Author Archives: Flip

Things to look for in a contract car hire offer for your business

Mileage, contract length, cost, manufacturer, model – all these are things you’ll need to consider when you sign up for a car leasing deal. If you are struggling to filter out the best contract hire offers, read on for a few tips on what to look for.

Affordable payments

Cost is, naturally, at the forefront of most people’s minds when they start looking for contract hire offers. The amount you have to pay for your vehicle each month will be affected by the length of the lease, the type of car you choose and the annual mileage limit you put in place.

From a business point of view, it is important to work out how much you can afford to spend on company cars each month. Don’t forget to factor in any tax you may have to pay.

Business car tax can be deducted against taxable corporate profits. If the cars you lease have CO2 emissions of less than 160 g/km, then the entire cost of the contract can be offset against this. Should the vehicle have a carbon dioxide output above this level, 85 per cent of it is deductable.

Deposit

As you might expect, you’ll need to put down a deposit on any car you lease. This will vary depending on the underlying value of the vehicle and the mileage specified in your contract. The fewer miles you drive each year, the cheaper your deposit will be, as a general rule.

Extras

Some car leasing companies will offer extras with their contract hire deals. This can be everything from an annual service for the vehicle to a comprehensive warranty on repairs. Paying for these costs as part of your monthly payment will mean that you are less likely to be faced with any unexpected expenses to repair a vehicle being used by one of your employees.

Another thing to look out for in a car lease is breakdown cover. Of course, it is not difficult to arrange your own roadside assistance policy, but should you have multiple autos in your business, it can become a time-consuming process you could do without.

Road tax is a further payment that can be rolled into the leasing deal, again, saving you time and effort when it comes to ensuring all of your employees’ vehicles are ready to go and legal.

Having all these things in one monthly payment will make it much easier to know exactly what your outgoings are on transport costs – and save you having to do all the legwork to find the best breakdown, recovery and maintenance deals.

Low CO2 emissions vehicles

This isn’t so much something to look for in the lease deal itself but in the vehicle you hire. There are tax breaks available on models that have low CO2 emissions, both for companies and employees.

As previously mentioned, businesses can deduct 100 per cent of the cost of a lease deal on models that have low carbon dioxide output, while the tax levied on workers is calculated based on the value of the vehicle and its emissions. Lower emissions therefore mean your staff will pay less tax.

If you lease cars for your business, do you have any advice about what to look out for when choosing a contract hire deal? Are there any vehicles or manufacturers you’d particularly recommend?

Why companies are turning to contractors for change management

A common complaint made by businesses when surveyed about the employment challenges facing them is finding the right candidate with the right skills.

There are various headwinds that businesses are having to deal with at present, with a sluggish economy and low confidence weighing on business sentiment.

However, businesses still need to grow and growth requires having the right people in the right places. New research from Russam GMS has shown that when it comes to driving a company forward in difficult times, limited company and umbrella contractors are the people businesses are turning to.

According to the study, companies are turning to interim management contractors to implement change management and transformation strategies to take their organisations forward.

The company surveyed 12,000 interim management contractors about the nature of the work they are carrying out and found a significant number are being brought in for specialist projects and change management projects as opposed to gap-filling assignments.

More than 17 per cent said they are involved in change management, while business transformation accounts for one-fifth (19 per cent) of all assignments.
Why are businesses turning to interim management contractors?

According to Charles Russam, chairman of Russam GMS, contractors are being seen as the most effective individuals to help take businesses to the next level.
However, what is it about contractors that makes them so appealing when it comes to such tasks?

Mr Gussam gave various reasons:

1. Specialist expertise

Contractors are usually specialists in their chosen field and have years of experience in doing their jobs and doing them to a very high standard. Businesses therefore have confidence that contractors can tackle projects head on and do so to the required level. Also, many companies find that they do not have the required skills sets among their existing employees and therefore have to bring in outside expertise.

2. Expert problem-solving skills

Businesses need people who can come in, identify what needs to be done and who can make the required changes. Contractors tick all of these boxes and another crucial one, which is to identify and implement the changes quickly.

