Upcoming Seminar, dates to be announced soon!

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Alright folks, by popular request, I’m planning another LinkedIn seminar/workshop (date to be announced soon) in Chattanooga. I’m looking for the top one or two ways you use–or want to use–LinkedIn in your daily business routine.

I’ll compile your answers into a general short list and the most popular topics will be featured in my next workshop.

This will be a three hour powerhouse of tips, tricks, hidden techniques and proven ways to get your profile noticed!

Whether you use LinkedIn to network with colleagues, clients or keep up with the job market (or all three), you will leave with a clear vision of how effective this social network can be for your business or career.

This is a LIVE workshop, not a lecture or “handout party”, where you’ll see immediate results and real impact.

Here’s the best part: a free professional headshot to use on your profile that we build together in the first hour! This is worth the admission price by itself! Ditch the selfies, mugshots and cat pictures, your profile needs professionalism!

Giveaways, business discounts and promotional opportunities for all who attend. Office discounts for multiple attendees, discounts for referrals, and a special price for 3 tickets.

Light refreshments will be provided during this information-packed workshop, with a meet-and-greet after for networking and sharing ideas.

Comment here and I’ll keep everyone posted about the date and time. I try to limit attendance to fifty people, and will have additional dates soon to accommodate demand.

Typical topics:

The power of profiling
LinkedIn etiquette
Getting noticed: keywords
Getting noticed: your industry
How to connect, the hidden tricks
Sales and LinkedIn
Competitors: to connect, or not to connect?
Who’s looking at you? (and why it matters)
Content marketing: you are your own brand
Updates, announcements and enhancements
The Righteous Referral
Bragging rights: it pays to speak highly of your work

And more!

Wanna see what I’m taking about?

Check this out: http://www.linkedin.com/in/timallenaflac

(LinkedIn members will see the full profile, others just an overview. What are you missing?)

Thanks for responding!

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Want a Zero Deductible Health Care Plan? Here’s How!

deductible stack 300

Shhhh. . . did you hear that?

 

Quietly–maybe even while you were sleeping–a revolution in the insurance industry began to occur early last year. Old ideas were abandoned, new ideas adopted, and new choices came into focus.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: You’ve heard all you can bear about the Affordable Healthcare Act and its wonders. Well, that’s not what this  post is about. It’s something about which you may have never heard a peep.

 

Deductible Insurance.

That’s it, in two words.

Sure, it has a longer name on the marketing materials, and someone stayed up all night to think of what to call it, but we’ll just call it what it is.

Deductible Insurance.

Something new. A new choice for your family protection portfolio, and even more necessary in today’s high deductible landscape. Here’s how it works:

 

Oldway

 

The old way of doing things is lost to the market now–probably forever–but it involved an “up front” approach to healthcare via higher coverage and higher premiums. The deductible was low, and co-pays kept office visits to a predictable cost. Those same premiums, however, never really stopped getting higher and higher each year. Supplemental coverage was difficult to justify with such high cost of coverage.

 

 

 

newway

 

The new way keeps premiums stable–or at least is supposed to–while taking some risk on the back end that we are generally healthy except for unexpected occurrences. That works well for some, but isn’t an accurate picture for everyone. Deductibles soared to share some of the cost (and risk), while the occasional supplemental plan could fill in a gap or two. Overall costs dropped, but only if utilization was low.

 

 

 

The average amounts for workers with an aggregate deductible for family coverage are $1,743 for HMOs, $1,854 for PPOs, $2,821 for POS plans, and $4,079 for HDHP/SOs  -Kaiser Family Foundation 2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey

 

bestway

 

“With great deductibles come great responsibility”. -Spiderman’s Aunt

 Okay, not the actual quote, but it works for this discussion. Medical plan deductibles have been sliding deep into the thousands, with family deductibles often hitting tens of thousands. Whatever the reason, this is the reality most of us face or will be facing soon. The risk is transferred almost completely to the insured for routine illnesses and minor injury incidents, while a scary number looms ahead should there be something requiring real attention.

Enter Deductible Insurance. Call it a hospital buy-down, catastrophic confinement coverage, a safety net. Call it whatever you like, but imagine having your entire personal deductible (up to $3000 per event, per person) paid in cash after a hospital stay. Accident, illness, childbirth, on-the-job injury, whatever the case may be. Your out of pocket may even be eliminated altogether, depending on your health plan and coverage. Coupled with an FSA or HRA (if your employer is that awesome), it gets even better!

