How Flexible Financing Can Drive Growth for SMEs

SMEs are the lifeblood of the European economy. According to advisory group, Interreg Europe, they represent 99% of all businesses and two-thirds of all private sector jobs in the EU, while according to the European Investment Fund’s SME Access to Finance Index: “together, SMEs produce more than half of value added in the EU.”

That is why the success of SMEs is so crucial to the overall health of the European business landscape. Yet, far too often lack of easy access to finance threatens their prospects. Starved of the flexible funding they require, many small businesses struggle to survive, while others find growth opportunities severely restricted.

At Capital on Tap, we have seen at first hand the challenges UK SMEs face. There is often a sense that retail banks don’t speak their language or prioritise their needs. These banks certainly struggle to come up with finance offers that really work for SMEs, mainly because it is hard for them to make the economics work for a small loan.

“We continue to see small businesses being underserved by retail banks and we are trying to solve that issue not only in the UK but now also across the rest of Europe.”

That’s where we believe we can step into the breach. Our automated technology platform can run with minimal costs, meaning that we are able to provide start-up enterprises with loans of as little as £25,000 – and, critically too, we put SMEs front and centre of our whole approach.

The online application process is straightforward, with 97% of customers getting an instant credit decision. SME customers pay no interest on card purchases if they pay off their balance in full every month. Otherwise, they only pay interest on the funds they use. As well as having no monthly or annual fees, they also benefit from having no ATM charges or foreign transaction (FX) fees to worry about.

Since launch, we have provided £500 million worth of funding to 40,000 businesses across the UK. That’s why, while continuing to focus on the UK, we are now looking to also branch out into the wider European marketplace.

“Businesses have loved that our platform was simple and easy, and demand has matched what we have seen so far in the UK.”

It’s clear that SMEs across Europe face many of the same concerns that they do in the UK but generally there are even fewer funding options for smaller businesses in other European countries than there are in the UK.

We have tested our platform in five different European countries already – and have had an incredible response in each. Businesses have loved that our platform was simple and easy, and demand has matched what we have seen so far in the UK. It’s a positive sign.

We continue to see small businesses being underserved by retail banks and we are trying to solve that issue not only in the UK but now also across the rest of Europe. Flexible funding really can provide the answer here. Simply: businesses can go from having no options to having a fantastic option for growth.

– David Luck, CEO, Capital on Tap

Getting to know our customers: BrewByNumbers

Tom Hutchings (co-founder of Brew By Numbers) recently welcomed the Capital on Tap team to their brewery for a tour (and a few drinks!). Here’s what happened…

Brew By Numbers’ story:

The business was founded in February 2012 after Tom Hutchings and Dave Seymour met whilst on a climbing tour of S.E Asia. Since its establishment the business has grown rapidly from starting in a basement Tom rented off a friend’s near Borough Market and has since moved to its current home in Bermondsey’s Rail Bridge Arches. What started as one experimental brew has now evolved into 310 varieties and counting!

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What makes Brew By Numbers stand out?

Using a numbering system is what differentiates the business from their competitors; each beer is identified by a unique four digit number. The first two digits denote the style of the beer and the last two denote the recipe. In addition to this, Dave and Tom’s passion is the force behind BBNo’s mission; to only release beers that are of high standard, balanced and drinkable.

Our visit:

Tom explained to us how he and Dave have grown their dream and gave us an overview of the plant from the brewing process to packaging and storage. He also explained how the facility we offer has been useful in aiding this growth. Many small businesses find themselves short of cash flow in the window between paying suppliers and being paid by clients. Capital on Tap’s revolving credit facility aims to seamlessly fill this gap. We ended the afternoon tasting three of the different brews paired with locally sourced cheese, meats and bread. Cheers Tom!

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Find out more about Brew By Numbers by visiting their website: http://www.brewbynumbers.com/

Fix your business’ credit control today

Help small businesses thrive. That’s our mantra here at Capital on Tap, and it’s driven our offering since day one. We were recently chatting to our friends at Chaser, the cloud credit control software, about 6 options you have when your business needs an urgent cash flow boost. They ended up giving us some fantastic insight into the mistakes many small businesses make with their credit control function, inhibiting their cash flow. As cash flow is the lifeblood of a business, we asked them how small businesses can most effectively combat these mistakes and establish a world-class credit control function.

