Get That Job! Universal Jobmatch Hints & Tips…

Posted by andysalmon on 24th February, 2015 with 0 comments

sweda work clubSEARCH TIPS:

  • Refine your search – Refine details like distance and posting date on the left hand side of the page for quality results
  • Search by postcode – Searching by postcode gives more accurate results
  • To search for a specific job title, use the ‘Job Title’ (first) box. However this will only bring up jobs with these words in the title
  • The ‘Keyword / Skills’ (middle) box can be used to search for a specific Job ID (this can be found in the web address bar at the top of the vacancy details page) or an Employer. You can also enter skills in the middle box and this will potentially provide more job matches. This is because it searches both the job title and the job description, rather than just the job title. For instance, retail jobs can be called lots of different things so entering ‘retail’ in the middle box will bring back more results
  • Qualifications (i.e. CSCS Card, 17th Edition, NVQ’s, BTEC’s, and Degrees etc) can also be entered in the ‘Keyword / Skills’ box Using a ‘+’ sign between words will tell the system to search for these words together. Using more specific searched will improve the quality of job matches. For example:- 1) full+training 2) no+experience+required 3) full+driving+licence 4) 16+hours. Alternatively this can be used the other way by using a “-“ which take key words out of a search
  • Save a search – If a previous search has been successful save it and use it again next time by clicking ‘save this search’ once the results have been displayed
  • Search ‘All Jobs’ in TTWA to improve your local labour market knowledge & set realistic job goals
  • When you start to type a job title in UJ it will suggest possible job titles you may be looking for. You do not have to select one of the suggestions
  • Recommended Jobs – these are based on the skills the in the ‘Profile’ and the system searches within 40 miles. Only the top 5 matches display on the ‘Homepage’ so to utilise this tool fully click ‘view all’ on this section and then refine the results on the left hand side of the page. Narrowing down the mileage and selecting ‘today’ will give you recommended jobs advertised that day within the local area-you can then save the search criteria to use again. Universal Jobmatch Customer Information Hints & Tips V3 05/02/2014

RECORDING JOB SEARCH:

  • Application History – Only vacancies that have the ‘one click cv submit’ (gateway) method are recorded within the ‘Application History’ tab, as these are the only one’s we know an application has definitely been submitted. Therefore all other ‘apply’ button methods must be recorded using the free text ‘My Notes’ box
  • My Notes – Just to clarify the ‘My Notes’ box, where you can record your ‘other’ jobseeking actions, is not visible to staff when accessing your records; this is because only you can write in this free text box. However any activities you have recorded will be noted under the ‘Activity History’ tab for staff to view. You should record all job searching activity (i.e. job searches on UJ and any other websites) within this section
  • Using a Smart Phone – Sometimes this will not link in to the site so your activity will not show when an adviser views your account. While Smart Phones are useful to search for work, it is impractical to use them effectively as the only means of looking and applying for work without having access to a PC

SKILLS:

  • Review your skills button – On each vacancy there is a button on the left hand side which will allow you to check the skills you have listed on UJ against the skills likely to be required for that particular vacancy. There is then a quick add button for you to tweak your skills
  • Skills – In the ‘profile’ section it is vital that you put in as many ‘skills’ as they can. For example if you are looking for factory work, put in ‘factory’, ‘assembly’, ‘production’, ‘manufacturing’, ‘warehouse’ etc. Use words you are likely to see in job adverts. It’s vital that these are spelt correctly too. Refer to the UJ Skills Analysis sheet for further skills

COOKIES:

The more the system is used the more it will learn about your preferences & return more tailored job results.  It does this by using ‘cookies’. Cookies are small text files stored on your computer. Cookies are used on websites to make websites faster and easier to use; they cannot run programs or deliver viruses to your computer. Most modern websites use cookies.

gov.uk cookies aren’t used to identify you personally. They’re just there to make the site work better for you. Indeed, you can manage and/or delete these small files as you wish;

http://www.aboutcookies.org

Complaining Customers are one of your Biggest Business Assets..!

