TIPS FOR IMPROVING CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS

One of the most important parts of any business is maintaining and enhancing relationships with clients. This makes the time spent on a project more enjoyable, satisfying and effective. Improved relationships also improve the chance that the firm will get referrals and future business.

Be clear and open with client – This is the number one guideline for a successful client engagement. Be clear and open with everything from a sales proposal through to the final contract and this will assist in developing strong working relationships which should contribute to repeat business from loyal clients.

Get to know your client  – Relationships are better when the individuals involved take the time to get to know one another. Learn about the client’s interests. You will likely spend many hours with your clients so you should take the time to build a positive working relationship with them. Make it a point to learn something new about each client in every meeting you have. Once you learn something new, keep track of that information in your CRM system or in a client file.

Ask questions – When we ask questions we understand situations better. Take the time to ask your client how they feel about the service so far, what other services your business could provide, etc. Ask the client about their company – showing that you are interested will help them to feel like a valuable and important client of your firm.

 

Be willing to say “No.” – In many cases, clients ask us to do things beyond our capabilities or interests. When these new requests are outside the contract agreement, be willing to say no. Take time to understand both the client’s reason for asking as well as your ability to deliver. Don’t automatically say yes, because if you agree to something and then fail to deliver, you could risk spoiling the client relationship.

Be willing to say “yes.” – Sometimes yes is the right answer – and only you will know when. Sometimes it is worth going the extra mile for a client. Perhaps they are very profitable or they may be a source of good referral work. If so, then it may be worth putting in the extra effort in order to gain new opportunities.

Solve problems for your client – Clients want value. Deliver that value to your client by solving a problem for them. Whether you sell a product or a service, using that sale to provide a solution for the client will help them to see the value that your firm offers and will create loyalty towards your brand.

Exit Planning

Exit Planning in a nutshell

 This is a guest blog from Tim Luscombe <tim.luscombe@managementadvice.co.uk>

it is always a good idea for owners to think about an exit plan.

Most owner managers have put off thinking about exiting their business, or retiring, or what they are going to do when they are no longer working at the business they created, and feel responsible for.

That’s understandable. Most of us who start our own business did not do so with the sole aim of selling it someday. We had all kinds of motives, including a desire for freedom and the opportunity to do things our way!

However, at some point you are going to want some extra cash to fund your retirement, and with the ever increasing life expectancy and low investment returns, you are going to need more now that you might have thought, just a few years ago.

It doesn’t matter which way you exit the business, unless you plan to shut up shop and just sell the assets. Whether it is your family who take over, or your management team, or a third party, you still need to make the business as robust and successful as possible.

For most owner managers, step one is to get some distance between you and the business. If the business cannot survive without you, it is pretty unlikely anyone is going to want to give you substantial sums for it.

Acquirers buy a business (trophy assets such as football clubs excluded) for the future profits it will make for them. If the only way your business makes money is when you are involved, that is not so much a business as a job.

There are a whole range of steps that you can and should take to get your business in shape for sale; we are not just talking about being compliant with all the applicable legislation (you must do that) but structuring the business to address its weaknesses and enhance its strengths.

That process can take several years…and it is never too soon to start.

 

Will the changes to child benefit affect you ?

Although the proposed changes will not be implemented until 7th January 2013, it is estimated that 1.2 million people will be affected by them.

Here is a brief summary :

Who is affected ?

Households claiming child benefit, where the income of an individual or partner exceeds £50,000 per year.

HMRC will be writing to taxpayers with income above £50,000 in the autumn.

What are the changes ?

A new income tax charge will apply to those earning over £50,000, which will either reduce or remove the financial benefit of receiving Child Benefit.

Income between £50,000 and £60,000 will result in a gradual charge in proportion to the Child Benefit received.

Income over £60,000, the amount of the charge will equal the amount of Child Benefit received. The amount of Child Benefit payable will be unaffected by the new tax charge, but basically the charge will cancel out the benefit received.

How will it be collected ?

The amount of the charge will be collected through self assessment (SA) and PAYE. Individuals who think they may be affected by these proposals do not need to do anything now.

Additional information. 

For further information please see HMRC Child Benefit Tax Charge info

 

Is Your Business Running on Empty?

Are you finding it a struggle to get paid and receiving letters from creditors threatening to put your account on stop ?

Loans not an option ?

 

 

Today we have the priviledge of sharing a guest blog from Mr Jonathon Willder of www.catalyst-finance.com which may be able to offer a solution.

Single Invoice Discounting – helping you with Cash Flow .

Effective cash management is crucial to your business success. Access to cash when needed has been satisfied traditionally by a number of funding sources, be it a bank loan, a bank overdraft or a factoring /invoice discounting facility. And asset finance providers have done their bit too, helping you to match the costs of running your business with the revenue streams thus generated.

And now, just when the banking world seems to be retreating, a new cash flow option has arrived in the form of Single Invoice Discounting. So when your bank’s computer says “no” to your overdraft or loan request, or where the terms of a full factoring / invoice discounting option prove inflexible or inappropriate, there is a new, simple and flexible option available to you.

If you have a debtor due to pay in, for example, 30 days time but you have need for cash in your bank before then, why not sell that single invoice and receive up to 90% of the invoice value now to enable you to access cash now? Then, when the invoice is paid, you will receive the balance of the invoice less an agreed fee. There are no arrangement fees, no exit fees and there is no contract period. You simply pay for the money advanced for the period that you need it.