Imagine knowing that your bottom line is covered, no matter what happens. With deductible insurance it is possible to have that kind of peace of mind. Relax, it’s covered. There is a better way.

 

Tim

 

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How To Reduce Worker’s Compensation Claims (and premiums!)

Industry surveys and research reports are a dime a dozen, but some are worth their weight in gold. Here’s a nugget for you, and it’s free to claim. No digging required.

 

claim

 

“A recent survey of more than 600 companies has shown a direct correlation between voluntary accident and disability insurance and a reduction is worker’s comp claims.” -Aflac customer survey

 

A reduction in workers comp claims? How? Why? Let’s take a look at the mechanics of it all, from a policy perspective:

Simply put, it’s a matter of personal responsibility, urgency and ownership. We all know that injuries sometimes go unreported until it’s just too late to ignore them. Minor injuries over the weekend that wait until Monday to hit the reality button. Strains and sprains that may not be work related, but get filed anyway because the aggravation presents itself during the work week. Under no circumstances is the employee intending to defraud or mislead, but the claims do occur because we care about doing right by our employee family.

Imagine a different choice exists for your employees, one where injuries–even minor ones–prompt an immediate doctor visit and filing of supplemental benefits that pay cash quickly for the incident. No hoops to jump through, claims are handled efficiently and promptly (in as little as 4 business days), and the employee receives a cash benefit that is free of strings. When a non-occupational injury occurs, the employee is far less likely to wait for treatment or other medical attention. In this scenario, the employer risk is immediately mitigated and any reporting of the injury removes the association with a workplace event. Because these policies pay claims regardless of the initial injury location, and allow for any medical facility to diagnose and provide care, the employee takes the initiative to seek treatment in a timely manner.

No hoops to jump through, claims are processed in as little as 4 days.

All of this has a secondary benefit for the employer, not just lower worker’s comp claims. The employee has extra money in their budget for immediate use if they miss work. Since follow-up with their doctor is encouraged through the comprehensive claims process, their recovery is not cut short by pressing matters of the pocket. We miss them while they’re gone, but they need to be 100% before things are able to return to normal. Should a true short-term disability present itself, they must be certified by a doctor (thus lowering your risk again) before returning to work. Bills can be paid, stress is lower, and life can return to normal faster.

Don’t offer voluntary short term disability or accident coverage in your workplace or local? You can, and there is never any cost to you to offer them. Why not reduce your risk–and your cost–and offer the most requested supplemental benefits to your employee or union local family?

 

- Tim

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Thank you for the responses! We’ll keep on working!

December Thank yous

 

Thanks to all of you who are requesting more information, and to some of the Locals who have already decided to let us help you grow! We’ve had 68 Locals in 16 states ask about our program! Keep thinking outside the box! Are you ready to grow your membership?

Contact Us:
Union Benefit Pioneers
423.326.9474
tim_allen@us.aflac.com

Union Benefits FAQ: The top questions answered.

Perfect Union_opt-2

Quite a few folks have been asking questions about how our system works, and here are the top questions so far. I’ll add more as necessary to continue the flow of information.

Who are you guys?

Probably the most important question of all, so I’ll be direct. We are a team of agents who wish to see American Unions grow again, and we know how to help your Local do it. Since all we do is supplemental benefits, there is no confusion or lack of focus on our part. We partner with other agents around the country to make sure your Local is served by a friendly face (or two) who lives where you live, and will always be available.

How does this work?

In a few words: Simply, easily, and quickly. We already have the infrastructure in place using our relationship with a Fortune 200 company that is all-American and Union friendly: Aflac. With permission from the Local and a short series of conversations, we can have everything up and running for you to offer more to your members. No catch, no surprises. Honestly, it’s a bit like installing a vending machine. You don’t have any work to do, but your Local gets to provide the best products to your members.

How much does it cost, really?

Nothing. Nothing at all. Even the initial paperwork is painless, and only members who wish to be covered have any cost. Even that isn’t much; just a few dollars a week.

Can anyone have the benefits? What about family coverage? What about the Local office staff?

Yes, as long as they are a member of your Union Local, they are eligible. Their families too if so chosen. Even the office staff can choose the same great benefits, with no difference in coverage, cost, or service.

How long does it take to set up?

That depends on a few variables, such as the size (member count) of your Local, geography of your jurisdiction, and timing a few short meetings to discuss your wishes and ideas for how to announce the good news. For the most part, it takes from a couple of weeks to about 45 days to go from “let’s do it” to “all done”. We do all the work behind the scenes, and keep your management in the loop on timelines.

