How Business Consulting Services Can Improve Your Company’s Situation

Business consultants provide management consulting to help organizations improve their performance and efficiency. These professionals analyze businesses and create solutions while also helping companies meet their goals. Business owners should consider hiring business consultants when they need help or perspective on their chosen path or a catalyst for change in their companies.

What does a consultant do?

There are several reasons business owners should consider hiring consultants. Consultants offer a wide range of services, including the following:

  • Providing expertise in a specific market
  • Identifying problems
  • Supplementing existing staff
  • Initiating change
  • Providing objectivity
  • Teaching and training employees
  • Doing the “dirty work,” like eliminating staff
  • Reviving an organization
  • Creating a new business
  • Influencing other people, such as lobbyists

The first step for any business consultant is the discovery phase, where the goal is to learn the client’s business. A good business consultant takes the time to learn as much as possible about the business from the owner and employees. This can include touring the facility, meeting with the board of directors and employees, analyzing the finances and reading all company materials. During this process, the business consultant will uncover the details of a company’s mission and what operations are in place.

Once the business consultant has developed an in-depth understanding of the company, they enter the evaluation phase, where the goal is to identify where change is needed. This phase includes identifying the company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as current and foreseeable problems. These issues can include problems that ownership and management have already identified, as well as new problems the business consultant discovers because of their objectivity. A business consultant should also identify opportunities to grow the business, increase profits and boost efficiency.

In addition to identifying these problems and opportunities, a business consultant should develop solutions to problems and plans for capitalizing on opportunities. Perhaps a company has a particularly strong sales department but a weak marketing department. This is an opportunity for the company to increase marketing resources and capitalize on the sales staff. During this phase, it’s important for the consultant and the company’s employees to maintain open, clear communications.

Constructive criticism

It’s important for a business owner to take the business consultant’s advice at this stage as constructive criticism. The owner should not take this criticism personally, as the business consultant brings objectivity and a fresh viewpoint. The owner may be personally close to the business, which can be an obstacle to positive change and growth. The owner should have feedback and provide opinions to the business consultant, which the business owner should consider, and revise plans as necessary.

Once the owner and the consultant agree on a plan, the consultant should enter the third phase of consulting. This is the restructuring phase, or the implementation of the plan. In this phase, the consultant builds on assets and eliminates liabilities. They also monitor the plan’s progress and adjust it as needed.

How to find a business consultant

Finding the right business consultant may be the most difficult part for the owner or management. The consultant should have a passion for their work, a drive for excellence and an eye for organization and detail. It’s important to find a consultant who has expertise in your industry or experience with the kinds of problems your business faces. Also, make sure they have solid referrals.

In addition, ensure the business consultant has any necessary certifications that are relevant to your industry. You should vet the consultant through their website and materials. Look for professional images and well-documented information about their services. It’s a good idea to request examples of past successes and to speak to those businesses. A prime example of a great business consultant firm is John Mollica & Associates in Fairfield, VIC.

What is the typical background for a consultant?

The right background for the consultant you choose depends on your industry and needs. If you want someone to help your company develop new proprietary software or computer-based workflow, you may want to engage a technical consultant. But outside of specific needs, companies usually work with management consultants when they want to improve their bottom line, customer satisfaction or employee morale.

Regardless of the type of consultant you work with, their background is critical. It helps you understand how likely they are to improve your business. Here’s what to consider when reviewing potential consultants:

  • Do they have hands-on experience? This can be especially important in the business world. If someone came directly out of college marketing themselves as a consultant, do they really know anything more than you do? Consider looking for consultants who have successfully owned or run small businesses, enterprise organizations or specific departments.
  • Is their experience applicable? A former bank CEO may seem impressive, but do they have the knowledge and experience to turn your cupcakery into a profitable small business? They might, but if you’re also considering a former restaurant owner who now makes a living successfully helping small eateries grow, this consultant may be a better match for your business. Look for consultants who have worked in your industry and with businesses that match yours in style, size, needs and goals.
  • What’s their track record with consulting? You don’t just want a consultant who has the right experience; you want a consultant who has demonstrated success with companies like yours. Ask for a portfolio or list of brands the consultant has worked for, and request references. Look for a consultant who has helped businesses overcome the types of challenges you’re facing or who has grown businesses very similar to yours and reach out to those companies to find out if they were satisfied with the services.

Business consultants are an expense, but their feedback and planning can help increase business and boost profits while eliminating problems and identifying opportunities to ensure future success.

Choosing the Right Caterer for An Institutional Event

When selecting a caterer for an institutional event, you have a lot to think about as there might be more to the institute than good food as you will cater to both young adults and adults. So, it is better to choose a caterer who is able to manage all that you require and be present for all your needs. Just ask your guests and they will probably not remember as much about the decor or entertainment, but they will definitely remember whether or not their meal was remarkable.

When food is a part of your institutional event you must choose a catering service wisely. How your guests remember your event will greatly depend on what they thought of the food and service. Those memories, good or bad, will influence them when it comes time to think about attending your next institutional event.

Advance preparation is the key. Many venues that you select will have a restricted list of catering services that may be used. Some may insist you use their in-house catering service. Others may have no restrictions at all. No matter which position you find yourself in, you must allow sufficient time to explore your catering options before you make your choice.

Here are the main considerations in choosing a catering service:

List Your Catering Needs

In order to receive accurate bids for your fundraisers meal you must provide a listing of your catering needs. Important items to include are:

Date and time of your event.

Location of your event.

Indoor or outdoor.

Is there a kitchen on site?

How many guests (check for minimums with your catering services)?

Dietary concerns (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, kosher, etc.).

Alcohol needs.

