How to Make a Surgical Face Mask

Hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap aren’t the only health items that have become difficult to find since the novel coronavirus made its way to the United States; surgical face masks, such as the popular N95 mask or N95 respirator, have also been flying off the shelves.

Because coronavirus is an airborne illness, it makes sense that so many people are rushing to stock up on respirators and surgical masks. If you’re having a hard time finding any in your area, the good news is that you can make your own. Before you get started, however, there are some things you need to know.

Potential Benefits and Drawbacks of Surgical Masks

Reasons to Wear a Face Mask or Mouth Mask

There is always concern about the spread of germs when you’re in close quarters with other people. For example, if you ride a crowded subway or other public transportation to and from work each day, you might be worried about catching something from the person sitting next to you. By wearing a surgical mask or other types of respirator masks, you can effectively filter out some of the airborne particles (including some viruses) that would otherwise find their way to you. In this sense, wearing a surgical mask can provide you with some additional protection and peace of mind, especially if you spend time in larger crowds regularly.

Understanding the Limits of Surgical Face Masks

It’s important to understand that wearing a surgical mask (also commonly referred to as a mouth mask) will not automatically protect you from catching coronavirus (or any other airborne virus, for that matter). Even N95 masks, which are among the most effective facial masks available, can only block out about 95% of small particles when worn properly (hence the N95 name for the filtration efficiency). The N95 respirator is the most common of the seven types of particulate filtering facepiece respirators. This product filters at least 95% of airborne particles or N95 particulates but is not resistant to oil.

Also, you’ll want to understand your own physical limitations. Surgical masks can cut down on airflow, which can be a problem for those with respiratory problems (such as asthma). If you have any physical conditions that may make wearing a surgical mask dangerous to your health, be sure to talk to your doctor before proceeding.

How to Make Your Own Surgical Face Mask

Because N95 respirators and other types of surgical face masks or mouth masks have become difficult to come by, many people find themselves in a situation where they need to make their own. Even if you do have access to face masks or an N95 respirator mask in your area, you may want to consider DIYing your own, anyway. This will help to ensure that others who truly need those face masks (like those working in the medical field) can continue to get the protection they need.

A quick online search will yield all kinds of results for DIY surgical mask tutorials, but the one we’re outlining here is about as simple and straightforward as it gets. There is no need for any sewing experience, and there’s a good chance you already have all the supplies you need to whip up one of these masks in just a few minutes.

What You’ll Need For A DIY Face Mask or DIY N95 Mask

To get started, you’ll need:

  • paper towels (at least a few sheets per N95 mask)
  • rubber bands (shoelaces or string will also work)

If you’d prefer to make a washable mask (one that can be reused rather than replaced), you can also use a t-shirt in place of the paper towels. If you are using a t-shirt, it’s a good idea to bleach and wash it before use—especially if there is any chance it has been contaminated in any way.

Putting it Together

To create your face mask, begin by taking two or three squares of paper towel and layering them on top of each other. If you’re using a t-shirt, simply cut the shirt into several equal sections and stack them on top of each other (just be sure that the size is large enough to cover your mouth and nose).

Next, begin creating small accordion folds in the paper or t-shirt fabric until the entire mask is folded into a long, thin rectangle. At this point, you can attach your rubber bands, shoelaces, or other string. This can be done by punching a hole through the ends of the mask material and simply looping the band through, or by gluing or stapling.

From there, gently unfold the mask material until it is stretched out enough to cover your chin, mouth, and nose. You can then check and adjust the fit of the rubber bands as needed.

Getting the Most Out of Your Surgical Face Mask

Now that you know how to make or create your own surgical face mask, there are a few more tips worth following to get the most out of yours.

Ensure a Tight Fit

Ideally, your mask should fit snugly around your mouth and nose to reduce the number of foreign particles that can enter the particulate respirator, mask N95 or N95 mask.

Replace or Wash Regularly

If using paper towels for your DIY mask or homemade N95 mask, you’ll want to make enough so that you can change your mask regularly (at least once a day and possibly more, depending on how often you wear it). As soon as your mask becomes damp or wet, it needs to be changed out; that’s because a wet mask can make you even more susceptible to infection and other health problems.

If you’re making a t-shirt mask (or a mask out of another washable fabric), consider making two so that you can always have one in the wash and one readily available to wear.

Only Wear When Necessary

In reality, people who are showing symptoms are the ones who should be wearing these masks out in public. However, if you insist on wearing a mask to protect yourself, limit the amount you wear it to times when you are actually out in a large crowd. Remember that when you wear a surgical mask, you are restricting air and oxygen flow to your body—so you don’t want to wear it when it’s not really needed.

More Best Practices For Protecting Yourself

Keeping a clean home is always important—but when cold and flu season rolls around, it’s perhaps more vital than ever to the surfaces of your home disinfected for any virus. In addition to having face masks on-hand or other personal protective equipment, there are some other measures you should be taking to protect yourself against the spread of any type of virus. The best thing you can do is to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds at a time, as well as keeping your hands away from your face.

Keeping a clean home can also go a long way in reducing the spread of germs. Too busy for everyday cleaning and disinfecting? Let our team at Maid Sailors take care of you! Contact us today to find out more about our cleaning services offered; we’d be happy to schedule your first appointment with our professional team at your convenience.

A Landlord’s Worst Nightmare: 5 Outrageous Tenant Horror Stories

Choosing good tenants is a critical part of protecting your real estate investment. And when we say choosing tenants, we don’t just mean evaluating them based on their outward charm or meeting them and deciding whether or not they look like trustworthy, decent people. Every landlord should have a strict and rigorous screening process—complete with background checks—to ensure that they don’t end up with risky tenants who might end up costing them thousands of dollars in eviction attempts, lawsuits, and major property repairs.

Background checks with the help of people search websites should be standard for all tenant screenings. Most landlords usually just ask for basic information, employment verification documents, payslips or bank statements, references, and a variety of other requirements when screening their tenants. But the problem with that is that none of these documents can actually help you get an idea as to what problems these potential tenants can cause down the line. They can one day decide to run an illegal business out of their home, set the property on fire, or murder someone right there on your freshly re-carpeted floors.

With the sheer number of terrible people in this world, the possibilities are truly endless. Admittedly, there is no foolproof way to avoid getting a bad tenant. Even if the tenant has all the right credentials and requirements, doing background checks that include criminal records, credit histories, and other financial information is still the best way for landlords to avoid experiencing their own tenant horror stories.

But if you still aren’t convinced, here are a few outrageous tenant horror stories that may change your mind:

1. The Bankrupt Conman

Never let appearances fool you. Just because a prospective tenant looks clean, sophisticated, and well-to-do does not mean that he or she will be a good tenant.

A case in point: a member of the National Association of Independent Landlords submitted a story about an outwardly prosperous man who applied to rent one of the landlord’s apartments. He showed up “with nice clothes and a nice car” and gave some sob story about how he needed a place to stay immediately as his wife had recently died, which prompted the sympathetic landlord to speed up the screening process and skip important requirements—such as the background check.

After just one month of renting, the tenant stopped paying rent. As it turns out, the tenant had filed for bankruptcy prior to signing the lease, which meant he was legally not required to pay his rent while his case was in bankruptcy court.

The tenant was able to stay in apartment rent-free for seven months. The landlord later learned that this man had apparently pulled the same con on various other landlords.

2. “Latex Dog Poo Lasagna”

Many landlords do not allow pets on rental properties because of the assumption that having animals would mean physical damages to the property. But at the end of the day, it is still the owner’s responsibility to train the animal and take proper precautions to mitigate the consequences of their pet’s behavior. It is only when owners fail to take responsibility for their pets that these problems occur.

The problem is never the animal—it’s the owner.

This was exactly the case in a particularly horrifying story from an askreddit thread on Reddit.com. After evicting the tenant for unspecified reasons, the landlord went to the house to clean the place up. When they got there, what they saw in the basement was the stuff of nightmares.

