Author Archive: Fred Wren

The Retail Game – The Value of Loss Prevention Services

The value of retail loss prevention services can’t be overestimated there is a reason almost every retail outlet, no matter the size or industry, will have some type of loss prevention system in place. Because a well-planned and efficient loss prevention system can benefit your business in so many ways.

But putting together your own loss prevention plan and carrying it out isn’t easy. Loss prevention might seem simple but it’s a lot more complex than many people realise which is why many business owners will use retail loss prevention services in order to train their staff.

This way you can be sure anyone working for you will have a full understanding of loss prevention services and how to utilise them in the workplace. Before I talk about the value and benefits of using a retail loss prevention services provider to help your business let’s take a quick refresh on loss prevention shall we?

What is Loss Prevention All About?

Loss prevention is pretty self-explanatory it’s a system designed to help retail outlets prevent the loss of products and profit. While there are some variations many of the loss prevention systems set-up are designed to help prevent loss of profits due to theft.

Anyone who has ever worked in retail will tell you that the threat of shoplifting is very real, and no matter what kind of retail outlet you have it will be attempted sooner or later. It’s, unfortunately, one of those things that comes with the territory, but you don’t have to just put up with.

With an effective loss prevention plan in place, you can significantly cut the risk of shoplifting and similar thefts and best of all retail loss prevention services will help train your staff in effective loss prevention while also offering extra protection in the form of increased security. So, let’s take a closer look at how retail loss prevention services work.

What Are Retail Loss Prevention Services?

So, what exactly are retail loss prevention services? These services provide two key benefits to retail outlets, they will help offer increased protection and help train your staff in the fundamentals of loss prevention.

I mentioned earlier about how simple loss prevention can seem, but it’s a very deceptive practice and one that is much more complicated than many people believe it to be. Without training a shop assistant can easily make a number of mistakes when trying to prevent a loss of profit due to shoplifting.

They could also mistake an innocent customer for a shoplifter which is going to damage the reputation of your business. Which is why retail loss prevention services are so valuable because they will help train your staff and you can avoid these mistakes.

But the service doesn’t stop there! Loss prevention services will also give your retail outlet a greater security presence. This in and of itself will help cut the risk of shoplifting and other thefts dramatically, let’s take a more in-depth look at what kind of help professional retail loss prevention services offer.

Retail Loss Prevention Services Include

Retail loss prevention services include a number of valuable services that will make dealing with shoplifters much easier. Let’s take a more detailed look at the kind of services they offer.

Loss Prevention Training

One of the most valuable aspects of utilising the services of a retail loss prevention service is the training it offers to your staff. While hiring loss prevention services will give your shop a greater security presence (usually in the form of security guards/ loss prevention officers) it will also give you the added benefit of getting your existing staff trained by a qualified, experienced professional.

There are a lot of ways to approach loss prevention and a qualified loss prevention officer will be able to plan and organise the best strategy for your shop. They’ll also be able to share their knowledge and wisdom with the rest of your staff which means even if they are not at your shop your staff will be better able to handle any shoplifters.

Investigative Work

Even if you are not able to prevent a theft you will likely be able to work out who committed the crime with the assistance of a professional loss prevention officer. They’ll utilise a number of different investigative practices to work out the most likely suspects and plan ways for you to better protect your shop in the future.

They’ll also be a valuable resource when it comes to threat-detection, shops can get very busy so having a professional on hand who is trained in spotting shoplifters can be a huge help.

Apprehension of Suspects

One of the most difficult areas of loss prevention work is the actual apprehension of suspects, even if a member of staff knows for sure they have committed a crime they may simply not have the confidence to apprehend someone. A retail loss prevention service can provide you with a trained professional you can always count on to stop and apprehend suspects when possible and back-up your staff.

Follow-Up Work 

Loss prevention requires a lot of follow-up work, even if you are successful in preventing the theft and apprehending the shoplifter. Being able to let a team of professionals from a retail loss prevention service handle this for you can be a huge help and will allow you more time to focus on your business.

Finding The Best Retail Loss Prevention Services Provider

So, loss prevention services are valuable and almost any retail business regardless of the type or size will be able to benefit from utilising them. But where should you go to find retail loss prevention services?

Because of their specialist nature, a security services provider is your best option. Loss prevention is all about security after all and by using a security services provider you can be sure you’ll be dealing with an experienced, professional loss prevention team.

Loss prevention might not seem as extreme as bodyguard services but in the retail industry, they arguably are! Millions of businesses fall victim to shoplifting and other similar thefts but with retail loss prevention services, your business doesn’t have to be just another statistic.

How a Business Can Avoid Unlawful Advertising

When starting a business, we need to ensure that we’re able to advertise our website to be able to make a profit. However, a business needs to ensure that it’s operating in the right way when it comes to advertising.

Although advertising is designed to outline the benefits a product or service offers makes sense, it’s important that any advertising doesn’t try to mislead customers for example, Willsha Pools who offer pool construction information through their website is a great example of a brand that delivers a clear message to their target audience through they website. As such, there can be several factors to consider when planning a marketing strategy for your business.

Understanding How the Federal Trade Commission Works

For all the companies that operate within the letter of the law, there are those who will look to mislead customers in a bid to make sales. Evidently, this can lead customer to she dissatisfaction with the service and will want to ensure that no one else falls victim.

