You Can’t Run a Business Without Insurance

You Can’t Run a Business Without Insurance

If you don’t think insurance is important enough to protect yourself, consider it as a marketing ploy. Either way, regardless of how you look at it you can’t run a business without insurance. There are too many variables if you don’t have downside protection. That’s how we use it. I tell people it’s like hedging bets when you gamble in Vegas. You always want to have a downside limit to how much you can lose. If you have your life invested in your business and no insurance, your losses have the potential to be more than 100% of your investment. How can it be more than 100%? Simply because of your liability exposure and the fact that you are personally liable for your business activities.


Prove Me Wrong

Wait a minute, how can I be personally liable? Can’t I just incorporate my business? Well, if you incorporate the business and follow all the rules regarding corporate law, then no you shouldn’t be on the hook for everything. My problem with this is if you aren’t smart enough to properly insure your business then there is no way you will take the time to incorporate or setup some personal asset protection. If you prove me wrong on this, good for you. I just don’t see it happening.

You Can’t Run a Business Without Insurance

I used to tell people that you can’t run a business without insurance simply because they all understood how important it was. So, when I added how horrified I was to learn just how many shops in our area didn’t carry enough or even any insurance, my customers responded with the same shocked expressions. I wasn’t exaggerating either. In fact, my customers were usually the people who told me about this before I investigated it myself.

Look at it this way. If you do something stupid on an epic level, like not properly insuring your business, then you deserve to be called out on it by your competitors. Do you think I’m the only guy that thinks you can’t run a business without insurance? I’m not. Believe me. Your competitors will find out and burn you with that information. You might be a great person, but business is business. You’ve heard the expression, “it’s not personal, it’s just business.” Yep, that’s all it is.

Explain to Them WHY It’s a Big Deal

On the flipside of this, if you spend the money on insurance then pat yourself on the back and promote it. You should really push that fact with your customers. They won’t think it’s a big deal until you explain to them WHY it’s a big deal. Most of your customers can’t imagine doing anything without insurance. Most people assume you can’t run a business without insurance, so they don’t even bother to ask. We really pushed the fact that we are insured in all our advertising and marketing. It’s up to you to educate your customers. It’s important so you might as well make your customers aware of it so they ask your competitors for proof before going to them.

Now what do you think the rest of our market did when their customers started asking them to see “proof of insurance” and “certificates of insurance”? They went and bought insurance. They might not have been happy about it and probably called me a few choice names in the process, but they did it. And that helped all the detail shops in our local region.

I Never Looked at My Competitors as Enemies

Keep in mind here that I never looked at my competitors as enemies. I liked most of the guys in our business. Some were jerks and just didn’t like us because we were more successful than them. That’s life. Even those guys I just figured they would eventually figure out that I’m not such a bad guy and come around.


Don’t Be an Asshole

At any of my businesses one of my personal rules that my employees enjoyed calling me out on when I wasn’t following my own rules was “Don’t be an asshole.” When we were too busy to handle particular jobs, I had a small number of shops that I regularly referred work to. They in turn would send us larger projects that they couldn’t handle. For example, most of the other shops in my area didn’t do paint chip repair or bumper scratch repair jobs. So, they would refer those jobs over to us. When these other shops referred work to us I did two things:

  1. First, I always cut them in on the deal and gave them a commission for referring the work our way. In business you have two options every day. It’s the age old story of “The Guy” and “The Asshole”. You can either be “THE Guy” aka the expert that makes good deals for everybody, helps newbie competitors starting out, happens to be your competitor but you still call him to ask hard questions because he always knows the answer and you trust him because he’s THE guy. Or you can be “that guy” that nobody trusts and literally everybody thinks the world would be a better place if you got run over by a bus. Aka “the Asshole”. It’s your choice. I can tell you from experience that I started out as a hyper-competitive asshole and quickly learned that I enjoyed being “THE Guy” a ton better as I got wiser over the years.
  2. Secondly, once we completed our part of the job, I always sent the completed car back to the other shop so they could do the detailing part. This was just good business. The other shops loved sending work our way because all of us benefitted. You’ve heard of win-win. I believe in it 100%. Whatever you want to call it, karma, paying it forward, it’s all the same theory. Take care of people that help you and it always comes back to you. Or put simply, “Don’t be an asshole”.

