Building Customer Support

Building Customer Support

PWBC Member Julie Parker offered some helpful ideas for building customer support and trust during these times when direct contact is not always possible. 

As someone very accustomed to having customers touch and feel her products, growing her business at a distance has been challenging. Julie believes that our path to success is to learn how to portray ourselves in an understandable way, which will in turn build trust. We know that people tend to gravitate to well-known brands because they know and trust it, and they don’t have the opportunity to get to know something new.

We need to understand the customer in order to allow the customer to understand our product or service.  Body language and presence are a big part of communication and marketing so it is important, in the absence of direct presence, to build trust with the customer in new ways. One of the most critical ways is “seeing” the customer, which is really working to understand them, and how our product or service might work for them personally. 

In person we can be more expressive. People want to see your hands. Moving closer and being more intentional so that expressions and feelings convey is key. Reflect what they are saying and build a rapport because we know that sharing emotions builds trust. Also, try to be more expressive physically – use your hands, move in closer, be intentional about how you come across. And voicing agreement and showing emotions goes a long way to helping new customers, especially, feel good working with you. If we are mindful, we can do this over video chat.

On Zoom you can also do what Julie calls a forensic chit chat – just a few minutes to initially listen to what is going on. Our natural position tends to be to give them a lot of information but we want to listen and hear what they are saying. It is important to dedicate your time to this. With email and Zoom, it is possible to spend more time with the customer.  It’s important to improve your Zoom skills and background to present yourself in the best light (figuratively and literally!). 

Showing our expertise is another way to work through these unusual times for selling and marketing to new clients. For example, Julie is a certified green business for San Mateo and that happened to be a huge area of concern once the virus lockdown happened. The larger changes we saw as a community allowed people to be more connected to the green aspect of their lives and, as a result, her business. She incorporates that green certification into her marketing as it attracts a new set of more aware clientele. Julie encourages us all to think about what we are doing in our own businesses to be more socially responsible, and make sure we do not overlook the opportunity to promote that moving forward. 

Julie Parker is the creative mind behind Blue Okra, a company that is committed to delivering their customers ethically made, environmentally conscious, perfectly cozy baby blankets and more. Visit for more information.

Know Your Liability

Know Your Liability

The fabulous and knowledgeable Caron Soenen

In a recent presentation to our Connections group, PWBC member Caron Soenen talked about the protections provided for premises liability by renters policies, homeowners policies and commercial general liability policies.

It is important for homeowners to protect themselves, their family and their pets not only in the home but away from the home as well. Not many people realize that homeowners insurance does not protect you in the car, which would need to be covered under a separate auto liability policy.

Caron highly recommends that you increase your personal liability on your home to at least $300K, maybe $500K. For the cost of about $20 a month, it is totally worth it. Definitely do it if you own property that you don’t occupy. Have your renters get their own renters policy as well.

Generally, we should all be very clear about what we are financially worth. Take a look at your equity, savings and other assets. Consider an umbrella policy to protect you. The best insurance deal out there is $1M, which only costs about $300/yr. Add it to your auto and your homeowners coverage for complete peace of mind. 

Premises liability is another type of coverage, for someone who owns a commercial or rental property. It covers hazards, repairs, and more, but documentation is required so that everything is on the record. As a landlord, you should have extra protection (up to $1 million) and also have your renters get their own policy.  Check your assets to determine the amount of coverage that you need including an umbrella.  A $1 million umbrella policy usually costs about $300/year.  

Commercial/general liability coverage is for businesses, and will cover business, inventory, and the results of your business (products and completed operations). Anyone who buys that product is protected for the projected life of the product. Typically commercial leases have a provision in the lease which requires the renter to cover the first $100K because the owner does not control the property. 

Pandemics are not considered a loss of business income on most policies. There are a few private insurers out there that may allow for it, but as a general rule, these types of things are just not covered. It is a good idea to know your policy and to speak to someone who knows the ins and outs of what is covered.

Caron Soenen is a Commercial Insurance agent for Farmers, helping small business owners protect their assets and their employees with workers comp policies specific to their needs. To find out more about premises liability and any other insurance needs, reach out to Caron Soenen directly at 650-876-9600.

Reading is FUNdamental

Reading is FUNdamental

Jeannie Twomey finds inspiration for her real estate business – and her life – through reading.

PWBC members enjoyed an inspiring presentation from fellow member Jeannie Twomey. Though her professional bonafides are in real estate, she chose to offer a more personal presentation about her connection to reading and how it has changed her life. 

Jeannie has always been a reader. She remembers being very young and diving into each and every book that she could find. It has allowed her to broaden her perspective and stay really curious about the world around her. Reading has always served to spark her imagination and keep her thinking about the perspectives of others. Reading is more than learning for her – it is a way of life. Especially during these more isolated times, reading has made a tremendous difference in her general well-being and happiness. Some of her favorite reads include The Happiness Advantage, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Big Magic, and anything by Malcom Gladwell. Fiction or nonfiction, Jeannie finds comfort in the pages of a good, old-fashioned book. 

