Author Archives: CSOA

4 Healthy Lunch Ideas for Contractors On The Job

Lunch Ideas for Contractors (Cover)

Being a contractor, you have a unique problem on your hands. While most of America is struggling with weight gains that come from sedentary lifestyles, you may be finding it hard to get the calories you need every day while on the job site. And perhaps you got into the trades partly because you knew it would be a good way to keep fit while you earn your living. But there is a fine line between keeping fit and wrecking your body.

It is no secret that the trades are demanding. It is estimated that remodeling contractors burn 410 calories per hour, masonry contractors burn 548 calories per hour and if you are just using heavy hand tools throughout the day, you are burning 637 calories per hour. To put those figures into perspective, consider the fact that the average office worker burns only 68 calories per hour in the course of their work. And in case you were wondering, it is recommended that most healthy men intake 2,000-3,000 calories per day and healthy women should intake 1,600 2,400 calories per day.

So as you can see from the figures, as an average contractor you are probably burning off way more calories than normal. Now most people would just figure to eat more food to correct this imbalance. And while principally that assertion isn’t wrong; it can be detrimental to your health.

Just because you are making up the calories that you are burning on the job site doesn’t mean you are doing your job any favors. That’s because you can be getting enough calories from your food but certain foods have too many saturated fats, carbs and sodium. And too much of these can spell disaster. In fact, too much sodium alone can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. 

So you have to be careful about what you put into your body. You can’t just intake calories willy-nilly and think you will be fine. And as a contractor of any kind, you should know that there are certain foods that will help you perform better. 

It’s challenging learning what those foods are. And the harder part is working them into your busy schedule. So in the following post, Contractors Society of America wants to share some lunch ideas for contractors that will not only help you refuel after excessive calorie burning; but help you regain calories in a healthy way. 

1) Protein Shakes

Protein is as important to a construction worker as it is to a body builder. Your body needs ample protein to rebuild muscle tissue that is being broken down when you exert energy on the job. We talked to many of the contractors in our community and so many of the swear by protein shakes. They like them because they are quick, easy and provide enough protein to get them through the day. While they should not be used to replace your entire lunch, they are a great way for busy contractors to get the protein they need; and all you have to do is throw a small carton in your lunch box.

2) Pasta

Pasta is another lunch idea that came up a lot when we pooled our own community of contractors. Tradesmen like the fact that you can prepare a bunch of pasta pretty quickly on a weekend and pack it for lunch a couple or every day of the following week. But you can’t just cook any pasta. The most important thing to remember when preparing pasta for lunch is that you choose a whole-grain pasta. Whole-grain pasta is lower in calories but higher in beneficial minerals and fibers to help keep your digestive system healthy. Plus, you can easily make up the calories by adding some sausage, mushrooms and bell peppers to your pasta.

3) Chili

Chili is another favorite because it’s simple to eat on the job site. Chili with navy bean, kidney beans or adzuki beans is preferable because these beans are high in protein. In fact, adzuki beans can pack up to 37 grams of protein in a single cup! Be sure to add some ground beef, onions or any other protein/vegetable combo you prefer.

4) Combo Snacks

What is a good lunch for a construction worker? That question has a lot of answers because everyone is different. But basically, you are going to want anything with a lot of protein, a decent amount of calories, and minimal sodium. To that end, a healthy conglomeration of snacks isn’t a bad idea. Consider throwing some trail mix, a banana, maybe a couple of protein bars and a small sandwich (with whole wheat bread) into your lunch box for a healthy hodgepodge lunch.

Other Lunch Tips for Contractors

Fast food is a mainstay at on the job site. Why? Because contractors are very busy people and sometimes you just need something that will fill you up fast. But as much as possible, avoid fast food for lunch when you are on the job. Here are some of the tips that our contractors live by:

  • Meal Prep – This is a huge one that not only saves a lot of time; but a lot of money too. Prepare one or two big meals on Sunday before the work week that you can easily store in the fridge and bring with you to work throughout the week. Pasta, chili and even pizza (opt for thin crust or whole-grain dough) are great meal prep ideas because they will keep all week and easy to pack.
  • Stock up on Healthy Snacks – Make a Costco run and get protein shakes, protein bars, nuts, yogurt, vegetable platters, or any other healthy snack you prefer. 
  • Take a Lunch – This may seem simple and overdue but it can’t be overstated. Taking a lunch you prepared at home will almost always be healthier than eating out.

We are always posting helpful articles specifically for contractors, and we have a wealth of resources to aid your business too. Become a member today.

How to Become a General Contractor in 2020

Independent Contractor

The prospect of becoming a general manager may be appealing to you if you are good at delegating work, finding the right fit for specific jobs, and are the type of person who can see the big picture. General contracting is a great responsibility but for the right kind of person, it can be a very rewarding profession. General contractors don’t do too badly in the financial department either. The average yearly income for a general contractor in the United States is $89,711 with an average of $6,750 in additional overtime pay.

And of course, if you are really good at your job and win high-paying bids, that number can certainly go up. But it takes a lot of time and dedication in addition to natural acumen to excel in this line of work. But as the ancient Chinese proverb goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Before you can begin thinking of tackling large construction or renovation jobs, you need to know where to begin. 

