Imagine Savings Were Customers

  • By Helen Chadwick
  • 19 Apr, 2017

Have you ever looked at savings from a different point of view? This blog puts a spin on the usual view of cost saving exercises being a chore to being a delight.

A customer of yours is wanting an hour of your time and for this they will give you £5,000. There are no additional output costs for the customer so the only expense is your time. Sounds like a fantastic customer, doesn’t it? This is the opportunity that a lot of companies are missing out on. These opportunities are cost savings.

Savings made are profits made

By lowering costs, you are in fact increasing your bottom line which is exactly the same as if you were to increase revenue. Unfortunately, the same amount of importance is not usually given to this area. When a supplier states it can save you £5,000, think of it more as a customer giving you £5,000. The same thing will happen to your bottom line, so why not look at them the same?

Weigh up the additional value to your business and the time you will need to spend on it, the same as you would a customer. How much time will you need, and how much can you save? If the time required is disproportionate to the savings, then it will not be worth it if it is then this is basically one of the easiest customers you will ever have.

Customer satisfaction

Treat savings with a similar amount of attention as you would a customer. Would you make a customer wait weeks to get hold of you for a 5-minute conversation that could be worth £500 to you, most probably not? However, you find that this is what several business owners do with suppliers that can save them money, as they believe it is not urgent. It should be urgent, not for the supplier’s sake but for the company’s sake. Every month that you are paying those higher bills is another month where you are losing out on profits.

Subscription based customers

Another great aspect about savings is that they are usually recurring. Improving cash flow month after month, not just on one off occasions. It is reliable source to increase your bottom line, just as a customer who is paying a subscription service, however, savings are a customer you do not  need to provide for.

Would you miss out on an opportunity for such an amazing customer?

By Helen Chadwick 06 Dec, 2017

Due to rapid technological changes over the past few years, it has become the norm that Research and Development claims are now becoming more outsourced due to the expert and specialist knowledge required to maximise each individual claim.

Having and outside perspective to analyse and investigate on your behalf can be more beneficial than trying to carry it out in-house or through your own accountant. The reason being that a fresh view from an impartial perspective can often flag up areas which constitute as R&D which may have otherwise been overlooked.

Working closely with a claim manager means maximum results can be achieved. What your business perceives as a standard industry anomaly, may in fact constitute more towards a claim by simply changing an approach or integration of new methods or technologies to gain the same, similar, or different outcomes or results.

Considering the future, when it comes to undertaking completely new R&D projects that are unlike anything that you have done in the past, or if this is the first time your company is investing in R&D, outsourcing can be much cheaper and faster rather than setting everything up in-house.  This is because they will have tried and tested systems and processes in place to ensure the project is delivered to the agreed specifications.  Outsourcing also helps to keep your business and its resources focused on what it is already doing best.

By Helen Chadwick 06 Dec, 2017

R&D reliefs support companies that work on innovative projects in science and technology.  It can be claimed by a range of companies that seek to research or develop an advance in their field.  It can even be claimed on unsuccessful projects.

You may be able to claim Corporation Tax relief if your project meets the governments definition of R&D.

Projects that count as R&D

The work that qualifies for R&D relief must be part of a specific project to make an advance in science or technology.  It can’t be an advance within a social science like economics or a theoretical field like pure maths.

The project must relate to your company’s trade - either an existing one, or one that you intend to start up based on the results of the R&D.

To get R&D relief you need to explain how a project:

·        looked for an advance in science and technology

·        had to overcome uncertainty

·        tried to overcome this uncertainty

·        couldn’t be easily worked out by a professional in the field

Your project may research or develop a new process, product or service or improve on an existing one.

Show that you looked for an advance in the field

Your project must aim to create an advance in the overall field, not just for your business. This means an advance can’t just be an existing technology that has been used for the first time in your sector.

The process, product or service can still be an advance if it’s been developed by another company but isn’t publicly known or available.

Show there was uncertainty

You should be researching or developing something that isn’t known to be scientifically or technology feasible when you make or discover it.

This means that your company or experts in the field can’t already know about the advance or the way you achieved it.

