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SBT

N o.1 for bus ine

ISSUE 367 FREE

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SUSSEX BUSINESS TIMES

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STEPS TO REDUCING STRESS PAGE 41

FUTUREPROOF YOUR BUSINESS NASSIM NASSIM TALEB, TALEB, OF OF ‘BLACK ‘BLACK SWAN’ SWAN’ FAME, FAME, TELLS TELLSYOU YOU HOW HOW

Shout it Out! PAGE 18

10 easy ways to guarantee your business is seen and heard PAGE 12

BEAT THE SQUEEZE

How to get the cash flowing again PAGE 22

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BY GEORGE! We lunch at the George in Rye PAGE 28 WE’VE GOT EVERYTHING COVERED Mobile accessories experts Proporta tell us how PAGE 32 GROWTH FORECAST: Mother and daughter make business bloom PAGE 62

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Let Your REPUTATION DO YOUR MARKETING FOR YOU! Brought to you courtesy of our sister company Today, clients are looking for an informed choice when choosing a professional service and Checkaprofessional’s new online service is providing just that.

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The Checkaprofessional website will give instant access to all professional service providers who have agreed to be vetted by us and continuously monitored by their clients, who can post verified feedback on the site. It will provide a FREE one-stop shop to finding the right professional service for a client’s particular needs. Find out about the unique advantages Checkaprofessional membership could provide for your online marketing. www.checkaprofessional.com

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ADVERTORIAL

Calling All Professionals Checkaprofessional.com Has Arrived.....

Financial Services, Legal Services, IT & Consultancy, Surveyors, Estate Agents, Architects, Therapists, Health Advisors, Dentists, Hair & Beauty, Driving Instructors, Vets

Checkaprofessional.com is an exciting new venture from award-winning Checkatrade. Founded in 1998, Checkatrade has become a household name for finding reliable and trustworthy tradespeople. Its success is based on the creation of an impartial model of vetting, monitoring and customer feedback system on each participating tradesperson. “As Checkatrade has grown over the last 14 years it has become clear that the public wanted a similar model for professional services” explains Lisa Beale, Head of Checkaprofessional.com “We wanted to give professionals a way to market their services to potential new clients, which includes business to business, by providing a platform where they can be found online and their services evaluated independently.” Checkaprofessional does not replace or replicate the important and fundamental benefits of a scheme operator, regulator, or that of a professional body. Checkaprofessional provides an unrivalled marketing strategy through informing your prospective clients of your qualifications, affiliations, your business, customer care and what those who have used your services think of you. On average, Checkatrade members experience 42% uplift in quotation conversions and business, and this is the expectation for Checkaprofessional members. The power of testimonials to market a business is most definitely the way forward, especially when these are verified by an independent third party. Anyone can cherry pick testimonials to place on their own site, but it portrays trust, transparency and an understanding of the marketing value to allow others to collate and display this on your companies behalf. The need for building confidence, understanding and a more informed choice has never been greater in today’s climate and with both sites now linked, our professional services can be found via Checkatrade.com, which jointly receive over 450,000 visitors per month.

How Checkaprofessional works To become Checkaprofessional members, businesses complete a vetting procedure; agree to be monitored through client feedback and adhere to the Checkaprofessional Code of Conduct & Ethics. Members receive their own web page on Checkaprofessional.com for their company profile, contact details and recording of client feedback, which has been independently verified.

Meet One of Our Members Interview with David Jones, Director Why did you decide to join Checkaprofessional.com? “We already knew that Checkatrade had a successful track record in promoting companies via the feedback system. After a meeting with Farida, Business Coordinator from Checkaprofessional.com at a Chamber of Commerce event, it was a logical step for our company to join Checkaprofessional.com”. What benefits have you seen as a member? “There are two main benefits for us: 1. Clients can see that the Checkaprofessional.com website is an independent place to store feedback which means that it is a true, accurate and honest account of their experience with our company. 2. It is a great way for us to benchmark our performance and see if there are areas that we can improve upon”. How do you collect feedback from your clients? “We have a direct link from our website labelled ‘feedback’, which takes people straight to our feedback page on the Checkaprofessional.com website. We also send an email to every client once we have finished work for them. The email contains a direct link to the feedback page. As we increase our client base, we will collect recurring feedback from existing clients. The feedback system is so straightforward that by simply clicking on the link to our Checkaprofessional.com web page our clients can instantly leave their comments and scores”. How would you summarise Checkaprofessional.com? “The website is very easy to use, simple to navigate around and it provides unbiased feedback. It is one of the few websites that is able to provide a platform for honest comments and this makes it an ideal site for prospective clients to find us on”.

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SBT Welcome “Renowned traderturned-writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb trains his powerful intellect on the problem of how to prepare for negative economic events”

It doesn’t rain, it pours – unless it’s snowing, of course, and Britain is still very much in the icy grip of economic uncertainty, having lost its AAA credit rating. Rather than wallow in this continuing gloom, we prefer to be positive and look, instead, at how to strengthen one’s business, get the cash flowing again and promote our unique selling points to the rafters. First up, the team at Cobb PR provides essential advice on how to promote your company with impressive professionalism. From emails to events, and from networking to newsletters, Tim Cobb and colleagues provide 10 strategies that could get your sales swinging sharply upwards. Turn to page 12 to read all about it. Next, renowned trader-turned-writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb trains his powerful intellect on the problem of how to prepare for negative economic events that we simply can’t see coming. Having predicted aspects of the financial crisis in 2008 by illuminating the blind spots in the way certain investment institutions compiled their figures, Taleb argues in his new book Antifragile that nonlinearity is the real telltale sign of economic fragility. We have a handpicked excerpt on page 18 for you to get your teeth into. Completing our triple helping of hard-hitting content this month is SBT’s Graham Carn, who covers the subject of cashflow in revealing depth. Starting on page 22, Graham outlines the challenges and offers solutions to the problem of a constricted cash flow. Besides these salutary lessons, we also offer you a range of other insights, including a commercial property profile of Crawley and five steps to managing stress in the workplace. That should see you through another month with both your business and your spirits intact.

Paul Beasley Editor

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Contents SBT Issue 367

SBT

No.1

ISSUE 367 FREE

for bus ines in Sussex s

SUSSEX BUSINESS TIMES

5

STEPS TO REDUCING STRESS PAGE 41

FUTUREPROOF YOUR BUSINESS

NASSIM TALEB, OF ‘BLACK SWAN’ FAME, TELLS YOU HOW

Shout it Out! PAGE 18

10 easy ways to guarantee your business is seen and heard PAGE 12

BEAT THE SQUEEZE

How to get the cash flowing again PAGE 22

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BY GEORGE! We lunch at the George in Rye PAGE 28 WE’VE GOT EVERYTHING COVERED Mobile accessories experts Proporta tell us how PAGE 32 GROWTH FORECAST: Mother and daughter make business bloom PAGE 62

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Cover Image: Cobb PR

Sussex Business Times Managing Director/Publisher: Lee Mansfield lee@lifemediagroup.co.uk Commercial Director: Simon Skinner simon@lifemediagroup.co.uk Commercial Business Manager: Luke Mould luke@lifemediagroup.co.uk Editor: Paul Beasley Editorial Assistant: Laura Knight laura@lifemediagroup.co.uk Sales Executive Leanne McConnell leanne@lifemediagroup.co.uk Design: Harriet Weston harriet@lifemediagroup.co.uk Media Director Linda Grace linda@lifemediagroup.co.uk Accounts: Clare Fermor/Amelia Wellings clare@lifemediagroup.co.uk amelia@lifemediagroup.co.uk Subscriptions Alex Weeks alex@lifemediagroup.co.uk Published by LMG SE LTD Park View House 19 The Avenue, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3YD 01323 411 601 Printed by Gemini Press, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, BN43 6NZ All material in this publication is strictly copyright and all rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. The views expressed in Sussex Business Times Magazine do not necessarily represent the view of Life Media Group LTD. Every care is taken in compiling the contents but the publishers of Sussex Business Times Magazine assume no responsibility for any damage, loss or injury arising from the participation in any offers, competitions or advertisement contained within Sussex Business Times Magazine. All prices featured in Sussex Business Times Magazine are correct at the time of going to press. Copyright Life Media Group LTD 2012 ©

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Welcome

Roll up roll up for another great issue of SBT – your essential guide to business brilliance in Sussex

Spending It! A blazer, a wrist rest and a hover bar are just some of the stars of our packed product line-up this month

Promotional Prowess We pass on 10 top tips for promoting your company, courtesy of public relations gurus Cobb PR

Black Swan Nassim Nicholas Taleb made his name predicting the financial crisis of 2008. Now he tells us how to prepare for something we don’t see coming

Beat the squeeze Financial expert Graham Carn offers his advice on keeping the cash flowing and your business afloat

Working lunch We head to the picturesque pleasantness of Rye High Street for a ‘Working Lunch’ double bill

Proporta Mike Coombes and Guy Monson tells us how they turned a £6,000 parental loan into a thriving international business

Don’t stress! Sophie Nettleton guides us through the thorny area of stress in the workplace

The portfolio The second stop on our tour of the county’s commercial property prospects takes us to easy-to-access Crawley

Secret Shopper Meet our incognito expert and learn the importance of mystery shopping your own business and how to avoid the most common mistakes that companies make

SBT Q&A Our sponsored section of expert insights covers a wide range of important business matters

Made in Sussex The mother-and-daughter team behind Plants4Presents talk gambles, growth and family values

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Spending It!

March Must-Haves Our selection this month is packed full of top tools for organisation, conectivity and much more

WOMENS BLAZER A coloured jacket is a great wardrobe investment. Lightweight and expertly tailored, wear this blazer nonchalantly over cropped trousers and a crisp white shirt for effortless workaday glamour. Acne, £370.00. www.my-wardrobe.com

WRIST REST Avoid aching wrists and palms with a super comfy, squashy, good-looking PUK to rest your weary wrist on when using a computer mouse. The PUK omni-directional ergonomic wrist rest glides and slides with your wrist and the computer mouse. Saxen, £11.49. www.ergocube.net

CALENDAR This re-usable perpetual calendar is great for any desk or office wall. Made of heavywight card, this calendar should stand the test of time. NAVA, £48.00. www.thelollipopshoppe.co.uk

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STYLUS A new, compact stylus for use with smartphones, iPad and Android tablets on the go. The extendable Wacom stylus fits easily into any pocket or accessory case, while being big on functionality. Perfect for flicking through emails, taking handwritten notes, or capturing ideas whenever inspiration strikes. Wacom, £29.00. www.wacom.eu

LAPTOP BAG A timelessly elegant laptop case, the Charlotte is made from blue and brown crocodile embossed leather. Fully lined in pink grosgrain, the bag comes with a detachable strap to wear on your shoulder, and comes with multiple interior pockets. Alexandra De Curtis, £393.84. www.dia-boutique.com

OLLOCLIP EXPRESS ACCOUNTS Make the next tax season stress free. Whether you prepare your taxes yourself or through an accountant, express accounts will save time and headaches. NCH Solutions, £59.99. www.nch.com.au

The olloclip® is a quick-connect lens solution for the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and now the iPhone 5. It gives you three lenses in one – fisheye, wide-angle and macro – in a quick-connect solution that enhances your iPhone photography and works with all your favourite apps. Olloclip, from £59.99. www.olloclip.com

PULSE MONITOR USB STICK This 4 GB USB key features 140 sparkling clear crystals with details in white lacquering and silver-tone metal. Swarovski, £ 39.00. www.swarovski.com

The Scosche Rhythm is the world’s first lightweight pulse monitor that attaches to your forearm. Thanks to its Bluetooth technology, the device can be controlled wirelessly through a smartphone or tablet application, allowing the user to manage pulse, calories burned, distance, speed and pace. Scosche Rhythm, £99.99. www.apple.com

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DUAL SIM CARD CASE Dreading the arrival of the phone bill from your last business trip abroad? The Dual SIM Card Case for iPhone allows you to swap SIMs at the flick of a switch, and the case requires no software. Just activate the switch on the back to the SIM you want to use and then turn on your iPhone and you’re ready to go. ThumbsUp! £29.99. www.thumbsupworld.co.uk

HOVERBAR

USB VOICE RECORDER TABLET PC A 7inch Tablet solution for those that like to connect and share on the move, the JoyTAB Duo 7 3G is Gemini Devices’ first Tablet PC to feature the comprehensive 3G, GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi b/g/n connectivity combination. Gemini Devices, £139.99 www.geminidevices.com

This pocket-sized device device is a Dictaphone – recording your voice into the on-board microphone, an MP3 player, a file-saver and a mini speaker. A retractable USB bar makes it easy to plug, play and charge this nifty number completely wirelessly. Bunkerbound, £24.99. www.no1gadgetstore.co.uk

Impress friends and office mates with a jaw-dropping, super-futuristic, straight-outof-Hollywood Mac setup. HoverBar hangs iPad beside your Mac, letting you use iPad as a secondary, touchscreen computer. The flexible HoverBar arm positions iPad in a place where you can keep tabs on Twitter, stocks or partake in a FaceTime chat. Twelve South, £69.95. www.apple.com/uk

DESK ORGANISER Stylize your desktop with the Umbra Skyline Desk Organiser! Red Candy claim that this desk tidy really adds a sense of style and fun to the working environment. Red Candy, £14.99. www.redcandy.co.uk

CABLE DROP CableDrop gently grasps your power and peripheral cords so they do not fall off your desk every time you unplug your laptop. It’s an easy solution to your cable management needs. Bluelounge, £9.99. www.bluelounge.com

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Top Tips

Promotional Prowess

Trying to get your voice heard in today’s crowded market place is not always easy – there’s a bewildering choice of routes to market and cacophony of conflicting advice. To help point you in the right direction, we’ve teamed up with Cobb PR to select 10 methods for promoting your company, services or products

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Top Tips

1. Websites

It’s no longer enough Advice to launch a website and expect new business to come rolling in. In 2012, an estimated 82% of the UK population were regular internet users. So how do you stand out from the crowd? Firstly, how your site looks and works is essential. People need to find what they are looking for quickly and easily. Don’t fill your site with clever graphics and huge amounts of text. Use clear messages, eye catching photos and easy links to your key pages. Secondly, your site needs to be easy to find on Google – this is called search engine optimisation, or SEO. How well you rank on Google for key word searches like ‘builders in Sussex’ for example is critical to the success of your website. Most people do not possess SEO skills and seek expert help. Thirdly, your website needs to work on smartphones and tablets like the iPad. The growth in numbers using these devices to access the internet is astonishing, so embrace this or face being left behind. You should also consider an app for your business. Finally, if you have social media pages such as Facebook and Twitter (which you should), make sure they are linked to your website. Matt Adams

2. Social Media

Social media allows you to communicate with both existing and prospective clients in a way that was never possible before. Setting your company up on most networks is free, but be sure to factor in the time staff are spending on creating and posting content. Here are some guidelines to get you started: • Produce a content schedule so you can plan ahead & know what you need to send out each day. • Visual content works better. Seize any opportunities where you can take photos and videos. • Engage in different types of social networks and set up a Pinterest profile which provides great SEO opportunities to drive traffic to your website. • Keep content short and to the point. • Reply to people in a timely manner.

