877-415-8342 | 419-678-2326 service@preferredcenter.com
Personal Planning – A Fulfilling Life Beats A Happy Life Every Time!

Personal Planning – A Fulfilling Life Beats A Happy Life Every Time!

To-do-listDownloadable Tool: The 4 Step Guide To A Fulfilling Life.

Every year, at least for the last 10 years, around this time I do a little life planning.  I’ve found it to be EXTREMELY helpful, so I thought I would share it.  It’s not terribly ingenious, but it takes some time.  If you are honest with yourself, it will probably be very helpful.

Most successful businesses develop business plans.  I’m sure you’ve heard the quote, “Most people don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan”.  So some years ago I was working on a business plan when I suddenly realized I had never applied those planning principles to my personal life.  I did it, and have never quit.

I’ll try to to give you a brief overview, but you need to download the guide above. It has much more detail and suggestions.

Step 1: Discover what you were created for.

A fulfilling life beats the crap out of happy life, every time! What gets you up in the morning?  If you were guaranteed success in a perfect world, what would you do all day long? Be passionate about something.  Life is too short to live in desperate mediocrity.  You don’t have to set the world on fire, but life is better when YOU are on fire.

Step 2: S.W.O.T.

Define your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats…and then there is the Bonus Question!

Step 3:  Define your roles – where do you really make a difference?

We can only do so much so we need to know what we need to do and what we are are good at, and what we like to do. It’s one of those things that once you think about it and do it, it will add a lot of clarity to your life.

Step 4: Pick 2 or 3 goals, make a plan, and get going.

Don’t overdue it, but challenge yourself.  Decide on a few steps that will get you started on each goal.  Now put the paper somewhere you’ll handle it regularly.  Mine is my screen saver and at the top of my prayer journal.  Plan on looking at them every 3 months and see where you are on your goals, change your steps, or pat yourself on the back.

It’s that simple.  Now get excited, get growing, and get going.

Downloadable Tool: The 4 Step Guide To A Fulfilling Life.


What’s The Story With Those Pink Flamingos?

What’s The Story With Those Pink Flamingos?

MPL slider image 4“What the heck is the deal with all those flamingos?”  We get the question all the time, and its a great question with a fun answer.

The story starts in 2012 when Preferred Insurance was celebrating our 100th anniversary. As part of that celebration, we decided to make 2012 the “Year of Giving Back”.  We started Quotes4Causes (giving $10 to charity for every quote we give) and vowed to get more involved in our great community and raising money for local charities.

One of our favorite charities was and still is Serving Friends And Families Ministries, and we were looking for a way to raise a little money for them.  Hillary Staugler was doing an internship with us at the time and I asked her to look for some ideas.  She surfed the web for a little while till she found something crazy enough to get my attention.

Flamingo Flocking Is Born

Or this is what Hillary came up with!

We created 10 flocks of flamingos and different volunteers at different charities were in charge of each flock.  They started by putting them in a few yards, along with a sign saying “You’ve Been Flocked!  Call Preferred Insurance”.  When the people would call in we would tell them that for a small donation of $20 to the charity, we would send out our “technicians” to remove the flamingos.  However, we don’t have any cages for the flamingos, so they needed to tell us whose yard the technicians should move the flamingos to…and the whole cycle would start over again.

That summer, with the help our great community, our lovely pink ladies raised over $3,000.  They also became our mascot and gave our agency a new favorite color – pink of course.  The flamingos still go “flocking” for multiple organizations every summer, and they pretty successfully annoy enough people to not be forgotten.

The neatest thing about this story however, is how the experience changed us, Preferred Insurance Center.  When 2012 –  “The Year Of Giving Back”  came to an end we knew it had been a great year.  All our fundraising and getting involved had given us a new purpose and energy.  We were better people, in a better agency, with a better attitude.  There was no going back.

From 2012 to the present (2015) our partners, clients, neighbors and flamingos have helped us raise or give over $75,000 to local charities.  Our new attitude has put smiles on a lot of faces, and we have grown from 6 team members to 13.  It’s been a crazy ride on an awesome pink rollercoaster here in God’s theme park we call Life.  If it sounds like fun, give us a call, we’d love to have you come along for the ride.  Just hop on, put your hands in the air, and scream like a girl till you’re stomach hurts from laughing.

7 Lessons Crucial To Leadership: # 1 Be A Surgeon, Not A Swordsman

7 Lessons Crucial To Leadership: # 1 Be A Surgeon, Not A Swordsman

swordsmanA surgeon and swordsman both use sharp tools to cut human flesh, but the similarities pretty much end there.  A surgeon uses a precise instrument to make the smallest incision possible in hopes of saving, or drastically improving a life.  A swordsman uses a macabe blade to cause horrendous wounds he hopes will kill, or completely debilitate a life.