“They had a dog that went in the basement to crap. Instead of cleaning it up they poured latex paint on it to seal in the smell,” the user wrote. “The dog kept crapping and they kept pouring [until] a latex dog poo lasagna [filled the] entire room. The floor was a mound about 4ft high and 10ft wide, filling the entire basement of nothing but layers of latex paint and dog crap from several years of them living there. Took air hammers and chisels and weeks of work to clean.” 

3. The One-Woman Horror Show

Sometimes, landlords get tenants who are just too horrible for words.

Brad Chandler of Express Homebuying, who used to manage a section 8 community in Washington, D.C. a few years ago, recalls one particularly bad tenant who “liked to start problems” and “may have been a prostitute and drug and alcohol abuser.”

Clearly unstable, this tenant was a menace not only to her landlords but to other tenants as well. “When she got mad at our office she would turn on her water, block the drain, and flood the apartments below her,” Chandler shares. “[And] she lived on the third floor. She did this three times in six months. We were left to pay for and clean up the damage and we still couldn’t evict her.”

Worse than the willful property damage, however, was the manslaughter that this tenant committed right in the apartment complex. “One day she got in an argument with a gentleman outside of her apartment door, in the hallway,” Chandler explains. “It turned physical and she pushed the man over the railing. He ended up dying. Still, we couldn’t evict her. A few months after that she was run over by a bus not far from the community and she died.”

4. Stolen Appliances, Buckets of Poop, and Massive Destruction

Here’s another story from the same thread on Reddit.com that will make any landlord vow to never skip background checks again:

“My best friend and his father run a property management company nearby,” the user wrote. “They had a couple for tenants in the third floor of a building that were pissed off, out of work, alcoholics, and apparently just not nice people.”

The user continues: “They were getting evicted and knew it… so they proceeded to take anything of value and destroy everything else. They took the dishwasher, refrigerator and some carpet. They destroyed the closets, bathroom fixtures, cabinets, walls, etc.”

And then, just for kicks, they decided to defecate in buckets and left them in the apartment. But believe it or not, those things weren’t even the worst of what the tenants did.

“[One of the tenants] used to work construction and mixed up some quick-setting concrete and poured it into [the drains],” the user adds. “It literally destroyed most of the plumbing in the building as the pipes all drained down to the floors below. They had to tear the walls apart and completely redo all of the plumbing it touched.

5. The Worst Tenant in the World

What’s worse than a bad tenant who destroys your property and annoys all your other tenants? A bad tenant who commits domestic violence, torture, murder, and arson on your property, and then proceeds to involve you and the other tenants in a long and arduous murder trial.

“Tenant and his wife were divorcing and in the middle of a nasty custody battle. Wife brought child over for weekend visit and got into fight with new girlfriend. New girlfriend knocked her unconscious, tied her to a chair and kept her locked in the apartment until tenant came home. Tenant and girlfriend spent a week torturing wife until she finally signed papers relinquishing custody,” a Reddit.com user wrote on the same askreddit thread of tenant horror stories.

The story gets even grislier. “[The] tenant and [his] new girlfriend kill [the] wife. Tenant takes the drywall off the wall in the apartment, shoves wife’s body between the wall joists and puts the drywall back up. He leaves her there until he can’t stand the smell in the apartment anymore,” the user continues. “Tenant then pulls the drywall back off, pulls out the body, puts it in apartment complex refrigerator and… dumps the body in the national forest and sets it on fire. Then tenant brings the refrigerator back to the apartment so he can keep using it. When the police come looking for the wife, tenant sets the apartment on fire to cover up the murder but only does minimal damage.”

Despite the cover-up attempt, the tenant gets arrested. However, he soon gets bailed out by his mother. The tenant then returns to the apartment and makes all sorts of demands. He tells his landlord to fix all the destruction and chaos that he caused during the murder, such as the damaged drywall, bloodstained carpets, and the pervasive odor (from the corpse of his former wife) that still lingered in the apartment. Predictably, he was served with an eviction notice.

But, like all bad tenants, he wasn’t going to leave without causing major grief to everyone involved first.

“He trashes the entire apartment then waits until his new girlfriend comes home. He douses her with gasoline, locks her inside the apartment and throws a Molotov cocktail through the window. When the cops come, he blames everything on his new girlfriend who is now comatose with severe burns over the majority of her body,” the user adds. “[The] tenant is arrested again and held without bond.”

But the story’s not over yet. “[The tenant’s] defense lawyer then subpoenaed every other tenant in the building to testify and begins taking depositions that come across as bullying/threatening. Apartment complex insurance company attorney refuses to represent the tenants and have the subpoenas quashed. Half the tenants move out so they didn’t have to deal with the lawsuit/press/murder. The other half group together and sue the apartment complex because the management failed to maintain a safe living environment.”

After all of the problems caused by that one bad tenant, the landlords ended up filing for bankruptcy. “It cost $3k for the eviction [and] $20k in insurance deductibles to repair the fire damage but the insurance company paid out almost ten times that. The insurance company also paid out over $75k in legal fees and settled out the lawsuits for roughly six figures.”

The Bottom Line

To ensure that you don’t end up with a tenant horror story as outrageous and horrifying as the ones we’ve included here, always take the necessary steps to find out everything you can about your prospective tenants. You can use people search websites like MyLife.com, where you can find out more about the applicants who are applying to rent your property and order full background checks to supplement the tenant screening process.

Being a landlord is definitely not for the faint of heart. Still, almost all of these tenant horror stories could have been avoided with a proper tenant screening process and by conducting complete and accurate background checks.

How to Make DIY Foaming Soap

There’s just something about foaming hand soap that makes washing your hands more enjoyable. Maybe it’s the luxurious feel of the thick foam, or perhaps it’s the fascination of watching the liquid soap from the bottle “magically” transform into a frothy foam. Who knows?

What we do know is that watching your store-bought foaming hand soap dwindle down to its last few pumps is a bummer. Before you run out to your local grocery store to stock up on more bottles, though, did you know you can quickly and easily make your own foaming hand soap? There’s a good chance that you even have all the ingredients you need to make a foaming soap refill right now.

Ready to get started? We’ve got you covered with a simple step-by-step guide and some practical tips.

Why Make Your Own Foaming Soap?

If you’ve ever taken the time to compare the cost of foaming hand soap to its non-foaming counterpart, you’ve probably noticed that it’s a lot more expensive to buy the foaming stuff. And there’s really not any good reason for it. Even though foaming hand soap cleans just as effectively as non-foaming soap, you’ve probably noticed that the liquid in the bottle seems very thin and watered down.

That’s because foaming soap is literally liquid soap and water. Seriously, that’s it. See where we’re going with this? By making your own foaming hand soap out of regular liquid soap and a little bit of water, you can save yourself a nice chunk of change (and maybe some trips to the store). And when you re-use a foaming soap dispenser rather than buying a new bottle, you’re also doing your part to keep trash out of landfills.

How to Make Foaming Hand Soap

It’s so easy to make your own foaming hand soap. Walk through each step with us below!

Start With a Foaming Soap Dispenser

A foaming hand soap dispenser is a must, as these dispensers push air through the liquid soap to create that lovely foam. If you have an empty (or near-empty) bottle of foaming soap on-hand, you can reuse it. Just give it a quick rinse to get rid of any leftover soap scent—especially if you plan on using a new scent to create your own foaming soap.

If you don’t have a foaming dispenser on-hand, consider buying a glass foaming soap dispenser. You can find these online or at your local home goods store. The nice thing about a glass foaming soap dispenser is that these are heavier and more substantial, and they look nicer in your bathroom or kitchen. They’re also very environmentally friendly and are less likely to tip over when they get closer to being empty. Win-win!

You may also be able to reuse just the screw-top from an old foaming soap bottle on another container of your choice, as long as the screw-top fits.

Add Water and Liquid Soap

Once you have the right dispenser, it’s really just a matter of mixing the right proportions of water and soap. You can use any hand soap that you wish. Some people will even use dish soap to create their own foaming dishwashing soap for a more luxurious experience. Why not? If you prefer something that’s a little more moisturizing, you can even use a moisturizing body wash to create a foaming soap this way.

