Talk Business Magazine December 2015

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W W W . T A L K B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . C O . U K

December 2015 £4.50

THE SOUND OF THE POLIZZI The Hotel Inspector reveals how something as simple as your ears can be the difference between business success and failure

RETURN TO SENDER What are your customers’ sale item refund rights this Christmas?

A ROAD TO NOWHERE How to keep your fleet vehicles on the road this winter

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inside 11 12 15

STRATEGY 45 Creative cojones Rich With says go big or go home

46 The data-ing game Why you should care about data protection regulations

Editor’s letter Contributors News & events

49 Season’s greetings Festive customer service tips

50 Wait a minute Mr Postman How to avoid a Christmas delivery downfall


53 Smooth shopping How to maximise efficiency in the retail sector

TECHNOLOGY 87 Winter worries Piers Linney looks at collaborative tools

89 Web builder vs web designer Which is the right one for you?

MARKETING 55 Learn by example you will Kimberly Davis - how Star Wars got its marketing right

SUCCESS 18 The sound of the Polizzi The Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, explains how opening your ears could save your business from peril

24 Take one company Vanarama

59 The 12 (mobile) ways of Christmas 62 All shook up Give a stale brand a fresh identity


Tech review The Gadget Show’s Ortis Deley gives his views on the latest tech

95 The collaboration persuasion How to achieve a better flexible working culture

98 Border control Top tips for ecommerce success in foreign lands

101 I’ve got an app for that

65 Let’s get digital Mark Wright discusses the importance of digital marketing


66 New kid on the block

From football to fleet vehicles, founder, Andy Alderson explains how Vanarama has scored big

How to generate publicity for a new start-up

29 Up and coming


Aaron Dicks, Impression

30 Lessons learned Donna Edwards, Cream PR

33 Book reviews

103 Franchise news 104 Should you loosen the sales leash? Nicky Tatley talks marketing tactics

108 Franchise spotlight Paul Stafford of the bfa talks to Chris Gillam of Guinot

69 My door is always open Leadership expert, Deborah Benson asks whether staff can really come to you


71 One of us FINANCE

How to integrate a new employee

72 Fired and furious

35 Return to sender What are your customers’ rights to return sale items at Christmas? Adam Aiken explains

36 Understanding the minimum wage debate 39 Assessing the situation Hiring a loss assessor

How to fire an employee the right way

75 ‘Tis the season to be mindful Avoid religious discrimination this Christmas

77 Xmas etiquette Lee McQueen explains how to avoid a riotous Christmas office party

42 Touch and go How contactless payments can aid your retail business



Sales Doctor Your questions answered

112 Right here, right now Smarter phone communications with Foehn

114 Sick and tyred Keep your vehicle healthy and on the road this winter

117 Legally speaking Wright Hassell on the perils of getting too merry this Christmas

118 Directory LIFESTYLE 79 We love... top tech 80 Hotspots: Ipswich Locations for business stays, meets, and eats in Suffolk

83 On the road: Nissan X-trail Tekna Oliver Hammond’s car review

84 Stocking fillers Amazing Christmas gifts to suit any budget

OPINION 121 Question of the month: We ask: “Would you ever ban the office Christmas to protect religious sensibilities?”

122 Trash talk Readers discuss the business phrases that annoy them most 9

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DESIGN Louise Salisbury


SALES EXECUTIVE Sid White Joe Christmas


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Following the herd or following the heard? Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply Stephen R Covey


here’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype, Reddit, Youtube, Vine, and people bumping into things as they walk along the street, heads down, eyes firmly glued to whatever text message they’re sending that minute. Everywhere you look, someone seems to be talking in some way. In a digital age dominated by the Internet, smartphones, social media, and the spoken (or typed) word, it’s sometimes hard to get a word in edgeways. However, it is often those who wax lyrical that find themselves in the greatest trouble when it comes to their business. They claim to have all the answers and that ‘the customer is rarely right’, but the balance sheet often tells a different story. In her time as The Hotel Inspector, The Fixer, and in numerous other advice-giving roles, our cover star this month, Alex Polizzi has used a wealth of experience to help turn around failing businesses across the hospitality industry. Unfortunately, in a world where many people think they’re infallible, and have nothing further to be taught, her words of wisdom are sometimes not heeded – often to disastrous consequences. She learned from a young age the value in listening, rather than talking, and has eschewed the virtues of learning from others ever since. After all, as Zeno of Citium famously said, “We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.” Discover what Alex has to say about succeeding in business, and why being able to take advice is so important – if you’re willing to listen, that is – on page 18. Elsewhere this month, we’ve got into the Christmas spirit with a whole host of articles designed to get you through the merriment with a smile (no matter how many times you’ve heard ‘mistletoe and wine’ before 1st December already). Get in on the mobile sales revolution with FACTFinder’s, Kevin Sparks this Christmas as he offers 12 ways to market through mobile on page 59, while the RAC explains how to keep your employees and their vehicles safe on the icy roads on page 114. All that’s left to be said is, from everyone here at Talk Business, we wish you a very merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and an even happier balance sheet in 2016! 11


The experts




A self-educated expert in online application development, Mickael Froger has 13 years’ experience, and has worked with some of the major ecommerce players, such as M6Web (part of the RTL Group) and (part of the LeGuide Group). As a president and ambassador of French professional networks such as Atlantic 2.0, and French Tech, he is actively involved in developing and supporting web and digital innovation in France and abroad. Mickael Froger founded Lengow together with Jérémie Peiro in 2009, and today the company is the European leader in feed management.

Paul Galpin, managing director of P2P Mailing, has been involved in the mailing industry for 16 years. He started in the express international courier business in 1995, and has been involved in mail and express distribution to the present day, having worked for various independent and global distribution businesses, including DHL Global Mail, where he was sales director in the UK and Ireland for five years. Paul was a founding member of P2P Mailing, which started in January 2009.

Tony is a sales trainer and co-founder of The Sales Doctor. He has more than 14 years’ experience in sales, both B2B and B2C, and has trained more than 1,500 sales professionals in a variety of industries. Alongside his business partner, Tony set up The Sales Doctor in May 2006. He started by cold calling to generate appointments, and within the first year, The Sales Doctor had 56 clients; this has continued to grow year-on-year. Tony’s ethos: you can sell any product or service with the right attitude and a well planned call structure.



12 December 2015





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news N

ew research from Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services reveals the festive season leaves employees feeling less motivated than any other time of year. When asked at what time of year individuals feel least motivated in the workplace, one in four employees highlighted Christmas as the most prevalent time for them to be in the doldrums, more so than New Year or summertime. As a result, employers will need to make every effort to keep staff engaged right through the Christmas period, in order to maintain performance levels. Short term rewarding is an effective way of ensuring temporary, part time, and full time employees feel valued and continually engaged with their work. One method of achieving this is through non-financial rewards. Sodexo’s research revealed that almost half of employees would most like multi-choice gift cards to be included

Christmas isn’t a gift for office productivity in their rewards package – a simpleto-implement gift, and affordable for businesses of any size. Jamie Mackenzie, marketing director at Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services, said: “With the dark nights drawing in, and winter weather looming, the excitement and positivity of Christmas can get lost in the workplace, and it can be very hard for employees to find focus, which often means that performance suffers as a result. Short term rewards are an extremely effective tool for breathing new life into a workforce.”

Survey reveals employees are likely to be less motivated in the run up to the holiday


Unhealthy employees costing British firms more than one month a year in lost productivity

B Britain’s ill are making SMEs sick

ritish companies are losing, on average, 23.5 days of productive time per employee each year as staff take time off sick and underperform in the office as a result of ill health. This is equivalent to each worker losing more than an entire working month of productive time annually. When translated into monetary terms, unhealthy lifestyles and poor health are costing British firms £57 billion a year in lost productivity. Research from Britain’s Healthiest Company (BHC), surveying more than 32,538 workers across all UK industries, also revealed that 36% of UK employees have a chronic condition, such as heart disease or diabetes, which are strongly associated with their lifestyle choices. Encouragingly however, BHC data shows that workplace wellness

programmes can support employees to improve their health. Average time lost per employee due to absenteeism and presenteeism at the top five ranked companies in BHC, was more than a week less than the average firm. Shaun Subel, director at VitalityHealth, said: “The findings of the Britain’s Healthiest Company research should serve as a wake-up call for UK firms to do more to improve the health and wellbeing of their staff. The data shows that organisations with an authentic and positive culture of wellness, see increased productivity from their employees. We would therefore urge all companies, big or small, to protect their bottom line by taking an active role in improving employee wellbeing.” Contact: 15


news 44% of SMEs forced to borrow to cover essential outgoings SMEs warned to plan ahead for Christmas and New Year shortfall


lmost half of small and medium sized businesses have been forced to urgently borrow money in order to cover basic monthly costs, such as wages. IGF Invoice Finance, which conducted the research, is urging SMEs to seek financial guidance, and prepare in advance of the Christmas period, when these essential outgoings peak. Across all industries, Christmas can bring great opportunity with boosts in sales, increased consumer appetite, and preparations for

the New Year. However, these often come with the requirement to increase staff head count, purchase higher volumes of stock, and prepare for a reduction in the number of working days. These factors will all lead to a disruption in business and potential strains on cash flow. To counter these festive challenges, small businesses need to ensure that they reach out to sources of free advice well in advance, in order to fully prepare for the season of late payments.

Tracy Ewen, managing director at IGF, says: “This year, the bank holidays around Christmas further reduce our working days, so we are imploring SMEs to avoid the difficulties of the season. By seeking advice about the options available, short-term, and unsustainable forms of borrowing can be avoided in place of practical and reliable solutions, enabling everyone to enjoy the festivities.” Contact:

DATES FOR THE DIARY Business Junction Networking Events 2 Dec - Christmas evening in Victoria 10 Dec - Lunch in Fitzrovia 16 Dec - Champagne breakfast in Shoreditch 22 Dec - Lunch in St Paul’s

Engaging Employees Conference 1st December One America Square, London www.engagingemployees The Business Show 3rd - 4th December Olympia Grand, London

Sterling Integrity 3 Dec - Midlands Cranmore Park 17 March - Taunton Somerset CCC

16 December 2015

Going Global Exhibition 3rd - 4th December ExCel, London

The Clothes Show 4th - 8th December NEC, Birmingham VegFest 2015 5th - 6th December SECC, Glasgow Pure Networking Evening 16th December Alea Casino, Nottingham

THE SOUND OF THE POLIZZI LISTENING. A simple word, and what should be a simple task, yet so many people seem to struggle with it. “The one thing I cannot stand is business owners who just will not listen. I’ve been to many hotels where the fix was simple and obvious common sense, but the owner just refused to listen.” The value of listening is something Alex knows all about. Growing up around her traditional Italian family, including her grandmother, famous hotelier Olga Polizzi, much of her childhood was spent eavesdropping on her family’s conversations about business.

18 December 2015

“I was taught, very traditionally, that children should be seen and not heard,” explained Alex. Therefore I spent a lot of time listening to my parents and grandparents, and I ended up absorbing quite a lot of their business chat. We always spent a very traditional Sunday dinner at my grandparents’ table without fail, and business was often much of the discussion. At that young age, I thought that business was this wonderful thing, the best thing in the world, and I grew up on it, and subsequently learned a lot.” Gracing our TV screens as ‘The Hotel Inspector’ on Channel 5, Alex has come across some of the best and worst in the hospitality

industry – including those who just refused to listen. If you thought you’d stayed in some bad places, some of the stories Alex could tell would truly make you cringe. Given that she was paid to visit some of these places, even she says she wouldn’t revisit them for any price. “Are there any places I ever thought I couldn’t help? Several!” she laughed, before elaborating. “There’s one place I stayed in Winchester, which I’ve been back to a couple of times, called the ‘First Inn Last Out’ (currently rated one and a half stars on Trip Advisor), which was a nightmare. I just can’t bring myself to go back again. He kept the place such a pigsty and takes no pride in it.



For me, if the room is not clean, then the GHDO LV Rƫ , GRQƎW ZDQW WR VWD\ VRPHZKHUH ZKHUH ,ƎP ZRUULHG about getting foot and mouth disease

During my eight years as the Hotel Inspector there were only a couple of places I refused to stay, but I was so appalled by the dodgy decor and a dirt-encrusted shower cubicle, that I simply couldn’t stay the night. “What some people in the hospitality industry don’t realise is that cleanliness is non-negotiable. For me, if the room is not clean, then the deal is off. I don’t want to stay somewhere where I’m worried about getting foot and mouth disease,” chuckled the well-known TV personality and former hotel manager. “This place in Winchester had some awful reviews, but some hotel owners will argue that review sites like Trip Advisor aren’t a true reflection of the business. However, there’s always a kernel of truth in reviews, even if they are exaggerated a little sometimes. You can’t afford to ignore your customers, as they’re the ones who decide whether your business lives or dies. Even I look on Trip Advisor sometimes to get a flavour of a place before I

20 December 2015

visit,” explained the London-born entrepreneur of Italian descent. “That being said, I don’t think the customer is always right. I’ve dealt with some very unreasonable customers in my time. But it’s their hard earned cash, so they deserve a hearing, and an understanding, and listening to politely.” Although Alex is perhaps best known as ‘The Hotel Inspector’ she has done much more, including a travel show called Alex Polizzi’s Secret Italy, which she describes as her favourite endeavour so far, as it allowed her to ‘reconnect with her roots’. Her latest project, though, has a more humanitarian side to things. “The new show is called ‘Alex Polizzi: Hire our heroes’ and the aim is to get returning soldiers and veterans back into the world of work,” she enlightened. “A whopping 20,000 veterans leave the army each year, which is a significant number looking to find work. It’s tragic that they have to fight a battle abroad for our country, and then fight another battle

back on ‘civvy street’. It’s something that should matter to everyone – after all, we sent them there in the name of Queen and country. My aim is to help get them back on their feet and into work.” Helping others is clearly a theme in Alex’s life, and she often uses her experience and wisdom, inside and outside of the hotel industry, to give others a leg up. Again, listening plays a part, as she feels that not enough people are opening their ears to the problems these returning soldiers have, and not enough debate is being had on what can be done to help. “Mental health issues seem to be the last taboo. One in five veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan come back with some form of mental illness, one in 25 have serious post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and they find it significantly harder to gain employment than the regular civilian when they return. I wanted to see what I could do about it. I’m a business person, there’s a terrible skills shortage in the UK, and veterans are usually very skilled and motivated, so it makes sense to try put these two parts together.” At school, Alex was always very astute and studious, which she believes has helped her to succeed in the hospitality industry. However, she says it is one of the subjects she wasn’t so strong on that has come to play a key part in her business achievements. “At school I was very well behaved,


believe it or not, and I was the Head Girl at both of my schools. I enjoyed school, but one of the subjects I didn’t get along in so well was maths, as I never really focussed on it and got a bit of ‘number blindness’. As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve realised just how essential that focus on the balance sheet is,� advised the married mother of two, who remarkably, despite her hospitality background, started a wholesale bakery, Millers Bespoke Bakery, which has supplied bread to famous names such as Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, and Fortnum & Mason. She continued; “If you don’t understand the figures, then you simply don’t know your business. That applies to whatever industry you’re in. There’s a narrative to the figures that show you better than anything just what is going wrong.� Perhaps unexpectedly, despite her illustrious career dealing with all manner of difficult and unyielding clients who refused to listen, when asked what the greatest challenge she has faced in business, this doesn’t even register as close to being the most difficult thing. “Honestly, the biggest challenge I’ve faced is now – trying to raise children while still working. I’m

22 December 2015

If you don’t understand the ƏJXUHV WKHQ you simply don’t know your business

Alex Polizzi’s top three tips for success:

1 2

Never lose sight of the ďŹ nancials. In these troubled times, most of us aren’t that far away from folding.


Ignore no detail. The little details are the things that make the biggest difference.

Focus on what you’re bad at. We all focus on what we’re good at because it’s easy, but it’s what we’re bad at that will cause problems.

always amazed at how people do it and seem to do it better than I do. I think that, when you do work well it is pretty all-consuming, but children demand so much attention, and to reconcile those two aspects of my life is something I personally really struggle with. So, I really admire all the parents and the ‘mumpreneurs’ out there that manage it,� said Alex. With her new show airing in just

a few weeks’ time, no doubt Alex will be hoping that her endeavours to highlight the terrible plight of returning vets will encourage people to stop keeping ‘mum’ about the issues and start conversing, as well as listening on the subject. ‘Alex Polizzi: Hire Our Heroes’ starts on Friday 11 December at 9pm on BBC Two


An online platform built by freelancers, for freelancers



hris Williams is the founder and Managing Director of Network Freelance, a platform for freelancers made by freelancers. Chris has a wide range of experience, from working as a Police Officer, through to working as a licensee. Throughout his early career, Chris got very involved in photography as a freelancer but found he wasn’t earning enough money. While working as a fulltime systems analyst, he came up with an idea that will transform the freelancing industry. Welcome, Network Freelance. We spoke with Chris to find out more about Network Freelance and why it’s better than any other platform. What inspired you to start the Network Freelance platform? As a freelance photographer, I looked into adding myself to a freelance platform. I went as far as creating the profile and uploading my portfolio and then I read a very well hidden ‘Terms and Conditions’ note. The note that told me I wouldn’t be able to withdraw any earnings until I had earned a specific amount. This shocked me to be quite frank. Why would this platform keep hold of my pay when they have already taken a cut from the project? That got me thinking and I started to research the services that were available for freelancers. I wanted a platform that worked for me as a freelancer. I couldn’t find one so I created one. So, how much does it cost for freelancers to be signed up with Network Freelance? You can be on here for free. This gives you the ability to apply for four projects. Once you have used all your free applications, there are membership levels that give you essentially a pay as you use option. There is a ‘Professional’ Package which for £40 allows limitless applications. Who will benefit from using the Network Freelance platform? Anyone. Everyone. Not only can you find some fantastically skilled freelancers and some great projects, but we have also teamed up with certain companies that offer solutions and benefits to freelancers. That’s our affiliate partnership scheme. These guys offer some great offers to freelancers and clients alike.

What is the main differentiation between Network Freelance and one of your major competitors? That’s easy; there are many however the biggest difference is we don’t drive down the cost of the project. Clients need to understand that if you are hiring a freelancer, you are already saving money. No PAYE, no NI. Just a set or agreed rate for the project. Other platforms actively encourage you to underbid your competition. As a freelancer, often this means you have to sell yourself short. It’s a real problem within the current global freelance market. There is an active campaign to drive the ‘bottom’ mentality surrounding these platforms. That isn’t healthy. Another fundamental difference is that we only offer an ESCROW payment as our payment solution. As we are UK based and want our ESCROW service to be the same. We also wanted that provider to be regulated and approved. To qualify for FCA regulation and approval, the ESCROW provider must not in any way be associated with the company that is providing the payments. I don’t know of any other platform that offers this security, approval and regulatory coverage. Why have you decided against the “bidding” system? Because a freelancer should be paid their worth and not feel compelled to lower their rate in order compete. Why would you encourage clients to post their project on Network Freelance, compared to other sites? Well, firstly we offer you the option to do this for free to try it. Once you have logged your first project, we then give you the option to take membership. We opted to do this rather than charge a higher percentage per project. Secondly, once you have your project logged you have the ability to communicate with freelancers before committing to accepting their proposals, get to know them a little more. How much does it cost to log projects? The first one is free. If you log four per month it costs £3.75 per project. If you log 10 a month, then it costs £2.50 per project. The more you log the cheaper the cost.