So yes, I’ve always been a tough competitor. The thing is I don’t do anything that everybody in our industry shouldn’t already be doing.


Here are a few more ways that I’ve promoted my businesses by emphasizing things that everybody should be doing:

  • The question I would ask everybody is this, why would you want to mess with a small, local shop that may or may not have insurance coverage?
  • Got some guy undercutting you by working out of his garage? I don’t consider them “competitors”. They’re just guys with a hobby trying to take money out of the pocket of the professionals. You need to blast those guy into oblivion. There’s nothing worse than fly-by-nights. I routinely asked my customers and even placed ads asking the question, “Why would you want to deal with a fly-by-night car washer masquerading as an “auto detailer” operating out of his house. Have you checked his insurance? He most likely uses his own personal homeowner’s insurance to “protect” the cars he’s working on? Does he even have a business license?” 99% of the time the answer is no. I’ve run into guys that have a separate garage on their property and they run actual businesses out of it. That’s not who I’m talking about here. We all know who I’m talking about because we’ve all run into them. I tell my customers “oh that guy, yeah he cleans cars as a hobby, he’s not insured or anything, why anybody would leave an expensive car with him is anybody’s guess”. Act indifferent, your customers will come around to your side soon enough.
  • Whenever I found out that one of my competitors was paying teenagers under the table, I jumped on that like a rabid dog. You should do the same. This behavior makes every auto detailer look like a crappy fly-by-night operation. When competitors approached me to complain that I was saying things, I would ask them why they thought it was ok to do that. They usually said something ridiculous like “everybody’s doing it”. Yeah? Um, no. I never paid people under the table. Especially part timers or teenagers. Run your business like a professional. If you can’t bark with the big dogs, then you need to get off the porch and come back when you can.
  • I always promoted the fact that we maintained full time and trained employees, not summer help.
  • I also make sure my employees understand that we are all on a team of valued members working in a smoothly running operation. This made them excited about their jobs and they broadcasted it everywhere telling the world how much more professional “their shop” is versus others.
  • One thing that really gets our employee’s excited is the fact that we offer them employee benefits including health insurance.  You may think that it’s expensive, but figure out how much it costs you each time an employee that you have spent months or years training, just walks out the door for better wages or benefits. Once again this all falls back to the auto detailing business best practices which includes improving the working environment for your employees and making a more inclusive work culture.
  • One of the other ways that I promote how much more professional we are is to use examples of bad shop practices in my area. The best one is telling everybody about the shop in our area that didn’t have the correct garage keepers liability insurance when their shop burnt down with 9 vehicles inside.  Big lawsuits, irate customers, and bankruptcy for the shop owner.  Simply spending a few bucks more for the correct insurance would have saved him a lot more than money. Everybody thinks “that can’t happen to me”, until it does.

You Are a Professional, Act Like One

You are a professional, act like one. Don’t get angry or let people see when you’re upset. Competitors don’t have to be enemies. Just do a good job, help people out and most importantly “Don’t Be an Asshole”. And remember one of my primary rules with anything is you can’t run a business without insurance. Don’t try it. It makes you look unprofessional and the risk is far greater than the few bucks you save today by not having it.

We hope you enjoyed this “how to” tip sheet. Access more tips, training, and insight by subscribing to the AutoDetailGuide.com E-Newsletter. We are also very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Suggested Pages to Check Out

Detail Shop Liability Insurance Page with Info on Garage Keepers Liability Coverage

1099 Contractors and Other Detail Shop Tax Issues

Go Back To Home Auto Detailing Step-by-Step Page

5 Reasons Your 1099 Contractor is Actually Your Employee

5 Reasons Your 1099 Contractor is Actually Your Employee

I’m going to come right out and say it. 1099 contractors are almost always employees. Almost always is probably shooting low because as far as detail shops and similar businesses, you fail the IRS criteria test probably over 90% of the time. I know this may surprise some of you reading this, but if you didn’t think this was the case you probably wouldn’t be here reading this. I wrote 5 reasons your 1099 contractor is actually your employee to highlight this important compliance subject for small businesses.