Here are the 3 things your business needs to do today to fix its credit control function and get invoices paid on time.

1. Knowledge is power. Arm yourself.

If your business sells on payment terms, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming each of your customers operates the same way. Avoid setting yourself up for excuses and late payments by asking these 4 questions every time you supply a new customer:

  • What information do you need to make payment? (Although your invoice should already include the following: payment details, accepted payment methods, payment terms, invoice date, your VAT or sales tax number, and the correct description and cost of the goods/services)
  • Does this purchase require you to approve a purchase order? (And if so, when will it be approved? Plus don’t forget to include the PO number on the invoice)
  • Who is responsible for making payment on this invoice? (And how do I contact them?)
  • When do you make your payment runs?

Armed with this information, you won’t be blindsided by your customer with excuses about not following procedure. They’ll be forced to justify the unjustifiable – why they haven’t paid you on time when you’ve done everything correctly.

2. Polite persistence pays. Chase consistently.

“Polite persistence pays” is a motto of Chaser’s, and it’s an incredibly effective philosophy to follow when conducting credit control. Chaser have seen that almost 80% of invoices can be collected on time through email chasing alone. Here’s what you need to be doing to maximise your effectiveness of email chasing.

Every email chaser you send needs the following information to be effective:

  • Your business name
  • Invoice reference number
  • Amount owed on the invoice
  • Payment due date
  • Number of overdue days (if invoice is overdue)
  • And always attach a copy invoice

In providing this info, you eliminate any chance of the customer using the excuse that you haven’t provided enough info for them to make payment.

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It’s important, however, that your email chasers always remain polite and are sent often enough to keep you front of mind in your customer, but without harassing them. To achieve this, a good rule of thumb is never chase more than once a week or less than once a fortnight. Armed with the knowledge you acquired earlier, send your chasers to the person responsible for making payment on the invoice, and consider timing these chasers with when the customer makes their payment runs for maximum chance of getting paid quickly.

While email is a very effective medium for chasing up unpaid invoices, don’t forget the phone. Especially if your customer is slow to respond or sends vague and unclear replies. A rule of thumb from the Chaser team is to make a call after every third email chaser.

And finally, once payment is received on the invoice, whether it was on time or not, always thank your customer for paying. You’ll positively enhance the relationship with your customer and help encourage timely payment in future. Just a quick one-sentence email is enough, but make sure you do it within the 24 hours after receiving payment for maximum effect.

3. Maintain your invoice communications history neatly.

While the above advice can work wonders on the efficacy of your credit control function, it can be undermined by the lack of a single source of truth. Without consolidated and well-maintained invoice communications histories, a world-class credit control function crumbles. Scrambling through sent emails, multiple inboxes, or notes scrawled on the back of an envelope are all unnecessary risks and time-wasters from the credit control of the past. If your business still manages its credit control function this way, it could easily be racking up hours wasted every week. Not to mention operating with the unnecessary risk of missing key info when it isn’t consolidated into one location.

Whenever you’re conducting credit control with an incomplete picture of the situation, you’re inviting your customers to delay payment. You also risk damaging your business’ reputation by providing conflicting info, having to backtrack on something you mistakenly said earlier, or simply creating the image of a “pushover” company.

Keep a centralised log of all chasers sent, replies received, phone calls taken, and notes made. Make sure it is easily navigated and searchable by customer, invoice, and date. This will not only save your business a world of time, it will empower you to deliver world-class credit control and get your invoices paid on time.

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Chaser is cloud credit control software to get your invoices paid on time, in less time. Their average customer saves 7.3 hours a week on credit control, and boosts their cash flow by £4,400 per £100,000 of turnover. Check out how their product can help your business today.

Customer Success Story: Partners Pets Supermarkets

We do love our pets at Capital on Tap – there is always at least one four-legged pal running around  the office and we just completed a charity shuffleboard tournament where all proceeds went to the local shelter – so we could not miss the opportunity to shine the light on a business that lives and breathes pets at any time: Partners Pets Supermarkets!

Partner Pets Supermarket, a family run business for the past 25 years, is situated in St Alban and boasts over 10,000 pets’ products available in-store and their own food brand Enve online. Their mission statement is simple yet commendable: they are run by pet lovers for pet lovers and focus on responsible pet ownership and care. Director Ross Bygrave explains, “Our staff are highly trained in pets’ nutrition and we have a unique Traffic Light system in store to guide our customers to make a better choice for their furry kids”.