3. Short-term nature of contractors

Many such projects do not require a permanent member of staff and the fact that contractors can be brought in on a short-term basis to do what needs to be done makes a lot of sense for many businesses.

The research showed that contractors with general management skills were in most demand, followed by those with expertise in finance and change and transformation skills.
As you can see, contractors can be of great value to a business, which goes some way to explaining why contractor employment levels have fared relatively well given the anaemic state of the wider economy.

Energy, passion and leadership skills were cited by Russam GMS as prerequisites for change management experts and if you have these, there may be a future for you in contracting.

If the contractor route is one you are considering going down, it is a good idea to speak to an accountancy services provider to discuss whether to sign up with an umbrella company or whether you would be better off starting your own limited company.

This is a big decision and there is a lot to consider, so speaking with experts on the subject is highly recommended.

Why your business may need an HR advisor!

One of the most essential and important aspects of managing a business, big or small, is the way in which one deals with the workforce and the management of human resources. It is precisely for this reason that there is a growing demand for HR professional and HR advisors in modern business firms. Since most corporate houses already have a set structure in place and utilize a large employee force it is essential to have someone who can not only advise the company when it comes to hiring of new talent and personnel, but someone who can take care of the day-to-day hassles and smoothly handle the large workforce.

Every business would do well with a HR expert and if you are a looking for expert services from outside then you can bring in help from the industry experts like ClearSky-HR.co.uk HR Advisors who offer efficient, constructive and smart management solutions.

While most people tend to believe that HR advisors and consultants are relegated to managing only the giant firms and businesses that could not be farther from the truth. It is in fact the budding and growing businesses that require the expert help of a HR advisor. Since most small and medium businesses generally are not well acquainted with the handling f a large employee force, it is best to hire a professional who will not only oversee and guide you in the hiring process, but will co-ordinate between team leaders on a day to day basis, keep up employee morale, form a communication bridge between the various hierarchical positions in the office and ensure that discipline is maintained.

Not only does a competent HR advisor offer all the above advantages, but he most essentially will deliver much needed legal expertise when signing new contracts and will help in altering some of the work conditions in the office that could improve productivity. In a world where more and more issues are being bound by strict legal codes, this is an absolute necessity so that you avoid ugly tussles in the future.

Sulfuric Acid capacity across the globe set to rise in 2013

The current volatile economic conditions across the globe have meant that it is really hard to predict the market trends when it comes to both metals and other natural resources. Let alone sulfuric acid, those close to the business world and flowing market trends on a daily basis are finding it pretty hard to get the Sulphur prices right at the moment, thanks the great variation that they have demonstrated in the last 4 years.

sulfuric acidBut many across the spectrum do feel that sulfuric acid capacity is only set to go up in the coming year and that trend is most likely to hold for the next 5 years as well.

This confidence largely comes from the impetus offered by the fertilizer industries and the new found revitalization of agriculture across most nations of the globe.

From developing nations to the traditional powerhouses, the necessity to increase food crop and productivity has meant that there is greater demand for fertilizers today than ever before that that has a direct impact on the market movement of sulfuric acid itself.

The major contributors to this would be the phosphate fertilizers whose consumption is predicted to be going up by good 1.05 million tons per year and with the total consumption figures predicted to hit 120 million tons by 2017, there will be constant and most definitely increased demand for feedstock sulfuric acid.

There has been a surge in the number of units involved in the production of sulfuric acid in the past two years and new industrial ventures are set to kick off in early 2013, which will add to the supply chain and should meet the current demands.

While the demand for quality fertilizers is almost universal, the majority of the demand surge is expected to come from South America and South East Asia, since there is plenty of scope for new markets to open up in the region.

Uncertain economic times and increased demand will have an effect on its prices, but for the moment the trend seems to be skewed towards the positive.