Shop-Bays-AutoDetailGuide

The Contractors Handled Everything Without Any Input From Me

In over two decades of business, the only time my detailing companies ran into a situation where we utilized actual contractors was to pick up slack in our tinting business. I had a few guys that had started with us and came to me after a few years to ask if they could go out and start their own tinting business. I told them no problem as long as we could still send them some of our overflow work. I even rented a bay in one of my shops to them and they stayed there for years. It worked out great for everybody and they are still friends of mine years later. I never told them how to do anything. I just let them know when we had cars to tint and the contractors handled everything without any input from me. After they were done tinting a car, they left an invoice in my inbox.

That is what a true 1099 contractor looks like.

5 Reasons Your 1099 Contractor is Actually Your Employee:

  1. The contractor is a properly licensed business that is in business to perform the type of work you are hiring them to do. Is your employee actually a licensed business? Do they have any other clients or customers? These are all important issues that the IRS looks at.
  2. The contractor owns their own equipment and doesn’t need to “borrow” your equipment to complete the work. Does your employee own their own equipment?
  3. The contractor has the expertise to do the job you are hiring them to do with no direction or training from you on how to do the job. Does your employee work at your direction, when, how and where you tell them to work?
  4. The contractor has their own business liability insurance to protect you if they damage your property. This is a big item and one of the easiest ways your insurance carrier and the IRS will catch you mis-classifying employees as contractors.
  5. The contractor will complete the work and invoice you. Does your employee complete a time sheet? Do they complete a per car checklist that you assign? All of these systems are historically tried and true employee tracking systems.

With tax time upon us, it’s a good idea to take a few minutes and think about ways to reduce your tax liabilities and make sure you are in compliance. Penalties and interest are two words you don’t want to ever deal with as a taxpayer.

5 Reasons Your 1099 Contractor is Actually Your Employee

Starting a new year is a great time to get your business tuned up and in compliance. If you are reading this, you’re probably already thinking that you may not be following the rules regarding 1099 contractor compliance. This post “5 Reasons Your 1099 Contractor is Actually Your Employee” is just a quick summary post about this subject. If you are interested in more details, please check out our “Detail Shop 1099 Contractor” page here on AutoDetailGuide.com.

We hope you enjoyed this “how to” tip sheet. Access more tips, training, and insight by subscribing to the AutoDetailGuide.com E-Newsletter. We are also very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Suggested Pages to Check Out

Detail Shop Liability Insurance Page with Info on Garage Keepers Liability Coverage

1099 Contractors and Other Detail Shop Tax Issues

Go Back To Home Auto Detailing Step-by-Step Page

Looming IRS Problems for Small Business

Looming IRS Problems for Small Business

Liability-Insurance-AutoDetailGuide

Many detail shops have big problems classifying their employees correctly. Why? Mainly because some shop owners try to save a few bucks on the taxes paid for employees. So they think they can pull a fast one and pay their employees cash under the table. Even worse, some shop owners will tell their workers that they are “independent contractors” and just cut them a check each week. Either way, both methods are illegal. This behavior is the reason there are so many looming IRS problems for small business detail shops in this country. What’s worse is you hurt the people working for you. And you make the entire industry look like fly by night operators when you get caught.

Shady Independent Contractor Classification

Let’s elaborate more on the larger issue of paying employees by check as an independent contractor. Whether you pay your employees cash or by check with no taxes taken out, it’s essentially the same issue as far as the IRS and state tax collectors are concerned. So what exactly am I talking about here? I’m addressing the issue of shop owners who pay their pay their employees by cash or check and issue a 1099 at the end of the year. This is what we call the shady independent contractor classification.

Why do they issue a 1099? Well, because the shop owner wants to get the best of both worlds. Basically the typical shop owner who behaves like this doesn’t care what happens to their employees. So they will pay them straight time for hours worked or a per car rate. Then they cut them a check. The shop owner then sells it to the employee by pointing out that they are making more money because there’s no taxes deducted from their “paycheck”. This is all bullshit and a major contributor to these looming IRS problems for small business detail shops across the country.

aint Repair Services - AutoDetailGuide

Targets for Audits and Investigations

Over the past decade the IRS has identified detail shops as targets for audits and investigations to catch shop owners conducting business this way. So when the shop owner issues a 1099 to the employee, they are attempting to transfer the employment tax obligations from their business to the employee. And the tax man knows you’re doing this because you basically announce it when you do your own taxes and deduct the payments you’ve made to these “contractors” who only work for you.