Serving needs: buffet style, traditional sit-down dinner, family style, food stations or cocktail reception.

Time available to set up and to break down the event?

Be clear about what type of event you are planning. Alert them to any theme or style for your event that could or should be reflected in the menu.

Do not assume that a buffet or food station is less expensive than a sit-down dinner. It all depends on the type of food served, not how it is served.

Some lower cost options include H’ordeurves Reception or Deli/Party Trays Reception, a Salad Luncheon, a Dessert Party, a Tea Party, or a Cake and Punch reception. If you are not planning to host a full meal, it is best to schedule your reception or party during a non-standard mealtime (between 2-4pm or after 7pm).


Some catering services are more ridged in their menu choices and options. Good questions to ask are:

Do they have set menus, or can they customize menus according to the style of your event?

Are they able to accommodate guests with food allergies?

Do they work with fresh or frozen foods?

What are my beverage options and cost: water, milk, soft drinks, coffee, tea, etc.?

When will I need to finalize the menu?

When will they need a final head count?

Portion Sizes & Presentation Ask to see photographs of the food that has been served at previous events. You are looking for portion size and presentation. Nobody wants to be surprised with small serving sizes or a sloppy looking plate. A picture of a set table (silverware, dishes, glasses, napkins, butter dishes, salt & pepper, and salad dressings) should be checked to make sure it is up to your standards.

Taste Test

If you are using a new catering service, you should ask to sample their menu. Ask if there is a fee for a sample tasting?

If you feel the need, you may also request a tour the catering facility, especially the kitchen. This could be combined with the sample tasting.


If you are planning on having alcohol at your event it is generally recommended using the same catering service provide the bar and service to keep things simple.

You will have to decide whether to have an open bar or cash bar. Will the beverages be served at the bar, buffet style, and do the wait staff refill drinks at the tables?

If you are supplying the alcohol and they are bringing the mix & set-ups, what is the price per person? If you are providing the alcohol, will the caterer charge you a corkage fee?

There are many other issues for you to consider when serving alcohol at your institutional event. An experienced catering service will guide you through all the hurdles.

Who is in Charge on Site?

Ask your caterers who will be in charge of the meal being served. Hopefully, but not always, your caterer will be on site. If not, make sure and secure the name of the person in charge. In case of problems or difficulties you will need to work with this person closely. Make sure you are introduced to the person in charge before the event or on the day of the event.

Wait Staff

Good service, like good food, has a way of making an event memorable. Slow service can also adversely affect the pace and timetable of your event.

Ask what the ratio of servers to guests will be for your event. A good rule of thumb for a sit-down dinner is one server for every 8-10 guests.

Get a commitment from your caterer for how many waiters, busers, and bartenders will be provided. On the day of the event check and make sure they all show up. If they do not all make it, you have a good case for asking for a reduction in the price you are paying.

What will the wait staff wear? Make sure the wait staff is dressed appropriately for your event.

Rental Equipment

It is very important to be perfectly clear about what the needs of your event are and what your caterer will be supplying and how much it will cost.

Does the price include table linens, napkins, dishes, and glassware? Ask to see samples.

Are there any color choices for the table linens and dinnerware?

Some catering services will also have available skirted tables, tables, chairs, furniture, and other rental items including tents too.


Some catering services will provide table decorations, usually for an additional price.

Centerpieces, flowers, and candles may be available.

License, Permits & Insurances

A catering service that is licensed and has the appropriate permits and liability insurance always tries their best to follow safe food handling practices and health code guidelines. Obviously, this is in your best interest. Nobody wants a sick guest as the result of the food that was served at your event. And if there is a problem, your caterer’s liability insurance should cover the problem. Make sure the caterer’s employees are covered by workers’ compensation so if something goes wrong the caterer is liable, not your organization.


Ask your potential catering services for recent past references. Make sure and call these references! Ask about the caterer’s food, professional skills, personality, and ability to handle anything unexpected.

Hidden Costs

Are gratuities included in the food prices? If not, what is the gratuity charge? What is the policy for payment? Some caterers request cash, others accept checks or credit cards. Make sure your pricing includes any taxes to be paid. Know what your catering services overtime policy is and how overtime charges are calculated. If your event runs long or has a delay these charges may kick in, even if the cause is not your fault.

Financial Arrangements

Each catering service may calculate your institutional events meal differently. To ensure you are comparing apples to apples it would be wise to create a simple check list. Use the check list to confirm that each catering service is providing the same services.

Always inquire how much deposit is needed and when the final balance is due.

After you have selected your caterer, they should provide a written contract for you to sign. You should also be provided a copy of the contract signed by your caterer. The contract should also detail the cancellation and refund policy.


Finally, always look for a catering service that you can be comfortable with. Having confidence in your caterer is important. You do not want to preoccupy yourself with second guessing their every decision. Look for enthusiasm. It is important to find someone who will treat you like their most important customer, no matter what the size of your event. Sarah Brown Catering is one such caterer who is a full-service catering firm that provides everything from setup to cleanup.

Factors to Consider When Opting for An Insurance Plan

Opting for the right health insurance plan is crucial as this will help you get the best treatment for yourself, your entire family as well as your four-legged family members. However, deciding which health insurance to choose isn’t an easy task! There are tons of insurance companies in every city these days that provide high-quality insurance plans. Nearly half of all employers with 250 or more employees offer more than one policy, all with different copayments, benefits, premiums and deductibles. But how do you go ahead and pick the right insurer? Here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting the best health insurance plans for your family –

Look at Out-Of-Pocket Costs

Focusing on the monthly premium is one thing, but keeping track of the deductible, copayments and co-insurance is also a key factor. These three elements are your maximum expenses. Under the Affordable Care Act, the maximum reimbursable expenses are $7,150 for a single person and $14,300 for a family policy.