Begin by pouring a small amount of warm water into the bottom of your dispenser. It’s best to add the water first because if you add the soap first, you could end up with too much foaming inside the bottle. Not sure how much water to add? It really depends on how frothy you want your foam. Adding more water will result in less foam, whereas less water will create a thicker foam. We recommend trying about four parts water to one part soap, but it’s not an exact science.

After you’ve added your water, squeeze the preferred amount of soap into the bottle.

Gently Mix Until Incorporated

Time to mix! Avoid shaking the bottle to mix up the water and soap, as this will just result in lots of bubbles and foam inside the bottle (which isn’t what you want). Instead, try gently swishing the bottle back and forth until the water and soap are well incorporated.

Enjoy Your Luxurious Foaming Soap!

Give your DIY foaming soap a try! If the foam seems a little too thin for your liking, you can add and mix more soap into the bottle. Likewise, if the foam is a little too heavy, you can add a little more warm water to thin it out a bit. We always recommend using warm water here because it tends to incorporate more smoothly with the soap than cold water does.

Once you’re happy with your mixture, all that’s left to do is enjoy your (inexpensive and easy) DIY soap! You may also want to jot down which proportions of soap and water you ended up using to achieve your ideal results so you can replicate them the next time you need a soap refill.

While We’re at It, Some Hand-Washing Tips!

This seems like a fitting time for a quick refresher on proper hand-washing measures.

Focus on More Than Your Palms

It’s easy to focus on your palms and the insides of your hands when you wash them, especially since that’s where you dispense your luxurious foaming soap. However, it’s important to also pay attention to the backs of your hands, your fingers, your wrists, and even under your nails (if you have longer nails).

Wash For at Least 20 Seconds

Scrub your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before rinsing! Try singing or humming the “Happy Birthday” song twice, or reciting your alphabet twice at a leisurely pace. Or, check out this list of ideas if you’d prefer to mix up your hand-washing tunes with some pop hits.

Shut Off Faucet With Your Arm/Wrist

Avoid re-contaminating your clean hands! Shut off your faucet using your arm or wrist instead of touching it again with your hands. Or, if you have it in your budget, upgrade to a touchless, sensor-activated faucet!

Looking For House-Cleaning Help?

Creating your own foaming hand soap is a great way to save money while keeping your hands clean and refreshed. What about the rest of your home? Maid Sailors is here to help! Our hard-working and professional house cleaners can help you achieve your ideal level of cleanliness without you lifting a finger! Contact us today to get your appointment booked!

Hiring a Moving Help Service

If you’re like most people, planning a move isn’t exactly your idea of a good time. Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, there are a lot of logistics to worry about before the big day. The good news is that you always have the option of hiring a team to help you with your move—and doing so can take some stress off your plate.

If you’re thinking about hiring moving help, this is something you’ll want to look into sooner rather than later. Moving companies can book up quickly, especially during busy seasons of the year (including summer). The sooner you decide on whether to hire moving help, the sooner you can get the ball rolling.

Not sure where to begin? Take a look at our guide to hiring moving help, which covers everything from determining whether you need moving help to what to look for when hiring a professional.

Hire Moving Help or Handle it Yourself?

Is hiring movers right for you? There are some potential pros and cons to think about for your next relocation.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Moving Professional

Hiring a moving professional can cut down on the stress involved in moving, especially when it comes to transporting your belongings from point A to point B. The right movers will have the experience, equipment, and know-how necessary to tackle your move efficiently. You can even have them pick up storage right from your doorstep so you do not have to do any of the heavy lifting yourself.

Of course, hiring movers isn’t cheap. You can expect to shell out a pretty penny for professional moving services—and these costs can be difficult to justify if you’re already on a limited budget. Availability for professional movers may also be limited, so you may have a hard time finding help if you’re moving during a busy time of year (like a weekend in the middle of the summer).

Pros and Cons of DIYing Your Move

The main benefit to handling your own move without the help of a professional is that of saving money. By loading up all your own belongings and transporting them yourself, you’ll potentially save hundreds or even thousands of dollars. And if you don’t have that much to move in the first place, this could be a wise choice.

However, you also need to consider the value of your time and labor. When you move yourself, you generally won’t have access to the same tools and equipment that a professional moving company would. You also won’t have the experience and expertise as somebody who moves furniture and boxes for clients on a daily basis. As a result, it could end up taking you several hours to do what a moving team could do in less than an hour.

When you begin to think of things this way, it can be easier to see why spending the money on a team of moving professionals may be worth it.

Tips for Hiring Moving Help

If you decide to move forward with hiring a mover, the first thing you’ll need to do is to decide when you would need moving services. Because moving companies can book out far in advance (especially in heavily populated areas), having some flexibility here will be helpful.

From there, be sure to keep a few key considerations in mind as you being exploring your options for professional movers.

Find Out What They Can (And Can’t) Move

Most moving companies will have policies on specific items they cannot handle or transport for liability reasons. Firearms, for example, are a common item that many moving companies will not deal with. The same may also apply for especially large or heavy furniture, such as pianos. If the company you’re looking at does handle these types of items, keep in mind that you may be expected to pay extra.

What Other Services Are Offered?

In addition to moving services, you may also be interested in other services to help you prepare for relocating. Some companies, for example, may offer assistance with packing in preparation for your move. If you’re looking to take a hands-off approach with your move and cut down on your stress, you may want to find a company that offers packing and/or unpacking services as well.

If you’ll need a storage unit after your move, you may also want to find a moving company that offers this as well. In this case, your movers may be able to drop your belongings off at your new place and then take any excess boxes or furniture over to your storage unit on the same day, saving you time and hassle.

Inquire About Their Pricing Structure

Cost is almost always a concern when hiring a professional mover, so be sure to find out how your moving company calculates their costs and how you’ll be expected to pay. For the most accurate estimate, you may want to find a company that can provide an in-home quote on your services; some other companies may provide a quote based on an itemized list of boxes and furniture that you provide.

Regardless of cost, be sure to also find out what type of deposit (if any) will be required of you and what types of additional expenses you can expect. For example, if your moving company doesn’t include gratuity with your quoted price, you may need to set aside some extra cash to tip your moving team. If you’re moving a long distance, keep in mind that there may be fuel surcharges added to your estimate as well.

Moving companies can also vary greatly in how they charge for their services. One company may charge a flat-fee for your move based on the amount of furniture and boxes you have. Another moving company, on the other hand, may charge an hourly fee based on the estimated number of hours your move will take.

Is Your Estimate Binding?

Speaking of pricing, it’s important to find out whether the quote/estimate you’ve received from your moving company is binding. If it is, then this means you should not end up with any added expenses or surprise charges. A non-binding quote, however, is meant to give you a general idea of the price but can fluctuate based on how long it takes your moving team to complete the job.

Ideally, you’ll want to find a company that will provide you with a binding estimate. This will help you avoid surprises down the road, which can help you avoid additional stress as you prepare for your move.

Ask What Equipment They’ll Use

A professional mover needs to have access to the right equipment to get the job done quickly, efficiently, and with no damage to your personal items. Don’t hesitate to ask a moving company for an inventory of their equipment. Furniture dollies can really cut down on moving time, so there should be at least one dolly available for each mover on your hired team. You may also want to ask what supplies will be used to protect your flooring or wrap your furniture items during transport, as well as what extra costs use of these materials may incur.

Make Sure They’re Fully Insured

Never hire a moving company without obtaining proof of liability insurance; this type of insurance is a must whether you’re moving locally or long distance. Specifically, liability coverage is designed to protect both you and your moving company in the event that any of your belongings are lost or damaged during the move.

With many moving companies, your quote includes basic insurance coverage for a specific dollar amount per pound of furniture/boxes. Make sure you’re comfortable with this amount, and don’t hesitate to ask for additional coverage if your moving company is handling anything especially valuable.

Find Out Exactly What’s Included

Always be sure to find out exactly what’s included with your moving estimate versus what may not be included before you book any services. After all, inclusions and exclusions can sometimes vary greatly from one company to the next.

For example, if you’re moving into a high-rise apartment building in New York City, you may need access to a freight elevator to move your furniture and other heavy items to your new place. Obtaining a reservation for an elevator is something your moving company should handle—though some moving companies may charge extra for this and some may not.