You probably think you will never be either of these, but the truth is we are all at different times both of these.  You see, our words can be healing balms, and they can be sharp knives (scalpels or swords).  But our words are not normal balms or knives.  Once we let a word go it can never be drawn back in and we lose all control over its outcome. Whether our words are healing balms, or sharp knives, we can only choose them wisely and deploy them carefully, but once they are out, they are out.

All too often we draw out powerful words and throw them around with loud voices and strong emotions. We are like crazed Vikings in the heat of battle, drunk on adrenaline swinging our swords wildly at everyone around us. Our words tear and cut and kill and mame everyone.  And what is really sad is that the people most likely wounded are those closest to us – those we love and who love us.

Spreading a healing balm with the same drunken wildness is better than a sword, but still pretty ugly.  Imagine going into a room and throwing handfuls of Neosporin around.  Even if you mean to help people, most wouldn’t appreciate it much and you will likely waste a lot of valuable balm.  Worse yet, the next time someone is in pain, they likely won’t come to you for some Neosporin.

Do I really need to explain the surgeon’s difference?  His tool is sharper, but much smaller.  He is not allowed to perform surgery if he is emotionally upset, and certainly not when drunk on either wine or adrenaline.  He has thought about exacly what he is doing and is careful where he cuts, and how deep.  When he finished cutting, he is careful to do all he can to heal the wound.

So here is my advice regarding your words.  I don’t always follow these tips, I am human.  But I am sure, the more you follow them, the better off you and those you love will be.

  1. We all grab the weapon or tools we are familiar with, so practice using balms and scalpels, leave the swords in their sheaths.  When we are in idle conversation, or reading, or listening to music or watching a movie…or praying.  Fill yourself with words of kindness, love and peace.  No one needs to use, or listen to, cuss words, ugly stories, angry songs or disrespectful banter.  Get it out of your vocabulary by not letting it into your mind and don’t put it in other’s vocabulary by speaking it.
  2. Do you best to never speak when you are angry.  Simply be quiet, or exit the situation by saying something like, “I have to think about that for a while.”  “Speak when you are angry, and you will give the greatest speech you’ll ever regret.” – Probably Groucho Marx but it’s debateable.
  3. When you must have a cutting conversation with someone, be like a surgeon.  Get the person’s consent.  Explain why you are speaking to them and how you want to do good.  Choose your words carefully and make the smallest incision you can.  Then hang around to help heal the wound, even when they complain about the pain.
  4. And lastly, when other’s swords a flaling around, the strongest person in the room isn’t the one whose sword cuts deepest or last.  The strongest person can absorb the blows and take the wounds. Without an adversary, the swordsman will tire and the battle will end, and others will be wounded less (no one is left unharmed), and perhaps the angry swordsman will learn a better way.

I’m guessing most of the people who know me are wishing I would take my own advice.  I’m trying, I promise.  In the mean time, if I wait till I’ve perfected myself to pass on the lessons I’ve learned, my body will be in the grave and spiritual soulmates will have already been transformed by Jesus.

A business cannot succeed without clients.

A business cannot succeed without clients.

Slider-1-Dues-NurseryA business cannot succeed without clients. To build a client base, you must create a plan to gain clients, keep the clients you have and continuously market to grow the base.

To build up a customer base takes time and dedication and most importantly a PERSONAL touch. Business and sales are not impersonal they are quite the opposite. Your relationship with a customer is only as good as your last interaction. Just one negative experience may be all it takes to alienate a client and send them running for a competitor. Always be courteous and try to give each interaction a personal touch. Sending a thank you e-mail after a completed deal or transaction will leave the customer with a positive impression of your company.

Most companies think of themselves as customer-focused. Or at least they want to. But what does it really mean to be customer-focused? To many, it means asking customers what they want in a product or service. They’ve heard reports of organizations developing products in a vacuum and they strive to be sure their firm doesn’t make the same mistake. These organizations seek out current and prospective customers and ask them what they need. ‘What plants would you like in a new landscape?’ ‘What would you like your back patio to look like?’ What kind of tree do you want?

With the best of intentions, most landscape managers and designers ask these questions and open-mindedly listen to the responses. This approach is fundamentally flawed for two reasons. First, customers don’t always know what they want. They don’t spend much time thinking about what they want or need. There may be some colors they wish their landscape had. Some of these things may be easy for some to articulate, while others may take more thought and reflection before they can clearly articulate them. When was the last time you thought about how commonly used items (microwave, washing machine, lawn mower, etc.) could be improved?

Customers rarely know our products as well as we do. This limits their thinking, and therefore their ideas. Most importantly, the customer makes a number of assumptions when they articulate what their needs are.

Ask qualifying questions. When a client states a need, repeat it back to her and qualify it with what you think she wants. By breaking down a single need into multiple steps, you can further understand the scope of what she is trying to say.

