Monthly Archives: April 2010

Summer ideas for home, yard, and garden

As summer continues its welcome approach—and we in the Pacific Northwest are reminded that the sun is more than legend—home repairs and improvements occupy the minds of both homeowners and renters. It’s the perfect season for those with a green thumb or who fancy themselves handy with a hammer. And there are plenty tasks and jobs to keep both busy. From shingles to shrubbery, these tips will help even the most novice handyman tackle home, yard, and everything in between:

  • A great place to start any home project—the garage. While potentially scary, think of it as a quest. The mission—organize, clean, and potentially sanitize. An organized garage yields space and storage, even treasure. Of course, said treasure may consist of burned-out Christmas lights and busted lawn chairs, but there could be excellent garage-sale material. Either way, a well-organized garage can serve as base camp for further home improvements.
  • Start from top to bottom. Examine roof and gutters for any winter-inflicted damage. Broken tiles, shingles, and leaky gutters all require TLC. Also, make a point to look for any peeling paint on trim or woodwork. These patches should be scraped, primed, and re-painted to protect wood from summer heat, sun, and moisture.
  • Check any driveways and paved paths for cracks or splits. It’s a minor detail, but they can present a hazard when entertaining outdoors. Ensure they’re adequately filled so no one trips and falls. A party can be memorable if it concludes in a trip to the ER, but usually not in a good way.
  • Decks and porches should be thoroughly inspected. Loose railings and nails and rotted boards or steps require attention. It’s also advisable to clean outdoor deck and patio furniture.
  • Plant some pansies. Flowers are a great, inexpensive way to beautify your home. Gardening is great for curb appeal and has therapeutic value, too. Be sure to remove any weeds or dead foliage before planting. That way, new growth is protected from disease or damage. Shrubs and small trees are also fine additions to any lawn and, depending on the species, can be relatively low maintenance.

Summer can inspire us to do many things, and if assessing your insurance happens to be one of them, give us a call. Whether it’s coverage review or a free quote—like a Washington state homeowners insurance quote—we can help with all your insurance needs. An independent insurance agency, we are licensed in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Arizona.

Erin Stork, Homer Smith Insurance

Salon business yields stylish benefits

The beauty industry has seen recessions and meltdowns on Wall Street, yet has staunchly survived. Even through the Great Depression. When almost every unnecessary comfort was cut from life, many women still had their hair done. It was the only small luxury they allowed themselves. Consequently, hairdressers kept their jobs. My great-grandmother was a hairdresser in the 1930s and was able to feed and clothe her family when so many could not.  

The same is proving true today. More services are available now more than ever, and the industry is benefitting. According to Nails Magazine’s 2009 Industry Statistics, $6.06 billion was earned by nail salons alone, off by only five percent from the previous fiscal year. For 2009, that’s pretty remarkable. In light of how many businesses and industries saw crippling losses, that small of a percentage is huge.

The Industry Statistics also found that of the employees surveyed, the vast majority, 42.9%, have been doing nails for ten years or more, a huge testament to the staying power of a beauty industry career. The benefits of employment in a steady field are obvious, but employees—especially hair stylists—enjoy a plethora of other benefits. Becoming self-employed is a simple prospect, work atmosphere can be either salon or home, and the freedom and flexibility of the career path enables employees to control their jobs. No corporate big-wig decides their fate, which is perhaps the biggest perk of all. Talent, charisma, and a bit of business savvy trump any office politics or bureaucratic rhetoric. The “bottom line” does not always apply.

For all your Washington state salon insurance needs, contact Homer Smith Insurance. Send us an e-mail, visit our website, or call us directly at 888-433-0031. An independent agency, we specialize in helping salons get the insurance they need.

Erin Stork, Homer Smith Insurance

Customer’s shifting spending habits

Salons have noted that clientele’s needs are changing. While many customers still view cuts and styling as essentials, on the beauty menu’s array of options, non-essential treatments are garnering less business. The frequency of client appointments is changing as well. The Professional Beauty Association’s report on these alterations is important to know for enterprising stylists and salon owners alike.   Some services have taken hits, but the basics are still as popular as ever:

  • Contrary to cuts, facials and massages—which can run on average $80 and $70, respectively—are luxuries customers are more willing to forgo. An hour of relaxation comes at a price. With a slew of at-home facial products, oils, and body creams, a do-it-yourself attitude can take charge.
  • This same trend is appearing with coloring. Instead of sitting in the salon chair for the full treatment, clients color their own hair and have it professionally cut. Though some are admittedly better than others, at-home hair care and coloring products can supplement salon visits.
  •  Not surprisingly, this trend corresponds to appointment frequency. Instead of monthly, clients may visit their salon every other month. Some are even willing to let a beauty school student cut their hair. Students don’t have the experience or expertise of a stylist, but they can be friendlier to the wallet.
  • Manicures and pedicures remain popular services, but as with cuts and colorings, they are less frequent. The at-home product trend also applies to nails. Customers alternate between store-bought and professional manicurist/pedicurist services.

