Harrison Law Group February 2019

February 2019 Te Contractor’s Advantage

www.HarrisonLawGroup.com (410) 832-0000 jwyatt@harrisonlawgroup.com

Productivity in Work and Life

Some people have a passion for productivity. They look for ways to increase their efficiency and to be mindful of their time. I count myself among those people. While some connect productivity solely with work, I cast a wider net. I think about how I can be more productive in work and life together. A lot of how productive I am comes down to how I spend my time. I want to be able to spend as much high-quality time with my family as I can while also balancing the time I spend working at the firm. That said, I’m just as likely to think through a complex legal issue on a Saturday morning at home as I am to go for a quick jaunt around the office to get a little exercise on a weekday — I’m not rigid in how I approach work or life. But I do stay mindful of how I use my time — with an emphasis on consistency — which is an important part of being productive, whatever you may be doing. I consistently start my day with three 20-minute bursts of activity, which makes me very productive for the rest of my day. For instance, I wake up at 5 a.m. every morning. My goal is to get ahead of the day and get my mind going. As soon as I’m ready, I spend about 20 minutes exercising. I might hop on my smart trainer — a cycling device which hooks up to my bike for indoor cycling and performance tracking (it even hooks up to the TV, and you can “ride” a variety of trails). Alternatively, I may go for a walk. I live near a college campus with many wooded walking paths. I find that it’s a great way to get a little exercise and clear my head.

After exercise, I spend another 20 minutes reflecting on what I’m grateful for, or dedicating myself to writing in my journal. I write down thoughts, ideas, aspirations, goals — whatever may be on my mind that morning. I often use that time to plan out my whole day in half-hour chunks. It’s another way for me to keep organized and focused. I then devote another 20 minutes to reading. Sometimes, this is the only 20 minutes I have available to read on a given day. However, while I may only read for 20 minutes a day, those minutes can go a long way. No matter the book — whether it’s book on business, productivity, or a biography — I’m always learning something new. For instance, I recently re-read Cal Newport’s book, “Deep Work.” In the book, Newport discusses distinguishing factors between shallow, more superficial work, and deeper, more meaningful and productive work. There is a lot to be said about what we do in a day and how it divides our attention.

everyone else in the house is waking up. I have more time to spend with my wife and kids, and I don’t have to worry about my work distracting me while I’m spending time with them. I cherish those moments when I get to take the kids to a museum, or talk about history with them. Above all else, I want to make sure they have the tools and self-confidence they need to forge a happy life for themselves going forward. A lot of that comes down to the time I spend being present and connected with them. That’s why productivity is so important to me.

-Jeremy Wyatt

By around 6 a.m. I’m ready to take on the day, which is just about when

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Hyperlocal Advertising for the Broad Modern Business Marketing Starts Right Next Door

The Reason Employees Are Quitting in Droves

According to a survey conducted by Randstad, 60 percent of American employees either quit or strongly considered quitting their jobs last year. That’s a number that should terrify any business owner. However, instead of panicking, consider this record-breaking moment in U.S. employment history an invitation to take a long, hard look at your organization. Are members of your team waiting for the perfect moment to bail? And if so, why? It’s not because the majority of employees are ruthless careerists or disloyal money-grubbers. If we look at Mental Health America’s 2018 Workplace Health Survey, it mostly boils down to the fact that over half of American employees feel unappreciated, unsupported, and disrespected by management. In fact, 21 percent of respondents said that instead of being paid what they deserve, they’re nickel-and- dimed when raise season arrives, and 77 percent believed that instead of being lifted up for their accomplishments, employees were forced to toil away in the corner, feeling invisible. Sadly, scarcely more than 34 percent of respondents believed they could rely on the support of their managers and colleagues. The numbers paint a disheartening picture of the average workplace. If you’ve been a manager for a long time, it can be difficult to imagine how frustrated an undervalued member of your team can feel and how these feelings can spread throughout your organization, leaving all your employees discontent. It’s imperative to listen and respond to your employees’ concerns. It takes more than instituting an open-door policy and relaxing work requirements — two characteristics of healthy workplaces, as rated by respondents. You need to commit resources to eliminating the problem. Start with the highest-level leaders of your business. Work with them on how to interact with the rest of your team in more human, empathetic, and responsive ways. Training and assessments are a good start, but you may also need to revamp the mentality and core values of your company. In a world where finding a new job is easier than ever, managers cannot afford to ignore the needs of their employees. Evolve and acknowledge the emotions in your workplace or risk losing all that you’ve invested in your top performers.