Posted by andysalmon on 24th January, 2015 with 1 Comment

Whether it is possible to fire a client, and if so whether you should ever do it is a question that was posed on a business forum recently. I’d agree that it is possible (and indeed sometimes necessary) to fire a client however that having been said, in my experience it is critical to ensure that the client is being fired for the right reasons…

 

One mistake that businesses make far too often is to fire customers that complain to them. Why is this a mistake? It’s a mistake because if the customer is paying on time and complaining, they are actually doing you a favour by bringing to your attention flaws within your product and / or service delivery. Not only this but doing so at no cost when the alternative;  engaging the services of a consultant to undertake customer satisfaction surveys could potentially cost you thousands and not provide you with any additional insights!

 

As you would be aware it takes time and effort to call a business, wait on hold for a while until you get through to the correct person in a senior position and then to outline your complaints in a calm and reasoned manner. Much more so if the complaint is put in writing. It’s often much easier to not complain at all and to just switch to another provider and let’s face it, there is an abundance competitors out there waiting with outstretched arms to welcome your disgruntled customers.

 

Those customers that complain are letting you know why your customers that aren’t coming back are going elsewhere, thus enabling you to continually improve your product and / or service.

 

By all means go ahead and fire those bad payers and those customers who tie up a disproportionate amount of your resources based on what they are paying but whatever you do… Don’t fire those good paying complainers – they are one of your businesses best assets!

 

I’d welcome any questions or comments,

 

Andy Salmon.

F is for FINANCE…

Posted by andysalmon on 23rd December, 2014 with 0 comments

Recently I was asked the question below by someone called Sherry in an online forum and I felt that as this is a common question, it may be useful to others to post my thoughts here;

“I am seeking start up capitol to get my business up and running. All the sources I have tried say, you cannot get this capitol unless you have a history. Do you have any suggestions on how to get start up capitol?”

Looking at the way you spelt “Capitol” Sherry, I’m assuming that you’re from the USA. I am unaware of quite how things may differ between the UK and the US in this regard but here are some thoughts that you may find useful.

A lot depends on the type of business and the situation however the first step is to ensure that you have a good proposition for any prospective financier. Just a few weeks ago I was speaking to a commercial lending manager for a large bank. During our discussions he mentioned that despite the current economic climate, they are approving around 80% of good applications currently.

OK… So what is a “good” application..?
1) You absolutely need to have a business plan. Without one of these you pretty much have no chance and as first impressions count, I wouldn’t suggest trying your hand without a business plan expecting that you’ll get a second shot by producing one and making another appointment!

2) You need to be able to demonstrate a knowledge of the business (or proposed business), your target market and the industry that you will be operating in.

3) The cash… How much you need, why, how long will you need it for and what you’ll be spending it on. It is important to state quite clearly how much you actually need. For example if you ask for 100k when you actually need 150k but expect that the bank won’t go that high – the chances are that a savvy commercial lending manager will see through this, you’ll look as if you don’t have a true understanding of the finance requirements of your own business – and the answer won’t be the one you’re wanting to hear!

If you need the cash for use as working capital – ask yourself “Do I need all the money in one lump sum?” If the answer is no then you can negotiate with the lender to release it in stages provided that you meet certain pre – defined milestones. This can be a more compelling business case for the lender as their risk is reduced in this instance.

In addition;

Do you have anything that you can offer as security? This reduces the risk and makes the proposition appear more appealing.

Are you contributing any of your own funds to the venture? If so – again, this makes the proposition appear more appealing because it demonstrates your own belief in your venture in that you are prepared to put your own assets on the line.

Venture Capital – Have you approached any of these organisations? VC’s will want to acquire some equity in the venture in return for their cash (and may want to place someone on the board) however on the upside often they come with significant experience and contacts which can help to propel your business forward. They generally are less risk averse than the banks however their costs are higher. VC’s tend to want to keep the investment in the business for a relatively short time before harvest so will want to have a clear exit strategy agreed at the outset.

Another option is Business Angels. They are similar to VC’s however tend to want to assist new business ventures for more philanthropic reasons.

