I received a telephone call from a motorcoach company today and the owner advised that they had had a multi-bus collision over the weekend. He advised that he had already reported it to his insurance company and his insurance agent. He wanted to know what I would recommend doing after this accident.
All of the buses involved in the accident were owned by this company and they were driven by company drivers as a shuttle service. All the buses were following each other; the accident occurred because the first driver had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting another vehicle and this resulted in the other three buses rear ending each other. There was damage to all vehicles. The owner stated that his insurance company had asked how many passengers were on each of the buses. Since this was a shuttle service, there was not an accurate count of the number of passengers on each bus.
What to Do Now
There are a couple of lessons we can learn from this situation. First, when you have multiple vehicles following each other on a trip, it is a good idea to leave enough space between each vehicle, so there is not a possibility of a multi-vehicle collision. Second, even though they were operating a shuttle, the drivers could have kept a headcount. Using a simple counting device as passengers enter the vehicle can help your insurance company know how many potential claims they are facing.
We also discussed the importance of maintaining evidence. Remember, the goal after an accident is to “freeze time.” You don’t want to have a claim for spoliation of evidence on top of all the other claims. I advised the owner to make sure that he makes a complete copy of the driver files and maintenance files. He advised that he had his drivers complete a drug and alcohol test immediately after the accident and that was the right thing to do. I also suggested that he tell his drivers to be prepared to have their phone records reviewed and their social media accounts reviewed. More than likely, this type of accident will involve some type of attorney and they generally review that type of information.
I also suggested that the owner talk to all of the drivers and make sure that they only speak to the insurance company representative. I further recommended that the drivers should notify the owner immediately if anyone tries to contact them about the accident and for the owner to verify that the contact is from his insurance company. You don’t want to have your drivers giving a recorded statement to someone other than your insurance company. It’s also a good idea to advise your drivers in this type of situation to cooperate with your insurance company’s investigation.
Remember, to avoid these types of accidents don’t follow too close. Try to maintain some type a headcount on each vehicle to help your insurance company understand how many potential claims they may have. Maintain records that are pertinent to the investigation and cooperate with your insurance company’s investigation.
Here’s something most marketing folks don’t want you to know:
SEO isn’t magic. There is no button to press to put you at the top of search results. Anyone who tells you otherwise is not worth your time, or your money.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the amount and quality of user traffic to your website through organic search engine results. The goal of SEO is that when someone does a web search for a service or product that you provide, your company is at the top of the list. Think of the last time you searched online for a product or service. Perhaps you searched for an electrician nearby. When you type in “electrician near me,” the search engine provides you with the most relevant results it can find. For example, the top results may include the electrician around the block from you, a handyman service that does electrical work, and a rating site like Yelp or Angie’s List. These results are designed to help you find what you are looking for. Chances are, you are not going to see an electrical company that started business last week or the utility company that services your home; these results have been deemed irrelevant to your search and are omitted.
So how does the search engine know which results to show? That’s where SEO comes in. These results are based on several variables including distance from your search, user reviews, and relevance. For the purposes of this article, we are going to forget about location data since this information is collected automatically based on your published business address. That leaves user reviews and relevance as the determining factors for your search engine results.
When your company is providing goods or services, the feedback from your customers is crucial. Were they satisfied with your product? Did they have a hard time reaching you to resolve a complaint? This feedback from actual customers in the form of internet reviews can drastically impact your company’s performance online. If your company has no reviews, or mostly negative reviews, a search engine most likely will not give you first preference. Instead, the search engine will present a competitor with higher ratings, since other people have recommended that service or product.
What You Can Do
Ask your customers for their feedback! Ask for a review on Google, Amazon, Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, or whatever platform is relevant to your industry. If you receive positive feedback, great! If you receive negative feedback, reach out to the customer. Can you make it right and win them back? Often a negative review can turn into a positive review by simply addressing the concern and making it right for the customer. Do your best to get feedback from as many customers as you can, as often as you can. Remember, one bad review out of two can sting, but one bad review out of 100 isn’t nearly as bad!
Why do we need to worry about relevance? Of course we’re relevant, we sell the product!
Not so fast. In today’s age, it takes about ten minutes to create a new website and list a product for sale. Search engines are looking for the products that other people are looking for, on websites that receive regular traffic from many users. When you search online for a book, which appears first –– a link for the book on Amazon, or a link to the local bookstore down the street? Typically, Amazon would be the first result (or even the first page of results!). That’s because the search engine recognizes Amazon as a major source of internet traffic, with plenty of links to and from other websites.
What You Can Do
Start with content. Posting regular content in the form of a blog, video, podcast, product how-to, etc. is a great reason for current and new customers to visit your website on a regular basis. Better yet, you can use social media to promote and link to your new content, creating inbound links to your site. As you create more content, search engines will have more relevant content to look through and your rankings will improve over time.