In this instance, the incident will be reported to the Federal Trade Commission, often abbreviated to FTC. In most cases, the FTC will often look to resolve the issue by informal means, which will often outline the issue, and instruct the company in question to change the advertising.

In more serious instances, the FTC could enforce a court order to stop an advert while an investigation is being carried out.

Avoid Bait-and-Switch Advertising

Following on from understanding how the Federal Trade Commission Works, a business needs to ensure that its advertising is ethical. There will be some companies, who try their luck, but those looking to grow and expand need to avoid immoral approaches when it comes to advertising.

The FTC describes bait advertising as a product or device that the company doesn’t intend to sell. For example, a cheap product could be initially offered to the customer, but only with the viewpoint of upselling to the customer.

Of course, there will be times when a certain product is no long n stock, but if an alternative is going to cost more, then it’s vital that the company is completely transparent about the options available.

Ensure You Check Inventory on a Regular Basis

Running out of inventory is something every business will have to contend with at some point, but it’s important that our advertising is in line with our inventory.

Although there is nothing wrong with offering discounts on popular items, a business does have to ensure that it not falling into the false advertising category by not having enough inventory to satisfy consumer demand.

Does Your Company Offer Eco-Friendly Products or Services?

We’ve probably all seen advertising that promotes the eco benefits of a product or service, but not all of the claims being made are necessarily true. Reducing the carbon footprint is second-nature to many people nowadays, and people will be keen to invest in a product or services that benefits them and the environment.

However, those who re using terms such as ‘green’ and ‘eco-friendly’ could find there are legal ramifications if the terms are being misused.

Of course, a customer using the wrong terminology won’t always have sinister motives, in some instances it could be unsure.

In this instance, it can be advisable not to take the manufacturer at face value and make your own checks to ensure that the advertising of the business isn’t seen as misleading.

As such, the business should refer to the Green Guide that give guidance when handling allegations of false advertising.

Avoid ‘Going Out of Business’ If Possible

When starting a business, the last thing on any business owner’s mind is a liquidation sale, but they do occur and do attract budding shoppers. This has led some companies to employ the tactic on regular basis. The term ‘going out of business’ can sometimes be applied in the wrong context, and it’s nothing more than a stock clearance.

This statement misleads customers as they believe that the company will be no longer in a few weeks, when in fact it will be trading as usual.

Not only does this cause some mistrust between a business and its customers, it could also mean that the business must answer some false advertising claims as well.

Don’t Offer What Can’t Be Delivered

There will be times when customer expectations aren’t met due to unforeseen circumstances, and with the right approach, can often be remedied quickly.

Similarly, if a business is advertising a service that if often not possible, then this also falls under the false advertising umbrella.

Wen customers place an order, they must be given clarity as to when they can expect their order. If a company states that delivery will be made within 24 hours, but it actually takes several days, then this is seen as misleading.

If a business is promoting its quick service, then it needs to ensure that the right structure is in place when dealing with customer orders.

False advertising can apply to several different scenarios, but it will always be when the customer has been deceived or misled in some way. While there will be instances where a customer may ne mistaken, a business must ensure that its advertising is truthful with no hidden agenda.

Many business owners may already know how to structure their marketing in the right way, but those who unsure should seek the services of a legal specialist that deals in advertising law to ensure there are no ramifications later on.

4 less common ways to fund your business growth

Whether you’re a one-man band or an established local business such as Atlas Ceramics who are one of the UK’s leading ceramics providers. There are some great tips to be found on growing your business – everything from product innovation, partnerships and expanding your market to search engine optimisation and the mastering of paid advertising platforms.

The problem is, they all require funding– and when you’re starting up or looking to expand, money is often difficult to funnel into growth. This is especially the case if you’ve previously run into financial issues like bankruptcy or court action.

We’ll take a look at a number of alternative ways that you can explore to find that all important cash that’s needed to put your growth plans in action.

Crowdfunding

You can be forgiven if you’re not fully familiar with crowdfunding – it’s a relative new-comer to the business finance marketplace, but it looks like it’s here to stay.

Essentially, rather than making your business look appealing to one investor or finance organisation, you’re going to make your business proposition look attractive to a greater number of smaller more casual investors – hence, ‘crowd’.

And when we say small, we potentially mean really small. Crowdfunding often means people can support your business with tiny amount, £5 or £10 – although many will choose to offer more. In return, you might offer a variety of things on a sliding scale.

For example; you’re putting an innovative new low cost product out to market and hoping to raise £100,000 to do so. A £5 contribution might be rewarded with a personal letter of thanks and a mention on your website and social media. A £50 contribution might get that plus a pre-release version of the product you’re developing – and a £5,000 contribution might get you a small stake in the business or a product line named after you!

The possibilities are only limited by your imagination – and some extremely successful businesses have funded their growth in exactly this way – from smartwatches and 3D printers to innovative music services and even movies.

Angel investors

An angel investor is someone who’s looking for lively businesses with great ideas but a lack of capital – with a view to funding your development or growth.

Now, they’re not charities! Angel investors will be looking for a portion of your business in return – or at the very least, a guaranteed return on the money they inject – that said, you’re likely to get more than money from someone who’s looking to invest.

Owing to their new stake in the business, angel investors will want to support you when it comes to the growth you’re seeking. Many will come with invaluable contacts and industry experience that would otherwise be out of your reach. You’re even more likely to find this type of value if you look at accessing a funds that are pooled by numerous angel investors – with you able to pull out the advice and experience you need.

