Editor's Blog


The Power of CYA

May 25, 2011
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Don’t underestimate the “Power of CYA!”



Okay, I don’t know what you think I meant when I wrote CYA, but to me being from New York we refer to it as “Cover Your Anatomy!”…- thought I was going to write something else besides anatomy?  

Hopefully, I got you to chuckle but it’s a very serious topic.  

The nature of our business is we can play with fire, water, air, hang from roof tops and a whole bunch more that puts customer’s homes and businesses at risk and our staff at risk, too. It all can have a dramatic affect on their property and their lives. There is potential liability lurking around every corner. That comes with the territory of being a contractor.  

So, what can we do about it?  

We can be better prepared and train like heck!  

The key is to have good policies and procedures in place at our company that are in writing. They should aim to cover the 80% of the things we typically can encounter in the field. The next biggest hurdle is having them in keeping with best practices and codes so we walk on the safe side of things for our customers and company. Both can be at risk if we don’t.  

The CYA comes in when something goes wrong. It’s just a matter of when and not if. But if you have a detailed approach to how to do your common tasks and a thorough approach that minimizes mistakes, you’re on much safer ground.  

The trick is that whatever you have created in writing must be known by all and practiced on a regular basis to be both effective and to give you the best chance to CYA.

Coming from personal experience

Just a couple of weeks ago, I had a troubling call from a contractor who had an employee that entered a home where a carbon monoxide alarm had sounded and performed a service call without these written policies and procedures in place. The approach to the call didn’t result in a safe and practical way to resolve the issue and both the customer and the employee suffered carbon monoxide exposure. It’s a mess!  

Should you find yourself battling with the insurance companies or worse yet the courts in this type of case, you’ll be better off for having a written policy. Make sure that it has been reviewed by professionals and better still having practiced how to handle situations like these the best way.  

It’s just smart business to protect the health of both our customers and our employees. And more importantly it’s the right thing to do.  

In many places, a great place to start is to work with your local emergency responders about how to approach these types of calls to everyone’s benefit. Your insurance provider has many forms of help as well to keep everyone safe. And professional trade associations can be a helpful resource, too.

Whatever way you arrive at a solid policy and procedure for these types of calls that affect your trade, it’s only half of the solution to the problem of how to CYA. You must have ongoing training on how to do the best practice regularly so it becomes known and done in the field the best way. If you want to move your training to the next level and also reduce callbacks and really give you the best chance to CYA, you’ll want to invest in a real-world training center that can simulate these types of calls and more, depending on the type of trade you’re in.  

Involve your team in approaching how to do your work from every angle. This will help you arrive at a best practice that allows you to run calls the right way and reduce risk for all. The risk is great enough to put you out of business and ruin you financially.  

“An ounce of medicine is worth a pound of cure” - Benjamin Franklin.

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