Consider Your Life Stage

Let’s assume the next coming years turn out to be just like the past five. You go for regular medical checkups two to three times. Your partner is as healthy a horse (as long as he/she swallows his cholesterol pill every day). And your kids, well, let’s just say they have an average of one cast and 15 stitches a year. And therefore, choosing an appropriate insurance plan tailored to your individual needs is crucial.

While taking cheap health insurance plans, it is essential to consider your health, age and financial situation. Selecting a policy with a lower deductible and copayments is recommended if you’re suffering from one or more health problems that require ongoing care (such as heart disease or diabetes) or expecting a baby. Of course, you’ll be paying a higher premium, but your overall out-of-pocket costs may be lower. The insurance agent can help you make a better decision with your health insurance based on all of this information.

Number of Family Members

Are you taking health insurance or term insurance that covers all your family members? Along with the number of family members, their life stages matter too. The cover amount needs to be able to support everyone’s lifestyle and spending capacity in case of any unfortunate incident where the insurance will be used.

Check the Drug List

All insurance plans generally provide a detailed medication list and copayment covered. So, be sure to buy an insurance plan that offers a prescription drug benefit high enough to cover all your needs. If your drug isn’t on the list of medications covered, you may have to pay 100% of the cost. It is also an excellent idea to check whether your insurance plan includes a mail-in prescription option; it can save you some bucks on your regular prescriptions.

The benefit should typically cover at least $1,000 per year. With only a few prescriptions, you can easily reach this amount, especially if your doctor prescribes a medicine with no generic substitutes.

Go Over the List of Benefits

Usually, all individual and small business plans should cover prescription drugs, hospitalization, emergency services, mental health and addiction treatment, preventative services and rehabilitation services, maternity and newborn care, pediatric services (including vision and dental care), laboratory tests and out-patient care. However, the specifications of the plans available through your employer may vary, so make sure to read the plan’s Evidence of Coverage.

Also, don’t forget to double-check your prescription coverage each year when re-enrolling in your insurance plan. Many insurance brokers tend to amend their policies and drug coverage frequently. So, it is wise to look for another insurance provider if your daily medications are abruptly withdrawn from your coverage.

Maximum Age Renewal Option

Although you don’t really use your health insurance when you are young, as you get older, health care costs increase and you will have a greater need for health insurance coverage. So, make sure to check whether your health insurance plan features a more comprehensive renewal option with the best pricing. Opt for lifetime plans with renewability options available beyond age 65 – it will pay off in the long run for you and your family.

Choose the Right Insurer Too

While you’re reviewing all these policies and benefits, it’s also wise to choose the right insurer. Look for insurance companies with higher stakes settlement rates (so you don’t have to fight over your claims). Are you looking for a trusted insurance agent or an insurance quote in Florida? Get in touch with BREVARD INSURANCE & MARKETING – they are experts in the protection of your possessions and those of your family.

When shopping for the best insurance policy, you’ll surely be spoilt for choice. Therefore, if you want to pick the crème de la crème, simply do your homework! Hopefully, these smart tips can help simplify your selection process.

More About Air Compressor Maintenance

Having a good air compressor is a vital part of the woodworking and production industries. Accordingly, properly maintaining said air compressor is perhaps the most vital part of using and powering pneumatic equipment. Because your air compressor is the muscle behind your pneumatic tools, and behind your results as well, ensuring their performance from the ground up is just as important as your end results. Air compressors are not just convenient tools we use in our homes and garages, they are investments, and in order to get the most out of your investment, you need to properly maintain it. Here are some easy air compressor maintenance tips you can use to make sure your unit lasts for years to come.

Read the Owner’s Manual – The very first step to properly maintaining your air compressor (or any other piece of equipment for that matter) is becoming acquainted with the operating/owner’s manual. Although some crafters see their manuals as entirely inferior to their own massive knowledge the manual contains a smorgasbord of truly valuable information that will help you ensure your compressor performs optimally for the longest possible amount of time. So, read and practice the guidelines in your operating manual, they will not lead you astray.

Storage – Where you store your compressor is another important factor. Whether you use your compressor every day and store it only at night, you, nevertheless, must store the thing in a cool, clean (dust-free) and dry environment. Where possible, you should also cover the machine ensuring it suffers from as few of the elements as possible.

Compressor Types – Additionally, there are two main types of air compressor – those that require regular oiling (designed for the heaviest industrial applications) and those that are oil-less and therefore require no oiling (designed for lighter-duty applications). Oil-less compressors require less regular upkeep but also wear more quickly and consequently require replacement more often. On the other hand, compressors that require oiling, despite demanding a bit more attention from their operators, enjoy a rejuvenating oil-bath and the required regular maintenance that ensures healthy components and a longer lifespan. Because you have already read your owner’s manual, you know which type of compressor you have.

Certain aspects of your compressor’s maintenance require a little more frequency that others. Some procedures need to be performed every day or with every use, while others require attention only on a bi-yearly or six-month basis. The following describes the best practices and time intervals for properly maintaining your air compressor.

Daily Maintenance – Daily or at least with every use, to prevent rust and water damage it is important to drain any moisture from the air compressor’s tanks. To do this you must first release the air pressure from the tanks, open the drain valves and allow all moisture to completely drain. If you work in a particularly dusty environment, it is also smart to blow or wipe any debris from the tool. This ensures your components remains clean and clear of clogging debris and perform optimally.

Weekly Maintenance – Once per week, remove any debris or other such obstructions from the air intake vents. Wipe them down well ensuring they are clean as a whistle and, if you use a compressor with a filter, get that filter whistling clean as well (you’d be surprised how dirty these things can get) and replace it as needed. If you use your compressor extremely rarely, is probably not necessary to do this each week, but do it after (about) every five uses.