You’re going to want to have an extremely detailed plan in place before you approach an investor – although your ideas and personality stand to carry you a long way, there are some business fundamentals that they’ll want to see in place before they put their money on the table.

Accelerator programs

An even more recent approach to financing your business than crowdfunding, accelerators take you and your ideas – then turbocharge them with investment and a series of development tools.

It’s fair to imagine taking part in an accelerator programme as something of a ‘business bootcamp’ – with a growth goal and deadline agreed upon successful application to the program. When the deadline date arrives, you’d normally be expected to take part in a demo day, where your newly polished brand and product are presented to potential investors.

Accelerator programs will often see a chunk of capital invested into your business to aid the planned growth – with either repayment terms or distribution of company shares planned to repay that investment.

There are a lot of criteria to meet before you’re accepted onto an accelerator program, not least the fact that you’re expected to have a reasonable sized team, with the attitude that one person alone will not be able to manage the workload and ensuing growth. The acceptance rates onto programs are low, but if you’ve got a great product and a will to succeed then you’re in with a chance…

Grants and government loans

Now, if you’re expecting to qualify for a grant or government loan off-the-cuff you’re probably going to be disappointed – but if you fit into a particular category of business owner, area or industry then you might find a grant or loan to be perfect.

What that particular industry, geographical area or demographic will be depends entirely on the types of business that your local or national government are hoping bolster – but you’d be amazed at quite how many areas of interest a government can have.

For example, in 2013 it was announced that 1/3rd of government subcontracts would be offered to small businesses – and while they’re not quite at that level yet, there are a number of incentives and schemes set up to help you apply to work in partnership with a variety of government departments.

Whether you’re looking to overhaul your business premises, launch a new product or take on new staff members, there are schemes that could support you. Talking to your local government business advisor is a good first step – even if your plans are just at outline stage for now.

You’ll be expected to put together business plans and projections at incredible depth – so be warned, when you’re applying for government money, there’s no quick decisions or 1 page applications! The money you’re applying for is likely to take a while to hit your account too, as there’s a lot of red tape to be worked through.

That said, if you’re approved, you’re likely to get money that doesn’t have to be repaid – or is repaid interest free. It’s possible that you’ll need to check in with a business mentor as your plans develop – but if that’s the key to the growth of your business, it’s likely to be a welcome inconvenience.

How creating a sales funnel will buy you a Ferrari

Whether you work in sales, marketing, recruitment or any other role that has a clearly defined performance goal – it’s likely you’ll have heard people talking about a ‘funnel’.

“Keep your funnel full” – “The funnel never lies” – “The funnel always performs” – there are plenty of claims that follow this mythical funnel around – but what it is? How can you create your own? And, the most important question anyone can ask – how will creating one earn you a brand-new Ferrari?

You’re right to be suspicious, promises of supercars are usually the thing of click-bait – but in this instance, I’m going to give you all the information you need – you’re just going to have to apply it. I’ve even broken it down into handy steps for you…

Step 1: Define your goals

Before you dive into creating a funnel – you’ve got to understand what the end goal of your role is. You might be required to get a certain number of appointments each day, perhaps you’re expected to contribute a certain amount to your company’s bottom line or maybe you have a minimum number of upsells when a customer buys a product.

It doesn’t matter what it is, if it can be quantified in a numerical value then it’s the going to represent the final figure in your conversion funnel.

Step 2: Decide on a time frame

How frequently are you expected to achieve your target? This is quite a good way of deciding on a timeframe that your funnel will span. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be accurate at this stage – choose a short period of time – perhaps a week or a month – you’ll be able to scale up later.

Step 3: Map the customer journey

In step 1 I used the word ‘conversations’ – and that’s exactly what a funnel illustrates:

Every conversion that a customer is required to make to take them from where they are now to a fully paid up client. Another way of thinking about this is considering it a ‘customer journey’.

Let’s use a generic sales role as an example:

  1. Salesperson cold calling or prospecting
  2. A meaningful phone conversation about your product
  3. Customer agrees to you visiting them
  4. Customer orders your product

This is just an off-the-cuff example – but the principle will remain the same whatever your process. Break down your customer’s journey into every decision, interaction, call-to-action and result that’s required.

Step 4: Build a website that drivers online sales

A website isn’t just a load of pictures, videos and fancy fonts you know! It can actually be one of your most important and powerful sales tools. It serves as a virtual equivalent of a physical business for the 3.2 billion internet users and can allow you to sell your products and services at anytime, anywhere. However, where most businesses seem to fail when it comes to websites is actually the design which is key for driving conversions and leads. This is why we would always recommend working with trust partner such as Think Zap who are one of the leading web design agencies in Glasgow.

Step 5: Apply the numbers

When you’ve got the customer’s journey or process broken down into steps and you’ve a timeframe decided upon – it’s time to start applying numbers to each step.

Let’s say your funnel is going to illustrate a week in your role. Print your customer journey and put it on your desk or in your planner. Every time a customer reaches a stage in your process put a tally mark next to that step. It’s absolutely vital you’re honest at this stage – miscalculating or trying to beef up your figures is worse than unhelpful and it certainly isn’t going to bag you this Ferrari. Being accurate now is the key to success.

Keep this process up for a day, a week or however long you wish. Generally speaking, the longer you record your results for, the more useful the data will be.

