29. July 2011 11:43
We have always known that our service has become an important contingency plan for many of our companies over the winter seasons or times when they need emergency back up.
It is important for companies to really spend time planning for trends, weather and emergencies when taking into consideration back up services and how they can help you. Our services work in several ways, helping companies cope with periods of the year when their services are in high demand, for example Plumbers towards the end of September get an increase in calls due to boiler services and system checks before winter starts. We also have several large companies that will run campaigns at certain times of the year and need our service as a back up to cover an increase in call traffic.
But don’t just think in regards to business demand, do plan for seasonal weather changes.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has estimated that each day of snow chaos in 2010 cost the British economy between £600m and £1bn: airports operator BAA ran up losses into the millions when it shut down for four days in December. Among small businesses the average loss was about £5,000, according to the FSB.
We do have the ability to create a bespoke back up service for all our existing and new companies but please remember to make creating a back up system an important part of your yearly review.
28. July 2011 13:56
Why not consider changing the way you throw away things from your business? Rather than filling a skip or waste bin with material you can recycle, a lot of business waste can benefit local charities and associations nearby as well as reduce your waste management bills.
With non sensitive paper that has been shredded there are options for supplying a local pet sanctuary or stables. The shredded paper is ideal for animals that have reactions to normal animal bedding and pet sanctuaries are also grateful for any bedding that can be used for no cost. We currently recycle 100% of our non sensitive paper waste by providing our paper for local stables where one of their horses is allergic to normal bedding. We just call them when we have a suitable amount and they come and collect it.
Old mobile phones can be recycled either for charity or for money by using the various sites available on the internet that recycle parts from phones. The sites are quite easy to find using a simple search on the internet.
There are ways that construction companies can recycle too. With materials or equipment left over from large jobs there are several ways that this can be used by local charities or associations, and if you are looking to recycle a large amount for money then there are such sites as tradeleftovers.com which has been started by Checkatrade.
So before binning something, do consider how this can be used locally to benefit companies or associations around you which in turn can help you reduce your waste collection.
19. July 2011 13:59
How to prepare for a networking event
Networking is an essential part of any business and can benefit networkers in several ways. Firstly by expanding and approaching possible customers and secondly by meeting other businesses it can be used as a successful referral network.
How to prepare for a networking event
Networking need not be daunting and whichever network event you decide to attend you can normally get information on what happens and how it works. The best way to choose the right network system is to look at the types of companies they attract and whether you know of other people that use them already. A lot of networking groups allow existing members to invite potential members, so make use of that facility wherever possible that way you can get a better idea as to whether that group is right for you and your company.
When you have chosen a networking group then make sure you have the networking tools that will make sure you can make the most of it. Make sure you have a good amount of business cards and make sure that they will stand out in the crowd. Also before you attend make sure you can summarise effectively what it is that your company can supply and do. Don’t waffle – reduce it to the bear facts in an informative and creative way. A lot of networking events ask people to stand up and introduce their company or service, so don’t be afraid to keep it short and to the point. Start with your name and company name and then reiterate that at the end of the description.
No matter how hard you may try you might not get the chance to meet everyone so make a mental note to take time to get to know them at the next meeting. Following up is also a good way of making sure any new business acquaintance continues to develop rather than lapse. Always keep business cards that you have received in an easily accessible container and don’t make the mistake of throwing ones away that you don’t think would be relevant. Sometimes it is worth keeping them so that when a customer needs a referral for a service that you don’t provide you have a bank of possible alternatives that may help them.
Most of all, don’t look at networking as a quick way to boost sells, networking is a great way to make sure your company gets to be known but is not an alternative to a sales programme. Instead networking acts as a great compliment to your sales strategy and can help create long lasting business connections that can give you both referrals but also business support and advice.
In the next couple of articles in the Networking series we will look at the different known networking groups.
15. July 2011 10:29
PART 2 MONITORING RESULTS
You may remember a few posts ago we started a series of articles regarding using data in the workplace effectively (please refer to ‘Making data work for you – Part 1 Purchasing the right data’.
This article is how to monitor the data once you have used it. Poor results can be attributed to several factors including poor quality data, irrelevant data and possibly how the data has been used.
With use of data for postal canvassing it can be hard to monitor exactly how successful data has been without taking a few basic steps. Adding a simple reference number to each letter is an easy way to find out whether customers are responding in relation to a letter of leaflet drop. It doesn’t have to be unique for each letter but a simple identifying reference that you can ask an inbound customer. This is extremely beneficial if you are running several different campaigns at the same time. Also remember to monitor the amount of returned post and have someone specifically who collates the information and removes data as appropriate.
For data used in telephone campaigns this can be quite easily monitored as the campaign goes along, but it is still beneficial to work out at the end how productive the phone campaign has been.