Monthly Maintenance – Take a moment each month to give your compressor a good-old-fashioned check-up. Inspect its nooks and crannies paying special attention to moving parts, hoses and cords. Ensure the safety release valve opens properly, releases air pressure properly and closes properly without any air leakage. Similarly, ensure your hoses are leak free and in otherwise good condition, and that your cord doesn’t have any breaks, kinks, scrapes or cuts. Because the electrical hazard of using a damaged cord is so great, do not use your air compressor (or any other machine or appliance) with a damaged cord.

Bi-Yearly Maintenance – Take a little bit more time about twice each year (every six-months) to ensure your most critical working parts are working correctly. Check each of the compressor’s fittings for airtightness ensuring there are no leaks and test that your gauges are displaying the correct readings. Replace parts and filers where necessary, and, should you run into more serious issues, quickly take your air compressor to an authorized service centre for professional inspection.

Clean All Intake Vents

This is one of the most important things you can do to keep your machine functioning properly. Dust and particles in the air can wreak havoc on your equipment by clogging the vents. Check them regularly and gently clean any obstructions from your intake vents.

Check the Hoses Regularly

Your hoses are like your compressors’ arteries – without them your equipment cannot work properly. Hoses are one of the first things to go because of the material from which they’re made and the rigors they’re put through in shops and garages. Check your hoses often and look for any possible weak spots or creasing. If you find any, replace the hoses immediately or risk putting unnecessary strain on your machine.

Drain Moisture from Tanks

Compressing air is a process and during this process, your machine will collect moisture. This is especially true during summer months when the climate is much more humid, or if you happen to live in an area of the country that experiences year-round humidity. All air compressors come with a valve specifically to release the air and moisture from the tank. Check weekly and drain when necessary. This is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your equipment and ensure a long life.

Change the Oil

If your air compressor uses oil, you should always top it off before using it. And, like a car, you will need to completely change the oil every so often. A general guideline is oil should be changed after 500 – 1000 hours of use.

Tighten All Fasteners

The more you use your compressor, the more likely it will be that nut and bolts will become loose over time. This will cause the machine’s parts to rattle and move in ways not intended, which can cause unnecessary wear and tear. Make sure to periodically hand check your compressor’s nuts and bolts and tighten any fixtures that have come loose.

Before handling any maintenance on air compressors, it is better to get the help from experts like Promptair & Electrical Pty Ltd that installs, maintains and supplies new and second-hand air compressors throughout Australia.

Perks of Buying an Insurance Plan

What lies in the future is a blurry picture that no one can really predict! (Unless you have “psychic visions” of the future like Raven in the TV series That’s so Raven). Just like those sudden (and unwanted) acne breakouts on our face, unexpected things can also pop up at any moment in our lives (whether we like it or not)…And suddenly, we end up in a situation where we have to struggle against the odds while frantically and hopelessly looking for an insurance plan to meet our needs. But why wait for the worst to happen to get covered? Let’s take a look at some of the greatest perks of getting insured way before all the drama kicks off!

Powerful Guardian Angels

Your current situation can be stable with a regular income stream adequate to support your family’s lifestyle. But have you ever wondered how your family would manage to meet their future needs when you are no more here? (especially if you are self-employed with no sick pay and death-in-service life cover)

This is where a life insurance plan comes in handy. From taking care of expenses like mortgage or college education to offering life coverage, availing of a life insurance policy will free your family from financial worries and secure their future even beyond your lifetime. (Like some sort of guardian angels sent by you from the heavens to look after your family’s well-being).

Sleep Like a Baby, Knowing Your Income Is Safe

What if you had to face a sudden medical emergency and not being able to work, or worse, deal with the unexpected death of your breadwinner? Where would you find the necessary funds to finance all of these unplanned expenses?

Every cloud has a silver lining and so does the unpredictable and undesired events of your life. Buying insurance beforehand is always a smart strategy to secure your loan, business, house, vehicle and, most importantly, your most precious assets — your family and you! With an income protection policy, you will be able to earn a percentage of your average income on a regular monthly basis and thus maintain financial stability in your life. (and kiss goodbye to sleepless nights and siestas gazing at the ceiling, thinking about your debts and hefty due bills).

Protecting Your Home-Sweet-Home 

We all dream of owning our own lovely home somewhere, on a chunk of land and eventually stop paying rents one day…but investing in a property can come with a series of risks such as theft, fire, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, (and who knows, alien attacks)! While protecting your home can be a significant financial investment, its the best way to ensure that you’re covered and your family is safe if anything happens. Buying the right homeowners’ insurance policy will make you feel at ease, knowing that your home-sweet-home is fully protected in the event of a disaster!

Your Piggy Bank Well Fed for The Future

As you strive to build a better future for you and your loved ones in this rocky economy, having permanent life insurance can be a great way to protect your savings and help you cash in. Life insurance can be a forced savings plan, which can sometimes curb your tendency to overspend (Of course, it’s nothing like living on the breadline either) …But let’s take a look at the bright side of things!

By setting aside some cash in life insurance, you can be sure that when you decide to realize your projects, the funds will be there and ready to be used. Whether you want to withdraw money because of illness, take out tax-free loans or establish an additional source of retirement income.

Protect Your Vehicle

Do you think you would be able to afford to buy another car if someone stole yours and you couldn’t get it back? Whether your automobile has been stolen, hit by an animal, affected by natural calamities or fire, a damaged vehicle can be mentally, physically and financially devastating…

With the right car insurance, you can rest assured that your family members, passengers, other drivers and your dogs and cats are fully covered. Having auto coverage will help cover the costs of property damage or bodily injury that can occur in an accident.

