Island usiness The great outdoors: Camping, caravans and glamping The Interview: Liz Earleâ€™s Tina Jennings Company Profile: Lifeline Security Plus: Chamber news, events and member benefits
In this Issue...
PRESIDENT’S FOREWORD I hope everyone is enjoying the warmer weather. It was a typical spring with some warm sunshine and on the whole much better than the awful wet winter that we endured. Talking of the weather, this issue looks at some of the diverse accommodation available to visitors (and indeed Islanders). Park Resorts are a big investor and have four sites dotted around the Island, making up a considerable amount of their national business. We also look at Vintage Vacations, a successful niche-tourism business with a unique experience for those who fancy stepping back in time but with all the modern facilities. We also hear from Eve’s Tipis whose hire business has grown significantly by working with the Island’s festivals, large and small. In the Interview we hear from Tina Jennings from Liz Earle. The company still sees the Island as “home” and they use Isle of Wight imagery across their brand. They’re also a massive employer here with around 350 people working in their three sites in Ryde and Cowes. The company profile looks at Lifeline Security, a well-established and award winning family business. We hear their views on how technology is changing what security systems can offer and we also hear how their company has grown since 1990. If you are one of the many Chamber Of Commerce members who came along to our preview sailing events on the newly refurbished Red Falcon then you will
04 10 13 already know that Red Funnel are investing heavily in their fleet and business. In this issue we learn more from CEO Kevin George who tells us about further plans for investment in their ships and terminals on both sides of the Island. This is great news as first and last impressions are highly important to our Island visitors, and a good experience getting on and off the Island is good for all of us, including the business community. On July 1st we’re holding our second B2B Expo event, building on the success of our first event last year. Our event will run for three days and will be open for all businesses on the Island and will feature some of our neighbours from across the Solent too. Definitely an opportunity not to be missed, showing all that is good and great about doing business on the Isle of Wight. I do hope you enjoy the magazine with its great and varied content. The editor and his team work hard and hopefully you will find something in the issue that will help your business. Until next time - enjoy! David Groocock
News Business news
The Interview Tina Jennings, Liz Earle In My View Personal View: Ian Boyd, Arc Consulting Experts View: Glanvilles
Chamber Event Business Breakfast at the William Coppin
Company Profile Lifeline Security
Feature The great outdoors
Business in focus Red Funnel’s Red Falcon
Chamber News Member benefits, new members, events
PRESIDENT, ISLE OF WIGHT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, TOURISM AND INDUSTRY
Island Business Magazine Published by the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce, Tourism and Industry Editor Tom Stroud email@example.com
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Cover image: courtesy of Eve’s Tipis
The Business Magazine for the Isle of Wight
Queen’s Award for IFPL IFPL has won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade for the second time. The Calbourne based company previously won the award in 2008. Geoff Underwood, IFPL’s Managing Director said: "It is such a great honour to be awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, which is recognized around the world, particularly in our prime market of the USA. This award will provide our customers and partners with an unsurpassed level of confidence in our abilities. As a small company based on the Isle of Wight, to have achieved success globally is an outstanding achievement. It reflects the hard work and dedication of everyone at IFPL, for which we are all very proud." IFPL supplies parts to most of the leading worldwide airlines. The company is also extending its business into the executive jet and rail markets.
Chamber B2B returns The Isle Of Wight Chamber Of Commerce’s B2B Enterprise Expo is back at Cowes Yacht Haven’s Events Centre starting on July 1st.
NEWPORT STARBUCKS LOOKS LOCALLY Starbucks has come to the Isle Of Wight, creating 15 jobs and hoping to work with local producers. The Newport team have all been trained in Starbucks’ Southampton store.
with a baker to provide patisseries and pastry products on a daily basis. We hope to be able to do that each morning within a few weeks.” “Brands like Starbucks increase dwell time on the high street, elongating the time people spend and that helps the marketplace. We increased footfall to the area with our Bournemouth store so that has to be good for everyone. We create footfall and interest
“We are Starbucks first franchisees in the
and if you want a different coffee experience
UK and we started rollout in Hampshire
there's room for everyone. We have looked at
and Dorset a year ago,” says Director Mark
other opportunities across the Island. Watch
Hepburn. “There is the opportunity to source
Island products. We’re in advanced discussion
ISLAND CLOUD LAUNCHES AT EXPO 2014 A new data service aimed at Island businesses on the Island will be officially unveiled at the Chamber’s B2B Enterprise Expo. The ‘Island Cloud’, from PC Consultants
working with WightFibre, offers a locally hosted cloud-based data environment with physical access to data and backups. Jonathan Thornton, PC Consultants’ MD said: “Our extensive research to over 750 businesses over these past months, together with the recent Cloud Forum confirmed the need for a secure,
Zoe Stroud, Group Marketing Manager said: “It’s our second year and we’ve extended it to run for three days. It's aimed at anyone in business, large or small. It's free to attend and you can meet a huge array of other businesses, whether that’s banks, stationery suppliers or recruitment agencies." There are seminars running throughout the day and the WightFibre networking café will offer the chance to do business networking over a cup of tea. The B2B is being marketed off-Island too, so there’s the chance to meet up with mainland businesses. “The Chamber Of Commerce is taking the initiative here. We know that Island businesses don’t always want to attend mainland events. We want to bring Island businesses together.”
hi-speed, well supported Island based cloud service. Island businesses need to know ‘exactly’ where any data and backups are located - no other cloud service provides this.” The launch presentation will also include a live demonstration of the latest disaster recover techniques that will be available through the new Island Cloud.
STRUCTeam expands Cowes based composite engineering company STRUCTeam is moving in to newly refurbished office space within Cowes Yacht Haven and is recruiting to expand the team. Engineering Manager Chris Monk said: “We have a number of new projects coming into the business now and we aim to increase the size of the team by 50-60% by the end of this year. We are proud to be based on the Isle of Wight where the composite engineering skills base is fantastic.”
“The Island is probably amongst the top hot spots in the UK for this type of activity. We export our knowledge and skills globally from our base here and we work with clients across the world. We are always proud to take our ‘local knowledge global’ but we are also keen to improve our profile nearer to home. Winning an Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce Business Award in 2012 has started to expose the business to a wider audience on the Island.”
LEADER FUND BEARS FRUIT The five year Rural Development LEADER programme has meant that over £4.5 million has been invested in the Island’s rural economy during the last 5 years. The Chamber of Commerce backed initiative secured LEADER grant funding of £2 million which was allocated to 117 projects. 158 fulltime jobs created or safeguarded and 90 Island businesses or organisations were directly supported. The LEADER team says that 126,000 rural residents have benefited from improved local services, facilities or activities. Judi Griffin, Chairman Isle of Wight LEADER Local Action Group said: “I am extremely proud of what has been achieved over the last 5 years. LEADER has made such a difference to so many people on the Island.”