Make sure canvassers have a uniform way of recording outcomes from calls. If data is marked as a ‘NO’ it doesn’t convey whether it was a bad number, customer refused call, or answer phone. Bad numbers can be removed quite easily, but keep a check on how many you have to take off your data. This can be used to decide whether you will be using the same data provider in the future as too many bad numbers means their data isn’t as carefully collated as would be expected. If it is an answer phone then the data could still be relevant, so rather than removing data that may be useful for you in the future keep it in your data.
It is a good idea, as mentioned in my previous article, to have a set idea of how you want the data to work for you. At the end of the project it is important to revisit the original aim and see whether that has been achieved or whether there are certain aspects that you need to take into account when running future campaigns. One thing to remember is to keep up to date with data even if you aren’t always using it and before any campaign remember to check your data through Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Although the original data should have passed through strict TPS testing, if there has been a gap between using the data there is always the possibility that people have made new applications to join TPS so a quick check is always advisable.
To understand more about Telephone Preference Service please look at the following link, Telephone Preference
11. July 2011 16:18
You have all heard of Google,
but have you heard of Google+ (PLUS)?
If not, its Google’s answer to social networking, a new service that launched just a couple of weeks ago, although access to the service is limited by invitation only at this time. We were lucky enough to receive an invite in the first couple of days, so I thought it was about time I shared my thoughts on the new service, and how it shapes up against other players in the social network scene such as Facebook and Twitter.
Ok, let’s get started…
The first thing you will notice is how clean and uncluttered the interface is, well done Google.
One of the core elements to Google+ is a feature called ‘Circles’. This feature allows you to put your contacts into groups and you can create as many groups as you like. When you want to share something you select which circles can see that content, it’s as simple as that. This feature is a lot more powerful than you might think, as it allows you to share different content with the many kinds of contacts you have on the internet. Like me, you probably have quite a lot of acquaintances or friends you have made online but never actual met, so you could put those contacts into a circle called ‘Internet acquaintances’ likewise all my work colleges could go in a circle called ‘Work Colleges’ and all my family members into another circle called ‘Family’ you get the idea. Now anything I share with a particular circle will be visible by all contacts within that circle.
A feature that I particularly like and find very useful is the ability to instantly upload video and photos from your mobile phone to your Google+ account. The photos are stored in a secure section of Google+ for you to share with your contacts. I like the idea that my phones images and video are being backed up, in the event of my phone being lost or stolen.
Another feature of Google+ is ‘Sparks’. In essence it’s a search feature specifically designed to find content that matters to you, with the added ability to share this content with contacts in your circles at the click of a button.
Now I have saved the best till last, and this is a great new service called ‘Hangouts’ so what is hangouts? Well essentially its video chat, but not as you know it. It allows multiple people to join in the conversation, but better than that it monitors the conversation so whoever is talking has the main focus on the screen, it’s just like there is someone in the background switching the focus of the camera for you, its absolutely seamless and well worth checking out. I have found it totally addictive and have spent many an evening turning into bed in the early hours, after getting engrossed in conversations with our friends in the USA and Canada.
Google have made a very good start with their Google+ service, it does seem to be catering for a slightly different audience to Facebook with its user being a little bit more technically minded, but this is probably due to the controlled rollout of Google+ by invitation only. At present it’s a nice place to be without all the noise you get from Facebook and Twitter. Everybody I have chatted to on Google+ so far have praised the new service, and I must admit I have hardly used Facebook or Twitter over the last couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing where Google take their new social network experiment in the future, I for one hope that they go from strength to strength becoming as successful with social networking as they are with Internet search.
It is speculated that Google+ has approximately 5 million users as of 11th July 2011 (compared to Facebook’s 750 million users), that’s not bad considering they only launched about two weeks ago and have been restricting access to their service by invite only, and even if you have an invite you can’t just sign up because Google are restricting the rate of signup to make sure they don’t overload their servers.
If you don’t have a Google+ invite and want to see what all the fuss is about, post a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your email address (preferably a Google email address as they work better) and I will send you an invite.
If you have a Google+ account, let us know what you think of their services by commenting below.
8. July 2011 11:47
Learning when to listen was a valuable lesson learnt by The Apprentice contestant Melody Hossaini
Learning when to listen was a valuable lesson learnt by The Apprentice contestant Melody Hossaini. The 26 year old winner of a Woman of the Future award found out that organisation and being forthright is not the only skills needed to be a successful project manager.
Listening is a skill that we all often neglect. Indeed, if her listening skills had been used right at the beginning of the task, she would have identified this was a task involving identifying a couple of high selling items and reordering. Instead the task under Melody turned into a sell anything for whatever and lets not reorder the nodding dogs – which in the end seemed to give the opposing team a head start. (Perhaps ignoring her colleague Tom’s suggestion was a costly one!).