Step 6: Results

After your week, fortnight or month, you’ll have a set of data that’s ready for interpretation. Let’s say that over a week your numbers look something like this:

  1. Salesperson cold calling or prospecting – 100
  2. A meaningful phone conversation about your product – 40
  3. Customer agrees to you visiting them – 10
  4. Customer orders your product – 5

It’s perfectly normal for your numbers to dwindle from the very top action down to the bottom one – if they don’t, you probably already own a garage full of supercars and don’t need my help.

By writing down these numbers you’ve just gained a major insight that’s going to transform the way you work.

You now know your numbers

Let’s use our example numbers again. You now know that picking up the phone and dialling 100 times means you’re going to get 5 orders. Okay, there are some steps in between, but you’ve got a process to handle that. Customer behaviour is rarely (if ever) unique – people respond to similar marketing and sales processes – if they didn’t, advertising and demographics wouldn’t exist. Trust the process.

These numbers take luck out of your day. You know exactly what you’ve got to do to get the result you want. Happy with 2 sales a day? Pick up the phone 40 times and go home early. Want to beat the smug high-performer who’s always hitting 4 orders? Pick the phone up 100 times and get 5 bits of business tucked away…

Your numbers = your Ferrari

If you want to aim for big rewards you’re going to have to apply money to your numbers. Let’s say you’re paid a commission of £200 for every complete order – let’s also say that you want your Ferrari in 12 months-time.

  • Ferrari F12 Berlinetta cost – £241,963
  • Commission per order – £200
  • Orders needed to buy Ferrari – 1210
  • Phone calls needed to achieve 1210 orders – 30,250
  • 30,250 orders divided by 261 working days – 116

So, a Ferrari now doesn’t equal £241,963 – it equals picking up your phone 116 times each working day.

Too many calls?

Clearly, the numbers are going to be your own – but if you work out your Ferrari numbers and it’s physically not possible – then you need to look at your funnel again…

We know that out of 40 meaningful conversations with your potential customers 10 of them will agree to meeting you – and for every 10 people you see you’ll get 2 orders. So why not look at that conversation that you’re having with 40 people and see if you can improve it?

Expand the funnel!

At any time, you can squeeze more life out of your current funnel.

There’s no advice I can give you here on how to make yourself, your business or your conversation more appealing to the people you speak to – but let me assure you; it’s possible. Listen to the best people in your business, read some theory, get on some courses, pay someone better than you to do the calls! Whatever it takes, you can get more life out of what you’re doing – and when you do, your top line numbers shrink.

So, in the case of your new Ferrari – do your homework and boost those appointments from 10 to 20 – suddenly every figure above that is cut in half!

Your new Ferrari now requires you to pick up the phone 58 times a day…

  • Build the funnel
  • Understand the funnel
  • Expand the funnel

…and what you do with the ensuing success is entirely up to you.

Self-awareness – the ultimate life-hack

You want to be more successful? Have more free time? Be rich beyond your wildest dreams? Find love? Make your relationships flourish?

You’ve just found the answer.

Establishing a good level of self-awareness is the first and only domino you need to push to set things in motion when it comes to any of your goals – I promise you that one way or another, increasing your self-awareness will make everything you want will fall into your lap.

But there’s a catch:

Unlike those quirky ways of sorting your fridge or chopping a pineapple, this life-hack is going to take time – and effort.

Not ready for time and effort yet? No problem… bookmark this page and come back when you’re serious about achieving your goals…

What is self-awareness?

Before I go answering questions on what self-awareness is, it’s vitally important that you understand what it isn’t. So open up your copy of Mac Office 2016 and lets get ready to make some notes!

Ok, ready? well first of all It’s not:

  • About becoming ‘one’ with the Earth/a divine being/all of humanity
  • A kooky idea that’s only for people in therapy
  • Going to lead you to abandoning your job
  • An impossible goal

I just wanted to clear those things up. People can have some funny perceptions.

Self-awareness is for anyone who’s interested in knowing a bit more about those mysteries about yourself you can’t seem to get a handle on. Don’t know why you’re missing promotions? Not been able to hold-down a relationship? You procrastinate when you should work?

Let me make something absolutely clear to you:

These are not mysteries. They’re not even that hard to overcome. They’re all based on your behaviour. You’ve just got to know what it is that makes you behave in the way that has you getting what you have – rather than what you want.

Hacking your subconscious

Ever heard that thing about how humans “only use 10% of our brains” – or some other random but small figure?

I’ll save you a visit to Snopes – it’s not true. Let a brain surgeon lop the top of your cranium off and he or she would happily point at what each bit does.

All your brain areas are active at all times – however, as a species we don’t have access to everything that the brain holds at any one time. That’s not how it works, we couldn’t handle that much info. Instead, in basic terms, we’ve got a conscious and an unconscious.

Your conscious mind deals with your actions, the subconscious deals with reactions. I’m over simplifying here – but you don’t need a psychology PhD to work toward self-awareness.

And here’s the thing:

The VAST proportion of what we do is a reaction to stuff that’s going on around us – which means we’re almost entirely operating from our subconscious. Think about it – we don’t choose our mood, we don’t choose how productive we feel – If you want to change the way you behave, you’ve got to drag your behaviour out of your subconscious and into your conscious awareness.

Where to begin

People are generally better at giving other people advice than absorbing good advice into our lives. This is all down to objectivity – it’s far easier to get a good impression of how a person can work toward their goal if you can ‘rise above’ what’s happening and get more involved with strategy than the day-to-day struggles and reactions.