I’d suggest contacting an experienced business support agency in your area. They are likely to have the latest information regarding loans, matched funding for projects, grants and other funding that may be available and may also be able to assist with developing a business plan and marketing strategy if you do not already have these in place.

I wish you the very best of luck and would welcome any comments and / or questions,

Andy Salmon.

Increasing the Frequency of Customer Spend within your Business

Posted by andysalmon on 17th November, 2014 with 0 comments

Increasing_FrequencyWhile speaking with a client, I mentioned to her that it was worthwhile trying to get existing customers not only coming back into the business but doing so at more regular intervals as research has shown that it is around seven times more difficult to attract a new customer than to get an existing customer to purchase again. The client had a beauty salon and the conversation went a little like this…

Me – “So tell me, what is the most common service that the salon provides?”

Client – “That would be the cut and colour”

Me – “So how long does a cut and colour last?”

Client – “Generally about eight weeks”

Me – “OK, so when a client comes in and has her hair cut and coloured what do you do afterwards?”

Client – “Afterwards?”

Me – “Yes, what do you do afterwards?”

Client – “Well, the client pays and leaves the salon happier than when they came in”

Me – “OK, here is my suggestion… When any client comes to the salon in future be sure to take their name, address and phone number. Make a note of the details – preferrably on a CRM system but failing that, even listing them as a contact in Microsoft Outlook or something similar would do. Then to make a note to have the specific stylist who did the client’s hair call them back in six weeks time. The stylist should say something like “Hi first-name, it’s stylist-name here from salon-name. I styled your hair some weeks ago. The reason for my call is to see if you’d like to make another booking so that I can keep your hair looking great”. Once the client agrees, they can be booked in for the following week”.

The benefit… Well by doing this you can potentially to increase the frequency with which customers give you repeat business from every eight weeks to every seven weeks. To put this into some perspective, if all of your clients opt to rebook in this way it will result in an almost 20% increase in business over a 12 month period! Also – don’t forget… your clients are some of your best adverts. If you keep their hair looking great then every time they step outside you have a free, mobile billboard”.

Client – “I never thought of that, I’m onto it right now!”

You may not run a beauty salon but it doesn’t mean that this strategy can’t work for you. It can be adapted to suit many different scenarios where the client purchases a service or a buys a product that is consumed. Other examples could include a motor mechanic or perhaps an IT service business.

Feel free to comment or ask any questions.

Andy Salmon.

Should I use Social Media in my Business..?

Posted by andysalmon on 10th October, 2014 with 1 Comment

Social MediaThis question is one that I’m increasingly asked by clients. The answer tends to be “yes but…”

Social media has the potential to bring a number of benefits to a business. Some of these include;

  • Extended online footprint
  • Increased business profile
  • New revenue streams
  • Zero cost business promotion – well, not quite…

I usually advise clients that they should use social media however that they should view it as they would any other marketing activity. By this I mean that the same rules that apply to more conventional marketing activities should apply here. This being the case, the social media activities need to come under the umbrella of a comprehensive marketing strategy that aligns with the overall business objectives. Importantly, performance metrics need to be wrapped around this activity so that the effectiveness (or lack thereof) can be determined.

“But it’s free so why bother with measuring it..?”

Sure – it’s true that many forms of social media are provided at no cost. That having been said, they are not exactly free and do come at a cost. That cost is time! Whilst setting up a profile is a relatively straightforward process the time taken to develop and regularly post new content and to communicate with prospective customers can be significant. My rule here is that if you cannot commit to regularly updating your content than you would be better not to embark on a social media strategy at all because an inactive profile won’t do your business any favours. Regardless of whether you or a member of your team is responsible for providing content, it will come at an internal cost to your business.

Ultimately the cost in terms of time will need to be tracked and calculated in order to determine the true value of the activity because whilst social media can provide some real, tangible business benefits, there’s no such thing as a free lunch!

The web addresses of some common useful social media websites appear below;

www.linkedIn.com

www.facebook.com

www.twitter.com

I’d welcome any comments and / or questions,

Andy Salmon.

 

Do Startups really need an Office..?