As a real estate investor, Jeannie deeply depends on her business partners nestled in other regions who serve as her watchful eye during the process of selecting, purchasing and rehab-ing properties for sound investments. She speaks fondly of one of her partners in particular, Mr. John Goolcharan, who is a featured author in the book Desire, Discipline and Determination: Lessons From Bold Thought Leaders. His chapter is entitled I Will Persist Until I Succeed. In his chapter, he details the experiences in his life that enabled him to thrive in business and in life. A native of Trinidad, his mother taught him to be resourceful and determined. He never stopped working to get an education, working to get to the United States, working to excel in establishing himself as a businessman able to support his family. He never gives up. He never decides that something is impossible. And his example is one that Jeannie is happy to follow. She encourages all to read John’s story and to just keep reading in general because we will be better for it. 

Jeannie Twomey and her husband John decided to turn real estate from a hobby to a business in 2017. Key Real Estate Ventures partners with investors nationwide to capitalize on real estate opportunities in affordable markets that will offer the biggest and most reliable returns.

For the Love of Pets

For the Love of Pets

Dawn adores each and every one of her pet (and human) clients!

PWBC member Dawn Hoover entertained us with a few of her most recent adventures as a pet sitter.

Thankfully, Dawn has seen an uptick in business, with new clients and a return of some old, as people get back to their somewhat normal lives and schedules. Dawn focuses on building strong connections with the pets and families that she gets to know over the years. It is not surprising that she is sad to see them move on when life takes them on a new adventure. 

Dawn visits with the pets, gives them some love, feeds them and does other things to not only care for the animals but the humans as well, like bringing the mail in and checking on the house to make sure all is good. Finding someone you can trust to care for your pets as you would can be a challenge. After hearing Dawn talk about the animals in her care, we know they are in the best hands! Her stories of their personalities, preferences, and her broad base of knowledge about the specific breeds, ailments and treatments, too, make it crystal clear that Dawn is the best of the best when it comes to comprehensive pet-sitting and pet care. 

Dawn Hoover of a Pet’s Best Friend will sit, walk and care for your pets when you can’t, providing the most attentive and loving care for all kinds of pets. Check out her website  or call her directly at 650-571-0360 for more information. 

Caring For Seniors Through Music

Caring For Seniors Through Music

music for seniors
The healing power of music for seniors

PWBC member Katherine Follain introduced us to Teepa Snow, an occupational therapist she had the pleasure of working with last year. Teepa’s work with the aged is distinguished by her use of music, it being a powerful force when it comes to helping the elderly thrive despite changes in their functioning and cognition. 

Teepa Snow explains that using music helps support the daily needs of people suffering from memory loss. It can be key to prolonging their independence and regaining their mobility. Having a schedule, movement, touch and organized activities that incorporate music by all indications is a valuable approach. Music is the last faculty to be lost or forgotten. Integrating it into structured daily activities can produce better outcomes. Seniors demonstrate strengthened abilities, improved cognitive functioning and even more lasting memories. Teepa knows that daily living skills need to be reinforced regularly to prevent the slide that dementia creates. Music makes these activities more enjoyable and can help strengthen the muscle memory for those who need it most.

Teepa teaches what is called the “hand over hand” technique to help residents maintain their movement and retain muscle memory. Physically touching them and molding their movements in a slow, repetitive motion is one way. Another is modeling how to eat, or how to pick up something. Combined with music, memories can be more lasting. For a patient suffering from dementia, just a few more weeks of independent mobility is a big victory.

We are living longer now. There is an increased need for care, specifically skill care to keep us as functional and as independent as possible. Teepa Snow and her research surrounding music and how it can help will continue to contribute to breaking ground in making our senior years more enjoyable for longer. Katherine is thrilled to support the work of Teepa Snow and others who fight to help seniors live and age with dignity.

Katherine Follain is a senior care specialist working at Cadence Senior Living Millbrae. Contact her at 650.742.9150 for more information about how she can help you make the critical decisions for the appropriate care of an elder.

Eviction Moratorium Updates

Eviction Moratorium Updates

eviction notice
Something no renter or homeowner wants to see

PWBC Member Audrey Smith offered some brief and helpful points to consider regarding the eviction moratorium that was extended in the Bay Area due to COVID-19.

The eviction moratorium was passed to suspend any evictions directly related to the virus during the months of March through August of this year. It has now been extended through the end of January. The hope is that it will prevent a wave of mass evictions in our area. In order for residential tenants to qualify, they must give notice in writing and offer proof that their income or ability to pay rent has been impacted by a job loss, downturn in business or health condition related to the virus. The tenant is still responsible for any back rent that is not paid during the moratorium period. It is the property owner’s responsibility to arrange a property payment agreement. Neither the moratorium nor the agreement prevents parties from going to small claims court if they so choose. Court cases can’t be filed until October.

There is some comfort for renters with this new moratorium, but it offers little relief or support for landlords who are left without the money they usually receive from rental properties. A legitimate concern is that our government has essentially outsourced the responsibility of housing citizens by having property owners allow non-paying tenants to remain in place. In essence, their private property is being used for the public benefit, leaving a strong argument that this violates the Constitution.

This is a complicated issue, for tenants, landlords and litigators alike. During these most trying times, our wheels of justice continue to grind rather slowly. Unfortunately, with no end to the virus implications in sight, we can expect more litigation about this issue.

Audrey Smith is a partner at Howie & Smith, LLP, a full service AV-rated firm providing effective and efficient civil litigation and legal counseling services to clients in a broad range of businesses with an emphasis on sports and recreation commercial enterprises and products. Contact Audrey directly at 650-685-9300 or visit to inquire about help with your specific litigation needs.