Posted by: Roz Hartley
I sat opposite a very nice IFA at a business breakfast the other day and was telling him what I do (he did ask, I promise). He chewed his sausage, thought about what I’d said and murmured… ”why would anyone NOT want your services? You must be run off your feet”.
That set me thinking about why some people turn us down. There are people out there who, quite simply, have their costs well and truly under control and don’t want us poking in their invoice cupboard. That’s fine, we understand that these people exist (I hate it when my husband tidies the Tupperware drawer).
Other responses we have less respect for. A perfect potential client muttered “I’m sure you could save me money but I simply haven’t got time to meet with you to find out”. Dare I say that that seems a little bit short sighted. Our initial meeting can be as short as 25 minutes. The same time it takes for a shower and a shave. Turn up one morning unwashed and bearded and you could squeeze in a quick meeting with us and potentially save thousands on your overheads.
The US focus on increasing it’s energy self sufficiency due to the rising level of production of gas, from sources such as shale, existing field tight gas, blended ethanol and other renewable sources will in turn impact on world oil and gas prices, commodities and the value of the US Dollar and other currencies.
The EIA reports on the US dependence on imported petroleum liquids declining by more than 1 million barrels per day by 2020, with the fracking production of gas to increase US reserves to around the 100 year level.
It is anticipated that Australia will become the largest energy exporter in the major industrialised economies with the potential to ship LNG, coal uranium and oil to the Asian economies
With the US not as dependent on Middle Eastern crude, China and Europe, along with Japan, Korea and India could become major users. But with the value of the Dollar on the increase, oil prices will not necessarily rise as many projections forecast, while renewables are therefore likely to remain uncompetitive and need subsidies for longer.
HMRC recently revised their definition of mobile phones. As a result, employees and employers may be entitled to refunds of tax or NIC for smartphones, previously classed as a benefit in kind, provided to employees by employers since 2007. Before technology lovers become over-excited, note that the legislative changes are limited to smartphones and do not apply to devices such as tablet PCs.
Although strict condition must be met, I would urge anyone – individuals or companies – who might be affected to act now and contact your employer, tax adviser or tax office without delay, as backdated claims can be made. For tax year 2007-08, HMRC must receive eligible income tax claims and supporting information by 31 July 2012.
Full HMRC guidance can be found at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/briefs/income-tax/brief0212.htm
Should you require further information, please feel free to contact me.
Cost management increases profitability by taking the heat out of the kitchen
Roast, a privately-owned restaurant, was opened in Borough Market, close to the City of London, nearly six years ago. Roast is dedicated to traditional British cooking using fresh seasonal produce sourced entirely in the UK. It has seating for 110 on two levels, and currently caters for between 2,500 and 3,500 customers per week, depending on the time of year. Since opening in 2006, Roast has added two takeaway outlets to their flagship restaurant: Roast to Go in Borough Market and Roast Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush.
Iqbal Wahhab, founder of Roast Restaurant, first came across Consultants Claire Power-Browne and Ravi Khakhria from the Auditel Cost and Purchase Management network at an Institute of Directors (IOD) event. The company were sponsoring one of the Director of the Year Awards. Iqbal was impressed by their service offering. He appointed them to run the rule over Roast’s business costs. Sergei Gubars, Roast’s General Manager and Wine Buyer, takes up the story. “Roast has been a success from day one. We are very busy and the restaurant is full, but I felt that we could probably increase our net profits by taking a closer look at our expenses.” Sergei liked the fact that Auditel did much more than talk a good game. “I was pleasantly surprised by Auditel’s approach. It was not at all aggressive. It was clear that they were experts at what they said they could do and weren’t afraid to go the extra mile.”
A new breed of small UK businesses has embraced mobile technology to increase flexibility, productivity and profitability. And they’re successful, demonstrating impressive growth compared to other start-up businesses.
Dubbed TOTs (firms that are Twelve months old; have an Optimistic outlook on business; and are Technologically-minded), their enterprising executives run their operations via smartphones and engage in social media to network, raise product awareness and obtain real-time feedback on products and services.
Gartner, the leading IT analyst, predicts that 75 per cent of new business applications will use social media capabilities by 2013, much of it deployed through mobile devices. The benefits are clear. Accenture highlight that companies which invest early to harness the power of social media can generate returns as high as 20 to 1.
The capability of mobile technology extends far beyond social media. Business software company SAP forecasts that mobile devices will replace desktop PCs within a few years, pointing out that, already, sales of smartphones exceed those of PCs. Application development is geared towards using smartphones as primary computing devices, particularly with recent advances made in data synchronisation and cross-platform functionality.