Nutritional supplements business continues to thrive and grow despite economic gloom

It takes indeed something special to have an industry that is thriving and growing even in times of economic difficulties. While many sections of business have encountered serious losses and huge setbacks sectors like beauty products and nutritional supplements seem to have registered an upswing during the difficult financial times.

An analysis of this trend might be more psychological and anthropological in nature than fiscal, but it clearly showcases what the preferences of the human society are. Healthy living and good looks really seem to be a must no matter what, for most of us!

The nutritional supplements market has seen 31.7 percent up in its sales in the last 3 years and that trend would mean markets across the planet will see a growth which will rope in over $1.15 billion by the end of 2012.

That figure is said to further rise in the next few years thanks to various factors. One of the biggest reasons for this is the growing health consciousness in people, which is largely driven not just by a simple desire for healthier lifestyle, but is being determined by the high and at times, inaccessible health sector costs.

High medical bills and exponential increase in cost of health services has meant that most individuals are now taking great care of their own health as they believe that ‘prevention is indeed better than the cure’ as it is simply a lot cheaper! This has seen public across all demographics take up nutritional supplements a lot more. Add to this the specific advantages offered by various select supplements and natural products like Biocare, which seem to do away with harmful chemical components and supplements have become a lot more accepted across the entire spectrum.

Current predictions put the market value at $15.5 billion by 2017 and that is taking into account the downward trend in the 18 to 29 demographic, which seems to be not too high on the usage of nutritional supplements. If firms could sort out and cater to their specific needs as well, then the final numbers could be a lot higher.

5 tips to help you manage and cut out debts

Having the sword of ‘debt’ hanging around your neck is never a pretty feeling and if you are not really one of those ‘tough ones’ who can deal with financial tight spots, then you will most likely have plenty of sleepless nights as well.

But there is an effective and efficient way of managing debt, reducing it over time and ensuring that eventually you are away from fiscal risks and complete anarchy. Here are 5 tips that will help you get an idea of what path to recovery needs to be.

Of course, it is far difficult taking the path than just knowing it, so be prepared to put in effort.

  1. The first and most important step to recovery is avoiding new debts. Once you are caught up in the debt cycle, it is very easy to take a new debt for higher interest and clear out an old one. But this will only lead to a disastrous dead-end cycle. So keep away from getting into any new debt situations.
  2. Learning to live frugally is something that comes naturally to a few of us. But most others suffer from not being able to control their habit of excessive spending. If you are in a debt already, it most likely is because you did not plan smart earlier. Avoid making the same mistake again.
  3. Manage your credit cards properly by cancelling those ones out which have zero balance and negotiate with credit card companies when it comes to obtaining lower interest rates for paying back your dues. Explain them your situation and you will most likely be offered an easy monthly installment program which suits your current situation.
  4. Hire some professional help as there are plenty of companies and online firms which will offer consolidation and negotiate low interest rates and reduced outstanding balance with creditors and help you learn more about debt solutions. Take the expert advice if you are not able to manage the situation on your own.
  5. Apart from reducing your unwarranted expenditure, the obvious big step is to try and increase your income. That might mean taking up a second job and putting in more hours. But stick to the program you or an expert chalked out to reduce your debt and put in some hard hours and you will reap rich benefits indeed.

Have any other tips? You should leave us a comment in the field below.

Make your promotional pens stand out

Pens have long been one of the most popular promotional products and you can be confident that if you use printed pens as part of your marketing strategy they will significantly increase awareness of your campaign, brand and organisation.

There is a vast array of promotional pens available, choose from pens:

• From an established retail brand like Parker, BIC or Lamy
• From a range of different materials – from cost-effective plastic ballpens to high-end metal fountain pens
• From a range of colours – whether it’s a bright bold design like lime green or pastel blue to more conservative choices like black and silver
• For a range of budgets – there are pens available for less than 20p per pen, up to the limits you set!

High-quality promotional pens from brands like Parker, BIC and Senator are made out of strong, durable metals and plastics which means your company’s brand, logo and contact details are likely to be seen for a greater period of time than ones built from more economical materials. They’re also likely to be well-received if you enclose the pens in presentation boxes.

