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Do ThE RIghT ThINg!

WE REVEAL ThE SECRETS ThAT WILL MAkE YoUR BUSINESS A SUCCESS IN EVERYThINg IT DoES RIChARD BRANSoN TELLS US ThE SECRETS To hIS SUCCESS, WE go UNDERCoVER WITh A MYSTERY ShoPPER AND EXPLAIN NEW BUSINESS FINANCE. WE EXPLoRE ECo RETAILINg AND SUSSEX CoUNTY CRICkET’S BUSINESS SUCCESS. PLUS oUR ESSENTIAL EDIT oF ThIS AUTUMNS TAILoRINg ESSENTIALS AND YoUR BUSINESS qUESTIoNS ANSWERED IN ThE SBT EXPERT q&A

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Photography © Grant Scott

SBT Welcome “This is the perfect time to drive your existing business forward, reasses exactly where you are, or take the plunge with a new venture.” - SBT

With the onset of autumn and the beginning of the academic year, our thoughts turn to fresh starts and new beginnings in the SBT office. For us, the end of the holiday season and the back to school vibe makes this the perfect time to drive your existing business forward, reasses exactly where you are, or take the plunge with a new venture. This issue of SBT contains all the information and advice you need to do just that. If there is one businessman likely to inspire a new project, its Richard Branson. Don’t miss the secrets of his success on page 28. And whilst his exuberance may get you fired up, there is no denying that you will need to get back to basics and discover how you could fund a new venture, which is the focus of our financial feature on page 38. Those thinking about unconventional business models will enjoy reading about Infinity Foods, the thriving Brighton co-operative, on page 14, which along with our Made In Sussex feature focusing on The Body Shop on page 62, shows that ethical business models can be highly successful ones. For anyone in business our Mystery Shopping feature on page 22 is a must read and will help you to walk your own customer journey and critically evaluate the experience with fresh eyes - a vital tool to master for success in tough times. Finally, to get you in the back to work mood after the summer season, our guide to the best work wear on page 7, will ensure that whatever direction you will take this autumn, you will do it in confidence and with style.

Editor Samantha Scott-Jeffries

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Contents SBT Issue 363

SS E NE SU SI IS BU AL W CI NESPE

SBT SUSSEX BUSINESS TIMES

Do ThE RIghT ThINg!

WE REVEAL ThE SECRETS ThAT WILL MAkE YoUR BUSINESS A SUCCESS IN EVERYThINg IT DoES RIChARD BRANSoN TELLS US ThE SECRETS To hIS SUCCESS, WE go UNDERCoVER WITh A MYSTERY ShoPPER AND EXPLAIN NEW BUSINESS FINANCE. WE EXPLoRE ECo RETAILINg AND SUSSEX CoUNTY CRICkET’S BUSINESS SUCCESS. PLUS oUR ESSENTIAL EDIT oF ThIS AUTUMNS TAILoRINg ESSENTIALS AND YoUR BUSINESS qUESTIoNS ANSWERED IN ThE SBT EXPERT q&A

ISSUE 363: FREE

SBT ThE MAgAzINE ThAT MATTERS

Cover Image: Richard Branson 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: Samantha Scott-Jeffries samantha@lifemediagroup.co.uk Editorial Director: Grant Scott grant@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 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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3 7 14 22 28 32 38 45 49 62

Welcome September is a time for new ideas, new beginnings and new ventures. Learn how this issue will inspire you.

Spending It! Look and feel ready for business with our guide to creating the perfect working wardrobe for Autumn.

The Eco Profit Maker Be inspired by an unconventional business model and discover Infinity Foods, the highly successful Brighton based co-operative that runs on profit and strongly held beliefs.

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.

Richard Branson - The Secrets of My Success Sir Richard reveals vital advice for starting a successful business and charts his own personal experiences.

Batting For Business Learn about the business behind the game from the Chief Executive of Sussex County Cricket Club.

Start Me Up! We discover the latest advice for how to fund a new business venture and the kind of support you can expect from the banks in tough times.

The Vehicle Contract SBT navigates you through the complex world of car and van leasing and explains the pros and cons of contract hire.

SBT Q&A SBT consults a range of industry experts to answer the business questions on our mind this season.

Made in Sussex We learn how The Body Shop - a beauty business with a global presence - emerged from Brighton, East Sussex.


81091-PRICE&CO-SUM-AD-297X210-V2a-LH:Layout 1 17/08/2012 15:32 Page 1

More than the sum of its parts Tap into Price & Company and you’ll discover the fullest range of resources to help and guide your financial affairs – business or personal, the complex to relatively straightforward. Then add in all the benefits of our keen understanding of the latest accountancy developments, astute advice and 50 years’ experience throughout the south east – and you have an ally to be reckoned with. Like to hear some more? Please just give us a call.

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30/32 Gildredge Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 4SH Tel: 01323 639661 Fax: 01323 738198 advice@price.co.uk www.price.co.uk

BUSINESS SERVICES • TRUSTS & INHERITANCE TAX www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk 5 ESTATE PLANNING • PERSONAL TAX • SAVINGS & INVESTMENTS P 04-05 Contents September SBT.indd 5

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Spending It!

Look The Business First impressions are lasting expressions so it pays to look right at all times. To help ensure you don’t make any fashion mistakes this autumn we have chosen some of our favourite classics.

MULBERRY BRYNMORE 15” LAPTOP BAG Keep it old school with classic quality materials with a modernist detailing twist, John Lewis, £695 www.johnlewis.com

LOAKE SHOES This is the season to make sure you have at least one pair of traditional brogues. Savoy Mahogany, Loake, £195. www.loake.co.uk

AUSTIN REED BLAZER Every well dressed man’s wardrobe should contain at least one blazer. We really like the autumnal tone and classic cut of this one. 110 Camel Blazer, Austin Reed, £349 www.austinreed.co.uk

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Spending It!

AUSTIN REED POCKET SQUARE Pocket squares are back in fashion but keep it refined in colour and detail. Four section Silk Pocket Square, Austin Reed, £25. www.austinreed.co.uk

BROOKS BROTHERS STRIPE SHIRT Wearing a shirt bearing the label of the classic Wall Street shirt maker can’t be a bad idea. Brooks Brothers, Ainsley Collar, Bold Stripe Non-Iron Shirt £99 and Silk Basketweave & Square Dots Tie £69 www.brooksbrothers.com

BURBERRY COAT When it comes to choosing a rain coat it always pays to keep it classic, this autumn look towards dark colours. Mid length cotton blend trench coat in black or fallow. Burberry, £795 www.burberry.com

GRESHAM BLAKE SILK SCARF Silk scarfs are not only warn by Paul Weller and Bradley Wiggins. They are also a sign that you have an eye for detail. Gresham Blake, £65. www.greshamblake.com

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HUGO BOSS BELT Avoid heavy metal and cowboy belt buckles and keep it simple with belts that don’t make a statement, £65. www.johnlewis.com


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Nothing is more frustrating than delivering work or services only to find that you have not been paid. Nothing is potentially as harmful to your business. Our debt recovery service is designed to allow you to recover outstanding invoices at little cost to you. FEES & CHARGES For commercial debts we are also often able to calculate and claim additional interest and compensation which may be used to offset our fees. In most cases compensation will amount to between ÂŁ40 and ÂŁ100 per invoice, as well as interest at 8% above the base rate.

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Spending It!

GRESHAM BLAKE JACKET A two buttoned navy jacket is another essential for this autumn and provides the right back drop for your pocket square. The jacket is part of a two piece. Gresham Blake, £495. www.greshamblake.com

BROOKS BROTHERS DIAMOND TIE

GRESHAM BLAKE WAISTCOAT

Avoid comedy ties and chose sophisticated geometric patterns in rich colours. Brooks Brothers, £69. www.brooksbrothers.com

Well cut waist coats are no longer the sign of a fogey warn with plain coloured shirts they are a key item this autumn. Gresham Blake, part of the e1 range, from £250. www.greshamblake.com

BROOKS BROTHERS CUFFLINKS The mod look continues with these simple but graphic cufflinks. Brooks Brothers, £109. www.brooksbrothers.com

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For a free demo visit

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0844 500 8000 Follow us @TeamCrunch 12 www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk


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Peter, a co-op member waters the green roof of the Brighton shop

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The Eco The ProfiIndustry t Maker Inside

THERE’S NO ‘I’ IN TEAM

They’re Brighton’s biggest independent employer. Their profits are above inflation year after year. They’ve won the accolade of Best Food Shop in the Brighton Foodie Awards for three years running, and are one of the UKs leading wholesale distributors of organic, natural foods. They are also a workers co-operative founded upon strong beliefs. SBT looks at the unconventional success of Infinity Foods.

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“I think it’s really helped us that food prices have had to go up whereas ours have stayed the same because they never were over-inflated.” - Dexter Bailey

When Infinity Foods was launched in the late 1960s by a small Profile group of people with big beliefs, it would have been difficult for them to have predicted its enduring success. Originally a small shop on Church Road in Brighton in 1971, Infinity was set up to serve healthy foods in their raw state - whole foods as they have become known today - with unadulterated ingredients. It was soon operating along the lines of a cooperative and by 1974 it had moved to its North Road location, where the shop and its in-store bakery remains today. The founders, by this time had left, but the original concept remains and today the workers co-operative is 100 members strong. So what has been the secret of its success? How has the co-operative maintained their strong beliefs and reconciled them with building a successful business? We spoke to Dexter Bailey at Infinity Foods to find out. Firstly, it is evident that like all good

A group shot of some of the workers taken soon after the shop extension

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businesses, Infinity has responded and adapted to the mood of the moment. Whilst it would have once been a niche area, “there became a bigger and bigger demand for wholesale during the 1980s and so a group of people moved away from the shop to set up a wholesale business. In the 1990s, we opened a cafe.” The ‘90s, he explains was also a time when people’s awareness of where their food came from increased. “This has always been a subject at the very core of our business. A lot of our fresh organic produce has always come from local farms and people can meet our suppliers and growers. Then eight years ago, there were a lot of television programmes such as ‘You Are What You Eat’ and people became aware of what’s behind the food they are eating as well as exactly what they are putting into their mouths. Around the same time, on the retail side, the co-operative took on “a group of people with a lot of experience who introduced a stock ordering system for the majority of our foods and that was a big turnaround, being able to use modern technology to see at a glance


