9 Podcasts for Small Business Owners

From business management books to leadership seminars, there are a vast variety of ways for small business owners to learn best practices from the experts. And with smartphones readily available, it’s easy to download and listen to actionable tips to grow your company and hear stories from experts on how they achieved their success.

Use your commute, lunch break, or evening workout routine to tune into one (or all!) of these podcasts. Here are nine of our favorite podcasts for small business owners:

1. The 10 Minute Entrepreneur

Host: Sean Castrina // New Episodes: Every Monday & Thursday // Length: <10 minutes

Seasoned serial entrepreneur Sean Castrina shares quick hitting tips to help equip you for success. Both tactical and practical, Sean’s short, easy to listen to episodes are packed with advice that will help you thrive, whatever your business.

10 Minute Entrepreneur
2. Accelerate Your Business Growth

Host: Diane Helbig // New Episodes: 2x per week // Length: 45-60 minutes

Featured on Inc.com’s list of 100 Podcasts That Will Make You Smarter, Better, and Wiser, MSNBC’s Your Business, and on the Fit Small Business list of best small business podcasts, this show is designed to help small business owners, salespeople, and aspiring entrepreneurs with the various aspects of business success.

Accelerate Your Business Growth

3. Breaking Down Your Business

Hosts: Jill Salzman & Brad Farris //New Episodes: Every Monday // Length: 15-30 minutes

Brad Farris & Jill Salzman tackle the most complex small business questions of our day. “Why can’t I hire competent employees?” “How do I make more money without driving myself nuts?” “How do I take over the world?” They’ll get to the bottom of these mysteries with help from entrepreneurial geniuses, product pushers, brilliant branders and a ragtag team of moguls intent on magnifying profit.

Breaking Down Your Business

4. Thrivetime Show | Business School without the BS

Hosts: Dr. Robert Zoellner & Clay Clark // New Episodes: Daily // Length: 30-60 minutes

Experience business school without the BS with former US SBA Entrepreneur of the Year, Clay Clark, and the optometrist turned business tycoon, Doctor Robert Zoellner. This award-winning team has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, and Bloomberg.

Thrivetime Show-1

5. Business Owner’s Freedom Formula

Host: Paul Maskill // New Episodes: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday // Length: 5-35 minutes

This show was created for you, the small business owner looking to finally break free from your business so you can go from Business Operator to Business Owner and CEO. If you’re looking for straight-to-the point, no fluff insight then this show is for you.

Business Owners Freedom Formula

6. Business Owners Radio

Hosts: Craig Moen & Shye Gilad // New Episodes: 2x a month // Length: <30 minutes

This is the show that helps your business grow. Business Owners Radio is where established business owners get the latest strategies, insights, and practices to build a sustainable and profitable business. Episodes feature dynamic interviews with business experts and strategists, in-depth reviews of important business trends, and innovative technology, frameworks, and tools you can use right now to run your business better.

Business owners Radio
7. The How of Business: Running & Growing a Small Business

Hosts: Henry Lopez & David Begin // New Episodes: Every Monday // Length: 45 minutes

The How of Business is a weekly podcast for aspiring entrepreneurs and existing small business owners. If you are looking for actionable advice, tips and techniques on how to start and grow your small business, this is the podcast for you. Each episode discusses a business topic or interviews an existing business owner or business service provider.

The How of Business

8. The Blue Collar Businessman

Host: Shahn Ellis // New Episodes: Every Monday // Length: 15-30 minutes

The Blue Collar Businessman leads and guides you from desperation to liberation; it’s the freedom you were seeking when you started your business. If you’re a buy collar guy and have found yourself feeling incarcerated by your business, Shahn is here to give you the tools, blueprints, and keys to the kingdom. He will coach you, “The Blue Collar Businessman,” on how to become the successful and deeply connected, man, husband, and father you were meant to be.

The Blue Collar Businessman
9. Smart Business Revolution Podcast

Host: John Corcoran // New Episodes: Once a week // Average Length: 45 minutes

Learn how to build relationships intelligently to get more clients, grow your income, and advance your career. Discover how you can use win-win networking and intentional relationship-building with Influencers and VIPs, even if you “hate networking” or feel like you have “nothing to offer” people who are successful.