Posted by andysalmon on 18th September, 2014 with 2 Comments

Modern_OfficeWhether or not start up and small businesses need an office is a question that I am asked by clients from time to time and recently this question was asked on an online forum. I provided some information about a couple of the factors that should be considered when making the important decision over whether or not to take the step away from working within a home environment by occupying commercial premises. I thought that it may be useful to post my response here for others to view also.

Hi David. Without knowing much about your particular situation or aspirations my best answer would be “well possibly but…”. Stick with me on this for a while and you’ll see what I’m getting at…

A lot depends on the type of business that you are involved in. For example – if you were running an estate agency it is likely that prospective customers would want to visit your office to discuss a possible sale or purchase. In this instance the absence of physical office premises could result in a negative perception of your business, the professionalism of your staff and your capacity to meet client needs. My suggestion here would be that the benefits of having an office would in all likelihood outweigh the costs.

If on the other hand you were for example running an IT consultancy business, I would expect that you would be visiting clients within their premises all of the time as there would be little benefit in undertaking off – site consultancy as you would need to physically be present at the clients site in order to undertake an analysis of their IT needs. In this instance a physical office is of less importance as you could quite conceivably work from home. A virtual office could well provide a prestigious address, call handling and mail forwarding benefits at very low cost so this could well be a viable alternative.

Thus far I have concentrated on the financial costs and benefits but when dealing with clients there often tends to be an aspirational element that goes unmentioned, the benefits of which aren’t always easy to determine. One example would be a consumer electronics retailer where the owner wanted to replace his three year old delivery vans. The existing vans were all in perfect working order however he felt that having newer vans would provide a more professional image. He could have been right however it would be difficult to wrap a set of metrics around something such as this.

Do startups really need an office?

Well possibly but..!

What do YOU think..?

Andy Salmon.

Productivity; Office workers cannot find their files…

Posted by andysalmon on 16th August, 2014 with 0 comments

Tired_WorkerOver half (58%) of British office workers have struggled to find important files or documents they thought they had saved on their work computer, according to research released recently by leading information management company Iron Mountain. With more than 60% of all company information now carried on PCs and laptops, looking for lost or deleted files is a waste of valuable staff time, a burden on IT helpdesk resources and can reduce employee morale.

The research, conducted by YouGov on behalf of Iron Mountain, supports findings by Butler Group that up to 10% of a company’s salary cost and a quarter of its staff time can be frittered away by employees looking for information. For a company with 250 employees, this means that up to 2300 working hours a week – just under two hours a day per employee – are potentially wasted, costing the business up to £700,000 a year…

“Looking for documents can be extremely frustrating for employees as well as damaging for the business,” said Richard Ellis, sales director, Iron Mountain Digital. “With more and more employees working remotely on laptops and struggling to deal with an ever-growing quantity of information, it is inevitable that documents will get lost – the consequence of a hard drive failure, the theft of a portable device or accidental deletion – resulting in anguished call to the IT department.”

“The YouGov research also showed that well-intentioned company policies on how to store and manage company information are not always getting through to the workforce,” added Ellis. “The survey revealed that around a quarter (23 percent) of office workers are unaware or not very aware of their organisation’s data management policies, leaving the company vulnerable to damaging data breaches and security infringements. Having a professional and efficient data backup solution in place for business computers means that firms can implement these policies without having to rely on individual employees.”

IT solutions exist today to safely protect and backup company information making it accessible through secure Web Portals. Such solutions have the additional benefit of taking the pressure off employees in terms of understanding and implementing the organisation’s data management policies. This offers automatic data protection enabling employees to quickly and securely move data to and from their laptops.

I’d welcome any questions and / or comments,

Andy Salmon.

You say that I need to implement SRM… Don’t you mean CRM..?

Posted by andysalmon on 1st July, 2014 with 0 comments

SRMClient – “So I should implement SRM in my business… Don’t you mean CRM?”

Me – “No, I mean SRM!”

The two lines above are part of a conversation that I had with a client recently. I thought it may be useful to post about it here…

“So I should implement SRM in my business… Don’t you mean CRM?”