STEVE PORTER TRANSPORT DRIVING RECRUITMENT Steve Porter Transport is joining hauliers from
of £2,000 to gain the relevant licenses. This is
across the South to form a regional alliance.
compounded by the extortionate cost of insuring
Issues discussed at a series of roundtable events
young drivers looking to enter the industry.
include establishing a regional driving school,
Here on the Isle of Wight we have a particular
apprenticeship programmes and working with
challenge in recruiting people because of our
insurance companies on a new kitemark scheme.
location. Through the new regional Alliance
Malcolm Gibson, Managing Director of Steve Porter Transport, said: “Part of the problem of trying to attract people into the industry is the cost of training, which can be in the region
ESSO RETURNS TO THE ISLAND Isle of Wight Fuels has secured an agreement with ExxonMobil and is bringing premium fuel brand ESSO back to petrol pumps on the Island. The Southern Co-operative Food and Petrol Station in Sandown has launched the brand. David Grannum, General Manager of Isle of Wight Fuels said: “Isle of Wight Fuels had to ensure that we met Esso’s stringent quality standards, which has included investment into an upgrade at our terminal in East Cowes to include Esso’s exclusive additive technology.
Esso’s exclusive Fuel Additives are even more important on an Island environment as motorists are generally doing shorter and more frequent journeys.” Mike Fitton, Franchise Development Manager at Southern Co-operative Ltd said: “We welcome the arrival of Esso to the Isle of Wight and the brand benefits and quality of products that they bring. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial partnership with Esso and Isle of Wight Fuels.”
we are working hard to understand how we can address these issues and find innovative solutions before it’s too late.”
The Business Magazine for the Isle of Wight
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GOING FOR GOLDIE Island Treasure celebrated their official opening at Oasis in Ryde with Chamber Of Commerce Chief Executive Kevin Smith cutting the ribbon, along with Wayne Whittle from Ryde Business Association. “We've already had a great response,” says Island Treasure’s CEO Tony Philipson. “We’ve got people from Australia, Germany and the United States joining our online hunt. On the Island, people are also joining the physical hunt. The Chamber Of Commerce is supporting the hunt for Goldie, the jeweled golden red squirrel.” The Isle Of Wight Lottery has helped fund Island Treasure with a £5,000 loan. “The Chamber Of Commerce has supported us from the beginning,” says Tony. “Kevin Smith knew about the treasure hunt we ran back in 2000 and together we drew up a treasure hunt for Island businesses. Goldie the Golden Squirrel hunt has been integrated into our own story. The Chamber Of Commerce’s Isle Of Wight Lottery has been really helpful. The panel committee was very interested in what we are doing and I had lots of help to fill in the forms. It really helped us set up our business.” “I'm very passionate about Island businesses joining Island Treasure and getting foot-fall because of it. This is completely unique and the Island is at the centre of it. Over the next few months it’s going to go ballistic.”
PC Consultants apprentice
ARTISAN COFFEE FOR YARMOUTH Aiden and Louise Collins are bringing artisan coffee to Yarmouth with the opening of PO41 on Quay Street. The couple, who already own Chessell Pottery Barns and Café, say their new coffee house will focus on the refined artistry of coffee making with a contemporary café experience. They have invested more than £60,000 in their new venture.
Ryde based PC Consultants has welcomed apprentice Daniel Dunn to the team, with a specially created work based programme supported by Highbury College. Daniel will undertake his Higher Level 4 Apprenticeship for IT, Software, Web and Telecoms Professionals. “I wanted something more vocational with a company that provided a good learning environment,” said Daniel. “My aim is to be a fully qualified IT and Telecoms Professional with a leading IT company, which is why I first approached Jonathan Thornton at PC Consultants.” Daniel will spend 2 years completing his apprenticeship, during which time he will attend Highbury College one day each week. Jackie Page, Regional Director at Highbury College said: “We are delighted to be working with PC Consultants and welcome Daniel to Highbury College whilst he completes his Higher Level Apprenticeship. PC Consultants is a great example of an extremely high quality organisation investing in a skilled workforce for the future.”
Aiden said: “We want to keep it simple and consistent and execute it exceptionally well! We will be dedicated to serving gourmet coffee, a select range of luxury loose leaf teas and a delicious array of our own sweet and savoury treats.” Louise said: “As locals, we understand the significance of supporting and being a part of the local community. Not only will the new coffee house generate jobs and source much of its produce locally, it will be a space for local artists to display their work.”
The Business Magazine for the Isle of Wight
HOVERTRAVEL RESIDENTS DEAL Island residents can now apply for a Hovertravel Blue Card which will entitle them to an exclusive 20% off discount on day return fares. Loretta Lale, Commercial & Marketing Manager at Hovertravel said: “We have always offered a discount to Island residents and we wanted make claiming that discount even easier. For now Blue Cards can only be used on bookings made inside the terminals, but very soon card holders will also be able to claim their discount when booking online.”
A RACING SUCCESS Wight Karting has celebrated its official launch with over 150 invited guests attending their opening event. Since April’s soft-launch, more than 2,000 people have already driven the new circuit in Ryde. Cathy Foulkes of Wight Karting said: “We are so pleased with the strength of support for Wight Karting and our official opening. The feedback from everyone has been amazing and we could not have set off to a better start.” The new circuit and clubhouse reflects an investment of over £450,000 in the facility and has created over 15 new jobs, including 3 apprenticeships.
MAN IN THE MOON OPENS J D Wetherspoons has opened “The Man In The Moon” on St James Street Newport, investing £1.7 million in the site and creating around 50 jobs. Area Manager Richard Evans said: “It’s a big investment for us and we’ve restored a lot of the original woodwork, roof and windows. We are looking at innovation in terms of the product we sell and we’re also looking to source local products. We support local ales, we work with Goddards and we’ve worked with Island Ales. It will depend on certifications but I know we have looked at milk, meat products and pies. We do have flexibility with our menu and we are open to conversations.” Richard says the Man In The Moon is “totally different” to Wetherspoons’ other Newport pub. “The William Coppin
ISLE OF WIGHT
ACCOMMODATION GUIDE 2014
is more of a late night venue and this one is more traditional. The Isle Of Wight has a lot more life in it than some people give it credit for I think and Newport can definitely sustain both of our pubs. It’s not just Newport and Ryde. We would be looking at other potential sites across the Island.”
