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Aweber Paid Autoresponder or Listwire Free Autoresponder?

Autoresponders are special software that respond to emails automatically. These tools are used for email marketing campaigns and to market your products. An important thing to keep in mind while designing this software is to prevent the emails from going into spam. So the question I get asked a lot is should I go for a Paid Autoresponder or Free Autoresponder?

For the purpose of this case study, I will be comparing Aweber (Paid Autoresponder) vs Listwire (Free Autoresponder).

Email list building is an important feature of all autoresponders. They are a vital key for the success of your marketing campaigns. By using Aweber, the biggest advantage that you have is that you get step by step instructions on list building and autoresponders, email marketing, and much more.

The customer service of Aweber is commendable. Also, Aweber makes sure that no spam complaints reach your ISP. This is really important as your ISP may block your IP address if it receives too many complaints. But the fact that it is a paid autoresponder shadows all the Aweber autoresponder benefits. Aweber was a very popular email autoresponder until its free competitor Listwire came along.

List building is done by four methods. List building offers incentives to your visitors for signing up. The key to successful list building includes making the visitors believe that the information you have is hundred percent accurate and genuine. Then the visitors need a reason to remain subscribed to your services and lastly the service should be keen on developing a healthy relationship with the subscriber. This is what list building is all about and what Aweber and Listwire services offer. List building is most useful to the visitors so it can be done two ways. Firstly by sending emails and secondly through broadcasting of blogs. Both methods provide invitations to the readers with every contact.

Listwire autoresponders has most of the features offered by the Aweber services but free of cost. Aweber has a monthly subscription of $19 per month whereas you can avail all the features of Listwire for free. The numbers of subscribers are unlimited on both services but Aweber charges a bit extra for making the subscribers unlimited.

I also feel that comparing the user interface of Listwire and Aweber autoresponder is also important. While creating web forms, there are more personalization options in Aweber. There are many good templates that we can choose from. Also, in Aweber, we can remove the tag that shows that the web form is powered by which company. We do not have that option in Listwire.

An important feature that an autoresponder needs to have is that it should schedule follow ups and successfully send campaigns through email. Both the autoresponders, namely Listwire and Aweber are equally successful in this regard.

Another Listwire benefit is that it integrates perfectly with PopUp Domination. We simply have to copy paste the URL of our web form into the plug in.

These were just some of the comparison areas of the Aweber paid autoresponder vs Listwire free autoresponder. Aweber autoresponder benefits are many but when you see that majority of the benefits are available from Listwire without any charges then you tend to vote for Listwire.

Aweber is great for businesses but for new entrepreneurs, you can start off and learn a lot from Listwire.

However, bear in mind that once you have built your list to a bigger size and decide to transfer, reputable third-party autoresponder services won’t let you import your list from Listwire or any free autoresponder without having them reconfirm. You will likely to lose half to two-thirds of your list in the transfer. Also, prepare to have their own ads send out together with your outgoing emails which could be a turnoff to your list.

Baby Blanket Knitting Projects – Standard Baby Blanket Sizes

So, you’re ready to knit your first baby blanket. You’ve oohed and aah-ed over pictures of sweet, soft, and comfy blankets that are perfect to snuggle a sweet little baby. You’ve walked the aisles of your favorite yarn store and felt every pastel yarn there is, testing the softness. You’ve fantasized about holding your precious bundle in a blanket you handcrafted with your own two hands or you’ve basked in the admiration you’ll receive as your friend opens your gift at the next baby shower.

Then reality hits. You have an idea of the perfect hand-knit blanket but a few ‘minor details’ are missing — like what size this blanket should be. This is a good question and unless you have a great deal of experience with knitting or babies or both, you’re probably at a loss as to what to do next.

Blanket Sizes

When it comes to baby blankets, there are three main sizes — crib blankets, swaddling blankets, and receiving blankets. You may not have known it, but each of these has a specific purpose.

· Crib Blankets — These blankets do exactly what the name says — they are for the crib. Think of this blanket as a bedspread for the baby crib. This blanket is usually around 36″ x 52″ and while it’s perfect for making the crib look nice and keeping an older baby warm at night, it is too big to swaddle a small baby. If you want to knit a blanket to decorate the baby’s room, this is it.

· Swaddling Blankets — This blanket is the small blanket you use when the baby first comes home from the hospital. Usually lightweight, it is about 30″ square and is perfect to wrap tightly around a baby to give them that ‘in the womb’ feeling. This is a good blanket to swaddle a baby and give her a sense of security when putting her down for a nap.

· Receiving Blankets — If you want to get the most use possible, knit a blanket, knit a receiving blanket that is 34″ x 36″ is perfect. This size is works best because it’s small enough to snuggle a small baby but also perfect for the baby to carry around when he reaches toddler age. This size works great in baby carriers and car seats and is pretty much an all-purpose blanket.