You keep saying “Local”, I thought this was a Union program?

It is important to treat each of your individual Locals as separate organizations. You are already organized into Locals, and therefore have structured everything around that model. So we follow that model. Each area has unique challenges, each city or region has unique needs and situations. We tailor our service to you, not the other way around. This keeps our service local, too.

Do you have a website?

Our website is in the works, but we still prefer to work one-on-one and provide as much personal interaction as possible. Our system is so simple, we can focus 99% of our energy on your members.

Are you legit? Do we need permission to work with your team?

Yes, we are Independent Agents with Aflac (exclusively, so there are no mixed messages), and are licensed in your state. As to permission: every Local, District, and/or State level within your Union will have different concerns or rules of the road. We insist that you follow the normal chain-of-command in your organization to keep things above board. Aflac is known to many Union organizations already, so the wheel need not be reinvented. We have taken the hard choices out of the equation and now, it is simply a turn-key decision for your Local and it’s future growth.

Growth?

Yes, growth. Everywhere our benefits are offered, Locals observe membership increases and more interaction with prospects. Some folks join up just to have our benefits, and will be loyal members for life because of what you’ve done for them and their families. We plan meetings, help at membership drives, bring visibility to your Local, and can even provide opportunities for press and publicity.

Press and Publicity? Now you’ve got my attention!

Okay, so that one wasn’t really a question, but it comes up a lot. We (Aflac) are partners with the PGA Tour, we sponsor the Heisman Trophy, and even have a NASCAR Racing team. Do you have a NASCAR team? We have traveling Mobile Retail Stores that we use to bring attention to your organization, throw parties, and make meetings fun and exciting. We take care to announce the event through press releases and local media (when appropriate) to make the maximum impact, and can even time their visits to your scheduled functions with enough planning time. This is a free service, and is our way of saying thanks for letting us serve your organization. They are a real hit at membership drives!

What if our Local already offers Aflac?

Please, don’t change a thing. We are the best at what we do, but we believe in relationships first. If you already have an Aflac agent serving your Local, we are happy to hear it! 

How do we get started?

Contact me through LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/timallenaflac), via email (tim_allen@us.aflac.com), or text/call me at the number below. Myself or one of my team will be happy to help your Local grow!

So far, so good. Please continue to message me with questions, or post the comments here. I will be happy to answer anything at all!

Tim Allen, LBC
Union Benefits Pioneer
423.326.9474
tim_allen@us.aflac.com
 
 Check out the new LinkedIn Group dedicated to discussions about Union growth and involvement in the community. A More Perfect Union: Outside of the Box Thinking. Join the group, join the discussion!
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Growing your Union Local: A Simple Step to True Growth

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You don’t compete with other employers, but your members look to you to guard their bottom line.

Plain and simple: your Union Local is competing for attention. And there is a lot of noise out there.

New members (especially today’s generation of Skilled Labor) have fairly high standards for engagement. You’ve seen it in the way they communicate: email, text, Twitter, FaceBook. You’ve seen it in their expectations for company websites, service-by-internet, quick access to information, schedules, calendars, newsletters and meeting information.

Perhaps you’ve upgraded your web presence, brought in professionals to manage Social Media and important information. If not, I’m sure it’s on your to-do list.

You’ve bargained very successfully on their behalf, brought great wages and solidarity to the work environment, made employers and contractors aware of the rules and lay of the land. Your Local is known in the area, and your reputation is solid.

But, it’s still hard to get the attention of new and prospective members, why?

They are waiting.

Waiting for you to do more.

There is more you can do, and it’s easier than you think. In fact, it will probably have the highest impact of anything you’ve done recently.

You can become their best source of supplemental benefits, in a way that was not possible just one year ago. Times have changed, access to insurance has changed, and finally, access to the most requested benefits in the workforce (after Major Medical) has radically changed.

Your Union Local can now offer the top three supplemental benefits–true Short-term Disability, Cancer Coverage, and Accident coverage–with no paperwork, no deductions, no headaches, and no administration of any kind. The Local can now partner with a Fortune 200 company for additional direct benefits that are available to every Union member without discrimination or approval from their employer, and the member will have you to thank. Best of all: It costs the Local nothing to make available. Absolutely zero. And we are the best in the world at what we do. Best coverage, best claims service, best local agents, and highest name recognition. Think about a soft drink. Chances are you’re thinking of Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Think about electronics: Apple, Samsung. Coffee? Starbucks. Benefits? Aflac. Here’s how Aflac is even better with Union Benefit Pioneers at the wheel.