Smart-Business-Revolution-podcast-artwork-red

Let us know if your favorite small business podcast isn’t on our listwe’d love to know what you’re listening to and share it with our readers!

4 Reasons Why Companies Offer Student Loan Repayment Assistance

As a leader in human resources at your organization, you’re always looking for ways to better serve and engage your employees. After all, engaged employees are happier and more productive. In fact, Gallup reports that “companies with highly engaged workforce outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.”

But they’re many benefits and perks to choose from, and it can be hard to figure out what’s truly going to improve your employees’ lives, engage them in the workplace, and ultimately keep them with your company longer.

That’s why many companies are adding student loan repayment assistance (sometimes called SLRA) to their benefits and rewards programs. SLRA can help to improve an employees’ financial health, support reducing stress, increase productivity, and build trust and loyalty with your company that can impact employee retention as well.

Wondering if SLRA is right for your organization? Here’s 4 reasons why your company should offer student loan repayment assistance.

1. Your employees are likely struggling with student debt

Student loan debt is rampant in the United States and Hawaii is no exception. According to the New York Federal Reserve, 44.2 million Americans have debt from student loans. Amounts owed are substantial as well. According to Make Lemonade, the average student loan debt for the graduating class of 2016 is $37,172.

This means that your employees–especially those in younger generations–are likely facing staggering amounts of debt. This debt not only affects where your employees’ paychecks wind up. It also affects other important decisions, such as how much to put in a retirement account, and when to buy a home. Student loan debt guides many important decisions, and can often distract them from making meaningful contributions at work.

2. They will stay longer if they receive assistance 

Employees that stay at your company for a short time cost your organization substantial time and resources. According to studies by Society for Human Resource Management, when an employee leaves, it costs a business about 6-9 months of their salary.

One of the biggest benefits to offering student loan repayment assistance is that employees who take advantage of the benefit are likely to stay longer at your company. According to an ASA survey, 86% of employees would work for you for five years if you helped pay down their student loans.

Any benefit that boosts retention should be closely considered, as the average millennial employee plans to stay at their job for less than three years, according to the Future Workplace.

3. Student loan repayment is a preferred benefit 

Today’s organizations can offer a variety of different benefits to employees. Indeed, many turn to perks like free food, gym memberships, and other workplace enhancements to attract, engage, and retain employees.

However, student loan repayment assistance is preferred over other benefits and perks. In fact, student loan repayment assistance is 11x more attractive to employees than gym memberships, according to a benefit preferences study conducted by Peanut Butter.

SLRAStat

4. It’s relatively easy to implement

Thanks to new technologies and programs offered by companies, including ProService Hawaii, student loan repayment assistance programs can be easy to implement. These repayment programs offer:

  • Easy set up for employers. Employers can integrate their student loan repayment programs with payroll, so there’s no messy paperwork or complicated billing.
  • Seamless enrollment for employees. These systems are extremely easy and seamless for employees to use.
  • Flexible contribution amounts. Employers can choose how much to contribute to individual employees. Often, employers offer more assistance based on how long an employee has been with the organization.
The positive effects of student loan repayment 

Student loan repayment assistance is one of the most attractive benefits you can offer, especially in a world where workers are saddled with large amounts of debt.

These programs are designed to reduce turnover among workers of all ages and engage your highly-qualified workers by improving their financial wellbeing, ultimately giving them more headspace to focus on their work. By choosing to assist employees with their debt, you can set yourself apart from other employers competing for the same college-educated talent and gain the trust and loyalty of your employees to become an employer of choice. 

4 Types of Insurance Every Employer Needs in Hawaii

Labor costs, which can be made up of wages, benefits, insurance, taxes, admin, and more, can account for up to 70% of your total business expenses. While many employers think there’s little they can do to reduce these costs, there are actually ways to take control. With this Real Cost Series, we put a magnifying glass on employer labor costs and break down powerful business strategies that can improve your bottom line without adding to your “to do” list.

Hawaii is consistently ranked among the top states in the country for quality of life, but it’s also among the most challenging places to do business. In fact, in its 2018 study, WalletHub ranked the Aloha State worst in the country for startups, in large part due to the high cost of doing business, which was ranked 43rd out of 50 states.