Now that you know the standard sizes, all you have to do is decide on the baby blanket that best suits your needs. Once you’ve made that decision, choose your favorite pattern, buy your yarn and get those knitting needles clicking.

Coping With Career Change

Lost your Job? Experiencing a sudden or unexpected career change? Worried about your future?

The emotional response to career change is similar to dealing with loss as characterized by Kubler-Ross.

Denial

There are typically two stages of denial that occur with sudden or unexpected career transitions. The first stage is typically very brief. There may be a short suspension of belief in which it is hard to imagine that you no longer have that job. The facts are pretty hard to deny, the position was there one day and you were gone the next day. Regardless of the circumstances, it is fairly difficult to deny when this fact when that door has been closed.

The second and more dangerous period of denial occurs when lifestyle is not altered, even though the income has changed. In many cases, denial is subsidized by a severance package, a golden parachute, or unemployment benefits. The employer no longer provides the ongoing checks or benefits coverage, but the income if otherwise subsidized and therefore lifestyle if not substantially altered. This form of denial can be very dangerous and should be quickly resolved. With time the severance package, unemployment benefits, or personal savings will start to diminish and eventually run dry. It is difficult to predict exactly when the next position or career will create a new source of income, and it is difficult to determine how the compensation and benefits will compare to previous position. When the change occurs, it is a very good time to begin assessing your financial responsibilities and expenses.

Each month as the credit cards statements, rent or mortgage, and other expenses arrive, use that as an opportunity to evaluate the necessity of the expenses that you incur. It is a common habit that expenses grow in proportion to an individual’s ability to support the expenses. Clothes, cars, and eating habits are examples of expenses that easily adjust with a person’s ability to sustain the expense. Subscriptions, hobbies, and miscellaneous expenses are often forgotten or disguised personal expenses. Every time that you pay an invoice, consider how that costs compares to your personal hierarchy of needs and how you can be a little more frugal in your expenditures. If you can reduce your expenses now, it will continue to bear fruit, even when your income is restored.

Anger

It is natural to be angry when events impact a person’s routines. It is natural to feel anger when events interrupt an individual’s ability to support a family or otherwise jeopardize financial responsibilities. It is natural, but is it productive? If the career change is due to personal lack of performance on the job, then there is nobody to blame but yourself. If the career change is due to financial hardship by the company, thereby resulting in overall job reductions, then there is nobody to blame at the company that is also struggling to survive. Organizations have a responsibility to support clients, customers, shareholders, and the remaining employees to the best of the ability of the company. Whatever the cause of the career change, the natural responses of anger and frustration lack direction and therefore offer no source of consolation.

Do you feel the energy that comes from frustration, anger, or enthusiasm? Emotions charge the body with adrenaline and create energy. Even negative emotions like frustration, anger, or worry can create an emotional charge that can be redirected into positive energy. If you sit still and let negative emotions take control, then you may find yourself drowning in continuous waves of negative thoughts and concerns. Rather than slip into depression or self-pity, use that energy to give you incentive to concentrate on positive projects. For example, invest your energy in reworking your resume. Begin making lists of opportunities and invest your time in researching companies that are showing positive growth. Start educating yourself on other aspects of your industry or profession. Use that energy that makes you shake with frustration to put your fingers to work on the keyboard, flipping pages, or dialing phone numbers. If you still have energy left over after you have worked every possibility, then go for a walk and release that energy with some positive exercise.

Depression

The hunt for your next career position may take some time. Economic challenges may restrict the job market and create seemingly overwhelming competition for a limited number of positions. Constant concerns, coupled with a sense of responsibility, can create fertile grounds for depression. If you feel this happening to you, remember that it is a choice and you have control over it. Depression occurs when you allow yourself to feel remorse because events and timelines are not occurring according to your plans. This does not mean that the forces of the universe are working against you, but it could be a strong indication that it is time to change your plans. Sometimes it is necessary to abandon your plans completely and pause to properly evaluate the options available to you. This may mean changing your lifestyle, changing your career, or allowing yourself to take an intermediate transition in another direction. Allow yourself the flexibility to adapt to the situations and opportunities that are available to you. This does not mean that you are settling for less than your full potential, but it does mean that you have the self-confidence to allow yourself to expand your talents and experience in previously unexpected areas. Allow yourself the flexibility to abandon or temporarily shelf those expectations that are causing your depression and give yourself the freedom to adjust your career or lifestyle to take advantage of what is available to you at the moment. When it seems that you cannot make any progress in the direction that you are going then allow yourself to move in the direction that gives your life momentum.

Bargaining

Once you have overcome denial and accepted the sometimes life-altering changes to control your expenses, and after you have overcome or bypassed the feelings of anger or depression, it is natural to begin a process of personal bargaining. This phase is the internal conflict of balances wants and needs with reality and resources. It is a process of justifying small concessions for the greater good. It means offsetting minor sacrifices by placating yourself with some rational of purpose or personal reward.

