Employees: Assets? Liabilities? BOTH!

Employees:  Assets?  Liabilities?  BOTH!


“It Happened So Slowly That We Just Didn’t Realize It”


Davis Kelly is a second-generation masonry contractor who learned the craft from his father.  Over the years, he and his teams have worked as subcontractors to some of the largest general contractors in town and have completed countless projects across a wide variety of industries.  To say that Davis was living the American dream was pretty accurate.  He was fortunate enough to make a good living doing what he loves.

In the past, he had reliable crews and many of the tradesmen had been with him for at least a few years.  Lately, though, it seems that there have been a lot of new faces around the jobsites either due to injuries or workers simply moving on.  Still, Davis looked forward to going to work every day – that is until his workers comp renewal notice arrived!

‘Unaffordable’ and ‘Vital’ Are Like Oil and Water — They Just Don’t Mix!

It’s never fun to receive bills in the mail but when Davis saw that his workers comp insurance was going up by 40% for the coming year, he was alarmed to say the least! Davis knew that members of his crews had minor incidents here and there – things like back strains and cuts – but since his jobs never fell behind, he brushed them off as normal incidents of the trade.

Davis contacted his workers comp provider to get details.  Because his employees logged seven workers comp claims over the past year, their scoring went from 1.0 up to 1.5 (which, cost-wise, was a BIG deal!).  It turns out that the insurer was invested in Davis’s business only enough to process the claims and pay the bills that came in without helping to manage or mitigate claims – and they definitely didn’t provide any type of education to prevent claims from happening in the first place.  Since each claims handler juggles several hundred claims at any given time, it wasn’t surprising that they couldn’t do more but Davis sure wished he had realized that sooner.  In a nutshell, his work comp carrier was an insurance provider but not an insurance partner.

Losing Money & Losing Sleep!

Davis painfully wrote a check for the 40% higher insurance premiums because he had to keep his company operating.  What became his new #1 priority was to find a true partner who could help to un-do some of the damage that had already been done.  To add insult to injury, Davis learned that because of the elevated rating from his workers comp carrier, his company was no longer eligible to put their name in the hat with many of the large G/Cs that they had worked with in the past.  Now, not only was he paying extremely high insurance premiums but the money that used to come in the door was now trickling away because they couldn’t win jobs.  Davis was losing money and he was losing sleep – lots of both!

Solutions Found Through Allies

Thomas, a friend, recommended a company called BBSI to Davis.  “My wife’s company works with BBSI and they are like Johnny-on-the-Spot in helping her with insurance things,” said Thomas.  “Then, when my company needed a partner to help us with some of the HR issues we were having, BBSI also had expertise in that area so we went with them and it has completely changed the way we manage our people and our business.  You should give them a call, Davis.  Maybe they can help you with this insurance mess.”

Davis scheduled time with BBSI.  He explained his company’s current situation and how they had gradually dug themselves into a hole because no one was actually monitoring claims, reaching out to them with periodic reports, or instituting any preventative measures on the front end.  BBSI explained that they would assign a Risk Manager who would work directly with Davis’s Risk Manager and their front line employees to strengthen the company’s risk management protocols.  BBSI also explained that their HR Manager would work with Davis’s team to strengthen their HR programs and compliance which would synergize different parts of the company so that everyone was singing from the same song sheet and working together toward the same – profitable – goals.

Comes The Dawn

Davis signed up with BBSI and their new-and-improved plan immediately began to take shape.  Davis’s company saw more efficient payroll procedures, stronger HR protocols, and increased risk management which meant that workers comp claims were dropping!  Suddenly, Davis found that he was able to invest a lot more time working with his team and building the company than spending so much time and energy holed up in his office worrying how the company was going to rebound.

Several months passed and Davis was beginning to see real light at the end of the tunnel.  Because of the programs that Davis instituted with BBSI, his company actually saved $40,000 over the course of the first year in top-line costs alone.

Goal-Setting, Teamwork & Keeping Everyone’s Eyes On The Ball

The company as a whole set a goal of reducing workers comp claims for the coming year.  Days ticked by without any incidents…then weeks…and eventually months went by without any new claims being filed.  Not only were Operations and H.R. taking notice — the insurance company was also taking notice!  By the second year’s renewal time, the company’s insurance premium had dropped by 25%.  When their rating finally dropped below the magical 1.0, Davis’s company was again able to go after contracts that they were previously excluded from.