• Make sure all your profiles are up to date with relevant information and logos. • Showcase your personality and highlight the people who make your company what it is. The public like to see what goes on behind the scenes. • Reward customer loyalty with an exclusive social media offer or discount which they can only receive if they ‘like’ you on Facebook etc. Amy Simmons

3. Inbound Marketing

Many of our prospects now hunt online. So we need to join them and make ourselves irresistible. Inbound marketing is all about enticing prospects to your website, encouraging them to have a wander round, then giving them reasons to hand over their contact details. This could be by a simple a mechanism as a free download. For example, a prospect is grazing on my How to Write a Press Rel ease web page. He/she comes across a button offering a free guide to writing a press release. The prospect follows the link, hands over their email address and in return gets the download. I now need to turn my ‘lead’ into a ‘sale’. I might do this through gentle nudges via emails, enticing him with other related free downloads, and when the time is right I might suggest a phone call to chat through some of the areas he has expressed an interest in. Tim Cobb

4. Email Marketing

Email marketing lets you place your business directly in front of your target customers in an environment where they are comfortable. It gives you the opportunity to reach potential customers whether they are at work, at home or, with the rapid growth of mobile devices, on the go. Use a free mail drop service such as MailChimp or Go Daddy. They’re easy to use and all your mail shots will look professional and consistent. Plan ahead and decide on your key themes for the next 12 months. This way you will have no excuses and plenty of time to prepare. Your company is probably already sitting on loads of great stories. Maybe

you have recently launched a new product or supported a local charity. Think about any opportunities where you can lightly sell your services. Give away valuable bits of industry information for free so that recipients will feel like they have gained something and will come back for more. Amy Simmons

5. Newsletters

While there’s no denying the convenience of keeping people up to date via email, we believe that an ‘old school’ newsletter is still a great way to engage with your audience and we continue to produce newsletters for many of our clients. It’s easy to delete an email, but if a newsletter lands on your doormat or desk, you’re more likely to pick it up and flick through it. Likewise, an email will only be seen by the sender, whereas a hard copy may be passed around for other people to look at. People can’t miss a hard copy of a newsletter and it gives your clients something to look at while they’re waiting in your office, or something to take away and read later. Jenny Griffiths

6. Press releases

A well-written and relevant press release remains among the most cost effective ways to promote your organisation, but there are a number of golden rules that must be observed: • Your press release must address the five Ws: who, why, what, where and when. Without this information, a reporter will not have all the facts and may bin your story. • If your press release is sounding like an advert, start again. You must have a decent news angle. It could be a human interest story, an event, a new product or recruit, for example. • Try and get your release onto a single side of A4 and avoid flowery language. Always include a quote from someone senior in the organisation and a contact number. Never lie, or exaggerate the facts. • Pictures sell papers, so always consider having some professional photos taken to accompany your release. Badly taken photos in low resolution are useless.

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Top Tips

• Finally, some people are great at writing press releases, but others accept they don’t have the time or skills, and in this case it is worth approaching a professional. Matt Adams

7. Advertising

Advertising is one of the guaranteed ways of getting your brand out into the marketplace. But that doesn’t mean saying yes to every good deal that’s offered: you need to do your research first. Firstly, you need to evaluate the media outlet –is it geared to your target audience? There’s no point in placing an advert, however good the deal, if noone relevant is going to see it. Secondly, think about the content. Will your campaign engage your audience? Does it have a clear message and a call to action? Thirdly, think about how you will evaluate the success of your campaign. What mechanisms can you put in place to find out if people are responding? Finally, haggle! You can almost always get a better deal than the one first offered to you. Julie Causton

8. Events

Putting on an event is a great way to showcase your organisation and engage clients, key opinion formers and staff. But if you want to impress, things need to go like clockwork. Here are my tips to ensure that there are no hiccups on the day: • Put someone in charge who has an eye for detail and good communication skills. • Start planning early – it always takes much longer than your think to agree the budget, an appropriate venue, catering, entertainment and equipment such as staging, lighting, etc. • Make sure there is a hook to make people come – you will need something in addition to free food and drink! • Be prepared to chase invitees – it’s amazing how many people never bother to respond. I always put an RSVP by date on the invitation. • Don’t leave anything to chance – a check list is essential and walking through the running order will help identify potential pitfalls. Janet Kemp

9. Speaking Engagements

I’m sure you’ve sat back and watched someone speak with great confidence, make everyone laugh and leave the assembled guests wanting more. Speakers of that quality didn’t get to that point without plenty of presentations that were a lot less slick. The skill comes with a lot of practice. Different people have different methods for approaching a public speaking engagement. Some will memorise the entire speech or have it written out in full, others will have cards with bullet points and some might be tempted to wing it and see how they get on – not recommended. Whatever your technique, remember that when you speak to a local group they are not expecting Peter Kay and lots of belly laughs, they’ve asked you along to talk about something that you know more about than your audience. An occasional anecdote is fine but unless you tick the ‘accomplished raconteur’ box, avoid too many gags. Chris Gape

10. Networking

Invest time to attend business events to make new relationships. People generally buy into a person rather than a business. If they like you, that’s more than half the battle. But don’t be a network tart – choose carefully the events that will benefit you rather than

wasting your time on a jolly. Do your homework – prepare for the meeting, find out who is going to be there in advance. Work out what messages you want to convey. Choose language carefully to explain what your company does. Too technical and you’ll lose your audience. Stuck for Words? People love to talk about themselves - so remember FORD F - Family O - Occupation/ career R - Recreation - what do people enjoy doing in their spare time D - Dreams / Goals Get them talking about these and they will think you are the most interesting person in the world - even though you might not have told them anything about yourself. Be interested, not interesting. Don’t go in for the kill straight away – make friends first. Build up trust by offering advice for nothing or perhaps referring someone. That way you’ll have reason to keep in touch. Finally, the Referral Circle - broker relationships with companies who can refer business to you. Tim Cobb If Cobb PR’s advice has left you hungry for more, pop in and see them – they do a nice cup of coffee and sometimes have cake! For further information, visit: www.cobbpr.com

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Antifragile

Black Swan

Trader-turned-writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb famously predicted the possibility of the financial crisis of 2008 in his book Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. Largely ignored at the time, Taleb has responded to the belated respect he has received by pushing his theory further. Paul Beasley introduces the work of the author and picks out an excerpt from Taleb’s latest book that should get your strategic cogs turning

When an author calls himself an ‘epistemologist of randomness’ you know that his writing isn’t necessarily going to Extract be straightforward. But given that Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s stock – pun intended – has seldom been higher in economic circles, and that we’re still very much mired in the fallout from the economic reversal of 2008, it seems wise to at least give Taleb a second hearing. After all, by listening to the author of Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable we might just be able to protect our business interests from the worst-case scenarios hidden in the brittle bones of the global economy. Being listened to is clearly something the LebaneseAmerican scholar covets, having been largely ignored in the year leading up to the mass extinction of investment banks and other financial institutions that commenced in 2008. Furthermore, you could suggest that Taleb is something of a Cassandra. No, not Rodney’s love interest from Only Fools and Horses, but the Greek myth of Cassandra – a women given the gift of prophecy but cursed in that her predictions would never be believed. Taleb, however, has been proved right in some respects, and has since had the ear of those in the upper echelons of the economic world. What, then, does he do with this increased attention? He tries to finish what he’s started by building on the ideas explained in his first two books – Fooled by Randomness (2001) and the aforementioned Black Swan (2007). For Taleb, a ‘black swan’ is an event that lies outside the realm of regular expectations, has an extreme ‘impact’ and is only predictable in retrospect – that is, not strictly predictable at all. Antifragile: How to Live in a World We Don’t Understand pushes these ideas further by looking at the ‘nonlinear’ impact of events – that, say, a car that’s been driven into a wall ten times at 5mph won’t resemble a car that’s been driven into a wall once at 50mph. In other words, small, regular shocks can be absorbed, but one bigger shock could prove to be catastrophic – and therefore out of all proportion with the normal order of things. Antifragile book is full of these types of examples, which are neither without merit nor entertainment value, and are relied upon by Taleb as heuristics – that is, nuggets of experiencebased knowledge and problem-solving. The problem he most wants to address is that if black swan events are, by definition, unpredictable, how can we not just prepare our

businesses for such events but put ourselves in a position to profit from them. Taleb makes a start by dividing not just businesses but everything into three categories: • Fragile – able to withstand only the smallest of impacts; • Robust – less fragile, and therefore able to withstand larger impacts; and • Antifragile – the opposite of fragile: not just able to withstand huge shocks and become more robust as a consequence, but to grow disproportionately stronger when the opportunity arises. How, then, can you tell if your business is fragile, robust or antifragile? The following excerpt both provides an outline of this important facet of Taleb’s argument and is a revealing snapshot of the style of the book as a whole.

How to Detect Who Will Go Bust Let us examine a method to detect fragility - the inverse philosopher’s stone. We can illustrate it with the story of the giant government – sponsored firm called Fannie Mae, a corporation that collapsed leaving the United States taxpayer with hundreds of billions of dollars of losses (and, alas, still counting). One day in 2003, Alex Berenson, a New York Times journalist, came into my office with the secret risk reports of Fannie Mae, given to him by a defector. It was the kind of report getting into the guts of the methodology for risk calculations and disclosed what it wanted to whom ever it wanted, the public or someone else. But only a defector could show us the guts to see how the risk was calculated. We looked at the report: simply, a move upward in an economic variable led to massive losses, a move downward (in the opposite direction), to small profits. Further moves upward led to even larger additional losses and further moves downward to even smaller profits. It looked exactly like the story of the stone in Figure 9. Acceleration of harm was obvious – in fact it was monstrous. So we immediately saw that their blowup was inevitable: their exposures were severely “concave”, similar to the graph of traffic in Figure 14: losses that accelerate as one deviates economic variables (I did not even need to understand which one, as parameters). I worked with my emotions, not my brain, and I had a pang before even understanding what numbers I had been looking

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Antifragile

at. It was the mother of all fragilities and, thanks to Berenson, the New York Times presented my concern. A smear campaign ensued, but nothing too notable. For I had in the meantime called a few key people charlatans and they were not too excited about it. The key is that the nonlinear is vastly more affected by extreme events – and nobody was interested in extreme events since they had a mental block against them. I keep telling anyone who would listen to me, including random taxi drivers (well, almost), that the company Fannie Mae was “sitting on a barrel of dynamite.” Of course, blowups don’t happen every day (just as poorly built bridges don’t collapse immediately), and people kept saying that my opinion was wrong and ungrounded (using some argument that the stock was going up or something even more circular). I also inferred that other institutions, almost all banks, were

wanted something. An a risk measure was there.* So here is something to use. The technique, a simple heuristic called the fragility (and antifragility) detection heuristic, works as follows. Lets say you want to check whether a town is over optimized. Say you measure that when traffic increases by ten thousand cars, travel time grows be ten minutes. But if traffic increases by ten thousand more cars travel time now extends by an extra thirty minutes. Such acceleration of traffic time shows that traffic is fragile and you have too many cars and need to reduce traffic until the accelerations becomes mild (acceleration, I repeat, is acute concavity, or negative convexity effect). Likewise, government deficits are particularly concave to changes in economic conditions. Every additional deviation in, say, the unemployment rate – particularly when the government has debt – makes deficits incrementally worse.

“Once I figured out that fragility was directly from nonlinearity and convexity effects, and that convexity was measurable, I got all excited” in the same situations. After checking similar institutions, and seeing that the problem was general, I was so certain I could not see straight and went back to the markets to get my revenge against turkeys. As is the scene from The Godfather (III), “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in”. Things happened if they were planned by destiny. Fannie Mae went bust, along with other banks. It just took a bit longer than expected, no big deal. The stupid part of the story is that I had not seen the link between financial and general fragility – nor did I use the term “fragility.” Maybe I didn’t look at too many porcelain cups. However, thanks to the episode of the attic I had a measure for fragility hence antifragility. It all boils down to the following: figuring out if our miscalculations or miss forecasts are on balance more harmful then they are beneficial, and how accelerating the damage is. Exactly as in the story of the king, in which the damage from ten-kilogram stone is more than twice the damage from five-kilogram one. Such accelerating damage means that a large stone would eventually kill the person. Likewise a large market deviation would eventually kill the company. Once I figured out that fragility was directly from nonlinearity and convexity effects, and that convexity was measurable, I got all excited. The technique-detecting acceleration of harm – applied to anything that entails decision making under uncertainty, and risk management. While it was the most interesting in medicine and technology, the immediate demand was in economics. So I suggested to the International Monetary Fund a measure of fragility to substitute for the measures of risk that they knew didn’t work. Most people in the risk business had been frustrated by the poor (rather, the random) performance of their models, but they didn’t like my earlier stance: “don’t use any model.” They

And financial leverage for a company has the same effect: you need to borrow more and more to get the same effect. Just as in a Ponzi scheme. The same with operational leverage on the part of a fragile company. Should sales increase 10 per cent, then profits would increase less than they would decrease should sales drop 10 per cent.