Interestingly, whenever I speak to business about customer relationship management (CRM) there appears to be a clear understanding of what it is and how to go about doing it. The mention of what I term SRM however often results in the sort bewildered blank stare that says “I’m still here physically but mentally I’m in a warm and cosy place somewhere far, far away!”

So what is SRM and why is it important..?

Basically I consider SRM to be the management of the relationship between your business and your suppliers (Supplier Relationship Management). From my perspective, managing this aspect of the business is as important as managing any other aspect as the results can have a direct effect on the bottom line. An example of how using SRM can be of real benefit to your business appears below;

I have worked with clients that have a high ratio of suppliers to the number of products that they buy in. One of the common reasons for doing this, especially in small businesses is that the owners are always chasing the cheapest price for components so spend time shopping around on an almost daily basis trying to save a few pounds on every transaction. Wanting to save money on every transaction demonstrates good business acumen however the costs of this practice can potentially far outweigh any possible benefits. Let me explain further…

Whilst the businesses total spend may be significant, the amount being spread between each supplier remains relatively small. This can result in;

  • No real buying power with any supplier
  • An almost non – existent dispute resolution framework with any supplier
  • An overall relatively high supplier administrative overhead

When working with clients I discuss this in detail and outline a plan aimed at bringing about much more favourable condition. Having followed up with clients a few months afterwards, those that have taken my recommendations onboard report seeing the benefits, some of which may include;

  • Better buying power
  • Better communication
  • Improved credit terms
  • Swift dispute resolution
  • Co-operative marketing
  • Authorised repairer status
  • Invitations to new product launches
  • Reduced administrative overhead

Do you have many suppliers? Are you duplicating these and chasing the best possible price for each item of inventory? Could you substitute a particular inventory line for another? Do you continue to use underperforming suppliers?

If the answer to any of the above questions is yes then it may be time to review the relationships with your suppliers and commit to working more closely with some – and perhaps not at all with others.

I would welcome any comments or questions,

Andy Salmon

Sell What your Customers want to Buy..!

Posted by andysalmon on 29th June, 2014 with 0 comments

When undertaking a business diagnostic with clients, one aspect of our discussion centres around the products and / or services being offered. Quite often I find that the decision about what products and services to offer was originally based solely on what the client wanted to sell into the market. The problem here is that making such a decision in the absence of hard data can present some very real risks to the business in that the offering may not align with what prospective customers actually want.

My suggestion is always that my clients undertake regular research into the market, not just when they start the business but periodically thereafter because what a customer wants today is not necessarily the same product or service that the customer will want in the future. When making decisions about the business offering, having access to accurate customer information is one of your best assets so;

DO the research
ANALYSE the data
ACT on the information
DEVELOP products and / or services that remain aligned with customer needs

Do yourself a favour. Don’t try to sell what you want to sell. Make it easy on your business by selling what your customers want to buy!

I would welcome your questions and / or comments,

Andy Salmon.

Do you really need more Sales or just more PROFIT..?

Posted by andysalmon on 3rd May, 2014 with 0 comments

When meeting with prospective new clients for the first time and discussing their business, the phrase “I really need more sales” is one that I hear frequently from business owners. From my experience however, the need for more sales is often a symptom of issues elsewhere within the business. Most often upon analysis it is determined that what’s actually required isn’t more sales per se but in fact more profit.

More sales do not necessarily equal more profit!

Let’s look at a real world example of this…

An IT support company has forty contracted clients and four technical personnel. Each technician can comfortably support ten clients (allowing for holidays, absences etc). Let’s imagine for a moment that they obtain one new client. They then have to recruit and employ a new technician, with all the upfront and ongoing costs that this entails. This increases their turnover but at the same time reduces their technical staff utilization therefore reducing profitability…

I’m certainly not suggesting that increased sales is a bad thing, simply that rather than focusing solely on increasing sales volumes, some effort should be expended in developing new strategies to increase profitability.

If you would like to learn more about how to increase profitability, we would be delighted to meet you for a no obligation discussion.

I would welcome your questions / comments,

Andy Salmon.