With company revenues on the rise and increased profits, Davis was able to reflect on the changes they had made.  One of the biggest wins for the company was that Davis and his employees were now paying more attention to safety.  The training that hiring managers received about how to hire and terminate employees – and how to hire better in the first place – has increased retention and cut the company’s onboarding costs significantly.  The icing on the cake is that the newly-instituted HR protocols helped to create a team environment and strengthen the company culture vs. the divisive us-vs-them mentality that had started to rear its ugly head.

By spending more time with clients and vendors, Davis was able to strengthen those relationships.  Three years into their retooling efforts, Davis’s company has increased revenues by 43%.  As he turns the lights off in his office on a Friday afternoon and heads toward the weekend, Davis realizes that the American dream is once again alive and well and living within his masonry company.



This article was contributed to the National Franchise Institute by Knight Hinman with BBSI  (303) 929-9946.

MILLENNIALS: Who Do We Think We Are? (Part 1 – Millennials As People)

MILLENNIALS:  Who Do We Think We Are?

The 1st in a 5-Part Series:  What Restaurateurs & Business Owners Need to Know About Millennials


Who among us hasn’t rolled our eyes a time or two when the topic of Millennials comes up?  While I would love to say that my eye rolls are subtle, wishful thinking simply doesn’t make that so.  “Engaging Millennials” was the featured topic of a recent Twitter Chat that I participated in with Modern Restaurant Management.  Being a Baby Boomer and the mother of two Millennials myself, I had my own opinions (and, dare I say, concerns) about Millennials and their approach to work, play, and life in general.


While opinions can be great, I wasn’t invited to simply give my opinion but to be a panel expert.  How was I possibly going to be able to do that?!?  If I gave my opinion, I would feel justified but jaded.  If I gave the politically-correct answer, my eyes would probably roll right out of my head.  I owed myself, the Tweeters, and Modern Restaurant Management better than that.  My goal was to do a bit of first-hand research, hoping to impart some wisdom to the restaurateurs and business owners who serve and employ Millennials.


My daughter and her boyfriend were just getting ready to enjoy Happy Hour drinks with a group of friends when I called and asked to interview them.  I’m happy to say that they indulged my request.  A couple hours later, I was armed with expert-worthy commentary and a newfound appreciation for at least some of the quirks that make Millennials a generation unto themselves.


As you might guess from its name, Modern Restaurant Management focuses on restaurants and, therefore, so did my interview questions.  If you are a business owner – and especially a restaurateur – keep reading!  You — and possibly even your employees — may acquire a different appreciation for Millennials and may even develop a new strategy or two for Engaging Millennials.

Part 1:  Millennials As People

One thing that distinguishes Millennials from other demographics is that they have their own way of doing things and proudly attest that they live in their own world.


Millennials want to be different from their parents’ generation, especially when it comes to equality.  When I heard the word ‘equality’, my eyes were rolling in my head like a pinball wildly hitting the bumpers.  Of course they want equality – they want to start at the top of any company and they want to be paid a salary equivalent to what it took their parents twenty years to work up to!  Imagine my surprise when I was corrected.  Millennials’ definition of equality specifically relates to race, gender, and religion and it is one of their highest priorities as a generation. 


“We are very accepting on purpose.  Adults (i.e., our parents’ generation) see and comment on differences; Millennials choose not to.  An example is that adults see tattoos and form opinions/stereotypes (which are often wrong) about the people who have them.  We are the ones who don’t care what color you are, if you’re gay or straight, etc.  We want equality and inclusiveness.  We like and want more of “anything goes”.  If a gay person walks into a restaurant, we want them treated like a customer.  If we see that a restaurant’s employees are blatantly or even subtly disrespectful to any customer, that’s a huge problem.  Not only do we notice it, we spread the word to all of our friends and tell them to not go to a particular business.”




Because they still have good eyesight, Millennials look up EVERYTHING on their phones.  If your online presence is outdated, non-existent, or is not mobile-friendly, you could be missing out on a lot of customers.


Social media sharing is important to Millennials.  “If someone Tweets about enjoying nachos at Taco Bell, others are more likely to also go to Taco Bell,” is a direct quote from a Millennial.  Another direct quote:  “Companies need to have a cause or purpose (beyond making a profit) that resonates with us.  If there is a deal on something, in this case it was an animal shelter that was doing free adoptions for dogs over 3 years old, I shared it.”