*The method does not require a good model for risk measurement. Take a ruler. You know it is wrong. It will not be able to measure the height of the child. But it can certainly tell you if he is growing. In fact the error you get about the rate of growth of the child is much, much smaller than the error your would get measuring his height. The same with a scale: no matter how defective, it will almost always be able to tell you if you are gaining weight, so stop blaming it. Convexity is about acceleration. The remarkable thing about measuring convexity effects to detect model errors is that even if the model used for computation is wrong, it can tell you if an entity is fragile and by how much. As with the defective scale, we are only looking for second-order effects.

Extracted from Antifragile (Allen Lane, £25) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, out now

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ADVERTORIAL

Confusion Over What Trust in Workplace Means Trust in the workplace is being hampered by a lack of understanding of what it means, according to new research. Line managers who say they trust staff but don’t, pose one of the biggest challenges to organisations hoping to flourish, according to researcher Nick Marsden. Nick is Assistant Chief Fire Officer with Dorset Fire and Rescue Service. He undertook the study for his Master’s in Leadership and Management course at the University of Portsmouth. He won the University of Portsmouth’s Business School prize for best research, sponsored by the Institute of Leadership and Management and his research has been published in Human Resource Bulletin: Research and Practice. Nick said: “It is easy to say we trust someone, but more difficult to enter into a trusting action which involves you becoming vulnerable or in some way at risk.” Trust serves as the foundation for

everything organisations do, but the difficulty is that the meaning of trust can sometimes be unclear, misunderstood or misused, he said. As a result of Nick’s research, Dorset Fire and Rescue Service have approached the problem by defining their own meaning of trust which, in essence, is when a line manager is clear about the boundaries an employee needs to work within and the employee is able to talk comfortably with their manager about mistakes and weaknesses without fear that this will be used against them. Nick said: “The importance of clear boundaries should not be underestimated. There is a great story about a study of children who were told to play in an open field, but stayed very close to the adults. When the experiment was repeated, with a fence around the field, the children played into every corner. “We cannot expect people to push personal boundaries if they are not clear where they are, in relation to

Nick Marsden

those boundaries, in the first place. “Trust is very much determined at a local level. Our natural tendency is to limit our own risk, which means that we may over-control. Sadly, many existing managers cannot see that they are doing this, they want to maintain hierarchical controls. His tutor David Hall said: “Nick’s research was inspired by what he saw and questioned in his own workplace. It was innovative and extremely insightful, which has allowed Nick and his management team to build on this in the workplace. It was an excellent piece of research.”

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‘The Portsmouth MBA has been a lifechanging experience and one that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss.’ Heather Short, Entrepreneur

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04/03/2013 10:06


Beat the Squeeze Got a problem with late payments? Graham Carn, SBT’s finance expert, is on hand to help you make the right moves before the spectre of foreclosure has your business by the throat

“Extending credit terms and late payments are not illegal, but the question – morally and ethically – is this: is it justifiable?”

“Cashflow, as every entrepreneur will tell Finance you is the lifeblood of Insight business. But despite this simple truth, the challenges that all business – especially smaller business – face this year and every year, is how to keep the cashflow flowing? This is especially challenging when every barrier is being put in your way to stop you from getting the cash you not only deserve but is yours by right.” I wonder how many small business men and women would not agree whole-heartedly with that comment, made by The Institute of Credit Management (ICM) on 10th January 2013, based on their experiences with collecting payments for products or services made? It is estimated by BACS (Bankers Automated Clearing System) that £36.5bn is currently owed to small firms in ‘late payments’. It sounds like a large sum because it is. To put it bluntly, poor cashflow is how small businesses go under. It’s not just the ICM that has noted this ebbing away of cash flow. An announcement made in the same month by the Business Minister, Michael Fallon, reveals a growing concern that the tardy financial behaviour of medium and larger business is hampering the

efforts of smaller businesses to keep their ships afloat. On 10th January, Fallon made a ‘get tough’ message to medium-sized and larger businesses of the FTSE 350 list in recognition that since the financial crisis began there has been a significant increase in the amount of money owed to suppliers of goods and services. This is mainly due to payments being delayed longer and longer by businesses extending formally – or otherwise – their payment terms. The Government is now clearly alert to this, with Michael Fallon threatening to name and shame those in his sights if they do not sign up to the Prompt Payment Code. He has larger businesses, such as Sainsbury’s and O2, in his crosshairs, and no wonder this tardy twosome made headlines for the wrong reasons. Last year, Sainsbury’s increased their standard payment times for certain [non-food] suppliers from 30 to 75 days, and O2 in December wrote to their suppliers informing them of a standard increase to 180 days! The big boys may be the ones making the news, but this problem is pervasive at all business levels. Of course, extending credit terms and late payments are not illegal, but the question – morally and ethically – is this: is it justifiable? Is there perhaps an element of hoping that some suppliers will fail as a result of extending terms

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and then, through disputes, debts are avoided? Perhaps that is too cynical an approach but I wouldn’t bet against an element of that thinking in some account departments!

The dilemma

Businesses will complain about lengthening terms and payment periods, but will they do anything about them? Will they want to risk damaging relationships with their customers? The latest research from the Institute of Credit Management on behalf of the Department for Business reveals that smaller suppliers wait on average 41 days longer for payment than their contract stipulates. The Forum for Small Business is a lobby group that has long called for firms to improve their treatment of suppliers. It argues that businesses must stop creating artificial lines of credit at the expense of smaller firms. “Late and slow payment is the modern day scourge of small business”, says Phil Oxford, its chief executive, in recognising that the habit is a common practice and getting worse. Undoubtedly, late payments in all sectors have a knock-on effect and the further down the supply chain the practice goes the effects of this strangulated cash flow leads to the demise of many otherwise healthy enterprises. Unfortunately, the issue is believed to be getting worse. Whilst the economy is effectively flatlining as debtor firms try to improve their own cash positions through delaying payments, suppliers often cannot rely on their banks to plug the resulting gaps in their cashflow. For this reason, more and more businesses are finding the practice of extending terms unacceptable, not simply on the moral and ethical front but from an

operational level: it makes it impossible for them to continue trading. The Government’s publication of a ‘hall of shame’ for late payers is unlikely to evoke sufficient public anger that a significant boycott of certain businesses occurs in the same way that the flagging of the level of tax avoidance of Starbucks prompted that company to change policy. I don’t believe it would be as easy to change our grocery and mobile network provider choices as it was to where we get our cappuccinos! I think the most valuable outcome of headlines against major high street businesses will be the debate it creates, which should encompass all businesses. It is unlikely the government will want to go further than that and pen more draconian legislation.

What will make a difference?

We can beat chests and preach on what is the morally and ethically correct behaviour but there will always be those

that are less responsible than others. So what can we do in the small-tomedium-enterprise market that will have an accelerative effect on sluggish behaviour? Perhaps we should start by looking at ourselves and, specifically, when we pay our bills. If we are pushing out our credit terms then are we not part of the problem? We have to be practical, however: fear of losing a lucrative contract, especially in difficult times, means many small business owners shut up rather than put up. The latter could jeopardise a contract, and jobs, and ultimately see a firm go belly up. The government’s naming-andshaming policy could be localised by local business bodies, but that is fraught with problems and the business community itself may well baulk at that route. More helpful would be local discussions on the problems caused and how it is not in any community’s interest for businesses to fail. What really needs to change is the culture

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Cash Inflow

(Revenue from Sales)

Cash in Hand Increases

Cash in Hand

Cash Outflow

(Cost of Production)

“For the vast majority of SMEs, the first priority is to be continually on guard against creeping debtor days and the consequential squeeze on cash flow” of acceptance of late payments, but behavioural change is difficult and certainly not likely to be an overnight transformation. Existing legislation does, of course, allow for interest to be charged on overdue bills, but it is usually rarely used. Businesses are understandably often nervous about claiming interest or threatening legal action for fear of losing customers. However, there are signs that some suppliers are beginning to be more aggressive with debtors where solvent businesses are regarded as simply being unreasonable in delaying payments. The average value of court claims over outstanding debts rose by 34% in the final quarter of 2012 compared to the previous three months, and there was also a 21% rise in the number of so called ‘letters before action’ being issued, which threaten debtors with legal action unless they settle their bills.

Best practice – basic housekeeping

There are some simple ways to improve how soon you get paid, some of which involve the business owners and/or managers taking more responsibility for their own actions in getting paid, and to consider alternative funding mechanisms in order to keep the cashflowing. Some SMEs are undercapitalised but many do not have what could be deemed basic housekeeping mechanisms and behaviours in place. These include simple things such as: • Obtaining a written purchase order; • Acknowledging that written purchase order and attaching some basic terms of business; • The production of a delivery note; • Clear payment terms on the invoice, backing the payment terms originally agreed; • Asking clients if something will delay a payment so that due dates can be

adjusted or a payment plan suggested; • Ascertaining client payment cycles - some businesses pay bills on a particular day of the month; • Asking customers to make deposit payments at the time orders are taken; • Offering discounts to customers who pay their bills rapidly; • Ensuring monthly Statement of Accounts are sent to customers to track due balances; • Developing client relationships, which turn you into a living, breathing person, rather than an anonymous entity. This can be as simple as contacting clients to make sure they’re satisfied with a latest order, scheduling meetings near payment due dates, setting lunch dates, etc; • Devising a strategy for action when invoice terms are exceeded – a letter is sent, a phone call made, an email sent, etc. A personal call is usually the most effective approach; and • Logging of any reasons for late payment and diary notes for follow-ups and chasers. In the current climate, close control of your debtor book is vital. Many businesses would transform their cashflow and their bank balances if aged debtors listings were working documents and actively managed in a friendly manner.

What does the future hold?

In the short term the difficult trading environment looks set to continue. If your products and services are at such a level of demand that you are exempt from debtor issues then congratulations are in order. For the vast majority of SMEs, though, the first priority is to be continually on guard against creeping debtor days and the consequential squeeze on cashflow. Gradually the trading climate will improve but will debtor days automatically improve too? Possibly, but there is the danger that having created the precedent of lengthened settlement that then becomes the norm. I return again to the need for good debtor control and management, and clear and frequent communication, as essential components of good workable relationships with customers. When it comes to chasing monies owed it should not be seen as something that is embarrassing or awkward – it is part of

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trading, and frankly if you don’t ask for monies due to you someone else will be asking for theirs and your place in the queue for settlement goes backwards! The second priority area to consider, and significant change for the future in my opinion, is that businesses are going to find it more difficult to return to the operational ways they have been used to in the past with satisfying working capital cashflow requirements via their banking relationships. The days of the easy availability of overdraft or other short-term credit are over. There will be a continued increased requirement from lenders for businesses to evidence profitable activity to repay funding requests, and without a clear ability to show a repayment route overdrafts will be difficult. In this case, the ways in which the SME sector generates working capital will need to be re-thought. What this means is that other sources of cash generation need to be looked at and that involves asset-based lending and credit lines based on invoices – receivables finance. Businesses may be able to raise cash by selling and leasing back assets such as machinery, equipment, computers, phone systems and even office furniture. Leasing companies may be willing to perform these transactions but they are not always cheap and the risk is you could lose your assets if you miss lease payments. Given this risk, receivables finance is perhaps the safer option. Well behind us are the days that invoice financing was regarded as ‘the lender of last resort’, and it is now recognised it has some very practical advantages. It sometimes gets bad press and can be deemed expensive, but many businesses overlook the real value of enhancing their working capital in this way. Not only does it add discipline to the way that a business functions but it grows in line with sales turnover. Immediate cash upon delivery becomes the norm and a business can often grow far more quickly than if it had opted for a static overdraft. Used properly the cost can be off-set by renegotiating payment terms with suppliers, gearing up to accept larger orders from customers, and therefore probably buying raw materials more cost effectively, in bulk. And what price does one place

Headline Figures

180 75 36.5

34

The number of days to which O2 is increasing its standard payment time to suppliers

The number of days to which Sainburys is increasing its standard payment time to certain non-food suppliers The amount, in billions, that is owed to small firms in late payments, at the time of writing

Source: Bankers Automated Clearing System

The percentage increase, between Q3 and Q4 last year, in the average value of court claims relating to outstanding business debts

on growth opportunities? In addition, invoice finance can be linked to credit insurance and that can make the whole business more secure as there is less likelihood of bad or un-collectable debt. The other main advantage of a standalone invoice financing solution is that it is just that – standalone. Credit lines are made against the debtor book of the business, and personal security – otherwise required by banks – is avoided. This article is not going to become an advert for invoice discounting, whereby a business can draw money against sales invoices not yet settled, but SMEs

with tight cashflow and a good spread of decent debtors should at least consider this line of credit. Two words of warning, however: it is important in choosing a discounter that you need to understand the market in which the business operates and that you have the range of products that suit its requirements. The terms of discounters, particularly how long a contract with them is required, must also suit the anticipated timeframe in which the business may need cash flow help, but there is more flexibility in terms than you may think. An independent adviser can tap into a range of providers.