Beyond salaries and wages, there are other labor costs that can add to an employers’ bottom line (see our True Costs blog for more details). One factor companies must take into account if they want to do business in Hawaii is the state’s numerous insurance requirements for employers.

Let’s take a look at the four types of insurance that every employer should have in the State of Hawaii.

1. Health Insurance

Long before the Affordable Care Act made employer-provided health insurance mandatory nationwide, Hawaii was leading the way in requiring businesses to provide medical coverage to employees. In fact, the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act, which was passed in 1974, was the first law of its kind in the country.

Today, Hawaii businesses are required to provide health insurance to employees working more than 20 hours per week, with some exceptions (including seasonal farm workers, insurance or real estate agents working on commission, and some family businesses). Employers can fulfill their requirements by purchasing a plan through a health care partner, an insurance carrier licensed in the State of Hawaii, or by adopting an approved self-insurance health care plan.

2. Temporary Disability Insurance

In addition to health care, Hawaii is one of only five states that requires employers to carry Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI). TDI is a type of wage replacement coverage that pays an employee a portion of their normal wages if they are forced to take time off from their job due to a non-work-related illness or injury, including pregnancy. That means that if an employee is unable to work while they are receiving treatment for a chronic illness, or recovering from an injury that occurred on their day off, TDI provides coverage that partially reimburses them for their lost wages.

Hawaii’s TDI law, which was enacted in 1969, covers employees working 20 or more hours per week. It sets a minimum benefit of 58% of the employee’s average weekly wages, and kicks in starting on the eighth day of disability, lasting up to 26 weeks.

3. Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Along with TDI, Hawaii also requires all employers to purchase Workers’ Compensation Insurance, which adds an additional layer of wage replacement benefits for employees. This insurance pays for an employee’s lost wages and other costs if they are unable to work due to an injury on the job.

Workers’ Compensation covers two-thirds of a disabled employee’s salary while they are unable to work, as well as any necessary medical treatment and vocational training if the employee meets requirements and is unable to resume their former job activities as a result of their injury. Workers can also receive permanent partial or total disability benefits if they are permanently disabled.

4. Employment Practices Liability Insurance

Although EPLI isn’t mandatory in Hawaii, more and more businesses are purchasing Employment Practices Liability Insurance, or EPLI, to protect themselves against potential lawsuits and claims made by their own employees. EPLI covers legal fees and other costs incurred when an employee files a workplace rights violation like discrimination, wrongful termination, or sexual harassment.

Covering Your Bases

Hawaii’s numerous insurance requirements and tough regulatory environment can make managing compliance and handling employee paperwork overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. There are things you can do to ease the compliance burden and even reduce business costs.

Familiarizing yourself with Hawaii’s different insurance requirements is a great first step. Looking for an HR partner to satisfy your insurance needs all in one place is also a step in the right direction—from health care coverage and EPLI, to Workers’ Compensation Insurance and TDI.

Not only can the right HR partner provide the benefits, coverage, and expertise you need to manage your business and employees well, some partners can also:

  • Help lower your insurance premiums. How? By leveraging their large buying power to negotiate the best health care rates available, and by offering in-house Workers’ Compensation and TDI underwriting. This means you can provide employees with the best benefits that keep your business competitive while also saving money.
  • Provide claims management expertise. Why does this matter? When an employee files a Workers’ Compensation or TDI claim, an HR partner can pick-up the work that would otherwise fall on your shoulders, from filling out the paperwork and processing the claim, to calling doctors on your behalf. They do the tedious work of keeping you compliant so you can focus on your core business.
  • Minimize risk and prevent costly compliance issues. In just one year, Workers’ Compensation claims costed Hawaii businesses over $300,000,000. Safety training programs and mock audits can help you prevent accidents, keep employees safe, and avoid hefty non-compliance fines.

Insurance is a necessary part of doing business, but it doesn’t have to break your wallet. At the end of the day, both insurance products and the coverage they offer can provide peace of mind for both employers and employees alike.

Learn how ProService Hawaii can help you manage your insurance requirements, shrink your labor costs, and make 2019 the best year yet . Visit https://info.proservice.com/guarantee for details.