In the following post, we will share with you a basic guide on how to become a general contractor. Be advised that the specific rules and requirements will vary from state to state. But most states have similar guidelines. 

  • Education and Experience – One doesn’t simply up and become a general contractor overnight. There are two main paths to becoming one: you can either pursue higher education or you can gain experience in the construction industry. If you wish to go to school, construction management and civil engineering are very helpful subjects to study. You can also gain hands-on experience by getting hired by a local construction company. Be advised that no matter which route you take, you will need to set aside 3-5 years before you can really start applying as a general contractor. And in general, the best general contractors will have both college degrees and hands-on experience in the construction industry. 
  • Take the General Contractor Exam – In most states, you will have to pass an exam to get your general contractor’s license. This is going to require a good amount of studying. In most states, this is a multiple choice quiz that includes technical construction knowledge as well as business and tax questions. You can find out where and which local government body administers the test with a quick Google search. But in general, you will need to pass this exam before you can even apply for a general contractor’s license. If you need help studying, there are plenty of free online resources you can take advantage of like practice exams
  • Meet Bond Requirements – In some states, you will have to acquire a licensing bond and a performance bond. A licensing bond is a certain amount of money you will have to put up to guarantee that you will adhere to the local statutes and regulations set out for general contractors. A performance bond sometimes called a contractor’s bond is a separate amount of money you will have to put up to protect your clients should you fail to meet your contractual agreements or fail to finish the project – sort of like insurance. In most cases, you will have to put up one or both of these bonds before you apply for your general contractor’s license. 
  • Apply for your License – Once you have met the experience/education requirements, passed your state, city, or county general contractor exam and acquired the necessary bonds, you are finally ready to apply for your general contractor’s license. In most states, this means filling out a written application and providing a number of documents that can include your exam results, your driver’s license or birth certificate, background check results, your bond documentation, your proof of insurance, and proof of financial responsibility. 

Other Considerations for General Contractors

Becoming a general contractor isn’t all filling out forms and taking tests. There are a lot of practical considerations you must mull over before and during the process. 

  • Time – Here at Contractors Society of America, we get asked the question, “how long does it take to become a general contractor?” a lot. And this is an important consideration to analyze because it can take anywhere from 5-10 years to get your general contractor business up and running. Some people simply decide to work in the trades until they feel they have the knowledge to become a general contractor which can take many years. 
  • Getting Started – The general contracting business can be brutal for beginners. You will need a lot of resilience and gumption not to get discouraged because chances are, you won’t be winning a lot of high-profile bids when you first start out. And that’s perfectly ok. Something our members tell general contracting newbies when they ask “how do I get started as a contractor?” is to not shy away from smaller bids – even if you think you can handle more. Overseeing small home renovations and construction projects is a great way to build your reputation and value as a general contractor. 
  • This Work is a Learning Process – Another important thing to understand about general contracting is that it is a ceaseless learning process. You have to understand that pretty much every project will present you with a new challenge and you will have to learn and adapt on the fly. You have to be open to accepting new challenges and committed to learning on the job – even when you think you have seen it all. 

General Contracting is Rewarding

It sounds like a lot of work – and it is. But general contracting work comes with great rewards if you stick it out, are committed to improving and have a passion for seeing projects through to the end. Here at Contractors Society of America, we are dedicated to our community of professional contractors. We hope our guide on how to become a general contractor has been useful for you. Once you get your license, become a member of our community!

4 Ways to Mitigate Customer Complaints as a Contractor

Contractor at Work

You know how the old adage goes: you can’t please everyone. This is especially true as a business owner. The fact is that you are going to run into customer complaints at some point. It doesn’t matter if you run an impossibly tight ship and take every precaution to meet the total satisfaction of all your customers; some customers simply cannot be pleased. 

And at the end of the day, that’s ok. Most people don’t expect perfection and are even wary of it. If you are worried about a few bad customer reviews of your contracting business, you may not have all that much to worry about. Recent data suggests that consumers don’t actually trust businesses with perfect review ratings. In fact, the current ideal star rating is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars. The reason for this is that most consumers are aware of the fact that reviews can be manipulated. So when they see a perfect 5-star rating, they tend to think that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

But don’t take that as license to start giving up all your customer service efforts. You should still try to deliver exemplary service every single time. But customer complaints are unavoidable. So in the following post, we are going to be talking about the best ways to mitigate customer complaints, how to manage bad reviews and answer some common questions related to customer complaints. Let’s start with the basics

Why do Customers Complain?