So, if you’re going to conquer your awareness – you need to break free of the day to day and start to observe yourself as objectively as possible.

Fortunately, we don’t have to tackle this alone – here are some tried and tested methods to elevate your awareness:

  1. Ask for feedback at work

Talking to people you work with for opinions on your attitude, work and general character is a great place to begin changing your perception. The key here is that people are honest with you – but making sure it’s done in a formal and constructive manner is important to ensure you’re not subjected to scathing criticisms!

Ideally, having a HR staff member facilitate is great – that way some mediation is achieved. If you’re a manager or occupy a senior position people might not be forth-coming in the stuff that they perceive to be critical (which in itself might be something to reflect on!) – so having a process and some pertinent questions really helps to achieve something positive.

Reflecting on what’s been said or noted is then vital. Some people can feel like anything but praise is a wound – but that doesn’t need to be the case – would you rather know what people think and act accordingly to adjust anything that you’re not happy with – or stroll through life unaware of the barriers you’re putting up?

  1. Talk to your friends

In a similar manner to work based feedback – feedback from friends and loved ones is another important part of shining some light on the behaviours, attitudes and perceptions you’re not currently aware of.

While the formality of the work based exercise might not be appropriate – you’ll find friends are more likely to share their observations of you and your behaviours from the safety of your current relationship. Again, honesty is important – so letting someone know you’re looking to expand your perception will stop them from just appeasing you with compliments!

  1. Work out what kind of personality you have

You might have seen tools like Myers-Briggs or the Enneagram that are used to distinguish your specific personality type. They’re generally a series of tests or thinking exercises that put you into a specific category or combination of categories.

From there, you can look at the typical behaviours and attitudes that someone in that category might embody. They’re not always perfect – but considering the points is a really useful way of thinking about what truly drives you and makes you tick.

  1. Mediate

If you’ve turned your nose up at the thought of meditation – you don’t know enough about it! Meditation isn’t something that’s reserved for monks on mountain tops – quite the opposite really. In his book, ‘Tools of Titans’ self-development guru Tim Ferriss charts his discussions with the most successful people he’s interviewed – from Hollywood A-listers to billionaires and professional athletes – and the overwhelming majority of them practice some form of meditation and attribute it to their success.

Clearing your mind of the daily ‘noise’ can be an exceptional way to elevate yourself to a more objective standpoint. Effectively you’re slowing your busy brain down – and in doing so, giving yourself a chance to look at your actions with a less judgemental frame of reference.

Ultimately…

Awareness is all about information – the more of it you have the better you can strategise. Sure, you might not like everything that comes to the fore – but if you want to improve you’ve got to know what your strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies are.

You wouldn’t expect a sports coach to tell a team how to improve if he hadn’t seen the game or spoken to any of them – and you shouldn’t expect to improve your life without all the knowledge that goes toward making it what it is today.

Six UK-Based Offices with Innovative Design

Regardless of whether you’re looking to further your career within an office environment that plays around with conformity, or you’re in charge of a business looking for inspiration from some of the big players in the tech industry, there are plenty of office spaces that could have you looking at your current setup and implementing some changes.

Today’s office space is much different to that of the baby boomers. Gone are the grey environment and sterile environment, and introduced are colourful furnishings and bespoke working areas that look to ignite creativity, but which companies do it best?

You wouldn’t be far wrong in assuming that some of Silicon Valley’s finest have the best offices, and this can be the case when it comes to online giants such as Facebook and Google, but the United Kingdom has also taken notice of current trends, and is able to showcase some impressive office space.

Auto Trader

Auto Trader is a publication that has pioneered the art of selling used cars. Based in Manchester in its steel frame buildings, the layout of the office is a car enthusiast’s dream. As well as allowing employees access to car-themed meeting rooms, there is also a series of real cars situated in the office.

Employees that work at Auto Trader are very complimentary about the business and its office layout. Among the testimonials given are that the company gives employees the confidence to flesh out their ideas, as well as giving them a real sense of empowerment that helps them make some innovative discoveries to help propel the business forward.

Innocent Drinks 

Founded in 1998, the smoothie company is now mostly owned by drinks giant Coca-Cola. The smoothies come in a range of flavours and have really gained traction among the health conscious in the United Kingdom.

While many offices are more infused with technological influence, the Innocent offices are a little more organic. Paying tribute to a traditional English fair, the office space provides lots of space, as well as a friendly and relaxing atmosphere that really allows employees to flourish.

As well as being staffed by some truly brilliant minds, there is also a lot of focus on progression within the company, proving just how much the staff mean to the business.

Smarkets

Smarkets is an online betting exchange that was founded in 2008 and has offices in London, Malta and Los Angeles. While you would be right that many betting exchanges are plentiful, Smarkets stands out to its advanced trading platform that looks to face off against some of the bigger industry leaders.

With such bold goals, you would assume that Smarkets would be enforcing tiring schedule, but nothing could be further from the truth. The office premises not only make for an amazing view of the docks in London, but there are also a series of treats laid out for employees. These perks include catered meals, free snacks and as much table football as you can handle.

The company appears to have its focus on creating a real community as opposed to a workforce, and this is evident in the open plan offices and absorbing décor that helps members of staff really flesh out their ideas.

Google

There’s no denying how much impact Google has in relation to its office design, but its London premises show it’s not scared to absorb the local culture to make employees feel more at home. The open plan structure and innovative furnishings are still part of the office layout, but introduced are plenty of couch space, bunting, retro furniture and a series of picnic tables. As well as ensuring the Google brand is infused with the design, the company has also ensured it has included some creature comforts to get the best from their employees.