All pets’ needs are catered for at Partners Pets Supermarkets, with great selections of accessories and balanced, healthy and yummy foods. Ross continues, “We stock one of the biggest ranges of RAW food in the UK and strive to improve pets’ health through stocking natural healthy diets, together with top tips from our staff”.

Ross was looking for a reliable source of business banking and quickly became disillusioned with the help offered by traditional high street banks. He remembers, “We were sick of how unhelpful banks were, and of jumping through so many hoops to obtain something as simple as an overdraft extension or a credit card – too many forms and longwinded bureaucracy”.

Ross applied for a Capital on Tap through our one-page eligibility checker and received a credit decision shortly after, with no need for any proof of address or bank details. When asked about what the hassle-free application process meant for him and his business, he explains: “Us hard working business owners have been suffering at the hands of the banks for years now, but thankfully there are still places like Capital on Tap that think outside of the box and keep things simple”.

His Capital on Tap account, paired with the Capital on Tap Business Mastercard, have proven an efficient asset to the way he runs his business. The flexibility of how the available credit can be accessed means that he has been able to use his account for most business expenses: “The Mastercard helps with cashflow in difficult weeks as retail is a tough game these days, and it has been a great help when a new supplier requires a full payment for a first order. And then there is the added benefit of being able to transfer funds directly into our bank account for the suppliers that still won’t accept cards in this day and age”.

Partners Pet Supermarkets have a lot to look forward to in the next few months. Their own dog food brand Enve has already become their biggest selling dry food range and has countless benefits for pets and their owners: “Enve is a good grain free food at a great price and comes with loyalty offer online”, Ross explains. The future of the brand is not solely about sales either, as Partners vows to “keep converting and educating people that there are far better options than the big famous brands for your beloved pets”.

To find out more about Partner Pets Supermarket: partnerspets.com
And to discover the benefits of Enve: envedogfood.com

Customer Success Story: JL UK Freelance LTD

Today, Capital on Tap sits with the director of JL UK Freelance LTD, Jason Manley. Jason talks to us about his career within the coach travel industry, what makes his company stand out and why he considers Capital on Tap an asset to his business.

What is the origin story of JL UK Freelance LTD?

I have been associated with the coach travel industry in various roles for 25 years. My first passenger paying job was taking primary school children in south Shropshire to a swimming lesson in Shrewsbury. It was in an old Bedford coach that only had about five dashboard switches and struggled to keep up with push bikes on any kind of hill. I now regularly drive executive tour coaches for my clients, that are in excess of £300,000 in value, almost but not quite drive themselves and also comment on the quality of my driving via dashboard messages during the journey.

Over the years, I have driven all sorts of passengers to numerous destinations. But the work where I find the greatest satisfaction, is taking groups of more elderly passengers who need care and looking after on holiday to UK and Ireland destinations. There is currently a shortage of drivers in the UK who do this type of work and this has given me the opportunity to work with a client base of quality coach operators to deliver a professional service to them and their passengers on a freelance basis.

What makes your business stand out?

That is an easy question to answer – I don’t just drive coaches – I create great holiday memories for people who have saved hard all year for the week they spend with me. Driving the coach is just a part of that – although I pride myself in doing it exceptionally well!

I am developing a reputation which is organically growing and is based on forward planning, research of itineraries, exceptional customer service and the ability to be a driver, tour guide, in-resort representative and hot chocolate maker – all wrapped up in one.

How did you come across Capital on Tap?

A successful business is one which not only delivers a quality product, but which also has the foundation of a well-planned and managed strategy and back office operation. Part of that is managing finances well and ensuring that your business finance products are fit for purpose and separate from personal finances.

I needed a business card option to manage cash flow and also for unexpected eventualities. A search of the market led me to Capital on Tap. All the information online was quick and easy to understand. My application was answered very quickly and the process was efficient, effective, open and quick.

I would recommend Capital on Tap without hesitation as a financial partner to any business. I do feel the support is there if I need to contact the company. There are no fees if the balance is paid in full and if you do want to take advantage of a longer credit period, all the costs are clear, fair and easy to understand.