If any of your furniture needs to be dis-assembled and re-assembled, you’ll also want to find out whether this will cost you extra. With a moving company that charges by the hour, assembly should simply fall into the hourly rate. However, if you’ve received a flat-fee quote for your move, furniture assembly may end up costing extra.

Ask for References and Referrals

Ideally, you’ll want to find a moving company that has at least a few years of experience. However, a newer moving company can still be a great choice if they have great reviews and referrals. Don’t hesitate to ask a potential moving company for a list of references that you can follow up on, especially if they’re a newer company without a lot of experience.

A list of references can put you into contact with past clients who have used the moving company’s services in the past. This can help you get a better idea of what to expect from the company based on past clients’ experiences. Online reviews can also be useful for this, but it’s important to make sure the reviews you’re reading are legitimate.

What About Background Checks?

When you hire movers, you’re inherently inviting them into your home and trusting them to handle your personal belongings. With that in mind, it’s important to be able to fully trust your movers. Many moving companies will perform thorough background checks on the movers they hire for your peace of mind and protection. If you’re thinking about hiring a moving company, be sure to ask if they run criminal background screenings on their movers. If not, then you may want to find a company that does.

Other Services to Consider

Finding the right moving team for your upcoming relocation will take some time, research, and careful planning. At the end of the day, however, hiring a capable and experienced moving team can provide you with peace of mind and much-needed stress relief during this chaotic time.

To make settling into your new place go even more smoothly, you may also want to consider hiring a professional maid service. A move-in/move-out cleaning from Maid Sailors, for example, can save you the hassle of scrubbing your new place from top to bottom before you move in. Instead, let our team of professional cleaners take care of this for you so you can simply move in and begin getting unpacked!

How to Make Your Restaurant Prepared For The Holiday Rush

The festive season is one of the busiest in the year. This season comes with broad opportunities to make a significant connection with customers. This creates a brand image you would like customers to associate with your brand in the New Year. The holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to grow your sales. Here are ways to prepare your restaurant to cash in on the holiday season.

Festive Decoration

To put your restaurant in a festive mood, decoration is necessary. There are various Christmas and New Year decoration ideas to include in your restaurant. The decoration in your restaurant should be visible by people outside with some exceptional decoration at the entrance. Include lights, Christmas tree, and muffins on all tables for a festive ambiance. Customers will love this as soon as they step into the door.

Special Menu

Give your customers something new during the holiday season. Prepare a special menu for the holiday season. Include special meals you have not been serving or include some of the mouthwatering favorites including salads and cold meat. For the older generation, prepare traditional roast meats, plum pudding, and baked vegetables. Don’t miss the traditional Christmas dessert made with meringue base with whipped cream and fruit topping. You can create a special Christmas menu and one for the new year.

Enough Supplies

The best way to avoid stress and frustration during the festive season rush in your restaurant is to have enough supplies. Now is the moment to order wholesale restaurant supplies online before the season heats up. A reputable supplier will have a range of supplies in various categories to match your business requirements. Ensure to purchase supplies wholesale to ensure that your stocks don’t run out during the festive rush and to benefit from special discounts.

Efficient Customer Relationship Management

Calls and sending texts to people on your client list is part of a customer loyalty program. Ensure to target people who came to your restaurant during last year’s festive season. Calling or texting them asking whether you can book them this season too is a great idea. Customers love businesses that warmly invite them. The efficient use of your CRM builds customer relationships and fosters better rapport with existing customers to encourage retention and loyalty.

Alternatively, avail a range of royalty offers to attract new and current customers. When contacting the customers, begin with a warm greeting before inviting them to your restaurant for your festive preparations. Talk about your royalty program to make your invitation more appealing. This will make you except customers and create better relationships with customers for brand loyalty.

Organize a Festive Season Event

Most people prefer spending the festive season with their loved ones. However, you can lure them to your restaurant by organizing special theme nights. These will attract a crowd on days such as New Year’s eve. Alternatively, you can organize special nights for celebrations until the New Year comes. People are fascinated by special musical nights or events for putting them in a celebratory mood. Such events are socially exciting and fun-filled to put attendees in a festive mood.

Offer Gift Coupons and Freebies

The Christmas season is filled with immense spending opportunities. These make most people run out of cash. Fortunately, you can lure people to come to your restaurant with a promise to help them spend less. Additionally, with the immense gift-giving during the festive season, there is no reason why not to give a loved one a gift or shopping voucher.

These will attract more customers to your restaurant. People love vouchers for offering flexibility and various options. Dining coupons at your establishment are a wonderful gift option to boost sales. Keep the validity if the vouchers and gift cards longer. This will keep people flocking your restaurant beyond the festive season.

Preparing for Chaos

People are usually in a celebratory mood during the festive season. However, some customers can get rowdy after some drinks. This is true when you host an event or party at your restaurant. So, it pays to plan for this chaos. This is very important since one rowdy customer can become unruly and disrupt the peace of other customers and the ambiance of your establishment.

Have someone to take care of such people before your place becomes a war zone. Hire some bouncers to keep a keen eye on whoever might have the potential to cause chaos at your restaurant. This will ensure that all your customers make the most of their experience. Additionally, it saves you from this extra stress of trying to keep things in order.

Bottom Line

The festive season is the busiest throughout the year making it a wonderful opportunity to make some good money. This requires adequate preparation to ensure serving customers without any mishaps. Buying supplies for your establishment in bulk at wholesale price is a proactive idea to save yourself the stress when the season heats up.

Hiring a Yard Clean Up Service

Keeping the inside of your home clean and tidy can be time-consuming enough—but maintaining your lawn and its landscaping can seem like a near-impossible task for many. From weeding and mowing during the summer months to leaf and debris removal during the spring and fall, there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with owning land.

In addition to hiring a yard care service, many busy landowners also choose to employ yard clean-up services to keep their lawns looking their best all year round.

What Does a Yard Clean-Up Service Offer?

Specific services offered by a yard clean-up company can vary, but most offer the same basic options that include some or all of the following.

Leaf/Debris Removal

If you have a lot of trees on your property, you’ll likely be faced with the large task of removing them all towards the end of fall. This can be time-consuming, especially if you don’t have a leaf blower and are relying on an old-fashioned rake and lawn waste bag to get the job done. A yard clean-up service can handle the removal of leaves from your property, as well as other debris (like fallen branches or other yard waste).

Weed Removal

Weeds are a more common problem during the spring and summer months. Not only do weeds detract from the appearance of your yard and the curb appeal of your home, but they can pose a threat to healthy grass and plants on your property.

A yard clean-up service can handle weeding your yard and landscaping beds so they can look their best. This can also be done during the spring months to give you a “clean slate” before you plant any flowers, shrubs, or other seasonal plants on your property.

Tree and Shrub Pruning

Many yard clean-up companies also offer tree- and shrub-pruning services to keep your plants and shrubs healthy. Pruning is typically done during the fall months, but this can vary depending on the types of plants or trees with which you’re working. A yard clean-up company will know how much to prune to keep your shrubs and/or trees healthy and encourage proper regrowth in the following seasons.

Mulch Installation

Adding a new mulch bed or refreshing an existing mulch bed can be a lot of work, which is why many people hire yard clean-up services to have this project taken care of. A new or refreshed mulch bed on your property can also add lovely curb appeal to your home. A professional company will have the tools needed to lay mulch and will save you the hassle of hauling it to your home.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Yard Clean-Up Service

Now that you have a better understanding of what a yard clean-up service entails, is hiring one right for you? If you’re still not sure, it can be helpful to weigh some of the possible pros and cons.

Advantages of Hiring a Yard Clean-Up Service

Perhaps the biggest benefit to hiring a yard clean-up service, as hiring a moving help service, is that it saves you an enormous amount of time and hassle. Depending on the size of your yard, you could easily spend hours of your valuable time each week taking care of your lawn. Combine the sheer amount of time required to maintain a lawn with the back-breaking physical labor that goes into it—and it’s easy to see why hiring a professional could be worth the money.