Photograph by Hugh Fox ©

The Eco Profit Maker

what is popular and what is not,” claims Bailey. This leads him on to the second point - that the co-operative has a very simple yet effective sales philosophy. “We sell what people want, and what people don’t want, we don’t have on the shelf. We always try to experiment with new products, especially if its a local company, or supporting the organic movement, but if something’s not popular we try something new and try and keep up with demand that way. It’s a combination of customer requests and our knowledge of what’s available from our suppliers.” Whilst ensuring that they stock what customers really want, on a wider level the ethical approach behind Infinity Foods resonates with their customers’ wider beliefs and this is a group of people which has undoubtedly grown in recent years. “In the ‘70s and ‘80s it was really a labour of love,” Bailey claims of what would have been a niche business “but the general cynicism of the public of other forms of business has been on our side since. I think people are cynical of the supermarkets when they put their prices up and there are a small group of shareholders reaping the profits.” This, of course taps into the fact that Infinity is an alternative shopping experience to the big supermarket chains. But how do they compete with their prices? After all, even the most ethical of shoppers are demanding cheaper food that’s still high quality. “A lot of our local farm produce hasn’t risen in price, and food prices have risen generally, but because the chain of supply of a lot of our produce is already negotiated on a fair basis, the supermarkets aren’t able to offer cheap prices on many things anymore in comparison,” Bailey explains. “When I look around a supermarket, I’m shocked at how expensive some things are. I look and I say, we’re cheaper on that, that and that.” So, whilst public perception is still that organic is more expensive, the reality, today bucks this misconception. “That’s the reputation it has,” agrees Bailey, “and at the beginning it was more expensive. Organic food has a lower yield because the levels of pest control don’t exist. The movement itself has gained momentum and its learnt a lot, and there is a method of growing to produce a better yield from organic

Ian, a co-op member and Baker making the sourdough bread sold in the artisan in-store bakery

crops and that makes a big difference to the price. When I looked at nonorganic baking potatoes they were £1.50 a kilo in the supermarket and ours are 99p and they’re organic. I think its really helped us that food prices have had to go up whereas ours have stayed the same because they never were over-inflated.” Infinity have built a reputation as an ethical supplier of Fairtrade and Organic foods in which these customers trust. “We have guidelines on the ethics we work with which have been agreed upon by everyone in the co-operative,” explains Bailey. The co-operative”, he goes on to elaborate, “are also guided

by their customer’s concerns. In times when an issue arises of public concern, such as the recent concerns about palm oil, Infinity Foods takes it upon themselves to do their research. In this case “it was a difficult area to research as it was an unmapped path and process but it was a concern to enough of our customers that we want to respond to that and we did our research to ensure that to our best ability we weren’t supporting a massive palm oil industry who were chopping down the rainforest to exist. A lot of the people who work here were once customers, so they have that mindset, they are aware of food production and are aware

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Photograph by Hugh Fox ©

The Eco Profit Maker

of the pros and cons of food production are, what’s acceptable and what isn’t so that we can remain in an ethical place. Its what makes us happy about our job. A lot of people have taken pay cuts to be here.” It’s a different agenda and of course the dedication that comes from upholding strong beliefs adds value to the business and is what their reputation is built on. The research is not structured, quite often one member of the co-operative has an interest are in a certain area and they undertake it. “And on the wholesale side, they always look into where their food is coming from and they are selling it on to people who expect a standard from them for their customers,” says Bailey. “1 in 4 UK shoppers now regularly buy several products carrying the Fairtrade mark and retail sales of Fairtrade products increased by 72% in 2007,” claims the Infinity Foods website and there is no doubt that the store is busy. The store, in the heart of the North Laines, is thriving, even with its relatively new expansion. “It was such a relief when the shop next door let us know that they were moving on. We were so pleased! On Saturdays it was impossible, we couldn’t stock the shop because the queues went up every aisle and it was impossible to get round the shop. Being able to extend was an enormous advantage, there was a real need for it, it was almost like it exploded next door anyway. It’s made for a much more pleasant shopping experience for everyone”, says Bailey. Of course, for a workers co-operative, it could have been a tough decision to take. “We all took a pay cut to extend the shop, and we had to employ a lot more staff to make it work and that meant we all took a cut in profit share to allow that to happen, so we’d only want to do that occasionally,” says Bailey, “but we all knew we needed a bigger shop and it was what we had to do.” However, it transpired that the co-operative are “also in the lucky position that we bought a chunk of the shop years ago, and we own it. We lease the bit at the back from the council and we lease next door, but we own the central building and the flats above it and that makes a difference because we don’t have to pay rent for that section,” he continues. So whilst Infinity are enjoying success, they are, arguably, no longer

Ivan, a co-op member in the vegetable section

“There is a method of growing to produce a better yield from organic crops and that makes a big difference to the price.” - Dexter Bailey

unique, but that doesn’t seem to have affected their profits. “We’ve never really been threatened by other businesses that have opened locally. Bills hasn’t affected us, and neither did Thornes when it opened and sold organic meat,” claims Bailey. “I didn’t think that was going to stick around when it opened - there was a lot of floor space and not enough products and the quantity of sales that would be needed to pay the rent just didn’t stack up. When Bills opened down the road people said: “don’t you think that will be a threat?” but it hasn’t, its been complimentary. We send people down there if they have stuff we don’t, but they’ve closed most of the retail side down. I have a friend who worked there and they just weren’t doing that well with that side, so they adapted, which is the clever thing to do in business,” he notes. “There was a definite increase in our sales when Taj closed, though, we got a lot busier.”

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The Eco Profit Maker

So it seems that Infinity’s retail and wholesale business are thriving, despite the recession. “Increases in profits have been above inflation each year,” claims Bailey, “which has been wonderful because we have had to employ more staff, and because we share out profits we’ve been able to do that.” Of course, like any business right now, there is work behind the scenes to maintain profile. “Our PR team (which is in house and made up of co-op members) makes sure we know what competitions are going on and we like to get our name in the right places. I like our name to be in the Sussex and Brighton Business Awards - I like our name to be there to keep our profile up in the city.” As a result, Infinity Foods were shortlisted in the most responsible business in the Sussex Business Awards and have won the Best Food Shop in the Brighton Foodie Awards for three years running. They have also won a handful of national awards and set aside money each year to donate to local charities and projects. They really are what they preach. With things going so well, its tempting to imagine that there is room for growth with this business, but this is not their aim. “At the moment, the concept of expanding feels unwise,” says Bailey. “We’re keeping our focus on what’s going on. The wholesale business are looking for new premises to expand, because they need to, to service demand, but we wouldn’t jump off into new ventures.” Is the key to the success of Infinity Foods steady growth? “In some ways yes,” says Bailey: “we don’t need an empire - its not about a handful of individuals becoming rich, if we opened up a shop in Hove, it would be beneficial to our suppliers but not to us, as we’d probably then be quieter here. When co-operatives become too big, they can become too impersonal, gentle, steady growth is the ideal. It’s not our way to bully our way into other towns where there is likely to be a shop selling organic foods and there are many co-operatives, we’ve cornered a market in Brighton and we’re happy with that. But of course, we’re probably supplying some of them anyway,” and this, it seems is how they have struck just the right balance of building a business that is both ethical as well as a resounding success.

Inside the Workers Co-operative Dexter Bailey tells SBT how the Infinity Foods co-operative operates. Recruiting New Members They have to demonstrate that they’re likely to be a good member of the team. People are assessed for their first year working with us, they get feedback from all of the members and after the year, if they are seen to be a good co-operative member, they spend a year on trial to become a member. They need to demonstrate that they are interested in the long term running of the co-op, which some people aren’t. That’s fine, but it means that its not for them. Daily Running & Decision Making The co-operative is broken down into 4 departments - cafe, shop, bakery and wholesale. There are meetings for each and there are big general meetings, but they happen occasionally, like the annual AGM for all of us. There no other meetings unless there is something very big regarding expenditure or change in which case we all meet to discuss. In the shop there are sub groups with the main ambient section, chilled, body care... there are teams and on a day to day basis people are elected to be on the teams and decisions are taken by those teams. There are no team leaders. The Challenges There are challenges with any business model. The main challenge with the co-operative model is that there are times when there are split opinions over decisions for the future. Discussions are never particularly intense, but it can take a long time to resolve if there is a level of conflict, and things generally stay as they are until we chip away at that. We go to meetings after work when everyone is tired and we don’t give each other a hard time about things, and if anything is very urgent, we are quick to compromise over what is vital. In the shop meetings there are at least 20 people and that’s 20 people with very different opinions. We have

similar beliefs, it is usually down to the semantics of how to go about doing something if people have different ideas. If that divides people into groups then we usually elect a sub group to present ideas, rather than us all get involved in battling it out. How They Work With Their Suppliers We negotiate a price between us all, there’s a general discussion with all of our suppliers about what their mark up is, and what ours is - which is a basic retail mark up. We wouldn’t want to squeeze any of them out of business so there is a negotiation between our suppliers and what prices they are all supplying, so they are all making sure they’re doing alright but not undercutting each other. Sometimes there is a glut, say of tomatoes, and they all communicate about what to do about it. In short, there is an ethic of working together that doesn’t really happen in shareholder corporations. What Would Happen In Tough Times If we hit tough times we would follow the kind of model that Mondragon a huge co-operative in Spain - have. They agreed to go down to a four day week because the money wasn’t coming in. We would see if anyone wanted to take early retirement, but no one would be forced into anything, but the first thing to go would be our profit share, but if we weren’t busy, we wouldn’t take on as many staff as we do now, so if everyone wanted to stay, we’d go down a day. To get someone from the outside to give support, we wouldn’t do it. Our treasurer is very frugal and holds back profits

www.infinityfoods.co.uk

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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

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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


?