What types of freelancers are registered with Network Freelance? Currently, we have blog writers to designers, Search Engine Optimisation specialists to artists. We don’t restrict you in what your skills are, if we don’t have your skill in our Database, let us know and we will add it. Finally, where do you see the freelancer sector in 5 years time? Certainly the trend in the last 13 years has seen a steady increase in workers deciding to go self-employed. I don’t see this trend changing. There are many studies and reports detailing that by 2020, 1 in every 2 workers in the UK will work in a self-employed way to some degree. These are phonominal numbers and I’m not 100% sure it will be as drastic as that given the fact there are less then 5 years till 2020. However I do believe that the reasons for people to choose a freelance lifestyle will be different. Historically freelancers became freelance due to necessity. Recessions, lack of full time jobs to name a couple. Nowadays people choose freelance because they want that lifestyle. They want flexibility. They want to choose their working hours and ultimately they want to control their own future. One thing I do predict is that we will see more and more highly professional personnel such as Doctors, Professors, Specialist Engineers etc choosing to go freelance. The way we work is changing and for the better in my eyes. Job Board Network Freelance is currently working on creating a Job Board for contracts. This will be launched before Christmas and be a key part in creating the community feel to the platform. A one stop shop for all your freelance and contracting needs. Call: 020 3829 6851


Simply Vanderful Founded in 2007, in just eight short years Vanarama has rocketed to prominence as one of the leading van leasing brokers in the UK. But how did this sudden astronomical rise occur? Editor, Luke Garner, sat down with the mastermind behind the operation, CEO and founder, Andy Alderson, to find out how its marketing endeavours are fuelling its growth

24 December 2015

LG: YOUR RISE TO THE TOP OF YOUR MARKET HAS BEEN QUITE RAPID – HOW IMPORTANT HAS ADVERTISING AND MARKETING BEEN IN THAT SUCCESS? AA: I think there are two main ways to grow a business – find more customers or sell to the ones you already have, more often. You can’t really do either without marketing in some form. Marketing is about knowing who your audience is, and applying appropriate messages to them. We understand exactly who our customer is, and this enables us to work smarter. “For instance, as part of work to launch our first TV advert, we carried out extensive research into what our core customers liked. One thing that came out on top was sport - and in particular, football. It’s not really a surprise that van users like football,


and we had good results from our TV and radio campaign so, while the sponsorship of The National League was a really huge investment for the business at the time, we knew it would connect with our customers. “The exposure from the deal was huge too. Aside from the coverage with the 68 clubs, and everything that comes with that, it also gave us real credibility with potential customers and suppliers. Every Saturday evening, the BBC (amongst others) mentions our brand on the football results round-ups. Our instinct and research proved right and, within six months, we’d doubled website traffic and orders.

LG: WHAT PART HAS SOCIAL MEDIA PLAYED IN THAT AWARENESS CAMPAIGN? AA: We’re extremely active on social media, in particular Twitter. It’s a great vehicle for giving the brand its tone of voice; we like to be playful and engage with our audience. Our forays into the world of football also give us an opportunity to diversify the conversation, so we don’t just drone on about vans. Social media is way above the customer funnel, but if we get it right, then when customers are ready to buy we’ll be in their minds. We test with content so we are able to see what our audience wants to engage with and then we do more of what works. Engagement is critical to successful social media too and being ‘always on’ is also vital, being ready to respond in the evening as well as during the day.

There are two main ways to grow a EXVLQHVV ƬQG PRUH FXVWRPHUV RU VHOO WR WKH RQHV \RX DOUHDG\ KDYH PRUH RIWHQ LG: YOU MENTION YOU TEST CONTENT TO CHECK ENGAGEMENT. WHAT ROLE DOES DATA COLLECTION PLAY IN BUSINESS SUCCESS? AA: As a business grows, so does the amount of data available to collect and understand. One of the biggest challenges is establishing a mechanism for gathering the data, a structure for interpreting it, and gaining a knowledge of what data is most useful. Businesses generate lots of data on a daily basis, some

thing. Transparent businesses, such as ours, thrive on a customer’s thirst for wanting to know more, as our website has been developed to give them the information they want, when they want it. It certainly hasn’t helped the sector though; as a whole the industry has suffered from a lack of trust for a long time. I’ve not seen anything of this scale before, especially from such a previously well trusted brand, so it will be interesting to see how things develop.

of it without really knowing it - the challenge is to harness it and use it to make strategic and tactical decisions that guide and help grow the business.

At Vanarama we tackle the trust issue by working hard to break down the traditional barriers that stop people from getting in touch. We’ve developed certain key messages in our marketing that help to strip away customers’ fears and give them the confidence to buy from us. One such tool is our ‘8-Point Price Protection Guarantee’, which basically gives the customer complete peace of mind, and helps to allay any fears about dealing online.

LG: GIVEN THE RECENT VOLKSWAGEN EMISSIONS SCANDAL, AND OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA ‘FAILS’, HOW DO YOU ENGENDER TRUST IN YOUR BUSINESS, AND WHY IS IT VITAL TO HAVE THAT TRUST BETWEEN THE CUSTOMER AND A BUSINESS? AA: Fortunately we don’t have all our eggs in one basket with regards to manufacturers, so scandals of this nature tend to affect us less than say, a main dealer who only supplies that particular make of vehicle. What it has done is make the consumer more aware and ask more questions though, but I believe that is a good

LG: YOUR BUSINESS SURELY COULDN’T HAVE SUCCEEDED WITHOUT HARD WORKING EMPLOYEES. HOW DO YOU KEEP THEM MOTIVATED? AA: It’s not just important to keep them motivated, it’s absolutely critical. Along with myself, the management team and board drive the strategy and vision I have for the business. Keeping them motivated and happy 25


ensures that this filters through to the teams working under them. One of the best decisions I ever made was to introduce a company wide profitrelated bonus scheme. Crucially, the really important thing we did here was to link it customer satisfaction. From a recent staff survey we conducted, you’d be amazed how important delivering great service is to employees, as they want to work for a company that cares for its customers, as well as them. Happy and engaged staff are not just motivated by money though – we also work hard on their wellbeing. We have a lot of staff engagement days that bring the team together, including nights out and activities in the workplace, such as bring your pet to work day, dress up for halloween, and other celebrations. To ensure we have a healthy workforce, we introduced free fruit every day and wellbeing days – every Thursday all staff can have a massage, join a yoga class, or enjoy some meditation and relaxation classes – and this is in addition to their normal lunch break. It’s absolutely worth the investment. LG: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANYONE LOOKING TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS? AA: Firstly, get on and do it. No one’s going to put it on a plate for you, but make sure you do your research thoroughly. Once you’ve done that, know your numbers. Without doubt, my best advice to any would-be entrepreneurs is to get a firm grip on the numbers from day one. They will

26 December 2015

One of the biggest challenges is establishing a mechanism for gathering the data, and a structure for interpreting it be your best indicator as to when you should invest more in the business, or rein in spending to protect the future of the business. Perhaps most importantly, find someone who is willing to give you an ear, and learn when to ask for it. The biggest thing I missed about working

for someone else was the chance to talk to other managers and colleagues. Being a business owner can be a lonely place to be. My non-executive is worth her weight in gold to me. Contact:

HERE ARE ANDY’S TOP TIPS FOR ANYONE LOOKING TO LEASE A FLEET VEHICLE FOR THEIR BUSINESS: 1 KNOW YOUR NEEDS There are many different types of lease, which all have different options at the end of the agreement, so you have to know the essentials: what mileage will you be doing; what do you need to carry; how long do you expect to need the vehicle for; etc.? 2 BE HONEST ABOUT USAGE You’ve got to have a good idea of what condition the van is likely to be in at the end. In some cases, a van can be absolutely trashed after doing just a few thousand miles because of the type of work done with it. You can still lease a van if this is the case, but you have to make sure that the supplier knows this (any good business will ask you), so that they can quote the right leasing product. 3 CONSIDER MAINTENANCE All vans are pretty good now so you don’t have to be a mechanic and, as you’re leasing a new van, you’ll benefit from a warranty of no less than three years. However, you can also add a maintenance package to your lease so that, apart from insurance and fuel, you’ll pretty much have fixed cost motoring.




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First impressions

This month we talk to Aaron Dicks who co-founded a digital marketing agency that has gone from strength to strength over the last six months


aron Dicks co-founded digital marketing company, Impression when he was 22. Three years on, the business has grown from two to 15 employees, and has surpassed revenue expectations of £500,000 in Impression’s third year of trading. WHAT EXACTLY IS YOUR BUSINESS, AND HOW DOES IT HELP PEOPLE? Impression is a digital marketing agency that specialises in providing the latest SEO, PPC, and Digital PR services to a national client portfolio. We’re in the business of building organic links to our clients’ sites, which ultimately results in increased profit for these companies.

WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION AND MOTIVATION TO GET STARTED IN BUSINESS? My co-founder, Tom, and I had known that we wanted to start a business for some time; we just didn’t know what business. While working together as in-house marketers at a renewable energy firm, we came into contact with a number of different agencies from the client side. We decided that we weren’t happy with the account management, or the SEO and PPC results. As a result, we started doing a few small, freelance projects for local businesses and charities, then in 2012 we made the jump to full time.

The recruitment challenge has been solved by us having a fun and vibrant RƎFH DQG EHFDXVH ZH WDNH RXU WLPH WR ƏQG WKH ULJKW SHRSOH HOW DID YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY REACT TO YOU STARTING A BUSINESS AT 22? Everyone seemed happy for me really, there were no major concerns. My friends think it’s cool and they’re pleased that Impression is growing well. WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM? The recruitment challenge has been solved by us having a fun and vibrant office, and because we take our time to find the right people; we refuse to use recruitment agencies. We’ve ensured reliable cash flow by using innovative payment solutions with clients, such as direct debits and cloud accountancy, and generally keeping on top of our accounts. Project management is made 100 per cent easier by using Basecamp - each member of the team can see how their day-to-day to-do list contributes to the entire project, and works in line with other team members.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANYONE WANTING TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS? Be careful and very realistic up front: it’s not easy, and it does take a lot of time. It’s important to be ready to give up ownership of some tasks; once you can afford it, delegation is key. Spend time on what you’re best at and become a specialist in that area: there’s no point in trying to cover everything to please everyone, as you’ll end up delivering substandard work. HOW DO YOU EXPECT YOUR BUSINESS TO DEVELOP IN THE FUTURE? Impression is going to keep on growing, but at a controlled rate. We need to work more on our internal tools, which we’re continuing to invest in. We’re already working on higher value work, and there’s much more to come from us yet! Contact: 29


Lessons learned Love what you do and show it. Don’t be afraid to let people see your personality

30 December 2015


Donna Bedford, associate director of Cream PR, looks at the seven things she has learned since joining the business, with the benefit of hindsight

ream is a fast growing PR and marketing communications company, based in South Yorkshire. It helps clients build their businesses through award winning communications. Whether you’re seeking PR, social media, crisis management, brand management, media training, copywriting, or search marketing, Cream’s team can help you to stand out from the crowd. Having joined the company in 2014, Donna has learned many things that have helped her and the business to succeed. Here are just a few:


KNOW YOUR MARKET Fully understand your potential customers, suppliers, competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, and know where you sit in the market, and why you are unique. One of the key factors to running a successful business is observing what your competitors do, and doing it better. If you can’t out-spend your competitors, then you have to out-think them. Out-think your competitors customer relations strategies. Customers should be the focal point of absolutely everything that you do. At Cream, we run ‘Cream Explore’ sessions aimed at getting to know all the ins and outs of our clients’ businesses: their strengths, weaknesses, competitors, and aspirations. Only then can we deliver a tailored package of PR and marketing activities that will produce tangible results.

NEVER GIVE UP Keep on trying and working hard, even when the going gets tough, which it does. It’s an old adage, but it is how we deal with crises, and sets us apart from our competitors. It’s how we pick ourselves up when times get tough, which mark us out. Resilience is key to success. Cream was actually founded when its directors were threatened with redundancy from a previous role where they both worked. Determination, especially in difficult times, is often the difference between success and failure. CASH IS KING Always know your numbers, what’s coming in, what’s going out, and keep control of cash flow. Though average financial management might see you through as an employee, it certainly won’t as the owner of a business. Taking control, and accurately forecasting your finances, is key to

to invest your efforts into those who have already entrusted you to help with their businesses. If a new client or proposition seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If you do have suspicions about a new client’s ability to pay, or their motivation, then ensure you carry out due diligence – always credit check and do your homework. GO THE EXTRA MILE Do everything in your power to make your customer feel valued and appreciated. Little things, such as a tea and coffee chart detailing your client’s favourite drinks for when they come in for meetings, are a small, non-costly way to set yourself apart from other businesses, and show that you go the extra mile when it comes to looking after your customers. Ensuring a good service, evaluation, and return on investment goes without saying. But don’t forget that, in life and in business, it’s the little things that count.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. You don’t have to say yes to every job that comes along

SHOW YOUR PASSION Love what you do and show it. Don’t be afraid to let people see your personality. Whether it’s taking time out to network, fun team pictures at launch events or having a Friday pizza day in the office, there is no shame in loving your job and being open and honest about it. No-one wants to work with dull, uninventive agencies and the world of PR is constantly changing so we have to as well. This goes for every sector, not just communications. If your brand is youthful and energetic, then make sure your employees are mirroring your brand.

running a successful business, and should be monitored every day to ensure cash flow is always accounted for. Don’t hide from numbers and, if you’re unsure about your finances, seek professional advice. DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY NO Don’t spread yourself too thin. You don’t have to say yes to every job that comes along. Go with your gut instinct and, if it seems too good to be true, walk away. Similarly to cash flow, effective time management is also crucial in running a successful business. Taking on exciting new clients is always tempting, but if you don’t have the time or resources to do the job justice, it’s always best

HIRE GREAT STAFF Surround yourself with the best – don’t compromise on skills and expertise for lower cost. If you spent time building a Ferrari, you wouldn’t let just anyone service it, would you? The same applies to your business. Surround yourself with those with a similar work ethic, mindset, and investment in the business as you. This is the only way you can ensure long-term success. Invest in excellent employees, as they are the future of your business. Similarly, invest in quality training, and reward your staff. Create a culture where your competitors’ staff want to work for you, and your own staff remain loyal. Contact: 31

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BOOK reviews How To Be Brilliant At Public Speaking Learn the six qualities of an inspiring speaker – step by step by Sarah Lloyd-Hughes Our verdict: About the author: A social entrepreneur, and founder of award-winning company, Ginger Training & Coaching, Sarah Lloyd-Hughes has worked with hundreds of professionals to help them learn to communicate with courage and to inspire. We say: Whether it is for an important business pitch, a political speech, a presentation, or even simply in social situations, such as weddings, being called on to speak in public is something

Traction How any start-up can achieve explosive customer growth by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares Our verdict: About the authors: Gabriel Weinberg is the founder of DuckDuckGo, a search engine that emphasises user privacy by not tracking its users on more than three billion searches in 2015. Justin Mares is the founder of two startups, and former director of revenue at Exceptional, a software company that was acquired by Rackspace.

We’ve got one of each book to give away FREE. Be the first to follow and tweet us, quoting the book name @TalkBusinessMag and we’ll send you a free copy!

that fills many people with dread. Seemingly all but a few talented individuals will stumble over their words, ramble on, or freeze with embarrassment. Using a fun, fresh approach with simple tools, techniques, and memorable illustrations, the book explains the six qualities that everyone, from novices to experienced speakers, will need to really engage and inspire an audience – awareness, empathy, balance, freshness, fearlessness, and authenticity. Learning what type of speaker you are, which you want to be, and how to get there, is made simple by the step-by-step guide running throughout the book. It’s a must for anyone who has ever struggled with speaking in public, or even those just looking to fine tune their performance. How To Be Brilliant At Public Speaking is published by Pearson, priced at £12.99, and is available as a paperback.

We say: Building a successful company is hard. Smart entrepreneurs know that the key to success isn’t the originality of your offering, the brilliance of your team, or how much money you raise – it’s how consistently you can grow and acquire new customers. Traction will teach you the nineteen channels you can use to build a customer base, and offers a three-step framework to figure out which ones will work best for your business. No matter how you apply them, the lessons and examples will help you create, and sustain, the growth your business desperately needs. Traction is published by Penguin Random House, is priced at £14.99, and is available as a paperback. 33

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aving a formal refund process in place should be part of your normal trading plan, but we are approaching a time of year when customer returns take on even more importance, particularly for retailers. Broadly speaking, there are three main aspects to how you deal with refunds – legal, moral, and commercial. THE LEGAL ASPECT Knowing the law is vital. You are obligated to accept returns only if the goods are faulty. However, if you have your own returns policy in place, you have to abide by it. So, if you state that you allow any returns within seven days, for any reason, you must honour that promise. If an item is faulty, doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, or is not as described, you must offer a full refund, as long as it is returned to you within 30 days. After this, you are allowed to make a repair or offer a replacement before offering a refund, although a refund might still be the most sensible option. There are a few exceptions though – for example, if something is damaged

How you deal with customer refunds should be straightforward, says Talk Money’s Adam Aiken

because the customer tried to fix it themselves, or if something was clearly sold with a discount precisely because it was faulty in the first place.


THE MORAL ASPECT Just because you know the law, don’t automatically dismiss out of hand any requests for refunds that don’t necessarily tick all the legal boxes. It’s probably sensible to be a little more flexible around Christmas. Purchases made at this time of year can be slightly different. For a start, when it comes to gifts, the people who make the purchases aren’t the recipients of those presents. Furthermore, some people do their Christmas shopping in advance, and some recipients don’t always find it easy to return unwanted items immediately after Christmas – they might live far away, for example. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Would you feel fairly treated if you returned an item on 5 January, say, only to be told that it had been bought on 1 December, and was therefore ineligible for a refund?

with the commercial aspect of refunds. If you state that you accept returns for any reason within 14 days, and you then deny a refund for something returned after 15 days, how has that helped your reputation? You’re unlikely to get repeat business from a disgruntled customer, and word of mouth means your reputation could be sullied further afield, too.

THE COMMERCIAL ASPECT The moral side of things ties in neatly

WHAT ABOUT THE CHRISTMAS SALES? The only thing different in a sale is the price – your customers’ rights remain the same. So if something faulty bought in a sale is returned within 30 days, you must refund the price the customer paid. If the 30-day period is up, and you decide to offer a replacement instead, you must offer an equivalent item even if the sale is over. You can’t insist that the customer pays the difference between the original price paid and the replacement item. 35


Understanding the Minimum Wage debate Neil Lagden, head of Bond Payroll Services, breaks down what compulsory wage increases could mean for SMEs

36 December 2015


Would it make more sense to retain core customer-facing employees and look again at outsourcing EDFN RĆŽFH IXQFWLRQV VXFK DV SD\UROO DQG +5"


mployee wages have taken centre stage following George Osborne’s first post-election budget, that heralded the arrival of the National Living Wage. Coming at a time when annual earnings have risen at their fastest rate for five years – 3.2% annual rise to June 2015 – the announcement of a new compulsory living wage of £7.20 an hour for employees under 25, rising to £9 per hour by 2020, has sent shockwaves through UK companies. As SMEs begin to analyse the potential costs, assess the options for employing younger staff, reconsider flexible and part-time working, and even apprenticeships, the role of payroll has never been more important. As Neil Lagden, head of Bond Payroll Services, explains, not only do these changes place a new burden on already stretched payroll teams, but the pressure is on to deliver in-depth financial payroll reporting to support essential, strategic HR planning. NATIONAL LIVING WAGE Many SMEs were already considering the implications of the New Minimum Wage (NMW), due to come into play in October 2015, when the Chancellor changed the game by announcing the introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW) for all employees under 25 years old. Now businesses need to understand the bottom line costs of wages rising, not just 20 pence to £6.70 per hour, but actually up 70 pence to the £7.20 per hour NLW. When industry figures show mixed reactions – with the CBI

calling it a ‘big gamble’, while Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors said it was time for employers to increase wages – it is no wonder businesses are confused. Now there is a fear that smaller organisations, already struggling with the additional costs associated with Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Auto-Enrolment (AE), simply will not be able to afford the change. There is also some confusion in terminology and timing. The existing minimum wage for those over 21 years old is ÂŁ6.50 per hour. The new compulsory NLW affects workers over 25 years old. Companies now have to consider the minimum wage, (official) living wage, (new) living wage, and London living wage - with different rates and relating to different age groups. At a time when companies were already forecasting a 3% annual wage increase in 2015, according to a salary trends survey by ECA International, it is clearly essential that organisations get a quick handle on the bottom line implications of the changing Government policy. UNDERSTANDING COSTS This is not an issue any organisation can afford to ignore – especially given HMRC’s increasing determination to improve compliance, and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ willingness to ‘name and shame’ those businesses who have failed to pay their workers the National Minimum Wage. An assessment of the immediate impact on the wages bill may well

be the first step for employers. That is just the start of the reporting burden on payroll teams. Payroll may additionally need to deliver reports with full age break down to understand the different rates applicable to the different age groups. From a planning viewpoint, there may also be a need to project ahead if the employee base is predominantly young, to track the rise in wages as employees turn 25 years old. HR STRATEGY What are the options for companies facing an escalating AE contribution? One approach would be to reduce individual employee hours, and opt for higher numbers of part-time employees. While this avoids the potential AE cost by limiting the number that reach the threshold, what will be the additional overhead, both in recruitment costs and payroll processing of the extra employees? Would it make more sense to retain core customer-facing employees, and look again at outsourcing back-office functions, such as payroll and HR? The wages debate is probably long overdue. However, one point is clear: organisations cannot afford to make knee-jerk decisions. In a time of rising employment, effective employee management and retention is business critical. Organisations need trusted, accurate insight into wage costs, and the ability to ask ‘what if’ questions regarding the financial impact of different strategies. Contact:


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Assessing the situation When and why might you need to hire a loss assessor? The experts at Harris Balcombe explain


hree things will safeguard your business against unpredictable disasters such as fires, floods, thefts, and even product recalls. Your first line of defence is to reduce the risks that a disaster might occur in the first place. This can involve many things, from investing in fire alarms and security equipment, to implementing stringent health and safety, and quality control policies. Your second line of defence is to take out an insurance policy that covers all eventualities, to ensure that you’ve got a safety net should the unthinkable ever happen. The third line of defence is less obvious, and it’s an area that far too many businesses neglect. Did you know that, when you make an insurance claim, there’s no real guarantee that you’ll receive a settlement? How will your business recover from a crisis if you cannot depend on a settlement? If you really want to safeguard your business against disaster, you need to do all you can to make sure that insurance claims progress in a way that’s best for you. And for this, you need a loss assessor. WHY DOES YOUR BUSINESS NEED A LOSS ASSESSOR? With their expert advice and unwavering support, loss assessors can safeguard your business against unforeseen circumstances,

ensuring that a minor crisis does not escalate into a full-on disaster. Indeed, having a loss assessor on your side can save your business money in the long run. Through helping them to recover, and through ensuring that they receive precisely the compensation they deserve, loss assessors have singularly saved many businesses from potential ruin. In the event of a workplace crisis – whether it’s a flood, a fire, or a break-in – you’ll obviously have to make a claim on your insurance policy. Throughout the difficult claims process, loss assessors are the only parties who you can trust to act with your business’s best interests in mind. Because the truth is, you really cannot trust your insurance company. In an attempt to limit the amount they have to pay out, many insurance companies will leave no stone unturned in trying to prove that the losses your business has suffered are not covered by the terms of your policy. If the claim is particularly contentious, they may even send their own loss adjuster to your site. It’s their job to gather evidence in order to establish the cause of the incident. But of course, because they’re representing your insurance company, it’s in their best interests to secure the lowest possible settlement. This is why you need somebody on your side. This is why you need a loss assessor.