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“Be well organised in how you operate your invoicing process and be prepared as to how you will deal with slow payers” Managing debt

There’s nothing worse than providing a service or a desired product for your customer, only to find yourself faced with a debtor who delays in paying you. In the current financial environment this situation is occurring more frequently. To avoid this happening, your invoicecollection processes must be structured as it will improve your chances of getting your money more quickly. If you are selling goods, it is clearly best to receive payment in full before you hand them over; if you are ordering in stock especially for a customer, obtain payment before ordering. But that it perhaps easier said than done. If you have to provide credit whilst the culture of late payments exists, my advice is to be well organised in how you operate your invoicing process and be prepared as to how you will deal with slow payers. Here are 10 tips on how to manage your debtors: 1. Prevention is better than cure Always make a point of agreeing with your customer exactly what services/ goods are required and when and how payment is due. So, if your terms of trading are payment on invoice, your customer should be aware that they will not be expected to take 30, 60, 90 days or longer to pay you. As the vendor/service provider it is really up to you to set the terms and conditions, taking into account your customer’s wishes. If you will incur costs, including wages, in undertaking the work it is perfectly reasonable for you to request a payment in advance and there is no reason why you should not ask for the whole amount if you consider this to be appropriate. If you decide to allow credit to your customers, take sensible steps to identify your customer and satisfy yourself of their residential address. If you are dealing in large sums

of money you may wish to take steps to ensure their ability to pay you. There are various search facilities available should you wish to use them. 2. Timely invoicing and follow-up Be sure to invoice on time and issue regular statements to customers who owe you money. If you give this task prompt attention, your customers are more likely to pay you promptly. 3. Offer as many methods of payment as you can Cash, cheques, credit or debit cards, BACs, online transfers or standing orders (in advance or at your discretion) – try to offer the full range. 4. Planned approach to debt collecting If inspite of your best efforts you end up with reluctant payers, devise a strategy for chasing payment. For example, you could contact your customer when the payment is two weeks late and every two weeks thereafter until you obtain satisfaction. How long you leave the first reminder and how often you contact them will depend on how large a sum is involved and, often, on how urgently you need the money. 5. Use the phone Speaking to your debtor in person gets better results than writing letters. Before you ask for money, ask if there is a problem. Resolve resulting complaints promptly so you can get paid. If your customer tells you there is a problem in making the payment, in these difficult times it often pays to be a little bit flexible. A customer who is paying their bill in instalments is far better than one who isn’t paying anything at all. So be prepared to accept stage payments if necessary.

6. Keep a record and refer your customer to it Record the date and outcome of all debt-chase contacts and remind your customer of any failed promises. It reinforces your intention to be paid. 7. Keep it friendly No matter how frustrated or angry you are, keep the tone friendly. Losing your temper closes the door to negotiation and to any potential future trading. If you can’t do this, get someone else to make calls for you. 8. Letters Request payments by a set date in a friendly manner. Offer to consider instalment payments if you think this may help. Only use legal enforcement threats that you are prepared to back up, when all else fails. 9. Calling on your debtor A polite call at the door often opens up communications and can result in a payment. If noone is home leave your card, compliment slip or letterhead with a note that you called and will be in touch. Follow it up promptly. 10. Threaten further action When all else fails consider threatening to place the debt with a debt collector or to raise a County Court Summons. No one likes a debt collector calling on them, and a County Court Judgement against them can have serious consequences! These measures are only effective against people who have something to lose. Debt chasing can be demoralising but remember that it is your money and you have a right to it. If you don’t ask for it you won’t get it. If you really can’t face chasing, get someone else to help. You won’t win every time, but strategic debt chasing and a flexible approach should help you to make radical improvements to your cashflow. If you are not sure about any of the points made above, take professional advice. Graham Carn, Senior Partner, Blackstones Consulting, can be contacted on: blackstones@btinternet.com

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The George in Rye

Secreted away at the eastern fringes of Sussex, Rye combines historic charm with a tempting range of restaurants. First up, Paul Beasley reports back from the comfort of the George Grill Address: The George in Rye, 98 High Street, Rye, East Sussex TN31 7JT Website: www.thegeorgeinrye.com Tel: 01797 222114 Travel time: (by car, in minutes): Hastings 20-25; Heathfield 50; Eastbourne 55-60; Brighton 80-85; (by train to Rye station, in minutes): Hastings 18; Eastbourne 45; Brighton 82 Food: Starters £7-8; Mains £15-21; Desserts £6; Cheese £3 each Wine: £5-8 per glass Best deal: Set menu – £33 per person (available for a whole table only); Special lunch menu £16 for two courses; £19 for three courses Largest group: 10-12 for lunch at one table, but private dining for up to 120 also available

Another cold, cold day threatened to complicate SBT’s The working lunch George plans for a second month in a row. But despite the freezing weather, we – former colleague Roger Hudson and I – arrived on time in this famously picturesque former Cinque Port and strode away from the station. In a few brief minutes we were seated in a corner of the George Grill – the restaurant at the plush George in Rye hotel, on the town’s High Street. The decor of the George Grill is all wood and non-matching green hues. Far above the wooden floor, beams rib the ceiling. Hanging down in the big space below, a constellation of spherical lights floats above one’s head.

The walls are mainly a light olive shade, which smartly picks up the corduroy curtains; the seat backs in the lower section where we were parked are the colour of ripe Golden Delicious; and the bench seating is covered with a brasher hue, perhaps referred to in paint charts as ‘pine green’. A metallic lobster, one of several such finishing touches, scuttles up a wall. All in all, it’s a pleasant space in which to dine. The George Grill was an hour into its five-hour lunchtime service, and a quiet bustle had taken hold. Our orders were taken promptly and politely, and the service was speedy. The Rye Bay Scallop Festival had finished just a few days before, and the thought of eating local seafood seemed the perfect antidote to the stench of the horsemeat scandal. So, to start us off, and choosing from an enticing menu that revolves with the seasons, we both plumped for the scallops. In no time at all we had beautifully presented plates of pea puree, a quail’s egg yolk and four scallops sitting invitingly under our noses. A little less welcome, though, was the clove of roasted garlic that menaced each succulent scallop. This, to my taste, was a bit much, as the sweetness of the scallop was quickly usurped by the rising tide of garlicky bass notes. Our wine choice – a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc with clean, crisp, juicy acidity and a dry finish – fought bravely against these foot soldiers of French cuisine, but they won the day. It was a decent start nevertheless, with Roger and I agreeing that the dish was just a tweak or two away from being a winner. Continuing with our ‘eat local’ policy, we both ordered the Romney

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Marsh lamb – reared no more than 10-15 miles from where we sat. The unmistakable salty, fatty tang of lamb soon hit the spot. The knife could have been sharper, though - it gave the impression that the lamb was mutton tough, but it really wasn’t. However, the smear of pumpkin and slices of potato did little with their walk-on parts in this showcase of sheep. The glass of Good, Ordinary Claret we both ordered to accompany this main course had a promising bouquet, but the subtle combination of dark stewed fruit and liquorice lacked that bit of clout needed to cope with the lamb. Go for something fruitier and bolder, I say, because the excellent lamb would benefit from a pushier partner. We then deviated from our local ethos by ordering Sharpham Rustic – a cheese produced in comparatively faraway Devon. This made it something of an import, as was Aija – our friendly Latvian waitress. The cheese, for the record, was a pleasing hybrid of the tanginess of a hard cheese and the lingering creaminess of a soft cheese. We deviated at the last by ordering different desserts. Roger enjoyed the white chocolate crème brulee, but felt that the dollop of raspberry sorbet that came with it was a bit too much. I opted for the pear tarte tatin, along with a glass of Chapel Down Nectar, from nearby Tenterden in Kent. Like Greg Wallace with seemingly any pudding, I find it difficult to be critical of a tarte tatin. And this was no different. The wine’s combination of sugar and minerality was a perfect match for the fruity sweetness of the pear. All told, the George in Rye represented decent value for money on this occasion. The food would benefit from the odd tweak, but is fine as it is. I’d therefore recommend the George Grill as a working lunch option to those in the east of East Sussex due to the local grub, good service and pleasant atmosphere. For after-work fun, the George is a great location at which to kick back and let the wine do its work, safe in knowledge that the train station is just a short stagger down the hill. www.thegeorgeinrye.com

Counting the Cost Paul Rye Bay scallops with pea puree and garlic £8 Casa Azul Sauvignon Blanc, Chile £3.75 (half a carafe) Romney Marsh rump of lamb with pumpkin puree and potato £17 Good, Ordinary Claret, France, £4.50 (half a carafe) Sharpham Rustic cheese £3

Roger Rye Bay scallops with pea puree and garlic £8 Casa Azul Sauvignon Blanc, Chile £3.75 (half a carafe) Romney Marsh rump of lamb with pumpkin puree and potato £17 Good, Ordinary Claret, France, £4.50 (half a carafe) Sharpham Rustic cheese £3

Pear tarte tatin with ice cream £6 Chapel Down Nectar, £7.50 (125ml glass)

White chocolate crème brulee with raspberry sorbet £6 Espresso £2.75

Total: £49.75

Total: £45.00 Total bill: £101.85 (incl. 7.5% service charge)

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ESCAPE THE OFFICE... Hold your meeting or conference in a room with a view...

FROM

ÂŁ25

*

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The Ambrette in Rye Address: The Ambrette Restaurant at Rye, 24 High Street, Rye, TN31 7JF Website: www.theambrette.co.uk Tel: 01797 222043 Travel time: (by car, in minutes): Hastings 20-25; Heathfield 50; Eastbourne 55-60; Brighton 80-85; (by train to Rye station, in minutes): Hastings 18; Eastbourne 45; Brighton 82

We hadn’t got far in considering our Ambrette options for lunch in Rye for this issue of SBT, when some PR landed on the proverbial doormat about an exciting restaurant in the easterly Sussex town. The Ambrette Restaurant in Rye’s High St has recently been named “Best in the South East” by the Cobra Good Curry Guide alongside its sister eatery in Margate, Kent – despite not serving curry. Intriguing, we thought. So we went along to try for ourselves. Upon arrival, it became very clear that we were not going to be dining in a standard Indian restaurant, with the decor and general layout equaling that of many fine dining rooms that we’ve had the pleasure of visiting over the years. Even the feint sound of the piped Indian music wasn’t enough to detract from the distinctly British, wood panelled walls, crackling open fire and the murmur of the distinguished local community resounding from the three dining rooms. Alex, our waiter for the day, was a delight. Offering just the right amount of service and seeming to get the balance of ‘too much’ vs. ‘too little’ attention, bang on. The food that we went on to enjoy during our visit was simply excellent. A real joy. The most contemporary selection of Indian food that I’ve come across in my travels, cooked and served with great finesse. Our selection is listed later in this piece but I can note that the balance of flavours, the level of spices and heat in any of the dishes we ordered were exceptionally executed. Even the mildest palate would be in safe hands here, with no sign of the red hot standards such as Jalfrezi or Vindaloo. In fact, chef-patron Dev Biswal hopes that his latest accolade will help to encourage the next generation of Indian chefs and restaurateurs to move away from a “de facto franchise model” where almost every high street curry house offers a near identical menu. Dev told us, “Because we don’t serve curry

or have any of the usual dishes like Chicken Tikka Masala or Lamb Korma on our menu, I never expected my cooking to be recognised by the curry bible,” adding, “I have great respect for the Bangladeshi community, as the pioneers of Asian food in this country, producing undoubtedly tasty ‘curries’, but much of the Indian food served in the UK is stuck in a 1940’s time bubble.” In a time bubble, the Ambrette is not. Rye is situated on one of the most Easterly edges of Sussex but don’t let the geography put you off making the trip if you’re more than a short drive away. The Ambrette is a real treat and the sort of place that you will have you returning for business lunches and evening meals alike, time and again. - Simon Skinner

Lunch menu - 1 Course £8.95 2 Courses £14.95 3 Courses - £19.95 per head. Covers - 45 for lunch over three dining areas. We had... To drink - Kentish Pressed Apple Juice wwwcorejuice.co.uk & Sparkling Water. Cappuccinos to finish. Starters - Spiced feather steak of Sussex Beef, with garlic & tomato chutney, mango salad - Breast of British chicken marinated in fresh pomegranate, w/cucumber & onion raita, fresh mint & coriander chutney. Main Courses - South Indian style Beef Stew, w/masala potatoes & coconut chutney - Fish of the day Kedgeree served with a raita of yoghurt mustard and cucumber with a ‘Chef’s special sauce’. Both served with an extremely light and fluffy, freshly baked naan bread. Desert - Just one - The Exotic Rose flavoured Vanilla Creme Brulee w/sugar coated fennel seeds. This really has to be tried to be believed!