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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Enjoy a Total Digital Marketing Experience and Keep up to Date with Oxford College of Marketing’s Special Digital Offer When you enrol with Oxford College of Marketing on any CAM or CIM course - we will give you free full access to the other CAM Digital Awards: • Diploma in Digital Marketing • Diploma in Managing Digital Media • Diploma in Mobile Marketing • Diploma in Digital Metrics and Analytics • Diploma in Digital Media and Branding • Diploma in Digital Campaign Planning This means you can learn and keep up to date with digital developments while you study. This is full access, so you will be invited to live online webinars, listen to recorded webinars and podcasts, watch videos by marketing specialists at oxlearn.com and read through academic material and theory. Oxcom only charge you once you decide to write the assignment. As well as a bespoke online learning site, delegates are given a: •

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Your Marketing Training Partner


r

? 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.

www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk 25


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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

www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk 27


Richard Branson Who better to ask for business advice, we thought at SBT, than arguably the best in the business? Richard Branson shares his five secrets to building a successful new venture. There are two questions I get asked all the time. Essential The most popular is ‘How did you come Advice to name the business Virgin?’ A close second is ‘What’s your secret to successfully building businesses?’ The first is easy to answer but the second one always takes some thinking about. The fact is that there’s no one thing that characterises Virgin’s many successful ventures or, for that matter, what went wrong when we didn’t get it right. Reflecting across forty years, however, I have come up with five secrets for improving the chances of a new business surviving and with luck – something we all need – flourishing. 1. If you don’t enjoy it don’t do it Starting a business takes huge amounts of hard work and time so you had better enjoy doing it. When I started Virgin from a basement in west London, there was no great plan or strategy. I didn’t set out to build a business empire. I simply wanted to create something people would enjoy using, have fun doing it and at the end of the day prayed that it would make enough to pay the bills. For me, building a business is all about doing something to be proud of, bringing talented people together and creating something that’s going to make a real difference to other people’s lives. Business people are not unlike artists.

28 www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk

What you have when you start a company is a blank canvas; you have to fill it. Just as a good artist has to get every single detail right on that canvas, a businessman or woman has to get every single little thing right when first setting up in business in order to succeed. However, unlike a work of art, the business is never finished. It constantly evolves and it’s also not that easy to paint over your mistakes! If a businessperson sets out to make a real difference and achieves that objective, he or she will be able to pay the bills and have a successful business to boot. 2. Be innovative – create something different Whether you have a product, a service or a brand, it is not easy to start a company and to survive and thrive in the modern world. In fact, you’ve got to do something radically different to make your mark today. Look at the most successful businesses of the past twenty years. Microsoft, Google, Apple and Facebook all shook up the world we live in by doing things that had never been done before and then by continually innovating. They are now among the dominant forces. Not everyone can aspire to such levels; however, should you decide to enter an already crowded segment you had better be ready to offer customer service that blows the

“I simply wanted to create something people would enjoy using, have fun doing it and at the end of the day prayed that it would make enough to pay the bills” - Richard Branson

OPPOSITE: Richard Branson


The Secrets of My Success

www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk 29


competition away. When we started Virgin Atlantic the positive buzz that we created focused on the simple fact that our crews were really nice to our passengers. Go figure – what a breakthrough idea for an airline! 3. Pride of association works wonders Businesses are nothing more than a group of people, and they are by far and away your biggest assets. In fact in probably the majority of businesses your people are your product. For me there is nothing sadder than hearing someone being apologetic about the place where they are working. When people are proud to be associated with their company it generates a special level of advocacy and dedication that is a huge differentiator in a world full of mediocrity and indifference. 4. Lead by listening To be a good leader you have to be a great listener. Sure, you need to know your own mind, but there is no point in imposing your views on others without some debate and a degree of consensus. No one has a monopoly on good ideas or good advice. Get out there, listen to people, draw people out and learn from them. As a leader you’ve also got to be extremely good at lavishing praise. Never openly criticise people; never lose your temper, and always be quick to applaud a job well done. People flourish on praise. Usually they don’t need to be told when they’ve done wrong because most of the time they know it. 5. Be visible A good leader doesn’t get stuck behind a desk. I’ve never worked in an office – I’ve always worked from home – but I am constantly out and about, meeting people. It seems I am travelling all the time but I always have a notebook handy to jot down questions, concerns or good ideas. If I’m on any of the Virgin airlines I always try hard to meet as many of the cabin crew and passengers as possible and will usually come away with a dozen or more good suggestions or ideas. If I didn’t write them down I might remember only a few, but putting them in the infamous notebook means

30 www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk

I remember them all. Talk to your staff and customers at every opportunity, listen to what they tell you, good and bad, and act on it. Some might say, ‘Well, all that’s easy when you have a small business’, but at Virgin we strive to appoint company heads who have the same philosophy. That way we can run a large group of companies in the same way a small business owner runs a family business – keeping it proactive, responsive and friendly. Oh yes: I still have to answer that first question as to the origin of the Virgin name. Sadly there’s no great sexy story to it as it was thought up on the fly. One night, I was chatting with a group of sixteen year old girls over a few drinks about a name for the record store. A bunch of ideas were bounced around, then, as we were all new to business, someone suggested Virgin. It smacked of new and fresh and at the time the word was still slightly risqué, so, thinking it would be an attention grabber, we went with it. But no matter how good the concept and/or brand name, even the best of them can fail at the first attempt. For example, in the early sixties, another group with a catchy name, the Beatles, were turned away by no fewer than seven record labels before they found one willing to take them on. So, if you don’t survive, just remember that the majority of new businesses don’t make it and that some of the best lessons are usually learned from failure. And like the old song says, ‘Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again’.

Virgin, The Early Years

From creating his own magazine, to getting a knighthood. Here’s how Branson started to build his own successful empire.

1970

Richard Branson starts his Virgin Mail Order business selling cut price records by post.

1971

The first Virgin Record Shop opens at 24 Oxford Street, London. Behind the till, Richard Branson sells the first record – a Tangerine Dream album.

1972

Virgin opens Britain’s first residential recording studio - The Manor at Shipton-on-Cherwell near Oxford.

1973

The Virgin Records label and Virgin Music Publishing launches in the UK with the release of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells - one of the biggest selling albums of the decade and the soundtrack to ‘The Exorcist’.

1977

For more of Richard Branson’s advice read: Like A Virgin: Secrets The Won’t Tell You In Business School by Richard Branson, published by Virgin Books, £12.99

Virgin signs the Sex Pistols. They go where all other major record labels fear to tread - like belting out ‘God Save the Queen’ on Silver Jubilee day – opposite the Houses of Parliament.

1978

Richard Branson buys Necker Island


The Secrets of My Success

in the British Virgin Islands for £165,000, mainly to impress a girl called Joan Templeman. It works and she marries him. Necker is now part of the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio.

1979

The first Virgin Megastore opens on Oxford Street in London. Virgin Books is launched to publish titles to compliment the record label.

1981

Virgin Games is founded (later to become Virgin Interactive).

1982

Branson courts the pink pound and buys Heaven in London – the superclub that brought gay clubbing in to the mainstream.

1984

Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Cargo are born. Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight is the Boeing 747-200 ‘Maiden Voyager’ from Gatwick to Newark on June 22.

1985

Virgin Holidays arrives.

1986

in Glasgow and Paris, followed by numerous others. Virgin Hotels (later to become Virgin Limited Edition) launches an exclusive hotel range with the purchase of properties in Edinburgh, North Yorkshire and Hampshire. Virgin Atlantic flies from Gatwick to New York JFK for the first time.

1989

Virgin Atlantic launches its route to Tokyo.

1990

Virgin Megastores arrives in Japan. Virgin Atlantic flies to Los Angeles for the first time.

1991

Virgin Publishing (later to become a new incarnation of Virgin Books) is formed. Branson signs Janet Jackson to Virgin Records for $25 million for just one album (‘Janet’ - her fifth), making her the world’s highest paid recording artist. The Roof Gardens, the club and restaurant in Kensington, London is bought for the Virgin Limited Edition.

1992

Virgin Atlantic buys another Boeing 747 to launch its second route from Gatwick to Miami.

Tricky times as Virgin Records is sold to Thorn EMI – saving Virgin Atlantic from the brink of collapse. Virgin Atlantic flies to Orlando and the first Virgin Megastore US opens.

1987

1993

The Virgin Airship and Balloon Company (later to become Virgin Balloon Flights) takes off. Branson struggles to keep his feet on the ground! Virgin Records America is founded, quickly followed by a subsidiary in Japan. Virgin Atlantic launches a route from Luton to Dublin. Branson launches Mates condoms in the UK to promote safe sex to young adults as awareness of HIV and AIDS grows. Manufacturer Ansell buys the company a year later.

1988

Virgin Megastores opens new stores

Virgin Radio hits the airwaves with Virgin 1215 AM – the UK’s first national, commercial rock music station.

1994

Virgin Retail becomes the UK’s largest music retailer with the acquisition of the Our Price chain. Virgin Cola, Virgin Vodka and a range of soft drinks are launched under the Virgin Drinks banner. Virgin Radio FM launches in London. Virgin Vacations is established in the US to provide Virgin Atlantic customers with inclusive vacation packages.

1995

Virgin Direct Personal Financial Service (later to become Virgin Money) launches.Virgin Cinemas open up their big screens for the first time in the UK. Virgin Limobike’s personal taxi motorbike service takes to the London roads.

1996

Virgin Express airline takes off, operating services from the UK to Brussels and on to European cities. V2 Music is created and Virgin.net launches as an Internet service provider. Virgin Brides is launched. The Virgin Voucher takes off. Virgin Trains is launched as the Virgin Rail Group is awarded the Cross Country rail franchise, which operates InterCity/Express services across mainland Britain. The first V Festival is held in the UK across two different locations in one weekend.

1997

Virgin Trains is awarded the 15 year franchise for the InterCity West Coast. Virgin Radio is acquired by Ginger Productions and The Virgin Cosmetics Company launches with its first four flagship Virgin Vie stores. Virgin Direct (later to become Virgin Money) unveils the Virgin One Account mortgage. The V2 Benelux record label is founded. Virgin Books publishes Branson’s autobiography ‘Losing My Religion’.

1999

Virgin Mobile launches Virgin’s first consumer telecommunications venture. Virgin Cinemas is sold for £215m to UGC of France. Virgin Active launches the first of its health and lifestyle centres. The Virgin Vie stores rebrand as Virgin Cosmetics stores. Digital station Radio Free Virgin begins broadcasting over the Internet. Ulusaba, a private game reserve in, South Africa, is acquired by Virgin Hotels (later to become Virgin Limited Edition). Richard Branson is knighted. www.virgin.com

www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk 31


The PROBIZ County Ground pre-match from the North-East corner of the ground

32 www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk


SCCC: Behind The Sport

Batting For Business Most of our readers will know something about the game of cricket, but few of us understand the business behind the sport. Sussex County Cricket Club is a business with a ÂŁ6million turnover a year. SBT talks to its Chief Executive, Dave Brooks to ďŹ nd out more.

www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk 33


SBT: We understand that you’re a ‘not for profit organisation’ Insight and one of the only cricket grounds in the country with money in the bank. SCCC: That is how we position ourselves, it’s not our official status, but our main aim is to maximise our income, not so that we can make a profit, because we haven’t got shareholders that we have to pay dividends to, but to maximise our income so that we can invest as much money as possible back into cricket, be that professional cricket, developing the recreational game or developing participation out in the community. When we look at our budgets on an annual basis, we look at what income we are likely to achieve and how best to invest it, so that we end up at a broadly break even position.