The process of internal bargaining can be a positive process if it means an awakening realization of the positive outcome of your decisions and actions in contrast to the investment of selective sacrifice. However, it is very important to consider the long term commitment associated with such bargaining. If the sacrifices are worth the return of a lasting career or long term relationship, then it is merely an acknowledgment of personal investment. If the sacrifice results in ethical conflicts or may otherwise require sustained commitment that you are not willing or able to make, then the bargain lacks substance and is doomed to failure. Do not negotiate commitments that you are unwilling or unable to sustain, not even to yourself.

Acceptance

Welcome to the club! There are millions of individuals experiencing various stages of career transitions. You are not alone and you are not really competitors. Each person is looking for the next opportunity to match personal talents and capability with the appropriate corresponding position. Likewise, organizations are searching for the most appropriate candidate in accordance with the job requirements. It is not a competition or a popularity contest. It is a giant puzzle in which all of the pieces are trying to find the perfect fit. As you look for your next opportunity, help those in your network to do the same. If you find a position that is suitable for someone else who is in career transition, take the time to make a recommendation and help good people discover good organizations. Helping others in your fellow career transitioning tribe may encourage them to help one another, and inspire them to help you too. Even if the favors are not returned, you will have the personal satisfaction of helping others.

Once you have accepted that your life has changed, there are countless new opportunities that are open to you. Be ready for new experiences and be prepared for more unexpected challenges. The experiences are all part of the learning process. You could have spent countless months or years in the rut of your routine, but you have been given an unexpected opportunity to apply your talents and experience in new ways. You have been given a personal invitation to expand your capabilities and to meet new friends. It can be unsettling when it is unexpected, but you can use this is an opportunity to invest in yourself and in your future.

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Words of Wisdom

“‘There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair. The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there. There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.” – Barack Obama, Election Night Speech

“If government could create jobs and raise children, socialism would have worked.” – George Gilder

“Emergencies have always been necessary to progress. It was darkness which produced the lamp. It was fog that produced the compass. It was hunger that drove us to exploration. And it took a depression to teach us the real value of a job.” – Victor Hugo

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Carwash Marketing and Customer Retention – Back to Basics

Creating marketing and promotions that work are a great challenge for car wash owners and operators. The fundamental problem that many car washes run into is that they will never generate the level of customer loyalty that they are hoping for unless they meet the basic needs of their customers first. If a wash owner can identify consumer behavior, he or she will be in a better position to target products and services at them. Buyer behavior is focused upon the needs of individuals, groups, and organizations.

It is important to understand the relevance of human needs to buyer behavior because marketing is about satisfying needs. Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs is taught in psychology classes around the world and the theory outlines the very basic human needs that must be provided in order to truly experience higher emotions such as achievement, respect, and self-esteem. At the lowest tier of this hierarchy are the basic needs such as food, air, water, heat, and the basic necessities of survival need to be satisfied. You cannot move up to higher levels of the hierarchy unless your basic needs are met.

Consumers also have a very specific set of needs that must be addressed. To understand consumer buyer behavior is to understand how the person interacts with your marketing message.

Consider that every consumer is going to be influenced by their culture and word of mouth, attitude towards washing, their ability to learn by instruction (customer education), and their perceptions of the wash facility. There are a number of NEEDS that must first be met before a consumer can move to making a purchasing decision, location choice, brand choice, and any other choices they will inevitably make.

Customer Needs

At the very basic level a car wash operator must appeal to the basic needs of their customer before they can consider focusing on establishing customer loyalty.

The decision making process for a customer of a car wash will be to first determine which car wash facilities they will use followed by comparing the available choices against a number of other criterion.

Basic Need 1: Quality

This is where it comes down to truth in advertising. You need to provide the very basics for a customer to properly wash their vehicle. If you cannot clean the car with soap and water your failing as a business that specializes in vehicle care. It should be no surprise to a wash owner that people will stop using your wash if it does not get their car clean. The second aspect of quality is when a customer has access to problem-free equipment. If wash equipment is damage or in disrepair this will impact whether a customer will use your facility.

Basic Need 2: Appearance

Most wash customers rate cleanliness as one of the most important factors of a car wash. Locations with dirty walls, peeling instruction signs and faded decals will see a noticeable drop in customer retention.

Basic Need 3: Safety

Customers that visit car wash facilities next consider their safety when using a wash facility. Locations with poor lighting and excessive loitering will drive customers away and keep them from coming back if they did not feel safe when using the wash facility.

Basic Need 4: Value

In order to create a loyal customer a car wash owner needs to create value in the service that they provide. Value is going to be perceived differently by every customer and as a wash owner you need to evaluate your demographics to find out what will be the most important to them.

Examples of Value Propositions:

Environmentally Friendly – A car wash that focuses on environmental stewardship, water conservation, energy conservation, sustainable chemicals, and promotes this will create value for a wide demographic.

Charity Support – Car wash owners have the opportunity to get involved in their local community by supporting local charities and organizations. Car wash operations have a huge opportunity to be known as the community-based wash business in town.