Posted by: David Powell
All of us are guilty of not checking our bills thoroughly, take telephone bills for example. Each month they send us pages of itemised phone calls. When was the last time you checked that the rate charged for each call was correct? I would guess never. However you may check occasionally once you’ve read the below story.
In December one of the UK’s major telecoms networks* (they’re the ones that provide the infrastructure that underpins the bills you’ll receive from your Telecoms Service Provider**) had an outage. The effect of this was that the Service Providers billing platform thought that there were some very long phone calls, for example one lasting up to 35 hours at a cost of £125. That was the worst one seen by an Auditel consultant, but there may be others that were higher.
The error above was quickly refunded by the Service Provider without quibble, due to the nature of the relationship we have with them, but if the bills hadn’t been thoroughly checked the error wouldn’t have been spotted at all.
If you had spotted the error yourself would the call centre operator at your Service Provider have a) understood the issue and b) refunded it on the spot?
Do you have time or the processes to check your bills every month, then to the time to sort out the issue via a call centre in the Philippines (or other part of the world where English isn’t their first language)? If your telephone bill is several thousand pounds per month would you notice if it was £125 higher than it should have been?
* = BT Openreach, C&W, Gamma for example
** = Daisy, BT Retail, Talk Talk, Alternative Networks for example
Coleridge never wrote so prescient a line. Water issues are dominating the utilities agenda for the moment.
Consciously spreading Armageddon-like doom, to alert everyone to the plight of his existing and potential clients, food giant Nestlé’s Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, told his audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos that global water shortages over the next twenty years will reduce cereal production by a third and ‘trigger’ social unrest. “Water shortage will intensify competition between countries for access to water”, he added.
Stoking up the downbeat mood, a recent comprehensive climate change risk study commissioned by the Government warned that water scarcity and flooding are likely to become the main problems facing the UK in the future.
Whilst it would be interesting to add the cost of putting on the Davos chat show/networking event and the outlay of each attendee (transport, accommodation, time wasted planning, etc.) to the cost of the melodramatic study and consider what impact this money could have on tackling the water supply issues faced by countries around the world, it is surely more enriching to understand and applaud the efforts being made by a number of large water-guzzling organisations around the world.
Posted by: Ron Yellon
Concerned that competition is being stifled and that independent suppliers and generators cannot buy or sell the power they need, Ofgem has thrown down a gauntlet by announcing proposals to open up the electricity wholesale market in “Intervention to enhance liquidity in the GB power market”, Ofgem 22nd Feb 2012, to benefit customers.
Ofgem gives Big Six three clear objectives to be met to make the electricity market a more transparent and open market for all suppliers; proposes mandatory auctions to drive the pace of opening up the wholesale electricity market for independent suppliers, and, although welcoming moves by large suppliers to sell more of their electricity on the open market, argues that much more needs to be done.
Posted by: Mark Stevens
According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills there were 293,000 people employed in the UK road freight industry in 2009 (the latest year for which records are available). They are critical to the success of every businesses importing, exporting or distributing goods around the UK.
I wonder how many of them work on the eye-wateringly complex tariffs that seem to be standard practice, but subtly different between courier suppliers? Dimensional charges, fuel surcharges, security surcharges, geographical zone charges etc, in addition to the various service, transportation and delivery timescale permutations, make comparing telecommunications tariffs a simple exercise by comparison.
Given this complexity it becomes a difficult task for businesses to ensure that the costs they pay are fair and reflect market conditions. All companies using courier services really need to satisfy themselves that their Total Cost of Purchase is at an efficient level while continuing to receive their chosen level of service. Some of the questions you might ask yourself are:
- am I using the correct tariff for my business?
- am I being charged the correct amount for each consignment?
- do surcharges reflect a fair additional cost and are they changing in line with costs?
Posted by: Simon Eggleton
The UK Competition Commission continues to drive for lower mobile termination charges, with wholesale rates set to drop from a little over 4p per minute to less than 0.65p per minute by 2015.
Challenges to the ruling are expected and the main fixed line operators (e.g. BT & Virgin) are likely to drag their heels and stall passing on the full benefit to customers. As with many dominant suppliers facing increased competition, defending ‘cash cows’ is a priority.
But over the past two decades or so, a revolution has happened in the telecoms industry and today there is a massive choice on offer to customers. There really is no need to wait for 2015 to arrive in the hope of getting better deals from telecoms providers – they are available today. And what’s more, if you choose carefully, service and support can be very good indeed.
So whilst the powers that be battle to defend their interests, why not protect yours by switching to one of the many providers that really deserve your business?