Whether you’re the CEO of a major tech-savvy corporation or a freelancer, your eyes should be set on your next marketing move in this digital age. While spinning signs on sidewalks and flying banners from the backs of airplanes may be considered staples of public outreach to some, the tides are shifting to more targeted ways of reaching your future clientele. Virtually any business can benefit from utilizing hyperlocal advertising and its many strategic facets. Hyperlocal advertising refers to the process of hyperspecific or niche marketing campaigns implemented for a certain focus area. This can manifest in many comprehensive forms, depending on the specific needs of the business. A local mom and pop restaurant may choose to take advantage of hyperlocal advertising by sending ads to potential customers within a 5-mile radius during the hours they are most likely to be hungry, on their lunch breaks, or when they are otherwise free to stop in for a bite to eat. Alternatively, a major car dealership in a metropolitan area could target their potential audience by running ads during local professional sports games. So how does this work for YOUR business? It all depends on your desired campaign for your targeted region. Assuming you’re well-informed about your current demographics or the demographics you’re hoping to reach, there are several methods to effectively implement hyperlocal advertising tactics. By using GPS and IP addresses, you'll be able to target ads to specific cities, streets, and even buildings by inputting their coordinates. After you’ve narrowed it down, you can choose which areas work best for your goals. A mechanic shop expanding to a new city may cast a wider net, while a high-end jeweler may target areas with higher incomes. With hyperlocal strategies, your advertisements can be catered on a variety of digital platforms, like social media, streaming services, and apps. These new-age technologies will give you more exposure and patronage for your ever- expanding business!

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Why Your Business Needs to Implement Two-Factor Authentication Now, Not Later

HAVE A Laugh Here’s where two-factor authentication (2FA) comes in. 2FA forces users to input more than one field of identification to access their account. If you’ve ever used your PIN at an ATM, you’ve already used 2FA, but many other forms exist. When logging into your email, Google can send an alert to your phone that includes a login number, which you type on your PC to gain access to your account. Banks often couple passwords with one of your security questions. Whatever the tactic, it’s much sturdier than your average password. It’s still not foolproof, but it’s an excellent first-line defense against hackers. A survey by Paychex recently found that 68 percent of small business leaders remain unworried about their digital security. If you need proof, you can just look at the passwords they and their employees use. According to SecureAuth, a staggering 81 percent of Americans use the same passwords for multiple accounts, the majority of which are unimaginative old standbys like “1234567,” “qwerty,” and “password.” These trends, compounded by the fact that passwords generally aren’t very airtight, turn the typical login and password combination into a paper shield for hackers. Even stronger passwords that include multiple uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and other characters often only take a few hours to crack with an advanced brute-force tool. Once they’re cracked, they’re often posted on the darknet or sold to the highest bidder.

However, implementing 2FA into your own business isn’t the easiest proposition. You’ll either need to create a custom solution — a big headache that may not be worth it for your small business — or hire a technical company suited for the job. This doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s worth noting, though, that whenever you bring in an outside party, it’s a potential failure point for your cybersecurity. It’s vital to vet them properly and ensure they practice what they preach. 2FA can’t be the beginning and end of your cybersecurity strategy, but consider it a large first step toward protecting your livelihood. Trust us — when the digital wolves come knocking at your door, you’ll be glad you installed the door in the first place.


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Jeremy Wyatt jwyatt@harrisonlawgroup.com www.HarrisonLawGroup.com (410) 832-0000


40 West Chesapeake Avenue, Ste 600 Towson, MD 21204

Inside This Edition


A Passion for Productivity


Why Employees Are Quitting in Droves

Better Targeted Ads for Your Local Customers


2FA Is Essential to Business Security

Have a Laugh

* 4.

How to Create a Culture of Love

Level With Me: Avoiding Pitfalls

Create a Culture of Love in Your Company 2 Tactics That Will Create Loyal Employees Company growth is the top priority for many entrepreneurs. If a business stagnates, it will eventually fail. However, when leaders focus solely on finding the best ways to reach new customers, they often overlook an integral part of running a cohesive company. While an operational-minded approach will do wonders for the efficiency of your business, behind every company’s success are the employees who made it possible. That’s why this Valentine's Day is the perfect time to create a culture of love in your company. FAMILY One of the best things you can do is invest in what matters most to your employees: their families. A familiar problem for many business owners is that their families can fall by the wayside amid the complications of running an organization. Your employees can also face this struggle. The chaos of trying to raise children while balancing a career and a personal life is a significant stressor. As the leader of your company, you can help ease these burdens. A date night for an anniversary, spontaneous time off, or even added vacation

time are all simple gestures that go a long way to create a company culture where your employees feel loved. AUTONOMY A dangerous pitfall for many entrepreneurs is developing a detachment between their own work life and the work lives of their team members. During the growth of the business, owners can fall into the age-old employee-boss mindset, and that hierarchy often creates a rigid environment. The moment an employee starts to look at their manager as a boss is also when they start to see their work as a job rather than a career they’re excited about. Trust and autonomy are essential to developing a productive professional relationship, and offering your employees remote work, flexible schedules, and the freedom to take control of their workdays are great ways to establish reciprocal relationships and foster entrepreneurial mindsets. Try some of these tactics at your company this February to create a culture of love where your employees and customers thrive.