Check out our 5 reasons your 1099 contractor is actually your employee post to get some new insight into these compliance issues.

Screwing Your Employees

The shop owner is also screwing their employee in multiple ways by doing this. The employee doesn’t have a record of earnings and nothing paid into either social security or unemployment. These employees/contractors also aren’t covered by workers comp that should be provided by the shop owner.

So basically:

  • If the shop owner fires the employee/contractor, they get no unemployment because they haven’t paid anything into it.
  • If the employee/contractor gets hurt or injured on the job, they aren’t eligible for workers comp benefits to help them get back on their feet while they are unable to work.
  • If the employee/contractor works for the shop for many years, literally none of their earnings are recorded with social security. The shop owner is basically creating an awful future possible retirement fiasco for the employee. This is a horrible way to do business.

The employee might save a few bucks, but in the long run they are getting screwed. The clear winner in this situation is the shop owner who saves all the matching employment taxes, the employer contribution for unemployment insurance with the state and the workers comp coverage. This is really underhanded and actually kind of sleazy behavior. Most shop owners I know are much better than this, but sometimes you get yourself into a corner and become desperate to cut expenses any way possible. This is one of those cuts you just don’t want to make.

When You Take Care of Your People, They Take Care of You

Sorry if my comments sound harsh in regards to this, but I think shop owners who do this are really scraping the bottom of the barrel. I was able to build a multi-million dollar business and still give my workers benefits and pay them like a professional business should. And I made a nice profit doing so. When you take care of your people, they take care of you.

Exposing Your Business to Unnecessary Liability and Risk

You are also exposing your business to unnecessary liability and risk with both civil and criminal penalties for trying to pass-off your “contractor” as an employee. You also open yourself up to potential insurance fraud if you file an insurance claim and tell your insurance carrier that your employee/contractor is an actual W2 employee. Your business liability insurance only covers you and your employees from damages you cause. Your commercial auto insurance coverage also only covers you and your employees. And your garage keepers liability? Same thing, only covers employees. So the minute you lie to an insurance adjuster and tell your employee wrecked a customer’s vehicle you are committing insurance fraud. And those looming IRS problems for small business detail shops that I mentioned? The IRS can simply ask your insurance carrier for claim records to prove you tried to pass off your “independent contractor” as an actual employee.

Employee Accident - AutoDetailGuide

You Could be Personally Liable for that Accident with No Insurance Coverage

And your employee’s auto coverage? Their personal insurance also won’t cover it because they were driving the vehicle while working for you. This is another way shop owners attempt to get around the insurance issue. They just tell employees that their insurance covers them while they are driving cars. Completely untrue, unless you lie. You could be personally liable for that accident with no insurance coverage as backup. So be careful how you deal with and classify your workers. If you don’t think that $10/hour employee will crack under pressure from an experienced insurance adjuster grilling them about the circumstances involving the accident, then you are in for a rude surprise.

If you are working on a customer car with a mobile operation, your auto policy doesn’t have any coverage whatsoever for the services you are performing. This is why specific small business auto detailing liability insurance coverage is so important. We cover this in more detail on our Garage Keepers/Transporter Plates page along with our Detail Shop Liability Insurance page.

Looming IRS Problems for Small Business

As business owners, we’ve got enough hassles to deal with to have the IRS and state tax collectors start piling on with more issues. I wrote “Looming IRS Problems for Small Business” to highlight this problem and make sure detail shop small business owners were aware that this is a big deal. Unfortunately, when it comes to being in business we have so many people that give us advice that isn’t necessarily accurate. I’ve talked to so many small business owners over the years that honestly believe that it’s acceptable to simply have people work for them and cut them a check for their work. They have no concept of employment taxes and the many other rules and regulations they have to deal with in order to be in compliance with the state and Federal government. Hopefully this article provides more information about why all of this is important.

We hope you enjoyed this “how to” tip sheet. Access more tips, training, and insight by subscribing to the AutoDetailGuide.com E-Newsletter. We are also very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Suggested Pages to Check Out

Detail Shop Liability Insurance Page with Info on Garage Keepers Liability Coverage

1099 Contractors and Other Detail Shop Tax Issues

Go Back To Home Auto Detailing Step-by-Step Page

Pin It on Pinterest