When it comes to loss assessors, word of mouth recommendations carry a lot of weight 39


WHAT DOES A LOSS ASSESSOR DO? A loss assessor will manage your entire insurance claim from start to finish. The specific service they provide will vary depending on the nature of the claim, but it can involve: • Preparing and presenting your insurance claim and negotiating any contentious points. • Coordinating both your insurer and their loss adjusters to ensure you get the settlement you deserve. • Helping you to maintain your cash flow through generating immediate interim payments. • Organising emergency works to secure your premises and reduce the risks of any further damage. • Appointing specialist surveyors, and supervising them throughout the renovation project. • A loss assessor can even help to get you through product recalls, and business interruption claims. Put simply, no matter what goes wrong, a loss assessor will know precisely what to do to get your business back on track.

services of a loss assessor? How did they find it? How did the claims process go? Chances are, if a loss assessor can help them, then they can help you.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT LOSS ASSESSOR FOR YOUR BUSINESS ASK AROUND When it comes to loss assessors, word of mouth recommendations carry a lot of weight. Loss assessors can also assist in home insurance claims. So ask around – has anyone in your business recently used the

WHEN SHOULD I APPOINT A LOSS ASSESSOR? Many businesses make the mistake of only appointing loss assessors when they need them

LOOK FOR CREDENTIALS When choosing a loss assessor, you should only work with companies that have been authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This independent body is enlisted by the UK Government to protect consumers from bad practice and unscrupulous behaviour within the financial services industry. If your loss assessor has FCA accreditation, then they can be trusted to deliver a fair and reliable service. DO YOUR RESEARCH Before you choose your loss assessor, take some time to look into their background. Many loss assessor firms provide case studies and lists of past clients on their website. If the loss assessors have worked with any businesses from your sector, or if they’ve represented anyone you know and trust, then you know you’ve found a match.

Did you know, when you make an insurance claim, there’s no real guarantee that you’ll receive a settlement?

40 December 2015

– that is, when things go wrong. But for best results, it is vital that you enlist the services of a loss assessor as early as possible – ideally as soon as you know you’ve got an insurance claim on your hands. The more time your loss assessor has to prepare and present your claim, the more likely you are to receive the settlement to which you’re entitled. Contact:

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Touch and go


he way we pay for goods and services has undergone more change in the past five years than in the 40 years before that. No wonder so many small business owners are scratching their heads and wondering how to keep up. Contactless payment technology has been the big story of 2015, but mobile payments increasingly seem to be where the future is headed. With the new £30 upper limit now in effect, James Frost, UK CMO at Worldpay, walks you through what you need to know about contactless, and how to keep your customers happy during a period of rapid change. FAST, SIMPLE, SECURE It’s fair to say that the contactless payments revolution is already in full swing; more than £2.5 billion was spent in the first half of 2015 alone, with more than 69 million such cards in circulation, according to the Cards Association. However, while contactless payments have been around for several years, it is only in the last few that it has become mainstream, and something that all

42 December 2015

businesses – large or small – need to think about adopting. The underlying technology involves a tiny antenna, which is placed inside the consumer’s credit, debit, or charge card, mobile device, key fob, or wearable device. When it is placed against the contact terminal, relevant data is sent between the two, and the terminal contacts the issuing bank to OK the transaction. It’s fast, simple, and highly intuitive – exactly what today’s time-

poor consumers demand. Already, big high street names, including Burger King, M&S Simply Food, and Boots, have signed up to contactless payments. Transport providers like Stagecoach are also supporting the method, which will help increase user familiarity with the standard. Business owners need to ensure they are keeping pace, or risk customers being lured away to the larger chain establishments.


If your business takes a high volume of payments under £30, and you’re struggling to keep queues down during peak times, contactless is for you Contactless payment has emerged as a quick, easy, and popular way for consumers to pay for goods. Here, James Frost, UK CMO at Worldpay, takes a look at how retailers can join the revolution

THE NEXT PUSH So what exactly are the benefits of adopting contactless payments? Why should small business owners care? For those that think contactless is only relevant to larger retailers – think again. The rise in spend limit via contactless card, from £20 to £30, shows how much customers value convenience. Being able to literally ‘tap and go’ is a major selling point for shoppers, hence the limit rise. For small businesses with a high volume of low spend, contactless offers another route to success by helping to maximise every interaction to meet tight profit margins and drive growth. Simply put, contactless means being able to serve customers faster and cut down queues. Using contactless means you’ll never miss a sale during peak times. Thinking about adopting contactless? Read our guide on the things you need to consider to get the most out of the technology:


First, sit down and work out if contactless is for you. If your business takes a high volume of payments under £30, and you’re struggling to keep queues down during peak times, the answer is yes.

For those that think contactless is only relevant to larger retailers - think again


Think about how to make it as simple to use as possible – for you and the customer. Have as few steps to pay as possible, so your customer doesn’t have to wait too long before they can tap their card to pay.


Check if your terminal can already take contactless. If it can, then all you need to do to get started is contact your payments provider and get it enabled.

If your card machine is a bit older, then it might not be capable of taking contactless payments, and you’ll need to swap it for a newer one that can.


Check your terminal supports the latest technical specifications for High Value NFC. A payments provider like Worldpay can manage all the compliance and specification needs for your business.


Promote contactless at the till. Card machine wraparound advertising has been effective for many UK retailers, but small businesses could consider other counter signage and instore adverts too. The UK Cards Association has some great advice on how to promote contactless.


Train your employees. They need to understand the basics of contactless; the maximum value that can be used, security features, and so on. They will play a vital role in telling your card-carrying customers they can also pay with contactless, so they need to be positive about this option.


Finally, don’t underestimate the benefit of working with an experienced payments provider. They’ll be able to guide you through the whole process. Ultimately, contactless is all about offering your customers the choice to pay the way they want to. It provides a convenience that can only improve the purchasing experience to drive revenue and customer retention. Contact: 43





3 & 4 DECEMBER 2015

















Truly creative work doesn’t get produced via committee

Sometimes, brands need to be careful what they wish for, argues Rich With


hat we need is something really creative,” the new client said. Every day brand agencies, designers, and marketers across the planet hear that very same phrase, and sigh inwardly. Brands (and increasingly smaller, local brands too) realise that they need to differentiate themselves from their competitors. They have dreams of being disrupters, the next Uber or Tesla. However, the reality of challenging their market can be a frightening wake-up call to many. Business and creativity aren’t always the best of friends. Creative companies are often viewed as arty, with little regard for RoI and the bottom line, while creatives often view the business people as lacking in vision. A successful brand needs to have both, which is a challenge that can easily descend into compromise. Truly creative work doesn’t get produced via committee. Time after time you put a project before a group of decision makers and it will get watered down as compromise follows redundant opinion. Someone doesn’t like the colour red, another doesn’t like the font.

Creative cojones Another thinks the model isn’t right for the brand, or is too edgy. So what started out as dynamic, edgy, and passionate, often becomes a bit brown and a bit bland. This can result in middle-of-the-road results, where your brand isn’t despised, but then it isn’t truly loved either, so there’s no loyalty given to your company – it just potters along. To get a truly remarkable and disruptive brand, you are going to need strong-willed management that isn’t going to fold because a family member ‘doesn’t get it’. To get the best out of your brand, you should embed yourself with the creative team. You need to be part of it, and work alongside them through every step. You need to be a partner of equal standing with the creative department because that’s when the best work gets done. It’s going to take dialogue and mutual respect – these creative people

have a wealth of experience that you’d be wise to listen to, but you can always be the voice of reason and force the creatives to question their judgement if you deem it necessary. If all this sounds like a lot of hassle, that’s because it is. It takes cojones to really make something remarkable, and many will argue if it’s really worth the effort. Don’t be fooled – creative brands can deliver so much to your business, and not just in monetary terms. You can get recognition from your peers, increased customer and staff retention, fantastic PR, and don’t discount that amazing feeling you get when you reflect on the gem of an idea you had in the first place, that has now become an awe-inspiring reality. If you truly feel a creative overhaul coming on, seriously focus on how to embrace it with both hands, and ride the arguably tricky road – to do anything less isn’t worth it. Contact: 45


Adapting your policies to the new regulation measures may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be

46 December 2015


Sensitive information is becoming more and more vulnerable as businesses rely on outdated security policies

The data-ing game Asaf Cidon, CEO of Sookasa, asks: “Why should businesses care about the General Data Protection Regulation?”


s businesses across the European Union prepare for changes stemming from the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it’s an opportune time to evaluate what is, and isn’t, working in their current security frameworks. Over the past several months, I’ve had several conversations with industry leaders in Europe who felt caught offguard - at first - by the sudden need to overhaul their security, based on the new regulations; after all, they have businesses to run, and making security a corporate imperative can be a full-time job. But while adapting your policies to the new regulation measures may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be if you take some concrete steps to bolster your already existing protocols. Moreover, the GDPR has the potential to ward off certain security storms; it’s coming at a time when data breaches are reaching record highs, and sensitive corporate, client, and patient data has essentially become a free-for-all. WHY SHOULD BUSINESSES CARE ABOUT THE GDPR? For too long, it’s been easy to dismiss some security regulations as irrelevant to otherwise non-regulated businesses.

With the GDPR, that’s no longer possible. The GDPR is broadening the definition of ‘personal data’ to include pseudonymous and genetic data, often used in research and development. It’s also expanding regulations to any business collecting data on EU residents, as well as to third-party vendors or suppliers. Higher accountability means higher security – for your company and your clients. Data breaches are at an all-time high too, and sensitive information is becoming more and more vulnerable as businesses rely on outdated security policies, and can’t keep up with changing technology. Meanwhile, business is becoming increasingly mobile, meaning that more and more employees are taking work to the cloud, whether or not they’re officially allowed to do so by their employers. 42% of workers in the UK use cloud applications that aren’t sanctioned by their workplace. The problem is that, when there’s no oversight of the cloud, there’s no oversight of security either. By the same token, what most people don’t acknowledge is that cloud providers’ default encryption and security measures do not extend to files that are synced to mobile devices. So, if an employee syncs sensitive client data from their Dropbox to their iPad to prepare for a meeting at home, that information is unsecured if they lose the tablet. Worryingly, more than 750,000 smartphones get stolen in the UK each year. That’s a lot of potentially sensitive data floating around that ought to be encrypted instead.

WHAT CAN BUSINESSES DO TO PREPARE? • EMBRACE THE CLOUD Let’s face it – employees are already using the cloud in their personal and, often, work lives. It increases productivity and makes work easier but, in order to guarantee security when work is in the cloud, everyone must be using the same provider with management oversight. • ENCRYPT DATA AT THE FILE-LEVEL Encryption is key to maintaining security in the cloud. Encrypting at the file-level ensures protection on mobile devices, and anywhere a file is synced or shared. With a crackdown on the way personal data is being shared, encryption will make your company’s life easier by ensuring that only authorised users are able to access sensitive files. • ENABLE TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION Along with requiring strong, unique passwords that are changed often, enabling two-factor authentication will help security. • KNOW YOUR THIRD PARTIES One of the biggest changes to the law requires third-party vendors and suppliers – such as translators, transcriptionists, lawyers, and other services – to be compliant. Make a list of everyone you work with, and what kind of information they’re privy to. Then, make sure you have a secure system in place for sharing information. Contact: 47

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ealing with customer enquiries over Christmas is always a tricky one. Most employees take a break to see their friends and family, while companies still need to run their business. Because of this, managing staff to account for this time of year becomes an imperative – especially because the number of enquiries often goes one of two ways. Depending on the industry you work in, you either get swamped or you don’t have enough enquiries for staff to come into the office for. Either way, no one wants to be stuck in an office (whether it’s full or empty) over the Christmas period. Christmas is a time of the year where we need a good work-life balance. Employees understand that many businesses can’t just shut down for a couple of weeks, but at the same time, they can’t afford not to see family or close friends because work might need them. The solution that appeases both employers and employees is remote working. Most customer service teams have a CRM system that is accessible, either online or through their laptop, so there is nothing to say that they shouldn’t enjoy this festive

time of year just because they work in the customer services department. Online features, such as live chat, are an effective channel that enables customer service teams to stay responsive from remote locations, and provide immediate responses to customer queries. If your team can’t cater for hundreds of phone calls, your best bet is to give them a number of options where they can seek the answer to their questions. Updating your website FAQs is another beneficial way to prepare for the holiday season. Customer queries change all the time, so revisiting your website FAQs before staff take their leave can pre-emptively reduce the workload for the staff that do work during Christmas. With consumers and businesses increasingly moving online, individuals tend to look online before they pick up the phone to seek help. Hence, ensuring that your FAQs are both comprehensive and tailored specifically to the frequently asked questions of your customers, means that your teams can focus on answering more complicated questions. This way, whether most staff take the time off work and a couple of people

in the team work remotely to cater for the drop in enquiries, or more temporary or part-time staff join over the Christmas period, these recommendations ensure that all customers are catered for, and your high level of service doesn’t drop over the holiday season. Contact:

Updating your website FAQs is a EHQHƬFLDO ZD\ to prepare for the KROLGD\ VHDVRQ

Season’s greetings Aurelie Zahm, head of customer services at Powwownow, explains how to deal with customer enquiries over the Christmas period shutdown 49


Wait a minute Mr Postman Paul Galpin, managing director at P2P Mailing, examines how you can streamline your delivery expectations this Christmas to avoid embarrassment and disappointment


he Christmas season is one of the busiest periods in the retail calendar. Defined as the eight weeks between 2 November and 27 December, last year saw UK shoppers spend ÂŁ21.6 billion on gifts and bargains online, equating to a solid 13% growth on the same period in 2013. While the potential rewards for retailers are great, the Christmas season also comes with a unique set of delivery challenges. Last year, several major retailers were beset with delivery problems, which had far reaching repercussions for the overall customer experience. In the age of social media, customers are just one click away from giving retailers a public dressing down, with huge reputational knock-on effects. With high profit margins at stake, there are a host of delivery factors that retailers must consider in order to avoid a Christmas crash. SET REALISTIC DELIVERY EXPECTATIONS Large discounts are commonplace during the Christmas period, so retailers need to prepare for the obvious impact this has on sales and subsequent delivery volumes. The consumer demands during Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year were unprecedented, but now retailers know what to expect and can prepare for it. Nearly two thirds of consumers cite poor delivery standards as the worst thing that can go wrong with online shopping, and our research shows that 23% of respondents already use social media to

50 December 2015

complain about these services. A good delivery partner will scale up the delivery operation to meet with demand so that customer service isn’t compromised. Recognising the demands that significant additional volumes have in the delivery supply chain, it is also key that retailers manage their client expectations from the outset, in terms of setting the delivery aims. For example, it is far better to perhaps extend the delivery commitment in the period immediately after Boxing Day by 24/48 hours for standard deliveries, rather than over promise and under deliver. Engaging with their delivery suppliers will also help to ensure that everyone is as prepared as possible to manage the huge increase in parcel volumes that occur. CONSUMER CONVENIENCE Convenience is a core part of good customer service. Consumers have more ways to receive their goods than ever before. For example, Network Rail recently announced the roll-out of store pick-up points within stations nationwide. Previously, offering a sole, standard delivery service may have been sufficient but now other options, such as trackable and express deliveries, are essential to appeal to a wider audience. With trackable delivery, the timing of each stage in the delivery process is recorded, enabling the item to be traced at any point from despatch to door. In this way, any processing delays can be easily identified and dealt with.


A good delivery partner will scale up the delivery operation to meet with demand so that customer service isn’t compromised

85% of customers say they will stop buying from a retailer if the returns process is a hassle

RECOGNISE RETURNS In addition to working out how items will be delivered, it’s also vital to consider how you might get them back, should the need arise. A good returns system is something that many companies can forget to implement, or implement poorly. If customers find it difficult to return goods, it’s likely that they may look to a competitor next time. Research by Harris Interactive shows that 85% of customers say they will stop buying from a retailer if the returns process is a hassle and, conversely, 95% will return to the same catalogue or Internet retailer if the process is convenient. IDENTIFY NEW BUYING TRENDS It was recently announced that Twitter is testing a new way to discover and buy products online. Meanwhile Pinterest, the photo sharing social media platform, has started to roll out a ‘buy’ button on pins. These advancements give retailers even greater visibility, leading to higher customer engagement, with the aim of driving sales. Increased sales mean more deliveries, which can only be supported by strengthening fulfilment and distribution solutions. By partnering with a third party expert, retailers are better placed to, not only keep up to date with the latest innovations, but also to judge which ones might fit their business, and how the delivery and fulfilment processes will be affected.