Single Invoice Discounting

Key Benefits:
•a simple, quick and flexible product to solve short term cash flow problems
•transparent, easily controlled costs – no “pre-transaction” charges
•available to all sorts of business whatever stage of development
•no industry exclusions (including construction)
•no pre-requisite for a strong balance sheet or a long history of successful trading
•no ongoing contractual obligation

Key Features:
•up to 90% advance against individual invoices or groups of invoices
•one-off, repeatable transactions
•ideal for businesses with lumpy/occasional need for cash flow support
•available to businesses where bank unwilling to increase exposure
•very low maintenance/reporting requirement
•asset sale so “off balance sheet” – never a loan

Charging/costs:
•no set-up, arrangement, maintenance or any other fixed costs
•all charges rolled into a single percentage charge based on amount advanced
•daily calculation of charges
•competitive rates vary according to circumstances
•a pay-as-you-go facility which only carries a cost when money is out

Flexibility/speed:
•initial account set-up normally completed in less than 5 days (no cost)
•individual transactions completed within hours
•Multiple drawdowns and early redemption permitted (at no extra cost)

For further information on this subject please contact:

Jeremy Lawrence
07970 596571

Jonathan Willder
07712 778490

www.catalyst-finance.com

PAT testing, is it necessary ?

Are you still spending money having a qualified electrician check your kettle every year for electrical safety ?

If so, you could be wasting money on an unnecessary check, particularly if you run a low risk business such as an office, shop or hotel.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have indicated that it is a common myth that Portable Appliance Testing or PAT tests have to be carried out every year in a specific way as  a legal requirement. 

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition.

However, the Regulations do not specify what needs to be done, by whom or how frequently (so; inspection or testing of electrical appliances is not a yearly legal requirement).

What is required, is that applicances are checked for obvious signs of damage, such as frayed or exposed wires etc. 

For further information please see http://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/faq-portable-appliance-testing.htm.

 

NEST – And why employers need to know about this.

NEST is a new initiative by the government to increase the number of people contributing to a pension scheme.  It has been decided that the best way forward is to use Automatic Enrollment.  This takes the decision from the employee and puts the onus on the employer instead.

The scheme starts from October 2012, with the largest firms; but will eventually filter through to the smallest.  Employers should be aware that there will be financial penalties for non compliance.

As an employer you will be expected to enroll all eligible employees into a qualifying pension scheme, manage employee contributions and also make an employer contribution to the scheme.

Eligible employees are:

  • Aged between 22 to State Pension Age
  • Earning more than the personal tax allowance
  • Aren’t already registered with a qualifying pension scheme.

When it applies:

The Pensions Regulator will write to employers to inform them of their staging date. (The start date is referred to as your staging date)

You will usually get 12 months notice prior to the staging date, unless your business is very large, in which case more notice is given.

As this is a complicated issue and subject to change during implementation, further information can be obtained from www.nestpensions.org and other sites. 

We can also put you in touch with an Independant Financial Advisor on request.

 

 

Gaming Machines: Replacement of VAT with Machine Games Duty

The recent budget announced changes in respect of the above.

From 1 February 2013 a new tax on gaming machines receipts will be introduced, to be known as Machine Games Duty (MGD). At the same time AMLD (Amusement machine Licence Duty) will be abolished and income from gaming machines will become VAT exempt.

Generally whoever pays the current amusement machine licence duty will be responsible for paying the new MGD.

This will mean that quarterly MGD returns will be required from all operators of qualifying machines. Two rates of duty will apply: 5% where the maximum stake is 10p and the maximum cash prize £8, and 20% in all other cases.

This change in status of the machine income from taxable to exempt will have an effect on registration status and /or partial exemption position of businesses.

If you would like any further information or help with this then please do get in touch with us.

Junior ISA – Did you know ?

Just a note of something you may not be aware of.

In the tax year a young person becomes 16, they may subscribe to both a Junior ISA and (once 16) a regular cash ISA.  This would allow them to use BOTH investment allowancs to total limit of £8,940 (2011/12 rates).

They would also be able to invest in both during the next tax year in which they would turn 17.

In the year they turn 18, they can invest in the Junior ISA to the limit, as long as it is before their 18th birthday.  Once 18, the Junior ISA is converted to a regular ISA.

Please check with your ISA provider for further details.

 

Don’t let your money go to the unclaimed assets register.

The Unclaimed Assets Register contains:

£400 million – Unclaimed money in bank and building society accounts.

£400 million – Amount of upaid money in life assurance and pension schemes.

£1 billion – Total unclaimed money in NS & I products. (excluding premium bonds).

 

It is easy over the years to lose track of bits of cash in various bank accounts and small pension funds. For anyone having to deal with a relative’s estate, that task becomes even harder, trying to work out someone elses financial dealings and locate essential paperwork.

For this reason, we have access to a handy booklet which can help. It will help you to keep a record of important information, such as your Will, share certificates, bank accounts, pension and life assurance plans and where they are kept. When completed, this booklet should then be kept in a safe place or passed to your solicitors for safe keeping.

This booklet is available upon request. (limit one per person).

Problems Calling HM Revenue and Customs ?

Lately there has been an increase in delays getting through to HMRC by telephone. Some comments put the average waiting time to around 30 minutes. This may have been caused by a high volume of calls during the Easter period when their systems were shut down for essential software upgrades.

What can you do if you have problems getting through ?

  • If you are contacting HMRC to fulfill a deadline or provide information, keep a log of the times you tried to contact them and how long you were kept waiting on the phone. It may help your case.
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  •  If it is very urgent we may be able to help using a dedicated agent only telephone line.  However, HMRC will only talk to us if we are already registered to act on a clients behalf, in respect of the service the call is about.
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  • Unreasonable long waits which incur high call costs, may be reimbursed if you make a complaint and request compensation.
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