Over half of Britons questioned by the British Promotional Merchandise Association state they feel more favourable towards a company that has provided them with branded promotional gifts like a printed pen. When choosing a range of promotional products for your marketing campaign – whether it is pens, bags, clothing, mugs, USBs or something completely different – it is important to carefully consider the requirements of your target audience. Although a standard plastic pen may be suitable for use in the majority of offices, there are times when you may need to purchase a range that’s a little more robust.

The construction industry is a case in point. As obvious as it sounds, workers in this industry spend significant periods of time outdoors, in all kinds of weather, so they’ll be keen to get pens made from materials like stainless steel and chrome that can withstand knocks and will not break easily. It’s probably best to avoid fountain pens – choose a jotter or rollerball instead, as these tend to be more robust. You could also opt for a range of pens that match the corporate colours of the construction company. Finally, it’s worth considering whether you’re likely to place regular repeat orders for the pens. If so, opt for a popular design that is likely to be well-stocked by distributors.

Similarly, company executives who spend much of their working day filling out forms and marking-up contracts will need well-balanced pens that write well. Executive gifts like engraved promotional pens are perfect for company executives, whether it is to express your thanks for their continued custom over the years or sent along with marketing literature when bidding for contracts. Some pens can be personalised or engraved with the recipients’ name – which is a thoughtful addition and should help to ensure that the pen doesn’t get misplaced! What’s more, if your promotional pens are seen by the recipients’ friends, family and colleagues, your brand or marketing message will reach an even wider audience (at no extra cost)!

Have you purchased promotional pens for a marketing campaign? Did you opt for a retail brand like BIC or Parker? How were the pens received by the target audience? We’d love to hear from you – please leave us a comment below!

5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Quality PDF Editor

If you already work in an office environment that uses PDF files on a regular basis, then you will be already familiar with the convenience and benefits they bring. For those unaware though, the real advantage of PDF files in very simple terms is ‘true mobility’.

They can be carried anywhere and you can read all kinds of data that is contained in them with ease and flexibility. But what offers greater comfort and maneuverability to your business is a PDF editor that can make your like simple, easy and completely hassle-free. Here are 5 reasons why every business needs a quality PDF Editor.

 1) PDF files preserve all the visual elements that have been created in every other document. Hence you can get images, graphs, text and a lot more all in the same place and without any loss of content. A superior PDF Editor allows you to change and alter all these things with ease and simplicity.

2) In the absence of an editor, you might well have to redo an entire PDF file from the very beginning if you have made more than a few errors here and there. The presence of editing software allows you to quickly and most importantly, seamlessly correct these mistakes.

3) The PDF Editor keeps your entire document tidy and allows for the columns and texts to flow automatically and with no discernible difference even after modifications.

4) If your files are filled with graphics and images, then a PDF format can significantly reduce the size of the file by compression and this makes it a lot easier to use and pass around as well at the workplace.

5) You can search and replace old data, reuse same PDF templates without having to create entire new ones and alter old data accordingly to create new reports that stay relevant. This not only saves loads of time and effort, but allows you to stick to a set pattern for all your files.

Remember that a good PDF Editor can make life really easy and save up on employee time and hence increase output as well. But the key to it all lies in picking a ‘quality’ PDF Editor.

5 trends driving the software testing market in 2012

The industry of application testing and quality assurance is reaching new heights with each passing day. Part of the reason is the simple fact the more and more businesses are finding their way online and because more and more users are getting hooked on to laptops and handheld devices.

This billion dollar industry is set to reach unprecedented heights in the next few years and by 2015 testing alone will be a $20 billion baby, which is why having a  quality center for testing projects sounds like a very smart solution, one that is also, a lot more accessible. So let’s take a look at the top 5 trends that are driving the software testing market this year.

1) Mobility Application Testing:

Without a doubt, this is the fastest growing trend in the software testing business and it will significantly grow in market share in the coming years. A projected 8 billon smartphones and tablets will be in use by 2016 and apps in millions and their testing platforms will thrive as well.