MANAGEMENT OF MULTIPLE PURCHASES With an online spend of £21.6 billion during the Christmas period last year, retailers must be prepared for the prospect of multiple purchases per consumer on their sites. By leaving a specific time window after an order is placed and before the fulfilment process starts, it gives customers the chance to go back and purchase other items during the day. These can then be incorporated into one package – and thus one delivery. This is not only convenient for the customer, but also reduces shipping costs. When it comes to mailing and delivery services, seasonal peaks place huge demands on retailers. Therefore it is essential that retailers anticipate these peaks and any potential perils. Customers don’t like delayed or unsuccessful deliveries and, in the competitive ecommerce market, this means customers can (and will) easily defect if they are unimpressed with the service they receive. By engaging with a third-party expert with the necessary knowledge, contacts, and expertise, retailers can truly capitalise on the financial rewards available this Christmas. Contact: 51








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Smooth shopping João Rodrigues, CEO and co-founder of Xhockware, provides his tips for maximising efficiency in the retail sector the amount of staff hours spent manning tills, significantly lowering operating costs.



n 2014, consumer expenditure in the UK reached an astounding £378 billion, and with spending everincreasing, there are growing opportunities for retailers to capitalise on. Retail is a notoriously competitive industry, and to take advantage of this predicted increase, you should ensure your business operates as efficiently as possible. This will enable you to realise more opportunities, and remain one step ahead of competition. Maximising efficiency is important in any industry, but the benefits are felt particularly strongly in the retail sector, due to tight profit margins often faced. By streamlining operating procedures and adopting the latest technology, operating costs can be reduced by up to 15%. In addition, efficiency improvements can increase footfall, and enhance customer satisfaction and retention. Here are some top tips to help guide you through:

British retailers lose out on almost £4,000 daily from consumers who have been dissuaded from making purchases by long queues

ENSURE STAFF ARE EXPERTLY TRAINED Training and development offers the opportunity to improve efficiency across your business. Staff are a vital resource for any sector, from stock room to point of sale (POS), and are a main element in ensuring operations run smoothly. Well trained staff are more productive, provide better quality service, and improve work safety. Most importantly, demonstrating you value your staff enough to invest in them will improve loyalty and staff retention, consequently reducing operating and long run training costs.


STREAMLINE THE CHECKOUT PROCESS British retailers lose out on almost £4,000 daily from consumers who have been dissuaded from making purchases by long queues. Processing customers at checkouts quickly, will help avoid losing potential sales, as well as improve customer satisfaction. Take note of new technology, such as apps, including YouBeep. These can reduce checkout time by up to 70% by enabling customers to scan products, using their smartphone as they shop. As well as collecting valuable data on purchasing patterns, technology also reduces


MODERNISE INVENTORY MANAGEMENT Inventory management is one of the most important areas to operate efficiently. Too little stock and you risk lost sales opportunities, too much and you incur increased cost of storage and transportation. Wastage is also a risk, particularly for grocery retailers, who currently waste nearly 250,000 tonnes of food every year. Technology may again offer the solution. Inventory optimisation software is available, which analyses supply and demand variability to determine the optimum stock level for each product. Using this digitalised inventory management, supplemented with data captured from POS technology, can be far more efficient than traditional paper-based systems. There are numerous ways you can increase efficiency and, by considering a few of these options, you will be generating a stronger structure and framework on which to grow – helping increase footfall and improve the entire POS experience. Contact: 53

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I’m not a fan of merchandising. I don’t believe anyone is going to buy your product because you gave them a stress ball at a trade show

Learn by example you will


ong ago in a galaxy far, far away… Star Wars went on to become the second most successful movie of all time, not just because it had a great story, but because it was a masterclass in marketing (especially for those in the creative industries). Surely a large movie franchise is about as far from, and irrelevant to, small UK business as you can get though? That’s where you’d be wrong. Here are my top five lessons you can learn from the Star Wars movie franchise that you can apply to your business, whatever its size: 1 REJECT REJECTION After the success of American Graffiti, George Lucas wanted to create a western set in outer space. The idea was rejected by several movie studios, but Lucas didn’t take no for an answer. He had a friend at 20th Century Fox – however, the board and executives rejected the idea. In order to secure the deal, Lucas passed up on a $500,000 directing fee in exchange for just $125,000, merchandising rights, and full rights to any sequels. This was a bargain for the studios at the time, as no other movie had ever successfully been merchandised, and they were certain the movie would fail. I’m not a fan of merchandising. I don’t believe

anyone is going to buy your product because you gave them a stress ball at a trade show. But if you work in the arts, sports, or entertainment business, then chances are a huge percentage of your profits will come from the sale of t-shirts, albums, artworks, books, games, etc. The Star Wars franchise has made more than $23 billion in merchandising alone. This doesn’t include the $4.4 billion in ticket sales, and $3.8 billion in home entertainment products. The lesson: Believe in your work, and make sure you negotiate a good deal. 2 BE READY FOR SUCCESS Lucas originally sold the toy merchandising rights to his movie to a company called Kenner, for a flat fee of $100,000. However, Kenner wasn’t ready for the demand so they pre-sold an ‘Early Bird Certificate Package’ which was basically a voucher that allowed buyers to redeem Star Wars action figures, a display stand, stickers, and fan club membership at a later date. By the end of 1978, Kenner had sold more than 40 million figures, for more than $100 million. Needless to say, they were better prepared for The Empire Strikes Back. Lesson: Just because you don’t have it yet doesn’t mean you can’t sell it. You can build and deliver it later, once you know the demand is there.

Lightsabers at the ready! Kimberly Davis, founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing and all-round marketing jedi, explains the lessons you can learn fom the Star Wars franchise 55


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3 JOINT VENTURES Star Wars doesn’t just promote itself, it gets other people to do it via joint venture partnerships – but not just anyone. Lucas has always been picky about who he joins ‘forces’ (sorry!) with and ensures there is always a relevant connection. Volkswagen, Lego, O2, M&M’s, and more have all promoted the movies and franchise through clever adverts, product crossovers etc. The partnership with Lego actually saved the failing Danish company. I recently spent £20 on an M&M’s thermos with Yellow, the peanut M&M, frozen in carbonite, which says ‘Melts in your mouth, not in your Han.’

You’ve got to admit – it’s all pretty clever. Lesson: Join forces with people and businesses which compliment your business, and promote one another. 4 SCARCITY Like a seductive woman who holds something back for the imagination, JJ Abrams has kept nearly everything about The Force Awakens under wraps, including the storyline, images of Luke Skywalker, and more. Even the poster only had the darkness of space and the Star Wars logo on it. The result is people have been salivating, trying to get any glimpse they can. Lesson: Don’t give everything away all at once. Pace yourself,

Star Wars doesn’t just promote itself, it gets other people to do it for them via joint venture partnerships but not just anyone

tease your audience, and build anticipation. 5 REINVESTING YOUR MONEY One of the real successes of Star Wars is that it took the very uncool genre of sci-fi and made it popular, using cutting edge special effects (that still stand up nearly 40 years later). Lucas used the money he made from A New Hope to take control, and create his own special effects company called Industrial Light & Magic, which branched into Skywalker Sound, Pixar, LucasFilm, and more. He basically now owns the monopoly on film special effects. Lesson: Once you succeed and make money, you need to reinvest it in activities that will continue make you money. A WORD OF CAUTION Now that Disney has taken over, it has been saturating the market with Star Wars, including three new films in the trilogy, three additional films on backstory, and other characters to be released during the interim years, cartoons, and even Star Wars Land will be built as a feature at Disneyland. While the fan in me is over the moon with excitement, the marketer in me knows this is most likely going to be a death sentence for the franchise. It’s a simple case of supply and demand; if you increase the supply of merchandise, movies, games, etc., the audience will be fatigued and lose interest, therefore lowering the demand. However, if you pace the release of new items, and constantly keep people waiting and begging for more (look at Apple, for example), then you’ll always have an audience banging down the doors and queuing up to get it. So please Disney, take note and hold something back. I have some original collector cards that I’d really like to hold their value. Contact: 57


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etailers know the power of a brilliant shop window display. With bricks and mortar retailers ramping up the festive fever among shoppers through striking and enticing window displays, how can e-retailers compete? The answer lies in mobile devices, which the latest IMRG figures suggest were used for 57.5% of all visits to ecommerce sites during the first half of 2015, and it’s unlikely this will decline in the run up to Christmas. In fact, the opposite is probably the case, as mobile increasingly continues to be everyone’s favourite way to browse and buy online. Of course, the mobile screen is considerably smaller than a shop window, but it doesn’t have to fight for a shopper’s attention like a window display, as it’s either sitting beside them, in their pocket, or in their bag, pretty much all of the time. So boosting Christmas sales through mobile isn’t about ostentatious displays, cramming as many gift ideas as possible onto the smallest window in town. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. It’s about clarity, speed, and inspiration, plus making the most of what mobile can do that you can’t get on the high street. Here are some key tips for helping people avoid the high street shopping mayhem, by making it easier to shop on mobile this Christmas:

PLAN EARLY The early e-retailer catches the Christmas shopper. This isn’t about shouting about the impending festive season from September, like bricks and mortar retailers do, but more to do with being there when consumers are ready to do their gift shopping. So prepare the festive offers or the Christmas section of your site early, and alert your customers once it’s ready, perhaps with some early deals. 1

Boosting Christmas sales through mobile isn’t about ostentatious displays, it’s about clarity, speed, and inspiration

DE-CLUTTER Make it easy for people to find your Christmas section via your mobile site from the homepage, while also preparing a special festive landing page for those shoppers being directed straight to it from external links, such as Facebook or other social media channels, which are increasingly being used as search tools. 2

LOOK BACK, WAY BACK Creating a personalised Christmas shopping experience is a great way to drive people to their favourite stuff, and stave off the horror of abandonment, but it isn’t particularly easy, as people buy for others rather than themselves. The answer is not to examine their recent buying history, but that of a year ago, to try to tap into their gift-buying habits, then using this to push relevant suggestions. 3

With well over half of all visits to ecommerce sites now being made on mobile, what can e-retailers do to make a festive impact on these devices? FACTFinder’s Kevin Sparks offers 12 ways to market through mobile this Christmas 59


Gifts not arriving on time is a QLJKWPDUH DQG LW FRXOG VHULRXVO\ DƍHFW your relationship with your customers BUNDLE GIFTS Take a tip from your high street competitors and offer special festive gift packs that bundle complementary items together to create interesting and useful presents, and help your customers save money. Even better, group complementary products together so that shoppers can create their own bundles. Then you could share other people’s bundle choices to inspire shoppers. Remember to keep bundled items available individually, so shoppers can see how much they’re saving. 4

BUILD IN FILTERING Remember that gift shoppers frequently don’t know what they want and are looking for inspiration to find the perfect present. This means they’ll often kick off with general queries, such as watches, shirts, pens, etc., which tend to generate large numbers of results. To avoid instilling panic into your festive friends, introduce a smart filtering system that immediately offers choices, such as size, colour, gender, or cost, so that it’s quick and easy for the undecided shopper to hone in on the gift they want. 5

MAKE IT QUICK AND EASY TO FIND KEY ADVICE Your search and navigation function should make it easy for mobile customers to find key advice, such as how-to videos, advice, and relevant offers, to make it easier for them to find the ideal gift. This can really help keep shoppers’ attention, and they will pay you back for this free, valuable insight with their loyalty. 6

FOR HIM AND HER Create special gift categories that present the most popular gifts by gender or relationship. This should include ‘for him’ and ‘for her’ at least, but why not also include ‘for Mum’ and ‘for Dad’, or even ‘for your pet’ if you offer relevant products. You could even be really smart and have a category ‘for the person who has everything’. 7

60 December 2015

OPTIMISE XMAS TERMS Last year, Google revealed that there were 30 million searches for the abbreviation ‘Xmas’. So make sure you optimise your product descriptions for Christmas terms to increase engagement and visits. 8

COMPENSATE FOR ERRORS Gift shoppers are usually well out of their comfort zones, searching for items they often know little about, making them more prone to errors. Mobile only provides a small window of opportunity with which to display the most relevant products that match what your customers’ are searching for, so you have to make sure you have an intuitive, error tolerant search solution in place. 9

STAY OPEN ON CHRISTMAS DAY One clear benefit that you have over high street stores is that you don’t have to close on Christmas Day, so make the most of this opportunity by ensuring your festive campaign continues for 24 hours after Santa has delivered his goodies – then also ramp up for the post-Christmas rush from Boxing Day. People usually have quite a bit of spare time on Christmas Day, so help them make the most of it. 10

LAST DELIVERY DATE Make sure shoppers are aware of the last date they can place an order for it to arrive before Christmas. Gifts not arriving on time is a nightmare, and it could seriously affect your relationship with your customers. Obviously, also make sure you can honour any delivery date you commit to. 11

GET MEASURING Finally, remember to measure customer activity as much as you can, gaining key intelligence you can use to inform next year’s campaign. Have a happy Christmas! 12

Contact: www.fact-ďŹ



t’s a fact of life that over the years, brands grow tired. It takes a very special logo design to truly stand the test of time, and for the most part, within four or five years of their design, a corporate identity is inevitably going to be symbolic of the moment in time it was created. This can inadvertently have the unwelcome effect of making a company look like it is stuck in the past, meaning it’s time to refresh your look. I run a graphic design company, and needless to say, this gives us the opportunity to reinvent these brands – and thank goodness, otherwise we’d be out of a job. Redesign for the sake of it can be a wonderful way of breathing fresh life into a company in need of a new attitude. I’ve known many instances where a fresh lick of paint not only changed the look of a business, but also how people felt about their work. The flipside of this is that not every piece of solid graphic design could (or should) be redesigned on account of boredom. And let’s not forget the potentially considerable

It takes a very special logo design to truly stand the test time

62 December 2015

investment in the original design. You might not want your business to appear dated, but are likely to have spent a great deal of money branding your premises, vehicles, or uniforms, so changing the logo again could be a most unwelcome proposition. As designers, we’re conflicted too. Spending a great deal of time and trouble creating logos invariably means we get very attached to our favourites. It’s also easy to forget that your clients might feel the same way – being somewhat emotionally invested in the business means they invariably have a mixed relationship with sudden change. This is what’s commonly called a dilemma. But I’m here to offer a ‘middle way’. CHANGE BY SLEIGHT OF HAND There are many ways of taking a logo, which is showing its age, and giving it some new life, without the need for a major re-launch. When a client approaches us yearning for change, but anxious to avoid ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’, our first recourse is to consider how to refresh what is already there. Today’s best brands keep it simple in terms of the colour they use, and the way they position their logo on images and spaces. Yesterday’s best brands generally had an awful lot of noise and ‘stuff’ around the logo. A good example is the M&S branding of ten years ago. Initially, a radical use of a thin cut of Helvetica, by the time this had been dropped in 2015, it had the word ‘YOUR’ tacked on the side, and a rather clunky script font along the top saying ‘ONLY AT’. You can just imagine the myriad of marketing

meetings where these bad ideas were hammered out. To refresh things, all the baggage was dropped and a subtle, modern font, not all that different from Helvetica, used in black, has brought things up to date. My hunch is that most customers won’t really notice a major difference, but simply get the impression that M&S looks a bit sharper on the high street. A simple, sensible goal achieved. WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGES EXCEPT THE BRAND The M&S design update is a good example of moving all the ‘scenery’ behind a brand, with the corporate identity itself feeling reset, but it’s clearly a giant retail chain. As a small business, change might be advantageous, but what you don’t want to do is redesign and simply paper over the cracks. All sound businesses modernise their offering over time, and when doing so, it makes sense to provide fresh marketing and visuals to accompany that change. It’s the ideal way of staying current to your ongoing clients, as well as reaching out to those cherished new ones. In an era of social media, it’s that invaluable thing: something new to say.


All shook up So you have a stale brand, but fresh services; what can you do to revive your company’s image without a complete overhaul? Richard Chapman, founder of Richard Chapman Studio, explains

From a creative perspective, what can potentially remain static is the brand at the top (or indeed the endorsement at the bottom) of those modern services. This way a new design approach can combine with your evolving business. If you have great new photography of your services, then your marketing materials can lead with this on (for instance) an easy-to-produce PDF brochure, sent via email. The well known (or worn) company logo can then take a back seat. Here are some of my best quick tips to help you stay up-to-date: • Remember that ongoing improvements to your services, or investment in new equipment, are things worth shouting about - and could be an excuse for a marketing blitz on social media or, even better, face-to-face with longterm clients.

• If you’ve had the same logo for a few years, simplifying the colours you use around the brand, commissioning a photographer to take new images of your work, staff, or premises, then starting to use a monochrome version of the logo over photos, can be a simple way of bringing it up to date without a major redesign. • We find that company websites are so often neglected. Keeping your site up to date with recent blog posts, changes in services, or using new photography, pays real dividends as your online presence will be the first place new customers (and quite a few existing ones hunting for your phone number) will look.


• Watch and learn - from the competition, your suppliers, and clients. Be a magpie for good marketing ideas, and give them your own twist.

ways of finding new work. If in doubt, ask a client with an effective marketing plan who’s helping them out, set a budget, and get them to help you. It doesn’t have to cost the earth and could well give you the fresh ideas you need to boost your business for the New Year.

• We all know it’s so easy to get stuck in a rut of the same

Contact: 63


Let’s get digital Mark Wright, 2014’s The Apprentice winner, and founder of Climb Online, looks at why digital marketing is key for your business’ developmental success


n 2007 the world changed. Why? Because Apple launched the first smartphone. Fast forward eight years and this innovative device has become a necessity, keeping users connected on a 24/7 basis. Aside from its ability to be your camera, social diary, and sat nav, in 2014, the number of users accessing the internet via their mobile device overtook desktop users for the first time. Though this information is not exactly ground-breaking, how many businesses have used it for both their marketing and business development strategy? What’s more, how many SMEs utilise any online data to drive sales and aid business growth? If you’re one that hasn’t, now is definitely the time to start. Following the explosion of digital platforms – supported even more so by smartphone usage – we now have access to more data, and a far greater understanding of target audiences, than ever before. Through analytics platforms and social media insights, we know demographics such as age, consumer location, the device of choice, and the content or marketing initiatives that have produced the highest engagement and conversion rates.

But with so many brands and so many competitors pushing a similar product or service, how do you stand out? From experience, we’ve found targeted and integrated digital marketing strategies deliver excellent results. An integrated marketing strategy represents the use of as many relevant channels as possible, in order to promote a product, service, message, or brand. One of the best ways to highlight this is through conventional A/B testing: TEST A An online retailer wants to push a new introductory offer to coincide with the launch of their new website. They’ve a small number of followers online, and choose to target them by publishing an offer banner on their website, which is then promoted on their social media channels. TEST B In contrast, a competing online retailer wants to push a similar offer. They’ve set aside a small marketing budget to be used to drive sales, and receive a positive return on investment. They’ve assessed data via

an analytics platform, and realise a lot of web traffic comes via Facebook. As a result, they decide to promote the offer using Facebook advertising, increasing reach among a targeted audience. Simultaneously, the retailer creates a Google AdWords campaign that uses keywords to direct engaged users to the offer page of their website. The campaign runs for 30 days, and during this time the retailer also pushes out regular e-shots to consumers, analysing engagement results and open rates throughout. Though Test B is obviously far more likely to succeed over Test A, this example demonstrates that, as a business, you may have the best website and the best product or service in the world, but without anyone knowing it exists, there’s little chance of success. An integrated marketing strategy that utilises channels, such as social media, online advertising, email marketing, and SEO will aid this success. Contact:

In 2014, the number of users accessing the internet via their mobile device overtook desktop XVHUV IRU WKH ƬUVW WLPH 65


New kid on the block Nick Swan, CEO of money-saving website, www.VoucherCodesPro., reveals how to generate publicity for your new business

Local media outlets love local success stories

66 December 2015


tarting your own business is one thing, but growing it, and building interest in it, is a whole other ball game. One factor, when starting a new business, which I think is always overlooked, is the ability to generate publicity for your new business, simply because many entrepreneurs are so occupied with other elements of the business. Having a strong PR and marketing plan in place from the beginning is incredibly effective, and can give your business a big boost in terms of sales and traffic to your website. Here are my top tips on how to generate the right kind of publicity for your business:

1 GRAB ATTENTION A simple, cost-effective way to generate publicity for your business is to grab the attention of the people you want covering your business. A simple stunt, such as sending a cake of your business’ logo to journalists, can really grab their attention and generate interest in your business. You’ve got to remember that hundreds of businesses contact a single journalist every day, so you’ve got to make yourself stand out and do something that means they will remember you next time they begin working on a relevant feature or story related to your industry, and are looking for quotes, case studies, or information. 2 UTILISE LOCAL CONTACTS The best place to start when generating publicity for your new business is at home. Local

media outlets love local success stories and, to be honest, are sometimes desperate for things to include in their papers and online. Try pitching a story on the entrepreneurial side of the business – perhaps there is an unusual or newsworthy story on how the business began that would work well in the local business pages. 3 MAKE THE MOST OF SOCIAL MEDIA Social media is an incredibly effective tool to generate publicity for your new business. It’s important to have a presence so that your customers can find you on social media, and can interact with your brand, as well as interacting with relevant journalists. You can use social platforms, such as Twitter, to identify the journalists who would cover your business. Add them to a private list to


A simple stunt, such as sending a cake of your business’ logo to journalists, can really grab their attention

follow, monitor them to see what stories they tend to write about, the things of interest to them, and what they like to tweet about to tailor any pitches to them. It’s important to interact with these journalists, as well as influencers, to make them aware of your business and to keep yourself in front of them when any opportunities arise. 4 #JOURNOREQUEST A really quick and easy way to generate publicity for your business is to keep a keen eye on the #journorequest hashtag on Twitter. Here, a lot of journalists tweet when they are looking for some information, a case study, or just a business to cover.