Why do customers complain in the first place? To truly answer this question one would need a degree in psychology. But on the surface, there are many reasons why a customer may choose to lodge a complaint against your contracting business. Here are a couple of reasons why and what you can do as a contractor:

  • Perceived Quality – Some customers simply have unrealistic expectations. No matter how finely crafted the product is, it may not live up to the lofty expectations of the customer. This is why it’s important as a contractor to have pictures and a comprehensive portfolio of your work so the customer can see what they can expect. Be honest with your customers. Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. Make sure to set realistic goals for the project and don’t take on any projects that you can’t handle.
  • Unavailability – Communication is key in the contracting business.  Whether you are a roofer, electrician or an HVAC technician, you have to let the customer know what the project will entail, how it is progressing and be there to field their questions and concerns. A customer will feel wronged if they can’t get their questions answered. Make sure that your customers have multiple ways to get in touch with you. And even if you can’t field all their questions yourself, try to make sure that someone on your team is available at all times to speak with customers. Oh yeah, and it helps tremendously if the team member you appoint to speak with customers is knowledgeable of the specific project.

What are the Most Common Customer Complaints?

As a contractor, you are probably going to hear the same kinds of complaints throughout your career. The most common types of customer complaints for contractors have to do with:

  • Long Wait Times – Having to wait too long to talk to a representative is a very common customer complaint for contractors. That’s because a lot of contractors overlook having an ample office staff when they first start out.
  • Follow-up – As a contractor, it’s important that you be available to your customers even after the project is completed.  One of the most common complaints contractors of all kinds get is that no one was available to talk to after services had been rendered. 

Ways to Mitigate Customer Complaints

Want to avoid customer complaints altogether? While there is no way to totally avoid customer complaints, take a look at our list of tips for mitigating as many as possible:

1 – Understand your Business – If you offer emergency roofing, HVAC , plumbing or other emergency contractor services, be aware that the people who call you don’t want to have to call you. They may be in a panicked state and therefore, more irritable. It is important to understand the nature of your business and the types of people you will be dealing with most of the time. Be empathetic, put patient technicians on the job and focus on friendly service. 

2 – Avoid No-Shows – Customers hate contractor no-shows. If you say you will be there, you better be there if you want to avoid a nasty customer complaint. So don’t stretch yourself too thin. And if for some reason you still can’t make it to a service call, be sure to let the customer know. You would be surprised at how appreciative a customer can be of a heads-up phone call.

3 – Respond to Bad Reviews – So you’ve got a bad review. You have failed to mitigate a customer complaint. It’s not the end of the world and believe it or not; you can use that negative review to mitigate future complaints and even get rid of the review altogether. Google data shows that 33% of customers who received a reply from a business they negatively reviewed posted a positive review as a result and 34% deleted their original negative review. So it is very important to reply to any negative reviews your business may receive. 

4 – Do What you Say – Finally, it is very important as a contractor to live up to your promises. Never take on projects that you aren’t sure you will be able to complete on-time and within budget. Projects hit snags. Unforeseen issues arise on the job. It’s natural. But when they happen, communicate the issues to the customer clearly and promptly.

And of course, offering the best possible service you can is an effective method for mitigating customer complaints. For more helpful information and contractor resources, become a CSOA member today.

How to Tell if a Wall is Load Bearing (2020)

How To Tell if a Wall is Load Bearing (Blog Cover)

When people inquire about how to tell if a wall is load bearing, they often overlook several important factors. At Contractors Society of America, we don’t like to cut corners. Instead, we like to provide accurate and up-to-date information that helps individuals succeed in their ventures throughout the United States and abroad. We believe that knowledge should be shared to empower people like you to learn and grow in your profession or to perform DIY tasks in your home or commercial property.

So what’s the deal with these walls, anyway? A load bearing wall will handle the floor weight or roofing system of the property. Walls that do not bear loads hold only its own material. These walls are known most commonly as partition walls. Whenever a renovation takes place, the contractor or DIYer must determine whether their wall is in fact load bearing. Removing a load bearing wall mandates that structural integrity must be replaced and accounted for. If not, your entire property will collapse.

Here at Contractors Society of America, we have a comprehensive directory of roofing, remodeling, and construction contractors. So for this article, we surveyed our own members. We asked them what their best tips were for telling whether or not a wall is load-bearing with the naked eye. But let’s start with the basics.

Why is Identifying a Load-Bearing Wall Important?

As you have probably already gathered, a load-bearing wall is any wall in a structure that helps transfer the weight of the roof or upper floors down to the foundation. They essentially hold the structure up. So you can’t go tearing down load-bearing walls willy-nilly. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • It’s Very Dangerous – If you tear out load-bearing walls during renovation or remodeling, the roof could start sagging and eventually fail. A sagging roof is more prone to leaks, water damage and puts undue stress on the rest of the structure. In extreme cases, the entire roofing system could collapse putting everyone inside the structure in harm’s way and causing thousands of dollars in damage. 
  • You Could Incur a Fine – In almost all states, a permit is required to tear out any load-bearing walls. So if you tear one out without getting a permit, you could risk a hefty fine from the local building authorities. How would they find out you ask? While it’s true that you could probably get away with tearing down a load-bearing wall without a permit in most cases, you better hope that you never have to sell your house. A building inspection will surely reveal the absence of necessary load-bearing walls which among other consequences, could flag local building authorities and result in fines.
  • It Damages your Home – Removing a load-bearing wall doesn’t just put stress on the rest of the structure; it can have aesthetic repercussions as well. Removing a load-bearing wall will usually damage the drywall and ceilings under the weight of the roof. The whole structure will have to contort to a certain degree which almost always results in cracked drywall and ceiling stucco.