TIC SUCCESS FOR HOLIDAY GUIDE The official Isle Of Wight Accomodation Guide, published by the Chamber Of Commerce, has already been a huge success. The publication is aimed at a mainland audience and has been nationally advertised in newspapers since its launch at the end of last year.
Zoe Stroud, Group Marketing Manager said: “We run a national lead generation marketing campaign. Holidaymakers that see the adverts request a brochure which gets delivered direct to their doormat. This
year our guide has been a massive hit with Tourist Information Centres across the UK. In the first three months of this year we have distributed more copies to mainland TICs than in the whole of last year. Last year we sent out over 80,000 brochures, direct to consumers. The internet is hugely important and many people will go on to book on line but there’s definitely still the need for a printed brochure."
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The Interview Tina Jennings, Global Director of People and Development at Liz Earle Liz Earle Beauty Co was founded on the Isle Of Wight in 1995 by Liz Earle and Kim Buckland. In 1998 their first office opened here with two employees; the company now employs over 600 people across the UK. Liz Earle has three locations on the Island. In Ryde there’s a retail store on Union Street and since 2007 The Green House on Nicholson Road has been their purpose built head office and fulfillment centre. The company was bought by Avon Cosmetics in 2010 and last year another fulfillment centre opened in Cowes.
How important is the Isle Of Wight to Liz Earle? The Island is where it all began. 20 years ago Liz and Kim had the concept and it’s a part of our heritage. From a product and store perspective, everything we do connects back to our Island home. We’re committed to the Island. We have over 600 people that work for us and 350 of those are here on the Island. All of our products are sent from the Island and we hand-wrap all of our products to our customers at the Green House in Ryde. We also have our site in Cowes and most of our packages go to our retailers from there. As a company you like to show off the Isle Of Wight don’t you? Your stores and literature have great landscape photos in them. It’s great to see an 01983 area code in your catalogue. We want to celebrate the beauty of the Island. Our beauty
products are “Naturally Active” and part of that is about well being, a lifestyle and trying to encourage people to embrace what life has to offer them. I’ve been on the Island and with Liz Earle for just over 18 months. I’ve relocated my family and as one of the leadership team I spend most of my time here. London is only a couple of hours away and I’m there regularly with global travel when required. When I told people that I was joining the business and going to be working on the Isle of Wight there was definitely an element of envy. It’s a fantastic dream job and an amazing location. The Isle Of Wight is definitely on the map! Is being on the Island a barrier? It’s more of a psychological barrier I think. You can cross the Solent in 10 minutes and in terms of talent we don’t see it as a barrier at all. There are lots of people out there who want to work on the Isle Of Wight. As one of the biggest
employers on the Island it’s really important for us to support the local community. We have a role to play in the long term sustainability of the economy and we want to give back. Our first apprentice Luke Chandler joined us 18 months ago and we’re working with the Isle Of Wight College to identify and grow local talent. We’ve also got 350 people on the Island who are passionate and love working for Liz Earle. We want to invest in them and to be a great employer. We also want to work collectively with other Isle Of Wight businesses. We really are passionate about doing that and where we can support, we will. There’s a great network here. The IW Chamber Of Commerce does a brilliant job and we’re also supporting Claire Locke and the High Sheriff’s Trust. In the last twenty years the marketplace has changed dramatically hasn’t it? Your business now mixes mail-order, online, shopping channels and the High Street. We are genuinely multi category and multichannel business. We operate our own direct stores, we have a web business and we continue to work on QVC. From a retail point of view we’re now in John Lewis and Boots. We’re good at driving business across all of those channels and all of those aspects are in growth. We started out as a mail-order business from the island but for the future it’s all about retail and helping customers to experience the brand. You can’t play with a product over the internet. Once you understand the brand the of course people want easy access, 24/7 online shopping and apps.
time in store. It’s a flagship store for us and I don’t think we’ll see any other Liz Earle stores opening on the Island at this moment in time. You get the same customer experience whether you’re in Union Street or the Kings Road in London. It’s great to have real-time customers in Ryde just down the road from where it’s all happening. I guess the challenge now is sustaining and evolving the business.
"We want to share the brand outside of the UK. We’re UK centric but we do have customers around the globe finding us online and we now have a business in Italy and Germany where we’ve partnered with QVC. We’ve also tested our brand with the US consumer and we now have 10,000 testimonials from American women who are in love with the brand. That’s amazing! A British brand, created on the Isle of Wight, that resonates with consumers globally."
Educating people in terms of their lifestyle is very important to us so by leveraging the different channels it can provide different opportunities for our customers. We have treatment rooms in our own direct stores and customers get the opportunity to embrace the whole 360 view of the Liz Earle brand. Having a retail store on Union Street so close to your base must be helpful. It’s something of a visitor attraction too I hear… I was as surprised as anybody when I was told that we have coach parties that come from the mainland to visit it! Our Ryde store is a tourist attraction and they will spend a lot of
Retail in general is definitely something that we will continue to look at from a growth perspective. Even though we’re a 100 awardwinning brand, we’re still a bit of a well-kept secret. We need to share that love with consumers and one way of doing that is through retail. The majority of our consumers are definitely women but men are getting into their grooming so we do have the Liz Earle For Men range. We definitely have a very loyal following of customers but there are still a lot of consumers out there that don’t even know about Liz Earle. Our loyal customers have grown up with the brand over the last 20 years but it’s a brand that works for all ages and all stages of life. We still have a lot of work to do. How different is Liz Earle now that it’s owned by Avon?
It’s still very much the same business. We have the great support of being owned by a large corporation but we’re independently run with our own executive team. We have financial commitments that we need to deliver on but actually the brand is still exactly the same as it always has been. We have the opportunity to learn from Avon because they do some great stuff for women around the world and there are a lot of synergies with our own aspirations. It’s your 20th anniversary next year. What can we expect? We are working on some very exciting plans! I can’t share too much but it will be something that will celebrate the heritage of the brand and we’ll be featuring the Island a lot. Next year will be a very exciting year for us.
The Business Magazine for the Isle of Wight
ENJOY A GREAT OPEN-AIR PARTY NIGHT FOR FRIENDS, CLIENTS, STAFF AND FAMILY featuring
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SATURDAY 28 JUNE 2014 HAVENSTREET 5.00pm - 10.30pm
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In My View: Ian Boyd
Business sees Environment in a kaftan, reading poetry to bees; Environment sees Business in a suit, ordering JCBs to squash field mice. Of course they don’t really, but perhaps just a little…
And these two characters could carry on in their stereotypes, turning up to the same tired meetings, saying the same tired things, rehearsing the same provocations and ripostes, and calling it ‘dialogue’. Business will put off engaging with ‘the green agenda’ until everything else is sorted, because it sees it as a luxury, window dressing, fluff. And at this, Environment will slip into martyr’s rags and take up the wail of doom. It’s all just more ritual and time wasting. Or, they – we - can try something else. Because, to paraphrase Joe Jackson, shouldn’t we all “want the same thing”?