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Proporta

Based in Sussex and proud to be British, mobile technology accessories specialist Proporta has grown with the market it serves. Founders Mike Coombes and Guy Monson tell us how they turned a ÂŁ6,000 parental loan into a thriving international business

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Set up in the 1990s, Proporta is the brainchild of two Profile university friends, Mike Coombes and Guy Monson, who began making cases for the Psion palmtop computer - the hot executive gadget of the day. The company is now a multi-million pound business that sells its range of mobile accessories across the world. The inspiration for Proporta first came to Guy Monson when, as a radio journalist, he bought a Psion to replace his Filofax. Unable to find a solid, protective case for his device he noticed

a rather large gap in the market for accessorising these new mobile devices. After this brainwave, Guy called upon his university friend, Mike Coombes, to ask him if he would like to work with him to develop world’s first Psion hard case. It was at this point they realised the cost of manufacturing in the UK would be beyond the reach of the fledgling company; funded entirely by a £6,000 loan from the duo’s parents. After the first case was produced in 1996, Proporta created a website to sell it direct to their customers and soon discovered a healthy appetite for the market. Within its first year Guy and Mike had sold enough stock to expand their

“After the first case was produced in 1996, Proporta created a website to sell it direct to their customers and soon discovered a healthy appetite for the market”

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“From design concept to production, marketing and sales, Proporta is an example of a modern company that has ‘Britishness’ at the core of all that it does”

business, producing cases for the other new Psion devices. Soon after this, the company set up office in the Sussex coast town of Brighton which is where Proporta UK is still based and where the company carries out its research and design as well as advertising, marketing and sales. The way Proporta interacts with its customers on its website, in its advertising, its emails and phone conversations is all decided in the UK – it is here where an emphasis is placed on the friendly informality that defines British Customer Service: Monson says: “Travelling in some parts of Europe I’m often amazed at the high-handed attitude many businesses have towards their customers. When I come back to the UK I have a real sense that there are some things that we just get right. The Proporta customer service team often receives emails and phone calls from European customers who are enchantingly pleased when they receive good service without the argument they were often expecting.” In 2006, Proporta realised that it could take its British heritage further by working with established British fashion and lifestyle brands. The key to being successfully chosen as the mobile

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Profile

Making Growth Happen

Guy Monson and Mike Coombes reflect on Proporta’s growth thus far, managing manufacturing partners overseas and tightening their belts

On getting bigger but staying ‘small’ Every business decision we make is well thought out and it’s paramount to look at the bigger picture and not lose sight of what we’re hoping to achieve. We’ve built the business gradually over the past 16 years with a considered approach and have grown from two Directors, fresh out of University working from their bedrooms, to employing over 30 staff in the UK Head Office in Brighton with a worldwide reach via our retailers and products. It’s important to us to not lose the culture, flexibility and speed-tomarket that a small company often brings whilst still maintaining growth, remaining profitable and continuing to build relationships with global ‘Superbrands’. GM

On relationships with manufacturers

It’s certainly a challenge and we’ve been fortunate enough to work with our manufacturing partner in Asia for the past six years and have an excellent relationship with them. We’ve recently undergone an exercise to broaden our pool of suppliers so it’s been essential that we audit any new manufacturer appropriately and that we are able to reach effective communication levels. The use of Skype, phone and email is important to us and usually the mornings (due to the time zones) are very busy for our Product Development team, who is based in Brighton and has very regular contact with our suppliers. We make regular factory visits throughout the year ourselves in order to oversee projects and increase communication, and receive excellent feedback from our customers (typically large retailers or global fashion brands) who have visited the factory themselves. MC

www.proporta.com

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Profile

“We’ve never been a frivolous company, but we have made adjustments to our advertising spend and have focused on tightening up our processes and budgets”

Top: Proporta Office Middle: Coombes Bottom: Guy Monson

accessory case partner for these brands lay in Proporta’s proven ability to design products that work seamlessly with technology but also in its ability to find retail channels for products both in the UK and overseas. Shortly afterwards Proporta began working with British design house Ted Baker. Proporta is now proud to count Apple among its clients and is partnered with a number of British fashion and lifestyle brands including Ted Baker, Bentley, the V&A and the National Gallery. The company also works with overseas brands including Quiksilver and Roxy. It’s an arrangement that works well for both parties, combining Proporta’s technical know-how with the desirability of a fashion brand. Lynnette Prigmore, head of product at Proporta comments: “By working with leading brands, we get to know what will be in season before it even happens. This means that we’re able to keep our accessories line interesting, drawing on the innovation and changeability of fashion trends.” From design concept to production, marketing and sales, Proporta is an example of a modern company that has ‘Britishness’ at the core of all that it does and yet it employs people across the world, manufactures in Asia and sells globally. Like Britain itself, ‘Britishness’ is not a simple concept, but it’s a concept that companies like Proporta are proud to be a part of. www.proporta.com

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SBT SUSSEX BUSINESS TIMES

SBT SUSSEX BUSINESS TIMES

ISSUE 365

No.1

for busin in Suss ess ex

Why You Should be Driving a Jaguar XKR-S Page 28

Toasting Success Why putting quality over quantity helps Nyetimber survive bad times Page 14

How to twist a commercial bankers arm

(and when you shouldn’t even bother trying) Page 36

17 Business Gifts They’ll Love Page 9

THE EMPLOYMENT LAWS You Need to Know Page 41

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14/12/2012 15:24

sbT

issue 364: FRee

sussex business TiMes

MaxiMise TRansacTion value - nik askaRoFF explains, hilaRy Devey’s long RoaD To success, Taking The woRk ouT oF neTwoRking, MeRgeRs anD acquisiTions: aRe you in The MaRkeT? iT’s youR call: whaT’s in a nuMbeR FoR a sussex business? plus youR business quesTions answeReD in The sbT expeRT q&a

The TRuTh abouT banks

sbT uncoveRs The nuMbeRs anD invesTigaTes why They’Re jusT noT aDDing up

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02/11/2012 09:47

GET INDIVIDUAL ISSUES OF SUSSEX BUSINESS TIMES MAGAZINE DELIVERED DIRECT TO YOU, STRAIGHT FROM US, WITH FREE POST AND PACKING. 10 ISSUES (A YEAR’S SUBSCRIPTION) FOR JUST £10.00 HOW? CONTACT US AT CONTACT@LIFEMEDIAGROUP.CO.UK

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Midnight Birthday Ad A4

20/2/13

15:30

Page 1

“Midnight is the ‘go to’ organisation when you want to get things done and you are looking for inspiration and fresh ideas. Leave it to them and you won’t be disappointed…” Tony Mernagh Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership

“Midnight Communications has a well-deserved reputation as the most prominent PR firm in the county. The managing director is an indefatigable advocate for her clients, and her team is highlymotivated, well-organised and unfailingly helpful…” The Argus

Happy birthday to us Happy birthday to us Happy birthday dear Midnight Happy birthday to us Midnight Communications is proud to announce that is has officially come of age and today celebrates 18 years of award winning business.

“We have been working with Midnight for over a year now and our business requirements have changed a great deal during this time. Despite our ever changing needs, Midnight has always responded with great flexibility, energy and speed to ensure that they provide us with the support that we need…” Aria Assistance

2012 Awards

“Midnight has done an exceptional job of helping us to launch and promote the Startups Awards. They have exceeded their targets and have been such a pleasure to work with. I could not ask for more. I would highly recommend them!” Crimson Publishing

CIPR Pride Awards 2012 Gold - Not for Profit - Sky Sports Living for Sport: Student of the Year Awards Gold - Best Sporting Campaign - Sky Sports Living for Sport Silver - Outstanding Public Relations Consultancy Silver - Best Use of Social Media - Sky Sports Living for Sport Silver - Best Campaign £10,000 and Under - Checkatrade.com Silver - Best Event - Sussex Business Awards 2011 UK:Event Awards 2012 Gold - Best Educational Event - The Sky Sports Living for Sport Student of the Year Awards 2011 Finalist - Best Awards Scheme - Sussex Business Awards Event Awards 2012 Finalist - Best PR Event or Stunt - Sky Sports Living for Sport Student of the Year Awards 2011 2012 - Fresh Awards Bronze - Sussex Business Awards

Midnight specialises in Public Relations Social Media

PR for Apps

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Events

“I consider Midnight Communications an extension of our own team. They understand our business, our aims and aspirations and work tirelessly to deliver our key messages to our key markets. They think on our behalf. They are a lesson to everyone in what good client service looks like…” Thomas Eggar

Award Schemes

www.midnight.co.uk

@midnightcoms

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Birthday Celebrations at Midnight

The South East’s Leading PR Agency Celebrates Eighteen Years When you take into account the fact that the average life expectancy of a PR company today is between five and seven years, Midnight Communications’ coming of age becomes even more poignant. As one of the south east’s longest established PR agencies, Midnight has weathered the worst of the recession, been recognised as the fastest growing PR company in the UK and won a host of awards. Over the years, Midnight has employed and trained approximately 200 people, who have gone on to dazzling careers including MDs of top London PR firms, owners of their own flourishing PR companies and finalists or winner of the Young Communicator of the Year award… for eight years in a row! Midnight Communications’ founder Caraline Brown herself was a Media Boss of the Year finalist for two years running, and has been named one of PR weeks - Most Influnential People in PR - three times in their annual industry guide. Midnight Communications is no overnight success: consistently brilliant achievements are what has sustained the company’s reputation over eighteen years, and will for many more to come. When Midnight was launched in 1995, it was with the intention of taking up the spot as the first communications agency to specialise in the internet, with the firm belief that this was an area that was going to grow and become increasingly essential to businesses. With a firm ambition and a £2000 overdraft, Midnight was established. In its earlier years, it was sold to an advertising agency only to be bought back again in 2003. At the turn of the millennium, Midnight Communications won the double accolade of national PR Company of the Year and Sussex Company of the Year.

As the head of a groundbreaking company which has continually delivered results customers love, Caraline Brown has featured in many business titles, both local and international, including Management Today and the Sunday Times. She commented: “Last year, we won twelve awards for our work – including silver for outstanding PR consultancy in the south east. We continue to deliver quality results on behalf of a broad national client base which includes PR and social media, events and awards management.” After a glass or two of champagne to celebrate 18 successful years, it’s back to work for the Midnight team, who enter the company’s adulthood with strong performance despite the challenging business environment. We’ll raise a toast to that!

Since then, Midnight has been proud to work with many of the region’s most successful businesses, including Wired Sussex, MDHub, Duke of York’s one hundredth celebrations, the Brighton and Hove Business Awards and many others. The company has also been chosen by national clients including Thomas Eggar, Sky Sports Living for Sport, Checkatrade, and more.

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Cover Feature

Don’t Stress!

Being an employer is stressful enough, then staff disappear for days and weeks with stress-related absences and your blood pressure soars. To help you do your duty, Sophie Nettleton of Morrisons Solicitors has provided a helpful guide so you don’t get caught out

Stress can be a big problem for employers. A survey Insight conducted in 2011 showed that 40% of all work-related illness that year was stress-related, and that a staggering 131 million days were lost due to sickness absence. Equally concerning for employers is that it costs a business 105 times more when an employee attends work but is less productive than normal (perhaps due to stress), rather than taking the day off as sickness absence. So what are you, as an employer, expected to do mitigate the onset of stress amongst your employees? Employers’ duties regarding stress Employers have a duty to undertake risk assessments, and to manage activities in order to reduce the onset of stress at

work. To support employers, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has devised the ‘Stress Management Standards’, together with associated guidance. As well as legislation set out in the Health and Safety Act 1974, there is also a general legal obligation for employers to take reasonable care of the health and safety of their employees in the workplace. A breach of this obligation could result in a claim for negligence or constructive unfair dismissal. The Working Time Regulations 1998 is additional legislation that often arises in cases involving stress. It entitles employees to: • Daily and weekly rest breaks; • Time during the working day for breaks; and • An average limit of 48 hours in a working week (although it is possible for employees to opt out of this restriction). Despite these provisions, long

working hours are still cited as a major contributing factor to stress. Claims against employers If an employer breaches Health and Safety legislation (such at the Health and Safety Act 1974) there are potential criminal penalties for them arising from enforcement by the HSE. To bring a claim of negligence, an employee would need to demonstrate that an employer has breached his duty of care, it has caused the employee injury and that an injury of this type was reasonably foreseeable. There has been significant case law in this area with high awards for employees. The main issue in such claims is whether the type of injury sustained by the employee was reasonably foreseeable by the employer. (The employer should be reassured, however, that they are usually entitled to assume that an employee can withstand

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the normal pressures of his job unless a particular problem or vulnerability is known.) In addition to the general ‘duty of care’ principle, there is an implied term in every contract of employment that an employer will take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of its employees at work. Failure to do so could entitle an employee to resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal. Discrimination Employers should be aware that stress and related conditions – depression, for example – may amount to a disability if the condition has substantial adverse effects, is or is expected to be long term (normally longer than 12 months) and these substantial long-term effects have an adverse effect on normal dayto-day activities. If an employee’s condition does amount to a disability, employers must ensure that they do not discriminate against the disabled employee. This could be either: a) Directly, for example, dismissing someone because they have a disability; or b) In relation to something that arises from a disability such as carrying out poor performance reviews for an employee who, due to a disability, is not as productive because they cannot use the computer programmes; or c) Indirectly by imposing a practice, provision or criteria that puts a disabled person at a significant disadvantage (for example, a requirement for someone with MS to stand on their feet all day). In particular, employers will need to be aware of their duty to make any reasonable adjustments to ensure that a disabled person is not put at a substantial disadvantage. For employees suffering from depression, this could involve reduced hours of work, arranging for that employee to have a mentor, a gradual reintroduction to their role, and/or time off work to attend counselling sessions. Caution is best In cases of stress, and where an employer is unsure this amounts to a disability, they should err on the side of caution as adjustments may need to be made as part of their duty of care so as

“Where an employee or group of employees complain about work pressures, ensure that you and – if relevant – your managers and supervisors do not ignore the situation, but rather are trained to recognise the company’s legal obligations” to avoid a claim of negligence. When considering what is reasonable, an employer should take into account all the circumstances including, but not limited to, the extent to which the adjustment would have reduced the disadvantage, the extent to which the adjustment was feasible and the size of the company.

Five steps employers can take to minimise stress in the workplace: 1. Risk assessments Identify causes of stress at work so that preventative measures can be taken. Utilise the HSE Standards and related guidance to assist you in being compliant in this area. 2. Appropriate policies and procedures Ensure your business’s working environment protects the wellbeing of the workforce. We advise our clients that, as a minimum, they should have a grievance procedure, disciplinary procedure, equal opportunities and diversity policy. We further recommend a separate health and safety policy. If stress is a particular issue within your organisation, you may also want to consider a counselling programme. 3. Monitor working hours If your employees work in excess of an average 48-hour week, ensure that you have their legal consent – either in their contract of employment or a separate

agreement. The requirements for a valid opt-out clause are specific, and if you are unsure about the wording to use we suggest that you speak with an employment law professional. 4. Be aware Look for signs of stress within your employees, and act before you receive a complaint or an employee goes on long-term sickness absence. Train managers to watch out for the signs of stress in their staff and be proactive by scheduling regular appraisals etc. 5. Listen & act Where an employee or group of employees complain about work pressures, ensure that you and – if relevant – your managers and supervisors do not ignore the situation, but rather are trained to recognise the company’s legal obligations and take appropriate and reasonable steps to deal with the complaints - seeking advice as necessary.