Car Wash Club – By taking advantage of a loyalty card system car wash operators can give customers a reason to ‘buy-in’ to their loyalty program through incentives and promotions. Consumers have been trained by big-box retail to be a card-carrying customer and operations that take advantage of loyalty card programs are highly competitive in their local markets.

Rain Guarantees – Many full service and express wash operations offer a rain guarantee which gives a consumer piece of mind and security in their wash purchase.

Unlimited Wash Programs – Programs that allow for unlimited washes in exchange for a monthly payment or an annual subscription have been found to be highly successful in certain markets.

Low Price Guarantee – There has been a huge explosion in the number of low-cost express washes opening up around the country. This model will not work for every owner or even every market, but the growing trend is worth watching. Some markets are having record-breaking profits and others struggle to make ends meet with such low margins.

Superior Customer Service – Having great services has long been one of the big selling points for going to a full service carwash. Whenever you have employees on site you have a wonderful opportunity to provide great customer service.

Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty is something that is earned by a business by satisfying your customers needs as a consumer. If you can meet the basic needs, establish value in your services, and remain consistent in the delivery of your service your customers will remain regular customers.

What does success look like?

In order to appeal to the widest number of customers your focus should be to focus on getting back to basics. Once you can be the clean, safe, quality carwash that offers simple value statements to your customers you can then focus on additional value added promotions to bring customers back.

The difference between a successfully promoted business and a business that fails to promote successfully is that in the long run you are remembered by your customers for what you’ve done for them. Far too many car wash businesses think that by slashing prices and giving huge discounts will win over new customers. Discounting only goes so far when you are trying to bring in new customers because discounting is temporary and long-term price cuts hurt your bottom line. As long as you are meeting your customers basic needs a successful promotion will engage your customers and community in ways that will endear themselves to you and your business. A successfully promoted car wash business will not be known as “the cheap wash” in their community. The successful wash in town will be known as “the charity wash”, “the fundraiser wash”, “the wash that drives the funny car in the local parade”, “the fast wash”, “the convenient wash”, or we can hope at the very least the wash is known as, “the wash that gets my car clean”. These are the value statements that we should strive for within our local communities and with the customers we do business with.

A New Lease on Leasing

We all heard the death knoll for leasing a few years ago. Leasing lay flat on its back in the intensive care unit, gasping its last breaths before fading off to become another F&I memory. The pulse grew weaker, and we all knew it wouldn’t be long before Leasing went to that great F&I office in the sky, to reminisce about the good old days with the twins, Rust proofing and Undercoating, and the prematurely demised Balloon Note.

But, wait a minute…did I hear a beep? Is there a pulse still left? Yes, and it appears to be growing stronger as we go. Leasing is back, maybe not as big as it once was, but back from death’s doorstep none the less.

Back in the late 80’s, leasing was the new mystery. Lease calculations required the knowledge of a foreign language, with all the talk of residuals and money factors. As we went on, leasing became the darling of most dealerships (especially before Regulation L and disclosure came into play) and the typical Leasing Manager in every dealership was the highest paid employee who drove the most expensive car and had the flashiest gold Rolex. He was your high profit, low payment guru, who made deals magically appear from nothing. He knew all the lenders and all their programs, and did the business that no one else in the store wanted to do.

Suddenly, every dealership wanted to jump on the leasing bandwagon. Through the late 80’s and the mid 90’s, leasing continued to thrive, with some dealerships doing better than 85% of their retail business in leases. Everyone realized the leasing advantage; you could sell three cars to a customer over a 6 year period as opposed to one. The customer typically got more car than he expected for the payment he was making, and in theory, the dealership could build tomorrow’s used car inventory from the new car leases it made today. Soon, Lease Star, Lease Link, Lease Prophet and how many other leasing software programs hit the market and soon anyone in the dealership could push a button and get a lease quote in seconds. Suddenly, that high paid obnoxious lease manager was no longer such a valuable asset. Leasing companies, overrun with vehicles with absurdly high residual values, lost thousands of dollars per vehicle at lease end when these off-lease vehicles went to auction. Leasing companies like GECAL, Oxford, and Bank of America, all got out of the leasing business when residuals got too high and interest rates went too low! And the leasing gurus, if they were smart, became Special Finance Managers!

So why the recent rebirth of leasing? Well, first and foremost, it address the number question asked in every dealership in America – “What’s my payment?” Manufacturers are using sub-vented leasing programs, which allows a manufacturers offer extraordinarily low rates, inflated residual values, or both in order to create super low attractive payments. The customer can still get more car, for less payment by leasing. Leasing, if done properly, can still lease a customer two to three cars over the 72 month term of a typical retail loan. Manufacturers like leasing because it allows them to control the future value of their vehicles, (If the bulk of leasing goes through the captive finance arm, they determine the residual value on these leases, which can directly effect used car values. High residuals mean higher resale values – just look at American Honda Finance Corp or GMAC which will advance the higher of book or auction price for used vehicles purchased by the dealership at off lease sales.