Though these trends spell change for salons, it must be said that stylists boasting a strong client base are not losing them. Many stylists are devising creative ways to actually increase their clientele through a mix of business management and marketing savvy. Read our next blog for ideas on adapting to these emerging trends.

For your Washington state salon insurance needs, contact Homer Smith Insurance. Visit our website, send us an e-mail, or call directly: 888-433-0031. An independent insurance agency, we can help you and your salon get the coverage you need with a free quote or review of your current coverage.

Erin Stork, Homer Smith Insurance

Help win $100,000 for Adventuress!

Adventuress is one of only twenty-five historic sites in the Puget Sound region competing for up to $100,000 in the Partners in Preservation grant program.

It’s all about who gets the most votes, and we need YOU!

For one month, April 15 to May 12, we need you to cast your vote daily and help keep Adventuress sailing for generations to come.

Additionally, each time you vote, you can enter to win a Free Sail for 45 people aboard Adventuress.

Just go to www.votefortheboat.com.

Thanks a million!

P.S. Please help us spread the word! Tell your friends, post on Facebook, and go to www.votefortheboat.com to download flyers and order our cool T-shirts.

Avoiding the insurance scam, Part II

Insurance scams can be big business. High premiums and unemployment leave many considering their current policies. This is where phony providers—with their health discount and limited benefits plans—step in. Promises of low premiums for optimum coverage take advantage of many but go unfulfilled when needed. For consumers, needless to say, this is a problem. But if the consumer is informed, these scams reap less. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud’s website,


www.insurancefraud.org


, has a wealth of information on scams great and small.

 

As promised, here are more tips to help wage the fight against fake insurance:

 

  • Universal acceptance. Phony providers will admit everyone into their life and health insurance plans, no questions asked, even those with pre-existing conditions. They don’t intend to honor any potential claims; so long as the premium is paid, they’re happy.

 

  • Ridiculously low premiums compared to competitors. It may be wonderful to reduce your premium, but you’d sacrifice coverage despite what they tell you. Legitimate insurance companies cannot afford to stay in business with almost non-existent premiums. When the premium isn’t proportionate to the benefits and coverage given, a scam isn’t far away.

 

  • Research insurance providers. Ask for references from current clients. Any avoidance on this front will be a major clue. If they are unwilling to provide references, they have skeletons they would prefer to keep in the closet. Don’t add yours to the collection.

 

  • Asking for personal information. Any company that presses for your bank account number, credit card information, or even Social Security number could be trouble. If you have any nagging doubts, get advice from a reputable insurance agent—like those at Homer Smith—who can help you make an informed decision.

 

At Homer Smith Insurance, we can help you get the insurance coverage you need. Serving the insurance needs of Washington since 1950, we are also licensed in Oregon, California, Nevada, and Arizona.

 

Erin Stork, Homer Smith Insurance

Rules and wisdom for living in earthquake country

With the world shaken by so many earthquakes in the past months, the West Coast has once again focused its eyes on the ground. Geologists and scientists agree that a large earthquake lies in the future. Especially for those of us in the Pacific Northwest. When exactly it will happen, they don’t know—a comforting truth—but we can prepare for when it does.

There are several important steps households can take toward earthquake preparation. Identifying and correcting any potential hazards, such as loose windows, potentially breakable objects, or unsteady furniture, can help eliminate injuries during an earthquake. A disaster plan, complemented by a disaster kit, also aids in earthquake preparation. 

What is perhaps most important to remember is what to do during the earthquake itself. Drop, cover, and hold is the age-old advice learned in primary school, and it turns out to be a sage piece of wisdom. The moment shaking begins, drop to the floor on hands and knees and take cover under any sturdy surface. A desk or a table is ideal. Kneeling against an interior wall will also work, covering neck and head with arms and hands. Whatever the shelter, hold onto it until the shaking ceases. If the table or desk moves with the earthquake, move with it. Once the shaking has ceased, go carefully to a safe area.

Those are the dos, but the earthquake don’ts are just as crucial. One key rule—don’t ever assume they’re over. Aftershocks are common and can be powerful. Don’t kneel next to exterior walls, windows, mirrors, large appliances, hanging objects, or kitchen cabinets. Standing in doorways, despite popular belief, is also not a good idea (they offer no protection from any airborne objects and are difficult to hold on to). Also, do not run outside. Moving while the ground shakes is difficult and could cause more injuries than if one just stayed put.

Earthquakes are scary prospects no matter how well-prepared a household. Something that can give security is a Washington state earthquake policy. We can provide free quotes for earthquake insurance and coverage advice. Send us an e-mail or call directly at 888-433-0031. An independent insurance agency, we are licensed in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Erin Stork, Homer Smith Insurance