When you hire a reputable yard clean-up service, you can also rest assured that these are trained and experienced professionals working on your lawn. They’ll have access to some of the best tools, equipment, and other resources to get the job done efficiently and to keep your yard looking great.

Thinking of selling your home in the near future? A poorly maintained lawn can detract from your curb appeal, which may make it harder to sell your place. Many people looking to sell a home will hire yard clean-up services to freshen things up and make sure the home is presentable both inside and out before listing.

Potential Drawbacks of Hiring a Yard Clean-Up Service

As you can probably imagine, one of the biggest potential drawbacks of hiring a lawn clean-up service is the cost. DIYing your yard clean-up won’t cost you a thing (other than maybe the cost of a rake, some yard waste bags, and other basic supplies)—whereas hiring a professional isn’t cheap. Still, it’s important to think about the value of your time and energy when considering whether the cost of hiring a clean-up service is worth it. For many homeowners, it is.

When you hire a yard clean-up service, you’re also trusting the professionals to properly care for your yard and know what they’re doing. If you hire somebody who isn’t knowledgeable about a particular tree or shrub on your property, for example, he or she may end up harming or even killing the plant/tree by over-pruning it. For this reason, it’s important to make sure you’re choosing an experienced and knowledgeable professional for this type of work.

How Much Does a Yard Clean-Up Service Cost?

If you’re thinking about hiring a yard clean-up service after weighing some of the pros and cons, you may now be wondering how much this type of work is going to cost you. Ultimately, the cost of hiring a yard clean-up service can vary greatly depending on the region where you live and a number of other factors. For example, you’re going to spend more on yard clean-up in the middle of New York City or the Bronx than you would in Seattle or Minneapolis, where the cost of living is lower.

In general, however, you should expect to spend around $700 to hire a professional yard clean-up service for several hours of work. Be sure to also consider some of the most common factors that may affect the rate you end up paying.

Hourly or Flat-Rate?

Most yard clean-up companies will charge by-the-hour, but this isn’t always the case, so it’s important to ask. If the service is being charged by-the-hour, make sure to find out if any other costs will be incurred (such as the cost for materials if you’re having a mulch bed installed).

Timing/Notice

The time of year you’re looking to hire a yard clean-up company and how quickly you need the work done may also affect how much you pay. Generally, the demand for yard clean-up is higher during the spring and fall months, so you can expect to spend more during this time.

If you need a quick turn-around on yard clean-up, you can also expect the work to be more expensive. This may be the case, for example, if a tree limb fell on your property during a heavy wind storm and you need it hauled away as soon as possible.

Yard Size/Services Needed

The exact services and the size of your yard that needs to be cleaned up will also have a major impact on the price you pay. Lawn size can play an especially big role in your price if you’re looking to have a service like all-over weeding of leaf-blowing done.

Tips for Choosing the Right Yard Clean-Up Service

As you begin exploring yard clean-up services in your area, you may be overwhelmed by the number of companies available. How can you choose the one that’s best for your exact needs and budget? By following these tips, you can “weed out” the less reputable companies and find the best yard clean-up service in your area.

Seek Out Transparent Pricing

Any reputable yard clean-up company worth your time should be happy to provide you with an on-site quote for the exact services you’re requesting. It is important that the company actually come out to your property to provide you with the quote in order to ensure its accuracy; if the company will only provide you with a non-binding estimate over the phone, it may be time to look elsewhere.

When you receive a quote from a yard clean-up company, make sure to find out exactly what’s included. The written quote should provide a detailed break-down of costs so you can see what you’re paying for. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about costs; a reputable company will be happy to answer them for you.

Consider Availability

If timing is a factor on your yard clean-up job, make sure the company you’re looking at is available when you need them. For example, if you’re planning to list your home for sale next week and need the work completed before them, you’ll want to be sure the clean-up crew is available for a rush job.

If you prefer to be home when the clean-up crew is working on your yard, you’ll also want to check the specific scheduling availability for the company. Many clean-up crews only work regular business hours during the week, whereas others may accept requests for weekend services.

Make Sure Workers Are Vetted

For your protection and peace of mind, make sure the company you end up hiring takes time to carefully vet their workers. This means they should be background checked. If a company cannot assure you that their workers have been vetted, then it’s time to move onto another business.

Get Peace of Mind With a Guarantee

Ideally, you’ll also want to choose a company that offers some sort of satisfaction guarantee on their services. This way, if you’re unhappy with the clean-up work for any reason, you can have the crew come back out and correct any issues or mistakes.

Check Out Reviews and Testimonials

Reading online reviews and testimonials is a great way to learn more about a yard clean-up company’s reputation within the community. Check for third-party reviews (rather than trusting reviews published on a company’s website directly), as these will tend to be the most reputable and honest.

If you’re thinking about hiring a less experienced company that doesn’t have a lot of reviews, don’t hesitate to ask for at least a short list of references that you can contact personally.

Find Out Exactly What’s Included

Some yard clean-up companies may try to lure you in with a low estimate/quote, only to nickel and dime you when it comes time for you to pay. Make sure you know exactly what’s included and what may not be included with your quoted price. For example, if you’re paying for leaf removal, be sure that the leaves will actually be bagged up and removed entirely from your property rather than left in bags on your lawn. Some companies may charge extra for hauling things away, so it’s best to check ahead of time.

Don’t Overlook Insurance Coverage

Liability insurance is a must when hiring any company to work on your property, so ask for proof. Never hire a yard clean-up service that cannot provide you with proof of liability insurance. It’s not worth the risk! Overall, hiring a yard clean-up service can be an excellent way to keep your yard tidy while saving you time and hassle. Just be sure to heed our tips and advice to find the right crew for the job!

All You Need to Know About Window Film

Window film is an innovative idea that has many purposes. For one, security window film is shatterproof, so in the event, it is broken, it will not shatter into a million pieces. It holds itself together on the film, so the likelihood that someone gets injured on a piece of glass is practically non-existent. The different types can make your windows private or semi-private. The availability of different levels of darkness is also an option.

When choosing a type of film for decorative window film has many different patterns and colors so you will be sure to find one that will fit in with your home décor and look great on the outside as well, you can choose many different designs that look like stain glass window film or film that looks like cut glass. There are so many choices for your home you can be assured of getting the one that is perfect for your décor.

The home with window tint will be cooler in the hot summer months, which will save you money on utility bills. You will have more energy because the heat that seems to drain us of every ounce of strength we possess will be blocked. Therefore, you will feel like getting a lot more accomplished without feeling so tired. Plus, window film will save your interior and its possessions.

Security Window Film Stops Smash and Grab

Window Security Film can prevent the smash and grab thief from getting into your store and stealing the items you use to showcase your business. We see use on jewelry stores, pharmacies, and stores selling anything of value that is displayed in the storefront windows.

Window Film For Safety

Do you need a reason to use residential window film other than the fact that it protects your furnishings from sunlight fading, makes your home more energy-efficient and is great looking? If so, let us consider this scenario. It’s the middle of the afternoon, your husband is away on a business trip, and you are getting ready to do some laundry. When walking past the front window, you notice a suspicious car sitting across the street. The occupant seems to be watching your home. The great thing is – you can see him, but he cannot see you because you have a dual-reflective window film on your windows.

Instead of feeling like you are under surveillance, you can watch to see what this person is going to do without being detected. Going window to window throughout the house, you are secure in the knowledge that he has no idea of where you are in the house because he cannot see your movements through the windows of your home in the bright afternoon. Because you have Dual Reflective Window Film on your windows, the watcher has no idea of what room you are in or even the fact that he is being watched.

Of course, this is just a scenario, but in today’s world, anything is possible, and having window tinting on your windows can help you in many positive ways.

Window Tint and Stain Glass Films

If you prefer, there are window film styles that do not show. No one will ever know they are on your windows, and you will still have all the benefits, or if you like the look of stained glass, there are several styles of this type available. There are stain glass doves, fish, abstract, and Venetian stain glass film. Clear etched grapes make a beautiful statement. This would be great for the Mediterranean style architecture. Cut glass bubbles and ice icicles are types of films that can help you to protect your privacy. Throw out those heavy, dusty drapes and let some light in without worrying about people being nosy or invading your privacy.