Those who work for Google only ever report good things, in that the company encourages employees to think outside of the box and look to break conformity. Google is all about breaking new ground in the world of technology, so it should come as no surprise that it tries to obtain the same from their team members,

Splunk

Splunk is an American technology company that produces software for analysing big data via a web browser. Its offices based in London are open plan, and introduce a quirky design that also feels homely. While it can be assumed that graffiti doesn’t belong in an office, there’s something about the cheeky addition to Splunk’s décor that really showcases where it stands as an employer.

Splunk is evidently doing something right, because those who work at the London office are quick to point out how motivational staff are, with it feeling more like an extended family as opposed to workmates.

Red Bull

The Red Bull brand probably doesn’t need any introduction, but to those who aren’t familiar with the Austrian company, the produce an energy drink that has the highest market share within the industry. The brand has become so popular that it has even launched a series of sporting events carrying the Red Bull logo.

The office space is open and inviting, encouraging more co-working, which in turn, allows for some inventive brainstorming. There is also a mixture of business and pleasure. While there is no shortage of working areas, there’s also a big slide that can transport you from level to the other. As well as ensuring the brand colours are represented, the curvature of the can the drink is served in is also present in the décor.

This is only a snapshot of some of the original and evoking office space situated in the UK, and shows that just like Silicon Valley, working environments in the UK are becoming more evolved and welcoming.

Streamline Your Business Communications

Even though the way we communicate may have changed, communication remains an integral part of any business. Whether we’re dealing with in-house communication, or looking to give customers information such as who are the best MLM companies currently https://mlmcompanies.org/best/, having the right tools to hand ensures that we are conveying information in the right way.

Just because running a business can involve a lot of communication doesn’t mean that they way we work has to be complicated. While answering phone calls will still occur, there are ways you can look to improve how you communicate with others, while ensuring its implemented in the most effective way.

Carry Out Projects in the Cloud

While we may have access to professionals, getting them all in the same place at the same time can be problematic at times. This can mean that projects take longer to complete, simply because all parties have not had a chance to look over the project. Working in the cloud offers a more streamlined and proactive solution.

Dealing with a project in-house or via email can work, but it can eat into valuable time. Working from the cloud means that everyone can view real-time updates about the project, regardless of where they are. So, if you have an urgent change or query, then you can normally have a resolution in place sooner rather than later, with everyone reading from the same page.

Look at Other Communication Methods for Customers

There are many customers who swear by speaking to someone over the phone, and there’s not much you can do to convince them otherwise. However, this doesn’t mean you should assume that the same applies to all your customers.

There are those who can’t bear with waiting on the phone, and would rather use the Internet to contact the company. This allows a company to lay out many different channels of communication to help answer queries and resolve complaints,

Some may choose to have a chat feature installed on the main website. This will allow customers to speak to you via chat as opposed to a telephone. While this can be more beneficial for both parties, you need to ensure that there are no issues with your website. It can also be a good idea to ensure your current hosting plan allows for such updates. If you do plan on running chat on your website then I would always recommend that you look at these 12 best hosting providers, who will all be able to provide you with scaleable hosting plan for your business.

Another method can be the use of social networking. Even something as simple as a business page on Facebook can allow a business to communicate with customers in a more effective and timely manner,

Update Your Email Procedures

The use of email has been popular for some time, and in some instances, it can be the most effective way of communicating with others. However, the quality of the information contained within an email can vary, and the communication process can be halted as the recipient has to ask questions about the information sent to them.

This can be avoided if you employ a template that everyone must follow. For example, if you’re referencing a phone call, it can be more useful to include the time and date, as opposed to the day the phone call was made.

Ensuring there is as much information contained within the email in the first instanced ensures that there is less time spent on questioning the email, and more time spent on the resolution. Of course, you will always get some questions, but having a routine and ensuring specifics are included means this happens less frequently.

Consider Call Routing

Although more and more people are choosing the Internet as their preferred portal of communication, there are those who will still choose to contact a business via telephone. If only have a basic telephone system, then finding the right person for the employee to speak to can be problematic.

Call routing is easy to instil, and allows you to route calls to the correct department or employee. You simply give the customer a list of options when they call, and then ensure that all options are routed to the correct department. This mean a more streamlined operation for the business, and a better experience for the customer.

Send Updates Via SMS

One of the reasons why businesses can become inundated with queries is due to customers looking for an update in relation to the purchase. It could be that the information was sent via email, but the customer doesn’t have access, whereas others will just call to ensure that their order is being dealt with. This is where automated SMS updates can come in handy.

Evidently, you will need to obtain the customer’s mobile number to send updates, but they can be a great and cost-effective way of updating the customer, while looking to reduce the number of incoming queries.

Review Your Voicemail Regularly

Even the most streamlined of businesses can miss out on some calls during the busier periods, so it’s often the case that some customers will leave a message. It’s important that voicemail is checked frequently and time is set aside to communicate with the customers.

Every business is different, but it can be advisable to check your business voicemail at least once a day. Overlooking the task could mean that the customer is calling back again and again, which means that your communication can come to a standstill.

Review How Customers Contact You

Some customer may contact you via telephone, whereas others may send queries using an online form. While offering several channels of communication to the customer can be beneficial to them, it’s important for a business to establish where the queries are originating from.

