a strategic benefits package that meets your budget and presents attractive options to your employees. We can also give you educational materials that you can share with your employees as you launch your new or improved benefits package.
Contact us at 858-384-1506 or schedule a meeting with our employee benefits specialist, Ray. Ray has 18 years of employee benefits insurance consulting and account management experience – so he’s your guy!
Tips to beat the heat this summer
You don’t have to be a detective to see the sun is packing heat. And that means some potential for danger … unless you get clued in and put in place some protective measures this summer.
There are approximately 330 heat-related deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Add to that the numerous illnesses and injuries – from heat stroke to sunburns – and it can sure change the tone of your summer vacation.
There are steps you can take to minimize the possibility of injuries, including:
- Wear light colors and be sure your clothing is loose fitting to keep your body temperature down.
- Cover your head if you work outdoors or plan to take in a ball game or another activity in the summer sun. Avoid putting your face or neck in direct sunlight.
- Drink more water than at any other time of year. Medical professionals recommend 8 ounces every half hour.
Once you’re aware of the effects of spending time in the sunshine, you can meet the threats out there with a healthy measure of prevention. That means your plans for getting work done outdoors or catching some waves will turn out just fine – as predicted. It’s the best way to keep the mysteries where they belong – in your summer reading material.
How to Celebrate Safely
If childhood memories of 4th of July festivities include such harmless fun as swimming holes and homemade ice cream, feel free to revive those traditions this year. But if you intend to “have a blast” (literally) until dawn’s early light, you’d be wise to take a few things into consideration.
Burn in the U.S.A.
The “rocket’s red glare” is a patriotic concept, but not when it’s the red glare of police lights because of illegal rockets you’re setting off in the backyard. If your city regulations forbid personal fireworks – heed the law.
But if you live in an area that allows you to buy, sell and use fireworks, have fun – but be cautious. You don’t want to be responsible for starting a blaze. Keep a water bucket or garden hose nearby while igniting and watching them light the sky. Don’t place fireworks in your pockets and be sure to dispose of them properly. Soak the fireworks and their packaging in water before discarding them in the trash.
Freedom isn’t Accident-Free
If your neighborhood residents are allowed to set off personal fireworks which means you’ll be lighting up a Roman candle, a box of sparklers or a Piccolo Pete, be extremely careful. Remember that there’s a risk of burns, blindness and other possible injuries when you handle fireworks.
A couple of the worst offenders are bottle rockets and the seemingly tame sparklers. You can injure your fingers while twirling the long wands in the air because they burn at high temperatures. Plus, unfortunately, we tend to let kids handle sparklers when they’re too young to heed safety precautions.
There are several effective ways to minimize the possibility of a 4th of July emergency:
- Point fireworks away from people, houses and vegetation.
- Don’t try to relight a dud, which is a firework that doesn’t ignite the first time.
- Never handle fireworks if you’ve been drinking alcohol.
- Wear safety goggles.
Stars & Scrapes
Celebrating outdoors with friends can mean fun in the sun. But sometimes mishaps turn a great day into a disaster. Consider the following rules:
- Hire or assign a lifeguard if swimming is a part of the party. Drownings often occur during group events, as no one assumes responsibility to keep a watchful eye.
- Use insect repellant to prevent insect bites and cover your skin with sunblock to minimize burning.
- Monitor grills at all times to keep little ones from burning fingers. Keep individuals at least 3 feet away from the barbecue.
In all likelihood, it will be an incredible nation’s birthday as always. But taking the time to go over details can make doubly sure it’s a safe holiday and leaves you with only memories of a good time.
After all, remembering the 4th of July should include signing the Declaration of Independence, not signing an incident report!