Stained Glass Window Film would also be great for shower doors, dividers in your home, and any other use you can think of for the attractive look it will give your home. The stained glass film would be perfect for a divider to separate your kitchen/dining area into two rooms instead of one large room. If you are ready to get rid of the bulky drapes, blinds that require constant cleaning, and the foil on your windows decorative or stain glass window film will be your choice for all the benefits it provides.

Best Time For Window Tinting

November to March is a great time to have your Windows Tinted not only does window film add an extra layer of protection on your windows to protect you and your family from shattering glass entering your home in case of an accident, but it also protects against the sun’s damaging UV rays.

Even in the wintertime, the sun’s UV rays enter your home and can damage your woodwork, painted walls, artwork and pictures on the walls, plus it damages your floor coverings even if it is just wood flooring…

So, to reduce heat, glare and UV damage and also keep the environment green, the use of window tinting is becoming more popular day by day.

Best Facebook Advertising Agency

These days, having a strong social media presence isn’t just a good idea—it’s an absolute must for businesses of all sizes. From startups to large organizations, being active on social media can help you better connect with your target audience and raise brand awareness. It’s no secret that Facebook remains one of the largest and most widely utilized social media platforms in the world. In fact, each month, Facebook sees over 2.5 billion active users. What this also means is that if your business isn’t spending at least some of your advertising budget on Facebook ads, you could be missing out big time.

One of the key reasons business owners don’t engage in social media advertising (Facebook ads included) is a lack of understanding. You may feel intimidated by Facebook’s advertising platform and may not know where to begin. This is where working with a professional Facebook advertising agency can really pay off. Specifically, Facebook advertising agencies exist to help you optimize your marketing budget, boost your brand awareness, and ultimately increase your bottom line through the use of customized and targeted Facebook ads.

We’ve put together this guide to help inform you about what it is that Facebook advertising agencies do, and how to determine whether it’s in your company’s best interest to hire one. We also provide tips for choosing a Facebook advertising agency that aligns with your organization’s needs, plus useful information on typical pricing structures for these agencies. Ultimately, we hope this guide will prove to be a useful resource as you move forward with your company’s social media advertising strategy.

Top 5 Facebook Advertising Agencies

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top-rated Facebook advertising agencies out there today. This list can be an excellent starting point if you decide to move forward with hiring a Facebook advertising agency.

1. Voy Media

Voy Media offers a wide range of advertising services, ranging from Facebook and Instagram ads to mobile advertising and retargeting. The professionals here specialize in creating and implementing customized Facebook advertising campaigns to boost your bottom line. And when you work with Voy Media, you always have a dedicated account strategist to answer your questions and help you succeed.

2. MuteSix

MuteSix boasts a large team of more than 150 professionals working to take your Facebook advertising campaign to the next level. They use a personal-driving, ROI-focused approach to execute successful campaigns, running split-testing when needed to make the best use of your advertising dollars. In fact, 82% of their clients have doubled their revenue within their first year working with MuteSix.

3. AdvertiseMint

AdvertiseMint’s team of social advertising experts is here to help you yield the best return on your company’s advertising budget. When you work with them for your Facebook advertising, you have a team of copywriters, video editors, designers, and analysts working with you from day one. AdvertiseMint also offers month-to-month contracts, so you’re free to try out their services with no long-term commitment.

4. Abacus

When Abacus launched, it was a dedicated Facebook advertising agency. Today, it has grown into a full-blown social media advertising platform—but Facebook ads remain a large part of what these professionals are about. From helping you narrow down the scope of your audience to building ads that truly engage your audience, Abacus can help with it all.

5. Bamboo

Bamboo offers creative services, managed services, and strategy services for your Facebook advertising campaign. When they first launched, they worked with startup businesses to help scale their companies. Today, they continue to work with businesses of all sizes and scopes, ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.

Advantages of Using a Facebook Advertising Agency

Still not 100% convinced that working with a Facebook advertising agency is right for you in the first place? That’s okay. In reality, hiring a Facebook ad agency isn’t the right decision for every business at every stage—but it is a wise choice for many. By taking some time to review the advantages and potential drawbacks to working directly with one of these agencies, you can ultimately make the decision that best suits your business at this exact point in time.

Save Valuable Time

Many businesses haven’t thrown their hats into the Facebook advertising ring because they simply don’t have the time or resources to do so. Think about it; if your business doesn’t have a dedicated social media strategist or advertising professional, the amount of time you’d need to put into learning about how Facebook advertising works is substantial.

This is where working with a Facebook ad agency can really save you a lot of time and hassle. When you have these kinds of advertising professionals on your time, you don’t have to worry about learning the ins and outs of Facebook’s advertising platform. Instead, you can focus on other important aspects of your business while you let the professionals do all the work.

Maximize Your Budget

No matter how big or small your Facebook advertising budget may be, one fact remains: you want to stretch your dollar as far as you can while having the maximum impact. Again, this is where a Facebook advertising company can be extremely valuable. Many of the advertising agencies are used to working with startups and smaller businesses where budgets are tight—so they know what it takes to maximize each dollar.

Even if you have a larger budget to work with, a Facebook ad agency will ensure that none of that money goes to waste by creating and executing ad campaigns with the highest ROI possible.

Stay on Top of Changes

Facebook’s advertising platform, like anything on the Web, grows and evolves all the time. Changes are made often, and keeping up with these can be laborious and time-consuming. At the same time, staying on top of these changes is important because oversights can be costly and affect the success of your ad campaign.

Having a dedicated Facebook advertising team on your side is useful here because social media advertising is what these professionals do for a living. You’re paying them to stay in-the-loop when it comes to changes in Facebook’s advertising platform, so you can stop worrying.

Save on Onboarding/Training Costs

You may be wondering to yourself, “why can’t I just hire my own social media specialist to handle my Facebook Ads?” And truthfully, there’s nothing stopping you from going this route. However, there are some important things to consider when you think about hiring a part- or full-time social media professional for your business.

For starters, you’ll need to spend a fair amount of time searching for the right candidate for the job. From there, you’ll need to go through the costly onboarding process and, of course, make sure you’re offering the same benefits to your social media specialist that you are to the rest of your employees.

And if there’s any turnover in your social media position, you’ll need to repeat this process. You could avoid this hassle by hiring an outside Facebook advertising agency instead.

Grow Your Business

Last but certainly not least, understand that your business (no matter what industry you’re in…even a home cleaning service) has so much to gain from Facebook advertising. You could be just one campaign away from really taking your company’s success to the next level. There are many specific ways in which Facebook ads can grow your business (aside from the obvious conversions and returns on your investment).

Perhaps most importantly, successful Facebook ads create brand awareness and help target your ideal audience. By boosting your social media presence and spreading the word about all that your company has to offer, a well-executed Facebook ad can turn your brand into a household name very quickly.

Potential Disadvantages of Using a Facebook Advertising Agency

Now that you have a better idea of the many reasons why businesses enjoy working with Facebook advertising professionals, it’s a good idea to consider some of the potential drawbacks as well. From there, you can make an informed decision for your own business.

Up-Front Costs

All that knowledge, expertise, and customized service comes at a premium. Hiring a Facebook advertising agency is going to eat up a chunk of your company’s marketing budget; there’s no way around that. This cost can often be difficult for businesses to justify, especially for smaller businesses that may not have much in the way of a marketing budget to begin with.

At the end of the day, however, Facebook advertising is actually one of the cheapest and most effective ways to grow your brand. And when you start to see the kind of return on investment your business can achieve with the right Facebook ad campaign in place, it becomes much easier to justify those initial costs.

Security Concerns

Yes, hiring a Facebook advertising agency means you’ll inherently be trusting somebody you don’t know with your company’s social media account and its password. This can be unnerving for some, especially when you consider all the security threats on the Web today. Ultimately, however, you should have nothing to worry about in this regard as long as you have taken the time to properly vet the company you’re hiring to trust with your business Facebook account.