How does your Capital on Tap account benefit your business?

One recent example was during a recent breakdown. Coach breakdowns do happen from time to time and waiting for assistance or alternative transport can be a challenging time for the driver when you have 50 people to look after.

My Capital on Tap Business Mastercard enabled me to assist the operator I was working for by instantly paying for a warm meeting room and buffet lunch for elderly passengers who were delayed whilst he focused on the mechanical support arriving. Capital on Tap really did save the day and keep 50 elderly passengers safe, warm and comfortable!

What’s next for JL UK Freelance LTD?

The core values I uphold are paying off and I need a twin to join the business as I cannot be in two places at once and I don’t like to disappoint when people are requesting the service. The search is on to find someone who will add value to my business and compliment my efforts. When I find them, they are going to need their own Capital on Tap Mastercard!

 Find out more about Jason and his business:
https://www.facebook.com/pg/jlukfreelance/about/
http://jlukfreelance.business.site

To open a Capital on Tap account for your business, check your eligibility today with our 2-minute application form: Check your eligibility

Holiday pain points for SMEs: Avoiding a winter of discontent

Although many around the country are ready to welcome the holiday seasons with open arms (who does not spend most of the year waiting to roast chestnuts on an open fire?), the lead up to Christmas can leave a different taste in the mouths of small business owners, closer to what we imagine expired eggnog to taste like. Today we look at 3 pain points that mean winter may not always be the season to be jolly when running an SME, and attempt to offer a solution to each.

1-The Ghost of Christmas Past:  Supplier deliveries

Most of us are guilty of the same thing during the holidays: overbuying everything. Whilst it is undoubtedly great for the economy, stock disappearing too rapidly off the shelves will be sure to cause some panic for disappointed customers and unprepared owners alike.

The simple solution would seem to be to order more stock than usual well ahead of the seasonal rush, but if things were that simple then there would have been no reason to write this piece. There are many reasons why ordering a lot of stock in advance isn’t the answer: short shelf life items would go to waste, small businesses may not have sufficient storage room, budgets might not have taken into account such an increase in stock orders, etc.

In order to avoid cold sweats during the chillier months of the year, it is advised to contact your suppliers to enquire about their orders and deliveries pattern changes during the holiday season. Stock up on the most popular items based on your storage capacity and previous year’s sales, and take into account that scheduled deliveries may be affected by poor weather conditions.

2- The Ghost of Christmas Present: Staff

As anyone who’s seen a good Christmas movie knows, the holidays are a great reason to spend time with your family. Unfortunately, that means that most workers will prefer to spend time away from the workplace between Christmas and the New Year, and managing everyone’s availability whilst ensuring there is enough cover to assure as good a service as always will start the drama season (its official closing ceremony being the annual Christmas party).

Here again, preparing in advance is key: set an early deadline for leave requests, and use a Scheduling / HR program to allocate hours to staff and prevent brain freezes trying to solve that puzzle yourself. Once your schedule is ready, introduce it to your teams as early as possible to ensure everyone knows what is expected of them. Remember to anticipate potential lateness and sickness due to our Great British weather too: communicate clear guidelines to be sure to have sufficient time to arrange for cover.

Seasonal staff is also a possibility during the period, but ensure you employ committed and trained individuals to upkeep the reputation of your business whilst your usual employees are away.

3- The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come: Cashflow

Securing cashflow is not the easiest of tasks for most of the year, but it is especially true at Christmas: stock ordering, decorations, bonuses and other seasonal expenses (such as higher energy bills) are sure to put some pressure on your balance sheet at the end of the calendar year.

This is where your Capital on Tap account can make all the difference, as you can access extra cashflow as and when required. You can either elect to draw down funds directly into your business bank account 24/7 via your online portal or use funds on the go with the Capital on Tap Business MasterCard at millions of retailers worldwide, online and over the phone. And with card purchases remaining at 0% interest for up to 37 days when you pay your balance off in full each month, Christmas expenses can be dealt with in the new year!

 

The holiday season can prove to be stress-inducing for many of us, but with a little bit of preparation and a dedicated source of business finance ready to help UK SMEs, this Christmas might well be a holly, jolly affair after all. If you would like to check your eligibility for a Capital on Tap account, simply fill in our 2-minute application form today: Check your eligibility

Customer success story: Wedding Rings Direct

When it comes to wedding rings, Anthony and the entire team at Wedding Rings Direct have developed an impressive expertise to ensure no customer is left unsatisfied. Today, we take a look at their story to success, and how their Capital on Tap account has helped ensuring the company remains a leader in its field.