Depending on the coverage limit, auto insurance may also cover veterinary and other medical expenses for your beloved four-legged family members!

Become Your Own Boss Without Loss!

Owning a business can sometimes be complicated and seem chaotic (more like navigating a maze) when you don’t have the proper business insurance plan to deal with ownership risks. Through the employers’ liability insurance, your business is fully protected from financial loss even if your employee suffers from a job-related injury or illness not covered by the Workers’ Compensation.

By providing accident and sickness benefits, life insurance, pensions and retirement plans to all your staff, you can be sure that the endless struggle and strife between your workers and you will be minimized! (They’ll feel happy to know that their well-being is being taken good care of and will, therefore, be more devoted to their jobs)

Ensuring 100% Peace of Mind

What’s better than complete peace of mind? Buying insurance secures not only your assets but also protects your emotional health and that of everyone who benefits from it. Life is very uncertain and has a way of throwing undesired surprises when you least expect it.

With an insurance program in place to take care of unpredictable events, your mind can bid farewell to the stressors of the daily grind and focus more on the things that matter the most, like building your relationships and enjoying the little things in life! (And, yeah you can take those oh-so-long-awaited vacations without worrying about flight cancellations or emergency medical expenses abroad).

Better to be safe than sorry! You may not be able to stop the march of time, but buying an insurance plan can be an interesting way to reduce its ultimate effect on your wallet. Contact Mimbs & Associates Insurance and get your personalized rate. So that’s it. Lecture over! You can get back to having a good time now, having learned a thing or two about the benefits of getting insured. Meanwhile, I’ll just relax on my cozy couch. Oof!

Avoid Choosing the Wrong Architect

Thinking of building your own home now, the first step is always about hiring the right architect who will help you turn your dreams to reality. We may be novice when it comes to laying out our dreams, it is here that we need the help of architects. As novice, we often get in the middle of the confusion of choosing the best architect. Architecture is a rapidly changing profession, especially in the realm of software. Many firms have yet to make the significant investment necessary to be at the forefront of their industry. It is also a profession that balances art and science and requires good communication and organization skills. While it’s difficult to assess whether an architect will meet your needs, here are nine ways to help. So not to choose the wrong architect, here are some points to remember not to choose the wrong one.

1. Visit the architect’s office.

An architect’s office can say a lot about their design aesthetic and creativity. Typically, though, first meetings with a client will be at their project site, so you may not have an opportunity to see the architect’s office. Consider scheduling a visit at the architect’s office within a few days of the initial meeting.

2. A disorganized architect’s office might be a red flag.

An architect must organize hundreds, if not thousands of pieces of information, and a disorganized office might be a big red flag. However, don’t confuse artist creativity with disorganization. Models or model building supplies, trace paper and sketches can be a sign of real creativity, but project information is normally stored in binders and filing cabinets. Large piles of unsorted paper are probably not a good sign.

3. Ask your architect if they are using 3D software (the answer should be ‘yes’ – then ask them if they are using BIM).

The latest architectural software is called BIM (building information model) and the more sophisticated architects are using this. A house or project designed in BIM is completely or almost completely designed in three dimensions (3D). In addition, in many cases the software can help eliminate errors in coordination of drawings since the two-dimensional drawings are all ‘extracted’ from the 3D model. The software also keeps track of things like sizes of each door and window, and when a size is changed in one drawing, it is automatically updated in another. This can be a real help in reducing errors.

4. Education is the foundation of an architect’s experience.

While attending a good school can help assure your architect has a good foundation to build upon, usually a better indicator is how an architect did in the school they attended. Many architecture instructors will tell you that 10%-20% of students are talented designers and few students who weren’t got significantly better as they went through school. To get a sense of how an architect performed in school, ask about design awards they may have won or exhibitions they may have participated in. If you ask about academic performance, differentiate between design studio classes, and non-design studio classes.

5. Know who you are going to work with.

If you are hiring a multi-person firm, find out who you will be working with. Many times, the person you are interviewing with won’t be doing much work on your project. If the person you are going to be working with isn’t in the interview, ask to visit the architect’s office and meet the person or people who will be on your team. Ask to see the credentials of those team members as well.

6. Architects communicate with drawings as well as words.

Look at the architect’s drawings and ask questions about them. It may be challenging to read or understand drawings if you haven’t done this before, but if you can’t understand them after an architect explains them, then either the drawings are not very good, or the architect has a hard time communicating. Both may be red flags.

7. A complete set of construction drawings includes specifications.

Not all architectural information is communicated within drawings. Plumbing fixtures, electrical fixtures, finishes, expected quality levels, and other information that is easier said in words than in drawings are communicated in written specifications. If your architect doesn’t prepare specifications, then you’ll likely be answering many questions during construction and may be hit with large change orders.

8. Look at the architect’s website.

A well designed, well organized website can communicate that an architect is organized and can assemble information in a clear format. If their website is out of date or they don’t have one, this might be a hint that they are behind the times.

9. Find out how well the architect works with building departments.

When you or your architect submits your drawings to the building department, they are typically reviewed, and a revision/correction notice is issued. A good architect can easily get a residential or small commercial project through with no revisions or one round of revisions. Since each round of revisions takes time to complete, fewer rounds of revisions mean you get your permit sooner. Incomplete or low-quality documents could hold up construction. If you’re trying to get your project framed and weather-tight before the rainy season, this could push the project into a season with unfavourable construction conditions.