If the majority of queries come into your social network accounts, then it makes sense to ensure that someone is logged in to quickly offer a resolution. Similarly, if you’re regularly receiving phone calls, it can be worthwhile ensuring that somebody is able to man the phones during the busier periods.

Streamling your business communications not only ensure that you have more satisfied customers, but it also allows you to shift your focus onto other projects within the business.

Surviving the Early Stages of a Startup

Starting a business can be an exciting time, but it can also be worrying one if this is our first time in the world of business. While it should never be underestimated how harsh the world of business can be, it can also be easier to navigate if we put some contingency plans in place. As the old saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and this especially true when operating a start-up for the first time.

Ensure You Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

When starting a new business, it’s not unusual for us to ivest a large amount of time into it, and this is commendable. However, doing too much too soon can mean that we’re simply wearing ourselves out. Should we become ill as a result, the business will run into its own set of issues. As such, all work should be planned, and you should be ensuring that you’re getting the respite you need.

If we do too much too soon, it will often be the case that we become tired. This can lead us to not thinking clearly, which can poison the well in relation to making the right business decisions.

Perfect Your Hiring Process

One of the most important aspects of any business is the people you have on board, as such one bad egg can bring the whole house of cards tumbling down.

While it may take some time, you should always look at your hiring processes when taking on other employees. This will allow you to build a profile of potential employees, and ascertain as to how these people are a good fit for your business.

It’s never nice refusing people a position, but it’s much better than having to bring the business to a close because of the actions of a minority.

Invest Time Into Your Working Processes

While many businesses will strive for ultimate customer satisfaction, different people will see things from different perspectives. With this in mind, it’s not unusual for some customers to be dissatisfied with a service, despite your best efforts.

However, having processes in place for those who have grievances will ensure that your business is able to move ahead. Some issues can be due to a misunderstanding,whereas others can be due to the fact that the customer simply has too much demand.

Handling such scenarios in a professional and prompt manner may not help win everyone over, but it does show that your startup has integrity and is always willing to step in should things not go as expected.

Manage Your Time Effectively

You may have heard the saying that time is money. When operating a startup, this can certainly be the case.

Managing time effectively means managing deadlines, be it for a project or simply calling a customer back. Allow your time-management to fall by the wayside can mean that you’re losing out on potential customers, which will also mean that you’re losing income.

If you have other team members on board, then you should also ensure that they are fully aware of what’s expected of them. For example, if you have three people working on a particular project, then each team member needs to ensure they can complete their roles within a specified period.

Borrow Money Responsibility

A few search terms entered into Google tells you that there a series of providers out there all looking to fund your next venture or help you with your loan, but we shouldn’t take these at face value. For us to fund our business in the right way, we have to be aware of the financial commitments it has, and look at ways in how to meet these. If your business is not yet operating, there is very little point in investing in a high.-end office if it’s not required.

Similarly, you shouldn’t overlook more important aspects of your business, such as marketing and security. With this in mind, you should look to make a checklist of the most important aspects of your business, and look for the most cost-effective solution for each.

Should you be able to keep your costs down, then it’s likely you will be able to use a personal loan to help build the foundations of your business. This can mean lower interest rates and shorter loan periods than some of the business offerings available.

Get To Know Your Market as a Whole

While valuable research should be done in relation to competitors, you should become familiar with trends and developments within your industry, as a business that knows its stuff is more likely to instil confidence in the customers it deals with.

Research as a whole is the key to success for any new startup, but ascertaining what customers are looking for and when they’re likely to make a purchase puts you in a much better position when it comes to success.

For example, is there a problem that’s often listed online that your service can help with? Then this can be a good direction for your marketing o head in.

Think Outside the Box

There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by other businesses, but this doesn’t mean that your business model has to emulate that of others. For example, if you’re looking for accountancy software, but feel that the initial costs would be too overwhelming in the interim, then why not consider an open-source solution, which is often free, or offered at a very low rate.

This ensures that you’re only investing money where it’s really needed, and not spending money on your startup unnecessarily. Remember, the lower the costs, the bigger the profits.

Bumps in the road are a regular occurrence for start-ups, but it’s how we navigate the road the makes the difference. Having contingency plans in place doesn’t mean that your journey will be stress-free, but it will be more manageable, and ensure that you not only able to see out the first year, but many more moving forward.

Could a ‘pop-up’ shop benefit your startup business?

You’ll struggle to find a retail trend more current than that of the ‘pop-up’ shop. The phenomenon goes under different names – flash sales, pop-up stores, temporary retail – but they’re all essentially the same thing, a temporary retail space that sells or promotes something.

For new businesses and businesses that trade exclusively online – they can have some significant benefits, but what’s involved? What are those benefits? And would it be right for your business?

What’s pop-up all about?

The idea of having a pop-up store started in Los Angeles in the 90s – and was quickly capitalised upon by large retails. A business finds a vacant retail space, generally in an area of high footfall, and sets up their experience quickly – hence, ‘pop-up’.

The outlet might stay open for a day, a week, a month or even a year – but the temporary vibe generally means the walls go undecorated and no permanent fixtures are put into place.

It’s not just about retail

While the term ‘pop-up shop’ lends itself to images of retailers making clearances or launching new products, the scope for the pop-up is actually a lot broader. Samsung have pioneered the pop-up ‘brand experience’ where consumers can use their range of electronics – and pop-up restaurants are sweeping big UK cities as the ultimate in exclusive temporary dining.