It’s important to keep an eye out and reply quickly as there will be a host of other businesses’ looking to jump on the opportunity too. When you do get an opportunity, though, it’s an incredibly quick and easy way to generate publicity, as you are filling the needs of the journalist and already know what they want. Also try following @ResponseSource, which is another great place to discover what journalists are looking for. 5 BROADCAST Local broadcast outlets can be a great way to voice your message and generate publicity for your business. Radio stations can be fantastic in promoting local businesses, be it through advertising, competitions, or features. Contact: 67



LOCATIONS OF UPCOMING SHOWS 2015/16 Cheltenham Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham GL50 4SH Midlands Cranmore Park, Solihull B90 4LF Taunton Somerset County Cricket Club, Taunton TA1 1JT


At Sterling Business Shows we love helping businesses grow and this is what you tell us...


“Exhibiting at any Sterling Business Shows event is not only a pleasure, but gives a great ROI. Sterling have the knack of attracting the right attendees in the right numbers at the right time and we will continue to exploit these opportunities.” Duncan Laker. Welcome Telecom.



17 MAR. 2016 TAUNTON

“Worcester was my 5th show with Sterling Business Shows, and as always I had a brilliant day. I came away from the show with 4 genuine leads and countless interesting conversations and new business connections. I decided to exhibit with Sterling in order to expand my business into new areas. I have found the shows to be a great return on investment, which is why after the initial 3 show bookings I continue to exhibit with Sterling Business Shows.” Graham Abbey. Factotum Ltd – Exhibitor, Coventry, Birmingham, Solihull, Oxford & Worcester.

Please contact Neil on 01452 222676 or go to

BUSINESS JUNCTION, LONDON’S PREMIER BUSINESS NETWORK, INVITES YOU TO A FREE NETWORKING EVENT Business Junction is offering all Talk Business readers a complimentary invitation to one of our December networking events in London which are all listed below (and on our website). 2nd Dec 2015 5.30-9.00pm

Christmas networking evening in Victoria Browns Victoria, 2 Cardinal Walk, Victoria, London, SW1E 5AG Nearest tube: Victoria More information and booking:

10th Dec 2015 12.30-2.30pm

Networking lunch in Fitzrovia Gallery DIFFERENT, 14 Percy Street, London, W1T 1DR Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road More information and booking:

16th Dec 2015 8.00-10.00am

Champagne breakfast in Shoreditch Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA Nearest tube: Liverpool Street More information and booking:

22nd Dec 2016 12.30-2.30pm

Networking lunch in St Paul’s The Trading House, 89-91 Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7NQ Nearest tube: St Paul’s More information and booking:

Please email with the event you would like to attend and quoting the reference: Talkbusiness12/15 Now in its 15th year and with over 550 member companies, Business Junction is London’s leading independent business network. We run 80+ pan-London networking events each year including a weekly lunch, a monthly Philippe Brugnon Champagne breakfast and 6 evening events, all at different high quality central London venues.

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My door is always open


o often, when you join a new company, the boss says ‘good to meet you and remember, my door is always open’. But is it? Is your door really open to your staff? Do your staff genuinely feel they can talk with you, and that their presence will be welcome, or is your office door an intimidating hallowed portal, through which mere mortals fear to tread? I once had a boss whose desk was strategically positioned so that, when you went in to speak with him, the glaring afternoon sun streamed in the window behind him, blinding you and making you feel you were confronting a God of commerce – it was not a good start to a conversation. His manner compounded your feeling of inferiority, as he could not resist belittling peoples’ ideas, however good they were. Communicating with him was something we avoided at all costs – particularly when there were problems looming – and you can imagine the negative impact that had on the business. Approaching the boss should not feel like entering the lion’s den, and you should not

Can your staff really talk to you openly and honestly? Deborah Benson shares her insights on communication

come out badly scarred. In some companies, it’s hard to know whose door one should be stepping through anyway, as there are so many gate-keepers in the way. Some companies are notorious for having longer hierarchies, so it’s harder to know who to talk to about specific issues – there are simply too many doors to choose from. And then there are the doors that seem to open onto a brick wall. The door is there, it opens, but you can’t break through. Your boss will let you talk, but their mind is

fair hearing, and that you will value their input? Amazingly, most doors have a two-way facility, they are also there to let the boss out, not just let the staff in. As good leaders, in our efforts to be available to our staff, we can welcome them in, but forget to go through that very same door, forget to get out of our office and go to their workplace. We can be so desperately busy driving the business forward, that we fail to spend enough time with our staff finding out what is really going on in the business.

Approaching the boss should not feel like entering the lion’s den so closed that they cannot hear your idea, however good it is, – probably because it doesn’t come from themselves. You may well feel that you are just banging your head off that invisible brick wall. So, as a leader, is your door truly open to your staff, do they feel they can come in and get a

So, the secret is, don’t just have a stated open door policy, but make sure staff are genuinely welcome, and that their ideas or concerns are at least listened to, and given appropriate consideration. Contact: 69


One of us Paul MacKenzie-Cummins, director of ClearlyPR, examines how to integrate a new employee effectively


t is often said that people are an organisation’s greatest asset, and it is true. Yet all too often we see organisations struggle to retain their best employees. There can be a range of explanations for this, but one of the biggest reasons is the failure of employers during the onboarding process. ‘On-boarding’ is the buzzword that has been doing the rounds within HR departments up and down the country ever since the recession, and relates to the way in which employers integrate new starters into their organisations. Some see it as something that only happens in larger companies, but it’s just as important for SMEs too. Perhaps the single greatest reason why on-boarding has come to prominence is to stem the tide of staff jumping ship, to where their career nirvana lies in wait with the organisation’s competitors. As the economy continues along its upward trajectory, more opportunities in the job market means employees are more susceptible to the possibility of moving elsewhere for better prospects. It’s a trend that is set to continue – unless, of course, it is nipped in the bud. To do this requires shifting the focus away from the so-called hygiene factors (salary, benefits package, working environment), and balancing them with the employee’s

emotional factors (career ambitions, motivations, influencing ability). Hygiene factors will help you to win the battle for the right talent, but it’s the emotional factors that’ll win you the war. So how can you ensure that you satisfy both the hygiene and emotional factors of your employees? Here’s a few key recommendations: • GAIN EMPLOYEE BUY IN Employees who can identify with the organisation’s values and goals will feel that they are making a difference. • BIG UP THEIR ROLE Having a job description is one thing, but new starters need to see how their role fits in with the rest of the organisation, and the difference they can make to the future direction of the business. • ENABLE TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION Employees who feel they can easily approach their line managers are more engaged, and feel part of the decision-making process. • KEEP EMPLOYEES IN THE LOOP AT ALL TIMES Whatever it is, keep your employees informed about what is happening in the business, whether you’ve won a new contract or

Hygiene factors will help you to win the battle for the right talent, but it’s the emotional factors that’ll win you the war even if the company has featured in a magazine like this one. Share your news and stimulate dialogue throughout the business. • ENCOURAGE IDEAS By developing a supportive and knowledge-sharing corporate culture, employees will feel empowered to discuss, share, and contribute ideas that can have both a direct and indirect impact on how the organisation performs. Integrating new employees is never easy, but get it right, and you improve the chances of your new employee getting off to the best possible start. Contact: 71


Many managers believe that negotiating employment legislation is daunting and that ƏULQJ VWDƍ LQYROYHV D GLƎFXOW FRQYHUVDWLRQ but it needn’t be


an you fire a staff member, and they thank you? Yes. And you don’t need Tom Cruise in a rubber mask risking being disavowed to pull it off. It’s not an impossible mission, but many managers believe it is. This can result in a manager opting to work around a poorly performing individual. Rather than tackling the issue, they accept reduced productivity and a dip in team moral. Why? Because they believe that negotiating employment legislation is daunting, and that firing staff involves a difficult conversation, but it needn’t be. EMPLOYMENT LEGISLATION The opinion of many managers is that employment legislation is a nightmare; partly because of the scary terminology, partly because of fears of falling foul of antidiscrimination laws (on the grounds of age, gender, sexuality, pregnancy, race, or religion). They believe firing someone is just too risky. But, here’s the thing – an Employment Tribunal case is assessed on only three simple points:


Did the organisation follow the appropriate procedure? This can be the organisation’s own, or the procedure set out by ACAS (details at

the organisation act 2 Did reasonably at all times? A good way to ensure this is to talk to colleagues, other business owners, and/or HR specialists whose judgement you trust. Don’t try to do everything on your own without support.

72 December 2015

On the balance of probability, 3 was the individual at fault? The fact that a company can fire an individual on the balance of probability, is often overlooked by managers. But there is no necessity to prove a case beyond reasonable doubt. If it can be shown that management completed a full assessment and, on the balance of probability, the individual was at fault, the dismissal will be deemed fair.

Sue Ingram, author of Fire Well, asks if you can ďŹ re a staff member, and they thank you?

CONVERSATIONS Imparting information that can be hard to hear is often labelled a difficult conversation. The trouble is, those words put into the heads of managers and staff members a picture of an exchange that is confrontational – perhaps even aggressive – which can make the parties involved defensive or argumentative from the start. However, as the desired outcome of the dialogue is for the individual to become both fulfilled and successful – within the organisation or outside – these conversations could more accurately be described as generous conversations.

Consider how heartless it would be to deliberately allow an individual to continue to fail in a role, knowing that their frustration and unhappiness was eroding their selfesteem and confidence. That’s what not firing someone who is failing at their job can be. Allow that thought to shift your own mindset. BUT HOW DO YOU FIRE STAFF SO THEY SAY THANK YOU? In order to fire an employee so that they say thank you, here are the approaches and actions to take: • Keep in mind that both sides want the same thing: for the individual to be become fulfilled and successful at their work. • Consider the one thing that this individual needs to change or improve to become successful, and make this the focus of your feedback. • Use phrases such as ‘I notice’, ‘I perceive’, and ‘I am beginning to believe’, when delivering the evidence that has led you to your current understanding of the situation. Framed this way, you’re expressing how things look from your perspective, which is easier for the individual to take on board than being told bluntly how things are. Also, the individual may find it helpful, perhaps even valuable, to understand how and why your conclusions were arrived at. • Distress and anger are inevitable. This is normal. Remain calm and understand that this is part of the process; the individual will need some time to come to terms with the situation. • Encourage the individual to consider how and why things have been going wrong, and how best to


Fired and furious bring about a change for the better. • The individual will likely attempt to negotiate deliverables as an easy way to resolve the situation. This is natural, but remain firm about what is required of their current job role. • Balance being reasonable about allowing time for the individual to improve, with leaving no doubt that you expect changes to be made. • It is very important to provide feedback on what the individual is doing well. Ensure they know you recognise that they are successful in some areas. This information will be useful to them when they apply for another post. • Reassure the individual that everyone does foolish things, and that this is just their time. • Remember that, throughout this process, you will need support for yourself. Your role is to remain calm and objective, but this isn’t always easy to maintain. Seek out people you respect who can provide you with balanced, objective advice. • And finally, when you walk the staff member to the door, shake their hand, thank them for all of their successes, and wish them well for their future. They will then (hopefully) thank you in return. This is how it can, and should, be.

Consider how heartless it would be to deliberately allow an individual to continue to fail in a role

Contact: 73


’Tis the season to be mindful HR Insight’s Richard Cummings treads carefully into the controversial subject of religious discrimination at Christmas


eing mindful of the diversity of religious beliefs in the workplace can make Christmas a tricky time of year for employers, but does it have to be? Undoubtedly, employers will want to do whatever they can to avoid any form of discrimination, but this can be challenging when you’re trying to avoid offending those who don’t celebrate Christmas, and trying to please those that do. Of course, direct discrimination could happen at any time of year, and unless your idea of a Christmas get-together is forcing your employees to celebrate by attending church together, it’s unlikely that Christmas will be the reason for anyone to make a claim of direct discrimination. There is however, a potential for an employee to claim indirect discrimination on grounds of religion or belief. Indirect discrimination occurs where an employer applies a practice that puts an employee of a chosen religion or belief at a disadvantage when compared to other employees. For example if you have a Jewish employee who requests annual leave for Yom Kippur and you refuse, yet

There is no reason for teams to avoid celebrating &KULVWPDV IRU IHDU RI RƫHQGLQJ RWKHU IDLWKV you insist on that employee taking time off at Christmas, this could arguably lead to a claim that you are indirectly discriminating against that employee. But there is no reason for teams to avoid celebrating Christmas for fear of offending other faiths, although it is advisable to put up ‘seasonal’ decorations in the workplace as opposed to religious ones. For employers and employees, the relatively simple custom of sending Christmas cards can cause feelings of apprehension but, unless someone has asked you not to send them a Christmas card, it’s unlikely to cause a problem. If you were to single out people of particular faiths and send cards only to them, or if a colleague has made it clear to you that they do not want to receive Christmas cards from you, but you still send them one, then you could be harassing your colleague or indirectly discriminating against them. Christmas parties are now not really about celebrating religion. Rather they are about improving staff morale, loyalty,

and thanking employees for all their hard work and efforts over the previous year. However, employers must be careful to take the various religions into account when planning the date, location, theme, and catering for their Christmas party. An alcohol-fuelled party in the local pub for example, could well deter Muslims from attending as their religion forbids festive association with alcohol. It’s therefore essential for employers to review their arrangements for their Christmas parties and identify areas where staff might be at a disadvantage. It will always be difficult for employers to please everyone, but the key thing is to communicate with employees and establish their preferences, so that no one is made to feel left out. It should be recognised that this time of year is simply an opportunity to be festive, display Christmas decorations, put up bright lights, send Christmas cards and, of course, to eat lots of chocolates. Contact: 75

! y a d o t r e t n E




ONLINE BUSINESS The Online Business Awards 2016 are open for entries from leading UK online SME businesses

Visit the website Take a look at the category list online and decide which category you would like to enter. Read through the helpful advice on the website to learn how to present your entry. Prepare your submission paper following the outline template supplied. Complete your entry form online uploading your submission paper as a PDF when asked to do so. Pay the entry fee of ÂŁ165+VAT. Make sure your entry is in by January 31, 2016 Media Associate


,I \RXU VWDƫ know what is expected of them, they can’t claim ignorance if something does go wrong


y the time you read this, we’ll be getting into the Christmas party season. At Raw Talent, our event will mark the business’s fifth anniversary as well as being an endof-year celebration. But we don’t just follow the stereotype of hiring a bar and letting everyone pour drink down their necks. Done properly, a Christmas party can be a good team-building occasion as well as being a bit of a knees-up – and the business can benefit too. Last year, we went Segway racing and clay pigeon shooting. Everyone got the chance to do things, rather than just head to the bar. There was a bit of a competitive edge to it, and there was definitely some team building. In all honesty, I suspect some of them would have chosen just to head to a bar or club, but it’s about getting a balance. If you take your staff to a bar and tell them they can drink what they want, and give them free rein, you’re asking for trouble. REPRESENTING THE BUSINESS Regardless of the activity or the venue, it’s crucial everyone appreciates that the company is on show. My staff know they can let their hair down and celebrate, but that they’re still representing the company.

Xmas etiquette Lee McQueen, founder of Raw Talent Academy, and season-four winner of BBC’s The Apprentice, says Christmas parties are about more than just letting your hair down Unfortunately, that isn’t the case everywhere else. I’ve worked for some big businesses in the past where people have gone too far, and said things they perhaps shouldn’t have done. People can get a loose tongue when they drink, and things can quickly go wrong. At Raw Talent, we try to re-inforce that message in a kick-off meeting during the afternoon. As its name suggests, the meeting is to kick-off our plans for the next year, but we also enforce the message about what is expected of them at our Christmas party. WHAT IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG? If your staff know what is expected of them, they can’t claim ignorance if something does go wrong, and they have to be disciplined. Things can go pear-shaped, however much you try to avoid it. Rows can

break out, unwanted advances can be made, inappropriate things can be said, and so on. At the end of the day, your staff are human beings – and the more people you employ, the greater crosssection of society you are likely to have on your night out. Ultimately though, if they break the trust you have invested in them, you have grounds for discipline. You talked to them about it, they let you down, so take appropriate action against them. After all, if they don’t want to accept the company’s way of behaving, they shouldn’t be out on the company’s jolly in the first place. The bottom line is that a Christmas party is just an extension of your normal business practice. If you have the right culture in place, it should be the norm for your employees to behave properly. Contact: 77

Trident_ redefined.



C60 TRIDENT GMT 600 – Swiss made dual time watch with automatic mechanical movement, graduated rotatable ceramic (ZrO2) bezel, arrow-headed 24 hour hand and water resistance to 60 bar/600m. Available in 38mm and 42mm case sizes, three dial/bezel combinations and four strap styles.