So what can we learn as business people? Well firstly we should listen to the initial instructions and not blur it with what we think they meant. If something isn’t clear – ask again. Stick to the task in hand and listen to contributions from team members. When a suggestion is made that isn’t feasible don’t do the whole dismiss without a reason as it normally means that colleagues wont feel they are able to approach you in the future with contributions. Take time during projects to listen to those involved and reassess and you will find that you stay on track and are able to adapt without the ‘You’re fired’ situation of the boardroom where it is too late to listen to contributions and instead they become criticism.
We wait with baited breath for the next instalment of The Apprentice to see who is edging forwards in this years race.
The Apprentice 2011 on the BBC
6. July 2011 16:59
It has been reported over the last couple of days that the number of people employed in financial services in the UK has risen by 11,000 in the second quarter which is the fastest increase since the beginning of the financial crisis back in September 2007.
So does this signal a light at the end of the tunnel for the credit crunch? With businesses looking to sustain their growth and productivity in turbulent financial times it is not surprising that companies are investing in staff that can guide them through the financial aspect of their companies. But what if you cannot invest in another member of staff?
Invest in credit checking facilities that can give you a snapshot of how a company you are using is doing. At least limit the risk of non payment where possible. Before getting in to deep water, come up with a plan as to what needs chasing and when. Credit control doesn’t need to be a mine field. With preparation and timescales in place you will be able to keep a rein on the debtors list. Be clear with your debtors, make sure they understand when and how you expect them to pay. For example saying ‘pay me when you can’ is great in an ideal world but don’t be surprised when you phone up to chase them that they turn around to say ‘they didn’t think there was any hurry’.
A good way to make sure that everybody knows where they stand is to set out your credit terms and give payment details on invoices. But don’t hide it in tiny writing at the bottom of the page – make it clear! Let customers know that if they have any queries regarding an invoice that you can be contacted immediately to discuss and resolve.
With the prospect of new growth in finance looming it will be only time that decides whether this is a move out of the economic crisis and analysts will be watching tentatively. Don’t make your credit control tentative – make it work now!
6. July 2011 16:44
So you have thought of a great business idea, maybe you have even compiled a great business plan, now you just have to think of a name, that should be easy, Right?
Wrong, take great care when deciding on a name for your business, its not just going to go on your stationary. With fierce competition online and offline the decisions you make concerning your business name could be the difference between the success or failure of your business! If you don’t believe me read…
It’s all in the name.
Before you begin choosing a name, which you have probably already done, be open-minded about changing it, just because you think it’s a great name for your new company, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the one you should stick with. First off, do some research, get Googling and find out what you competitors have used for their company name.
We are a call answering service, so I guess a seemingly good name for our company could have been ‘Call Answering Solutions’ however if you typed in call answering solutions into Google you would probably never find us, as the keyword competition for ‘Call’, ‘Answering’ and ‘Solutions’ will be very fierce. Try and choose a name that represents what you do, but also giving yourself your own identity. If you type ‘Reception Bureau’ into Google you will find us at the top of any organic search. (pages that appear because of their relevance to the search terms)
Getting your business to rank high with organic searches these days is no easy task. With so much competition coupled with companies spending thousands of pounds on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) make it very important for start-up business’ to get their online marketing strategy right from the work go...
Spend a proportion of your start-up costs on some expert SEO advice, it will save you a lot of time and money in the long run and will give your business the best possible start. Take their advice, even if it goes against some of the preconceived ideas you had about the company name and marketing ideas that may have been dreamt up over a pint of beer at the local pub.
Check out this episode of ‘The Restaurant Inspector’ on Chanel 5, It highlights how important your company name can be to the success or failure of your business.
4. July 2011 11:09
This is the first of a series of videos to help you get the most out of the reception bureau website.
Change your availability status
1. July 2011 16:08
We all know that feeling, when coming in to work and remembering snippets of things we need to achieve then spending a whole day doing other things and never getting round to doing what we intended.
For those who have a lot of things on their plate and many tasks to juggle there are basic ways to remain effective (and sane) whilst prioritising without putting off.
The ‘To-Do list’ may sound like an outdated concept, but it really works. Firstly it allows you to sit down and work out what you need to achieve and in what timescale. Sometimes just writing down each job will allow you to make a mental decision on their priority. Another great incentive is to sit down and work out what you want to achieve that particular week, maybe it is just to catch up with customers you have been meaning to call, or work on getting that sale that you really want. The key is to work out what needs to be done now and what is not so urgent, and (if you are in a position to delegate) to pinpoint which items are better suited to another member of your work place.
If you have a whole department to run and balance then agree goals with the team at the beginning of each week. This allows them input and a chance for them to help with tasks and for you to delegate. At the end of the week you can see whether you and your team have been able to achieve them. It can be quite rewarding to know that each week you achieve a common goal or objective.
Always remember that taking a few minutes of your time at the beginning of each week or day to work out your to do list are minutes that make you more time efficient and focused.