What’s in it for the F&I manager? Not much in reality. Manufacturer warranties typically cover the vehicle for the term of the lease, so extended warranties are not an option. Most leases already include GAP coverage, so that’s two down. What’s left is any rate markup that is available and excess wear and tear coverage. If your customer is in on a nationally advertised payment, it’s tough to mark up the rate to earn any profit. And while excess wear and tear coverage would seem top be a natural, many lenders are reluctant to advance for it. As such, the only way to include it in many leases is in the price of the vehicle. The opportunity for F&I backend is limited at best, and leaves little incentive for the F&I manager to really get behind leasing.

So, where is Leasing heading for? In order to survive, leasing has to be used selectively. Be careful who you offer a lease to. The customer that drives too many miles will be in for a rude awakening at lease end when the mileage penalties hit. The marginal credit customer, who may get approved on a second tier sub-vented lease, may have a hard time paying for the 100/300 liability insurance most leases require, since many insurance companied now use credit scores to determine premiums and rates for car insurance. Early termination liabilities must be fully disclosed and customers must understand their obligations under the lease. And dealerships must realize that a customer who makes his decision strictly on the monthly payment may have a problem next time around when this vehicle is no longer available at this low monthly payment. Another SSI score bites the dust!

And what do we do with the customer who comes in that low advertised monthly payment ands doesn’t qualify for the program? If we already know that approximately 50% of the clientele surrounding a dealership fall into the sub-prime category, how do we address this issue? Be tactful, and respectful, while explaining that leasing a vehicle typically requires better credit than traditional financing.(If you are not certain of your dealership’s demographics, email me and I will get you an Income & Market Analysis).

Be ready for customers who may currently be leasing their vehicles, but things have changed for them in the last few years. Economic conditions throughout the country, have had a dramatic effect on credit scores in the last few years. Good people have gotten hit with hard times, and while they may appear to qualify on the surface, many come in looking for a low lease payment to fit their “new limited budget”. This is why it is imperative that you are asking the appropriate questions when qualifying your customers on the lot. (If you would like a complimentary copy of a Lot Traffic Training just email me).

Leasing is not for everyone. If you attempt to make your store a leasing only destination, like branding yourself a “special finance” dealership, you effectively eliminate a segment of the marketplace that perceives you as a place they DON’T want to do business with. Leasing, like special finance, must be worked properly to be effective. Make sure you have it available for any one who asks, but make sure you’re leasing for your customer’s benefit, not yours! Remember what put leasing on the critical list is still lurking, and best practices need to be reviewed on a regular basis. Have you given your leasing department its annual check-up?

Health Insurance Providers and Pre Existing Conditions

Health insurance providers and pre existing conditions are a volatile combination. Pre existing conditions are health issues that were known of prior to seeking a health insurance policy, such as diabetes, cancer, pregnancy, depression, obesity and more. Having such a condition means that you may be refused coverage. Disclosure of these conditions enables providers to limit the risks they take on. However, if you have an issue in your medical history, you have no choice but to disclose it, as companies do their research too and non-disclosure could result in cancellation of a policy. However, there are ways to get coverage despite having a pre existing condition.

Insurance providers often take on individuals with known medical conditions but put a waiting period in place before they start paying for medical expenses associated with the disease or situation. This allows the person who would otherwise by refused coverage to get coverage. Individuals with health conditions should expect to pay higher rates than healthy individuals, unless they belong to a group plan.

The easiest and most guaranteed way to secure coverage if you have a previous condition is to get group coverage through an employer. Members of the group must be accepted regardless of pre existing conditions, although a short waiting period may be put in place for claims arising from it. Of course, this does penalize the healthiest member of such groups by making the cost higher for everyone.

If you are HIPAA eligible, meaning you have been on group insurance for more than 19 months, have exhausted COBRA benefits and cannot get Medicaid or Medicare, you can get an individual health insurance policy with no exclusion period. Insurers must offer you a health insurance policy that does not limit your pre existing condition if you meet the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act guidelines.

Water Damage Restoration – WRT Exam

The Water Damage Restoration Technician test by the IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification). Water Damage Restoration Technician is a designation that a professional restorer needs to prove that he or she is compiling with the most prevalent standards in the restoration industry. It has become increasingly important for a professional who is performing water damage restoration services to have “WRT” designation. Most companies that hire you require it and insurance companies that hire the companies that provide the service require that their technicians be certified.

Since I first took my class ninteen years ago, the material and the test have evolved greatly. There is a lot more information. The class used to be a two day class, but now it is a three day class. There are also five day classes offered that let you take the WRT/ASD (Applied Structural Drying) together. The newest WRT update was published in April of 2006. It is approved by ANSI (Approved National American Standards).