Offer different solutions that may serve the client’s needs better. The client may think he wants plant/service “X,” but try to delve into whether that is really going to solve his current need. If you have a better plant/service that will help him over the long term, bring this up. It shows you are listening to him and thinking about how you can better serve him. Avoid dismissing a need or a statement. A client may have what appears to you to be a fanciful need that cannot be fulfilled. In his/her mind however, it may be a real and important need. Find a way to incorporate what he/she wants with what you can provide.

Make the decision together. By involving the client in every step, you make him a part of the decision instead of just giving him a one-size-fits-all approach. Ask him if he agrees several times, ask if he has any ideas that will make it better and then repeat back what you hear to confirm it with him. Treating each and every client individually, for their wants, needs, expectations will help build and keep your client base. This season ahead, may we all have “Godspeed” = Used to wish someone success or good fortune, as on a journey.”

Mike Dues | Dues Nursery


Life Insurance | Cost less than your cable bill!

Life Insurance | Cost less than your cable bill!

cable-bill“I can’t afford it.”

This is one of the most common reasons people give for not having life insurance. But the truth is: It’s less expensive than you think.

A $500,000 term coverage costs about $1 a day. It costs LESS than your cable bill.

People with no life insurance overestimate its cost by three times. And even those who have coverage, overestimate its cost by two times.

While it is an expense that you have to budget for, imagine what the financial impact would be for your family if something were to happen to you and you had no life insurance coverage at all.

There’s a policy to fit every budget, and a life insurance agent can help you find coverage that’s right for you.

Amanda Kremer is our Life Insurance specialist here at Preferred Insurance. Give her a call and see how affordable life insurance can be!

Request a free life insurance quote today! Affordable life insurance and peace of mind is just a click away

National Simplify Your Life Week

National Simplify Your Life Week

simplify-your-life-weekDid you know that the first week of August is National Simplify Your Life week? We’re all familiar with the idea of spring cleaning, but some late-summer simplifying is a great way to keep the clutter to a minimum going into fall. But simplifying your life isn’t just about removing the physical clutter out of your cabinets; it’s meant to make us look a little bit closer at our lifestyle and eliminate the things that keep us from truly enjoying life. In today’s fast-paced world, the idea of sitting on the porch with your family or a good book without having anywhere to be can be hard to imagine!

There isn’t a formula for simplifying your life. Everyone is distracted in different ways so stay tuned as we will give you some suggestions to get you thinking about what will work best for you!


What Are the Benefits of Telecommuting?

Telecommuting is a growing trend with so much business being done on the Internet. This unconventional style of working has many benefits for employees, and increased job satisfaction often leads to better work, so it is advantageous for employers as well.

One great benefit of telecommuting is the amount of time and gas money saved by not having to drive to work in the morning. This can be very significant if an employee lives in a busy city or commutes from a distance of 30 miles or more. The money saved on gas can be socked away into a savings account, and with the lack of travel time, employees can sleep in later and still be working earlier than they normally would be.

Not only does telecommuting save gas money, is also reduces the amount of money that must be spent on clothes for work. If all work is done at home, there is no need to dress up. Furthermore, telecommuters don’t face the temptation of buying expensive and unhealthy lunches at work, so they generally spend less money on food, and it’s often better for them.

Another benefit is that many people work better when they have control over their environment. For introverts, an office environment can be particularly detrimental to productivity. If such a person works from home, they can have all the solitude they want, especially if they set up a special room as an office. They can also make that room as comfortable and practical as possible so that they will work better.

Many parents find it difficult to work, but telecommuters can do their job from home with the kids present. Of course, they will not be able to engage the children much during work hours, but they will be on hand in case they are needed. This can create peace of mind and dramatically reduce child care costs. Clearly, telecommuting is a work option that can have far-ranging benefits.

Moving From City To Suburb Advice

If you have lived in the city your whole life, then you may find it difficult to transition to suburb living. Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to make it easier. Below are some tips for preparing to move from the city to the suburbs:

Start Looking For A Job Early

Jobs are typically harder to find in the suburbs. That is why if you do not already have a job lined up, then you should start looking for one early.

Make Sure That Your Car Is In Good Shape

Living in the suburbs means that you will probably have a longer commute every day. You should make sure that your car is in good working order before you move. One of the advantages of living in the suburbs is that the traffic is not as congested as in the city. However, because you will be driving further distances, you will probably be spending a lot more money on gas.

Start Looking for Housing Early

City living can be quite expensive. Housing is one of the many expenses that comes along with living in the city. That is why some people opt to live in an apartment instead of house. You will have an easier time finding a house for a price that you can afford if you live in the suburbs. In fact, you may be able to find a house in the suburbs for the same price that you would pay for an apartment in the city. However, you will want to start looking for housing early.

Prepare To Travel For Fun

There is a lot less to do in the suburbs than it is the city. If you want to visit the mall, art gallery or bar, then you will probably be traveling to the city a lot.

Homeowners Insurance

Regardless of where you live, home insurance is very important. This insurance covers injuries and damages related to accidents.