I have not blogged for some time. This is because I have been having a bit of a sort out.
I have had this blog integrated into my website. I hope you find it better. It also gives me more freedom in how I use it, apparently.
I have also been trying to standardise my name and that of my business in all my social media and other internet activities.
What should be simple can get quite complicated.
My name is John Harvey Murray but I seldom use my middle name. However sometimes the Harvey gets included, according to what questions I am asked when I sign up for something, such as Ezine Articles, so I appear to be two different people on the Web. In the offline world, nobody has any trouble grasping the fact that I have a rarely-used middle name. Most people find it helpful when they want to distinguish me from the other John Murrays, as there are lots and lots of John Murrays but relatively few John Harvey Murrays. But computers and especially search engines, do not think like us. So, to avoid confusion, I have decided to use John Harvey Murray for everything. This also makes me more searchable, as I understand it.
OK so far?
Now for the business name.
As I am not a limited company I can call my business anything I like, so long as it does not cause confusion with another similar business of the same name. I initially called it JHM Claims because it was simple and as I expected most of my work would be in handling liability claims. After a while someone pointed out that I was also offering risk management services, but not making that explicit. Also, you could say that claims handling was part of risk management but not vice versa. So I changed the name. It enabled me to put the risk management more in the shop window. I never really changed what I am offering, as I always saw both sides of the business as inherently linked, but it seems not everyone does. I therefore have tried to change my website and e-mail, as well as social media, to reflect this.
If you want to know more about either risk management or liability claims have a look at my website: www.jhmriskmanagementservices.co.uk or give me a ring! 01925 445215
One or two people have asked why my logo is a cross. They rightly guessed that it is because I am a Christian but wrongly saw it as something divisive. Do I wish to avoid potential clients who are Moslems, Hindus, Jews, etc or even secular humanists? Do I intend to discriminate against claimants of other faiths or none? Am I going to take a judgemental attitude towards people I do not approve of in some way? Surely religion should not affect our business dealings? I assured them, and hope to assure you, that they are missing the point. I want to celebrate what I am rather than denigrate what I am not. That is why, during the Olympics I cheered for Team GB but also admired the achievements of many foreign athletes, without feeling there was any contradiction.
Why then put a cross on my business card? Should we not keep religion out of business, especially if I do not want to discriminate? Well if anyone’s religion means anything it should affect every part of their life. It means for me, among other things, high standards. I would never knowingly condone or assist a fraud either by or against my client, nor would I defraud my client by overcharging or underperforming: I would always want to give the best service and the best advice possible. Similarly, I would never condone a cynical attitude to Health and Safety which considered people as expendable.
So yes, I will be judgemental about fraudsters, con-men, and cheapskates, but I will welcome business from the many honest, ethical people, whether Jews, Moslems, Hindus, atheists or whoever, if they need my services.
You may wonder why I haven’t posted anything for some time. Well I have been busy with three new activities.
Firstly I have been updating my LINKEDIN profile and connections. (See UK.Linkedin.com/in/johnhmurray).
Secondly, I have started writing Ezine articles, the first of which has been published: “Ten Top Tips to Reduce, or at Least Control Your Insurance Premiums”. (See http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=John_Harvey_Murray).
And there are more in the pipeline.
In addition to all that I have been doing some face-to-face networking with Bear Behind just so remembered how to speak to people without using a computer.
I hope to start writing blogs regularly soon.
Do I miss working in a large organisation like a local authority with its various support structures, now that I have become a sole trader?
The answer is, frankly, No! I rather enjoy not having policies and procedures to follow, apparently arbitrary decisions to obey, and records to keep purely for someone else’s benefit. Of course I keep records that I know are necessary, but that is a different matter.
I like not having to ask if I can take time off, yet I don’t mind doing bits of work in what I would have considered my leisure time. If a thing needs doing it needs doing, and the timescales are set by me or by the work itself.
I like being able to make decisions and act on them without waiting for someone (or two or three…) to agree. I don’t need the threat of some sort of disciplinary action to make me want to achieve high standards of work and of customer care.
Regardless of all this, some people still find it strange that after all the years I have been surrounded by people, I can be happy working on my own. Well, of course I don’t mind not having a boss, but I also don’t mind not having any subordinates (if that is what they were!) or other colleagues. The thing is that I like not having to worry about other people’s work: I know if something has been done or not, without having to even think let alone ask! And if anything has not been done properly I know it’s my own fault, no excuses. There are, it is important to note, lots of opportunities for meeting people without having to work for the same employer!
One group of people I thought I would miss was IT Support! However, I have surprised myself how much I have learnt about IT in the last year, and how much support is avilable by ‘phone and e-mail from various sources.
I am getting stressed as a result of all the ‘phonecalls I get several times a day on both my home ‘phone and my office ‘phone encouraging me, or almost ordering me, to try to get compensation for having been mis-sold Premium Protection Insurance. Most of these are automated calls so it is impossible to talk to anyone or ask any questions. I have tried following their advice and pressing 9 to instruct them not to call again. The effect of that makes the Government’s economic recovery programme look highly successful by comparison. It would be so easy just to give in and let them make a claim on my behalf, even if I don’t really think I was a victim of mis-selling.
When I do get a call like this from a real person, it’s not much better. Their English is usually so poor that not only do I have a lot of trouble understanding them, but they also have trouble understanding me, unlike the majority of Asians and East Europeans I have met in Warrington. So I still can’t ask questions and get answers. Such as…
Aren’t my banking records confidential? These callers always seem to find it especially hard to understand when I ask how they know I was mis-sold, or even sold, PPI anyway. In fact I don’t see how they can know I ever had a loan or mortgage to insure, unless they have access to my financial history. Most people, including myself, would find reading that a very boring and rather depressing experience.
One reason that this bugs me so much is that I have gone to a lot of trouble to register JHM Claims with the Information Controller’s Office, and have had to study and apply the Data Protection Act so carefully. By the way, I really have, so you can be sure I won’t share any of your data with anyone, if you become a client, except where there is a genuine need to know, such as an insurance company or solicitor involved in your claim. Even then, I will let you know.
The other thing I find strange about all this is the way it seems to be accepted that everyone who has ever had a PPI policy must have been mis-sold it. Some probably were, but some people, who must have been old enough and sane enough to take out a loan, must have actually needed such a policy, and got some benefit from the cover. Surely they could have asked questions if they were not sure about anything or could have walked away if they felt unhappy with what they were told.
Am I defending bad behaviour by the financial institutions? No! Please don’t get me wrong. I think banks, insurance companies and anyone, even claims handlers, should be held to account for their selling and marketing practices, but I am concerned that what is happening now is not good. Two wrongs never added up to one right and they still don’t!
Well, if this keeps up, perhaps I can bring a claim for stress!