Important items you should know about the test:

Get the book from your teacher prior to attending the class (if possible). Read a few pages everyday. Usually the highlighted parts in the manual are extremely important to know and will defnitely be seen on your test.

Make sure you understand psychrometry completely.

Test has a total of one hundred and sixty multiple choice questions.

The correct answer is not always the only right answer, but rather the best answer.

Currently the answers need to be filled in on a Scantron sheet with a # 2 pencil.

There is no time limit for you to complete the test.

You need to get 75 percent to pass.

It may take up to six weeks to get your results and they are mailed directly to you.

It is also available in Spanish if you request to take it Spanish when registering.

The certification you get is a personal certification and stays with you regardless of who you work for.

Currently the test costs $50.

Cash, personal check, business check and credit cards are accepted. Checks need to be made to the IICRC.

Although I can’t tell you the questions on the test, I can give you a good example of what you will see on the test. Answering the questions below will also help you in figuring out how well you’ll perform on the test.

IICRC WDR Test Examples:

(1) The study of the relationship between air volume and the amount of moisture it holds at a specific temperature expressed as a percentage of that air’s total moisture holding capacity is called:

A) Drying

B) Humidity

C) Psychrometry

D) Ambiance

(2) Harmful microorganisms present in blood or other potentially infectious materials, that could cause disease or death in humans are know as:

A) Bacteria

B) Bloodborne pathogen

(C) Malaise

D) Humectant

(3) Any material that absorbs and retains moisture retains moisture or water vapor from air is know to be:

A) Hepatotoxin

B) Mesophilic

C) Mycotoxin

D) Hygroscopic

(4) Delamination means:

A) Seperation of primary and secondary damage

B) Seperation of primary and secondary backing

C) None of the above

D) A and B both

(5) The person at an insurance company that interprets a policy and works with contractors involved in restoration is known as?

A) Inspector

B) Agent

C) Adjuster

D) Risk manager

(6) The following are potential routes of exposure for workers?

A) Inhalation, contact with mucous membranes, ingestion and dermal

B) Physical, mental, combined and thermal

C) All of the above

D) None of the above

(7) What does H.A.T.T an acronym for?

A) Hot, Alveolar, Temperature, Test

B) Hydrostatic, Absorption, Toxicity, Threshold Limit Value

C) Haitian Cotton, Absorption, Textile, Temperature

D) Humidity, Airflow, Temperature, Time

It isn’t as easy as you think. If you have taken the carpet cleaning technician test before or the upholstery cleaning technician test before, you should know that unless you have a background in Biology, you will have to study hard to pass this one.

Since I received a deluge of requests from people wanting to know the answers to test for CCT. I thought I would just add a link on the my website with the answers. Visit the Magic Wand Company website below and select the Article tab then WRT Test Answers.

The purpose of the test is to make sure that a technician learns as much as possible to do his/her job well. I would be happy to help you in your endeavor to learn. Whether you need carpet cleaning supplies or restoration supplies or not, you are welcome to contact me.

Homes for Sale-Flipping

Everyone has either seen television shows or heard about flipping homes for sale. This real estate strategy involves buying homes for sales for a low price, renovate the homes, and then reselling them for a profit. Some of these professionals make their living by regularly buying and flipping homes for sale making a profit. They sometimes juggle several sales and several renovations at any given time. It is important to know that there is an art learning how to flip a house and make a profit instead of losing money. Make sure that you understand any restrictions and all applicable zoning laws on construction that may apply. From purchasing to flipping, many set a ninety-day time frame.

Step one

Before you even look at homes for sale to buy and flip, you need to determine how you will finance this venture. If you have a background in real estate or construction and have excellent credit, it may be possible to sure from your bank a line of credit. If you do not have these things, you may have to come up with a more creative way to finance a house for sale to flip. This can include finding a partner who will advance the cash that is needed.

Step two

Once you have the financing in place you can start to look for a likely house to flip. There are many characteristics in a house for sale to flip that you want to look for.

• It must be affordable so you can make a profit when you flip the house. You want to purchase the house for the lowest price you can. Check out houses that have been on the market for a while. Talk to the owners to see if they would accept a lower offer because they are tired of waiting for their home to be sold.

• Make sure that the home you are looking at is salvageable. When flipping a house for sale you should only deal with sound properties. Make sure that the foundation is in good shape and you only have to do minimal upgrades to the plumbing and wiring. The roof should also be sound. If any of these are a problem, you may spend more in repairs than you can get back when you try to flip it. Cosmetic renovations can usually be done without spending a lot of money.

Step three

The location of the property is also important. Avoid buying a house for sale in neighborhoods that no one would want to live in. Make sure that the neighborhood will attract many buyers. You want to make sure that when you flip the house you make a large profit or at least break even.

Marriage: Where is the Fairy Tale?