After many years selling jewellery in the Brighton Lanes, Anthony decided to open his own wedding ring business with a clear and concise business plan in mind: he wanted to offer customers the widest possible selection of wedding and engagement rings at the lowest possible price. All rings are produced within their own workshop and sold exclusively on the Wedding Rings Direct website or from within the company’s Brighton based show-room. Anthony explains, “We stock over 5,000 wedding rings in 56 different finger sizes, 13 different widths, and in 18 different metals.” It is safe to assume anyone would be able to find the ring of their dreams from this vast selection, especially with several customisation choices such as “designs, colours, patterns, including diamond-set or just plain polished.”

Just like the rings they sell, everything about Wedding Rings Direct has a feeling of uniqueness to it. The business stands out due to their pricing, huge selection and 5-star rated approach to customer service. The level of service offered by Anthony and his team is truly astonishing: they understand the importance of getting each and every ring just right and offer their expertise at every step of the way to make sure every customer is satisfied. The Wedding Rings Direct Buying Guide offers descriptions of styles, and metals, but also provides helpful explanations of sizes, ring profiles, diamonds and engravings.

The customer support far from ends there, with the provision of a sample service designed to help customers make the right choice. Shoppers can simply order a few samples and try them on at home for a week – simple and efficient, this service means that the ring can be tried on at different times of the day to cater for finger size changes based on climates and day times!

Back in 2013, Anthony’s high street bank had lost some of its efficiency in supporting his business finance requirements. He explains, “Our bank was going through the last financial crisis and was not helpful in providing any loans or overdrafts”. Enters Capital on Tap, which back then specialised in short-term business overdrafts. Customers could simply login online, select the desired amount to borrow for a certain amount of weeks and their repayments were spread out each week for the chosen duration.

The Capital on Tap offer has evolved over the years, and Wedding Rings Direct adopted each change with open arms, from monthly repayments to obtaining the Capital on Tap Mastercard: “Capital on Tap is 100% reliable and has constantly improved its fintech offering, as a result of which we always know what finance we can have at any time just by logging into our account.”

When evaluating the funding options for Wedding Rings Direct, Anthony needed a solution that would be economically viable, but also fast – funds needed to be available when required, and with such a dedication to efficiency and customer service, speed can make all the difference. Again, Capital on Tap managed to meet the business’ expectations: “The whole transaction takes about 30 seconds between the drawdown request and the text to advise the money is on its way – there is rarely any need to speak to anybody about our account, so our time is not wasted in a call waiting queue!”

The next big project for Wedding Rings Direct is to expand their overseas market through 5 bespoke overseas websites. UK customers can also look forward to a brand new range of personalised gifts, which will then be launched internationally a little later on!

If you cannot wait to find out more about Wedding Rings Direct, or would like to get in touch with them, here are some useful links to their websites and social media pages:

 

https://www.facebook.com/WeddingRingsDirect

https://www.weddingrings-direct.com/blog

https://twitter.com/_Wedding_Rings_

https://www.weddingrings-direct.com/

https://www.kodega.com/

https://www.kodega.de/

If like Anthony you are looking to join the community of business owners using their Capital on Tap account to grow their business, check your eligibility today! There are no monthly or yearly fees, and applying has no effect on your credit score.

Apply Now

Customer success story: Colebrooks of Bournemouth Limited

Some people head out to Bournemouth to enjoy the pier, or tentatively dip their toes in the water, but others have been known to make the trip to collect a car from the team at independent car dealership Colebrooks of Bournemouth Limited. Finding the car of your dreams at an affordable price is rarely an easy task and the team behind  Colebrooks of Bournemouth Limited have spent the last few years understanding each customer’s needs and expectations to match them with the perfect car.

Nicholas, the director of the business, explains that their company achieves excellence in service and stands out because of their dedication and hard work: “We put a lot of effort into growing the company, resulting in going from a sole trading business into a limited company in only a few years with a team of 4.”