2) Cross cloud testing:

The idea of cross cloud testing will be to standardize the data formats and communication patterns among the clouds. This will help in security of data over cloud systems and also better transmission of data without any hindrances.

3) Testing-as-a-Service:

Testing-as-a-Service (TaaS) as a service is growing at a rapid rate and for good reason too. Remember that firms are trying to save up as much cash as possible, especially in current tough times and TaaS provides them an opportunity to test their projects over a third party test environment. In essence, this helps the companies gain swift and accurate results while doing away with infrastructural costs.

4)  Business Intelligence Testing:

With a growing interest in business intelligence tools and raise in demand, you need a tool that can not only process all the data and analyze it in the shortest possible time, but needs to present clients with viable and meaningful solutions and real time results without lags and delays. This call for the fabrication of a business intelligence tool that is not just fast, but also smart and a testing process that shapes it in that fashion.

5) Crowd sourced Testing:

Since more and more software is becoming user-centric (mobile apps or web apps), they are being tested not by the hired professional but by a community of registered testers. Crowd source testing companies provide the platform for the testing cycles and using a cloud platform this method provides for cheaper, faster and far more bug-free solutions.

How social media advertising plays an important role in online business growth

Online business can be pretty arduous at times and turning it into a profitable venture actually takes some work. It is not as if you can just put together a website and it will start generating meaningful revenue from the very next day.

It takes both planned effort and smart use of all the available tools to obtain the results one wants. And the trend that is most prevalent in the past couple of years is the use of social media in the growth of businesses online.

It is not just a popular trend, but also a very sensible and apt development. When we are calling this the “age of social media” and events like the London 2012 Olympics are being called the ‘Social Olympics”, then why not embrace it for online business as well?

The fact is that most people out there already are aware of the use of social media platforms like Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter in promotion of online products and services. But it is the way that you use them in, which drives both traffic and helps up the reputation of your firm. There are ample advantages of making your presence felt on the social platform. For starters, it offers your business credibility and having a Facebook or twitter account is off late considered as must for legitimate online businesses.

Apart from the legitimacy, there is the added advantage of keeping in constant touch with consumers, talking to new potential ones and ensuring that whatever you sell online is seen and heard on a global scale. Post quality news and if possible post an update, release or any other business news on a daily basis so that you always stay relevant. Also be honest on the social platform as it is not one of the areas where you can get away with false statements. People respect honest business firms that will tell them the uncomfortable truth.

And do not for one moment believe that attaining success through social media is easy and simple. It takes dedicated and expert work and hence it is best to have a separate expert who will maintain this aspect of your online business.

Care Home sector on the up as occupancy rates raise despite economic crunch

Europe has been facing tough economic times for a while and UK has been no exception either.

The last couple of years have specially seen ‘cash crunch’ in Britain and while the current administration has touted the London 2012 Games as the small impetus needed, it seems to have done scant little for overall economic well-being of the country. And many business sectors have felt the adverse impact of these hard times, with aviation and tourism taking the biggest hits.

But it seems that the care home sector has actually rebounded in the tough times and occupancy rates are now on the up.

The nursing home sector has seen a high occupancy rate of 87.8 percent in 2011, which is a lot more than the past five years in the UK and occupancy rates have also been up in rest of Europe as well.

The margin rates in the UK care homes were also up from 30.1 percent in the previous year to 30.5 percent in 2011 and while that is only a small increase, it still is a positive trend that is predicted to continue through 2012 as well.

The fact that the market share of the nursing home has amplified is in itself a heartening trend for those observing UK’s healthcare sector. The country’s social care sector has come under particular criticism in the past few years and the government has also proposed important reforms that are all set to come into effect in the coming years.

It is despite this general air of negativity and the downward economic turn that the healthcare sector has registered growth and that might also have something to do with the number of elderly who are desperate for proper care and medical attention. Something that everyone involved must take notice of.