Explain how you tried to overcome the uncertainty

You should show that the R&D needed research, testing and analysis to develop it.

You need to be able to explain the work you did to overcome the uncertainty.  This can be a simple description of the successes and failures you had during the project.

Show that a professional in the field couldn’t work this out

You should explain why a professional couldn’t easily work out your advance. You can do this by showing that other attempts to find a solution had failed. You can also show that the people working on your project are professionals in that field and get them to explain the uncertainties involved.

Types of R&D relief

There are different types of R&D relief depending on the size of your company and whether the project has been subcontracted to you or not.

Small and medium sized enterprises (SME) R&D Relief

You can claim SME R&D relief if you’re a SME with:

·        less than 500 staff

·        a turnover of under €100m or a balance sheet total under €86m

You may need to include linked companies and partnerships when you work out if you’re a SME.

SME R&D relief allows companies to:

·        deduct an extra 130% of their qualifying costs from their yearly profit, as well as the normal 100% deduction, to      make a total 230% deduction

·        claim a tax credit if the company is loss making, worth up to 14.5% of the surrenderable loss

Research and Development Expenditure Credit

This replaces the relief previously available under the large company scheme.

Large companies can claim a Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) for working on R&D projects.

It can also be claimed by SMEs and large companies who’ve been subcontracted to do R&D work by a large company.

The RDEC is a tax credit for 11% of your qualifying R&D expenditure.

Information courtesy of  www.gov.uk

By Helen Chadwick 08 Jun, 2017
Understanding

This is without doubt one of the most essential functions when it comes to customer service. Understanding the client’s problems and how to correct it is what builds a solid business relationship. If a client comes to you with a problem and you do not completely understand what they want, you may offer the wrong solution. Leading to an unhappy customer and a lower perception of your companies’ value.

Let’s take a sweet shop as an example, if a customer walked into a sweet shop and said they wanted something sweet. At which point the clerk thinks they know something sweet and provides the customer with a bag of sugar, the customer would not be very pleased. Although the clerk provided the client with exactly what they asked for he didn’t ask any questions to understand exactly what the customer needed. In this case, it may have been that the customer associated chocolate with something sweet.

If the clerk would have asked a few simple questions to ascertain exactly what the customer wanted his level of understanding would have improved dramatically. This improved level of understanding would increase the perceived value of the business from the clients point of view would have increase as they would feel they were dealing with experts who knows what they want inside and out.

Ease of access

When a client has an issue, there can be no greater loss of value than when the service provider is not there when needed. It’s like requiring a fire fighter and getting a voice message saying I’m sorry we’re not available right now. What may not seem like a major incident to one person may be a huge incident to another. Hence, make sure you are available to your client when they need you. If your clients are running a 24/7 businesses they will be expecting 24/7 service.

Some good questions to ask to increase your businesses value are:

• Do you have a direct contact number for your clients to call?
• Will that number get them through to the right person?
• Can your clients get hold of you in a reasonable amount of time?
• Are the contact details easy to find eg. Website, email signatures, business cards etc.?
• Have you got an emergency number to call if something goes wrong?
• Are you available when you customer needs you to be available?

Helpfulness

It is all well and good being available for your clients but if they call you and you don’t find a solution to their problem you have not only disappointed them, you have also taken up their time. Admittedly there may be some situations where you cannot help. Hence, it is always useful to have people to recommend if you do not know a solution to the problem.

If you don’t know how to solve the problem or don’t have anyone to recommend maybe put some suggestions forward. The customer has called you because they do not know where else to turn, it is important to bare this in mind. When a service provider is willing to go above and beyond what is expected this is when the perception value of your service increases.

Friendliness

Have you ever been put through on a call only to feel that your call is a nuisance and only tolerated because the person on the other end has to answer? How did that experience effect your view of that company and how much value they brought to you?

We have added friendliness as a separate point as it is just as important to be friendly as it is helpful. No one likes to feel that they are not wanted or are being a nuisance. When customers feel as though their call is appreciated their perception of value will increase.
By Helen Chadwick 25 May, 2017
Value is a very interesting concept as it is all about perspective. In these articles, we are looking at aspects which have been proven to increase the perspective value of goods and services.