Lack of Control

Another obstacle some business owners face when it comes to hiring a Facebook advertising agency is the perceived lack of control over how their ad campaigns turn out. While it’s true that yes, you’re going to be giving up some control to the creative professionals you’ve hired, any experienced ad agency is going to take the time to ensure you’re 100% happy with the ads they’re going to run before they launch them.

This means not only will you be able to see a preview of ads before they’re launched, but your feedback will be taken into account before major decisions are made. Likewise, any reputable ad agency is going to speak with you extensively to find out what your preferences are and what kind of brand message you’re trying to create before they even begin brainstorming your next campaign.

All of this is to say that when you hire the right ad agency, you’ll still have plenty of control over the entire process.

How to Choose the Best Facebook Advertising Agency

If you’ve decided that hiring a Facebook advertising agency is right for you, be sure to check out the list at the beginning of this guide. This is a great starting point to help you find the agency that best suits your needs. Of course, your needs may vary depending on the size of your business, your advertising budget, and even the industry in which you operate. With that in mind, there are some additional steps you may want to take before you choose an ad agency for your business.

Know Who You’re Working With

Make sure you can get a true feel for who you’ll be working with throughout your campaign. Ideally, you’ll be assigned an account manager or other point-of-contact whom you can call, text, or e-mail with questions anytime. Other members of your team may include a design expert, strategist, and content manager. Regardless, be sure that you have all the names and contact information of the people who will be working on your team before you sign any kind of contract or formal agreement.

Check Out Examples

Any reputable Facebook advertising agency will likely have some case studies published to their website or otherwise readily available for you to review upon request. These case studies will provide you with some real-world examples of companies or other organizations they’ve helped to achieve success through Facebook advertising campaigns. These case studies can also be a great way for you to get a better feel for the kind of creative content the agency comes up with, which can help you further decide whether they may be a good fit for your organization.

Look for Certification

One of the first things you should do before you even think about working with a particular ad agency is to make sure they’re Facebook Blueprint Certified. This certification is offered directly through Facebook and requires the passing of an exam to receive. The purpose of this certification is to ensure that advertising agencies and other social media marketing professionals are proficient in Facebook’s advertising platform and how it works.

By choosing an agency that is certified, you can be sure that the professionals you’re working with are up-to-date on Facebook’s (and Instagram’s) advertising essentials. Having this certification also shows that the agency you’re thinking about hiring takes their work seriously, as earning this certification is not free.

Avoid Long-Term Commitments

If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of Facebook advertising, you probably don’t want to make any long-term financial commitments with an agency. Unfortunately, not all agencies offer short-term contracts, so this is something you may need to shop around a bit to find. Ideally, you’ll actually want to find an agency that will allow you to go month-to-month initially. This is a great way to see what the agency can do for you while having the peace of mind in knowing that you can stop using their services at any time.

Working with an agency that doesn’t require a long-term commitment also gives them more incentive to continue earning your business.

Make Communication a Priority

One of the most important aspects of working with a remote Facebook ad professional is communication. Being able to get ahold of a point-of-contact quickly and easily when you have questions/concerns is a must. You can “test” an agency’s communication by making note of how long it takes for them to respond to your messages or return a phone call at this stage. If you have to wait more than 24 hours for a response, then it’s probably time to move onto another agency.

Before you sign a contract with a Facebook advertising agency, you may also want to see if there is any kind of clause on communication. Are you guaranteed a response within a certain number of hours? Are you guaranteed to be able to get in contact with somebody 24/7? These are important things to look for when working with any kind of social media professional, as social media never shuts off!

Take Online Reviews Seriously

Don’t neglect to do some research of your own when finding out about an advertising agency’s reputation with their clients/customers. Taking the time to read some third-party reviews can truly give you a better feel for how past clients have been treated by the company and what kinds of results they have seen.

Be Clear About Pricing

Budget is most likely a concern as you look to hire a Facebook advertising agency, so you’ll want to make sure you truly understand what you’re paying for and how your payments will be handled. For example, some companies may require an up-front fee, whereas others may not collect any money until they achieve a return on your investment.

There are so many different payment structures out there when it comes to Facebook advertising agencies today, so be sure to read the next section thoroughly to better understand how some of the most common payment platforms operate.

Understanding Facebook Advertising Agency Pricing

The following Facebook ad pricing structures are outlined below in order from most common to least common. Be sure to shop around to find an agency that aligns with your preferences in this regard.

Agency Rate

An agency rate refers to a flat rate (often a percentage) that is charged for their services. This rate is typically a set percentage of the total amount of your advertising budget. For example, an agency with a 10% rate would charge $100 on a $1,000 Facebook advertising campaign. The nice thing about this type of pricing structure is that services are often all-inclusive with this type of rate; this means you likely won’t have to spend extra for creative services, content writing, or other add-ons.

Flat Rate

Another option is to go with an agency that charges a flat rate. This is usually a flat monthly fee that the company charges you regardless of how much you spend on Facebook ads that month. This can be appealing to small businesses or organizations with limited budgets, as it provides a predictable monthly cost.

Agency Plus Flat Rate

In some cases, you may find that an agency wants to combine the agency rate and flat rate model of pricing. This means you’ll pay a percentage of your ad spending directly to the agency, on top of a flat monthly rate. If you decide to go this route, make sure that what you’re spending on a combined agency/flat rate isn’t more than what you’d be spending with an agency that sticks to just one of these pricing models.

Revenue Share

Less common (but still an option with some agencies) is a revenue-sharing model, which means that your agency only gets paid based on the revenue or ROI that they generate for you. The nice thing about this kind of payment structure is that it gives your ad team more incentive to work hard and achieve results. However, some businesses don’t like the idea of paying directly out of their returns.

The Bottom Line on Facebook Advertising Agencies

If your business isn’t currently taking advantage of Facebook advertising, now is a good time to get started. And if you don’t have the time or resources to research and launch your own campaign, hiring an experienced Facebook ad agency can be one of the best decisions you make for your business. The key, of course, is finding the right agency for the job. Find a Facebook ad agency that treats your company’s marketing budget as if it were their own; driven to helping you maximize your Facebook ad ROI and building your brand’s reputation in the process.

Is Duct Cleaning a Complete Waste of Money?

So many people want to know if air duct cleaning is a waste of money. Commercial cleaning firms, health studies and scientific journals conclude that the heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system in a home and building is probably a good idea. Duct cleaning usually involves a complete cleaning of the HVAC’s air handler, coils, grilles, housings, fans and motors. Cleaning air handling units, heating and cooling coils, and air handling units can improve running efficiency.

Reports by the National Institutes of Health say there is not enough proof to determine if duct cleaning actually improves inner air quality (IAQ) or building occupant health. The following information may help you to decide if your home will benefit from HVAC duct cleaning.

Why Duct Cleaning Is Important? 

The ductwork in your heating and cooling system (furnace/air conditioner) constantly collects dirt, dust and dander while idle and while in operation. This means when you turn your system on, those particles can spread around your home or business and eventually impact the health and safety of your home’s occupants or your business’s employees. Here are a few more reasons:

1. Creates a Cleaner Living Environment

Having your air ducts professionally cleaned reduces the dust that would otherwise circulate throughout your living space, landing on your furniture, your bedding, your flooring…just about everywhere. Fortunately, a thorough air duct cleaning reduces the amount of interior cleaning and dusting necessary to maintain a hygienic home.

2. Reduces Allergens and Irritants

In addition to dust, air ducts frequently contain harmful contaminants and micro-organisms. These include pet dander, bacteria, pollen, mildew, mold spores, and similar toxins. People who suffer from allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems are particularly sensitive to these airborne particles. A periodic air duct cleaning promotes healthier living…otherwise, the dirty air in your home just keeps re-circulating over and over.

3. Removes Unpleasant Smells and Odors

Pets, household cleaning agents, paint fumes, mold, tobacco use and even food preparation all contribute to stale smells in the air ducts. Every time the furnace or air conditioner is running, these odors will repeatedly flow through the house. Even an accumulation of dust and dirt over the years can lead to a musty scent coming from the ductwork. Detailed cleaning of the air ducts removes all odor trapping particles, resulting in a fresher smelling home.