In the past, an agent would contact and attempt to work with your Local with little or no knowledge of how your organization operates.

Solved: Our folks work closely (and some exclusively) with Unions and know how to stay out of your hair.

In the past, an agent would ask for complex paperwork to be added to your staff’s workload, with deductions added to dues and invoices to be reconciled each month.

Solved: Our system uses a third-party billing system that keeps the invoices and deductions out of your office. We deal directly with the member, and serve them directly, on a convenient and local level.

In the past, an agent would ask for concessions from you on meetings, setting up shop to spread the word while you are trying to go about the business of communicating to your members.

Solved: Our system reaches out using only the methods you approve, and we can even hold our own meetings off-site to spread the word. We are tech-savvy and know how to reach your members and prospects on your terms.

In the past, someone may print a flyer, set up a table or bulletin board and hope for the best response.

Solved: Our system is designed to promote the Local first, membership second, and the benefits as an exclusive “right of membership” that shows your Local in the best possible role. You get all the credit and bragging rights.

In the past, complex versions of policies would be offered with no regard to your other Union partners already in place. Members woud be confused about what they qualify for, and what the best choices are.

Solved: We offer coverage only when it isn’t already available, or when you feel it falls short of a value. We bring in simple-issue and guaranteed-issue (no medical questions) options to keep things as easy as “yes” or “no, thanks”.

I could go on, but the simple fact is that the old ways aren’t working for anyone anymore. Locals need new brothers and sisters, they need existing members to start talking about them again. People need to see that associating with your Union is the best way to protect their paycheck, from the first penny earned to the last penny spent. Employers–most of the time–are doing all they can to provide coverage to and for their employees, but we all know they can fall short. Let’s face it, the employer just isn’t thinking about things the same way your members are. The employer has bigger pictures, larger dollar amounts, and other problems on their mind.

Let the employees come to you for the things they’re missing.

It will get them talking again, it will get them looking your way again. Fence-sitters will come down and ask you how to join up. People will see that you’re doing more for them than ever before.

Do more. Be more. Provide more. You don’t have to tell them how easy it was.

Tim Allen, Union Benefit Pioneer

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Top Five Reasons That Employers Say No To Short Term Disability:

. . . and why none of those reasons are good enough.

Your employees are asking for better benefits. You are looking at the bottom line and don’t see much in the way of options. Perhaps it is time to explore a different way of looking at things. Here are the five most common objections to offering Short Term Disability, followed by the reasons you can offer it, and should.

1.) It costs too much!ID-100138542

What cost? The right partner company and the right plan administration can provide your company with Short Term Disability that is completely free of fees, charges and costs. With a supplemental plan, like Aflac’s, the premium is 100% paid by the policyholder. You can contribute If you like, but it is not necessary. What about rates? Remember, most employees need only cover their basic bills, for a limited period of time. Rates will surprise you!

2.) Too much administration.

Often even more costly than dollars spent is time. Staff is already stretched to the limit, too many projects to run, who has time for one more hat to wear? With the right partner, administration is completely hands-off for your staff. With the exception of reviewing a claim for accuracy when it occurs, the paperwork, applications, filing and upkeep are all handled by your provider. Far simpler than medical, offering Short Term Disability can be reduced to a few mouse clicks each month.

3.) It takes too much time.

Specifically, your time. As in: “I don’t have enough time!” Next time an employee misses work due to an illness or injury, ask yourself how much time it takes to get behind on the bills, miss a car payment, or have to look for another job. The time it takes to offer short term disability pales in comparison to the effects of going without. It only takes a few minutes to set up, a few minutes more to explain, offer, and write the coverage. The most you’re out is a group meeting and brief follow-up. Time well spent!

4.) The challenges of certification and underwriting.

This is the thing most companies don’t learn about until they take a meeting with the wrong company. There is not one “company mold” you will fit in, but it seems insurers want to put your square peg into their round hole to offer coverage. Once again, with a partner like Aflac, this problem is eliminated altogether. Without strings or hoops, it is possible to offer Short Term Disability coverage to every employee who wants it, and to give them choices for affordability. Using simple guidelines for coverage maximums and time periods, even folks with pre-existing medical conditions can be covered, without a premium penalty! Guaranteed-issue exists in the disability market, and it leaves no employee out.

5.) I don’t see the need! 