Building a Culture of Feedback: Key Insights From Our Fall 2018 Growth Series

Our fall Growth Series event, “Build a Healthy Feedback Culture,” took place on September 19 and featured Sheila Heen, New York Times best-selling author, as our keynote speaker. We couldn’t have been more thrilled to welcome her to the islands.

Heen is the co-author of the New York Times best-sellers Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (Penguin 2000), and Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (Even When It’s Off-Base, Unfair, Poorly Delivered and Frankly, You’re Not in the Mood) (Viking/Penguin 2014). She is also the founder of Triad Consulting Group and a lecturer on law at Harvard Law School and has even provided training for the Obama White House.

During our final Growth Series event of the year, Sheila Heen engaged Hawaii’s business community around the topic of giving and receiving feedback, while unpacking common challenges and insights on how to use it to fuel growth and learning within teams and organizations.

If you couldn’t attend our Growth Series event, you’re in luck — we’re recapping 4 insights learned from Sheila Heen.

#1. Receiving Feedback Is A Distinct Leadership Skill

It’s not enough for leaders to give feedback — they must be generous receivers as well. After all, it’s actually the receiver who controls the feedback conversation (and its success).

According to Heen, receiving feedback is a distinct leadership skill. “The fastest way to change the feedback culture in any organization is for the leaders to learn how to accept feedback,” she said.

It can be intimidating for team members to give feedback to their leaders, which is why Heen suggests a better method: ask for just one thing. For example, after an important client meeting, don’t ask a big, unfocused question like “Do you have any feedback from today’s meeting?” Instead, ask your team, “What’s one thing you’d change about this meeting?”

Heen says it doesn’t matter what comes after “just one thing” but to make sure that’s how your question begins. The “just one thing” form of questioning gives your team the freedom to provide feedback and sets the example that leadership is open to feedback.

#2. Feedback Should Fall Into One of Three Categories

While the word feedback prompts many to think about performance reviews, according to Heen, feedback is all of the information available to you about yourself every day. More often than not, this information is informal rather than formal, and unspoken instead of direct — whether it’s a person’s tone of voice, body language or other non-responses.

Heen stated that while there is one generic definition of feedback, there are actually three types of feedback a person can give and receive: appreciation, coaching, and evaluation.

  1. Appreciation lets your team know, “I see you. I get you. What you do matters.” Heen quoted a statistic from the U.S. Department of Labor stating that 93% of employees feel undervalued. Communicating appreciation in the workplace is particularly important for trusting building, and can impact an employee’s ability to hear other forms of feedback, like coaching.
  2. Coaching is designed to communicate” here’s how you can get better.” It should be done daily and should occur across all levels of the organization. But there’s a caveat. Without appreciation, coaching comes off as complaining and nitpicking. In order for you to come alongside a team member and effectively coach them on a behavior or skill, you must first put in the time to appreciate the work they’ve already done. 
  3. Evaluation is formal feedback that says “here’s how you stack up vis-a-vis others, or against expectations.” This is the type of feedback that rates, ranks, and judges your performance. These are your annual reviews. Heen stated that many companies are forgoing their annual reviews, and by doing so they’re leaving a gap in their feedback culture. 

The best way to ensure that a healthy feedback culture exists is to ask your team members how much of each type of feedback they’re getting. Most importantly, figure out which of the three types they feel they are lacking.

#3. Everyone Has Different Sensitivities to Feedback

Heen pointed out that everyone has a different threshold and sensitivity to receiving feedback. She discussed two categories of people: the highly sensitive and the under sensitive.

  1. People highly-sensitive to feedback will take any feedback given and only focus on the negative. This type of person will think about all of their past mistakes and critiques and begin to spiral into such a negative head space that they can not learn anything valuable.
  2. The under-sensitive person is often unaware that they’re being given feedback. They are quick to dismiss certain types of feedback because they feel as though it doesn’t match who they say they are.  

Knowing the type of person you are when receiving feedback and being more aware of the type of feedback you need will help you to coach those around you on how and when to give you feedback in a way that will be most effective. Asking specific questions and freely discussing your needs concerning feedback is a huge shift towards a healthy feedback culture.

#4. There Are Three Types Of Reactions To Feedback

In Heen’s experience, she has discovered there are three kinds of reactions to receiving feedback.