Sophie Nettleton is an associate solicitor of employment law at Morrisons Solicitors. For more information, visit: www.morrlaw.com

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SBT

THE PORTFOLIO

Cleared for Take-off We visit Crawley in the second stop on our tour of Sussex’s commercial property hotspots. Firstly, we hear from the Borough Council on the transport, businesses and development plans of the town. Sussex Enterprise then weigh-in with some revealing economic data, and Stiles Harold Williams round things off by taking us on a tour of Crawley’s main commercial property areas

Covering an area of 17.36 square miles and home Insight to a population of just over 106,000, Crawley is the principal urban centre in West Sussex. It is dominated by the presence of Gatwick Airport, which employs around a third of the Borough’s workforce and acts as an important attraction to other businesses. Yet this undoubted strength is also a potential weakness in that the town could be over-reliant on the international air gateway and needs, therefore, to broaden its economic base – something it is working proactively to do. And it’s not just passengers that flood in from elsewhere. Crawley has the highest rate of in-commuting in the whole of Sussex. Still, those commuters do at least benefit from the town’s excellent transport links. Located midway between Brighton and London, Crawley is just 28 miles outside of the capital. Crawley, perhaps unsurprisingly, scores an A rating for connectivity on the economic scorecard of research organisation Local Futures Group. The town offers a broad range of business premises, from small affordable start-up units to service business centres, major headquarters, grade A office accommodation and larger industrial units (in the Manor Royal Business District). Prime retail and grade A office space is on offer in

the town centre and smaller retail units are located in the town’s neighbourhood centres. According to Crawley Borough Council, Crawley’s 1,576,000 square metres of floorspace means that it provides more commercial space than any other area in West Sussex or the Gatwick Diamond. To help fill in the blanks, Crawley Borough Council provides further information on the town’s transport links, businesses and development plans. Transport Road: Crawley is located right on the M23, which provides fast connections to the M25 and beyond. Connected through via the A23, the M27 also gives access routes to Portsmouth and Southampton. Brighton and the coast is just half an hour away by rail or road, with easy access to the ports of Shoreham and Newhaven. Dover and the Channel Tunnel can be reached by road, in less than 90 minutes. Rail: There are excellent rail connections from Gatwick, Crawley and Three Bridges stations. Services to London Victoria take 30-40 minutes and direct trains also run to London Bridge, Brighton, Portsmouth and Southampton. The town is also well serviced by the local Metrobus and Fastway services. Air: Gatwick Airport is the world’s busiest single-runway airport, the UK’s second-busiest business airport and

the only international airport in the South East. It currently flies around 32 million passengers every year to more than 200 destinations. Gatwick’s plans to increase passenger numbers, cargo freight and airline routes, will – alongside its continued significant capital investment – provide Crawley businesses with additional connectivity advantages. Gatwick Airport is just five minutes from Crawley’s major business park, the Manor Royal Business District. Manor Royal is just 10 minutes away from Crawley town centre and London is only 30 minutes away via the Gatwick Express rail service. Businesses Crawley is home to a wide range of companies, including a number of high-profile companies that have their headquarters in the town. These include the following: Airport and aviation related: Aerotron, Air Partner, Boeing Training & Flight Services, British Airways, easyJet, Gatwick Airport Limited, LSG Sky Chef, Thales and Virgin Atlantic. Travel, leisure and food: First Choice, Nestlé, Pasta Reale, Tesco, Tui and Virgin Holidays. Pharma/Bio/Med tech: Elekta Oncology Systems, Novo Nordisk, Qiagen, Toshiba Medical Systems, Varian Medical Systems and Welland Medical. Gas/Power/Geophysics/Advanced manufacturing: BOC, Ceres Power,

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Commercial Property

Economic Viewpoint Sussex Enterprise runs the rule over Crawley’s economy and the challenges it faces in boosting its business numbers

CGG, Cofely, Doosan Power Systems, EDF Energy, Siemens, Tokyo Electron and WesternGeco. Professional and financial services: ASB Law, BDO Stoy Hayward, Deloitte, DMH Stallard, Grant Thornton, KPMG, Lloyds TSB, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and Thomas Eggar LLP. And other: Amey, Avesco, Canon, Eezehaul, G4S, Invensys, ITW Construction Products, Macro 4, OCS and Vent Axia. Why Crawley? There are plenty of reasons to locate a business in Crawley. Three recent reports have recognised the advantages, improvements and potential of business in Crawley: • In November, the town was declared the seventh best place to do business in England. The Local Futures Group assessed 325 towns and cities to see how attractive they were to live, work and invest in. Crawley scored highly on major factors of economic performance, human resources, environment and infrastructure. Attributes such as connectivity, commercial floor space, good productivity and access to a good pool of labour were also recognised. • The Centre for Cities Outlook 2013 report ranked Crawley in the top ten cities in the UK for business improvement. The report, published in January, focused on the delivery of housing and improvements to the local economy since the recession. • A report by Santander placed Crawley fourth in the UK for business competitiveness. Factors analysed were grouped into five ‘domains’: enterprise, talent, connectivity, costs

and wellbeing. Crawley came first for wellbeing and fourth overall. In the works There are a number of development projects underway in Crawley, which promise to provide plenty of business and investment opportunities. These include the Town Centre North regeneration project, with phase one already started by Land Securities on the site formerly known as Sussex House, has been made provision for a new supermarket, hotel, café and restaurant units. Stanhope Plc has been appointed as development partner for the next phase of Town Centre North and a planning application is expected this year for a major retail and leisure-led regeneration scheme. Two new neighbourhood developments are underway. Kilnwood Vale by Crest Nicholson is set to begin work on the first phase of its much-anticipated 132-hectare development, a new community comprising 2,500 homes west of Crawley. Plans for the North East Sector, by developers Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon Homes, include 1,900 homes, a primary school, community centre, office and industrial space, retail space and parkland. This will be the town’s 14th neighbourhood and will start taking shape this year. Besides these projects, Siemens has been investing in its Three Bridges depot and Gatwick Airport is undergoing a £1 billion capital investment programme. For further information, visit: www.crawley.gov.uk/business

• Following job losses at companies based around the airport, the Borough’s Core Strategy sets out a need to support the development of a diverse economic base to reduce reliance on airport-related activities. However, the Borough is much less reliant on public sector employment than other parts of Sussex. • Diversification of the local economy is one aim of planned major development activity in Crawley town centre, including new retail, leisure and residential opportunities. • Business density in the area is below the South East average, reflecting the importance of large businesses with 200 staff or more (responsible for 49% of employment compared with 28% across the South East). • Growth in business numbers has been above the South East average but survival rates are lower, suggesting that new businesses starting up may not necessarily be sustainable. • Crawley residents can be characterised as generally being lowintermediate skilled, with fewer than one in five (18%) holding a Level 4 qualification. Significant in-commuting (56% of the workforce, the highest rate in Sussex) and a large difference between the wages earned by residents and by those who work in the area suggest that higher skilled, higher paid roles are being filled by individuals from outside the area. • Crawley has a much younger population than most other parts of Sussex. But is it being fully utilised? Priorities: 1. Up-skilling the workforce, to enable them to benefit from high quality, wellpaid jobs and to reduce dependency on in-commuters. 2. Provision of support for start-ups and smaller businesses, particularly in non-traditional sectors, to encourage diversity of the economy and reduce reliance on large airport-related businesses. 3. Developing links between local residents and local jobs.

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Our Engagement Events in the Construction industry..

Our Events in the Telco industry..

We are at the Lets Do Business Exhibition at Brighton Racecourse on 16th May 2013, and at the South East Business Show at Gatwick on the 17th May 2013..come visit us..

Our broad range of services... Bespoke Collaboration Events

Mobilisation Events and EXPO’s

• In the simplest format we design and facilitate ‘Workshops’ comprising up to 20 participants

• In the simplest format design and set up a meeting of difference such as board meetings, departmental meetings up 30 attendees

• In it’s most complex format we can design, prepare and facilitate an Acceleration Event up to 200 participants

• On this scale we can then do mobilisation and communications events from 50 attendees up to as many based on client requires and environment constraints

• Between the simplest and most complex format there is 3 other Event types on a scale with increase in participant size and complexity

• On the end of the scale we can design and delivery EXPO events with a collaborative environment

• As the scale increases so does notice or lead time, cost, preparation time and quality of output

• These events are costed uniquely, require little/no output, but require long lead times and are limited to the environment constraints

C-Zones embedded in Programmes of Work

• These C-Zones can be built for clients or be

used alongside consulting projects as part of the delivery and project management streams (Often called the ‘Hub’)

• C-Zones require a one week set up time and are built on the premise that the client environment can support the building of the C-Zone, called ‘ready shell’ • Each event within the C-Zone can have a bespoke design, or designs can be used repeatedly as the Facilitation teams are small and rely on the content of the project itself

• Costs are either part of the project or are standard monthly costs

Our Events cover all business issues with profound benefits..

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44 www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk

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Rent on application. Despite an increase in demand New developments for accommodation in the town in VAT There are numerous development sites 2012, availability remains high at circa VAT be of chargeable. either under construction or being 650,000 sq ft will (14% total built stock). Old Brighton Road Industrial Estate/ Industrial/ Location Warehouse A1 37,767 promoted in the Town: • On Lowfield HeathUnit Industrial Estate sq ft; RV: £196,000 • Adjacent to the main runway of London Gatwick Airport • Crawley Council is working with The industrial and logistics market • Three miles north of Crawley town centre Stanhope on the Town Centre North The industrial and logistics market is Description regeneration, which should see a principally focused around the Manor WAREHOUSE • 6.5m minimum eaves height (7.8m max) substantial part of the town centre Royal, which offers good quality • Three loading doors accommodation with excellent transport being redeveloped for new retail and • 10% roof lights approximately residential accommodation. links. For example, the Fastway Bus OFFICES • A new Travel Lodge, Waitrose store • Fully fitted offices with own reception service offers regular services for • Suspended ceilings with recesed lighting and retail units are currently being Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, the • Double glazing • Central heating plus some air conditioning (not tested) constructed on the former Sussex town centre, and further afield. House site on the High Street. It is due Services A recent surge in take up has resulted Three phase power, mains gas, water & drainage. to complete late 2013. in a reduction in available stock, with • Principal Park on the Manor Royal Tenure only circa 480,000 sq ft currently A new full repairing and insuring lease for a term of years to be (former GSK premises) has been available (6% of total stock). Trade an outstanding agreed.Oakwood, Gatwick Road cleared ready to construct units for Counter units are achieving rents business location Warehouse unit, 3,371 sq ft occupier the owners are around £9.50psf and are available City Place demand is a prime locationand less than a mile from London Gatwick Airport. currently talking to potential occupiers. at Oakwood and Forgewood, • The site of the former White House which are prominently located on immediately north of Astral Towers the Gatwick Road. now know as Nova has just obtained One of the largest units/schemes planning consent for 100,000 sq ft of currently available is Unit A1 and the new-build Grade A accommodation. adjacent A2 on Old Brighton Road, Lowfield Heath, which is adjacent to Gatwick Runway and where a total of For Further information visit A1 50,000 sq ft is currently available. www.shw.co.uk or contact Stiles Harold A2 Stiles Harold Williams are quoting a rent Williams Crawley/Gatwick Team on A23 of £7.75psf. 01293 441314, 441305 or 441339. 3 City Place, Gatwick The limited stock levels are likely to 01293 441314, 441305 or 441339. 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High Quality Office Space To Let

Attractive Office & Storage Premises

• First floor (approx 664 sq ft) and 2nd floor (approx 742 sq ft) office accommodation - can be let as whole or floor by floor • Air conditioning, perimeter trunking, Cat II lighting, secure telephone entry system and parking • Situated off A270 on the English Business Park in Hove • Potential to acquire the Freehold (contact agent for details)

• Ground floor storage with first floor offices • Approximately 5,128 sq ft (may split) • 2 roller shutter doors • Parking for approximately 20 vehicles • Prominent location on trading estate

from £17,000 per annum or £385,000 Freehold

From £10 per sq ft

Refurbished Warehouse / Light Industrial Unit

Suitable for Various Commercial Uses

• Secure private site with locking front gates • Approximately 3,000 sq ft - 6,000 sq ft • Full height loading door with separate pedestrian access • Modern unit with approximately 17ft eaves height • Generous on-site parking

• Former Fire Station site to let • Prominent road-side position on A24 trunk road • Large car park / yard to rear • Approximately 1,435 sq ft • Suit a variety of commercial uses (STPC)

£20,000 per annum

From £19,500 per annum

Commercial

Download our latest newsletter

01903 228602

8 Chapel Road, Worthing commercial@michaeljones.co.uk

www.michaeljones.co.uk 46 www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk residential sales residential lettings

P 44-49 Property SBT FEB2013.indd 46

commercial property

new homes

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Town Centre Offices With Car Park • Detached office building with 6 car parking spaces to let • Potential for alternative uses (medical, day nursery, training facility etc) (STPC) • Approximately 2,515 sq ft • Separate refitted kitchen, gas fired central heating and WC facilities on both floors

Town Centre Retail Premises With A2 Office Consent • Three storey town centre shop / office premises to let • Benefits from A1 (retail) and A2 (office) use • Approximately 1,320 sq ft • Suit a variety of commercial uses (STPC)

£23,000 per annum

£20,000 per annum

Attractive Offices & Parking To Let

Attractive Grade II Listed Regency Office Building

• Quality period office to let • 2 allocated parking spaces • Approximately 1,143 sq ft over ground and first floor • Alarm system, gas heating, Cat 5 cabling and staff facilities • To let on new lease with terms to be agreed

£15,000 per annum

• Town cetnre office freehold for sale • Part income producing and residential potential (STPC) • Total area approximately 3,581 sq ft • Estimated rental value circa £43,000 per annum

£450,000 Freehold

Contact our Commercial team: Steve Berrett steveberret@michaeljones.co.uk Jon Justice jonjustice@michaeljones.co.uk Susie Viner susieviner@michaeljones.co.uk

residential sales

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In tough financial times very few businesses can afford to make mistakes. We need repeat business. We need recommendations and people to talk positively about our customer service. We need people to walk through our doors rather

Secret Shopper

than go online, or choose our online business over our competitors’. SBT consulted Shopper Anonymous, the mystery shopping business based in St Leonards, East Sussex, to find out what their findings reveal about businesses in Sussex and the mistakes we commonly make.