Hiring an architect is challenging because you can’t ‘test drive’ the product during the interview. You will only know how the project turns out at its completion. So, spend the time to choose a good architect. Interview several and see who you think is qualified and a good personality fit for you. You will be spending a lot of time with him or her so choose wisely! Ewers Architecture is an architect firm that provides clients with the best of the services throughout Victoria.

Defining Wedding Themes and Designs

Weddings are grand affairs especially when it comes to themes and designs. Nowadays, all weddings are themed as there are so many trends associated with weddings these days that it is hard to keep up! I hope that you find some of the themes, ideas and tips in this article useful and wish you all the best on the wonderful journey of planning your wedding!

Wedding Themes:

Beach Wedding – As the inclination for a relaxed and casual style of wedding is on the rise, we will certainly see an increase in the number of Beach & Destination Weddings this year! So, choose a long flowing sun dress, kick off your heels and go naturally barefoot to your ceremony. Make sure that your invite states that ‘thongs’ and sandals are welcome and that you have plenty of water bottles in an ice filled bucket on hand at your hot beach location.

With all that in mind there are so many ways that you can decorate your ceremony and then of course follow the theme through into the casual evening reception.

And don’t forget, after your big day is over and you wake up in the comfort of your beach fronted resort make sure that you call your photographer back, put your dress one last time for the ultimate wedding shoot… Trash the Dress! This will be the perfect and most creative ending to your wedding adventure and will make brilliant photographs for a follow-up ‘Thank You’ to your friends and family for sharing your special day! A little out of the ordinary but certainly lots of fun!

Woodland Rustic Country Wedding – Yet another trend for 2012 wedding themes brings us the Rustic Woodland Country look, think natural wood effects, shades of green, love birds’ outdoor settings and enchanting trees. To suit both outdoor and indoor weddings this woodland rustic chic can be carried across all decorations, bouquets and your bombonierre! You can combine this with a country music theme or a barn dance style for a unique wedding.

Don’t just think brown… Shades of teal mixed with birds, twigs, moss and peacock feathers are the perfect complement for a rustic wedding.

Sparkling Diamond Themed Wedding – A diamond ring is a thoughtful gift of promise, an engagement of two people with the same intentions of marriage. They are so unique, and to most a diamond will symbolise love and eternity. The expression ‘diamonds are forever’ is in fact not far from the truth, since diamonds are the hardest of all the gemstones and will last a very long time… this too is symbolic of a love worthy of marriage also said to last an eternity.

With such a powerful gem beginning your journey to everlasting love it is only right that this theme be continued through your wedding day and be shared with your friends and family. Although, of course it would be considered a little excessive to shower your guests with real diamonds… perhaps you can just consider some subtle sparkling in your decorations.

Winter Wonderland Wedding – As much as we would not like to wish the summer away the popularity of a winter wedding is certainly on the up and there will be plenty of brides who will be busy planning their fairy-tale winter wedding for this year’s snowy season! The good news is that sleeves and high necklines are back in so remember that when you choose your wintery bridal gown. Plus, you can add an elegant faux fur bolero, or a snug cashmere wrap for some extra warmth.

When thinking about your wedding colours and wintery theme you should go for a combination of white, ivory, cream and pale blue flowers for a cool effect. There is no shortage of the popular wedding flowers in winter. Gerberas (gerber daisies) in their multitude of colours are available, as are tulips, roses and chrysanthemums.

Candles are also perfect for a winter wedding as they create a warm romantic atmosphere, plus there are so many different colours available that you will have no problem matching the scheme of your wedding.

Garden Wedding – Why not delve into the enchanting set up of a garden wedding. This certainly is a route that will give a very personal touch and you can go for a small and intimate gathering or a grand ceremony. Perhaps you have fond childhood memories of a local park, a recent attachment to the botanical garden that you first wandered around as an engaged couple or simply love your granny’s flourishing backyard?!

Wherever you choose for your garden wedding be sure to also set a relaxed theme with laid back music for the ceremony and carry your ideas through to your reception. Choose natural colours, perhaps wooden vases or dried cut citrus fruit for your centre pieces. You could also bring elements from your honeymoon – maybe you are jetting off to Singapore and would like to add orchids to your table decorations and bouquets.

More Trends…

Wedding Flowers – The trend for wedding flowers in 2012 has been announced as “Neutral: soft romantic floral with soft colour fabric accents”. Perhaps you will choose a champagne colour scheme and incorporate ivory or pale-yellow roses into your bouquets. You could opt for pink oriental lilies, gerberas and carnations as part of your posies or have a single trailing bouquet with pink roses and orchids.

Whether you choose to go with this year’s trends or even if you go against the grain and design your wedding theme using bold and bright colours there are so many fantastic designs and decoration styles available to reflect your colour scheme and match in with your flower choice too.

Wedding Reception – Being up to date on the latest trends is a fantastic way to get inspiration when planning your wedding reception. There are so many things to consider, obviously there is the venue itself, this will depend on the formality of the day and of course the theme you have chosen.

With all venues you will have to consider what is fashionable and with the up to date styles leaning towards Ivory and Taupe Colours and Vintage with a Modern Touch what better way to capture this at your wedding than with an accessory that looks vintage and feels modern. Some of the favourite styles in vintage design to suit this trend include demask-esque black and white, vintage roses and soft browns.

If you are looking for a wedding decorator, then Xclusive Designs in Etobicoke, ON, is the company to contact. They are the professionals you want to help you for your big day.

Reasons to Choose a Building Maintenance Company

There comes a time when the big corporations can’t handle everything happening in their company, that’s why they get the help of outsource companies like Jani Queen, to help with the maintenance of their building. From cleaning services to building maintenance, many companies are getting their way into making the best of the situation. Many companies find outsourcing to a building maintenance company more advantageous for their business. This technique gives them more opportunity to save from operation costs spent when these tasks are assigned to their in-house employees. And, because it can save time, money, and energy, this strategy allows you to focus on your core business goal.