Each month we bring you a selection of gadgets, gizmos and gifts that we’re going crazy about. This month, we’ve got some winter essentials for you

Don’t get caught out on the roads this winter with this comprehensive emergency car kit from EvaQ8. Packed with all the essentials you need should you get stuck in adverse weather, you’ll be safe, warm, fed, and watered until help arrives. Featuring a whole host of vital supplies, including a wind-up LED torch, folding shovel, ice scraper, de-icer spray, high visibility vest, emergency whistle, long life drinking water, food rations, and more, it all comes in a handy travel backpack – perfect for those who frequently use multiple vehicles. Should you get stranded in the cold, there are also two emergency foil blankets, a thermal blanket, survival bag, and hand warmers, meaning you’ll never be underprepared for whatever Jack Frost throws at you. Don’t go anywhere without this as your safety net this winter. PRICE: £76.50 AVAILABLE FROM:

WALSER HEATED SEAT PAD WITH THERMOSTAT On cold, dark mornings, dragging yourself out from under the warm bedcovers to begin the daily commute can seem like an impossibly grim task, but with this heated seat pad from Walser, you can at least stay warm while on your way to the office. Fitted with a thermostat that allows you to control the level of heat being applied, it is simple to use, quickly heats up to your desired temperature setting, and plugs easily into any 12V cigarette lighter port. It’s the perfect accessory for any road commuter. PRICE: £23.20 AVAILABLE FROM:

BLAZE LASERLIGHT ERLIGHT BIKE LIGHT Hailing from mastermind British designer, Emily Brooke, Blaze is going to 100% revolutionise the way you cycle. This exceptional device combines a light and a laser, which projects a green image of a bike onto the ground five metres in front of your bike, making drivers who may not see your bike in their blind spot, aware of your presence, while also alerting pedestrians about to cross the road. Unlike the beams of standard bike lights, Laserlight’s projection is visible from various perspectives, plus the light and laser work independently – so with or without the laser, you’ll have a 300 lumen LED bike light – ideal on dark nights cycling home from work. Blaze Laserlights’s combination of powerful LED and laser projection makes you far more visible than simple LED lights, and features a 13-hour battery life. PRICE: £124.99 AVAILABLE FROM: 79


Hotspots This month we’re heading to Ipswich, to discover some of the best places to eat, greet, and lay your head while on business in Suffolk

MEET AND EAT MARINERS WATERSIDE RESTAURANT WHERE? Neptune Quay, Ipswich WHY? For a different, interesting, and truly stunning place to wine and dine your guests, look no further than Mariners Restaurant on Ipswich’s harbour front. This amazing piece of history was built as a gunboat by Acieries de Bruges in 1899. Today, you can enjoy classic French cuisine in these wonderful surroundings. The award winning restaurant offers such delights as marinated beef carpaccio, and fresh seabass fillet, along with an extensive wine list featuring over 35 sumptuous options. For business clients, they can also offer private functions, catering for up to 80 people. Additionally, there is a private dining area for 24+1 guests and a main deck for 50 diners, which is perfect for an office party or gathering. This truly unique venue uses fresh, honest flavours that express the ingredients within. Reasonably priced, the festive menu is out now too, and is not to be missed. CONTACT:

80 December 2015


AWAY ON BUSINESS THE SALTHOUSE HARBOUR HOTEL WHERE? Neptune Quay, Ipswich WHY? As scenic views go, you’ll be hard pressed to beat the sights on offer at The Salthouse Harbour Hotel in Ipswich. Overlooking the marina, why not sit back, relax, enjoy a glass of wine, and watch the late winter sun set over the water from the warm comfort of your very own suite. It’s so picturesque you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re staying on the French Riviera. This artfully designed boutique hotel and restaurant in Suffolk reflects quality, and dazzles in the waterfront of Ipswich’s vibrant harbour quayside at night. The Salthouse Harbour Hotel goes beyond what you expect, and exudes its four-star status in every curious corner, eccentric sofa, and unstuffy cushion. The sea-salted brickwork exterior has been restored and rejuvenated into a ship shape contemporary warehouse of rich modern interiors and rooms adorned with vintage furniture, sculptures, and eclectic art. Within its comfy chic décor, although the mood is friendly and relaxed, the staff are professionally attentive to your every need. You can also grab a bite to eat at the delicious waterfront ‘Eaterie’, popular with many of the locals. The dishes are modern, and always surprise with a curious twist of something deliciously different. Owned by the Gough family for over 50 years, the mood within the hotel is relaxed, and you can expect a friendly, yet attentive service from the minute you arrive. Prices start from just £156 per night. CONTACT:

EVENTS, GATHERINGS & HUBS TRINITY PARK WHERE? Bucklesham, Ipswich WHY? Home to the famous Suffolk Agricultural Association, and formed as a charity in 1831, this contemporary and stylish location has become one of the most popular business venues in the East of England to stage a corporate function. Centrally located in East Anglia, and easily accessible from the A12/14, Ipswich town centre, and by rail, this impressive site offers flexible indoor facilities, picturesque outdoor space, and limitless parking in a peaceful and quiet setting. Whether you’re looking to host a meeting for eight or a conference for 800, there’s space

for whatever you need on the tranquil 300-acre grounds. It’s perfect for meetings or presentations too, with meeting rooms available in boardroom style for 10 people and upwards. To make your event truly special, why not take advantage of the highly acclaimed in-house catering team, who can produce bespoke menus to suit your event and budget? With emphasis on quality and good value, they source local Suffolk produce and work closely with farmers to ensure that food travels from field to fork in the shortest time (and to your mouth even quicker, no doubt!). CONTACT: 81

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The new X-Trail excels and comes alive on undulating, winding country roads, the ensuing enjoyment belying its dimensions

On the road


porting Nissan’s latest family face, the all new X-Trail resembles a stretched Qashqai, which isn’t a bad thing, as it’s pitched as the replacement for the ‘+2’ version of the extremely popular latter. More curvaceous and trendy looking than the original, the X-Trail is more a lifestyle crossover than rugged mud-plugger. I wouldn’t choose ‘Copper Blaze’ myself, but it’s a handsome vehicle from all angles, especially with the privacy glass, satin roof rails, and 19” machine-cut alloys of range-topping Tekna trim. The commanding driving position doesn’t necessitate having to climb aboard, access proving comfortable, with excellent visibility. The X-Trail’s cabin is abundantly spacious, and perceived build quality is high. A mix of materials includes black gloss, which adds a bit of class, along with some rather more utilitarian and plastic surfaces and controls. Tekna specification wants for nothing, with DAB, Bluetooth, remote control audio, an impressively intuitive navigation system, rear-view camera, and Nissan’s fascinating and useful ‘around view monitor’, which makes manoeuvring and parking the X-Trail a

doddle. I found the seats uncomfortable at times, and the clutch a little heavy, but generally, the interior is a masterclass in high-tech family practicality. The threeseat rows are arranged in theatre style for enhanced visibility, though boot space inevitably becomes quite limited with the rearmost seats erect. As a large vehicle weighing 1.5 tonnes, the X-Trail, powered by a 130PS, 1.6-litre diesel engine, noticeably lacks power in some situations, and sounds quite gruff in low gears. The ignition had a mind of its own when locking the X-Trail and the Stop/Start system caught it out at times in queuing traffic, but overall, the engine performs remarkably well considering the task it’s been set. The six-speed manual gearbox is a joy to use, compensating for the need to regularly change gear and, averaging 52mpg combined, the X-Trail is considerably more economical than the Kia Sorento KX-2. Around town, the alloys crash through potholes and drains at times, but the X-Trail excels and comes alive on undulating, winding country roads, the ensuing enjoyment belying its dimensions. Inevitably, it leans a tad in corners if pushed hard, but Chassis Control keeps things in check and, as long

Photography: Isabel Carter


Each month motoring expert, Oliver Hammond checks out the latest in executive travel, helping you to decipher the market for business drivers

as one’s foot is moderated when exiting junctions in damp conditions, wheel spin from the 2WD version can be avoided. Steering is nice and light for urban driving but lacks much feel on twisty stuff, and a modicum of wind noise becomes apparent on motorways. The Nissan X-Trail can be specified with 4WD, a petrol engine, and an automatic gearbox, but the 2WD diesel manual version will be the most popular. At £29,385 as tested, it seems good value, and its green credentials also appeal, with CO2 emissions at 129g/km. Nissan’s warranty is only three years, but judging by the Qashqai, reliability should be good. The new X-Trail really is all things to most people. Contact: 83



UND CHRISTMAS-THEMED NOVELTY SOCKS / Price: From £3 Perfect stocking fillers for the office secret Santa, these cool and cute socks come in a d are variety of designs, and guaranteed to make your toes feel tinsel-tastic this Christmas. ve these We particularly love aracter penguin and elf character versions. And after all, ift socks are a staple gift of Christmas.








R2D2 DESK VACUUM Price: £14.99

With the Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, out just before Christmas, what better gift to give your messy co-worker than the R2D2 desk vacuum? g g y little This extremely well put together and mighty erform a spot of maintenance droid is stopping by to perform on your workstation. y pays homage The desk vac perfectly asically a to the fact that R2 was basically Swiss-army Droid with a myriad uisher, of functions - fire extinguisher, electric prod, buzz-saw, pliers, smoke-screen, etc. Please note: This item will not sages, project holographic messages, repair starships, or save you in times of peril.


our iPad, Relax and enjoy browsing or video on your smartphone, Kindle, or tablet with ease, thanks to the iBeani bean bag tablet stand. The only universal stand to allow both landscape and ide portrait viewing, they’re available in a wide ns range of eye-catching colours and designs – including cow print, zebra, paws, and even denim.





Ideal for anyone who is constantly on the road, staying in hotels, and knows the frustration of turning on an ancient hotel TV that gets poor reception and grainy pictures, the Roku Streaming Stick allows the user – all you need is a TV with an available HDMI port and internet connection. Roku players have the most comprehensive streaming channel line-up in the UK, including all major catch-up TV channels (BBC iPlayer, All 4, ITV Player, and Demand 5), as well as popular streaming g Play, y, and Now TV. services such as Netflix, Google With more than 1,500 channels in total, there’s so much content, you can watch what you want whenever w it. you want

84 December 2015





A little speaker with a big sound. Featuring all the functionality and portability of the CHANT BT, but with bigger, bolder, sonic strength, the CHANT BT Sport works with Bluetooth-enabled devices and many more through the auxiliary input. The water-resistant Chant Sport makes for enhanced outdoor use. It’s designed to float, fits in most cup holders or water bottle cages, and offers up to eight hours of wireless play, allowing you to take it with you everywhere, and build your own wall of sound.






The ZAGG Folio is the thinnest Bluetooth keyboard available. It features a unique hinge design, and provides full body protection to help keep your iPad free from scratches and dings. It will also keep you looking stylish on the tube or train with its leather-textured cover and backlit lighting. A powerful battery keeps it going for up to three months of regular use between charges. Featuring a unique hinge design that adjusts through 135 degrees, o holds your the Folio iPad at what wing ever viewing angle is best for you, just ptop, like a laptop, hout but without ky the bulky weight.




ing Why not treat the office to something nown special this Christmas? It’s a well-known fact that most UK offices run more he efficiently on tea and coffee, and the or Francis Francis Y5 Milk is perfect for moothly. keeping your operation running smoothly. chiato, Choose from espresso, latte macchiato, mple Americano, creamy cappuccino, simple steamed milk, or hot water for tea and herbal infusions. It also uses fresh milk to make delicious drinks at the touch of a well - touch screen. The Y5 takes illy’s revolutionary he iperEspresso pods, meaning that the perfect coffee is served every time - no scalded coffee, no watery espresso, no coffee grounds floating around in your cup cup.

Stocking fillers We’ve trawled the high street to bring you some of the best, and most interesting gifts to give to colleagues, loved ones, or just to treat yourself, this Christmas – no matter what your budget may be. Here are some of our favourite gadgets, gizmos, and gifts on offer this year 85

Do you want to know who is on your website? Are you tired of seeing lots of traffic on your website and only a handful converting to sales? Would you like to actively pursue the leads on your website to boost your ROI? WOW Analytics are the lead generation experts who can help you see exactly who is on your website and get you in touch with them.

Find out who’s interested in your business With WOW’s lead scoring, you can see which visitors on your website are actually interested in your business. We’ll rank every lead on your website, so you can save time, chase the sales ready leads immediately and put your cold leads in an email campaign.

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Instead of calling up the company and trying to worm your way past the gatekeeper, WOW gives you access to individual employees email addresses. From there you can email them straight away to start the sales process or use a personalised URL to track their activity on your website.

With WOW’s analytic tools, you’ll get more data than you would even from Google Analytics. So find out where your website traffic is coming from and report on your conversion rates from PPC, email and social media campaigns.

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Winter worries


or businesses, the Christmas period inevitably brings a series of challenges. For many, the festive season usually means the once-a-year office shutdown, where employees down tools to spend Christmas away from work. However, other organisations need to maintain operational effectiveness across the holiday period, whilst still respecting the work/life balance of their team. On occasion, the weather also plays a part, both at Christmas and throughout the winter, with adverse conditions hindering worker attendance and productivity. This could be snow or ice making road conditions dangerous, or heavy rain and gale force winds making travel to the office by rail an impossibility. In times of such disruption, keeping the business functioning effectively is crucial. To satisfy this requirement, new technologies, namely Unified Communications services, represent a viable option for IT managers and business decision-makers. Encompassing a wide variety of programmes and services, including voice-calling, instant messaging, and video-conferencing, unified communications, such as Lync, and Skype for Business, enable employees to contact one another

conveniently, at any time, from any device with an internet connection. Software, like Microsoft Office 365, also serves to make accessing work resources away from the office simple and straightforward. If bad weather strikes around Christmas – or at any point throughout the winter – essential contact can still be made between employees and their clients away from the office, mitigating any impact on productivity. During the Christmas shutdown, unified communications also enables business leaders to at least retain some connection to the workplace. In case of an emergency, employees can contact one another quickly and easily, meaning any problems can be proactively tackled ahead of the office reopening when the festive period comes to an end. The success of unified communication is linked closely to the benefits of cloud computing. Businesses that embrace the cloud gain the ability to access work resources from anywhere, enabling leaders to keep a close eye on company matters, even when the physical office cannot be accessed. In addition, the ever-increasing sophistication of cloud storage facilities means that data-centres are built to

After all, work is something you do, not somewhere you go

Piers Linney, co-CEO of Outsourcery, looks at how collaborative tools and the cloud can save the day when the winter weather hits

withstand, and remain operational in, the most extreme weather conditions. Choosing this approach enables businesses to move away from more vulnerable on-site servers, which could be at risk in the event of a flood or burst pipe. In an era where efficiency and communication are more important than ever, it’s vital that businesses stay on top of the options. There is no longer a need to rely so heavily on the physical office as a place to get work done, so poor weather or the festive shutdown need not mean a halt to productivity. After all, work is something you do, not somewhere you go. Consider how technology can help better connect your staff with their work resources and with each other, and Christmas and winter can become much less of a headache. Contact: 87

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Web builder


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Which is best? The experts at Smart Little Web tackle the conundrum of whether you should use a web builder or a web designer


hen deciding between a web builder and a web designer, there are many factors to consider and, while it can be hard to choose, there are a few distinguishing influences that could help your decision. Websites are the window to your business, so it’s paramount to get them right, but when deciding between using a web builder or a web designer, how do you know which one is best for you? Think about it: when a potential customer comes across your business for the first time, you want to ensure that you capture their attention from the offset with a comprehensive and relevant online presence. You therefore wouldn’t want a website that takes ages to load and equally, one that’s irrelevant, or difficult to navigate. But with both a builder and a designer offering you beautifully designed web pages, it can be hard to know which one to go for.

WHAT IS A WEB BUILDER? Simply put, a web builder is a software program hosted in the cloud, that allows you to create a website using templates. The advantage of using a web builder

7KH EHQHƏWV RI D ZHE EXLOGHU DUH HQGOHVV ZLWK HDVH EHLQJ WKH ELJJHVW DGYDQWDJH ƋƋ DQG ZKR GRHVQƎW ZDQW OLIH WR EH D OLWWOH HDVLHU" is that you can quickly and efficiently get a website up and running, with basic content management and social media widgets integrated. The benefits of a web builder are endless, with ease being the biggest advantage – and who doesn’t want things in life to be a little easier?

Web builders allow anyone to create a beautiful and workable website that’s user friendly for both you and the customer. You can edit your masterpiece as frequently as you like, and even change the design if you wish – it’s all easy to amend and edit. Creating websites from scratch is incredibly time consuming, and requires a complicated web code, which is another reason why website builders have become so popular. Along with being easy to use and time efficient, website builders are cost effective. Not only does it eliminate the need to build a website, but with you managing your website in-house, it will reduce the cost of maintenance labour, or hiring a specific web designer. The cherry on top of the alreadywell-frosted cake is security. As we know, all online entities are susceptible to security risks, such as hacking, but if you’ve used a website builder, the host will deal with any security breaches the same goes for any coding errors. 89


Web builder


web designer

The only issue to consider is that, although the host deals with any security risks for you, it means that the site is so secure that you can’t access the coding to your website, so you may not be able to customise the look and feel as much as you might like. However, web builder sites, such as Smart Little Web, have a wealth of templates to choose from, each with customisable features. WHAT IS A WEB DESIGNER? Unlike a web builder, a web designer is a person that uses tools, such as Wordpress, to create a bespoke website – they input HTML coding to build a unique site. This can help you define the website in unique and creative ways and, although there are templates, your designer can customise them by adding additional code to achieve your bespoke look. With a web designer, you pay up front for the initial design rather than monthly, and these initial costs can sometimes feel like you’re investing a lot in the early stages, but in time you’ll reap the benefits of a beautifully designed and unique website with grander functionality. There are also some ongoing costs to consider; although there

90 December 2015

The downside to having a new website designed is that, unless you’re a pro with HTML, it can be TXLWH GLƮFXOW to edit any changes may be no monthly fees attributed specifically to the web designer, you still have to factor in a hosting company. Not to mention, a web designer is not the effort-free option – you will need to think about what goes on your site; SEO, marketing, and copywriting. It’s important to note that the price web designers charge will not necessarily mean your website is ready to go live. The downside to having a brand new website designed is that, unless you’re a pro with HTML, it can be

quite difficult to edit any changes. It also means that you would have to deal with any security issues that occur, or hire someone to do this for you – another cost to factor in. You will also need to request that the designer includes the coding for multi-device functionality, in order to optimise the use on a variety of devices. This may not come as standard. Designed websites are a great option for larger companies looking to trade at high quantity through a site. The personalised coding allows for ecommerce websites to trade with high traffic. And while you can do this with a pre-built site, large online trading websites or big corporations are arguably better off going with a uniquely coded website. So the debate rages on, but which one is best for your business? For small businesses or start-ups, the best way to get your foot into the website door is probably to start with a web builder, which takes the hassle out of creating your website and allows you full reign over the editing process. Contact:

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Every month Talk Business Magazine takes an open and honest look at the fight entrepreneurs face to reach success. Bursting with inspiration, tips and advice to assist those battling through the day-to-day struggles of the current climate Whether you’re a start-up entrepreneur looking for early guidance, or an established business trying to reach the next step, we’re here to help you on every step of your journey

’s There re o lots m e onlin at




Tech Review

Each month we give Ortis Deley, from Channel 5’s The Gadget Show, a gorgeous piece of tech to test drive. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, he’ll give you the lowdown on the best gadgets money can buy VAUXHALL ONSTAR PRICE: FREE FOR 12 MONTHS (£79 PER YEAR THEREAFTER) AVAILABLE FROM:

It was reassuring to know that in the event of GLĆŽFXOW\ DVVLVWDQFH ZDV D EXWWRQ WRXFK DZD\


’ve just handed back the keys to the Vauxhall Astra. Why? Well, because my time with its heavily advertised connected car service, OnStar, was up. OnStar is a name I’ve been familiar with for around three years, but it’s been in operation for much longer. It began life as a sort of telephone concierge in the US. It was a subscription-based service that allowed you to call – at the touch of a button – for help, 24/7 in the event of you getting lost or having an accident. That was pretty much the extent of the service, but its latest iteration sees it more like your car’s on-board computer and response

92 December 2015

unit, looking after everything from theft protection to offering a WiFi service, vehicle diagnostics to the aforementioned turn-by-turn navigation assistance. There’s an app that gives you remote control over the locking system, that will display key diagnostics (tyre pressure, fuel gauge, oil levels), locate your vehicle, and let you send your destination address to your vehicle. I had the car for a week and, although I was unable to test many of the security features (for obvious reasons), it was reassuring to know that in the event of difficulty, assistance was a button-touch away or, in extreme cases (when the


In a world that is becoming even more connected, it’s no surprise that cars have been assimilated into the internet of things airbag is deployed for example), automatically dispatched. What I did have fun with was the navigation assistance. I always leave the house in a hurry – and almost always late. This means I pretty much never get to check the route to where I’m going. With OnStar, there was no need for me to stress. I could get my car journey underway and request directions from an OnStar advisor while on the move. I used this service quite a few times, and it made a nice change to use a car SatNav instead of having to rig up my smartphone or manually enter the destination details, eating into time I rarely have. It only failed on two occasions: the incorrect

address was sent to my car on one, and nothing was received at all on the second. Two minor blips in what was an otherwise problem-free week. Subscription is free for the first year and, considering what you get, that’s a pretty fab deal. Thinking about it, the OnStar advisor has quite a lot of power. They can track your car, run vehicle diagnostics, lock your car, and – in some cases – immobilise your car (after the relevant security checks). That’s a little unnerving. That said, you can choose to ‘go dark’ and prevent Vauxhall OnStar from accessing your car’s location, but where’s the fun in that?