"Environment and business aren’t always best mates. That’s not to say they don’t want to try to get along, it’s just that there’s a certain amount of mutual suspicion. "
Experts View: ATTENTION PROPERTY OWNERS By Claudia Roberts, Senior Associate at Glanvilles
Bricks and mortar are and have been a popular investment for many. Property prices have risen sharply over the years - despite the odd few blips. Rental incomes have generally exceeded mortgage rates, especially in recent times, and as such have provided good income returns in addition to capital growth.
The easy-to-do recycling, energy and water saving measures (which are in the main free) that knock a lump off costs and prompt new thinking, new branding of goods and services, new relationships with providers and new opportunities for change and development. Business economises, Environment does the same.
The orchard planted in a redundant corner (even in tubs) that feeds the bugs and the birds, and your people, and which delivers a dose of motivational wellbeing you’d pay thousands for in any other way. Business gets a more productive workforce because it makes work a nicer place to be (and there’s loads of evidence for this), Environment gets a more productive urban landscape.
The business planning that uses adaptation to climate change with entrepreneurial flair to make resilience a selling point. Being environmentally aware is increasingly considered the corporate norm by shareholders and customers alike and the negative reactions to damage and disregard increase in turn. Business gets ahead of the game, Environment makes it into the boardroom.
None of us should ever want to pointlessly waste resources - materials, time, money, people, space. What’s the good of any of these being rendered unproductive? We all want our actions and interests to be profitable beneficial, useful, worthwhile, fruitful; we all want our work to be sustainable in its effects, to last. This isn’t just wordplay. We can deliberately and constructively look for the points of contact if we choose to.
Business and Environment won’t always see eye to eye but just being critical allies is fine. So now let’s get on with it!!
In pursuing this strategy successful property portfolios have been built by many. But it is not a win-win. Unless action is taken in good time, 40% of the value of the property portfolio will be wiped out by inheritance tax (IHT) on death. Unlike other investments planning with properties is not so easy. Gifting a property to move it outside the claws of HMRC to, say a child, will have the following consequences:
paid on an eventual sale of the property by the child. If the gift is made to several children the rate of tax could be more than halved. If the property were to be held until death the CGT charge would be avoided but 40% of the total value of the property would be lost regardless of whether the property is sold.
Loss of the capital value of the property as it has been gifted to the child.
CGT does not have to be paid until an actual sale;
Loss of the rental income as this has been gifted to the child.
CGT is only payable on the gain, not on the full value;
The gift/transfer is a disposal for capital gains tax (CGT) and will trigger a chargeable gain payable by the parent making the gift. On a gain of £100,000 this could be the best part of £25,000.
Each child has a CGT exemption of currently just under £11,000 and
CGT would, at worse, be payable at 28% but it could be as low as 18%.
If any income or right to capital is retained the gift will not be effective for IHT purposes – so would be a pointless exercise. But not all is lost. Instead of making a direct gift to, say a child, the gift could be made via a trust. Without going into technical detail the trust structure allows the gain to be deferred. The upshot is that CGT will only have to be
The trust structure has the following advantages:-
A gift of this nature has to be survived by 7 or more years to be effective for IHT. Therefore, early action is required. If you are a property owner take action now by calling Claudia Roberts at Glanvilles on 01983 527878 to avoid 40% of your properties being handed to HMRC on your death.
The Business Magazine for the Isle of Wight
Chamber Business Breakfast Our monthly Chamber Business Breakfast networking event was held at the William Coppin in Newport. We caught up with some of our members to see how their year is going… GRAHAM YOUNG, L-ESS
JOHN WALKDEN, SERVICE MANAGER CHEMDRY FIRST
I can generally walk into a company and save them money. I’m a start up in my first year of business. I go into buildings and look at people’s lighting. I work out ways of reducing their electricity consumption by either changing fittings completely or looking at lighting management through presence detectors or absence detectors. Business is definitely getting better and through the Chamber I’ve had enquiries to do building surveys.
Business is very good at the moment and we are doing rather well. We’ve got a lot of commercial clients coming back to us at the moment, which is great, and hopefully we’re adding some new ones too.
Lighting is often ignored but it does make up 25% of the electrical consumption of most buildings. If you look at retail applications like shop fronts, especially if the lighting is on from 8am until 6pm, the only other electrical consumption is probably through tills or possibly air conditioning. Most people look at the return on investment. The best time for me to catch people is if they’re looking at doing a refurbishment because it’s better to refurbish with energy efficient lighting rather than flourescents. You will get good payback, not just through electricity usage but you’re also promoting energy efficiency. Whether it’s your staff, your visitors or your clients they can all see that you’re doing something. Chamber of Commerce members get 10% off equipment too. LYNN BLACKLEDGE, WIGHTBUZZ Wightbuzz is a network and business support group for Isle Of Wight businesses. It’s very much about having fun while working and it’s been a fantastic year. We’ve had a lot of new members and we’ve done a lot of work in the community too. I can offer my members the chance to be found very easily. We do all sorts of marketing including wacky ideas, raising profile in a creative way. Lots of businesses still haven’t embraced social media and I’m now looking after social media for several businesses. I’ve been using it for five years now and it’s all about engagement. I think it’s getting better out there. People are pulling together and there are a lot of businesses on the Island that see the value of collaborating. We socialise and promote our business at the same time. The Chamber of Commerce breakfasts are excellent! I had return on investment on my first event.
There are six of us including myself, Captain Bob the owner, Mark, Jim, Rich and Steve. Captain Bob has had the business for about 26 years and I’ve been with him for 13 years. Growing the business for us is a balance between offering more work to our client base and also looking at new clients. If your carpets are a bit old or a bit dirty we can give them a clean and that can save you buying new ones. New carpets can be £30 or £40 per square metre; we can clean it for about 40 to 50p per square foot. Most of our clients are domestic though we are in the commercial sector. This is my first Chamber breakfast and the feedback has been really good A lot of people are interested in what carpet cleaning is and how it can affect the home and their business. DAISY PURCELL & SUSAN AMANDA PIKE OF THE LOTUS TREE YOGA AND WELL-BEING CENTRE We’re doing really well. We’ve been trying really hard to get our name out there more so we now have lots of people discovering the studio. We offer holistic therapy, lavender relaxation classes, reiki and crystal workshops and we offer lots of different courses at the studio on Crocker Street in Newport. We’ve got lots of teachers and therapists renting the space so there are lots of classes going on. We are promoting holistic well-being and it’s not a hard sell because people are interested in themselves and their health. At the breakfast today we’ve been talking to business people and they’ve all been taking our cards! A flexible body is a flexible mind. We teach yoga relaxation and mindfulness at the studio. It’s all about the mind and the body. We want to focus more on courses and workshops, becoming a centre for health, well-being, exercise and mindfulness for the Isle of Wight. Our vision is to build an online spiritual wellbeing community.