The consequences of removing a load-bearing wall are far-reaching. Doing so can affect your ability to sell your home, your wallet and can put you and your family in danger. Now that you know why being able to identify a load-bearing wall is important, let’s get into how to tell if a wall is load bearing.

Tips for Identifying a Load Bearing Wall

Before we begin, it cannot be stressed enough that when you are in doubt, you need to call a professional. While there are certain ways to identify a load-bearing wall yourself, it is always advisable to seek the help of a professional to be on the safe side. With that caveat addressed, here are some helpful tips on how to tell if a wall is load bearing provided by our expert community of contractors:

  • Check the Floor Joists – If possible, take a look at the studs in the wall in question. If the wall is aligned parallel to the floor joists of the above floor, then that wall is probably not load-bearing. But if it is aligned at a perpendicular angle to the floor joists of the floor above (or the roof) then it is most likely a load-bearing wall. But, keep in mind that walls that run parallel to above floor joists can still be load-bearing. If you can see that the wall in question has an above wall situated on top of it, it is load-bearing.
  • Check for Structural Walls – Engineers, architects, and contractors usually refer to load-bearing walls as “structural walls.” And the best way to locate the structural walls in your building is to refer to the blueprints. If you have your blueprints handy, then you have access to the easiest way to tell if a wall is load-bearing. If a wall is marked with an “S” in your blueprints, that means the wall is load-bearing. “S” in this case stands for “structural.” If you don’t have your blueprints, you can request them from the contractor who built your home or from the county clerk. 
  • Check the Foundation – If you have access to your foundation (usually through an unfinished basement) take a look at where the I-beams or multi-board wood beams are situated. Structural walls are usually built on top of these beams.
  • Check the Ceiling – If you can, take a look at any weight supporting beams that run through it. These beams are installed to help bear the load of the roof or upper floors and structural walls are usually built underneath them. If the wall in question does not run under this beam, under a wall in an above floor or any type of post, it is most likely not a load-bearing wall.
  • Check for Knee Walls – If possible, have a look around in your attic. In particular, check to see where, if anywhere, the knee walls are installed. In most cases, load-bearing walls are built underneath knee walls in the attic. 

Last but not least, please be aware that if the wall in question is an exterior wall, it is almost certainly a load-bearing wall. So definitely don’t go knocking down any wall that shares a side with your front, side or backyard.  We hope that you have found our guide on how to tell of a wall is load bearing helpful. For more helpful tips or for professional assistance with your renovation project, contact CSOA today.

6 Window Treatment Tips for Contractors

Window Treatment Tips (Blog Cover)

Looking for window treatment tips? As a contractor, it can be very difficult to meet the needs of your customers when they don’t know exactly what they want. Even worse is when they think they know what they want but their expectations are unrealistic. We hear this a lot from the construction and renovation contractors in our network: clients often overlook their own budgetary constraints and fail to look ahead to the finer details of home-building.

This usually results in delays in construction and at worst, conflicts with the contractor. So we talked to several of our contractors and picked their brains as to what makes a construction or renovation job go smoothly and surprisingly enough, one topic we heard over and over again from them was window treatments.

Window treatments almost always go overlooked by homeowners and investors. They are just one of those things that people don’t think about until they have bare windows staring them dead in the face. So today we thought we’d do two things: share some window treatment tips that contractors can use themselves and share some window treatment tips that contractors can impart to their clients to help jobs go smoother. Preparedness is essential to a job well done and a happy, loyal client so take a good look at these window treatment tips.

1) Plan Ahead of Time

Of course, things like flooring and roofing material should come first but you and your client should start thinking about window treatments as early as possible. Planning ahead will let the client see how far their dollars can really stretch, inform their window treatment decisions. 

2) Know your Options

There are a ton of options when it comes to window treatments and the average consumer isn’t aware of the array of choices until they start building or renovating their home. There are blackout curtains, sound dampening curtains, mini blinds, vertical blinds, plantation shutters, cellular shades, roller shades, motorized shades, and many other options to consider. As a contractor, you should take some time to familiarize yourself with the many choices that are available so you can help your client make a decision.

3) Plan at the Electrical Phase

If your client knows that he or she wants motorized shades, be sure that they know that there are a couple of different sup-options. Do they want battery powered or electrically powered motorized shades? If they want battery powered then there won’t have to be any electrical routing. But the disadvantage to battery powered motorized shades is that they need to be replaced often. Electrically powered motorized shades can be plugged into an outlet but there is even a downside to that method as well: you will most likely see a cord running from the shades to an outlet. The cleanest look when it comes to motorized shades comes when you run the electrical wiring of the cords inside the wall to a converter in the utility area of the property. If this is the option your client chooses, the best time to do the work is when you or the electrician is setting up the wiring for the entire house.

4) Wood Blocking

This one is strictly for the contractors. Before the drywall goes up, be sure to install wood blocks in between the framing where the window treatments are to be hung. Installing these blocks will make it easier to install a variety of window treatments and make the installations much more secure – as opposed to just hanging brackets on drywall alone.