You can also drive people to your content and your website using a regularly scheduled email newsletter. We prefer MailChimp, but there are many different options available to you. Start by asking your customers for their email addresses so they can stay up to date on your company and your services. As you post new content, send out a newsletter with a brief description and a link to the content on your website. Most email newsletter services will provide you with analytics about who opened your message and what links they clicked. You can then use this information to see what types of content are most important to your customers.
Now wait! I received a sales call saying they could make me the number one result on Google!
Most of the time in marketing if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Chances are, the strategy from these companies is to place your website link on a bunch of other websites. Since all these other websites are now linking to you, your search ranking should go up, right? While the inbound linking can certainly help, it is no replacement for a solid content strategy and positive customer reviews.
It’s also important to note that a good content strategy and obtaining user reviews doesn’t cost you anything. How much did that sales caller want to charge you for results that aren’t guaranteed?
The conditions of your automobile liability insurance policy state that you should report all claims in a timely manner. So, what does that mean? Should you report claims when you get all the information? Report them when you feel like it? No, you should report any claim the same day it occurs and no later than 24 hours from the time of the accident. Late reporting of claims is something that your insurance company tracks in their reporting system. If you are trying to obtain new insurance or renewing insurance and there is late reporting of previous claims, the insurance company may hold that against you when evaluating your company. The insurance company equates late reporting to increased claim costs. Don’t put yourself in this situation. Remember, you want your company to be in the best position to obtain the best insurance rates.
So, what should you do to train your employees to report claims timely? To start, have a written post-accident policy stating that all claims should be reported to management the same day an accident occurs. Any claim reported more than 24 hours late will result in disciplinary action. Be sure to have your employees sign and date this policy. Having a reminder of this policy in your accident kit may help them remember to report claims timely.
You should train your employees to obtain contact information of the other party involved in the accident and any witnesses. This should include names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of all potential parties of the claim. This is critical information for the claim and generally the hardest to obtain. The simple solution is to provide blank index cards in every accident kit. That way, your employee can quickly hand those to any potential witnesses and ask them to put their names, telephone numbers, and addresses directly on the cards.
After your employee has obtained witness information, they should write a personal statement of what happened and send it to management within 24-hours. This statement should include the weather conditions, location, law enforcement contact, statements made by the adverse party, and the mechanics of what happened.
Once you receive the information, do not delay in reporting the claim to your insurance company. You should always have the insurance company’s contact information handy. Additionally, you should report the claim to your insurance agent, since they may be able to assist you with investigation and reporting.
“I have a Facebook page, why do I need a website?”
We get this question all the time from clients, especially from those that have little or no staff. They’ve taken the time and effort to build a Facebook page and build a following, so why on earth would they need to spend the time and money on a website?
Here’s the bottom line: YOUR WEBSITE = YOUR KINGDOM
The social media platforms control every aspect of THEIR product.
THEY dictate the color scheme.
THEY dictate what you can or cannot say/sell/do on THEIR platform.
THEY dictate how you appear and how often you appear to your potential customers.
Why are you letting social media dictate how you interact with YOUR customers?
Having a website that is mobile-friendly, secure, and interactive allows YOU to control how the customer interacts with YOUR business.
YOUR message, YOUR rules.
Social media can be a valuable tool. But it will always be a tool built by someone else, with their best interests in mind.
Isn’t it time you had a tool with YOUR best interests in mind?
One of your largest business operating costs is insurance premiums. Commercial insurance is just plain…expensive! We understand that and we want to assist you with keeping those costs as minimal as possible. A well designed and up-to-date website can help.
Your insurance company is looking at certain things to determine what type of business you are and how insurable you are. Here are the top three things they look at:
- Loss History. How many accidents/incidents has your company reported in the last few years? They look at the severity and frequency of those accidents.
- CSA SMS Scores. Are your scores within acceptable levels? Do you have alerts? Is your MCS-150 report up-to-date?
- Your Company Website. Does your site have clear information about your company’s capabilities? Is the site up-to-date? Does your site have driver hiring capabilities? Do you promote safety on your site?
Transport Studios specializes in transportation company websites. We tailor our sites to help you provide the best information for your customers, drivers, and your insurance company. We have built in forms for accident reporting (optional), driver hiring forms (optional), and easy tools to assist you with keeping your site up-to-date. Transport Studios is here to help design or update your website today!
One of our customers, Tally’s Panhandle Detail, called us yesterday and needed their business address changed on their website. He needed it done as soon as possible since his business had moved to a new location the day before. We were able to immediately update the website. Transport Studios understands that your business website needs changes and updates in a timely manner, and we treat your website like it was our own!
While updating the physical address for Tally’s Panhandle Detail website, we also noticed that the client’s Google Business information did not have the new address, so we changed it, too. To ensure that our client did not miss any customers, we checked his social media accounts and advised him to update his address there as well.
If your web designer is not proactive and responsive to your needs, it is time to make the change to Transport Studios. We make your business a priority and strive to update our customers’ websites as quickly as possible. After all, time is money and we know you are counting on us!
As a side note, if you are in the Tallahassee area, we encourage you to give Tally’s Panhandle Detail a try. They do an excellent job detailing vehicles and will make yours look great, too!