SBT: We also hear that you’re in the rare position of not being in any debt, is that correct? SCCC: Yes, we are extremely fortunate in so far as an ex President of ours, Spen Cama passed away and left the club £12million. We built an indoor cricket school and spent £8.5million developing the whole ground. Spen made his money in property after the war, didn’t have any family and pretty much left his estate to two cricket clubs, one being Sussex, and we have invested the money to create a long future. SBT: Did you have to think carefully about how to reinvest the money, or was it obvious? SCCC: I’ve been here since the start of 2009, 15 years previously there were huge discussions of how to develop the grounds and modernise it.

“We look at what income we are likely

to achieve and how best to invest it, so that we end up at a broadly break even position” - Dave Brooks, Chief Executive Scott Styris, who hit a 37-ball century in that match for Sussex Sharks against Gloucestershire Gladiators in the Friends Life t20 quarter-final on 24th July.

34 www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk

What I was able to do, was to pick up the plans, take the best bit from them to create a ‘pick and mix’ master plan. It was fairly obvious what needed doing but there had been plans to develop the south west corner with flats, offices in a six storey development which wasn’t appropriate for Sussex. It just wouldn’t be right here, it would have been too dominating. We’ve created a two storey development that is cricket related and we’ve focused on making sure our facilities are the best they can be. SBT: How have you tried to achieve that? SCCC: We built some new facilities at the north end of the ground, we completely refurbished the pavilion, we extended our player facilities by building a gymnasium and recovery pool, we built a media centre, a hospitality centre which can seat 300 people and we put up new floodlights. And we built a new stand in the south west of the ground which seats 7,000 people. The seats have now got a better view, it’s more comfortable and previously we struggled, as lots of sports grounds do, with our toilet facilities and in providing food and beverage. We built what we needed and in every gap, we put in toilets or food and beverage offerings. SBT: Can you equate a percentage rise in profits to the changes? SCCC: We’ve bought food and beverage in house which has generated an extra £30,000-40,000 a year. We’ve been able to increase our hospitality with permanent facilities rather than marquees, we are able to charge a premium for the south west stand, bringing in £5,000-£6,000 per match, which equates to around £25,000£30,000 a year. The biggest impact, has been on non-cricket days. We didn’t used to have facilities that could be hired out for weddings, parties, conferences, etc and now we do. In the last 12 months we’ve doubled our nonmatch day income from £200,000 a year to £400,000 a year and our aspiration is to make it to £1million over the next 3 years. That is where there is a big opportunity. We only have cricket here 40 days a year, so we want to invest as much money as we can into cricket, but the best way for us to do that is to maximise not just our cricket income


SCCC: Behind The Sport

but our non-cricket income. We have staged concerts, we had Elton John play here last year, we have JLS this year and we staged the olympic torch relay party for Brighton & Hove, which helps people to know that we’re here. SBT: If getting to people to find you is a problem, did you invest some of the money into marketing? SCCC: That really is the next phase. We went for the American model of ‘build it and they will come.’ From a cricket point of view that’s happened, from a non-cricket point of view, it is people who are linked to cricket that have used our non-cricket facilities and we need to grow that and make sure more people generally are more aware of us. We need to work smartly so that when people come here they have a good experience and tell other people. We are working on referrals - a wedding will create a 21st birthday party, that will create a Christmas event. There is a modicum of marketing investment, but probably not enough to make a genuine difference, so our focus is on people having a great time.

SBT: Is part of the investment in non-cricket days indicative of the extra lengths a business has to go in the recession? SCCC: Yes, but equally in good times you want to work as hard as you can to bring in as much money as possible. My simple philosophy during a time of recession is that you’ve just got to get on with it. You have to eek out every last pound of profit and use every last pound that you spend as efficiently as possible. SBT: Is part of managing finance an aim of your relatively new board of directors? SCCC: There has always been a committee, which became a board when we changed from being a company limited by guarantee to an industrial and provenance society. The board consists of 8 volunteers, they are all big cricket fans with strong business backgrounds. The management team of 8 that I head up run the club, and they act as non executives to make sure that everything works as it should do.

“You have to eek out every last pound of profit and use every last pound that you spend as efficiently as possible” - Dave Brooks, Chief Executive

ABOVE: Sussex Sharks celebrate another wicket during their Friends Life t20 campaign

www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk 35


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ACP Members earn 10 CPD Points for attending!

Lunch & Refreshments Included

Book online now at www.youracp.org and click on Support and then Events To receive an invoice email richard@youracp.org.org with your full name and details 9.00 - 9.15 • Registration & Coffee 9.15 - 9.30 • Introduction & Opening Address / ACP Member Benefits • Steve Savva FACP, Chairman, ACP 9.30 - 10.10 • What is a Business Credit Report and how are companies bench marked • Ben Morrison, Manager, Equifax 10.10 – 10.50 • Insolvency in the UK 2012 • Jeremy Willmont, Partner, Moore Stephens

COFFEE/TEA

11.05 – 11.45 • Maximising Sales While Minimising Risk • Steve Savva FACP, FICM, ACP Chairman 11.45 – 12.15 • How to enhance your career in Credit Management - Ceinwen Wilson, Director, & Sarah Broadley-Karlsson, Manager, Hays Credit Management 12.15 – 12.30 • About Action Duchenne • Dean Widd, Regional Development Officer, Action Duchenne

LUNCH

13.20 -13.30 • Cllr Bill Randall Mayor of Brighton & Hove Discusses the Importance of Credit Management within todays economic climate 13.30 - 14.10 • Credit Insurance - A Tailored Solution • Andrew Carnie, Director, Reynolds Insurance 14.10 - 14.45 Winning by Building Relationships Teresa Callaghan FACP, ACP Vice Chair 15.00 - 15.40 • Collections in the Eurozone & Middle East • Charles Mayhew, MD, Moreton Smith

COFFEE/TEA

15.40 - 16.00 • Question the Expert Panel, ACP Directors 16.00 - 17.00 • Networking 17.00 • Close

THIS IS A BOOK ONLY EVENT PLEASE CONTACT EITHER STEVE SAVVA STEVE@YOURACP.ORG OR RICHARD BROWN RICHARD@YOURACP.ORG OR TEL: 0115 989 9900

ACP INTRODUCES... “CASINO NI” FRIDAY 28TH SEPTEMBER 2012 - BELFAST NORTHERN IRELANDS FIRST CHARITY NETWORKING EVENT FOR THE CREDIT & BUSINESS COMMUNITY IN AID OF ACTION DUCHENNE

Supported By

ACP.indd 1

29/08/2012 12:04


SCCC: Behind The Sport

We are a members club and its our responsibility to protect the legacy of members in the future.

Murray Goodwin cuts the ball during the quarter-final with Gloucestershire

SBT: What impact has operating in this way had on the business at a practical level? SCCC: Decisions are made much more quickly because we’ve empowered the management team and we meet every Monday, whereas the old committee used to meet monthly at best. That’s enabled us to have finished our grand development in just 2 years. SBT: You’ve had the privilege of a £12million investment, if you hadn’t had that gift, how would you have made the business work? SCCC: We couldn’t have done the whole re-development and would have gone down the traditional route of getting into debt to grow our business. SBT: Would you have gone down the route of borrowing, and/or prioritised certain areas for growth? SCCC: It would have had to have been a more gradual activity. The new hospitality facility would have cost £1million and we would have proved that was working over 18 months and gone back to the bank for the next stage and the entire process would have been over 6-10 years rather han 2 winters.

al© images courtesy of SCCC

ent

SBT: Despite this windfall, do you feel there have been major challenges to the business? SCCC: Absolutely, we are dealing with the economic conditions that other business are having to deal with right now. In addition, there are lots of external things that happen to us as a business that we have no control over. We are a sport governed by the ECB and they make decisions that we have to deal with the impact of - so for example we used to play 8x 20/20 games a year, now we have to play 5 and that costs us a lot of money and we have to adapt our business model accordingly. Our success isn’t determined by financial income but by winning trophies, we have to keep punching above our weight to continue that. And we’ve had to also dealt with cultural changes - we are now a more commercial business and getting the

balance of that and a huggy feely members club is probably the biggest and the most important challenge and for the foreseeable future, to keep that in balance. SBT: We imagine that many businesses will identify with those challenges, what can they learn from you? SCCC: Make sure that you are visible and accessible. I walk around the ground and see lots of my customers and most importantly they can see me, so if they have a gripe, or something that they’re not sure about, they can ask. Talk to the customers, listen and be prepared to say, “no, sorry we used to do that but we can’t anymore because of x, y and z”. Communicate as much as you can and as informally as you can. SBT: What impact has the recession and the appalling weather this season had on the business? SCCC: The area most affected is hospitality. We have lots of corporate customers who historically have put money into advertising, but they now think very carefully about whether to take clients out and entertain them, and

in a similar vein, people are still keen to come to cricket to have a night out but are spending less - the secondary spend is under pressure. SBT: What are you doing to address that? SCCC: We make sure that the products we offer are adjusted to what people can afford. We try and find ways of ensuring that people are happy to spend money by not only reducing price, but improving quality and service. If you give them an excuse not to spend then they’ll take it... SBT: What are you doing to win more business despite the weather and for the future? SCCC: In the short term we are approaching local companies to spend money with us. More generally we are looking to grow our business community over the next 2-3 years. We want to get them to understand how accessible and how much fun a good day out at the cricket is and we want to find ways for them to experience what we’ve got. www.sussexcricket.co.uk

www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk 37


Start Me Up!

Last year it was estimated that a quarter of a million small businesses launched in the UK - that’s a new business starting every minute of every working day. As numbers reach record figures, we asked NatWest RBS, Barclays and Santander for the latest and best advice on securing funding for new business ventures in straightened times.