5) Recessed Headers

A little of forethought can afford you the opportunity to utilize recessed headers for window treatments. Recessed headers offer a clean, seamless look to many types of window treatment. They essentially hide the top header of blinds and curtains so that all you see is the material. Recessed headers are also convenient for hiding any electrical wiring of motorized treatment products.

6) Know your Budget

This one can’t be stressed enough. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the typical prices of different types of window treatments so you can inform your client whether their selections are fiscally feasible or not. According to Homeadvisor, the average cost for window treatments is $602. But custom drapes and curtains can cost as much as $3,000 and that’s before installation. The average cost of motorized shades is $320 per unit before installation. Having the average prices of different window treatment options at the ready will help your client make a wise choice and help the job go as smoothly as possible.

For more window treatment tips, contractor resources or to become a member of our prestigious contractor’s network, contact us here at Contractors Society of America. Our business is to help contractors of all kinds operate, thrive, and remain safe so talk to us today!

7 Best Flooring Installation Tools

Flooring Installation Tools (Blog Cover)

Looking for the best flooring installation tools? Being able to get the job done efficiently and to the highest standards of quality as a flooring installation contractor is contingent on having the right arsenal of tools. Flooring is a specialized trade and as such, requires specialized tools. Whether you are a neophyte flooring installer just cutting your teeth in the trade or a seasoned contractor looking for the latest and greatest tools we have a list for you. We polled our very own community of professional flooring contractors to find out which tools they can’t go without, which they recommend for beginners and which flooring installation tools modern flooring contractors should have.

1) Pinless Wood Moisture Meters

You may have used pin meters in the past and are aware of the complications they present. First, they create holes in the wood. Secondly, they only measure as far as you are able to sink them into the wood. And of course, if the insulation on the pins is peeling or damaged, you will get inaccurate readings. But pinless meters use electromagnetic signals to penetrate into the wood and bring back a moisture content reading. Our experts advise that you also purchase a calibrator platform along with your pinless meter to keep it accurate.

2) Circular Saws

This is a tool that came up too many times to count when we asked our members “what flooring installation tools are absolutely essential?” Circular saws can be big and heavy, but having one on the job is a must. They allow you to cut lengths of hardwood, oriented strand board, tile and even masonry perfectly straight each time and allow you to do so quickly. Circular saws also allow you to cut panels at an angle for corner or specialty pieces.

3) A Good Trowel

Note the distinction here: a good trowel. The basic function of a trowel is to tamp down adhesive onto the subfloor evenly. But a good trowel will be one suited to your specific needs. Our experts suggest making sure that the trowel handle feels comfortable in your hands as you will be using it quite a bit. You will also need one with notches that suit your job. Quarter-inch V notches are advised for wood flooring adhesive. You will also want a trowel with a large plate. Somewhere around 11 inches is advisable.

4) The Right Finishing Material

Wood filler and wood putty are usually lumped together because they perform the same job but it is important to distinguish between them. Wood putty can only be used on oil-based flooring finishes. Wood filler is water-based so it dries very quickly. Naturally, the finish you are using will dictate which material you will have to use. In any case, it is advised to have a variety on hand to meet the needs of your customers and to be able to match the color of the finish as closely as possible.

5 ) Spacer Blocks

These little pieces of equipment often mentioned when we asked our members “what tool is essential but may be overlooked by beginners?” Spacer blocks are used to allocate space between the wall or baseboards and the flooring material. They make it much easier to leave the correct amount of room for hardwood expansion and contraction during installation.

6) Feather Boards

This is a very simple piece of equipment but it is essential to safety and can help you make smoother cuts when using a table saw. A feather board is used to push the flooring material into the table saw so you don’t have to risk getting your hands too close to the blade. They are also helpful for creating cleaner edges so you waste less wood material.

7) Concrete Relative Humidity Testers

This tool is very similar to the pinless meters that started our list, but they are used to test relative humidity and moisture content in concrete slabs. You need this kind of tester when you install floor coverings to measure moisture content. Too much moisture content can cause the adhesive to fail or warp over time. Concrete relative humidity testers with situ probes are recommended. 

We hope that you found our list of the 7 best flooring installation tools helpful. Please note that while there are a number of other essential flooring tools, this list focuses only on the installation aspect of the trade. For more information or to become a member, contact us here at Contractors Society of America

Should Contractors Advertise on Nextdoor?

Nextdoor Advertising (Blog Cover)

As a contractor, should you be advertising on Nextdoor? That question can be phrased in a different way: “Is local advertising important to your contracting business? The answer then becomes an emphatic, yes! Local advertising is absolutely critical to your contracting business because contracting is a local profession. The people in your city need to know about your company and your services. Take the following statistic into consideration: over 30% of all Google searches performed have local intent. That’s quite a revelation for those interested in online promotion.

But what is local intent? Local intent refers to searches that specify an area in direct proximity to the searcher. For example, “plumbers near me” is an example of a search with local intent. But what does any of this have to do with Nextdoor? In today’s post, we are going to show you why you need to utilize Nextdoor advertising in 2020.