  1. Truth Trigger: This type of triggered reaction evaluates the content and quality of the feedback itself.
  2. Relationship Trigger: This triggered reaction evaluates the person who gave you the feedback and usually questions their motives or selfish reasoning.
  3. Identity Trigger: This type of reaction dismisses any feedback given because it doesn’t align with the story the individual is telling about themselves. It doesn’t feel accurate to them.

Triggered reactions happen immediately after receiving feedback and often impede on learning or applying any piece of the feedback. According to Sheen, the important thing to remember is that you can learn from even unskilled, off-base feedback. Just because it’s 90% wrong doesn’t mean there isn’t 10% that might help you grow.

Final Thoughts

We were so pleased to host Shelia Heen for our Growth Series event “Build a Healthy Feedback Culture”. With her helpful tips and instruction, we know that you can make dramatic changes to your organization’s feedback culture. As always, ProService is invested in your business’s growth and success, stay tuned for our next Growth Series event in 2019.

5 Things to Do After a Difficult Conversation at Work

Giving feedback can result in difficult conversations at times. It can be easy for managers to miscommunicate or deliver feedback without enough empathy, just as it can be easy for employees to become defensive.

However, as difficult as these conversations can be, this doesn’t mean that feedback shouldn’t be shared, or that difficult conversations should be avoided. Feedback—even negative feedback—can help employees develop their skills and improve the way they serve their organizations. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Zenger/Folkman, 92% of employees believe that negative feedback can be effective at improving performance if it’s delivered appropriately.

So, if you engage in a difficult employee exchange, that’s okay. However, remember that these employee conversations can’t be treated like another check mark on your to-do list.  Difficult feedback conversations require follow-up. And as manager, it’s your responsibility to help steward what comes after.

Here are 5 tips for moving forward after difficult employee conversations.

1. Don’t Push Away What Happened

If you’re already adverse to conflict, it can be tempting to walk away from a difficult employee conversation and try to forget it ever happenedespecially if things got heated.  Although it can feel like an appealing solution in the moment, it can hinder healthy work relationships, create workplace toxicity, and even diminish productivity. So rather than avoiding that employee in the break room, simply accept that it occurred. By doing so, you arm yourself to move forward more quickly. 

2. Be Proactive and Solution-Oriented

But how do you move forward on your own, with your employees, or as a team after  difficult conversations? What are the natural next steps? The best thing you can do is to be proactive and solutions-oriented about the future and with your employees. For example, send a timely follow-up email that recaps your conversation and outlines any next step action items that you agreed uponeven if you could only agreed on a few. Whatever it is, don’t procrastinate about proactively moving the conversation forward. 

3. Tell The People Who Need to Know

Though you might want to vent to other managers or colleagues about a difficult employee exchange, it’s best to handle this professionally, which means thinking through who needs to be aware of your conversation (and who does not). For example, be sure that essential stakeholders are in the know and seek their advice, but perhaps it’s best not to broadcast your onerous employee interaction with your whole leadership team. Remember, as you communicate with the appropriate people, stick to the facts  and avoid personal feelings and bias.

4. Create a Written Record and Plan for Moving Forward

After a tough conversation with a direct report, it’s a good idea to create a written record of what went on, who was involved, as well as any differences in perspectives and understanding. This way, if a similar challenge comes up or repeats itself, you have a record of what steps were taken to deal with it in the past. In addition to recording what happened, this written record should also include an action plan of next stepsremember, be proactive and solutions oriented.

5. Think Big Picture

There will always be difficult conversations that happen within a team or an organization. What matters most is how you help yourself and your employees to handle them more productively. No matter what, keep your eye on the big picturesuch as improving your product or maintaining a healthy company cultureso you can contextualize these difficult conversations. Although employee conversations may be difficult at the times, in all likelihood, it’s a small obstacle on your journey toward growth as a manager and their professional growth as employees.

Moving On After Difficult Conversations

No one likes an uncomfortable conversation. But these conversations can be enlightening and can provide employees and leaders alike with constructive feedback that can help them grow and improve. The key is to not flee from a difficult conversation, but rather take action. With these tips, you’ll know how.