Most of us have cringed watching Vital Alex Polizzi uncover Advice shocking customer service in The Hotel Inspector or seen the Director discover the grim reality behind his glossy brand in Undercover Boss. Yet when we turn off the TV and turn our attention to our own businesses, how many of us assume that they are perfect? Have we actually walked the customer journey or reviewed our visitor experience with fresh eyes? Are we guilty of seeing what we want to see, or do we become blind to the flaws that we experience each and every day? In tough financial times, businesses don’t have the luxury of letting things slide if they want to survive. At a very basic level, we can all mystery shop our own business. We just need to get into the mindset of a customer approaching our product or service for the first time. This often starts from before they visit our premises. Our mystery shopper advises: “call yourself up out of hours. I rang a very well known tourist attraction in April and got the most boring answerphone message that I’d ever heard

telling me that Father Christmas would be in on Saturday! Following ‘Let’s Do Business‘ in Brighton, we mystery shopped a number of busineses who exhibited and as part of that process we called them out of hours. One didn’t know that their answerphone had stopped working. The number of websites showing old offers, or are promoting a cafe that closed last year are frightening,” our expert claims. “You have to be systematic and like Alex Polizzi or Mary Portas, come to the business as if for the first time.” If this is not a skill you posses, or you require more help, then you might need professional expertise.

Who is our mystery shopper?

He started his career as an IT shift manager, became a computer programmer and moved into internal audit to get into systems and controls. He has worked in financial services and moved into the audit of systems under development and programme management for a well known bank with an offshore division. However, his career was in London and he lived

in Sussex and he eventually took voluntary redundancy on becoming tired of the commute. At the same time, the man who had set up Shopper Anonymous in Australia in 1994 returned to England. Both parties had mutual friends and our mystery shopper approached the franchisor to see if he could do some mystery shopping whilst he figured out what to do with his career. “I fell in love with the product and the impact the product could have on a business and I became frustrated that I was just delivering a mystery shopper report when I wanted to do the next bit which was helping the business interpret, understand and improve,” he says. “I set up the Kent franchise, and eventually convinced the franchisor that we needed a branch in Sussex which launched on 1st April 2012 in St Leonardson-Sea.” His first impressions of the process was that, “it was far more detailed than I had ever imagined. I didn’t think that you might be going to a supermarket, come out and write a report that’s 16 pages in length

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?

Discover The Truth About Your Business

“We do get customers wanting to know about the competition and what they charge, but that’s not what we do, that’s research.” - Shopper Anonymous

or more. There was more skill than I thought would be required. The person who does it needs a good eye for detail, to be able to interpret data and write English well.”

How does mystery shopping work?

We engage clients or they approach us with a specifc problem (such as not selling enough product or knowing they have some kind of customer service issue). In a conversation with senior management we explore some of the issues and see what we can do to assist them. This typicaly entails us taking a product from our library that will suit 80% of their needs and we tailor 20% to their specific scenario. We put together a mystery shopper experience to test the customer experience in that particular aspect of their business. We do get customers wanting to know about the competition and what they charge, but that’s not what we do, that’s research. The shopping experience will typically start with first impressions from the other side of the road. If it’s a department store we ask - does the shop window make the customer want to go in? What happens when they go into the store? They will visit

the departments within the store for a service experience with a member of staff in each area, they purchase a product and have a check out experience, they have a coffee in the coffee shop, use the WC and wrap up their findings in a management summary with both overall impressions as well as a series of killer questions. It’s a very detailed and structured report based on the typical customer journey. Within each section there are multiple yes and no questions and there is a commentary section to explain the data and paint a full picture. We complete a number of mystery shops, share the results with the client and help them interpret the data. We then refine the report, build in more questions, add layers and make it more challenging to move the programme on.” So, what is evident is this is rarely a one off experience. “If you do that you get a snapshot in time” our mystery shopper claims. He is currently undertaking a one-off report for ‘Ride The Wave Project’ focusing on 25 retailers in Brighton. Most of his clients, however, use the service on a monthly basis. Doing so “keeps the language of customer service alive, tends to fit in with management cycles and one to one feedback processes with staff.”

So who does the company employ as mystery shoppers? “I have a team around the county who we rotate. If you used the same person there is a risk that they would be identified and the client wouldn’t have a broad perspective of their business from a range of people with different perceptions. The client also wants the same mix as their customer demographic.” So are they playing a role? “If you’re looking to see how a law firm deals with a person looking to sue a hospital for an operation that has gone wrong, we need to find someone on the team who maybe knows someone who’s been in that situation who can bring some passion to it. That’s why we don’t pick people off the street and we train them in-house.” So it would seem that mystery shoppers are out there to be impartial, all seeing eyes. They can help us improve the elements of our business that we can’t always control or don’t have time to oversee. They deliver honest results in difficult times. The findings could be distressing, unpalatable or alarming. For those unable to asses their own business clearly, the alternative is far worse.

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? Discover The Truth About Your Business

“We like to suggest that what people do, in a slightly tongue in cheek way, is to have a Director of First Impressions in their business who takes complete ownership of this” -

Shopper Anonymous

7 Deadly Business Sins

The most common mistakes that Shopper Anonymous has unveiled.

1.

Making A Poor First Impression. It takes six seconds to make a first impression and you only get one go at it. It’s incredibly important and it’s human nature that we start to judge a business from our intial perception of it. First impressions can be made anywhere that you come across the brand for the first time. It might be that you’re reading a newspaper and you spot their advert for a job, it could be their website or when you turn up on their doorstep - these are all key opportunuites. The first place to start in improving any business is to get it right in all of them. That is why one of the things that we like to suggest that people do, in a slightly tongue in cheek way, is to have a Director of First Impressions in their business who takes complete ownership of this.

2.

Neglecting Signage. Most companies don’t actually take the time to test their own business and send their own people out in the street to come in as a customer as if for the first time. We all know that it is appalling to have a maroon canopy over the front door of your hotel that’s gone green with algae when it shown on The Hotel Inspector, but sometimes we become blind to decay when we see it everyday. If your signage is not in great state, it makes your customers wonder what else is wrong with the experience you offer as a business further down the line. It is one of the first opportunities you have to demonstrate care. However, it is not just the quality of signage that is crucial, it is also the role that signage plays in directing your customers. We do a lot of work with attractions and a common problem is that as a customer you don’t always know which way you are supposed to walk because there is no sign directing you. Quite simply, no one has walked the customer journey.

3.

Failing to use ‘Moments Of Truth’ This concept was coined by Jan

Calzon, who took over SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) in the 1990s. SAS were making a significant loss, yet over the following 12 months they were making a significant profit because of what Jan Carlzon did. He flattened the organisational structure of the company, made people on the front line accountable for taking decisions to delight the customer and he gave them the resources to do it. He came up with the term ‘Moments Of Truth’ to describe this and said that SAS’s mission statement was to be the airline of choice for business travellers across Scandinavia. He recognised that they had 10 million customers every year and they would touch 5 of SAS’s organisational people - each of those 5 touchpoints would last 15 seconds, so they had 50 million 15 second opportunities per year to impress or disappoint their customers and to deliver on their promise. These interactions were the ‘moments of truth’ when the business did or did not deliver on their promise. When we carry out customer service training and ask how many customers come through the door of a business and how many staff they might see or have an interaction with over a year, it usually comes to several million, and the deadly sin is that we waist those ‘Moments Of Truth’. If you walk into a store and passed 7 staff who don’t acknowledge you that is a waisted opportunity. If no one gave you eye contact or interacted with you, you do not feel welcomed or valued as a potential customer. Businesses should be thinking about how to create more moments of truth. For example having someone on the door creates an additional touchpoint. At Fishers Farm Park in Sussex, the owner Tim Rollins spends time in the carpark to personally greet guests. Thus creating a moment of truth. It is very powerful to add something that is both unexpected and good to your customer service.

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Gaby Hardwicke Solicitors is a long established progressive firm which adopts a single standard - excellence

Services for You

Services for your Business

Wills, Probate & Investments Inheritance Tax Planning Care of the Elderly Residential Property Family Law Personal Injury

Corporate Finance Business Transactions Commercial Property Employment Law Intellectual Property Dispute Resolution

For more information: 01323 435900 info@gabyhardwicke.co.uk www.gabyhardwicke.co.uk

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Hastings Bexhill Cooden Eastbourne 19/03/2013 09:34

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?

Discover The Truth About Your Business

4.

Failing to build rapport with customers. Rapport is elusive business currency. Building rapport with customers is not difficult if you take things beyond the transaction and become interested in the individual. The more the client thinks they like you, the more likely you are to find out why they are visiting your business, what they need or what they didn’t know they needed. If you can spend more time with the customer, listen actively and ask lots of questions, you can help them to buy. This is applicable to all businesses from a law firm to an acquarium, but there also are times when it is not a suitable tool. Primark is a business model in which it’s not appropriate to create rapport,

6.

Dealing badly with complaints. As a customer, most of the experiences that we endure, when we have a complaint, are quite awkward, because a general rule, staff don’t really want to hear our complaints. As a business, if you view a complaint as a gift and treat it as a customer giving you free information about something that has gone wrong with your business, the first thing you or your well trained staff will say is “thank you.” When we complain we don’t always get a thank you for raising our complaint, but if as a customer receiving that response, we immediately feel better about the situation and start to climb down from our emotional state. You can turn complainers into the most loyal

2 - a ‘prospect’. If we look after them and we get the service right they become: 3 - ‘a customer or a regular customer’. If we deliver a fantastic experience then they become: 4 - ‘a friend of the business’ and like all friends, the customer wants to find out about us, the new product range, the next branch etc. If we consistently deliver a fantastic experience to them they become: 5 - an ‘advocate’. These are people who believe in our business, promote it to friends and family, and those people see the advocates as impartial. The great thing about advocates is that they are free and the most efficient lead generator of our business. Because

“You can turn complainers into the most loyal customers for your business if you get how you deal with complaints in the correct way.” - Shopper Anonymous

it is a high turnover, low cost business where people are not interested in being upsold to or building a relationship with the company. Do what is appropriate.

5.

Not respecting your staff. If your staff aren’t given enough respect or are not rewarded for the good things that they do in the moment, they won’t be a happy workforce and they won’t be equipped to deliver the best service to your customer. As Frank Reichheld says in his book ‘The Loyalty Effect’ “if you’re wondering what getting and keeping the right employees has to do with getting and keeping the right customers is, the answer is everything.” We’re not great at praising our staff when they do well in this country, we are good at beating staff up when they do things wrong. It’s vital to get the service element right not just between the staff and the owner of the company but between offices, departments and branches before you can expect that service to filter down to the customer. That applies to every business.

customers of your business if you get how you deal with complaints in the correct way. If you rectify a problem and go the extra mile for the customer afterwards, they know that it is highly likely that you will put any problems right in the future whereas they do not know if business down the road will do the same. That is invaluable.

7.

Ignoring advocates. Our mystery shopper says, “we are there to help businesses improve from a customer service perspecitve and a sales perspective, but fundamentally we are there to build advocates.” Do you have advocates of your business? Do you actively court advocates, know why they are important or even know what they are? The customer relationship ladder is a good model to explain why customer service is important on one page. The ladder has 5 rungs on it: 1 - the customer is a ‘suspect’, they suspect our business is ok but they haven’t used us yet. They might use us, and so become:

they trust us, they will spend more money with us. Because they are loyal, they have a lifetime value. Advocates want value of experience rather than value for money, because they feel that they are in a special club with us. Because of that we can develop special products for them, otherwise known as ‘premiumisation’ these can be exclusive products, VIP offerings or experiences with price tags to match.

www.shopperanonymous.co.uk

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SBTQ&A Q&A

My first piece of advice is never to argue with a woman who has set her sights on the Big Apple! And secondly, I agree with you. To boost profits you have to make exceptional customer service a top priority. Customers have never been more powerful – their opinions can reach anyone on the planet. Fifty per cent of people will not do business with a company that has poor customer service. This decision, even in a poor economy, is based on service not price. So, where to start? 1. Start at the top Delivering consistent, exceptional customer service requires that a frontline worker receives supportive assistance from an entire network, or chain, of co-workers. When it comes to helping a customer, the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Here’s a brilliant example: An Executive Club passenger sitting aboard a jumbo jet about to leave Heathrow for New York suddenly realised he’d left his beloved leather coat in the airport lounge. He rushed to the front of the plane and asked if he had time to get it. “Sorry, sir, too late,” replied a member of the cabin crew. “But don’t worry. I’ll tell the ground crew and they’ll have it sent to you.” He returned to his seat, convinced he’d never see his favourite coat again. Seven and a half hours later, when the flight arrived at JFK Airport, the passenger was amazed when an agent met him at the door of the aircraft and handed him his coat. They’d put it on a Concorde flight that had beaten his slower 747 across the Atlantic! Of course, BA can no longer pull off

WE ASK THE EXPERTS TO GIVE YOU THE ANSWERS YOU NEED

I run a company that caters for customers that we see on a semi-regular basis. My wife wants a shopping trip to New York so I really need to improve our customer service and boost my profits. What advice can you give?

that particular trick, since the speedy Concorde is no longer in service – but that’s not the point. The point is that the entire team, every link was strong and working to the same flawless mandate of exceptional customer service. This needs to start at the top, with strong leadership, a vision, the ability to communicate that vision and the strength to look for long-term growth rather than short-term profits. 2. Treat your employees the same way you treat your customers This is a big thing at Club Class Chauffeurs, we consider each member of our staff as an internal customer and have high levels of employee engagement, which ultimately builds the bottom line and goodwill. Everyone in our business needs to demonstrate that they genuinely care. The major benefit of this is that you don’t often need a big budget for advertising, recruitment or training. I’ve never seen an advertisement for Pret A Manger, yet its service is consistently good and the business has grown rapidly. 3. Elevate every customer to VIPs Show your customers some love, address them by name and smile, smile, smile! It really does work, even when on the phone. But doing the basics is a given, to surprise and delight is what makes the difference. A great example is when a member of our staff ordered a pair of shoes online. When she opened the package to inspect the coveted purchase, a hand written note neatly placed on top, said: “Joanne, you have impeccable taste!” We all gathered round to admire the effort and indeed personalised flattery this online business had shown.