Find out more about our upcoming Chamber Networking events on page 30
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The Business Magazine for the Isle of Wight
Lifeline Security is an award-winning, family business based in Newport. Tom Stroud unlocks the secrets of their success “We’re specialist designers, installers and maintainers of electronic fire and security systems. When it comes to protecting life, safety or property electronically, that’s what we do.” Mark Lee is Managing Director of Lifeline. He joined the family business in 1996 and he’s in bullish mood when he talks about 2014. “Our customer service programme this year is going to underpromise and overachieve. We want to constantly exceed the expectations that people already have of us.” The Lifeline story begins in 1990 with Jean and Graeme Lee, working with two engineers, operating out of a small office with a Calor gas heater and a couple of Bedford Rascal vans. Today there are 24 people in the team, based on Riverway in Newport. They have 12 engineers, two staff working in business development and four directors, with the rest of the team covering administration, sales and customer care. “It can only be described as a grudge purchase,” says Mark when I ask him about
their products. “Nobody really wants to have an alarm but it is considered a necessity. Sometimes it follows a bad experience on the security side. It can also be insurance company driven and that probably applies more to the small commercial and domestic markets. When it comes to the larger operations like new buildings they will have pre-designed fire alarms, intruder alarm systems, CCTV, access control and emergency call systems.” Lifeline’s business is “probably 75 to 80% Isle of Wight”, and the team has also been working on projects in Maidenhead, Southampton, Eastbourne and Gosport. The mainland work has made a significant contribution to the business. Last year was Lifeline’s most successful ever with their highest turnover on record. Mark also attributes that success to working on Island projects like housing, schools, the newlook Busy Bee and with Island Roads. “We carried out all the installations for Island Roads including fully functional CCTV, access
COMPANY PROFILE control, and intruder alarm systems. We’ve managed to secure work with most of the new- build houses on the Isle Of Wight. We aren’t excluded and a good relationship with the electrical contractor helps. We have a proven track record now.” That track record was established early on. Jean and Graeme were quickly NACOSS accredited and the team now has an ISO 9000 Quality Assurance System to design, install, maintain and commission electronic security systems. They’re similarly certificated and fully qualified regarding fire alarms. Lifeline were winners at the National Security Excellence Awards in 2012, entering for the first time. They were nominated again in 2013 and picked up a Chamber Of Commerce Award in the same year. “The awards are a massive thing for us and the accreditations are valuable accolades, giving people confidence.” Lifeline are also official partners with Honeywell Security, Apollo Fire Detection and CSL Communications. Mark says their business is around 60% commercial and 40% domestic, with the domestic market steadily increasing over time. The number of second and third homeowners on the Island is good for business although Mark notes “these days people are sometimes happy to cut corners and home security products are installed by mates and not professionals.” “Sometimes people will say ‘all we want is an alarm’ and it only becomes important when it goes wrong. We approach it from the worst case scenario, so that everyone is covered including the client. There is a very strong
culture now of risk assessment and insurance companies coming back to the designer. We need to be able to follow the paper trail back to the specifications. This can put us on the back foot locally because it can mean a higher cost so it’s up to us to convince the clients that we’re offering peace of mind.”
Mark’s brother Nathan Lee is Lifeline’s Technical Director. “Our ethos is quality from start to finish and at every stage,” he says. “From the design through to the components we select, the installation process and the continued after services, quality is the number one priority”.
For Lifeline, the local market is different to the mainland and Mark says the Isle Of Wight is as “an interesting place” to do business.
As you’d expect, the business never stops. Lifeline has been a 365 day, 24 hour business "since the word go. We always have an engineer on call and you'll always have a human operator”. Thunderstorms are the worst event the team has to deal with. In 2008 when a storm tracked right across the Island the team took 90 calls in 3 hours, with around 20 systems knocked out by the lightning. “Every man on the fleet was out on call, finishing work well after midnight but that was exceptional,” says Mark. Looking after that team is clearly important and the company has installed a gym and lounge facilities for their staff.
“It’s a double edged sword when it comes to the marketplace. A positive thing is it teaches you very good customer service and customer interaction. Familiarity can breed contempt though. On the mainland we are in the marketplace with really big players like Chubb and ADT and we’re working for some of the biggest construction companies in the country, like Willmott Dixon for example. The Island can be a bit lackadaisical. Sometimes we’re asked ‘Are you an island company or are you a national?’ It’s a difficult balance putting over our professionalism while providing a local service.” Technology has changed since 1990 meaning the products are more intelligent although still similar. It’s still essentially an alarm system but the modem has been replaced by wireless broadband links to CCTV networks with remotely controlled cameras, increasingly in HD. Labour has become more expensive and technology can come at a price too. “People do want James Bond at B & Q prices of course, but the key thing is that if your site isn't being monitored then there isn't much point in having an alarm."
“As a company we want a blue-chip ethos, to be modern and seen to be crisp, clean, efficient and ethical. We have a ‘no blame’ culture here and if we fail, we fail collectively. If we succeed it’s as a team. We’re looking at continuous improvement. We want to grow the business by learning from our customers with even more detailed feedback. We’re producing documents for residential businesses. Commercially we’re working with mainland businesses to make sure we’re in the running for the good quality projects. That’s all about instilling confidence by continuing to deliver.” Mark Lee
The LIfeline team
The Business Magazine for the Isle of Wight
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June 2014 Eve's Tipis
The Great Outdoors The Isle Of Wight accommodation market isn’t just hotels and guest houses. Tom Stroud discovers why caravans, glampers and festivals are good for business
Park Resorts offers caravan park holidays in 41 locations across the UK, with sites on the Island at Thorness Bay, Nodes Point, Lower Hyde and Landguard. They offer ‘tenting and touring’ with camping, caravan and chalet accommodation. These four sites are an essential part of the Park Resorts portfolio. “The Island is huge for us,” says Marketing Manager Laura Miller. “23% of our total revenue comes from our four Isle of Wight parks. I think it’s the location of the parks and the many local attractions on offer at an affordable price.” The figures are good too, with holiday bookings up 2% year, with a 4% growth in peak school holidays. Tenting and touring bookings are also up 2% year on year with a 19% growth in the peak school holidays.