The company specialises in selling cars at affordable prices, ranging from under £1,000 to £10,000, which can all be viewed online alongside vital details for each model. Customers can also visit the Bournemouth showroom with their used car and get an instant valuation and a cash offer on the same day, taking the hassle and delays out of the car selling experience.

Although Nicholas was not actively looking for finance at the time, he stumbled across a letter from Capital on Tap sent to the company and decided to look into the offering a bit more through a basic google search. Browsing through the Capital on Tap website, he started to realise that this could be a valuable service for his business, as it was not as restrictive as other regular business loans: “The idea of using it only if and when needed sounded great, so I gave it a go and made an application.”

Nicholas submitted his application on the Capital on Tap website at 09:50 on a Sunday morning and had received his approval at 09:52. Within a few more minutes, his Capital on Tap card was ready to be sent out on Monday morning and Nicholas was exploring the dashboard on his online account: “The dashboard is so easy to use, I know exactly what goes on with my account!”.

Within a month, Nicholas’s account was reviewed and his limit and star rating were both increased, meaning the business had access to even more cashflow at a lesser cost. He explains, “Capital on Tap gave me another source of funding when needed, it is handy to have on the side for any unexpected overheads.” The simplicity of the service and 24/7 access to his online account are only a couple of the factors that led Nicholas to trust Capital on Tap as a business partner: “Capital on Tap is a good business to work with because they are flexible and let you pay back early if you wish to, compared to inflexible ordinary business loans”.

With his newly obtained extra cashflow, Nicholas is already planning on the next big steps for Colebrooks of Bournemouth Limited: “What’s next for us as a business is bigger stock, a bigger variety of cars and hopefully a mechanics workshop!”

If you would like to find out more about Colebrooks of Bournemouth Limited, why not visit their website and look out for your next car? Head to www.colebrooksltd.co.uk today to view all cars available.

If like Nicholas you are looking to join the fast lane without any of the roadblocks found with high street banking, check your eligibility on Capital on Tap. With no impact on your credit score, no monthly or annual fees, you may have just reached your destination!

Apply Now

Taking your business social – pros and cons of the social media revolution

Social media revolutionised the way people interact with each other when it first emerged, and its strategies quickly enticed businesses in creating accounts to not only promote their companies but also sell to a brand new audience.

Nowadays, many businesses operate online without requiring their own website thanks to their social media accounts, eliminating costs and maintenance while gaining access to a community of now 2 billion active users on Facebook only! Your social media accounts can provide any information your customers may search online, such as your opening hours, trading addresses and contact details – but certain features make them almost more appealing than owning your website!

 

  • Low Maintenance

Creating, maintaining and updating your website not only requires a certain level of IT knowledge, it also requires time, money and resources. Social media accounts can be updated within minutes, with new content uploaded through a new tweet, a new status or a new post. You can easily update your profile picture and description, amend your opening hours in a couple of clicks and add new articles within seconds for the world to see.

While this is great and accessible to virtually anyone with basic computer skills, social media accounts can be somewhat limiting when attempting to represent your brand online as they tend to stick to the same model for all pages. If your company is usually represented by a specific set of colours, you probably will have to make do with showing them in your profile picture rather than customise the entire page in your suits. This means that the one defining factor to set your account apart from your competitors’ will be in the quality of the content you upload rather than in your design efforts.

 

  • Instant Communication with your Customers

It has never been easier for your customers to get in touch with you and your team than it has become in the age of social communities. Customers can share their feedback with you and other customers on your social media account or ask you questions about your services or particular products. The communication also goes the other way around: you can instantly share great news about your business, new lines or ask your customers’ opinions within seconds and reach all of them at the same time!

We have now entered a new age where customers expect to be listened to and responded to through social media, and the future holds some incredible tools sure to revolutionise this new relationship even further with the introduction of chatbots, smart buttons and virtual reality. There are downfalls to this too: you are not always in control of what others can post to your accounts, and negative feedback and comments could really hurt your business if you do not act quickly and appropriately. Ensure you respond to complaints, report any use of bad language and block users that have never traded with you but seem to have a personal vendetta against your business (more commonly referred to as “trolls”).

You can decide to disable any comments, reviews or posts from other users to your page if the idea of having very little control gives you cold sweat, although this could give the wrong idea to customers as it severs the inherently social aspect of your social media accounts. Moreover, protecting your social media pages will not prevent feedback, comments and posts on other pages you do not own, which could be even harder for you to act upon.