What is Nextdoor?

At its heart, Nextdoor is a social media platform. But it isn’t like your Facebooks and your Twitters. It is a locally-focused social media network on which, members need to be verified as to their home address. Once someone verifies that they actually live in the area they claim to, they have access to a wealth of neighborhood resources such as message boards, community news, local business directories, and more.

But one of the most useful features of Nextdoor is the Local Recommendations page wherein real members of the community can review and highlight their favorite local businesses. There is also a forum on which members of the neighborhood can ask other members for recommendations for virtually any kind of service…including reliable contractors.

Why is Nextdoor Important for Advertising?

Nextdoor is very stringent with their verification process. They make it virtually impossible for people who don’t live in your area to infiltrate their online community. That means that all your advertising efforts on Nextdoor will go to the right people. 

The problem with careless ad campaigns is that money gets wasted on targeting the wrong market. The reason why Nexdoor advertising is so important for contractors is that all of your advertising dollars will be spent targeting people in your area. But you may be asking yourself a very important question at this point…

How Popular is Nextdoor?

Advertising on a platform that no one uses is pointless. But the numbers about Nextdoor don’t lie. According to App Annie, Nextdoor was the 9th most downloaded lifestyle app on Apple devices in 2019. To put that figure into a more tangible form, Vanity Fair reports that about 10 million people are active members of Nextdoor as of May 2020.

There are also 260,000 active neighborhoods on Nextdoor and growing. That is a lot of people using Nextdoor every day. There is no question about Nextdoor’s popularity and its viability as an advertising platform, but what else does it have to offer?

Nextdoor Reviews

Nextdoor allows its verified users to leave reviews of local businesses. And local reviews carry a lot of weight with consumers. According to a PR Newswire report, a colossal 97% of consumers will read reviews of a local business before making a purchasing decision. And according to Bright Local, 91% of the all-important millennial market trust online reviews as much as a word of mouth recommendations. And all the more if those reviews come from someone in their neighborhood.

And if you are worried about how active users are on Nextdoor in terms of giving recommendations, Business Wire reports that as of 2017, there were more than 17 million unique, user-generated local recommendations made. And the community has only become more active since then. 

The Big Caveat with Nextdoor

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the benefits of advertising on Nextdoor but these benefits come with a sizeable caveat: you have to have the money. If you are a local contractor you will be required to spend a minimum of $15,000 per month in advertising billings with Nextdoor. 

The reason for this is that most local business cannot generate the ad revenue that a social media platform as large as Nextdoor would need to cover costs. It is kind of ironic then that a locally focused network, by and large, cannot be sustained with the ad revenue of small local businesses.

The Bottom Line

The good news is that you don’t have to necessarily advertise in the traditional sense on Nextdoor to get seen by locals. By simply claiming your business on Nextdoor, you can put your business in front of the eyes of the people in your community. And if you treat your customers right and offer quality service, you will earn more recommendations and positive reviews. 

For more information on how you can advertise your business, contact us here at Contractor’s Society of America

Can I Repair Asphalt Roads During Cold Weather?

Can I Repair Asphalt Roads During Cold Weather?

You might wonder “can I repair asphalt roads during cold weather?” Whether you are a paving contractor just getting into the game or simply a concerned homeowner, you may have asked yourself at one point or another, “Can you patch asphalt in the winter?” In fact, as a contractor, this is an extremely important question. After all, you may want to shy away from a trade that you can’t work in when the temperature drops – especially if you live in the Northern climates. 

So right off the bat, to allay your fears and concerns, we here at Contractor’s Society of America want to say yes, you can repair asphalt roads during cold weather. But there are a few caveats that go along with this answer. Like many aspects of the trades, answers aren’t always as simple as “yes” or “no.” To help you better understand Winter asphalt repair and the questions that surround it, we have drawn from the vast pool of knowledge of our own members here at Contractor’s Society of America.

Can Winter Weather Damage Roads?

It’s important to first understand why asphalt roads and driveways seem to incur the most damage during the winter months. The science behind this phenomenon is actually very simple, actually. It has to do with the freezing and thawing cycles of winter. As precipitation ramps up during the winter months and rain soaks asphalt surfaces, the low temperatures freeze the rain. When water freezes, it expands. This expansion is what makes asphalt uneven and cracks it.

The problem gets worse when the frozen water thaws and re-freezes in the same spot. When the expansion and contraction process is allowed to occur multiple times in the same area of pavement, the damage gets worse.

And even when asphalt is able to avoid cracking due to freezing and thawing, the low winter temperatures can make it brittle. At that point, all that is needed to create a pothole or crack is a heavy vehicle to drive over it. 

Asphalt damage in the winter months is almost unavoidable but there is good news; asphalt damage can be repaired as soon as it occurs – even in the winter months.

Hot Mix and Cold Mix

“Can I repair asphalt roads during cold weather?” Yes and no. You can make patches and fix individual potholes in roads and driveways during cold weather. But if you are trying to repave an entire road in winter, good luck. To understand how you can repair asphalt damage in cold weather you need to understand the difference between cold mix and hot mix asphalt.