This post is part of a special blog series on ‘Building a Healthy Feedback Culture’ in support of ProService’s Growth Series event that took place on September 19, 2018. Offered exclusively to ProService clients and special guests, the Growth Series are interactive learning experiences that feature industry-leading speakers and networking opportunities that will inspire and provide tools for business leaders to take their organizations to the next level.

The Power You Didn’t Know You Had When it Comes to Controlling Labor Costs

Labor costs, which can be made up of wages, benefits, insurance, taxes, admin, and more, can account for up to 70% of your total business expenses. While many employers think there’s little they can do to reduce these costs, there are actually ways to take control. With our Real Cost Series, we put a magnifying glass on employer labor costs and break down powerful business strategies that can improve your bottom line without adding to your “to do” list.

When you’re trying to figure out how your labor costs impact your bottom line, it’s important to think beyond payroll. In fact, once you factor in all the additional expenses, it turns out that the true cost of labor can be up to 140% of your employees’ gross wages. That means that if an employee is earning $25 an hour, it’s actually costing you closer to $35 an hour.

It’s called the labor burden, a term that includes an employee’s wages or salary, but also all the non-wage costs of employing a person to work in a business. Beyond employee wages, there’s a long list of benefits, taxes, insurance, and administrative costs that can add up. And yet, whether it’s payroll or Workers’ Compensation insurance, employers often assume there’s little they can do to control these costs — but that’s not the case.

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By understanding your labor burden, you can get a better handle on where your money is going. And with greater visibility into where the money leads, it’s possible to find the right business strategies that can help you get labor costs under control and keep them stable — without requiring a big investment of your time.

So where is the money going?

Let’s break down some of these labor costs. Beyond an employee’s salary or wages, taxes are an important expense, including state and federal unemployment insurance taxes (SUTA and FUTA), as well as a federal tax (FICA) which pays for social security and medicare.  

Then there’s healthcare and benefits. Health insurance contributions are often a huge labor cost, and many businesses offer a 401(k) contribution or match as an employee benefit as well.

Businesses are also required to pay for certain insurances, including Workers’ Compensation (WC) and Temporary Disability (TDI), which covers medical expenses and a portion of lost wages for employees who become injured or ill. This is especially true here in Hawaii, where the state mandates employers pay for WC and TDI, which is optional in some other states.

Administrative expenses like payroll processing and benefits administration which are often handled by a third-party or are additional positions on your staff, also add to your total labor cost.

And finally, you are probably paying for some additional employee perks, like cell phone reimbursements, employee uniforms or company apparel, discounted parking, and free in-office coffee and snacks, which all add to how you create a great workplace.

What you can do about it

Understanding labor costs is about more than just satisfying your curiosity. It can give you valuable insight into your business that can actually help you manage your bottom line. When you have a complete picture of your people costs (both wage and non-wage expenses), you’re able to more clearly spot trends affecting your business, pinpoint issues, and ask the right questions.

Full visibility into your costs also gives you the opportunity to think about your employment expenses from a strategic business point of view. It also allows you to identify ways that you can actually contain some of those costs.  In particular, how you manage your workforce from the back end by making decisions about your business administration. Those decisions might include looking for partnerships that can lock in key insurance rates for more stability, increasing your healthcare buying power by joining forces with a larger group, or partnering with an HR expert to outsource your payroll and benefits administration tasks so you can spend more time on revenue generating activities instead.

It’s possible to think about labor costs more strategically. But finding the right solution starts with really understanding your business and identifying your unique administrative needs.

The payoff

Despite this opportunity, many employers gloss over these issues because they assume that dealing with people costs is an unavoidable time suck and cost of doing business — but it doesn’t have to be that way. By applying smart business strategies, you can reduce your labor cost (while keeping your staff), spend less time dealing with payroll and time-consuming HR admin tasks, and enjoy more time actually managing your employees, serving your customers, marketing, and growing your business.

Accurately predicting labor costs (and, even better, keeping them under control), can reduce your expenses, freeing up resources that you can reinvest to grow your business and support your employees. Deciding to work with an HR partner can give you access to expert training and professional development opportunities that can improve your productivity. And by outsourcing HR tasks, business owners can re-claim a work-life balance that many find out of reach.

Learn how ProService Hawaii can help you manage your labor costs, tackle your HR admin, and make 2019 the best year yet. Visit https://info.proservice.com/guarantee for more details.