So, you have a great idea for a Financial new business. Maybe you’re an Advice entrepreneur who wants to take advantage of the creative opportunities that a recession poses, or have spotted a gap in a market. It could be that you have been made redundant, or as wages tighten or freeze across the board, feel that you would be better positioned if you went it alone. Whatever your reason, if you are considering launching a new business, getting the right financial advice is key from the outset, not least if you are looking for the best way to finance your new venture. On your behalf, we asked three major high street banks the questions you will want answers to:

NatWest RBS

We spoke to: Peter Ibbetson Chairman for Small Business and Graham Wright - Regional Director for Business Banking in Surrey and Sussex.

SBT: How receptive are banks to being approached by start-ups? PI: Many people think that banks

38 www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk

are not keen to talk to people at the start up level but that is very wrong. Generally banks are very keen to talk to businesses and start steering them in the right direction, and then work out what they need. Usually when businesses start up, only about 1 in 5 will take funding for their business from the outset, most will use family money or their own money, but share your ideas with the bank and explore what your funding requirements might be. SBT: How should new businesses view the relationship they will form with their bank? PI: Treat your bank as a partner who will challenge your assumptions. The way that the bank thinks is that we genuinely want to support every viable business option that we can, but what we won’t do is take you down an avenue that we don’t think is going to be viable for you. So we will challenge your cash flow, and this isn’t being difficult or not wanting to support you, but is about providing the right sort of guidance to ensure that your plan is viable. Genuinely take the advice from your bank and speak to other people in the sector as well. SBT: What’s changed for new businesses since the recession? PI: Two things happen in a recession. Firstly, it’s more difficult to get business largely, people in the high street won’t spend as much and people are more conservative about their spending patterns. Secondly, businesses

generally take longer to pay for things. In an up-cycle typically the cash flow might be good with a 30-40 days credit, but in bad times it can stretch out to 60-70 days credit period and that can have a negative impact on cash flow. However, what also happens in a down cycle is that you find opportunities. Because people hold off doing things and investing, if you have the appetite to take a risk, often the opportunities are there more in a down cycle than an up-cycle. SBT: So what is your key advice for new businesses on cash flow? Often business people with a great idea, such as a mechanic who can run a garage superbly, but a skill set that they might not have financial management. The best thing to do is to talk and take advice on how to manage your cash flow, how to fund yourself, find out if you need a capital asset if its better to get it on a loan from a bank, on an overdraft or asset finance, in short, what the best way is to fund yourself. Then I would look at this in two ways. Firstly, spread your risk; don’t get tied up to one client, because if that client decides they want an extra 40-50 days credit you’ve got nowhere to go but give it, and secondly if that client goes bust you’re in a real corner. Don’t get committed to one client. Secondly, if you’re funding your cash flow and you’re funding assets make sure that you’re doing it in the right way. Asset finance might be right for you. As an


Money Matters

early start-up business you’re probably not going to be using invoice finance, but that’s an opportunity available to you if If you have a list of well spread debtors you can monetize those debtors through invoice finance to get your cash flow. Then you have overdrafts and loans, look carefully at what the cheapest way is to do it. Now is a good time to be borrowing and to be investing against borrowed money. NatWest RBS have just launched £2.5 billion of discounted loans through the Funding For Lending initiative. You can get 3 years fixed credit for less for less than 3% and without fees. SBT: How have you managed to implement such a low rate lending rate for start-ups and what is the benefit to the bank? PI: We have an objective for businesses to get through the down cycle in good shape. We are driven by our long term commitment to the SME community. We know that businesses have tight cash flow and we do all we can to fund new businesses at sensible rates and investment prices. If we’re successful in doing that, in 5 years time we have good quality sustainable customers. What’s happening with the Funding For Lending initiative is that the Bank of England is raising the money and effectively making that available to the banks which we can then provide at a cheaper rate. We can therefore provide about a 1% discount to businesses through that facility. But what we’re doing is for those businesses wanting to borrow up to £250k we can provide an additional discount of 1.5% for small businesses, without fees because that’s where we think the engine of the economy is. It’s crucial that we’re putting this out without fees, because the feedback we have from small businesses wanting funding is that the fees put them off.

SBT: Are you seeing any particular trends in start-ups in Sussex? GW: The service industry in this neck of the woods is very prevalent, then when you look at the sectors within that across the spectrum of sectors we have new accounts opening and existing accounts doing well. We have everything from strong performing sectors such as agriculture, we have good lending going around, new energy and expansion schemes and then there is substantial lending in retail. Franchises are a sector that has gone from strength to strength. The retail ones are doing well, such as Domino Pizzas. Franchises have the competitive advantage of being part of a bigger brand, and people go to the brands they can trust in competitive times.

www.natwest.com

Barclays Bank PLC

We spoke to: Ria Barlabas – Head of Barclays Business for Southern and Keith Fox - Business Banking Manager in Sussex

SBT: Are you seeing an increase in SMEs seeking funding during the recession?

“Franchises have the competitive advantage of being part of a bigger brand, and people go to the brands they can trust in competitive times” - Graham Wright Regional Director for Business Banking in Surrey and Sussex, NatWest

KF: There is not a large propensity of start ups that initially come to the bank for start-up lending, and that hasn’t really changed both now and before the recession. A lot more customers nowadays are choosing to set up online businesses which have a lower cost base so that they can run it in a UK wide environment from home. That has been a change, but whether that has been a recession change or a technological change, I’m not sure. In the Sussex area there are a higher proportion of those kinds of retail customers coming to us.

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Money Matters

“We’re seeing a big increase in the number of larger businesses who are looking for individual employees to become selfemployed” - Keith Fox - Business Banking Manager in Sussex, Barclays Bank

SBT: What other trends are you seeing right now in Sussex? We’re seeing a big increase in the number of larger businesses who are looking for individual employees to become self-employed. We see a large number of individuals setting up limited companies and sub-contracting directly to their previous employer. It is those customers who need our help setting up a business, as many were employed for a number of years. SBT: What advice do you give them? RB: The best advice I could give is to have a robust business plan or to have actually sat down and thought about what that business plan looks like. If someone can come in and demonstrate to us that they have really considered all of the elements of their business, including where they are now, where they want to get to in the future and how they are going to do that, they are much more likely to have access to finance. SBT: Has the percentage stake that you offer changed since the recession? KF: The percentage stake has not changed. We have not changed the way that we look at start-ups before the recession or now. If we are going to be lending to a start-up business, then obviously we want the customer to be taking some stake in the risk of setting up that business rather than the bank funding the full amount, and really that has not changed since the recession. Stake does come into it when you are looking at larger sums of money, but there are other ways that medium size businesses can access finance, through enterprise agencies, which we work very closely with,‘Let’s Do Business’ in the Sussex area, which is one way a business owner can be supported. It could be through a small overdraft, a credit card if it’s just for cash flow, or a larger loan. It really is dependent on each customer’s personal circumstances, what they want to achieve and how much they’ve thought about what they want to achieve. SBT: What are the common pitfalls that those seeking funding commonly succumb to? KF: Not doing research around the

40 www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk

market that they are entering into. It’s vital to understand what the sales opportunities are in the market you are going into. Sometimes customers are so passionate and have total belief in their product, but their aspirations about what they are going to sell and what’s realistic within the market will differ, that’s sometimes just the exuberance that new business people have but it’s vital to do the market research to really understand what the opportunity is. RC: When a customer comes to us for funding sometimes they tell us what they think we want to hear rather than what they really believe. We have really experienced lenders with 25 years experience on average, they know the market, they can compare like-for-like businesses and they’re there to help. It’s best that customers are honest, share with us any potential pitfalls they can see and are aware of any risk and if they have mitigating plans in place then we are more likely to feel comfort in that application. Sometimes customers think there are parts of the next 6-12 months that they want to keep to themselves, but honesty and building a relationship with the business manager is a real priority. SBT: Why should start-ups choose to bank with Barclays following the recent negative press coverage? Do you have a point of difference? RB: I work across the South East of the UK with approximately 250 colleagues who work with local businesses. My team are judged on service, the advocacy they create in their portfolios and the interaction they have with our customers. The fact that our customers say they would recommend us and score us 9 out of 10 is the most of important thing to our team. Press coverage has been outside of the control of the retail bank. We have a strong focus on the customer and growing their business because we know we will be successful if we have successful customers. SBT: How much time do you devote to a new business customer? RB: The initial meeting is one of the most important for the customer, so we work towards an hour and a half, but we give them more if they want more. We also have channels so that customers


Conference and Function Room Hire Whether you need to hire a room for training, conferences, meetings, group outings, lunch parties, exhibitions, kids parties, evening activities or a wedding reception - we have a choice of three rooms and The Bothy situated in the heart of the woodland walk, with well equipped facilities to meet your requirements. Number 64 - High Street, Bognor Regis (Situated in the heart of Bognor Regis; Easy access via train and bus) Aldingbourne Country Centre - Chichester (Situated just off the A27 near Fontwell Race Course with free parking) If you hire a room, you can use a modern, easily accessible venue in a great location. What's more, your money will be going towards supporting adults with learning disabilities to train towards gaining employment as we are a non-profit making social enterprise. We Provide A choice of 3 bookable rooms and The Bothy, that can be set up for you in a choice of layouts. Use of Data Projector, OHP, Flipchart, DVD, Whiteboard. Internet access and hearing loop. A choice of freshly made food and refreshments.

Visit the pigs, goats, alpacas, rabbits, ducks, guinea pigs and chickens on our open farm or take a stroll in the woodland walk - Aldingbourne really do have a tranquil venue for all your needs. The Aldingbourne Trust, Blackmill Lane, Norton, Chichester, West Sussex PO18 0JP Phone 01243 542075 Email conferences@aldingbournetrust.co.uk Visit www.aldingbournetrust.co.uk for more details on how to find us

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Money Matters

can contact us in the way they’d like to if they don’t want to spend an hour and a half in the bank. SBT: What support is available to them on an on-going basis? In general banking a lot of people miss being able to call up their bank manager for advice, in this context is this possible? RB: We have about 80 business specialists in high street branches and our customers can go in at any time and speak to them. If it’s a more complex customer question they would speak to a more senior manager. Our business customers have an annual review, and a bi-annual review as a minimum standard, but if a customer requires and requests additional support we would supply it. KF: Clearly during in that hour and a half initial meeting the business specialist is not available to their other customers, so we have a set of business managers who are centrally based and can be called 24 hours a day. They can pass messages on to that customers’ dedicated business manager if it’s not a matter that can be dealt with centrally, and they will arrange for them to be called back. SBT: Approximately how many start-up businesses did you help last year in Sussex and do you know how many of those are still operating? KF: It would have been a 4 figure number in Sussex alone. It’s very difficult to know how many survive but in general we find a large percentage of business accounts at zero after a period of time. It’s not necessarily that the business has failed, but that they have decided that the reality of running their own business is not for them. One piece of advice would be to explore the reality of running your own business right at the beginning of the process. www.barclays.co.uk Both Barclays Bank and NatWest RBS offer special offers and competitive deals for new business customers. See their websites for more information.