“Presently, 40% of all first marriages in this country end in divorce. 60% of all second marriages and 75% of third marriages fail as well.” -Dr. Gary Chapman

Common sense leads us to believe that we should learn from our mistakes and the percentages should decrease with each new marriage. Do you think individuals get worse at being married? Do people give too easily or don’t they get it? I believe these statistics point to our communication inadequacies and our lack of understanding of love.

What happens to love after the honeymoon? Love changes and these changes go unnoticed until it is too late. Couples give up and are unwilling to spend the time necessary to resuscitate the love. It has become too easy and too common place to simply trade in your spouse and set out to find a new one. “Why invest time and energy in making it work?” I say, “Look beyond today and envision the payoff of tomorrow.”

“More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse.” –Doug Larson

In coaching my clients, I have found that if we explore other “investment” scenarios, we can look at marriage in a more productive light. Most of us have purchased and owned a new car. As in our relationships and marriages, buying and owning a car takes effort and responsibility.

First, you recognize that you have a need for a new car. Next, you explore the market. You examine your likes, dislikes and what features are important to you. Then, you begin the shopping process. You test drive a few and sometimes several cars, constantly rethinking your needs. You are hoping to find that perfect car that fits the image in your mind; the comfort of the seat, the beauty of the vehicle inside and outside and the warranty. It must have a good warranty. When you have explored all the pros and cons, you make the commitment.

The day of purchase it feels like the car was built just for you. You take it home and you feel great. In the beginning, you take superb care of that car. You keep it clean and polished. You drive it just for the fun of it. Just being in the car makes you feel wonderful. The car is a priority. Then gradually you spend less time in the car, wash it less often and the new car smell disappears. It begins to lose its luster. Your interest and effort begins to diminish. What is happening?

Overtime, you take the car to the mechanic and he tells you that the vehicle is in need of repairs. Your first question is, “How much will the repairs cost?” You wonder, “Is it time to trade in the car?” Do you feel that you have had enough and that it is time to make a trade? I challenge you to hang in there and make a few repairs. One of the most commonly sited causes for divorce in this country is irreconcilable differences. That is a nice, legal term for “we give up”, “it is not worth the effort” or “I’d like to trade this model for a new one.”

What does it take to get beyond the newness and commit to working together to build a lasting relationship? It takes time, energy, understanding and a high level of responsibility and commitment from both parties. Love is cyclic with numerous peaks and valleys. There will be times in your marriage when you “feel” love towards one another and others when you do not. Love is not a feeling. Love is an action. In the times when you do not feel love towards your spouse are the exact times when you should behave “lovingly” to them. I believe in love, but I also know that it will not always be roses, chocolate strawberries and fairy tale romance. A lasting marriage can be accomplished. The “feelings” will return.

“One advantage of marriage is that when you fall out of love with him, or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until maybe you fall in love again.” -Judith Viorst

In a strong, respectful and communicative marriage, you work together to minimize the valleys. It is during the valleys that we face our toughest challenges but also our greatest opportunities for growth. How can you minimize the valleys and spend more time amongst the peaks? Sadly enough, most couples fail to act until they find themselves in the bottom of the valley. Repairs are responses to problems. It is while we are in the peak, in a position of strength, that we should be performing preventative maintenance on our relationships. This will lead to marital strength not only during the good times, but also during the difficult ones.

I would like to share with you two very necessary requirements for a successful marriage. They are to understand your love language and make respectful requests.

I. Understand Your Love Language¹

Many times the loss of love in a marriage is not based on emotion, but a misunderstanding of what makes each individual feel loved. It is extremely common for couples to have different definitions of love. How do you communicate love to your spouse? In turn, what does your spouse do that makes you feel loved?

There are a variety of different images of love and how it is displayed. I see this quite often in my own life. My wife’s nickname for me is “Usefulman”. She teases, but I know that when I do things around the house or fix something that is in need of repair, she feels loved. For her, it is not the gifts that I give her; it is the efforts I make to take care of things for her.

For years, I thought that giving gifts showed my wife how much I loved her. While my intentions were valiant, gifts were not the things that made her feel loved. What I discovered was that I must show her love in a way that makes her feel loved, in her love language¹. The gifts were nice gestures, but they were not meeting her love expectations.

When we moved and bought a new house, I started spending more time around the house fixing or improving things and I discovered how this made my wife feel. She made a variety of comments, all of which were very loving. My understanding of this has helped us grow closer.

It is very important that you discover your love language¹ and the love language¹ of your spouse. Share each of the times when you felt most loved. With an open mind, be receptive to your spouse and his or her needs. Learn when to offer gifts and when your spouse needs a compliment. Do not offer intimacy, when he or she is looking for conversation.

In my practice, I use a great exercise to help couples discover their love languages. Find a quiet space and write a love letter to your spouse. Each of you should do this. Start each letter with “I love you because….” Then write your spouse another letter, “I feel most loved when you….” Both of you should write this letter and share it with each other. These letters will help you develop an understanding of each other’s love language and when you are meeting each other’s needs. It is imperative to know what things you do that make your spouse feel loved. Once you have shared the letters, make an effort to add what you have learned into your marriage. You might be surprised at the result.