“My employees don’t need Short Term Disability!” I hear that one often, and I always ask: “Do you make all your employees’ financial decisions for them?” Not meaning to be flippant, but if and when they are disabled for a time, are you going to pay them while they are at home? Vacation days and sick days run out quickly, assuming they had any to begin with.

Short Term Disability is consistently one of the most requested benefits among wage workers and salaried alike, yet less than 40% of employers offer it at all. What is stopping you and your company? Even just offering additional benefits improves morale and loyalty, whether they choose it or not. At the end of the day, everyone wants to be happy, healthy, and on the job. Missing work happens, but missing mortgage and utility payments doesn’t have to. Ask me how to change the game for you and your employees.

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The ONE Thing You Need To Do For Your Business, Right Now! (and it’s free!)

When was the last time you had a good picture of your small business service or product? I don’t mean walking the factory, checking in with your managers or running a survey. Those things are good, but the results are skewed at best, just plain misleading at worst. The Emperor’s New Clothes and all that. Sure, do those things when you can, but try this today:

Shop your business. This goes way beyond QC and spot-checking. Take your perspective from outside the door, or at least use the same channels your customers have to use. Take your new imperial clothes all the way out of the building, turn around and engage your business from the street. It sounds easy enough, right? When was the last time you interacted with your own company the way a customer does?

IMG_3704Do you sell products? Buy a few from your sales department. Have them shipped to your home to see the whole process in action. Does your sales team follow up each purchase? Did the shipping department process the order immediately? Maybe your company is a bit smaller, but does everyone look for (and take) opportunities to go the extra mile? Is your latest catalog in the box?

Even a restaurant can do this easily. Call in an order of your best and worst sellers, then pick them up from the counter yourself. Take a look at how your food is presented to a paying customer; you may even understand why that particular menu item is your least popular!

What about your phone system? Is it friendly, up-to-date and functional? You’ve been dialing direct for years, your customers may be hitting the keypad in frustration on their end. Email your sales or support employees–anonymously of course–with a question a customer would ask. See how timely and polite the response is. Call your staff and let them show off their customer service skills.

If you own a service company–no matter how small–you can still experience your company from the outside. Set up a service call, go through the process from start to finish. Do they offer additional services or upgrades? It will be worth it, just to see the look on your employee’s face when they realize you are the customer.

Fortune 500 companies are notorious for letting these kinds of details slip through the cracks. Your edge exists because of that lack of detail, don’t ignore the advantage.

Take a good look at your company, but do it from a customer’s perspective once in a while. Shop your company.

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Six Things to Avoid At Your Next Lunch Meeting:

In one way or another, we are all in sales. Whether selling a service, a product, a promotion, or just ourselves, we are all on commission. Here are a quick few things to think about before you set that next “Meet and Eat”. Six things to avoid at your next lunch meeting:

Don't waste time at your next meeting! Plan ahead whenever you can.

Don’t waste time at your next meeting! Plan ahead whenever you can.

1.) Lunch! Set a breakfast meeting instead. Your clients are busy, you are busy. Lunch is tough to set aside and easy to cancel. Everybody eats breakfast! Pick a place that’s on their way to their office, be early!

2.) Awkwardness: You were early to the meeting, right? Get a good spot, order two cups, plenty of creamer/sugar and a carafe of coffee (if you can), and ask the server to bring one check to ONLY you at the end of the meal. Watch for your guest to enter. Enlist the help of the staff when practical to make your meeting as smooth as possible.

3.) Indecision: Know what you want, order quickly, and get to the point! Breakfast meetings should last about 20 minutes total, keep it simple. It is your meeting, take charge of the details early.

4.) Difficult food: Keep the hands free and the bites small. You should be listening more than you’re talking, but don’t use that as an excuse to order the giant breakfast chicken and waffle platter. You want them to remember the meeting, not the food you ordered!

5.) Visual aids: Don’t risk flailing a brochure or chart around, you may wear your coffee. Or worse, your guest may wear your coffee! Save the printed powerpoint for their office, keep your cool and your clean clothes.

6.) Credit Cards: Yup, I said it. Keep everything simple: Pay cash, tip well, and excuse yourself as soon as you’re both finished. Give them time to themselves to think about your proposal. Don’t risk embarrassment on a card limit or balance issue, unless you are trying to impress with your Amex Black Card. Eliminating this step speeds the whole thing up by a few minutes, no matter how responsive the server is.

Follow up in a timely manner, and thank them for their time. Busy people like to know you appreciate their investment in your day. Give them an idea of when you might want to meet again and they will be happy to join you!

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