You might be thinking your business has no place in this pop-up marketplace – but you’d be amazed at how diverse the applications can be:

  • Mobile food trucks: Want to showcase your restaurant, fast-food or coffee shop to an audience in a slightly different location? Operate from the back of a truck or van while handing out loyalty cards and discount fliers that’ll bring people to your permanent location.
  • Showcase your service: Here’s some news for owners of business to business services – other business owners shop! You might think that high street shoppers aren’t your target audience – but think about who these people are – self-employed, business owners, procurement professionals – they’ll stop and look if you’re there.
  • Artists: Space in a gallery hard to find? Struggling to make a mark online? Setting up a temporary pop-up gallery can put your work in front of a huge audience. Perhaps you’ll choose to sell, perhaps you’ll just build awareness – but if it’s good enough for Banksy, it’s probably going to be good enough for you!

What’s in it for your business?

There’s an impression that the pop-up is exclusively for the ‘hipster’ generation – the super cool who shun the ordinary in favour of the unknown – but actually, from virtually day 1, pop-ups have been used for everything from sole-traders looking to break into the market – to big worldwide brands who are levering the benefits of going off the beaten path.

Think about some of these benefits:

  • Build and enhance awareness

Consider “Do you want to look at a shop?” versus “Do you want to look at a new pop-up shop?” – immediately you’ve got excitement on your side. Pop-up says ‘exciting’ and ‘exclusive’ – without actually saying it.

They’re pretty good words to have associated with your brand – and not only that, by ‘popping-up’ you’re going to make connections with customers, old and new. This is especially true for online retailers and services who generally operate without a ‘face’ – a pop up build familiarity and can enhance your relationships.

  • It’s cheap

A month of pop-up presence is a lot cheaper and easier to arrange than a month of permanent premises occupation. In fact, it’s around 75% cheaper – meaning you can bag yourself a hot location for a fraction of the normal price.

Perhaps you want to use this for good? Put yourself in a position where new customers get to see you regardless of your business location – or maybe you want to harness the dark side and put yourself in a competitor’s location and steal some business. All’s fair in love, war and pop-ups…

  • Test the market

At many expo events companies launch concept products. Some might see the light of day – others might be condemned the big product bin in the sky – but either way, you need some opinion to help you decide.

Pop-ups give you the chance to put a new or concept product in front of people – where expos and market research campaigns might be cost-prohibitive. Combined with the excitement a pop-up can create, you might find you generate the buzz needed to make the launch successful in just the short time spent interacting with a potential customer base.

  • Sell!

The excitement and image of pop-up businesses is at the highest it’s ever been – which is impressive when you consider how widely the phenomenon now spreads. While online retail is massive – it’s a mere speck compared to the money that’s still spent in the high street.

More than 90% of the UK’s retail spend is done in shops – meaning that if you’re exclusively online, you’re missing out on a huge pile of cash. Perhaps the occasional pop-up would bolster your profits? Perhaps it would help you clear old stock? Or perhaps it’s the test you need before you move into more traditional retail premises?

Where to begin?

If the idea of a pop-up sounds like it could benefit your business – there first thing to think about is what you’d like to get out of the experience. When you have an idea of the goal, you’ll want to think about a location that’s going to suit you.

Pop-ups don’t have to be constrained to empty business locations – there are markets, events and expos happening all the time that could offer space for your business. Who do you want to appeal to? Where will you find those people?

When you’ve got an idea of what you’d like to do and where you’d like to do it, you’ll want to start looking at some spaces. There’s an increasing number of landlords who are more than willing to let their property for short periods of time – even just days, so talking to some retail estate agents will take you in the right direction.

Above all – do some pop-up shopping and see what you like. There are some super creative ideas out there – and there’s something that’ll be perfect for the goal you’re hoping for and the kind of person you’re hoping to attract.

3 Tips on How Startups Can Get Investors For Their Business

While only a number of startups are lucky enough to fund their business on their own it is often clients who have helped them along the way. However, for most businesses, having investors are vital to keeping them off the ground and grow towards expansion. In this guide, we will discuss useful tips to build your strategy can find quality investors.

Here are 3 tips on how startups can get investors for their business.

Find the Right Investors


The first move is to take a closer look at your contacts. Who do you know and how would they be able to help turn your business idea into reality? Consider a new type of networking known as “spider webbing.” This is where you can pitch business ideas to other entrepreneurs, investors, and other connections. You have to pitch to as many people as possible and prepare to deal with rejection during the early stage.

Consider Potential Investor as Part of the Team


Think of your investor as someone you would like to include in your team. Consider their knowledge, insights, and experience to help include them in your strategic plan. Listen to your investors to help avoid any pitfalls that may damage the business.

Ideally, you will want a mix of investors that can boost you’re your confidence and provide support while still able to challenge you to push further. Look for investors of different ages, genders, and races. This will encourage a diverse target market and allow your investors to reflect on the audience of the company.

Determine Factors


There are 3 factors that go into choosing your investor. Consider the connection – can you talk openly and deal with a crisis? Function – does the investor have the proper background to help guide you? Focus – is the investor ready to make the investment to oversee how the company is progressing? Don’t be afraid to see what your investor can bring to the table.

Conclusion

Gain advice from people you trust and have the proper knowledge in negotiating your investment terms. Whether it is a lawyer, entrepreneur and other professional, allow your business to be flexible.