VERDICT: In a world that is becoming even more connected, it’s no surprise that cars have been assimilated into the internet of things, but Vauxhall offers something in addition to the increasingly popular on-board assistant: a top-notch service with a human voice at the other end. The rebels. Enjoy it while it lasts! 93

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The collaboration persuasion Anne Marie Ginn, senior category manager at Logitech for Business, looks at how mobile uniďŹ ed communications are enabling SMEs to adopt a more exible working culture


n just a few short years, Unified Communications (UC) has changed the way that employees connect and collaborate. Unified communications is not just benefiting employee productivity, it is enabling the workforce to be flexible – an essential asset that allows smaller businesses to compete with larger rivals. Mobile UC technologies are enabling remote working, on-thefly meetings, and mobility across all business units. This is helping SMEs to reduce their cost base, taking on smaller office spaces complimented by remote workers and freelancers. While BYOD has been the watch phrase for the last number of years, the latest emerging trend is ‘BYOA’ or ‘bring your own application’. Employees – in particular millennials – are often self-organising, using applications that will give them the productivity boosts they require. SMEs are evaluating how they can give their employees that same kind of mobile, intuitive experience via their UC platforms. Without doubt, the mobile app market and increased connectivity are writing the next chapter of UC, and it is quickly developing around us. SMEs are well positioned to benefit from this technology, with less bureaucratic

60(V DUH ZHOO SRVLWLRQHG WR EHQHĆŹW IURP XQLĆŹHG FRPPXQLFDWLRQV WHFKQRORJ\ ZLWK OHVV EXUHDXFUDWLF SURFHVVHV DQG WKHUHIRUH IDVWHU DGRSWLRQ UDWHV processes, and therefore faster adoption rates. UC technology will help these businesses to better manage their workforces, who are increasingly finding the desk unit a productivity desert. GETTING AHEAD IN MOBILE UC It is already easy to deploy UC applications via a mobile, with many available from all the leading collaboration vendors, such as Microsoft and Cisco, or dedicated video conferencing applications from vendors like BlueJeans, Vidyo, or Zoom. Other players are investing in the collaborative capabilities that are primed for mobile devices. Mobile features in UC have now expanded to include features like whiteboarding, screen-sharing, and single-reach number. At present though, the main mobile UC adoption issue is connectivity, as office Wi-Fi and stability of 3G and 4G signals within the building still struggle to enable technology to full capability. This is mirrored outside of the workplace, when poor signals will

often equal dropped calls, and ultimate frustration by the user. The UK Government fully recognises this, and further investment in connectivity is on its way, with the Chancellor announcing that 95% of the UK population will have access to superfast broadband by 2017. As connectivity becomes less of an issue, companies will find that the mobile application works in the same way as a desktop application, whereby there’s a seamless and easy-to-use experience for the user. Start-ups should not fear the plethora of UC vendors. The cloud is permitting the inter-operability between different vendors facilitated by system integrators. Technology is maturing, and companies are already widely adopting UC, rather than proprietary technology. For example, Logitech Collaboration products are certified for use with Cisco Jabber, WebEx, and Skype for Business. It also facilitates small business’ communication with global customers and suppliers. 95


Companies are seeing the demand for ‘huddle rooms’ explode - smaller, dedicated collaboration spaces where employees can meet and collaborate

BACK AT THE RANCH All this tech means that employees don’t need to be in the office as much to be connected and productive, and as a result, they’re not. In January 2015, a Wainhouse research paper looking at collaborative businesses found that two-thirds of respondents had initiated an audio or web conference from a mobile device, so the popularity of mobile video is clearly on the rise. The trends towards UC, mobility, remote working, and open office spaces are only accelerating. Furthermore, open office spaces are proven to increase space utilisation rates, and create a sense of collaboration and a more open culture. However, there are some disadvantages to having an open office space. For example, the increased level of noise and distraction impacting employee concentration is, in turn, leading to another trend – a rise in the number of collaboration or conference spaces in these offices. According to recent reports, there are 55 million meeting or conference rooms worldwide, of which 24 million, or 40%, are medium-sized conference rooms. Companies are seeing the demand for ‘huddle rooms’ explode - smaller, dedicated collaboration spaces where

96 December 2015

employees can meet and collaborate with local and remote team members on-the-fly. Many businesses are looking to take advantage of existing UC investments, and are looking for ways to utilise these in smaller collaboration spaces in a way that is scalable, and which won’t explode the budget. The new breed of video conferencing devices, including the ConferenceCam Connect from Logitech, make it very quick to grab a laptop, find a conference room or huddle space, and have a top notch team meeting with great sound quality and video, using the same UC solution employees use at the desk. CONSIDER THE DELIVERY STAGE For many companies, the cost savings can be tremendous, yet adoption can still be challenging. SMEs need seamless communication experiences with their employees, customers, suppliers, and partners. For example, a bespoke furniture design agency will be able to share its product at the early design stages via video call with the manufacturer and client, obtaining early feedback that will help to shorten the production cycle and speed up time to market. Despite the constant intrusion

of social interfaces, organisations should not dismiss employee training for video collaboration on different devices. A clear communication strategy should be in place so that users fully understand the benefits that their devices can bring to their work. The changing demographics of the workforce will play an important part in this delivery stage. Millennials will form 50% of the workforce in just a couple of short years; while businesses today are distributed across multiple sites with remote workers forming part of the team, and 60% of meetings now virtual. The Wainhouse research paper on collaborative businesses confirms this, noting that ‘The way users get their work done is undergoing a dramatic, historic change. This new work environment is embraced by work-life harmony-seeking millennials and driven by highly collaborative interaction. Technology has transcended the ability to simply enable virtual collaboration, making it effective and desirable – with few barriers, anyone and everyone can instantly become engaged and help with the task at hand’. Contact:

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At a time when comparison shopping engines are struggling, marketplaces represent a distribution channel independent of Google

Border control Mickael Froger, CEO and co-founder of Lengow, provides his top tips for ecommerce success in foreign lands

98 December 2015



xpanding into international markets can be a bewildering, but highly effective way to grow your business and increase profit. One of the great advantages of ecommerce is the opportunity to reach new international customers without needing a physical presence in the country. The opportunities for ecommerce success in China, in particular, are often discussed and difficult for many businesses to ignore. By 2018, Chinese ecommerce is expected to exceed $1 trillion (approx. £656 billion), accounting for 40% of ecommerce worldwide. However, before making any virtual leaps across the world, there are several points to consider in order to maximise your chance of international success. First and foremost, you need to ask yourself whether there is sufficient demand for what you plan to sell in international markets. If the answer is yes, then keep reading. GO LOCAL Reaching the target market in their native language is far more effective than simply using English. According to market research firm, Common Sense Advisory, English-only websites reach less than a quarter of the world’s internet users. It’s even better if you can also offer customer support in multiple languages. A specific URL for every country you are selling in could increase customer trust, in addition to helping with SEO. Beyond researching potential rivals, retailers must intimately understand the shopping habits of local markets, particularly payment and delivery preferences. Adopting local payment methods is a good way of increasing the likelihood of international success. Although credit/debit card is the most common payment option in the UK and US, this is not the case everywhere. According to Forrester, PayPal remains the preferred option in Germany, and Alipay is the most popular payment method in China, where ‘traditional’ Visa, MasterCard, and Amex players are largely absent among consumers. Displaying the price in the local currency is also a great way of increasing international sales. If you are unable to do this, at least let the customer know what they can expect to pay in their own currency by the end of the transaction.

One of the advantages of systems such as PayPal is that customers know the exact amount they are paying. Delivery services also need careful thought. Preferences for delivery vary from country to country. A recent study by MetaPack found that 63% of UK online shoppers have used clickand-collect in the past 12 months, whereas 72% of French online shoppers preferred to pick up their ecommerce goods at the local shop. The same study asked consumers whether it was best for delivery to be free, fast, or based on available time slots. While the majority of British (55%) and French (56%) online shoppers rated free delivery very highly, German customers placed less importance on this (41%). More German shoppers prefer delivery during available time slots, (19%) compared to French (8%) or British (11%) shoppers. Speed of delivery is also more important to German shoppers (27%) than British (22%) or French (18%) shoppers. If you use an international carrier to ship your goods, you can track the transfer. Make sure you look into import and export fees, and don’t forget to complete a customs declaration form.

also a strategy that includes customer service adapted to specific consumer behaviours, the personalisation of web pages, and automation of what products to display according to user profiles and shopping history. CONSIDER MARKETPLACES A good way of testing the waters of an international market is by using marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon to sell your products in the territory. According to a report by the Ecommerce Foundation, retailers expect marketplaces to represent nearly 40% of ecommerce by 2020. Online marketplaces mean retailers can benefit from increased visibility and reach, including new audiences, at a low cost and with minimal investment. Moreover, at a time when comparison shopping engines are struggling, marketplaces represent a distribution channel independent of Google.

USE TECHNOLOGY TO WORK SMARTER In recent years, the ecommerce market has been volatile and unpredictable, with multiple tools and platforms available. All of these new developments make the ecommerce ADAPT TO NEW DISRUPTIVE, business complex, fluid, and technical. CONSUMER PURCHASING The new realities of buying and selling PATTERNS online make it essential to invest in the The advance of technology and the rise platforms, approaches, and solutions of mobile usage have disrupted the retail to centralise, optimise, and manage the sector by blurring established patterns distribution of product catalogues on of purchasing behaviour. The industry ecommerce channels worldwide, with a first grappled with ‘showrooming’ (the single, user-friendly interface. Do your concept of window shopping in stores but research beforehand though, as certain buying online), but is now adapting to the types of channels may be more suited reverse process – ‘webrooming’. to certain countries. Lengow, a feed In the quest to stand out from the management solution, which covers competition, brands such as Nutella, 1800 ecommerce channels worldwide, Nike, and Coca-Cola have helped enables you to quickly and easily popularise personalised products. But distribute your product catalogue right the question is, why? around the world. Previously, the consumer went to an It may be quick and easy to create online store to buy something specific, an online shop, but being visible whereas now shopping has become a and efficient, and achieving success hobby, and consumers like to browse internationally, is more complicated. In and compare products they are offered. our ever-changing industry, retailers need The arrival of this regular browser but to stay ahead of the game by investing in irregular buyer requires the establishment technologies, approaches, knowledge, and of a marketing technique to encourage processes that bring control, insight, and purchases. This is where personalisation simplicity in order to work smarter. comes into play. Contact: Personalisation therefore means not just tailor-made products but 99

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I’ve got an app for that Each month we bring you a selection of our favourite apps for business or pleasure. This month, we look at how to make your team communication and business travel more efficient.



PRICE: Free COMPATABILITY: iOS, Android THE GIST: Team communication should be integral for every business; effective communication between employees is a given for efficiency in completing projects, transparency, and productivity. To pick up the slack is team communication app, Slack. Slack is a messaging service that links people and projects of the business in an easy-to-use format. Synchronise desktop, tablet, and smartphone via the app and receive updates to whatever you are working on. Create channels and organise team conversations in open channels, so everyone knows the latest updates. But every business has sensitive information, which is where private channels enable you to choose which team members can view your conversation, or direct messages to individual colleagues. With a drag and drop feature to share files, and all your messages, notifications, even uploaded files are archived, Slack is an all-in-one team communication app improving efficiency and transparency in any business. DOWNLOADABLE FROM:

PRICE: Free COMPATABILITY: Android, iOS THE GIST: Some people are lucky enough to travel for business, but if you travel often, it can be hard to keep track of all your car, train or flight plans. In comes TripIt. TripIt is a travel management app designed for frequent travellers, juggling their many journeys. With the free version, you can organise all your travel plans in one place, and sync these plans with your calendar. However for $49 [approx £32] a year, you can get so much more, TripIt will send you real time flight alerts and locate alternative flights with open seats across different airlines. You can select your favourite seat, and be notified when it is available. The most impressive feature is fare refund notifications, TripIt Pro tracks your flight’s fare, and notifies you when you are eligible for a refund. All these features and many more make TripIt an excellent investment for the frequent business traveller. DOWNLOADABLE FROM: 101

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news Elevate your business with £150,000 in new HSBC competition Harry Ramsden’s opens first overseas outlet in a decade Famous fish and chip specialist enters Qatar market


arry Ramsden’s has opened its first overseas outlet in more than a decade, as the brand’s return to franchising continues to pay dividends. The new launch took place in Doha, with an event hosted by Ahmed Hassan Bilal, chairman of AHB Trading and Contracting Company, which signed a deal for the Qatar franchise last year. Harry Ramsden’s CEO, Joe Teixeira, was in Doha for the launch, and commented, “We are delighted that Harry Ramsden’s first overseas outlet in over 10 years has now officially opened. As our brand continues to go from strength to strength in the UK, as a result of our successful repositioning, we are now turning our attention further afield.” “With the master franchises for Qatar and Saudi Arabia signed, further openings are imminent.”

Contact: www.franchise.

New competition launched to help SMEs take their business to the next level


has launched a high-profile business growth competition, and is encouraging franchisors to enter for the chance to win £150,000 to make their ambitions a reality. The Elevator Pitch invites any UK business with a turnover of less than £10 million to pitch their growth idea in a 90-second video, explaining how the plans will take their business to the next level. Ten finalists will be shortlisted, and invited to a two-day masterclass of mentoring, coaching, and advice in February, before re-pitching to an expert panel of judges. The winning business

Anytime Fitness celebrates 3,000 branch openings


nytime Fitness, the world’s fastest growing fitness franchise, has announced the opening of its 3000th health club. Anytime Fitness now has 60 clubs open in the UK, alongside clubs in almost thirty other countries, with 2.5 million members in total. “Anytime Fitness has opened 3,000 branches in less time than it took McDonald’s, Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts, which shows the commercial strength of the

will be announced at a ceremony on the second night and will receive the money to transform their business. Andy Brattesani, UK head of franchising for HSBC, said: “I want to see franchisors entering this contest, and competing for a prize that could transform their operations. There are many exciting businesses in the sector that are ideal candidates for the prize, and it would be great to see them showcase their potential.” The Elevator is part of a wide-ranging campaign of support for SMEs, which includes guides, advice, and seminars in conjunction with the Daily Telegraph. Find out more, and upload your video via the HSBC Knowledge Centre. Contact:

Global milestone reached with new branch in Stroud brand, and is testament to the commitment of its franchisees,” says Andy Thompson, chairman of Anytime Fitness UK. “I’m delighted that all Anytime Fitness members can now use any of our three thousand clubs, which are open 24/7, from Singapore to Qatar to Stroud.” Contact: 103


Should you loosen the sales leash? The post-Christmas spending frenzy is the perfect time for businesses to make the most of marketing tactics and promotions - and franchises are no exception, says Dynamis’ Nicky Tatley

104 December 2015



hristmas may still be a few weeks away, but many are already focusing on the aftermath. Immediately following the present unwrapping (and increasingly, in the days before), most stores across the high street, online, and beyond will begin their sales extravaganzas, and consumers will look to grab a bargain. However, while for many businesses this is an easy process, with the ultimate say on what discounts to offer, an easy top-down decision coming from command HQ, for the franchise industry, where the franchisee is the boss but has to work within the network, this can be a more complex issue, sometimes leading to a battle of wills between franchisor and franchisee.

Franchises with a UHJXODU DQG SUHGLFWDEOH customer base are better suited to the ƍRQH VL]H ƬWV DOOƎ SURPRWLRQV VWUDWHJ\ Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be complicated at all. In fact, the process of formulating post-Christmas customer incentives can be a lot easier within the supported network of a franchise. Marketing and sales directives usually come straight from the franchisor, so all a franchisee has to do is apply them with gusto. Here, they should look to bend to the will of the franchisor, who has been there and done it before successfully. Following the notion that a franchise is a tried-and-tested business model, it makes sense that a franchisor will create promotions that will work well financially and practically for each franchisee. Key considerations when creating any seasonal promotion include: • Profit margin • Clarity of message • Time scale • Social media targeting • Spend barriers A good franchisor will have

already run through the numbers to make sure no-one will lose any money by offering a specific promotion, and a clear marketing campaign should be circulated around the franchise network, including details of what’s on offer, eye-catching promotional material and images, a defined start and end date, and social media strategies. If the aim is to bring in new customers, then the offer should be targeted accordingly, and not to established customers. Conversely, if the Christmas offer is a thank-you to regular clients, then any festive email campaign should make that crystal clear. An effective way of seeming to play the Christmas discounts game, without giving too much away, is by implementing a spend barrier. Franchises can offer 20% off a particular product or service (rather than everything), and promote this to non-customers only. As well as limited edition Christmas products, franchises can also offer free delivery, multibuys, buy one get one half price offers, prize draws, and gifts to local charities. While most franchisees are expected to tow the company line when it comes to marketing, the beauty of a good franchisee/franchisor relationship lies in open channels of communication. Additionally, there’s nothing to stop an entrepreneurially-minded franchise owner taking marketing suggestions to the top. It’s always worth remembering that the Egg McMuffin – arguably the McDonald’s chain’s most famous product next to the Big Mac – was dreamt up by a franchisee. In 1972, Herb Peterson came up with the idea at his own Santa Barbara franchise, and the recipe was soon adopted by all McDonald’s restaurants across the globe. Some franchisors, however, do give their franchisees complete autonomy over promotions, especially in the B2B sector. Sunil Kapoor, managing director of the UK operations of Signarama, expects his franchisees to set their own sales and promotions. “Each franchisee has their own area, and knows their customers in their local market. We work with the

owners to help develop their local promotions when asked, but they are free to set their own, working with local charities and other businesses in their area,” he said. For this type of franchise, where the customer base can be completely diverse, it makes sense to give franchisees more control. “We try and keep it simple and, as we are a B2B, it just works better that way,” noted Sunil. Franchises with a regular and predictable customer base – retail, or food and drink, for example – are better suited to the ‘one size fits all’ promotions strategy. Francesca Litner, managing director of the Caffé Latte franchise group agrees, saying: “We handle the promotion ideas from head office, then we send them to the stores and

A good franchisor will have already run through the numbers to make sure no-one will lose any money E\ RƫHULQJ D VSHFLƬF SURPRWLRQ get the EPOS supplier to put them on their tills. I expect them all to do the same deals. It is important from a brand perspective, and customers who go to a Caffé Latte location expect the same deal in all.” This year, the Caffé Latte franchise will be offering ginger-bread muffins, gingerbread lattes, mince pies, and a white hot chocolate called a ‘snowball’. The marketing, in this case, is very centralised; “We monitor sales through the portal, and have compliance checks with the stores, and we put the promotion on Facebook, Twitter, and our website,” explained Francesca. However a franchise owner goes about making the most of the season of goodwill, careful preparation and market analysis will be key to achieving the ultimate Christmas bonus – a healthy profit. Contact: 105


Dynamic and recession-proof high-street franchise The ZipYard is the fastest growing garment alteration franchise in the UK. With distinctive branding and a well-planned shopfit to minimise square footage for maximum profit, the opportunity provides owners with a business that is welcome in any high street


fficially launched in Britain by The Bardon Group in 2011 growth has been very strong and the company is well on the way to achieving its first target of opening 50 centres in the UK. The business provides a much-needed service and has a real role to play in the rejuvenation of the UK’s high streets. New openings are well supported by local dignitaries including mayors and MPs notably the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne who officially opened the Wilmslow ZipYard in 2013. The Bardon Group runs three other wellknown franchise brands – Recognition Express (est. 1979), ComputerXplorers (since 2005) and Kall Kwik (first franchised in 1979) and has a management team that is long established in the franchise industry. Specifically designed to project a stylish, high quality image, the ZipYard offers a wide range of alteration and tailoring services, all done on site by trained professionals in purpose-built, beautifully shopfitted centres, branded in the ZipYard’s signature eyecatching yellow and black colours. From dress re-styling and taking in or letting out to bridal-wear fitting or formal wear alterations, the ZipYard provides convenient, speedy and cost effective clothing alterations and repairs. The ZipYard franchise package is a total turnkey operation, comprising a complete shop fit, state of the art machinery, computer systems and a comprehensive marketing package which includes regional PR activity. The package includes industrial sewing machines, specialist alteration and repair machinery, a computer, software, EPOS

28 elitefranchise Winter 2015

system, signage, fixtures and fittings, various consumables, starting stock, plus training and ongoing support from the franchisor, and a marketing and PR campaign to launch each centre.

Why choose The ZipYard? Former driving instructor Richard McConnell, 34, opened England’s first ZipYard franchise in Altrincham in 2011, which was followed by a second centre in Wilmslow in 2013. “We did lots of research in the franchise press and online, and looked into a wide variety of franchises,” said McConnell. “The Altrincham ZipYard has exceeded

all of our expectations, and the model is so well thought out that it was easy to replicate in Wilmslow. Our reputation went before us and the customer base in the new ZipYard is building very nicely. “Initially it was my wife who noticed the ZipYard advert and she thought it was a fantastic idea. We did some research and quickly realised that there was no real competition in our area. Most of the time clothing repairs are done as a bolt-on service at dry cleaners. The turn-around time isn’t very good and they don’t offer a very wide range of services. “We went to meet Nigel Toplis, the franchisor, and we visited a centre in Wales.


“Being your own boss is hard work but very gratifying. Having the opportunity to make your own decisions is very satisfying but knowing you can rely on the franchise group gives you the confidence to approach situations with ease and a shared experience” Kevin Old, The ZipYard in Bournemouth

limb. It’s been teamwork from day one.” “I would definitely recommend the ZipYard to other potential franchisees. I’m learning all the time and it’s such a sociable business. I really enjoy talking to the customers and I get such a feeling of satisfaction from seeing how happy they are when their clothes fit properly,” she added.