However, as there’s a lot of outsourcing service providers sprouting everywhere, choosing one that can satisfy your company’s need could be difficult. It is imperative that you know which company to go; you need to set your criteria, which can serve as your basis for selection.

So, what are the things you need to consider? There several criteria you can use as bases, but the following can be considered essential:

The cost – this is one of the most important considerations you need to note. Remember that the main reason why you outsource is because you want to save from operation costs without compromising the service quality. With this, do the price comparison among your prospects and consider those in your list that are price advantageous.

The resources available – you will also need to examine the resources they have – are they good enough? Does a company have the needed tools for the kind of service you need? The resources and equipment should give you a hint on how good a company is.

The policy – and lastly, you need to check their policy and it is important that you know the details on it. Service agreement or contract can cause problems in the future when important details are overlooked. Make sure that you review first the policy before accepting any deal.

The reputation – a company’s reputation is tested through time so take time to trace back your prospects’ history. How long a company has been in business? What are the awards or recognition received? Does the company have had any complaints? – these are just some questions you can ask.

The competence- the company’s competence greatly depends on the quality of employees it has. See to it that the company you are hiring has hired competent workers in town; they should be skilled in different tasks, including plumbing, electrical works, cabinetry, architectural, painting, and tenant improvement. Also, it is very important that its workers have the necessary certifications for their professions.

If you’re considering a building maintenance, then here are the reasons why it is important for you and your business:

Preventative Maintenance.

The primary goal of preventive maintenance is to prevent the failure of building critical equipment before it occurs. Most contractors will come to a site and deal with problems as they occur costing you a fortune when looked at on a larger scale. Preventive maintenance will not only save you time and money, but it will also improve system reliability, decrease system downtime and extend the life of your equipment and its parts.

Emergency Response

By using a building maintenance company, many times they are on site already maintaining your building, just as an employee would be, when problems do occur. Typical average emergency response times range from 2 – 4 hours, much less time than a general contractor you may hire, especially if you must find a fair price first.

Overall Appearance

While systems maintenance is a large portion of most building maintenance companies jobs, it does not take away from the concern for the aesthetic side of your property. Aesthetic maintenance includes drywall repair, janitorial services, landscaping, snow removal, and more.

Overall Functionality

Maintenance testing is a top reason to use a company like HFCS. Imagine the insight that can be gained on a problem from someone who works in your building all the time and has records of test results and maintenance actions taken. This data can be evaluated for trends and serve as the basis for decisions on appropriate testing frequency, need to replace or upgrade equipment and performance improvement opportunities that would normally be overlooked by your hourly repairman.

Tenant Relationships

Tenants and occupants of buildings feel much more comfortable working with someone that they have met previously and can develop a working relationship with. Having multiple contractors come in and out of a tenant’s space is not only a bother and worrisome but can affect their work as well.

Simplify building manager/owners time

Hiring multiple contractors for the various systems in and around your building can be a huge hassle and out of the scope of knowledge of building owners and managers. Effective time management for owners and building managers can result in happier tenants, faster lease turnovers and a hassle-free job. As HFCS says, “Relax, we got it.”

Peace of mind

It’s a nice feeling to know that your contracting company is there for you, and not to make a quick buck. Many contracting companies say you need an entire new system when a simple loose wire or new belt could fix a problem that arises. With a contracting company who is working for you at a fixed rate, this is never a concern. You can expect high quality of work with emergency decisions that can be made based on an expert in your building and it’s needs to operate effectively and efficiently.

Even More Advantages!

This list could really go on forever, but here are just a few more reasons that a building maintenance company is the way to go:

o Fire Systems Testing

o Less than 5% of subcontracting, supervised subcontracting when it does occur

o Adaptive Maintenance – Adapting the equipment in your building to address requirements that arise due to changes in the environment or new state/county/city regulations.

o Perfective Maintenance – Enhancements or modifications that can improve the safety, reliability, efficiency and/or cost-effectiveness of operation.

Jani Queen is such company that pride themselves over the service of high quality that they have been providing in Ottawa, ON.

Choosing between Glass Door and Aluminium Door


– Characteristics of the glass door

– Advantages and disadvantages of interior glass doors

– Interior aluminium door: characteristics

– Advantages and disadvantages of the aluminium internal door

The interior glass doors are discreet and let the light circulate in your interior. Unlike aluminium, which is light, double glazing is heavy, so you need to provide good anchoring with a suitable frame.

Glass is often combined with other materials such as wood. The glass door remains affordable in terms of prices in standard quality.

If you would like a customized quotation, please contact AluExperts. They will be able to understand your needs and offer you the best option and a free quote.

Characteristics of the glass door:

– The main asset of this type of door is the abundance of light that it allows indoor. It makes a room much brighter.

– Quite heavy, especially if the glass has special characteristics, anti-break-in, thermal and acoustic insulation.

– The anchors are different from traditional doors; the implementation is therefore more delicate especially with the risk of breakage, the difficulty in handling.

Advantages and disadvantages of interior glass doors


– Very bright and discreet.

– Good acoustic and thermal insulation with the right glass.         

– Quick and easy maintenance (just wipe off with a damp micro fibre cloth).


– Risk of breakage unless anti-break-in glass or anti-break-in film is used.

– Heavyweight.

– Prices vary greatly depending on quality.

Interior aluminium door

Choosing the material for interior doors is not always easy, especially since a wide range of models is available. Among the materials offered, there is aluminium. You will see below, the characteristics as well as the main advantages and disadvantages of the aluminium interior door.