How Often Should I Get My Air Ducts Cleaned? 

It is highly recommended getting your vents cleaned every two to three years. If the residents of your home are young children, adults who stay at or work from home, elderly family members or individuals with allergies, asthma or chronic illnesses, we recommend more regular cleaning of every year to keep these at-risk individuals safe and free of allergens, dirt, and debris.

What Happens if You Don’t Clean Air Ducts

If you choose to not clean your air ducts, air quality will reduce over time as debris collects in your duct system. There are a variety of items that can begin to grow in your ducts and create safety risks for your family and home. Here are some of the side effects of not cleaning your vents:

  • Mold spore development
  • Fungus growth
  • Asthma, sickness or cold induction
  • Pet smells from dander and fur
  • More allergy symptoms
  • Musty odor development
  • More frequent dusting

How to Tell If Your Ducts Need Cleaning? 

Unsure if you need your ducts cleaned? Here are some signs you should have your ducts professionally cleaned sooner rather than later:

  • Discovering Mold: If you spot mold in or near your air ducts, you should immediately get your ducts cleaned to keep your home safe. The professionals can help you with both mold removal and air duct cleaning.
  • Discovering Pests: If you find pests inside your home, chances are they are using your duct system to get around. Air duct cleaning can eliminate the organic matter that pests leave behind.
  • Dust and Debris: If you find yourself constantly dusting your home, the buildup of dust and debris in your ducts could be to blame. Finding dust and debris everywhere is a sign your ducts could use a cleaning sooner than later.
  • Pets: The more pets you have, the more dander and fur in your home. Your duct system draws this dander and fur, spreading germs, allergens and smells while idle or with each use of your heater or air conditioner.

Is Duct Cleaning A Waste Of Money? 

There is a lot of misleading information about duct cleaning on the internet. It’s easy to get confused by or misinterpret what you’re reading. The first question you may be asking, is if duct cleaning is a waste of money. It’s a very valid question to ask, and the answers you will find online may vary wildly. It all boils down to one thing. Duct cleaning is a waste of money only if you use the wrong company.

What Is The Purpose Of Duct Cleaning?

A cleaning every 5-7 years by a company that doesn’t make the duct cleaning a waste of money can provide relief from a whole host of problems. Proper duct cleaning can reduce the amount of dust being pushed out into the home by the HVAC system. If you find yourself needing to dust multiple times a week, and it’s been a long time since you’ve had the ducts cleaned, this may be a great solution.

If someone in the home has allergies, duct cleaning may help relieve the severity of some of their symptoms. Every time you come in from outside, you are bringing in allergens and even harmful particulates. They are taken in by the return ducts and circulated around the home by the HVAC system. A regular duct cleaning can help reduce the number of these particulates building up and being pushed back into the home. Additionally, if there is suspected mold spores or growth in the ductwork, a thorough cleaning will remove the mold and keep it from spreading into the rest of the home.

Another reason for duct cleaning, is renovations to the home. Whether you’ve just bought the home and are fixing it up, or you’ve been there for a while and it’s time to update it, duct cleaning should always be done after you’ve finished the renovations. Think of all the dust, debris, and contaminants that are released during the renovation process. When the air is on, all those particulates are picked up by the HVAC system. This is not something you want to breathe in, and duct cleaning after the work is a fantastic way to finish the process.

Trust Air Duct Cleaning Professional Companies 

Moreover, professional duct cleaners use brushes, vacuums and specially-designed blowers to clean the return, supply, and intact ducts throughout the home. Duct cleaning should be thorough, and should include a cleaning of the coils, air handler, housings, registers, motors, grilles and fans of the system. Although the jury is still out about whether duct cleaning improves air quality and helps people with respiratory allergies and illness, some states make HVAC duct cleaning a routine part of public buildings.

How to Choose the Right Upholstery Fabric

When it comes to upholstering your furniture for either residential or commercial purposes, there is a lot to think about the fabric materials that will sheath your furniture and complement the atmosphere perfectly. Upholstery fabrics are way heavier, thicker, and more durable multi-purpose drapery fabric compared to any other fabrics. So whether you’re looking for brand new upholstery materials for your furniture or just reupholstering the old ones, the right fabric selection out of so many fabrics is very important, and not to mention confusing or overwhelming for multiple reasons.

The details of each type of upholstery fabric can be sorted into multiple aesthetic and functional purposes. You need to pick the fabric material that suits your furniture style and durability both together. To help you out with this complicated upholstery fabric sorting and choosing procedure, we have put together a handful number of tips to help you help make sure the piece will last for years to come.

1. Fix the Place Where the Furniture Will Be Placed

The first and foremost thing to decide when choosing the upholstery fabric is where precisely your furniture will be placed.

  • Will the furniture be placed outdoor?
  • Will it be exposed to direct sunlight or rain?
  • Will it be placed in a high traffic area?

If your furniture is an indoor setting with low traffic, you can go for beautiful yet slightly stain, fade sensitive upholstery fabrics like cotton, silk, linen. If the furniture is placed in high traffic outdoor areas like near to patios and backyards, go for engineered upholstery materials like synthetic microfiber that are durable, fade-proof, UV, wrinkling, shrinking resistant and immune to heavy and frequent uses.

2. Decide What is Being Upholstered, and How

Next, decide how the furniture you choose to reupholster will be used, and where it will be positioned in your home, before selecting a fabric. If you’re planning to reupholster a very old or over-used furniture piece, make sure to choose a durable and fade-tear-stain resilient, hard-wearing, waterproof materials, vinyl or poly-cotton for instance. If your furniture is solemnly for luxury and show, you can use slightly fade or stain sensitive upholstery materials like silk or satin. Do note that these kinds of materials won’t be able to handle occasional spills, and the stains might be pretty difficult to take off.

3. Prioritize the Durability Over Everything

When you’re deciding on a brand new upholstery fabric material, it’s very important for you to choose one that will last. You need to make sure your chosen upholstery fabrics outlives your furniture itself since upholstery fabrics can serve multiple purposes. A piece of quality fabric with a bit of care will most likely exceed the overall lifespan of your other interior or exterior decorative materials.

If your furniture is placed outside and exposed to constant rain, heat, and storms, go for high quality, man-made fibers like coated polyester, acrylic, olefin and so on.

4. Consider the Fabric Pattern Carefully

The small patterns and details of your upholstery fabrics have more to do with the hiding and washing stains easily and efficiently, along with complementing your surroundings and the furniture piece itself. For instance, textured upholstery fabric patterns like woven ones are very much patterns that are capable of hiding stains efficiently. And don’t forget to opt for a fabric actually complements its surroundings.

5. Check Out the Fabric’s Wash-Ability

If you can remove your upholstery fabrics off your furniture and have the patience to wash up on a regular basis, you can slightly risk the slight possibility of staining or tearing by using natural upholstery fabrics like cotton or any natural blends with cotton. However, these cotton mix fabrics need to be cleaned by cleaning professionals.

But if you want easy-to-clean upholstery fabrics, here are some of the options you can choose from-

Microfiber

  • Synthetic fabric that boasts longevity and low maintenance.
  • A cheaper alternative to leather
  • Claw-resistant, safe from pets
  • Super easy to clean up stains

Leather

  • Durable and can often last longer than average fabric sofa
  • Can be gently vacuumed, damp-wiped as needed, and cleaned with leather conditioner or saddle soap.

Velvet

  • Aesthetic with maximum durability and both water-fade resistance
  • Wear-tear free, perfect fit for heavy foot traffic places

6. Verify the Fabric Grade

The fabric grade generally implies its manufacturing cost. Be watchful of this fact when selecting fabric for commercial upholstery. The higher the grade, the better the fiber type is and its construction procedure. There are different grades available in the market, both alphabetically and numerically. Consider asking the manufacturer about it before making your purchase.

Considering all the points mentioned above, you can be a little more relaxed while purchasing the most suited upholstery fabrics for your furniture, both for residential or commercial purposes. All you have to make sure is to pick the eco-friendly cleaning solutions, tailored for all types of upholstery fabrics and its decorative details.