Marketing Head office provides a wide range of marketing support to the network including email marketing, a comprehensive range of promotional collateral and window posters that are supplied free of charge throughout the year to each centre. All franchisees also have access to a retained PR agency that carries out regular regional seasonal activity on behalf of the ZipYard to raise awareness and generate footfall to the centres.

We were impressed by the professionalism of the franchise. The brand is very strong and the shop fit is amazing, from the fitting rooms to the equipment and layout. They really know what they are doing and can cater for every kind of alteration and repair on site.”

Training & Support All franchise owners have a two-week comprehensive induction programme that covers business practices, computer systems, running a centre, marketing and promotions, and recruitment. Part of the training takes place in an existing centre that is up and running to provide a proper hands-on

experience. Every aspect of the set-up from finding premises to launching and promoting the centre is fully supported by the franchisor. Once up and running the support continues with additional training, business and product development work, on-going business advice and planning, marketing and PR. Jill Phillips, 46, set up the ZipYard in Basingstoke in May 2012 after being made redundant 8 months previously. “The whole team has been fantastic,” said Phillips. “From the training, which was very hands-on, to the huge level of support I’ve had, it’s all been great. Although it’s my business and the buck stops with me, I’ve never felt alone or out on a

Contact: Emma Downes t: 01530 513307 e: Total Cost: £38,500 + VAT plus shop fit

Winter 2015 elitefranchise 29


Franchise spotlight FA C T F I L E

Each month, Paul Stafford, public relations manager at the British Franchise Association (bfa), shines the spotlight on a franchise, and delves into what makes it a success FRANCHISE: GUINOT ESTABLISHED: 2011 TYPICAL START-UP COST: £85,000 - £120,000 WEBSITE: INTERVIEWEE: CHRIS GILLAM, MANAGING DIRECTOR, GUINOT-MARY COHR UK LTD

a practising beauty therapist, as they often see the business from a different perspective.

WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND THE BUSINESS? Established for 50 years, Guinot is the number one professional skincare brand in France, and is represented in 10,000 salons in 70 countries worldwide. The franchise concept launched in France in 2010, in response to a fragmented marketplace that lacked direction. Beauty salons were in need of re-invention, and a well organised franchise opportunity proved an effective way to do this. There are now getting on for 100 Guinot franchises across France, and the business model has been rolled out in the UK, Germany, and Italy. DO YOUR FRANCHISEES NEED A BACKGROUND IN BEAUTY THERAPY? No, this is not a requirement – in fact, it is sometimes better to have a franchisee who is a business manager, as opposed to

108 December 2015

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT TRENDS IN THE BEAUTY SECTOR; WHY IS IT A GOOD TIME TO GET INVOLVED? The health and beauty industry continues to grow; the professional skincare market is currently estimated to be worth £200m in the UK, and an area which has benefitted from significant growth is the facial treatment market. Facials are what Guinot is famous for, and it’s these superior treatments that customers are looking for, and they know that they will find the highest standards of treatment expertise and customer service in a Guinot franchise salon. It’s often the non-branded, family-style, beauty businesses that do not thrive, as it’s difficult in such a competitive market to create a strong brand identity and loyal customer base. The Guinot franchise operation brings with it a well established brand, efficient organisation, and a clear business structure to help the business succeed.

HOW DOES THE BACKING OF THE GUINOT BRAND MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO YOUR FRANCHISES? Guinot products and treatments are developed to meet consumer demands, and adapt to industry trends. Guinot owns its own R&D and manufacturing facility in France, where it annually produces 27million products. As a family-owned, limited company, Guinot has great flexibility to react quickly to market trends, ensuring Guinot franchises are always at the forefront of industry developments. HOW DO YOU SUPPORT YOUR FRANCHISEES AND HELP THEM INCREASE THEIR CUSTOMER BASE? All franchisees work with a dedicated marketing and business development team, who support the businesses to help them reach their full potential. Through a bespoke salon CRM system and direct mail campaigns, along with point of sale and digital marketing strategies, the franchised salons receive significant operational and business development support. All promotions are tailor-made for the franchised salons, and they receive preferential trading terms, offering enhanced marketing and promotions outside of the standard Guinot distribution base. Contact:


It’s often the non-branded, family-style, beauty businesses that do not thrive, as LWƎV GLƮFXOW LQ D FRPSHWLWLYH PDUNHW WR FUHDWH D VWURQJ LGHQWLW\ 109

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The Sales DOCTOR This month Sales Doctor, Tony Morris gives his expert advice on battling against companies who undercut your prices

Dear Sales Doctor, Budgets seem all but spent around this time of year and I keep getting the same ‘we have no budget left, call me in the New Year’ response. How can I convince companies to part with their cash - even when the rivers are dry?


t’s an easy excuse for people to use approaching Christmas, therefore most people use it. Now, you can’t suggest that they are lying, so you need to question around it. Your relationship with the person – whether they are already a customer or they are a prospect – will determine how you deal with it. If they are a prospect, I would recommend saying, “I understand that, however putting budgets to one side, I want to ensure we are the right fit for you when the time is right. Therefore can I ask you…” Now you need to have at least three to five open questions prepared to ask the prospect. They have to gain information that will help position your business accordingly. So, for my sales training company, Sales Doctors, I would ask questions such as: • What do you look for in a sales training partner? • In what areas would you like to see the biggest improvement in your sales team right now? • What do you think is the one thing stopping your

sales team generating more business at present? Once the prospect answers these questions and you probe things further, you then close for an appointment by saying, “From what you’ve kindly told me, we can help; therefore it will be beneficial for you to meet me so, when the budgets are available, you’ll have peace of mind that we’re right for you. Which day this week would suit you?” Another technique to get the prospect talking is asking, “If you did have budget available, what would you do?” Again it provides the opportunity to ask some great qualification questions. If the person is already a customer, then it needs to be handled differently. Some of my clients create Christmas offers to pre-empt this objection. This way, they are enticing their customer to spend money now and take advantage of the time leading up to Christmas. If they genuinely have spent all their budget and therefore, no matter how good a deal you offer them, they don’t have any money in the budget to

If they genuinely have spent all their budget, then you could suggest a buy now, pay later option spend, then you could suggest a buy now, pay later option. This way you get to make sales, and it’s just a cash flow situation. Tony Morris, MD of Sales Doctors has just launched his 4th book on the real life of sales called The Perfect Sales Meeting. For Talk Business readers only, he’s giving away his other three sales books when you purchase The Perfect Sales Meeting for only £6.99. Please email tony@ with the subject line ‘Book offer’ to get this deal.

NEED A DIAGNOSIS? Send your sales problems to the editor, marked ’FAO the sales doctor’: editor@talk

Contact: 111


Rafael Cortes, head of marketing at Foehn, explains how ‘in the cloud’ businesses can take more control of their phone systems and get smarter with their communications

Right hear, right now


ne of the most remarkable inventions of all time – the phone – has become one of the most ubiquitous items of electronic communication worldwide, and yet only now in the 21st Century are businesses truly able to harness its full potential. But how, you ask?

THE MOTHER OF INVENTION Most people in modern society have a phone. Whether it’s a mobile, home, or a business line, the majority of us use this amazing piece of equipment that enables us to talk, text, email and share. Phones in business go back a long time, and one notable moment in history came a couple of decades following the invention of the phone, in the mid-to-late 19th Century. Almon Strowger was an undertaker in Kansas City and, much to his annoyance, he discovered that a competitor’s wife working as a switchboard operator was

112 December 2015

diverting calls to her husband’s business. It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention, so Strowger corrected this grave injustice by inventing an automatic phone switching system that enabled people to dial each other directly. This put Strowger in control of his business communications, and the switch became the forerunner of the modern day Private Branch Exchange, used by thousands of businesses globally. BUSINESSES ARE TAKING CONTROL Although Strowger’s far-sighted development changed how telephony would work, it still didn’t put businesses fully in control. Before the introduction of cloud telephone systems, the traditional approach has always meant that companies have been at the mercy of their telephone provider and internally appointed administrator. Businesses have had to rely on their phone provider to make

stuff happen. For example, setting up new extensions, and allowing for ‘moves and changes’ – these would need to be planned in advance, and be carried out by the provider’s engineers (and not always on time). Changes to the system would typically be charged for each time, so there would often be additional costs associated. It has always been in the phone provider’s interests to have a level of control – if a business requires new staff to be added to its system, or existing staff moved, even more revenue could be accrued by the provider. With cloud telephony, companies now have the opportunity to take more control of their business communications if they wish to. Because the phone system operates via the Internet, it is a cloud softwarebased service that companies can manage themselves through a web interface, and in an instant. This approach has opened up


With cloud telephony, companies now have the opportunity to take more control of their business communications entirely new levels of autonomy and flexibility, providing companies with the freedom to do a lot more (and for a lot less) themselves than they could do previously. Within minutes, or even seconds, they can change the way inbound calls are routed. Calls may be routed to certain employees or teams at specific times of the week, or day. And calls can be diverted to other extensions if a phone has not been answered after a specific number of rings. If a particular promotion is happening, or a company is on an away-day, all of this can be accommodated to cope with peaks, out-of-office, and other scenarios. And because the data is recorded and collated, companies can look at, and analyse how well they are managing their phone system, in the context of staff productivity and customer service. COMPANIES ARE BEING MORE CREATIVE The majority of businesses have historically used their phone systems to make and receive calls, but over the years, various new bells and whistles have been added, enabling companies to perform many more useful communications functions, such as recording messages. The cloud, however, has created even higher levels of

creative functionality, because the telephone system can be integrated with the IT of an organisation and needn’t stand alone from it. This convergence means that companies can conjoin applications. Here are two ways, for example, that companies can achieve some more clever things with their phone system: 1 CRM INTEGRATION With the cloud, telephony has evolved from purely voice communication to an intelligent communications hub that operates seamlessly with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, and can be at the heart of customer interaction. This can make a hugely tangible difference to a company’s productivity, as well as a customer’s experience of the business. Examples include click-to-dial, where users simply press a ‘hot key’ to dial a number, and screen pop functionality, where employees can quickly view relevant information about the caller. 2 WEBRTC WebRTC provides web browsers and mobile applications with Real Time Communications (RTC) capabilities. What this means is that customers can initiate contact

with a company representative or customer service agent directly from the company’s website, and without the need to install any other software applications. Customers can make a call quickly and efficiently to a company’s cloud phone system with a single click, rather than having to dig out a number and dial it separately. With WebRTC, data enables intelligent call routing to the business, based on web visitor information in real time. The business can also collate reports on contextual data from a visitor’s web sessions. If, for example, someone is browsing a particular web page and then clicks on a button to make contact, the call will be directed to the most appropriate and relevant person or team. In summary, the cloud has had a marked impact on the way that companies design and manage their telephone systems, providing levels of control and innovation that have never been experienced before. Not only does this provide businesses with the ability to be far more flexible, they can avoid costly interventions by their phone provider, and design business operations to suit their everchanging needs. Contact: 113



ompany car breakdowns can cost your business time and money in lost productivity and, as winter draws near, can be a more frequent and unpleasant experience for all. Recent research by RAC Business found that Croydon is the breakdown hotspot of the UK, with more company car drivers experiencing faults there than anywhere else. Croydon, which is a major hub for business activity due to the busy A23 and A232 trunk roads, has topped the RAC’s list every year since 2010. Added to this, the fact that there are more commercial vehicles on the road means the London borough has dealt with a 24% rise in the number of business car roadside recoveries in the UK since 2010. Last year alone, we helped almost 500,000 company vehicle drivers get back on the road. Aside from the obvious inconveniences to the individual driver, breaking down in a company vehicle can waste valuable business time and money. For one in three small businesses, the cost of a vehicle off the road can be anything up to £500 a day, which can have a major

impact on productivity and a company’s bottom line. While some specific roads and areas are more prone to breakdowns or incidents, simply due to the volume of cars passing through or the condition of the road, here are a few tips to consider to minimise the chance of having vehicles off the road this winter: LOOK AFTER THE BATTERY A flat, or failing battery is among the biggest causes of car breakdown. Keep batteries in top condition by advising employees to turn off lights and interior electrics before they switch off the ignition. KEEP YOUR CARS REGULARLY SERVICED It almost goes without saying, but regular car maintenance and servicing maintains the overall vehicle health, and should find anything that’s failing before it causes your car to break down. Management tools, like RAC Business Club, can help you by providing alerts and reminders to ensure you keep on top of servicing and car maintenance across all your business vehicles. TAKE CARE OF YOUR TYRES The tyres on your vehicles can affect fuel economy as well as performance. Having the correct tyre pressure can keep your employees safe on the road, as well as saving your business money by contributing to better fuel efficiency. Check

all vehicle tread depth regularly and look for any damage to tyres – including the spare. REGULARLY CHECK FLUID LEVELS Checking engine fluid levels regularly can ensure your vehicles run smoothly, and components last longer. Make sure the oil, coolant, and washer fluid are at the right levels and consistency, and top them up if needed, according to manufacturer’s specifications. PREPARE FOR BAD WEATHER Make sure all employees understand the importance of preparing for bad weather, and regularly check their car lights and wiper blades so that they can see and be seen at all times. Make sure all lights are clean and free from cracks, and wiper blades are smear free. Replace wiper blades if they become worn or split. If you follow these tips then you should be ready for whatever the winter roads have to throw at you. However, if you are unlucky enough to break down, make sure you’re prepared. Always carry a drink (preferably hot), small snack, blanket or coat, and a pair of gloves in case you’re stranded for an extended period of time. Contact:

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114 December 2015


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Jenny Powley, sales director corporate, RAC Business, reveals why company car drivers should avoid Croydon, and how to keep your vehicles in top health for winter driving 115


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Legally speaking Each month, the experts at Wright Hassall LLP answer one of your dilemmas from a legal perspective. Here, employment lawyer, Rebecca Harmer looks at the perils of getting too merry this Christmas


With many employees attending Christmas parties and getting rather jolly this month, I’m worried about health and safety when they return to work the day after or after returning from lunch. Can I legally breathalyse an employee if I suspect they are drunk? If not, what can I do?”


It is important to ensure workers have a safe, healthy, and productive working environment. This includes ensuring that all staff are fit to carry out their jobs safely and effectively, and bearing in mind the festive season is upon us, it is important to ensure the company is protected in case anything does happen. Relatively few employers use breathalysers on staff, and they are usually undertaken by an external provider, such as an occupational health physician. You could make enquiries to see whether there is a provider in your area who could breathalyse your staff, if need be. Firstly you need to consider whether you want to breathalyse all staff, or those who use heavy machinery/drive on behalf of the company, for example. Then, if you have a substance misuse policy, I recommend you review it, and follow the procedure set out in it. If you do not have

this policy, it is worth taking a proactive step and obtaining one, which sets out the options available to the company in the event someone is under the influence, such as a warning or dismissal. You would then need to give the policy to the workforce, ask them to read it, and acknowledge receipt. I would also recommend making the policy contractual. Taking these positive steps, implementing the policy, and then following a fair and reasonable disciplinary procedure, will most certainly assist with a fair sanction including dismissal. If you do not have a policy, nor do you want to have one, you cannot simply breathalyse workers, as there is no right to do so. You could take into consideration the worker’s conduct, whether they seem intoxicated, and call them into a meeting to discuss this with them. I anticipate interviewing witnesses, to ascertain whether someone drank alcohol during

If you do not have a policy, you cannot simply breathalyse workers as there is no right to do so lunchtime, and how much they consumed, will be crucial as well. Based on this meeting, you could follow a disciplinary procedure to see what action (if any) should be taken. Whichever option you wish to take, you would need to take into consideration a disability like diabetes, which can give the symptoms of a person being intoxicated when no alcohol has actually been consumed. It would therefore be advisable to obtain the worker’s medical records and/or refer them to an occupational health physician in order to ascertain whether there is an underlying medical condition. Contact: Got a question you want answered by the legal team? Email editor@ talkbusinessmagazine. with the subject line “Legally speaking” 117


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Recognising, celebrating and motivating people in business for 25 years



Hot topics

? Q

Would you ever consider toning down – or banning completely – your office Christmas celebrations in order not to offend those of other cultures and religions?



66% YES


Each month, we ask a selection of business leaders for their views on an aspect of business. This month, we want to know your thoughts on religious sensibilities at Christmas

ANNA GIBBONS CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, SELLICK PARTNERSHIP Christmas celebrations are a reward for everyone’s hard work throughout the year, and banning them seems like a disproportionately extreme measure when compared with the many benefits these events bring to a business. The key to ensuring they are enjoyable for all involved is to create a balance that encompasses everybody in the business, regardless of their religious beliefs. Neutrality is crucial, and business leaders should aim for an environment where all employees feel comfortable. This can be achieved through careful consideration of all elements, ensuring the dress code does not cause offence to anybody, and checking that menu options are suitable for every religious belief and dietary requirement. Ultimately, this boils down to displaying common sense and respect for others; traits which all business owners should strive to demonstrate all year round. LUIS RAMON TNHR ELECTRICALS LTD No, I wouldn’t. I don’t think that there’s any need. Most people understand that Christmas isn’t so much about the religious aspect these days, and it’s more of a commercial exercise and an excuse for everyone to have a bit of fun, let their hair down, and celebrate the end of another year. As long as you’re respectful of others – that goes for gender, race, and whatever else, not just religion – then you shouldn’t have any problems. If you’ve cultivated an open and honest culture within your organisation, then anyone who does take issue will come to you and you can deal with their concerns accordingly. In the meantime, have fun! ANONYMOUS Honestly, it is something I have thought about. It is so easy to be accused of discrimination against one thing of another these days, and you often see companies caught out and berated on social media. I think I’d still have a Christmas party and the like, but I’d be very careful not to include anything of a religious nature or make attendance compulsory for my employees.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? TELL US YOUR THOUGHTS ON TWITTER @TALKBUSINESSMAG *Talk Business magazine does not necessarily condone or agree with any opinions expressed in this article. Opinions are solely those of the named individuals. 121


Trash talk Each month we ask a different business man or woman the everyday words and phrases that drive them up the wall in the business world, and why

You’re not working on an oil rig, you’re looking at a spreadsheet in slightly more detail. Stop trying to make it sound rugged and dangerous MY MOST HATED BUSINESS JARGON

Nick Parker The Writer

Job title: Strategy partner My business: Nick has written several books, on everything from why the media is addicted to non-news (‘Not Many Dead’, 2008), why modern life is so weird (Bling, Blogs and Bluetooth, 2006), and why toast is the best food ever (Toast: Homage to a Superfood, 2004.) In a previous life, he was a cartoonist for Viz. ‘At The Writer, we spend half our lives persuading clients they’d be much better off if they stopped talking nonense. Most of the time they get it. Sometimes you think they’ve got it, then one day you’ll hear them say how they’re now ‘leveraging language to maximise operational effectiveness.’ Sigh.’ Contact:

122 December 2015

BANDWIDTH: As in, ‘I don’t have the bandwidth for that’. The whole point about using metaphors is they help bring to life an idea in a more insightful way. Yet ‘bandwidth’ is less insightful. Time is fixed. You have a finite amount of it. But ‘bandwidth’ is expandable. Don’t have the bandwidth? Just get more! DRILL DOWN: You’re not working on an oil rig, you’re looking at a spreadsheet in slightly more detail. Stop trying to make it sound like rugged and dangerous manual work. GOING FORWARD: Time only moves in one direction. There’s no need to keep pointing that out at the start of every other sentence. Going forward, if you could just say ‘from now on’ instead? Thanks. IT’S IN OUR DNA: No, it isn’t. REACH OUT: ‘I’ll reach out to Bob’; ‘let’s reach out to the Swiss guys’. Gah! Until a couple of years ago, we used to just ‘ask’, ‘call’, or talk to’. Now everyone’s ‘reaching out’. It makes something really straightforward sound physically uncomfortable and slightly desperate (which, in fairness, if you spend half your life on international conference calls, it might well be). STAKEHOLDERS: I particularly hate this one because I use it quite a lot. It’s a really useful concept, but such an ugly word. I feel the same about ‘deliverables’ too. I wish I could find more elegant alternatives, but unfortunately, I don’t have the bandwidth right now. If anyone has any suggestions, perhaps they could reach out to me?


Tell us the insane phrases that wind you up, and you could feature here – simply email editor@talkbusinessmagazine. with the subject line ‘Trash Talk’.

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