Hot mix asphalt has been around for ages. How mix is what is used to pave and repave entire roads because quite simply, it can be paved. As the name suggests, hot mix is transported and applied hot. Then, it Is paved over to a smooth finish. But when you try to apply hot mix in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it will not bond properly.

Cold mix was introduced in 1995 and revolutionized the paving industry. Cold mix performs well in cold temperatures but it cannot be paved. It is usually used straight out of the bag or container and tamped down with hand tools. Because of this, it is ideal for spot asphalt repairs in the winter but not for paving entire roads.

So you can make individual spot repairs of potholes and cracks during cold weather so long as you use cold mix asphalt.

Other Caveats

As you may have guessed by now, there are certain circumstances that would allow you to use hot mix asphalt (and therefore perform entire paving and re-paving jobs) in the winter. Hot mix asphalt will still adhere and pave correctly so long as the ambient temperature is 55 degrees Fahrenheit and rising. So if you do plan to do some repairs in January, you will have to plan the day very carefully. Not all the days in winter will be freezing cold but you have to make sure the day you plan your repairs is set to be 55 degrees or above for at least half the day. As such, the best time to start these projects will be just before noon.

Ask a Professional

You may have other questions about asphalt paving, such as how to clean asphalt, and other tips. While research is always helpful, sometimes you need the help of a professional to make the right call. Here at Contractor’s Society of America, we have the expertise and a brimming directory of professional contractors. We can help you answer any question and complete any project. Contact us today. CSOA aims to provide contractors with the most relevant and up to date information in the industry.

5 Asphalt Cleaning Tips for Contractors (2020 Update)

Asphalt Cleaning Tips for Contractors (Blog Cover)

If you are a paving contractor then you have probably heard the following question more than once: how do I keep my asphalt surfaces clean? You’ve probably been asked this by friends, neighbors, family members, and of course your customers. And as a contractor, you also know that there is no singular answer to this question. Asphalt stains are not universal. They come in all types and degrees of absorption. So there is no one answer that you can give to someone that will do the trick.

But here at Contractor’s Society of America, we pooled information from our members to compile a list of asphalt cleaning tips that you can utilize in your work and that you can share with people who ask you. There are lots of ways to deal with asphalt stains and some will work better in some instances than others. Check out our list of asphalt cleaning tips for 2020.

1 – Stop the Stain Before it Sets

If you have the opportunity, be proactive. As soon as you notice a spill on your asphalt surface try to soak it up before it absorbs into the asphalt. You can do this with a few different types of materials such as sawdust, shredded paper, baking soda, or kitty litter. For most contractors in the field, sawdust is probably the most plentiful and readily available absorbent you can find for free. Keep a supply of it in your truck just in case a spill occurs. If and when one does, spread the absorbent over the stain and let it sit for at least a few hours. This will give the absorbent time to soak up the stain before it can set into the asphalt. Then, sweep the absorbent material away. This method will not likely totally prevent a stain, but it will definitely make one less prominent.

2 – Pressure Washers

This tip is a bit controversial. You may get people who ask you “should I pressure wash my asphalt driveway?” and the answer seems to vary from contractor to contractor. Some contractors will say yes you should while others would say no you shouldn’t. So we want to clear this one up once and for all. Pressure washers can be a helpful tool for cleaning asphalt but only when used in the right circumstances and in the right sequence. That’s because in some cases, using a power washer at the outset of the cleaning can actually drive stains deeper. You should use pressure washers, but only before you have treated the stain with some sort of solvent, detergent or cleanser. Speaking of which…

3 – Use Cleaning Agents

One of the most effective ways to deal with asphalt blemishes in 2020 is still good old-fashioned elbow grease. A stiff-bristled broom or brush will be your best ally in the fight against asphalt stains. But you still need to pair it with a cleaning agent. One of the most effective methods we heard from our contractors is powdered laundry detergent. Sprinkle a liberal amount of powdered laundry detergent on the affected area and let it sit for 10-20 minutes. Then you can go to work with your stiff-bristled brush or broom, scrubbing at the stain. Another effective cleaning agent we heard about was a mixture of 1 part laundry detergent, 3 parts water, and one part bleach. Mix this concoction well and be very careful not to overdo the bleach. Create this mixture outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Then, work the mixture into the asphalt surface with your broom or brush.

4 – Commercial Degreasers

Tip number 4 is a great response to the question “how do you clean oil off asphalt?” Commercial degreasers are very effective for getting rid of oil stains in particular. That’s because there is a science behind them. The molecules in commercial degreasers essentially work to dislodge the oil from the water, making it easier to simply rinse away. One end of the molecule binds to the oil while the other end bonds to the water, effectively separating them. Commercial degreasers only need to be applied to the oil stain, allowed to sit for a while, and then simply rinsed away. 