Portsmouth, and the majority from within an hour of a ferry port. It isn’t just traditional holidays either. Events are good for business too. “During the festivals the parks fill up so that’s great for us,” says Laura. “I think for the customer the ferry is part of the attraction and a part of their holiday. For a business it can be restrictive in terms of times. We are the largest operator on the Island and sometimes we do find it difficult when we have availability but the ferry crossings aren’t available. That’s quite tough and we have to find ways of getting customers across.” Around 55% of their bookings are made on-line and Laura says that digital is a “huge part” of the Park Resorts strategy.
“We’re seeing a better year for the Island and bookings are very strong. Our customer’s expectations are probably the same as if they go to Kent or Sussex. They’re driven by what they can do in the local area and the cost involved. Last year was a good year in terms of our static caravans. Touring we found a bit more challenging, despite the weather.”
“We encourage and support TripAdvisor and if the reviews are bad we’d rather have the feedback and work to make it better. We talk about family holidays and outdoor adventure but actually technology is very important now. Our tents and tourers are telling us they want to be able to use their phones, they want wi-fi and they want the kids to be able to use their iPad.”
The parks are aimed at all ages, with family bookings making up around 70% of the total income. Holidaymakers generally come from within a three hour drive-time to
Helen and Frazer Cunningham have been running Vintage Vacations for ten years, offering Airstream caravans and uniquely refurbished buildings for holiday hire.
The Business Magazine for the Isle of Wight
“It’s been a lot of hard work and we’re pleased with what we have achieved,” says Helen. “We were the first people in the UK to offer Airstream holidays and we were very lucky with our timing. We certainly never had a business plan! We started accidentally with one caravan that was our pet project. We lived in London at the time and we advertised it for hire in our local newsagent. A travel journalist published a lovely review in The Guardian and that set the ball rolling.”
“On a typical weekend we might have a large hen group that has hired the whole Airstream site, or a couple of families, some couples and some people who have come to do cycling. The ages range between 24 and 70.” Helen says their punters are “probably Guardian readers” but their clients are also “surprisingly varied,” often finding Vintage Vacations via online blogs.
Helen and Frazer now offer The Mission, a refurbished ‘tin tabernacle’, and The Scout Hall, both just outside Chale. They also offer ‘low-fi camping” and the chance to hire The Shack, in a secret location near to Cowes. The feel is definitely vintage and Helen has made a conscious decision not to offer every aspect of 21st century life.
“We love social media and it’s a great tool for us, especially Facebook. We’re not on TripAdvisor though. I’m not a fan. I’m not scared of bad reviews but I don’t like the way it’s become so important in the industry. We travel a lot and I’ve heard horror stories of how it’s being used in the wrong way. It’s in danger of becoming all-powerful.”
“We invested a lot in refurbishing The Mission and the Scout Hall so that is reflected in the tariff. We do include wi-fi there as a matter of course. However with the Airstreams we made the decision to keep them low-fi and we think people actually like that. There isn’t any wifi and we get the occasional sulky teenager but the next day you find out they played football or cricket with their dad and that’s really special. I will not have wi-fi here for as long as I can! We have vintage board games instead. Being together in a caravan does bring families together.” Business is good, with strong bookings for the Airstream caravans for this year and already for next year too. Bookings for the buildings have often been last-minute in previous years but Helen and Frazer now have a lot of weekly bookings already in place.
“We are a holiday business and most of our customers come from the mainland, however in the last couple of years the take up from Islanders has been a bit of an eye opener to be on honest. We’ve been holding cook-outs and craft workshops and our Island database is growing substantially now, largely through word of mouth. We know that people who come to us are discerning and looking for something different. We’re always working on the next thing.” Eve Lester runs Eve’s Tipis and she’s been hiring out tipis for the last seven years. Eve works with campsites on the Island including Compton Farm and Butterfly Paragliding. “We can
put tipis up anywhere,” says Eve. “In the last five years the popularity has grown and grown. Lots of people on the mainland now offer tipi camping holidays and I think I was probably one of the first. I love staying in tipis and my children had tipi holidays. I wanted to offer other people the same experiences that we enjoyed.” This year there are bookings for private camping holidays, weddings, parties and also events like the Ventnor Fringe. The most significant part of the business though comes from a relatively new phenomenon – the ‘glampers’. “It’s up-market camping really, for people probably in the 30 to 45 age group who like the idea of camping, because it’s fashionable, fun and colourful, but they don’t want the experience of crawling in and out of a muddy tent. It’s still a very down to earth, back-to-nature experience. Tipis have been used by Native Americans for hundreds of years. We can furnish them too with cotton rugs, sheepskins, colourful floor cushions, lanterns and LED fairy lights. We hire out bedding too.” The growth of the festival market with the success of the Isle Of Wight Festival and Bestival has made a huge difference. Festivalgoers can arrive on-site, where they will be met and shown to their fully set-up tipi. “Probably 75% of my business is festival related, whether that’s the two major events here or smaller ones like V-Dub Island. People can come to the festival in party mode, dump their bags and head to the bar!
They don’t have to argue about putting the tent up or taking it down afterwards. This year’s Isle Of Wight Festival is the biggest I’ve ever done. I’m organizing the tipi field and we’ve got about 120 tipis going up. I’ve sub-contracted in other people to bring their tipis too. I think we were the first to put some tipis up in 2010 and it’s definitely brought a different kind of look to the festival. Our site is almost a festival within a festival.” Despite a busy summer of bookings Eve says she almost wishes that the winter was longer. “People imagine I sit back or take up knitting but with all the maintenance and clearing up the winter goes by so fast! We start taking bookings again from October so it’s busy all year round really.”