Supply and demand

Under general market conditions value is directly related to supply and demand. If a service or product is in high demand however there is a shortage, then the value of it will be increased. A perfect example can be shown with a bottle of water. This bottle in a dessert has a much higher value than the same bottle of water next to a tap. So, make sure that the market you are working in is not oversaturated with the benefit of your current product or service, as this can decrease its value.

How to create scarcity for your product or service

A way in which to create the appearance of scarcity is to specialise in a niche market sector. If you can become an expert in a very niche field the number of competitors you will have will dramatically drop. This gives the appearance that your services are in short supply for that specific sector. You usually find companies that have a specific target market are more appealing than those who cover everything.

Bidding

If we were then to take the bottle of water in the dessert and increase the number of people that wanted to purchase the bottle, the value of the bottle would become even higher. This is because competition will have been created for the product. There is also no way that supply could meet the demand. In this situation, the buyers would probably pay more than if there was no competition. This can however create resentment not only from the buyers who didn’t get the product but also from the buyer who received it, as they know they paid more than it was worth, so bidding for a scarce resource may not be a good option for maintaining a long-term relationship with your clients.

Market differentiation

Unfortunately, it is not always the case that a business can have a complete sector to itself, what a wonderful business that would be. A lot of the time there are several businesses offering the same service or product. If we take the bottle in the desert and add several different branded bottles where the bottles all cost the same. Not only will the value go down, but the customer now has more control, as they have choice. With choice, they will look to get the best value. This is when market differentiating factors come into play. If they are all priced the same what makes someone choose a specific bottle? This is where you have other value adding features which we will go through in the follow up articles.
By Helen Chadwick 18 May, 2017
There’s no doubt that including an image in a social media post can help attract users’ attention and increase their engagement. But to maximise the potential of images on Social Media, you need to ensure you optimise all your images to make sure you do your organisation justice.

Here’s a quick guide for how to optimise images for Social Media.

Focus On Design

• Even if you’re not a designer, there are plenty of resources to help novice designers create professional images. You can also create weekly posts which look professional and consistent.


Represent Your Organisation

• Sharing a quality image is important, but it’s also important to remember why you’re sharing anything at all—and that’s to reach people who want to know about and interact with your organisation. This means that every image you share should be representative of your organisation – either your logo, style, or colour scheme.

• Sharing images that are consistent in style or theme allows your images to become instantly recognisable as being yours, which can prompt viewers to engage more regularly with your posts if they’re interested in your organisation.

• Pay attention to your colours, fonts, and layouts—they can work together to create an unforgettable look for your organisation.


Share Mindfully

• Always remember that not all Social Media channels are created equally so they won’t receive your image in the same way. Your image may need to be tweaked depending on where it’s going to be.

• Figuring out what dimensions work best for you across all the platforms you use may take a bit of time to nail on the head, but trying out a few different techniques can help you find what works best for your organisation. Maybe your audience on LinkedIn doesn’t respond to your content the same way that your Twitter followers do. Or maybe you find that your Instagram and Facebook audiences are similar, so pushing the same content on those platforms makes sense.


Optimise For Search

• Since a lot of your social media images are likely to also appear on your website, it’s important to be sure that people can find those images on the web.
By Helen Chadwick 09 May, 2017
The trouble is, we often forget that all our competitors are doing the same – and so we need to do something different to ensure that our emails cut through the realms of mass marketing, enhance customer relations and boost sales.

So, here’s a quick guide that will help turn your emails from junk mail into selling mail:

• Be yourself. Introduce yourself, and your company, right away - existing customers will greet you like an old friend, while potential shoppers   won’t be forced to wonder if you’re a shady scam artist.

• Be clear and concise. Make sure you’re clear upfront as to what it is you’re selling. Guessing games aren’t much fun and rarely lead to a sale. State your offer up front and without too much hype.

• Be available. Make it clear just exactly how customers can get more information and the timescales from order to delivery.

• Be an editor. Your email reflects upon you and your company. Customers need to know what they’re buying. Use simple, grammatical language. If you can’t write, hire someone who can.