5 – Pressure Washers

We’ve come full circle. The last of our asphalt cleaning tips for 2020 is to use pressure washers. Again, you should only use a pressure washer after you have pre-treated the stain and scrubbed it by hand with a stiff-bristled brush or broom. Once the stain has been unsettled or lifted a bit, then there is no risk that the pressure washer will blast it pack into the porous asphalt. A pressure washer will get all the broken up stain components out of the pores of the asphalt and wash them away. Our contractors recommended using an angled, slow sweeping motion when pressure washing. This will ensure that most of the stain is lifted out of the pores rather than just pounding it into them with a directly overhead angle. Basically, you don’t want to spray at a perpendicular angle with the surface but rather with more of a 45-degree angle with the surface.

Final Thoughts 

And of course, before any asphalt cleaning job, whether you are a contractor or a weekend warrior, you should completely clear the surface of the asphalt of loose debris. This should be done with a broom or a garden hose. Again, you may be tempted to just blast the debris away with a power washer and be done with it but this is not advisable. If you are going to use any water to clean the area, make sure it comes from a low powered garden hose.

We hope you have found our updated asphalt cleaning tips useful and insightful. It is always best to have a professional maintain your paved surfaces so get in touch with us here at Contractor’s Society of America to get professional help!

Why Contractor Safety is so Important in the Workplace

Contractor Safety Blog Cover

It should go without saying that contractor safety is important at all times. But seemingly menial considerations are being swept under the rug these days. This fact is demonstrated by the following statistic: the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are roughly 150,000 job site injuries that occur every year. So, as you can see, we are not the safety-conscious workforce that many people believe us to be. 

And while most contractors take the necessary safety precautions for themselves and their crews, there are certain things that you simply cannot anticipate. Evens still, there are a minority of contractors that actually don’t make safety a top priority. And here at Contractors Society of America, we consider it our duty to inform the contractors of this nation and bring to the forefront of their minds the top industry issues of the day. We offer a plethora of resources that are geared towards helping contracting business in the United States run more effectively, win more bids, do better work and stay safer.

So with today’s post, we thought we would reiterate why contractor safety is so important in the workplace. Contractor safety goes well beyond keeping your crew healthy and active; it’s about maintaining a profitable business as well. Take a look at just a few of the reasons why contractor safety is important in the workplace.

Customer Assurance

Having the faith of your customers can make or break your contracting business. In a report conducted by Marketing Charts, it was found that 8 in 10 consumers will patronize a business that they trust and that brand trust affects their patronage habits. One of the most effective ways to instill trust in the minds of your clients is by running a safe work site. No one wants to hire a company they think might cause an accident on the job. Likewise, the way a company treats its employees says a lot about trustworthiness in the mind of a customer. 

Therefore building trust through contractor safety is important to retaining customers, winning new bids and earning repeat business.

Compliance with Employee Safety

As a contractor, you will probably have to work in tandem with owner-employees at some point. We had an electrical contractor tell us a story about one such situation. This contractor company operates in the heart of California’s wine country. They were hired to run electricity about a mile and a half from the main facility to a field house. The client was a multi-national winery and it was a huge contract.

The job needed to be done in very short order and as such, the contractor’s employees were not briefed on the safety regulations of the winery. They were working side by side with winery employees who were wearing more safety gear and following stricter safety practices than that contracting team. This did not reflect well on the electrical contractor. Once the job was done, the winery did not work with the electrical contractor again even though the winery needed much more electrical work done.

The contractor lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in projects; all because he did not make sure his team was complying with company safety policies. This happens a lot with contractors. You will have to work in tandem with owner employees at some point and you will have to adhere to their regulations if you want to keep contracts.

Cost Control

When an owner undergoes a construction, renovation, or expansion project there is a lot that goes into cost calculation. One of those things is contractor safety. When an accident occurs on the worksite, the money to address it will not always come out of the pocket or from the insurance of the contractor. 

So when an owner s looking for a contracting company to help them complete their project, they will look at the safety record of the contractor to help them calculate costs. This is what is sometimes referred to as the cost of doing business. If your contracting company is perceived as “high risk,” even if an owner hires you, you may not make as much as you would on the project as if you were perceived as “low risk.”

Cost calculations take into account what is likely to happen throughout the course of the project since no one can tell the future. Therefore, the safety record of your contracting company could be the difference between a fatter bottom line and being paid pennies on the dollar for a project.

Maintaining A Quality Work Force

Finally, contractor safety is important to maintaining a skilled workforce that can go on to prevent worksite accidents. The truth is that it is already hard enough for contractors to keep a skilled and experienced work staff these days as interest in the trades is waning. In a recent study, 2,500 contractors were surveyed and 80% of them reported difficulty filling open skilled labor positions. 

There is already a shortage of experienced workers on the job market, so why take the risk of having one of yours injured and incapacitated? By ensuring safety for yourself and your team, you are ensuring continued quality. Your foremen will also be more experienced with safety regulations so keeping them healthy and on the job site will make every project they are a part of that much safer. In this sense, contractor safety perpetuates itself when it is maintained properly.

Your Safety is our Priority

And of course, contractor safety is important in the workplace because, well, it keeps you safe. The health, productivity, and prosperity of you, your crew, and your company is the greater good here. And we can help provide you with the resources you need as a contractor to maintain a high level of safety on the job site. 

Here at the Contractors Society of America, your safety and prosperity is our priority. Find out more about how we can help you today.