II. Make Respectful Requests

The way you share each other’s desires is critical to the success of your relationship. If they come across as demanding, you do not stand a chance. Ultimatums must be replaced with respectful requests. Remember, you are ultimately responsible for your own happiness.

When you offer respectful requests, you create opportunities for necessary growth and development. For example, instead of speaking like this:

“It has been two years since you have taken me anywhere. I sure hope that it will not take another two years for you to make time for us. You do not care about our relationship anymore.”

Make a respectful request:

“I really enjoy when we make time to sneak away for a long weekend and spend some quality time together. Do you think that we could find some time for a getaway this month?”

The second request is a respectful, loving request. The first is more of an effort to criticize the other person and is clearly demanding. It forces your spouse into a defensive position. Such demands create distance and destroy intimacy. Here is another scenario. Which one will generate a loving response?

“Honey, do you think that you will be able to paint the guest room this weekend?”

Or:

“Since you can’t seem to find the time to get it done, I am going to have to waste some money and hire someone to get the guest room painted.”

This reminds me of the old saying, “you’ll attract more flies with honey.” I guarantee that if you make respectful and loving requests of your spouse, you will see results; but, do not kid yourself. Give your spouse a little time to process the request. Making a respectful request only to follow it with a demand for action is a waste of everyone’s time and energy. Be patient; you are trying to build a foundation here.

When you make requests, you offer options or choices, just as love is a choice. Allow your partner opportunities to choose to love you. Love is an action. Focus on requests that build your love and not on communications that destroy it. Learn to realize that when your spouse cares enough for you to respond to your requests, it will draw you closer to one another. It will create a stronger bond and increase your levels of intimacy.

“I have great hopes that we shall love each other all our lives as much as if we never married at all.” – Lord Byron

Add these two powerful elements into your marriage: learn your spouse’s love language¹ and make respectful requests. Use them to create an environment that reinforces and cherishes love. First, fall in love then stay there. It takes a strong effort by both husband and wife to experience the joys of a successful marriage. Seek out ways together to create the love of your future.

¹Love Language, “Five Love Languages”–Dr. Gary Chapman

How is Aquamarine Formed?

Aquamarine gemstones belong to the prestigious beryl group of minerals. Beryl crystals are some of the precious gems that occur in nature.

The name -Aquamarine- has its origin in the Latin phrase ‘Water of the sea’. Yes, this pleasing to the eye gem stone has the color of ‘water of the sea’ indeed.

Indigenous rocks facilitate the growth conditions for aquamarine formation. As the pluton got cooled minerals got crystallized to form gemstones like aquamarine. The size of the crystal is a relative to the cooling rate. Big crystals are formed when the rate of cooling is very slow.

These gemstones get formed naturally under specific violent geologic conditions. Formation of naturally occurring aquamarine gemstones dates back to 35 million years ago when the mineral-rich high-pressure magma flowed below into the rock layers of mountain ranges. As it got cooled, the magma fluid got trapped in to cavities of mineral-saturated fluid that got heated to a very high 1,112° F. Minerals including aquamarines and other gemstones crystallized of these fluid pockets. Over millions of years the pressure and temperature variations caused erosion, uplift and displacement that all resulted in crystals, minerals and gems.

Aquamarine, a precious earthly gem is found in naturally occurring geological formations. These crystal formations are popularly termed pegmatite. Generally large crystals form in open vugs called pockets. These are commonly associated with crystals of feldspar, muscovite and quartz.

These gems also occur in cavities in granites and greisens. During the cooling stages of emplacement, granite rocks got displaced and eroded to form hydrothermal carbonate veins that host aquamarine in large quantities.

This clear and transparent gemstone often occurs together with well known pegmatite accessory minerals like garnet, biotite, topaz and phenakite.

Chemically stating aquamarine is a beryllium aluminium silicate mineral. It has Mohs hardness ranging from 7.5 to 8 with a specific gravity of about 2.68 to 2.74. Good hardness and good specific gravity, the prominent properties of this gem makes it available in alluvial deposits as well.

Aquamarines are largely found in Brazil, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, and United States are some other places where it is present in large quantities. In India dark blue aquamarines have been mined.

It is quite common that aquamarine roughs are available in huge masses in nature. Roughs as large as 110kilograms have been discovered at some mines. Enormous quantity of gems weighing around 2000 carats have been cut from crystal formations that occur in nature.

The pale green to pleasant blue shades of aquamarine is caused by the iron present in its crystalline structure. The trace amounts of iron present in this beautiful gemstone give them their beautiful color that ranges from pastel blue to bluish green.

This gem usually occurs in very large crystals that are shaped in perfect hexagons. Bi-color aquamarines are also naturally present together with other beryl minerals like morganite. Naturally occurring aquamarine rough are usually flawless devoid of any inclusions and are not very expensive.