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February 2019

Level With Me By JeremyWyatt

Avoiding Pitfalls on the Way to Mechanics’ Liens in Maryland

When used effectively, mechanics’liens can turn a nasty payment dispute into a“cash the check”situation.

Mechanics’ Lien Benefits

Why do construction lawyers and savvy contractors care so much about mechanics’liens? Two benefits lead the pack: leverage and availability of money to pay your claim. To understand howmuch leverage mechanics’liens generate, it’s helpful to remember that liens are designed to foreclose upon a property and sell that property at auction to pay you, the construction contractor, for your work. Even before a foreclosure sale, a mortgage bank may require the property owner to get an expensive surety bond protecting the property from your lien. All of that — the foreclosure, the bond, and the expense —means that property owners listen when someone mentions a mechanics’lien. Having a claim on real property and the property owner’s attention also means that there may be a lot more money available to pay your claim than in a“typical”payment dispute. For example, which of us has not been told by someone up the chain,“I can pay you as soon as I get paid by the owner/general contractor/upstream sub.”Well, when using a mechanics’lien, you don’t have to rely on whomever you have a direct contract with. With the lien’s generated leverage, the project’s owner (and even sometimes the owner’s bank) is suddenly interested in getting rid of your lien—which often means getting you paid. And if all else fails, the project’s property is still available to be sold to pay out anyone that may have a lien on the property, including you.


The other side of the mechanics’lien coin in Maryland, however, is that liens are scrutinized very carefully by courts, and you can lose your right to a lien with a single misstep. Here are three top pitfalls to avoid when using mechanics’liens in Maryland. First , Maryland law is crystal clear that a petition for a mechanics’lien must be filed within 180 days of the last day you worked on the project for which you are seeking a lien. To revise an idiom, if you are a day late, you are going to be more than a dollar short because your lien will be thrown out. Anyone that does not have a direct contract with the project’s owner has an additional deadline in that they must submit a written notice to the owner that they intend to lien the project within 120 days of the last day worked. Second , Maryland law requires“material papers”to support a mechanics’lien from the moment a petition is filed. Unlike most lawsuits, you have to“prove it”from day one by attaching to your petition the papers or affidavits that show the nature of your work, the date of your work, and the cost or price of your work. Failing to attach those material papers can be just as fatal to your mechanics’lien as missing a deadline.

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Finally , perhaps the most deadly predator of mechanics’liens in Maryland is the humble lien release. That seemingly harmless paperwork submitted monthly with applications for payment can have the implacable effect of waiving and releasing your rights to any mechanics lien on a construction project for any work occurring before the date you signed that lien release, regardless of whether you were actually paid for the work you intend to lien.

Second, when the time comes to submit a lien release (whether for monthly payment or otherwise), don’t sign that release without carving out your right to file a mechanics’lien for any work that may be disputed or unpaid at that time. This could be quite a long list of unpaid work, but would definitely include disputed change order work, unpaid base contract work, and impacted/delayed work. As I say in my seminars on protecting construction claims,“don’t sign that lien release ... yet!” Finally, if you do decide to file for a mechanics’lien, give your attorney plenty of time to prepare the pleadings. In my opinion, mechanics’liens (in Maryland or elsewhere) are the most complicated lawsuits that a construction attorney puts together. Thinking ahead and giving your attorney lead time will ensure that they and you don’t fall needlessly into the many pitfalls surrounding mechanics’liens. This column is intended to provide educational material only and is not intended to provide legal advice. Before proceeding with or defending any claim, you should carefully evaluate your contract and related legal rights, and seek the direct counsel of a construction attorney.

Avoiding the Pitfalls on the Way to a Lien

All of these pitfalls can be avoided, however, by the application of good systems.

First, put Maryland’s 120- and 180-day deadlines on your calendar. Make this a part of your project closeout to start a“clock”or reminder the day you finish work on a given project, and if you are coming up on those deadlines, start the machinery to give notice and/or file for a mechanics’lien. 120 days is plenty of time to prepare your lien claim, but only if you are paying attention to the deadline.

If you want to learn more skills and tips about avoiding construction claim pitfalls, you can receive a free copy of my book, The Subcontractor’s Roadmap to Getting Paid for Extra Work by emailing me at jwyatt@harrisonlawgroup.com.

-Jeremy Wyatt



(410) 832-0000

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