• Keep to simple design - Avoid the temptation to be too sophisticated in your design. Many systems still won’t support fancy formatting. Keep it easy on the eye with lots of line breaks and white space.

• Get to the point – research shows that only 15 percent of web users read all email messages in their entirety, whilst more than half read the first few sentences and then decide whether to continue. Forcing your customer to wade through paragraphs of superfluous information is the quickest route to the delete key and to the death of a sale.

• Target your message to the right audience. Never forget what you’re selling and to whom you’re selling it. Never forget that even the most well-crafted pitch is worthless if it’s delivered to someone who doesn’t want it.

For further information contact us today on Tel: 01226 380 531 or Email: declan@hcprospects.co.uk
By Helen Chadwick 04 May, 2017

We have been searching for a strategic partner for quite some time however have found it hard to get the right fit. We first came across Liability and General Insurance Brokers Ltd through a very positive recommendation from a mutual acquaintance. After undertaking further research, we found that Liability and General Insurance Brokers Ltd would be a perfect partner that would be able to offer the high standards of customer service and expert insight that HC Prospects pride themselves on. Not only this, Liability and General Insurance Brokers Ltd’s track record in being able to find strategic savings for their customers was very impressive, with an average saving of circa 20% on commercial insurances.

 

HC Prospects director, Declan Carrington stated ‘ Liability and General Insurance Brokers Ltd are a fantastic company that prove how good they are through their actions and not their words. Their level of expertise and attention to details is what set them apart from their competitors.

 

It is through this expertise and attention to detail that they are able to provide elevated levels of savings as seen across their portfolio. We are grateful to be able work alongside such a great company and have full confidence in them to look after our customers’ .

 

The partnership will entail the two companies working closely to provide customers with those much-needed savings on commercial insurances.

By Helen Chadwick 19 Apr, 2017

A customer of yours is wanting an hour of your time and for this they will give you £5,000. There are no additional output costs for the customer so the only expense is your time. Sounds like a fantastic customer, doesn’t it? This is the opportunity that a lot of companies are missing out on. These opportunities are cost savings.

Savings made are profits made

By lowering costs, you are in fact increasing your bottom line which is exactly the same as if you were to increase revenue. Unfortunately, the same amount of importance is not usually given to this area. When a supplier states it can save you £5,000, think of it more as a customer giving you £5,000. The same thing will happen to your bottom line, so why not look at them the same?

Weigh up the additional value to your business and the time you will need to spend on it, the same as you would a customer. How much time will you need, and how much can you save? If the time required is disproportionate to the savings, then it will not be worth it if it is then this is basically one of the easiest customers you will ever have.

Customer satisfaction

Treat savings with a similar amount of attention as you would a customer. Would you make a customer wait weeks to get hold of you for a 5-minute conversation that could be worth £500 to you, most probably not? However, you find that this is what several business owners do with suppliers that can save them money, as they believe it is not urgent. It should be urgent, not for the supplier’s sake but for the company’s sake. Every month that you are paying those higher bills is another month where you are losing out on profits.

Subscription based customers

Another great aspect about savings is that they are usually recurring. Improving cash flow month after month, not just on one off occasions. It is reliable source to increase your bottom line, just as a customer who is paying a subscription service, however, savings are a customer you do not  need to provide for.

Would you miss out on an opportunity for such an amazing customer?

By Helen Chadwick 07 Apr, 2017

We would not by any means state that all solicitors are overcharging their clients, in fact solicitors are fantastic people who can be very useful in times of need.

We do however believe that consumers should be aware of situations that might indicate overcharging. This blog is aimed at people who want to ask the question ‘ how do I tell if I am being overcharged by my solicitor?'.


1.       Estimates – It is good practice that a solicitor provide a detailed estimate of works to be undertaken to their potential client. If you have not received this or have only been given a high-level estimate that is not very detailed, this could be a warning sign of future overcharging.

It is worth asking for an itemised estimate before you agree to go ahead with any legal work, as this will also be a good point of reference for when you receive your final bill. Failure to provide detailed estimates is an indication that there is little control of costs or focus in ensuring value for money to the client.