“We have a set of business managers who are centrally based and can be called 24 hours a day” - Keith Fox - Business Banking Manager in Sussex

Robin Foale, Managing Director of Santander Business Banking gives his Essential Advice for Start-Ups Accessing finance is something almost all businesses will need to do at some stage, and for many businesses an overdraft or bank loan will be the easiest way for them to get their hands on additional funds. For most smaller businesses, applying for finance can seem quite daunting, but there are a few simple things to bear in mind which should help simplify the process. Businesses should always consider how much funding they will need, accounting for all eventualities, and not be afraid to ask for the whole amount. It will be a lot harder to get a top-up further down the line if the unexpected does happen. A good business plan is essential for any business applying to their bank for additional funding. Every good management team knows where it is taking the business, and how it plans to get there. The purpose of the business plan is to outline that strategy and the actions required to get the business to where it wants to be. This should be a tool as much for the business owner as it is for the bank manager as it provides a blueprint for running the business and a series of benchmarks to check progress against. A detailed business should include: • Background: The background to the business, including the length of time the business has been trading and progress made to date.

• Markets and competitors: The segments of the market, the business targets — for example, local customers or a particular age group. • Marketing and Sales: Pricing policy, promotion, sales channels. • Operations: Explain what facilities the business has and how it delivers the product or service to the customer. • Financial Performance: Translating what has already been said about the business into numbers. • Financial requirements: The cash flow forecast will show how much finance the business needs. • Assessing the risks: Isolating areas where something could go wrong. Most importantly though, business owners themselves can be the strongest selling point in a lending decision. When a bank is able to see the passion and commitment of a business owner combined with their knowledge of their market and sector, it is a lot easier to have the faith to invest in them. But banks should be able to offer their small business customers more than just finance. Your local business manager should be able to point you in the direction of other help and support available in the area.

www.santander.co.uk

www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk 43


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Business Decisions

The Vehicle Contract

In the current economic climate it is essential for a business to understand and control its outgoings. With this in mind we have taken a look at the pros and cons of contract hire to understand its place in a business’s financial decision making.

“Even though a vehicle actually costs more to buy, the contract hire lease rental for a more expensive vehicle may be less, due to the method of setting a contract hire rental”

Car or Van Business Contract Hire Leasing, or business vehicle leasing as it is sometimes called, is a simple method Insight of long term vehicle renting, linked to an agreed mileage allowance, which can provide your company with a simple fixed monthly payment for any new vehicle you wish to use as a company vehicle. When taking out a contract you can choose how long you want to keep the vehicle for, and then return it at the end of the contract to replace it with a new vehicle. It’s a product which provides a simple way to budget and fix your motoring costs, as all you need to then budget for is the vehicle insurance and fuel. Contract Hire or “Operational Leasing” also protects you from the depreciation risk of owning a vehicle and can include maintenance cover/breakdown cover (this is usually an optional extra), vehicle excise duty and much more. This method of vehicle funding is ideal for companies who do not want to tie up cash buying vehicles outright or have the financial risk of running their own car or van fleets. Even though a vehicle actually costs more to buy, the contract hire lease rental for a more expensive vehicle may be less, due to the method of setting a contract hire rental. This is due to the different depreciation rates of vehicles and what the company you are leasing from think they will sell the vehicle for in the future. Contract Hire initial payments are usually based on a three-month rental but flexibility can sometimes be offered on this, so shop around.

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Business Decisions

Thereafter one fixed monthly payment, payable by direct debit, covers most of the costs, which in turn helps your busineess’s better cashflow forecasting. The vehicle leasing company recovers the VAT on the vehicle purchase, which means the vehicle costs less to finance. This financial benefit is reflected in the rental you pay. Contract Hire also provides ‘off balance sheet’ financing which is useful when your company has high financial borrowings elsewhere. You choose the annual mileage at the start of the contract, which you feel is appropriate for your business and if you perform at a higher or lower level, the Contract Hire company will normally amend the contract hire lease rental for you, to reflect this (this is usually done on request, so don’t expect it to be done automatically). Once you have

per mile rate, which can become extremely expensive very quickly. There will also be an early termination charge, if you decide to return the vehicle before the contract has expired to the contract hire company. This will vary between companies so make sure you take this into consideration in your comparison of products on offer. Some leasing companies may charge you up to 100% of the outstanding rentals, so ask this question before you sign. If you opt for a non-maintenance contract, then if the vehicle breaks down, it is up to you to fix it. It is therefore essential that you maintain the vehicle as per the manufacturers servicing schedule. If you don’t opt for the vehicle breakdown cover as part of your contract, check what the manufacturer breakdown cover is offered ‘Free of Charge’. Normally it’s usually the first year only

“The vehicle leasing company recovers the VAT on the vehicle purchase, which means the vehicle costs less to finance. This financial benefit is reflected in the rental you pay.” placed an order for your car or van, in the colour you want and with your accessories, the leasing company sources the vehicle from their network of dealers. If you have a specific dealer you want to use, they may buy the vehicle from them, if your dealer offers the usual purchase discount terms the leasing company can achieve themselves. The car or van will then usually be delivered to your door free of charge and at the end of the contract it can also be collected from your premises as well (at no cost to you). Those are the benefits and as you can see the process is a simple one to navigate but there are a number of points, which you should be aware of and look out for. Always check the annual mileage on the contract and the total number of the contract hire monthly payments you will be making (including the initial deposit rental), if obtaining other quotations elsewhere, to ensure you are comparing like for like. Always ask if there is a document fee involved as if you divide this fee by the number of months in your contract, the ‘actual monthly’ rental will be higher than you think as charging a document fee increases your initial payment. VAT registered companies can only recover 50% of the VAT on the finance rental (100% on the service element of the rental) if using the car for business usage, so be aware of this when you are budgeting for the vehicle. Business Contract Hire is a fixed contract to term and mileage, if you go over the contractual mileage you will have to pay an excess mileage fee charged at a one-pence

46 www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk

but it does vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. If you damage the vehicle (i.e. if you forget to check the oil level for example and the engine seizes) and it needs repairing, it will be deemed as being your fault and this will not be covered under the ‘with maintenance’ contract. Glass and windscreen replacement is also not normally covered under this contract, although it may be covered under your insurance policy. You also need to be aware that if at the end of the contract term, if you return the vehicle in a damaged condition, other than ‘Fair, Wear and Tear’ condition, you may be liable for extra costs. If the vehicle is written off for any reason, you will be liable for the difference between the vehicle book value of the contract hire company and what your insurance company pays out, if there is a difference. Carbon Dioxide emissions of company cars will have an impact on the tax relief available for businesses as well as the tax charge on the individual. This replaced the previous sliding scale system and has changed to a 15% restriction for contract hire leased cars with CO2 emissions over 160g/km. There is no lease rental restriction on cars that have a CO2 output figure lower than 160 g/km. Therefore choosing cars that have high CO2 figures over 160g/km will cost you more to run. The lower the CO2, the better you will be off financially and of course it’s better for the environment.


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Presented one day a week for five weeks in London on Tuesdays 16 October to 13 November for more details and to register visit www.cmtltd.co.uk or contact Steve Savva on 0115 989 9997.

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Visit www.identity-online.co.uk or call today on +44 (0) 1323 469111 48 www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk

P 48-61 Q&A & Directory September SBT.indd 48

24/08/2012 10:54


SBTQ&A

WE ASK THE EXPERTS TO GIVE YOU THE ANSWERS YOU NEED.

Q

A

We asked Peter Richardson, Associate, Moore Stephens (South) Chartered Accountants, what are the changes to the tax rules on how consultants who are paid through limited companies are to be treated for tax in the future?

If you are self-employed or run your business through a Limited company and work mainly for one employer/ contractor, you are probably aware of the HMRC guidelines on IR35 and may have felt quite safe until now. However, HMRC have recently tweaked the rules and issued new guidelines in the form of a 47 page booklet, which can be found on their website at http://www.hmrc.gov. uk/ir35/guidance.pdf. This booklet contains their views on IR35 and has some examples of their interpretation of the rules. Within these guidelines they have now introduced a 12 point test. Each test is scored and depending on your score you would then be categorised as high, medium or low risk. The higher your score the safer you are. Less than 10 is high risk and more than 20 is low risk. However, there are no “grey areas”. The answers are a straight yes or no, so if you cannot categorically say yes you do not score any points with one exception. I will come to this later! Not surprisingly they have changed the emphasis on what is good and

what is bad practice to make it more difficult to achieve low risk. You will be required to have evidence to back up your answers! The majority of the questions score very low scores and on their own will not add up to low risk. To achieve low risk you will need to be able to say yes to the higher scoring questions and this is where the difficulty arises. The highest scoring factors remain the usual suspects such as the “Substitution Test”, but they have reworded this question so you can only score if you have actually had to hire anyone to substitute for you! This has to have happened within the last 24 months. A yes here scores you 20 points. The evidence required will include name and address of the substitute and details of your client, dates and payment terms, and an audit trail of the payment. Another high score, 10 points, is the client risk test. For example, have you been unable to recover a payment from a client i.e. a bad debt? Owning or renting a business premises, which is not your home, scores highly, with 10 points. If you employ workers on jobs bringing in 25% of your turnover, this can score 35 points. However, if you are contracted to a client for whom you previously worked as an employee within the last 12

months and there has been no real change in your working conditions, you will be deducted 15 points! HMRC will, of course, be able to check this through Payroll records already in their possession. Other questions, such as having to repair work at your own expense, invoicing for work done, advertising and professional indemnity insurance also score low marks. It is likely that if you are an IT or business consultant you may struggle to amass enough points. You may like to consider breaking your work down in to a series of separate contracts and pricing for the contract as a whole, rather than being on a monthly retainer. The test is not compulsory. However, HMRC are likely to use it as basis for any enquiries they may raise on your accounts so be prepared! This is by no means an exhaustive list of the new rules or scoring system and each individual’s circumstances will need to be carefully considered. As business and tax advisers, Moore Stephens (South) has experts who can guide you on this matter and any other tax or business related issues. We specialise in helping owner managers and directors to start-up, grow or sell their business and manage their wealth, so they can enjoy the fruits of their success. For advice contact your local office in Chichester on 01243 531600 or www.moorestephens.co.uk/south Moore Stephens (South) has offices in Chichester, Southampton, Salisbury and the Isle of Wight. It is a member of Moore Stephens, the UK’s tenth largest accountancy firm and one of the leading international accounting and consultancy associations. www.moorestephens.co.uk

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Q

Client feedback is now appearing everywhere! It seems that many will not purchase a product or service without reading the tried and tested feedback of others before they commit. We asked Lisa Beale of Checkaprofessional just how important client feedback is, and if it is the new way to market a business?

