Why good customer service is essential

The best small businesses will excel in many areas, but the most critical quality for long-term success is having exemplary customer service, according to Entrepreneur Magazine.

Corporate giants like Amazon have risen to the top based on their value of providing genuine satisfaction to their customers and continuing to evolve within an ever more competitive market. Jeff Bezos states that Amazon not only wants to meet customers’ expectations but that they actively try to solve problems they don’t even know they have yet.

Keeping a customer through excellent customer service is much cheaper than acquiring new customers through advertising or sales teams. Customers that are happy with a transaction also have around a 60-70 percent chance that they will buy something in the future. When a customer is treated poorly, however, they are more likely to return products, tell their friends and family about their negative experience, and even feel obligated to seek legal compensation.

On the other hand, one fan of a business can help convert many more people through word-of-mouth advertising, and when enough people agree that a company is good, it will attract strangers that are buying based purely on reputation.

Employees, aware of how owners treat their customers, are more likely to take pride in their work.

Options for refinancing with credit card debt

If you are thinking about refinancing your home, but concerned about your credit card debt, know that you do have options, but your situation needs to be clarified.

You’ll need to qualify for the new mortgage and that means your credit should be in order. You’ll have to document your income, assets and debts and prove you can make the payments on the new loan.

You must have enough equity in your house to refinance your mortgage and cover your outstanding credit card debt.

If you have owned your home for some years, you might have some happy news about your home value. Home prices have been rising in many locales and homeowners often find they have more equity than they thought.

If you have sufficient equity, then you could do a cash-out refinance. That means you refinance your mortgage for more than you owe and take the difference in cash.
You’ll need at least 20 percent equity to do a cash-out refinance.

It is likely that your new interest rate on a cash-out refinance will be higher than your current one, since interest rates are rising. If that is the case, then you might consider a home equity loan or a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).

A home equity loan has a fixed interest rate on a lump sum of cash.

A HELOC works like a credit card secured by your house. Like a credit card, you have a credit limit that you can spend up to. The interest rate on a HELOC moves up and down with the prime rate.

Most experts agree that for short-term purposes, such as paying off credit cards, a home equity loan or HELOC can be better. That’s because you will pay off those loans faster and not be locked into a higher interest rate for 20 years (or whatever the life of your mortgage is).

The seller’s inspection: Inspecting a home before listing can be a good move

You take good care of your home and when you are ready to sell, why have it inspected? After all, the buyer will have an inspection before the deal.
Should you save the $350 to $500 it costs to have an inspection and hope for the best?

Maybe not. It might well pay for a seller have a home inspection before they list.

Sellers who have owned a home for some years might not recognize problems that have cropped up. If they were to keep their home, they would eventually discover and fix these issues. But, during the sale process, home issues can be a nasty surprise and delay or even kill a deal.

The business of selling a home and buying a new one is tricky enough but when a good offer is on the table, at just the time they are buying a new home, sellers don’t want the deal to fall through. Since most deals are contingent on inspection, a potential buyer can always opt out if their own inspection uncovers issues. That starts the sale process over in a big way, with the seller being forced to address problems and the buyer potentially moving on.

Inspectors take a close look at the home’s inner health in 10 areas: Interior and exterior, structure, roofing, plumbing, electrical, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and fireplaces.

These detailed evaluations can identify the kind of problems that are easily fixed, but might cost the seller money and delays after the buyer’s inspection.

On roofs, for example, inspectors study shingles, flashings, roof drainage, skylights and chimneys. A seller might not want to put on a new roof, but repairing the flashings and roof gutters puts your house in a solid light. Buyers might not expect a new roof, but they don’t want to find leaks.

There are a variety of specific things that a home inspection can look for, depending on individual concerns. For example, a radon inspection checks a home for levels of radioactive gas and takes between two and seven days to complete. Termite inspection looks for damage to the wood structures of a home. With homes that have a well for water, well water testing is another option; for homes with a septic or oil tank, examination of those structures may be part of an inspection as well.