 

2.       Interim bills - Unless there is an expressed agreement within the contract or retainer for the solicitor to submit interim invoices, the solicitor is only entitled (and only then in respect of contentious business) to request reasonable payments on account of work done and a reasonable amount for future costs.

Solicitors will often attempt to argue that bills sent during the course of the case cannot be challenged but that is not necessarily right. These interim invoices do not represent a final figure and therefore can still be challenged. A typical example of this is “ work undertaken on X in January 2017

 

3.       Surprisingly high bill – This may seem straight forward however, it’s hard for a usual client to establish if a bill is classed as surprisingly high. If after questioning the amount on the bill with the given solicitor they drop the cost, this may be an indication of overcharging in other areas.


4.       Bill / Invoice format - It is good practice to agree with your solicitor when you instruct them that any bills they provide should be itemised. This allows you to check the level of your fees quickly and easily. This information is usually recorded on case management software so is available at the press of a button.

 

5.       Right to challenge fees - A solicitor is required to advise you of how you can challenge your legal fees via the Legal Ombudsman or via assessment by the Court under the Solicitors Act 1974. Your solicitor should take the time to clearly explain this to you and the time limits for challenging your fees. If your solicitor has not discussed this with you or quickly brushed over your right to challenge their fees this can indicate that your solicitor is charging you unreasonably for the services they provide.

 

What to do if you believe you are being overcharged?

If you are curious as to whether your solicitor has overcharged you or not, please contact us at HC Prospects Ltd. We will arrange for an expert to contact you to establish if they believe there is a claim, they will also advise you on a way forward. This is a free, confidential service which we provide to our customers. If the expert believes there is a case to move forward with, all costs for this will be gathered from the overcharging solicitor, with no costs incurred by the customer directly.

By Helen Chadwick 29 Mar, 2017
Time: The one thing you cannot buy or change, it marches on with no concern for how busy you are or how many things you have to do. This could arguably be one the most precious resources on the planet, because once it is used, it is gone forever.

This is one of the most precious offerings a broker can provide. What may have taken you hours or sometimes days to do, a broker can do in the background while you are undergoing the routine day to day running of your business. If you do however have any extra time on your hands, you should be spending it on trying to generate revenue.  Without revenue, no business can survive.  Using a broker frees your time, allowing you to concentrate on those things which help your organisation prosper and grow.

Buying power:   Have you ever used a supplier repeatedly and got preferential rates because of it?  Wouldn’t you love to have that ability with other aspects of your business?  Well, you can, by using a broker.  Brokers deal with hundreds of transactions a month for many different clients.  Why would a supplier not offer preferential rates to a business that is sending new clients their way? You can take advantage of this fantastic relationship between the suppliers and brokers which you would otherwise not have been able to establish yourself.

Market expertise:   Within each industry there are fluctuations in price and availability.  Brokers can capitalise on their years of experience to understand the timings of purchasing. They have the experience to understand seasonal market trends. In some cases, in highly changing markets, prices can vary depending on the time of day you choose to purchase let alone the time of year.

Advice:   Drawing from their experience allows brokers to advise on the best course of action for a business of a specific industry/size. They can inform their customers of any imminent changes that could have a positive or negative effect on supply. Allowing the customer to make sure they have all the required information for an informed decision moving forward.

Savings:   Having access to so much information allows brokers in most situations to lower the costs of the services or products they are sourcing.  You may discover on talking to a broker that your usage is in excess of what of you business actually needs. Resulting in lower costs due to lower quantities. This will not only help with your current procurement needs, it will also help with future procurement. 

Summary:   Many business managers will be thinking ‘ after you pay the fees, the savings that have been made are cancelled out ’.  In some situations, this could be the case, however, this goes back to the first and most important point. They give back your time, above all else. 

To do it yourself, ask the question, how much time will it take to search the market, compare prices and negotiate an outcome? How much is my time worth?  How much revenue could I have generated for the business in that time?

In essence how much has it really costing to get that deal without using a broker?

Probably a lot more than you think.
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