A

Client feedback – now it’s even more important. Using client feedback about your services and skills has always been valuable, but with online focus playing an ever bigger role in peoples` lives, it has now become crucial to your business and how you run it. You only have to look at the travel business or even at the market for trades-people, like plumbers and builders, to know that, for many consumers, being informed by `feedback` before buying is now considered essential. This trend has sky-rocketed because online, word of mouth comment has become easy to place and almost instantly accessible. For professional service providers, this can bring huge immediate and medium-term advantages not least, getting more new clients and understanding viewpoints on what`s great about your business and what`s not. Generating new clients. With this powerful trend in mind Checkaprofessional.com, has recently launched a new site focussed specifically on helping consumers find the professional that`s just right for them. Their sister site Checka trade.com now receives over 280,000 unique visitors to their website per month and were the first in the UK to vet and monitor the trades industry. What could it offer your business?

Being found will be easy and, very importantly, creating a sense of confidence and an understanding of what your business provides is quickly achieved. Verified testimonials via an independent third party are extremely powerful. Having read your profile page and customer feedback, your prospective clients are already warm to your service, therefore often cutting out the timewasters and random contacts by receiving genuine, committed enquiries.

premises, key staff members as well as accreditations held, videos and of course their verified testimonials for prospective clients to read. The profile gives the prospective client reassurance as it is free to research a business, safe in the knowledge that all details displayed have been independently verified. This is much more than a directory listing! What could be better than to point your prospective clients to a third party testimonial site, rather than just taking your word for it!

….and driving your business.

…..and for your clients.

Our previous client feedback and your reputation. The service can also provide you with a strategic element which can help you grow and identify important elements of your business. You will have a real insight into your business, not just for you, but you will see how your clients view it as well. By using a software model that makes it easy to find and evaluate `signed-up `professional providers, the site effectively will provide a click-through service that will provide all the necessary information for consumers to choose the right business for their needs. Value for money – The site is free to the user and does not require the consumer to register in order to sell the lead to their awaiting members. It is important to ensure that there is no barrier for the consumer to use the service.

From your clients` point of view, not only are you easy to find, but also you must be confident of your service or else you wouldn’t be giving them carte blanche to give feedback on the services you have given them! They will feel confident that you offer a great service before they engage your service.

How exactly does this work for you? Checkaprofessional members can, after passing a stringent vetting process to join upload an impressive full length profile along with the tools to showcase your business services in detail, adding images of their

Conclusion… If you are looking to grow your client base or just make sure you are doing the best to keep hold of your existing customer base, then using an online service like Checkaprofessional.com could provide a whole range of advantages to you. The online revolution really can make client feedback the basis of your future success and keep you in touch with ever growing business needs, so it`s worth finding out just how this unique marketing tool could transform your business! It’s not just about advertising – It’s about advertising your reputation! www.checkaprofessional.com or call FREE: 0808 901 9042.

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SBT Q&A

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Q

SBT asked Kate McCoy, Director of Cloud Nine PR: I’ve had my Financial Services business for 20 years and employ 27 staff. In reality our range of financial advice and products are very similar to what our competitors provide, which makes it difficult to stand out. How could PR help us?

A

Firstly, we need desperately to relight your fire! You will convey this to your staff and they will ultimately pass this on to your customers. Normally we would sit down with you over a large pot of coffee and ask you lots of questions, for example: • What type of customers do you already have and what type do you want to attract? • What are your most profitable products? If we could generate a new client base for you, to run alongside your existing one, would that put the glint back into your eyes? • What type of image do you want to portray? • Would you like your company positioned as an ‘expert’ in a particular field? • Are there any companies or brands (not necessarily in the same sector) that target a similar customer profile to yours? Could we look to tie in with them on a campaign? Your products and services may not be newsworthy in their own right but ‘commodity’ selling is a scenario that presents endless opportunities for creative PR. As with most things in life, a novel approach can make all the difference. The more positive media coverage

you generate the more credible your company becomes. Ultimately this builds trust and awareness, putting you on the radar of potential clients. We will now get our Cloud Nine creative juices flowing. Here are a few outline ideas to get you thinking: Survey your clients - survey your customers about their attitude towards money, what they think are the most important (or best) financial products, and then throw in a random question at the end, such as: If you won £1,000, how would you spend it? Segmenting the survey into geographical areas and comparing the answers nearly always leads to interesting results. It just might be that customers in Kent would pay off a loan, those in Essex would buy jewellery and those in Sussex would save. Breaking responses down into age groups and gender is also revealing. Men of a certain age may do something adventurous, whereas women might spend it on their family. With this information we could identify a trend and weave a great story from it. This would definitely be picked up locally and by trade press, but it would also stand a great chance of reaching the national media with lots of on-line and social media coverage too. You get the credit, the name check, the hyperlinks and the opportunity to be the spokesperson on TV and/or radio. Creative photography - why not litter a beach with a massive pile of fake money to illustrate how easy it is to let money blow away? We could set up one of your staff at a desk in front of it with a giant calculator and explain how savings/investments could be made, hey presto, it’s the front page of the business press.

We would really need some face-toface time with you to establish your best strategy. There are so many great things PR can do for you and it is amazingly cost effective. It’s easy to have the misconception that PR is all about sending out press releases. While these do have their place in letting the media know your news, it is only a tiny element in our toolbox. Another misconception is that PR is the luxury of big brands, when in truth the opposite is the case Cloud Nine works with many businesses with a variety of budgets. The average minimum ROI that our clients enjoy from their campaigns is 15:1 - powerful stuff! Just like a marriage your business needs a bit of spice to get it back on track. We will upgrade you to super hero status - your partner will barely recognise you!

For a free PR audit call 01323 325357 www.cloudnineprandmarketing.co.uk

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Postu


SBT Q&A

Local Innovation, Global Ergonomics The UK’s leading ergonomics company is based in Berwick, East Sussex.

Ergonomic solutions, office design and furniture, training and consultancy, workstation accessories and Health and Safety E-learning.

t. 0845 345 0010

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Q

A

No one likes to think they pay more tax than necessary, but many who have entered into tax avoidance schemes have hit the headlines recently. We asked Paul Severn and Mike Neilan of Price & Company, how to ensure businesses get the best advice and don’t cross the line.

Tax avoidance hit the headlines in June with comedians, artists and football clubs all finding their tax planning unexpectedly up for debate. Tax avoidance – unlike tax evasion is actually legal; however in our opinion at Price & Company the way some high earners have used aggressive tax planning schemes is more a question of morality. Since this hit the press in June, accountants have had a rough time with some sections of the business media implying that we are all touting

Q

these schemes… well we’re not! We, as a firm, have not entered any of our clients into such aggressive tax planning schemes – and we’re proud of that. For us it is a matter of culture, ethics and morals. Given the current economic position and the inevitable fee sensitivity some of our accounting peers are focussing too much on selling aggressive tax planning schemes to earn a quick buck rather than focussing on traditional service and values. We have even witnessed at first-hand a room full of accountants, hosted by one of the biggest providers of these schemes, proudly parading themselves and jostling for position as to who had earned the most money in the last year via EBT’s, EFRBS’s etc.

We asked Paul Jukes of Vivid Brighton how a business should embark on the process of overhauling their brand identity.

A

Your brand is your company’s most important asset and must be viewed as far more than just a logo. When consumers think of your company, what are the things they think about? Society is becoming increasingly more knowledgeable and therefore more critical about brand design & image. They have higher expectations than ever before and, with it, a lower tolerance for anything that is not perfect. Establishing a brand should address everything, from your logo, to stationery, to marketing literature and of-course a website. Every single item you ever produce should maintain

a coherent look and feel. You must develop a brand identity that is high quality and really reflects who you are as a company. This does not necessarily mean that if you are a construction business you should have a house, or that if you are a lawyer you should use a scale. Developing a logo goes beyond the actual content, to the style and image you are portraying. A cheap logo will look cheap no matter how much it says what you do. Remember, you aren’t just saying WHAT you do; you are also saying HOW you do it. The first stage of any logo / brand design project is to truly understand the client’s needs and objectives. We research the competition, customer demographic and begin to develop initial concepts based on the analysis.

Added to this, the perceived endorsement of such schemes by celebrities, coupled with the promise of no tax to pay, acts as a sweetener for many misinformed clients. With the General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR) expected in 2013, we hope this will go some way towards tackling the issue. But the big question remains… what is wrong with providing a professional service where the client feels they have been listened to, where relevant tax planning opportunities have been explored and where the trust of the client and the integrity of the firm have both been retained? That’s what we at Price & Company always aim to achieve… not selling aggressive tax planning schemes as if they’re second hand cars. Mike Neilan, Managing Partner says: “If you want a professional service that won’t come back to bite you then give us a try; Price & Company is built on, and continues to stand by, its professional and enviable reputation. We go up to the line but will not cross it.” www.price.co.uk

While still fairly unrefined, these concepts will convey the rough ideas we have for the project, and encourage the client to provide detailed feedback. In most circumstances, the design phase consists of a substantial amount of dialogue between the designer and the client - sharing ideas, critiquing layouts and engaging in a process of development. The entire branding exercise will make sure that all the clients goals are adhered to; creating a relevant, vibrant and fresh outlook for the company identity. At Vivid Brighton we fully appreciate the financial investment of any branding exercise will therefore always aspire to provide the ideal creative and visual representation clients need to generate interest / sales / business growth. We appreciate the more we help with client business success; the more they will request from us, developing a strong relationship of mutual benefit.

www.vividbrighton.co.uk

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SBT Q&A

1976

Trek makes its first bike, the 520. A high-tensile, double-butted steel frame built in a barn in Waterloo, Wisconsin. It’s still under warranty.