The Business Magazine for the Isle of Wight
Business In Focus: Red Funnel’s new-look Red Falcon launches “a new phase” for the company Red Funnel’s newly refurbished Red Falcon is a £2.2 million investment from the company. Over a hundred of Chamber Of Commerce members attended preview events on-board the new ship, where they were able to see the new facilities and hear about the company’s plans for the future. The investment in Red Falcon is the beginning of a process that will take several years and will see similar investment in their two other ferries, along with significant development plans for the Southampton and East Cowes terminals. Tom Stroud went on-board to talk to the Red Funnel team. Kevin George, Red Funnel’s CEO This is the beginning of a new phase. Red Funnel has been in existence for 150 years and it has gone through different phases and I absolutely believe that we are at the start of a new phase now. We’ve invested £2.2 million in Red Falcon. Our plan is to invest in the other two ferries next year. We are now well under way with the plans for berth 50 in Southampton. Discussions are ongoing in terms of the development of East Cowes as well. There are a lot of things in the pipeline, a lot of good things to come from Red Funnel. I joined four months ago and I should give credit to the team that has been managing the business, particularly in relation to the Red Falcon investments. We’re very busy and it’s very exciting and the Isle of Wight deserves a better future. We know we’re one of the vital lifelines to the Island therefore we can help with investments like this. What has the feedback been like so far? It’s been an incredibly positive reaction. We have listened very carefully to what our
customers were saying about our service. There were some fundamental things, like not enough seats to find somewhere to sit and enjoy the food and beverage so we’ve increased the seating capacity by 55%. We’ve changed the layout of the lounges, particularly the seating and table arrangements so they are much more customer friendly. At the end of the day the customer does have a choice… Absolutely and it is a competitive market. As a consequence of that our intent is to help the Isle of Wight economy grow by providing a better service. We all know customers are becoming far more discerning these days in terms of their travel experience. Secondly there is a choice and we wish to win more and more of those customers. Many of our Chamber members here today are representing attractions our tourism businesses, but there are just as many working in other sectors. It isn’t just about tourism is it?
Jonathan Green, Red Funnel’s Sales And Marketing Director It’s an exciting time. It’s a big investment for the company and we’re looking forward now to show this as a commercial success and ultimately make further investments in the rest of the fleet, hopefully next year. We’ll look to do probably Red Osprey in Spring 2015 followed by Red Eagle in Autumn 2015, so the entire fleet will be done in time for Easter 2016. We’ve got some key challenges ahead. We’re looking at products and reviewing some of our pricing. We continue to invest in our customer service, which is a key plank of our strategy. Our research tells us we’re already good at customer service but we always want to improve. We’re working hard from a marketing point of view to promote the Isle of Wight and we spend well over £1 million a year ourselves, as well is what we’re putting in to the DMO. We’re working hard to ensure the industry has a great year. We’re trying to extend the season, developing Autumn and Spring short breaks, becoming less reliant on beach holidays. Perhaps in the past we’ve relied too much on that “summer only” audience. It’s important that we play our part in driving business all year round so that hotels can remain open all year round. We have to keep investing in our product. You have to keep in touch with what the rest of the industry is doing. The ferry industry generally in the UK has been making big investments in new tonnage, in new facilities and refurbishments and we needed to ensure we were keeping up. Visitors expect it and from a tourist perspective our plan is to move to a slightly more affluent clientele and it’s important for us to invest in our products to reflect that.
Sarah Dawson, Red Funnel’s Sales Development Manager The Island is amazing, with a lot to offer and we are the gateway to that. We want to set the standard and give good quality products at reasonable prices so that people enjoy their experience.
We think about it in a number of ways. Tourism is a major part of the Isle of Wight business and we understand that. We’ll do anything we can do to help promote the Island and ensure that the travel experience exceeds expectations. We also support industry on the Island and we support residents. We can help promote the Island as a tourist destination and a place to do business a lot more. We have ideas about that. Our timetable is a pretty straightforward equation between demand and frequency of service that we can provide. We’d be delighted to provide a more frequent service but the demand has to be there. It’s a bit chicken-and-egg, and by promoting the Island, more people will want to travel and we’ll put on more services to accommodate them. I understand the sensitivity of the Island residents about the ferry services. There are two sides to it really. Part of it is about a community service, which in many ways we are and we understand that, but equally we are a commercial business. We have shareholders, like any other business, and they expect to see a return and it is a
balance between what is commercially viable and providing that level of service to the Island. Our services operate 21 hours a day so we cover most of the day anyway. Fundamentally, the need and desire for a better ferry service we understand, and I think what we’re seeing with Red Falcon is a move toward that. Easter was later this year, which was helpful, and our figures were up 47% year on year. We are increasing our market share and combined with the investments we’re making and great customer service from our brilliant staff then I can only see that trend continuing.
We like to think we have a lot to offer the business community. In terms of business travel it’s about addressing individual needs because of the range of businesses on the Island, whether that’s about moving big freight lorries or small vans, or for season tickets for regular business trips. We can now offer conferences on-board, meetings, events and onboard entertainment. We also work with accommodation providers, attractions and producers. The experience starts here, on-board, with a captive audience waiting for their adventure to start. We want to be able to advertise to them. With the maps and interactive screens it’s about improving their journey and providing options and offers. We cater to a lot of different people and all of their needs. We're trying to please everybody, which we think we can do. Our event today is about showing how flexible and versatile we’ve become with our new boat and everything that it offers. It can cater for everybody.
The Business Magazine for the Isle of Wight
April2014 June 2013
By IWCCTI Chief Executive Kevin Smith over the next five years, I would like this number to increase. We will encourage small businesses to start up, grow and develop, making more money. If they make more money they can expand and employ more people and it helps to grow the Isle Of Wight economy. As a part of that growth those businesses will start to pay VAT – this is a measure of success and we want to encourage that. We don’t want businesses to hide from growth. Some lifestyle businesses won’t want to go beyond the VAT threshold but the businesses who are serious about making money and wanting to do well, will and as a result will also employ more people.
At the moment the IW Chamber and the IW Council are putting together a memorandum of understanding for economic development for the Isle of Wight. At this moment in time the Chamber Of Commerce and the IW Council have shared aspirations around a number of economic indicators that we want to work together to improve. I’ve always viewed the local authority as being the corporate “head office” of the Isle of Wight and that we the IW Chamber are partners of the corporation who have a responsibility to look after the economy through business growth and job creation. We will work together to increase the Isle of Wight business base and raise the number of VAT registered businesses that are located here. Currently we have around 4000 VAT registered businesses on the Island and,
This growth also links into the employment figures and helps us reduce unemployment rates. We specifically want to focus on our 18 to 25 year age group because, across the country, we have this huge figure of around 20% of young people being unemployment. As a chamber we want to change that on the Isle of Wight and by working with the local authority we aim to reduce that rate. I believe that as a small unitary area we can collectively do something tangible to achieve this. The Isle of Wight has finally after many years been recognised by national government for assisted area status. This means that they are finally starting to recognise the Isle of Wight as an economic area in its own right which will ultimately help us to reduce unemployment and
Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce members get exclusive access to the “members area” of the Chamber website Log-on and sign in to www.iwchamber.co.uk to get access to a whole array of features. You can search for other members and access their contact details; you can also post messages to other members which will be displayed on the home page. You’ll also be able to update the details and profile of your business, The “members area” includes all the documentation you need to make the most of your chamber membership. You can download the Chamber HR documentation, get access to the Legal Advice line and your full membership pack. If you’re logging on for the first time, just sign-in using the email address that you registered with. Click on “retrieve password” and a link will be emailed to you, allowing you to create a password.