 

  • A Worldwide Audience

As stated above, there are now 2 billion active Facebook users, making it the most popular social platform today. This gives you an incredible, never-before-seen, always expanding contact list. Viral posts – where a photo, video or article is seen across the globe by millions of people in a very short period of time – have changed the way information spreads from one person to the other. If your business comes with great ideas, products or services,  a clever tweet, Instagram picture or status update could reach customers in places you may not have had the chance to explore before the invention of social media! Next time you browse on social media, just look out for what other businesses post on their accounts and the amount of “likes” and “views” they have amassed – this could be a great place to start to get inspiration for your own viral post.

You can add quick “call to action” buttons on your profiles, such as an “Email us” or “Call” button. These have become essential now that most social media platforms are accessed through our smartphones, as it enhances the customer experience and gives the entire interaction process a smooth and painless flow.

 

Social media has changed the way we do business and, perhaps more importantly, the way we are expected to do business. Although the idea of having your business talked about around the world 24/7 can either sound enticing or keep you up at night in fear, it is virtually inevitable that someone somewhere will be mentioning your company on a social media platform. Posting regular and relevant content will ensure that your social business profile is respected, and chances are the more you interact with your customers the more your customers will want to interact with you. Social media can be a great platform for marketing, selling and ensuring your customers are satisfied – Why not share the love and like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and check out our Instagram?

 

 

 

 

Website 101: 3 tips for an efficient website

The first website in history dates back to 1991 and was a single page offering more information about an exciting new project, which we now simply refer to as the world wide web. With now over 1 billion websites, the internet offers almost everything one needs, and it is hard to think of its popularity ever decreasing. It has already replaced many services such as phone books and maps, and finds ways to revolutionise most sectors every day. Here are Web Designer Hui’s top tips when creating a website for your business:

  • Know your audience

Although your website is about your business and what you do, you must remember who it is designed for – your customers. The key in creating a customer centric website is to get to know your customer profiles. Who buys your products, or who purchases your services? What do they like to do in their free time, what kind of content do they prefer, what devices do they use to surf the web? You may already have some of the answers, but a great way to know more about your customers is to simply ask them. You could send out online surveys, or get feedback through your existing website or on your Facebook page, or ask them questions while they visit your physical business. Once you know who your audience is, you can tailor your online content to fit their profile as much as possible: younger audiences will most likely avoid long articles, but they’ll probably watch a quick video instead for example.

  • Keep it simple

When it comes to choosing a design for your website, the options are endless. You can create animations that pop up when clicking on a link, disappearing boxes, change the size of an image or text based on where the user points their mouse to and so on. On paper, it sounds like a great idea to generate visits based on the originality of your website. In practice, however, simpler may be better. Hui explains: “Make it as straightforward as possible for your visitor to get the information they came for, or to buy the product they want “. User experience is vital to get your customers to come back, and if your site is packed with long animations, as good as it may look it has the potential to slow down your customers’ experience, giving them the chance to search elsewhere on the web for the same information or a similar product. Too complex a website could also mean it requires a lot more maintenance, which brings us to Hui’s next tip.

  • Update it as often as required

Companies evolve with time, products get upgraded, services get tweaked and stock changes regularly – your website is no different. To keep visitors coming back to your website on a regular basis, update the content as you make changes within your business. Create new content to offer your customers new articles to read, new videos to watch and pictures of your new products. Don’t forget to remove anything that is no longer relevant to your business from your website, including any changes in opening hours or contact details! A simpler design will not only enable you to make those changes rapidly and at a minor cost, it can also let you modify the look of the entire site – if you ever grow tired of the layout of your website, your customers probably do too! Remember to keep the layout consistent between pages – Hui says: “Think of it as a publication or magazine: articles, pictures and adverts are placed strategically to make the reading experience as efficient as possible. Your website should be structured in the same manner”.

Hui stresses that the most important tip to bear in mind when it comes to your company’s website is to “test and learn”. Your website is a great platform to trial new ideas and get immediate responses, be it via feedback or by analysing the visits trends. If one of your ideas doesn’t work as much as you would have liked, simply remove it from your website and replace it with something new. If visits increase, you’ll know you are on the right track.

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