520

Madone 6.9 SSL

2012

Now a top performer in the Tour de France, the Madone combines aerospace technology with ultimate comfort. Now designed by bona-fide rocket scientists at Trek HQ in Waterloo, Wisconsin, just minutes from the same barn where it all began. Technology has changed a lot in 35 years. Our goal has remained the same: Build The World’s Best Bikes.

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Q A

In tough times it is sometimes necessary to take legal action for good credit control practice. We asked Graham Penn, Partner at Stevensdrake Solicitors how and when legal proceedings can help cashflow.

The aim of debt recovery is either to make your invoices a priority in the “to pay” list, or, if that fails, to compel payment. Legal action will always work best when it is used efficiently as a complementary component to effective credit control and is targeted. It will not however remedy poor lending decisions, as an impecunious debtor will still be unable to pay. Speed is always of the essence in any collection situation and the skill for any creditor is to know when your

Q

own efforts have reached their natural conclusion and it is time to increase the pressure. A determined debtor will prevaricate, make offers to pay “shortly” and break those promises, simply because they believe that the matter will go no further. It is important that you do not encourage that view. Do not be reluctant to pass it on. A solicitor’s letter at any time can have a galvanising effect. When timed sensibly in relation to your own collection activities it flags up to the debtor that the matter has already gone further and will continue to escalate. It will move your invoice further up their list of priorities. Upon the issue of court proceedings the pressure reaches another level. At each level more of the debtors

will pay because that is an easier option than holding out. It is important therefore to allow that progression to continue to its natural conclusion. If a solicitor’s initial attempts to engage and achieve payment are not successful then proceedings should be issued. In the absence of any defence or payment, judgment will follow and then enforcement of that judgment. Targeting the cases which are suitable for proceedings and enforcement is important. There is no point in suing for tiny amounts; for claims where you know full well there is a dispute, nor where the debtor has no means to pay. A judgment of itself will not necessarily produce payment and you may have to progress to enforcement action, for example by the use of an Enforcement Officer to levy execution (seize goods) to satisfy the judgment amount. You should have transparency as to the costs involved and in successful cases you will recover most of those costs. Legal collection need not be an expensive option. www.stevensdrake.com

Is it always vital to have a clear written contract for all of the work that you do? SBT asked Alex Cook, Head of Dispute Resolution at Stephen Rimmer what happens if you have completed work without a detailed written contract, or if what you have received in writing is vague. Is it possible to make a claim for the work that was done and recover the money due for completing it?

A

You can rely on a verbal contract and that may be necessary here, supported by the evidence you have in writing and also by the fact that you did the work. Agreements can be made verbally and often variations to a contract will also be agreed verbally, during a discussion or site meeting or perhaps because there is an urgent need for the work to be completed. This isn’t unusual and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be paid for completing the work or providing the service that was agreed. Keep in mind that you need to prove the money is owed to you and with

verbal agreements you always need to consider what evidence there is available. Who was there? Are there any meetings or file notes, emails, letters, even text messages? What does the document in writing actually say and what is the background? As a further alternative where works have been completed but there is little agreement on the value of that work, which might be the underlying issue here, the doctrine of quantum meruit might assist you, effectively supporting a claim for you to be paid a reasonable sum for the work you have completed. The contract you have in writing would obviously need to be looked at before any advice can be given and much will depend on what it says for fairly obvious reasons. Having said that, to the extent that contracts are

vague or unclear they will usually be interpreted against the party who drafted the document which may well be in your favour. Regardless of the content it is likely that the written document will either form the central basis of your claim, or alternatively will be useful evidence of the verbal contract I briefly discuss above. Of course every situation needs to be looked at individually on its merits and it would be worth you obtaining legal advice to protect your position and ultimately ensure you are paid. We are always happy to discuss these sorts of issues informally initially so do feel free to get in touch.

www.stephenrimmer.com

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Spending It! SBT Q&A

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

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

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

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

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

H. T. White & Co. Ltd 15 Alder Close Eastbourne BN23 6QF Tel: 01323 720161 Fax: 01323 649362 www.htwhite.com

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

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

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

Damara Fencing & Landscaping 9 Sayerland Road, Polegate, East Sussex, BN26 6NU Tel: 01323 485598 Mob: 07799141152

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

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

LONG ROOM THE

Jag press & publicity 30, Worthing Road Horsham West Sussex RH12 1SL Tel: 7861 37 6844 (24hr) Tel: 1403 793836 (9 to 5) Tel: 0844 815 4991 (new enquiries) www.jagpresspublicity.co.uk 58 www.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk

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

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

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

24/08/2012 10:56


Service Directory Service Directory

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 www.rossandco.co.uk

Santander UK plc South East Corporate Business Centre 3 City Place, Beehive Ring Road, Gatwick, West Sussex, RH6 0PA Tel: 01293 554880 www.santander.co.uk

Swains Plc Wilson House, Saxon Way Dersingham, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, PE31 6LY Tel: 0844 257 2800 Fax: 0844 257 2822 www.swainsplc.co.uk

The Best Of Eastbourne 8-9 The Business Suite The Old Print Works 20 Wharf Road Eastbourne East Sussex BN21 3AW Tel: 01323 400599 www.thebestof eastbourne.co.uk

SBT

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

Sussex County Cricket Club The PROBIZ County Ground, Eaton Road, Hove. BN3 3AN Tel: 0844 264 0202 www.sussexcricket.co.uk

Worldwide Mailing Solutions Peter Road Lancing, West Sussex BN15 8TH Tel: 01903 761 888 Fax: 01903 761 999 www.worldwidemailing.co.uk

Walsh Roofing Contractors Office 7, 30 Upperton Gardens, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 2AH Tel: 01323 736239 Mob: 07769 664358 www.walshroofing contractors.co.uk

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Home Grown Hero

Made In Sussex:

The Body Shop

With over 2,500 stores worldwide, model Lily Cole as their brand advocate and their new, successful Beauty With Heart movement to add to their ethical ethos, it’s hard to imagine that The Body Shop was the brainchild of one businesswoman in Brighton. SBT looks at the history of the iconic global brand whose headquarters are still in Littlehampton, West Sussex. The very first The Body Shop opened Brand on 26th March 1976 on North Street Focus in Brighton, East Sussex by Anita Roddick (then Anita Perilli) after she had visited a shop in Berkeley, California selling naturally scented soaps and lotions also called The Body Shop. The Berkeley Body Shop was run by two women named Peggy Short and Jane Saunders who were using natural ingredients in all of their beauty products whilst also helping to employ and train immigrant women. Roddick was inspired by the Californian operation and opened the first Body Shop with the initial aim of making an income for herself and her two daughters while her husband was away in South America. It was not until 1987 that Roddick was able to purchase the naming rights for her company from the original Body Shop in California. Despite its now global presence their first international store was a small kiosk, which was opened in Brussels in 1978, but from that point on the companies growth was swift and with Roddick as the face and voice of the company by 1982 new shops were opening at the rate of two per month thanks to the franchise model for retail growth devised by her and her husband. Her products and socially aware message were right for the times and The Body Shop blazed its own way into the traditional beauty markets,

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The University of Bath. And in 1997, she launched a global campaign to raise self-esteem in women and against the media stereotyping of them focusing on unreasonably skinny models in the context of rising numbers in bulimia and anorexia. Roddick’s pioneering attitude to issues and political awareness had become the core value of The Body Shop message and over the coming years she continued to have an increasingly powerful voice in Anita Roddick at her governmental decisions. Most first store in Brighton. notably when The Body Shop took a moral stand and became the first international cosmetics company to sign up to the Humane Cosmetics Standard, which led them to be described as trailblazing by the United Nations Environmental Programme. In 2003 this pioneering work was formally recognised when Roddick was appointed as a Dame of the British Empire in the Queens Honours List. However, as this work had become received over 2,500 applications increasingly important to her The Body for a Body Shop franchise. With Shop group which she had been so demand for The Body Shop products associated with became part of the growing internationally, driven by L’Oréal Group in 2006 as part of a retail expansion the company was £652.3 million takeover. It was reported trading in 39 countries within just that Anita and Gordon her husband fourteen years after the opening of the made £130 million from the sale. Brighton shop. Despite this commercial Without making the fact common growth Roddick never lost site of the knowledge Roddick was diagnosed importance of social awareness within with liver cirrhosis in 2004 due to the Body Shop brand and in 1990 The Body Shop Foundation was established, long-standing hepatitis C, a fact she did not reveal to the media until as a charity to fund human rights and February 2007. Despite her illness she environmental protection groups. promoted the work of the Hepatitis In 1995 she established The New C Trust and campaigned to increase Academy of Business as an innovative awareness of the disease until her death management degree to address social, environmental and moral issues through in 2007 aged 64. with innovative simple packaging, innovative shop fits and strident advertising campaigns created at its Littlehampton headquarters. In 1985 the company went public and took its social awareness into politic waters by sponsoring posters for Greenpeace and a year later creating an Environmental Projects Department of its own. By 1990, just one year after launching in the USA, Roddick had


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Your new alfa romeo dealer for sussex You don’t have to travel to Milan to find the best of Italian style, performance and engineering. PDH Cars, the new Alfa Romeo dealership for Sussex has it all, right on your doorstep. So whether you’re already an Alfa Romeo owner or would like an introduction you’ll find a little bit of Italy is now a little closer to home. Test drive the Alfa MiTo – our sporty supermini or the Alfa Giulietta – with coupé looks and 5 door practicality. We look forward to welcoming you to PDH Cars.

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Model shown Alfa MiTo 1.4 TB MultiAir 135 bhp ALFA TCT Distinctive at £17,925 OTR including Alfa Red special paint at £425 and Alfa Giulietta 1.4 TB MultiAir 170 bhp ALFA TCT Veloce at £23,645 OTR including Ghiaccio White special paint at £490. Range of official64fuelwww.sussexbusinesstimes.co.uk consumption figures for the Alfa Romeo MiTo and Giulietta range: Urban 26.2 – 64.2 mpg (10.8 – 4.4 I/100km); Extra Urban 48.7 – 97.4 mpg (5.8 – 2.9 I/100km); Combined 37.2 – 80.7 mpg (7.6 – 3.5 I/100km). CO 2 emissions 177 – 90 g/km.


Sussex Business Times Issue 363 2012