Aluminium interior door: characteristics

The aluminium interior door is a real eye-catcher for fans of design decoration. It has the following special features:

– It is made of a lightweight material and can be used in any room of the house or in any kind of business premises;

– It is aesthetic: the aluminium door integrates perfectly into a contemporary interior;

– It is adapted to any opening system, whether it is a:

 – Hinged opening,

 – Sliding opening,

 – Pivot opening,

 – Folding opening;

– It can be mounted on any type of standard frame or on a door block.

Good to know: the aluminium internal door can be combined with other materials such as wood and glass.

Advantages and disadvantages of the aluminium internal door


– It does not warp over time: it has a great longevity;

– It does not require any particular maintenance: a simple cleaning is enough to keep it beautiful for a long time without the need to apply paint or specific treatment such as anti-rust, for example. However, it is quite possible to repaint an interior aluminium door with metal paint in the colour of your choice;

If you would like a customised quotation, please contact our door specialists at AluExperts. They will be able to understand your needs and offer you the best option and a free quote.

– Designed in a non-flammable material, it is ideal in rooms exposed to a high risk of fire;

– It is an excellent sound insulator, provided that it has a honeycomb wall;

– It is insensitive to UV rays: therefore, its appearance does not tarnish with light.

Good to know: To ensure that your aluminium interior doors are in perfect harmony, you can choose a set of designer door handles in the same or a complementary colour.


– It’s much more expensive than a simple aluminium door;

– Its performance without a cellular wall is low in terms of insulation: aluminium is not recommended for unheated rooms. Aluminium is a conductive material and therefore has low thermal insulation. This is why it is useful to opt for an aluminium door with a double wall or with thermal break if you do not want to reduce the quality of the interior insulation already installed on the walls, ceiling and floor.

Good to know: the interior door made of poor quality aluminium is relatively fragile. If it is to be used frequently, it is best to choose an aluminium door with a reinforced wall. It may cost more than an entry-level aluminium door, but the investment is worth it.

Finally, the price of an interior aluminium door will depend on several criteria, such as:

– The type of door: sliding, swinging, folding, and pivoting;

– Its design: structured aluminium, smooth, etc;

– Its quality: double wall, thermal break, and honeycomb wall;

– The supplier. Hope that this post will help you to make up your mind in choosing between glass door and aluminium door. Please, remember to write your comments below.

Car Loan: The Dos and Don’ts

If there’s one thing we all know when it comes to loan agreements is that the devil is in the details. One mistake or one line you overlook in the loan agreement can lead to you overpaying. So, as cliché as it sounds, you really need to review the agreement thoroughly. That includes checking the fine prints. You also want to make sure that there is no mistake in the contract. Whether intentional or not, it could potentially be very costly to you.

When buying from a dealership, pay attention to the marked up-interest rates as well. If you don’t know what that it is, let us explain. When you borrow a certain amount from your lender, the lender will approve the loan at a certain interest rate. But when the dealership gives you the contract, they will mark up the interest rate. What you need to determine is by how much has the interest rate been increased. Some lenders will cap the markup at a maximum of 2% while others won’t do that. So, if your loan has been approved at an interest rate of 7%, signing a contract with an interest rate of 11% is not such a great idea. Negotiate to have them drop the interest rate, or find a dealership that won’t charge as much.

How to Avoid Overpaying on a Car Loan

Step #1. Ask for the VIN

VIN is short for Vehicle Identification Number. You want to make sure you are getting the right car. So, when reading the agreement check the VIN carefully and ensure it matches the car you are actually getting.

Step #2: Fill in the form carefully

It may sound silly, but even one mistake on the agreement can cost you a lot. Ensure from the get-go that your name is spelled correctly and your address and driver’s license number are right. You don’t want to risk having to do everything from scratch. You might miss out on a perfect deal just because of that. Not to mention the administrative fees the lender and dealership could charge you to correct the mistake if you notice it after signing the contract!

Step #3: Find out what additional fees you will have to pay

Even if the dealership or lender assures you that they don’t charge any fees for, there could very well be other costs associated with the loan, such as the kinds you need to even start the loan.

So, find out from the lender what fees you will have to pay them as well as to the department of motor vehicles. Also, ask them to advise you regarding the taxes you will have to pay. Consider doing this at the start of the process itself, so you can budget accordingly.

Once you’ve confirmed this with your lender, you can now turn to the dealership and ask them about the “out-the-door” price. This will help you determine if there are any other extra fees you will have to pay. And if you do this early one, the comparison you make between one dealership and another will be more accurate. You will also be able to determine legitimate fees from the bogus one from the start, and potentially allowing you to save both on time and money.

Step #4: Check for add-ons

You will able to smoke this one if you follow the tip we ae you at the start of this post. Essentially, some lenders will include products such as extended warranties or gap insurance in the agreement. Some dealers will try to install additional equipment that you didn’t ask for and don’t even need, only so they can charge you for them. If you asked for it, fine. But if you didn’t, then that’s just them trying to get you to sign for higher monthly payment.

How to Get the Best Deal Possible

Most loan agreements contain jargon you do not even understand. But since understanding the loan process, knowing what to look for in an auto loan agreement and knowing what’s in the agreements are keys to ensuring you get what you bargained for, there are a few things you can do.

One of the first things you want to do before even starting the search for the perfect car is getting preapproved. Most experts believe that getting this done first increases your chances of locking in a better interest rate.

The next thing to do is to compare one quote from another. But how will you do this if one loan agreement is completely different from the other? It’s simple. Ask to receive quotes based on the loan length and balance. The closer the term agreements are to each other, the easier it will be for you to compare them. Direct comparison between one loan and another will make finding the best offer easier too.