A general inspection should consider the condition of the roof, the water pressure and plumbing, electrical outlets and switches, and the crawl space and attic, according to HGTV.

How Much Auto Insurance Do You Need?

Here in Cypress, TX, you need to make sure that you at least have the minimum required auto insurance as dictated by state laws. However, here at InsureUS, we know that this amount is not always the best indicator of determining exactly how much you need in coverage. There are several things to consider when you are getting auto insurance and ways to lower the cost as long as you have the minimum coverage required by law. 

The first thing that you want to consider when you are determining how much auto insurance you need for your vehicle is the cost to replace or repair your vehicle. If you have a vehicle that is a new model or even one that is a bit more expensive than your average vehicle, you want to at least have coverage that can replace your vehicle if it were to be totaled or to repair it if you are in an accident. Next, you want to make sure that you can cover the deductible on the coverage. You should think about the deductible amount and make sure that you can pay that at the drop of a hat. If you cannot, you may want to lower the deductible on your coverage. If you can, you may want to increase the deductible for as much as you can pay for out of pocket because this will lower your monthly amount. 

If you are in the market for auto insurance and want to make sure you get the right amount above the minimum requirements, be sure to reach out to us here at InsureUS, serving Cypress, TX. We will make sure that you get the policy that meets your needs and also fits well within your budget and law. 

How and why mortgage interest rates rise (or fall)  

The rate on a mortgage loan is often the most significant factor in how much an owner will ultimately pay for their home.  Monetary policy, market inflation, and the overall economy all play apart in determining when it rises and falls, according to Nerd Wallet. Currently, the United States is experiencing remarkably low rates by historical standards, below five percent in most cases, that contrast harshly with those in the high teens during the early 1980’s. In this country, the Federal Reserve is the foundation of most of the traditional lending system due to their setting of the federal funds rate – the interest rate that banks must charge each other for short-term loans. This base rate then influences longer-term rates between banks, businesses, and personal borrowers like those looking for a 30-year mortgage. During times of expected inflation, the Federal Reserve is likely to raise these rates to protect the value of the dollar by keeping prices in check at the expense of increasing the cost of borrowing money for everyone. These rates can have a compounding ripple effect throughout the economy as well, as businesses will be less likely to want to borrow money for investment when their interest payments become larger than the potential payoff. Slowing business can mean layoffs, suspended raises, and make potential home purchasers less sure about their financial future and ability to afford payments. Often, the housing market and overall economy will move through cycles of low-to-high interest rates that can be impacted by political changes, global events, and natural scarcity of resources. Anyone in the market for a new home should be paying attention to the current mortgage rates as even a fraction of a percentage point can have a dramatic impact on how much they will pay over the life of the loan. Using a 30-year, $300,000 loan as an example, someone with a four percent interest rate will pay a total of $515,609 while someone with a five percent loan will pay $579,767.

Online lending is a boon to small business funding

Small businesses have found that online lending platforms can be a reliable alternative to the traditional banking sector and received nearly $10 billion in loans from these sources between 2015 and 2017, according to a study by NDP Analytics. Access to capital is one of the most significant hurdles that new and small businesses face to get off the ground or expand their operations and traditional small business loans have been in decline since 1995. The research showed that for every dollar borrowed, business sales increased by $2.31 meaning that the $10 billion investment led to approximately $37.7 billion in economic output along with an estimated 358,911 jobs created.

Major players in the online space, including Kabbage and OnDeck, saw a fifty percent jump in their loan issues during this time and the vast majority of those borrowing had sales of less than $500,000. The companies used the funds to produce more inventory, cover payroll, and invest in equipment and more extensive facilities during critical moments in their growth path. The average business borrowed $55,498 which shows that most are not overleveraging with their decision to take on debt to move forward.

Online lenders provide many advantages for small businesses compared to traditional institutions such as offering smaller loans with shorter terms, making credit decisions and access to cash extremely quick, and allowing payments and most business to be conducted through an online portal. These options will enable a company to be more nimble in how they approach financing and to find the terms that best suit their particular operation.