“Be very careful how your PR is handled,” are words of wisdom imparted by one of the Millennials I spoke with.  Most people are well aware that social media can be a business owner’s best friend or its worst enemy.  Millennials are proud of their contributions to the social media frenzy and freely boast that “it takes one bad event for Millennials to stop coming to your restaurant.”  Millennials post pictures and videos.  If there is hair in their food, or if they see racism or bad behavior toward a customer, they will use social media to let the world know not only about the incident but also how it was handled.  What this means is that whatever is shareable, good or bad, it is going to get shared – possibly a lot! 


Millennials value experience and quality of life over money.  Not that money isn’t important — and we’ll talk about the consumer spending habits of Millennials in Part 2 of this series — it’s just that Millennials, unlike many of their parents, work to live rather than live to work.  Because they value experience and they tend to do things in groups, if one person in the group has a good experience and either tweets about it or writes an online review, others within the group are likely to join in.  Obviously if their comments are favorable, your business can exponentially benefit.  The pendulum swings both ways so a less-than-favorable experience can cause a domino effect in the opposite direction.  Depending on the circumstances, the effect on your business’s sales can be short-lived, sustaining, or potentially even fatal.  The good news is that Millennials feel they are helping everyone as they share their experiences.  Just as with previous generations, people like to tell their friends about great places they have visited so their friends can do the same.  People also like to spare their friends from the same fate if their experience was not quite up to snuff.  In an evolutionary way, Millennials provide the latest version of word-of-mouth advertising — 2.0, if you will.

Stay tuned for future articles in this series

  • Part 2 – Millennials as Consumers
  • Part 3 – Marketing to Millennials
  • Part 4 – Millennials as Employees
  • Part 5 – Millennials as Business Owners

Top 5 Tips For Opening A Successful Franchise Location

Top Five Tips To Opening A Successful Location

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 3.25.32 PMWe know that it can be scary to think about opening up a new location for your franchise!  You want it to be successful and you’ll do whatever you need to do in order to make that happen.  At the National Franchise Institute, we know there are a few key things you need to focus on to be successful and we want to lay those out today.  When you are successful with these five aspects of your business, you can have the confidence that your franchise is going in the right direction!

1.  Get Your Financial Ducks in a Row – Financing is the Fuel That Fires   the Engine!

o   This is as close to ‘Step #1’ as you can get.  You can go to a car dealership and fall in love with the most incredible car imaginable but if you can’t get financing for it, the car sits on the showroom floor!  If your goal is to build a new location and you are not sitting on a pile of unencumbered money, get funding NOW!!

2.  Hire the Right Team – There is Only So Much of YOU to Go Around!

o   What tasks can only be done by YOU?

  • Who is best suited to hire the employees for your new location?  YOU!
  • Who is best suited to train the employees you hire?  YOU!
  • Who is best suited to scour the town to find available real estate locations?  NOT YOU!

o   Whether it is real estate, construction management, or legal representation, the time and money you save in the long run by hiring experts in key areas far exceeds the investment in their services.

o   Avoid the ‘friends and family’ discount or the ‘favors’ of hiring relatives.  Your holidays will never be the same…EVER!


3.  Know Your Costs – A Ready-FIRE-AIM Approach Can Be Deadly!

o   Establish a clear target that takes hard costs, soft costs, and contingencies into account.

o   Frugality is good but cutting the wrong corners seldom ever leads to lower overall development costs.

o   Beware the urge to shoot first (spend money) and aim later (attempt to estimate a budget without knowing all of the variables).  Shooting yourself in the foot isn’t fatal but it sure hurts a lot!


4.  Know Your Development Timeline – Time is ALWAYS Money!

o   An ounce of prevention is sage advice — waiting too long always costs more

o   Not acting when the time is right can also be a detriment.

o   Due diligence is your friend.  You may not like or agree with the zoning and permitting requirements but you can be sure that you will live (or die) by them.


5.  Cover Your Assets – It’s Not About What You MAKE, But What You KEEP!

o   Insurance covers the expected and the unexpected, yet problems cannot be solved by insurance alone.

o   Iron sharpens iron.  Your advisors – you know, the ones who see ten steps ahead of you – are another form of insurance.  Their expertise prevents the wrong money from going out the door!

o   Prepare, trust, and follow your business plan – it is your roadmap for ending up at the right destination:  OPEN FOR BUSINESS!


You may have noticed that each of these five tips focus on the concept of planning ahead!  At the National Franchise Institute, we believe in the power of preparation in order to be successful.  We know that when you take time to prepare and focus on these five aspects of business, you will find success for your franchise!

To your success…

Carolyn Miller