If you need any help, please contact Becky in the office on 01983 520777
increase the average wage for Islanders. Our figures are currently incorporated with those of Hampshire and the South-East of England when it comes to government review of the local economy. Lumping us in with the mainland doesn’t show a true reflection of some of the social economic issues that we face. It’s no good burying our head in the sand. As such “Assisted Area Status” is a good step forward and we’re working with the local authority and the LEP to do our bit which includes encouraging businesses to take on more apprentices. We also want to encourage the Island to trade with itself and buy local. I’m not being protectionist but if you can buy products at competitive prices on the Isle of Wight then we should buy them here, not elsewhere and I want to particularly encourage the larger organisations on the Isle of Wight to take a lead in this area by better utilizing their local supply chains. Of course a lot of this is common sense. Working together and joining the dots means we can achieve more. Something so straightforward and so simple is often pretty difficult to achieve for all sorts of reasons but we all need to continue to work together and look for ways to ensure that our businesses are successful and in turn help the Isle of Wight and its economy grow for the benefit of everyone.
The Business Magazine for the Isle of Wight
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Westridge Skip Hire “Westridge Skip Hire has been going for decades,” says Operations Manager Andrew Liddell. “Three years ago it was purchased by John Smith who owns several businesses on the Island. He bought Lynn Pit that is a former aggregate extraction site and developed a Waste Recycling and Transfer Station in Newport We now have the Island’s first mechanical recycling centre. We recycle over 90% of the material that comes through the plant.” The company works with builders, businesses and residential areas, hiring out roll-on and roll-off skips to households and commercial businesses. Westridge Skip Hire has serviced GKN for over 14 years and has helped Gurit to achieve an excellent recycling rate. “We’ve gone through a huge transitional stage with 16 new people starting on work experience this month because the business is growing,” says Andrew. “We can offer good waste management. Businesses can be safe in the knowledge that if they dispose of their waste through Westridge it will be dealt with in a responsible manner. It will be recycled first and we’ll do everything to avoid landfill. Our gates open from 7.30 till 5pm and we work Saturdays until 1pm.” “We’ve all got an obligation to look after the planet and its natural resources. There’s something we can do with direct waste rather than burn it or bury it. The government’s landfill escalator goes up every year, so commercially we’re now competitive with our pricing as well.” “I’ve seen how much the Chamber Of Commerce can help other businesses as well as your own. We’ve joined the Chamber to network and share views with other Island businesses. If we can also help them with waste management then that’s a benefit for everyone.”
The Business Magazine for the Isle of Wight
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from Roach Pittis FLOODING AND PROPERTY INSURANCE
SO, WHAT DO YOU DO? “You have 30 seconds.”
I attend a lot of events that include the opportunity to network. When we network and meet anyone for the first time, the question will often be “So, what do you do?” – a very important question. But it never ceases to amaze me just how little thought many put into establishing a credible and interesting reply to this question. Something commonly referred to as the ‘Elevator Pitch’. Most people will judge you (and your business) within the first few seconds of meeting and their opinion will most likely never change. So making a good first impression is incredibly important; because you only get one shot at it. But Elevator Pitches are often misunderstood; in principle they are an ice-breaker and a marketing pitch all rolled into one. From which a brief, typically 30-60 second persuasive speech is given; to spark interest in your company, product, idea or in yourself. There are some recognised features, for example: It must have a hook; 80% of its success will depend on the opening headline containing the ‘hook’. Keep it interesting. Make it succinct. Leave questions unanswered, so they want to know more and use words that create a visual image and develop a story. Does it work, ‘Yes’, but if you are in doubt, this true story should convince you about the importance of a good elevator pitch for you business. I was with a client on their stand at a business exhibition and as you would expect we had spent a little time together getting their elevator pitch just right. John, the MD of my clients company saw the Chairman of Regus walking down the aisle close to their stand. John really wanted to do business with Regus but had never been able to get ‘an in’. As he approached the stand, John stepped forward and said “I want to do business with Regus.” The Chairman stopped and replied “You have 30 seconds.” John delivered his elevator pitch; clearly, concisely and with meaning. The Chairman simply turned to his PA and said “Take their details.” and then walked on - less than a week later John was invited to meet with Regus and won a contract worth £150,000 a year. For a free copy of Dale’s ‘Guidelines for a great Elevator Pitch’ simply get in-touch with Dale by visiting www.jigsaw-consulting.co.uk
BY EMMA GIFFORD The ongoing floods, following the wettest winter on record, have affected almost everyone in some way and have dominated the headlines over the past few months. This crisis has come against the backdrop of an already challenging situation with regard to insurance for properties in areas liable to flood. Last summer, the agreement between the government and insurers which covered residential properties and small businesses expired. This agreement guaranteed the renewal of existing customer’s buildings insurance policies and also provided for the continuation of cover for the new owners of property which had been previously flooded (or was at risk of flooding), in the event of the sale of the property. This agreement did not set any cap on insurance premiums; accordingly, insurance premiums in areas of flood risk have risen year on year. When this agreement expired, the government consulted regarding a possible replacement. The new scheme will be known as Flood Re and will link the insurance premiums for properties in flood risk areas to their Council Tax band. A levy of £10.50 will be placed upon all home insurance premiums (irrespective of flood risk) in order to provide a pool of funds to cover the cost of flood claims for high-risk properties. The new scheme is not due to commence until summer 2015 at the earliest and, until then, the insurance industry has confirmed that it will honour the previous scheme. This means that in the short term, insurance premiums for properties in high-risk areas will continue to rise. Dwellings in the highest Council Tax band (H) will be excluded from Flood Re, as will properties in areas of flood risk constructed since 2009. It has been estimated that insurance premiums will rise by around £1,000 per annum for properties in band H, compared to current prices under the old scheme (and those estimates were made before the damage caused by the recent flooding crisis). Additionally, small businesses, owners of buy-to-let properties and business landlords of residential leasehold properties will be excluded from the Flood Re scheme and will potentially be hit quite hard by the increased premiums for properties in areas at high risk of flooding. The long term effect on the insurability of property not covered by the Flood Re scheme remains to be seen, but with lenders continuing to require borrowers to maintain insurance, the potential costs for affected property owners will only increase.
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