Remarkable... that little note gave Joanne that warm fuzzy feeling you get with great personal satisfaction. Where do you think she’ll get her next pair of shoes? How many people do you think she’s told about this note? 4. Finally, consider any complaint as a blessing. This can be your big opportunity to wow your customer. It’s often the manner in which you deal with a complaint that will elevate you to super hero status. Take an optimistic approach to the problem. Focus on what you can do to help rather than what you can’t do. It’s important to understand why the problem happened so it can be avoided in the future. Remember to thank the customer for complaining. Why? With the simple act of complaining, your customer is telling you, “I care about your business and your success”. They are giving you the opportunity to fix the problem and invite them back so they can give you more of their money. Puts a different spin on it doesn’t it? Finally, poor customer service can also be relished… if you experience it at the hands of a competitor! So enjoy your business – look on everything positively – even that US shopping trip... if you can!

Jonathan Dow, Club Class Chauffeurs, winner of many awards for its exceptional customer service. www.clubclassonline.co.uk

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Q&A

A&C-Zone Concept is a unique way to thinking and working differently. SBT speaks to Peter Best, Director and Lead Facilitator of A&C-Zone Concept to tell us why.

Peter Best, Director & Lead Facilitator

solution that through facilitation arrives at a new solution. We build bespoke environments that facilitate this intensive experience. Through diverse perspectives and iteration, and within a climate of vibrancy and intimacy, the solution becomes a reality.

Events are events. Why is the A&C-Zone Concept Collaboration perspective different? The meaning behind the A&C part How do clients benefit from this of the business is acceleration and unique approach? collaboration. It’s about pace and the We work with our clients in four areas, desire to reach an outcome that is far from operational to strategic, and beyond the traditional way of a normal then from short to longer term. We ‘away day workshop’. There is a design have facilitated the building of the Tax logic which, combined with getting Office of the future with 15 ministers the right people in the right place to of the top tax countries, new product make the right decisions, has profound development in the Telco industry, outcomes. rolling out an engagement strategy for The design logic is based on a set a construction client, and building the of unique models and a process of service-centric business for a productpreparation including a breadth of centric organisation. Our design logic events that are uniquely applied to the allows us to design events in any of business issue. these quadrants. In the new product There are statements of truth within develop events we produced a benefits the event that assume the organisation case of £5-10 million across 27 1 10/12/2012 16:56 over three years. Likewise, we has the VividBrighton_SBT_Half_Page.pdf answer. Yet each participant projects brings an individual perspective to the developed the service-centric strategy

in two days, which our client estimated would have taken nine months. What strategy are you using to grow the business in 2013? As a young and growing business, and based on our platform of success in 2012, we have set aspirational targets for 2013: • To grow the business through extending our client portfolio; • To establish a healthy pipeline of work; • To actively invest and market our unique products and services; • To develop and extend our web visibility; • To reach into social media; • To reinforce our partner relationships and • To streamline and bolster our back office. The essence of our approach is to bring newness to business and solve obvious and complex issues in an exciting and exhilarating way.

Contact Peter on 07595446802, or e-mail on peter.best@ac-zoneconcept.com www.ac-zoneconcept.com

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Service Service Directory Directory

Avenue Snacks The Avenue Eastbourne East Sussex BN22 3YA Tel: 07868369940

Eurovans Eastbourne, BN24 5NH Tel: 01323 325859 Brighton, BN41 1DW Tel: 0844 818 8712 Crawley, RH11 8DU Tel: 01293 279082 www.eurovans.co.uk

Brighton & Hove Albion Stadium American Express Community Stadium Village Way Brighton BN1 9BL. Tel: 01273 878288. Fax: 01273 878238 www.seagulls.co.uk

Fresh Cleaning Park View House 19 The Avenue Eastbourne East Sussex BN21 3YD Tel: 01323 411 601 Fax: 01323 411 654

City Gym Express No.2 Furness Road Eastbourne East Sussex BN21 4EY Tel: 01323 648863 www.citygymexpress.co.uk

Eastbourne Property Shop 7 Mimram Road Stone Cross Pevensey, East Sussex BN24 5DZ Tel: 01323 764122 www.eastbourneproperty shop.co.uk

Gemini Press Unit A1/Dolphin Way Shoreham-by-Sea BN43 6NZ Tel: 01273 464 884 www.gemini-press.co.uk

Graves Jenkins 1 N Rd Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1YA Tel: 01273 601 060 www.gravesjenkins.com

LONG ROOM THE

Hopkins & Partners 1 Ivy Terrace Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 4QU Tel: 01323 416123 www.hopkinspartners.com

Identity Signage and Printing Westham Business Park Eastbourne Road Eastbourne, East Sussex BN24 5NP Tel: 01323 469111 www.signage-printing.com

Ross & Co. 13b High Street, Hailsham, East Sussex, BN27 1AL Tel: 01323 841814 Fax: 01323 849281 Eastbourne Office: BN21 4RB Tel: 01323 642426 Fax: 01323 417171 58 www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk 48 www.rossandco.co.uk

MDJ Services Limited Third Floor Map House 34-36 St Leonards Road Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3UT Tel:01323 646477 Fax: 01323 646412 www.mdjservices.co.uk

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The Innovation Centre Highfield Drive Churchfields St Leonards-on-Sea East Sussex TN38 9UH Tel: 01424 858285 www.ifltd.org

Smith Osborne Downsview House, 31A Cornfield Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 34QG Tel: 01323 649418 www.smithosborne.co.uk

The Long Room 8 Bolton Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 3JX Tel: 01323 723023

The Best Of Eastbourne 8-9 The Business Suite The Old Print Works 20 Wharf Road Eastbourne East Sussex BN21 3AW Tel: 01323 458121 www.thebestof eastbourne.co.uk

19/03/2013 10:54 11:35 17/12/2012


High

SOCIETY

Robert Griffin Photography ©

The County’s leading premier networking forum The Platinum Club, met last month at The Grand Hotel in Brighton and the event was well attended with a very diverse range of business leaders from across Sussex. TPC is quite different from many other such events as it is very relaxed, well organised and hosted by the Platinum Directors who seem to know everyone in the room, their businesses and make constant relevant introductions throughout the evening. The Club has created a new ‘drop in’ taster session for companies that might like to join but with only 4 members per business category, there are not that many categories remaining therefore time is of the essence. For more information about attending a Platinum Club event, call 07966 244046 or e-mail maarten@ theplatinumclubbrighton.co.uk. As one member stated at the last meeting “I have made so many valuable connections at The Platinum Club that it has virtually removed my need for a marketing budget” The Sussex Business Times is proud to be the official media partner to The Platinum Club.

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SBT Recommends

SBTBook Club in partnership with

.co.uk

In each issue, we will be searching out and offering you the cream from the latest, business relevant titles at the very best prices. Choose from a host of titles, including our featured books from any issue and join us online at www.hive.co.uk/sbt to view more SBT recommends at your leisure. You can order these to be delivered to your door or, alternatively, select your favourite bookshop and pick up from there. Enjoy...

50 Things You Can Do Today To Manage Stress At Work This book helps you to understand what stress is and identify how and why it occurs at work, and offers practical advice to help you make positive changes. Find out 50 things you can do to manage stress at work today. Publisher: Summersdale Publishers Publication Date: 04 February 2013 ISBN: 9781849533423 £4.89

Antifragile: How To Live In A World We Don’t Understand Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the bestselling author of “The Black Swan” and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, reveals how to thrive in an uncertain world. Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd Publication Date: 27 November 2012 ISBN: 9781846141560 £20.00

Brilliant Project Management: What The Best Project Managers Know, Do And Say Drawing on over 30 years of experience, you’ll discover how to ensure your projects succeed every time. Publisher: Pearson Education Limited Publication Date: 20 September 2012 ISBN: 9780273775096 £10.39

Get Started In Shares: Trading For The First Time Investor Written by the UK’s most successful writer on investing, Get Started in Shares will show you how to apply some of the basic principles of buying and selling shares. Publisher: Pearson Education Limited Publication Date: 01 January 2013 ISBN: 9780273771227 £13.49

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LET THE PLATINUM CLUB TAKE THE ‘WORK’ OUT OF NETWORKING The Platinum Club, in partnership with The Grand Hotel Brighton, has developed a highly effective networking forum believing that less is more. We have removed much of the periphery that surrounds many business clubs such as seated meals, speeches and sponsors presentations. The Platinum Club offers a relaxed and informal Champagne cocktail party each month where local businesses come together from across Sussex to develop and build relationships, catch up on industry news and events and meet an eclectic group of business people in the splendour of The Grand Hotel. We strive to host an informal and enjoyable event that is highly effective for large and small companies alike and the finest testament we have received is a 100% membership renewal rate

For more information about joining The Platinum Club please contact:

THE PLATINUM CLUB Tel: 07966 244046 www.theplatinumclubbrighton.co.uk maarten@theplatinumclubbrighton.co.uk 8 www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk

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04/03/2013 16:08 30/01/2013 13:11


Home Grown Hero

Made In Sussex: Plants4Presents

SBT chats with Emily Rae, the younger half of the mother-and-daughter team running Plants4Presents, a green-fingered gift website based in Newick, East Sussex

Plants4Presents was launched by motherBrand and-daughter duo Focus Isobel and Emily Rae in 2004. Having researched the market of online gift companies and plant delivery services, Isobel thought she’d spotted a gap in the market. She found that there were plenty of mail-order florists who would send cut flowers with a card, but if you wanted to send a living plant as a gift the choice was very limited. So, in April 2004, Isobel took a leap of faith and left her job to spend six months developing the Plants4Presents website. By opting for an online business model, Isobel was smartly combining her love of plants with her professional skillset – she’d managed a smallholding for 10 years before beginning a career in IT. When the website was ready for launch, Emily joined the business, calling upon her own marketing skillset to nurture the company’s early growth. The duo managed to minimise the risks inherent in starting up a business by running operations from the family home initially. But 18 months in and plants were lining the hallway and the staircase. “We knew it was time to move!” Emily confesses. Plants4Presents then really took the plunge in 2006 – the family house was sold to finance new premises. It was at this point that the company moved to Newick. Having settled into its new surroundings, the company has continued to grow year on year, both in terms of volume sales and the range of plants it offers. These days, over 100 different flowering and edible plant gifts are available on its website for delivery across the UK and Europe. “Our annual turnover is now over £650,000”, Emily reveals. She does, though, acknowledge that growth has been slowed by the recession and the

Isobel and Emily Rae

persistently foul weather. “Two years ago the snow hit us hard and over 200 panes of glass were damaged in the nursery, which was expensive to replace. The weather conditions also made it hard for us to deliver to more remote areas.” Isobel and Emily responded positively, however, by introducing snow supports and improving the driveway. Realising that they weren’t the only ones with tamped down finances, they also introduced a low-cost range of plants for their more cash-strapped customers. The team also had to make adjustments in 2012, due to yet more murky skies. “Everything was very late in 2012”, says Emily. “For example, our chilli plants should have fruited in May but due to the low light levels only came to fruit in July, so that altered our sales projections. As it turned out, it meant we shifted our focus and exhibited at more events and fairs, which worked out well for us.” Marketing and promotional developments aren’t the only items on the duo’s 2013 agenda, though. This year they are looking to increase their variety of fruit and nut trees, and add more unusual climbing and flowering plants to the collection. So having weathered some testing times, what advice does Emily have for those readers tempted to follow in their

muddy bootprints of business success? “Be prepared for the hard work! Lots of people think it’s a good idea to start a business – but what’s really important is to be properly prepared. Do your research and write a business plan before jumping in with both feet. “If you’re going to start your own business you have to believe in what you do. Having a genuine passion for the area you’re working in is vital.” And, finally, the acid test: having working alongside her mother for the past eight-and-a-half years, would Emily recommend going into business with family members? “I would wholeheartedly recommend it”, she responds – under no pressure at all from Isobel, one assumes! “Working with family means there is total trust and reliance in each other. We are both quite stubborn but rarely reach a complete disagreement as we purposely work across different areas of the business so that we have our own, distinct responsibilities.” Having received a maternal nudge, Emily is planning to give Isobel some irises for Mother’s Day this year. Best to keep it in the family, after all. www.plants4presents.co.uk

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Friends of the Albion Networking Group

Promo

al c o l t i ng

b

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in Sussex

Join the Friends of the Albion Networking Group today and promote your business to over 130 other Member companies. Enjoy monthly breakfast meetings with superb facilities at the Amex stadium and the chance to belong to the most interesting and enjoyable affinity group in the area. Your business will also have a Member listing in every Albion home matchday programme.

01273 878278

Call Albion Commercial on or email commercial@bhafc.co.uk for more information.

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Roffey Park Institute A unique venue in West Sussex

• Purpose built, contemporary venue • 20 conference rooms • Facilities for 8-120 people • 60 executive bedrooms with free WiFi • 40 acres of landscaped grounds • Friendly, welcoming conference and hospitality staff • All conference packages include AV/IT equipment and on-site support • Easy access to rail, air and road networks

All bookings for conferences in February and March will receive a 20% discount - please quote SBT when contacting us For more information visit www.sussexvenue.com/sbt to view our virtual tour, request a copy of our brochure or contact us to arrange to come and see our facilities. Telephone: 01293 854044

Email: venue@roffeypark.com

Roffey Park Institute, Forest Road, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 4TB

www.sussexvenue.com/sbt Private events activity is undertaken by Roffey Park Services Limited, a Company Limited by Shares 64 www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk Registered in England No 5025908, a wholly owned subsidiary of Roffey Park Institute Limited.

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Sussex Business Times Magazine - March 2013