Essex lion? You sure that’s what you should be worried about…?!

Forget rampaging lions…..recession hit Britain has an even bigger problem in it’s midst. The current economic climate has seen life for the rat dramatically improve, gangs of ‘ASBO’ rats are known to be terrorising neighbourhoods, rummaging through uncollected rubbish, munching their way through the food we leave out for the wildlife we actively like to encourage into our suburban gardens….unfinished buildings and closed down shops in our towns just some of the places where they have been setting up home and with budget strapped councils having less money available to kill them, life for the rat is sweet 🙂

What is it about the little blighters that they feel the need to gnaw through EVERYTHING??! I’d sooner get my teeth stuck into a decent bar of chocolate, but hey, maybe that’s just me…! A significant problem is the increase in cable damage as the rat and squirrel population has gone into overdrive.

As we expand and improve our infrastructure to keep up with the latest technology, there is a lot more cable around for them to sink their teeth into, potentially causing damage to your business through loss of communication…..but fear not! help is at hand 🙂 if you’re concerned about the condition of your cabling, not necessarily just because you think rodents have been having a good old munch….call in the professionals, we can’t kill your rats but can assist with all areas of cabling 🙂 

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Customer Call Buttons make a Fitting Customer Service !

It’s not very often that I get the opportunity to venture outside of the offices of ACCL, so I struggled to contain my excitement as Sally and I were allowed out for a ‘jolly’ to Stratford’s Westfield Shopping Centre for a training session on the latest retail advancement.

Call Button Technology, the most exciting thing to happen in retail since the invention of, well, shops! I’ve already blogged about my negative changing room experiences of times past but things are changing and this is where the future gets totes exciting!

Alert Technologies, a well established customer service company in the States were looking to bring their Call Button Technology product to Europe and found the perfect UK partner to promote and install it, yep, us!  Tried and tested in the US, it is now (finally) over here!

Taking Customer Service to a whole new level and giving control back to the customer, music to my ears!  The system works by you, the customer, pressing a call button from inside the fitting room, this alerts an assistant via a radio attached to an ear piece that you require help, the benefits here being that you do not need to open the door and indecently expose yourself.

Nor do you have to experience that annoying knock on the door or tug on the curtain when the eager assistant asks if you need help before you’ve even had chance to take your coat off!  No more do you have to wriggle in and out of clothes in a damp frenzied panic when you need an alternative size or fit, simply press the button and summon your own personal shopper.  Sold on the concept yet?

What was great about attending the training, apart from seeing the product in action, was seeing the buzz amongst the staff who were getting ready to use the system, the excitement at being able to give great customer service was tangible.  This system helps optimize a sales assistant’s job satisfaction by making them more flexible in their service to customers.  From their point of view they want to assist customers and don’t really want to be a nuisance so by being available to the customer when they call makes perfect sense.

We all know that customer loyalty comes with great customer service.  No need to be a rocket scientist to work that out! Retailers of the world need to take note, with most buying decisions being made in the fitting room, it pays to get this area right, we are entering a shopping revolution.  The customers are fighting back, taking control and demanding a better service.  Don’t let them get it from the internet!  Install call buttons in your fitting rooms and provide them with a service that the internet just can’t provide!

Popcorn anyone…..??

Do you ever, like me, think how great it would be, if at the end of a stressful working week you could come home to a state of the art home cinema to chillax with your family and friends?? It’s not as indulgent as it sounds, and not necessarily something you can only afford after a lottery win or a successful flutter on the horses….! It is a project that can be achieved on a relatively modest budget.

Obviously, undertaking a project like this will need some careful planning, let’s face it, if you’re going to invest you’ll want to get it right! All too often people find that they have wasted money on a system that isn’t what they expected, by which time it’s too late to get your money back! You need to put in the research to ensure you get what’s right for you and your home, or else you can call on an experienced company like ACCL who have the expertise to assist you in obtaining your dream from planning to installation to ensure that you get the maximum from your investment. Firstly, you will need to decide on where you’re going to put it!……your living room?….or what about the garage? you know, the space where you should put the car but more often than not becomes a dumping ground…..?!! It’s actually easier and cheaper than you think to convert the space.

What is it that you want to achieve? What’s your budget? and what is best suited to the space you have available? We can help with all this…. Ultimately you want the best cinema experience, with the best possible sound and vision in a space that still looks like home! Seating and mood lighting also figure in getting everything perfect, and, let’s face it, it needs to be easy to use….! We believe that everything should be accessible from one simple to use remote or touch screen control, no hunting down the back of the sofa for that one elusive remote…..! the installation should also be discreet and securely stored away. Cable management is important, with cables being run ensuring there are no kinks or bends which would interfere with the sound/visual quality, not on view but easily accessible should the need arise.

Something you’re interested in? Why not check out our website for a comprehensive look at our services and see if we can help http://www.network-data-cabling.co.uk/residential/home-automation-installers or call us free for a no obligation chat…0333 900 0101

The only thing left for you to do now is to decide who’s getting in the popcorn….. 🙂

Lets talk Double Dips……again :) !!

Double Dip is trending on Twitter again 🙂 so I thought I’d repost ACCL’s blog about all those things that we in the office  love to “double dip”  those things where sometimes one dip just ain’t enough! Here’s our positive take on the Double Dip situation…

Marker Pens……you’ve just gotta sniff that tip….but is once enough or do you go again….consensus in the office is that once is just not enough and the marker pen goes into our little pot of double dip pleasures.

Your toe in the water……hot or cold…once you’ve dipped to see how it feels…..you know you’re gonna go again.

Pringles….once you pop…you can’t stop….enough said !

Rollercoasters……you either love them or you hate them….but once you’ve had that adrenalin rush you are happy to pop yourself back in that queue….aren’t you?

After Eights….no-one has just one!

Sherbert Fountains….oh my goodness…childhood memories come flooding back don’t they.  Dipping into that lovely white powdery fizz…..yup….it’s a double, double dip!

9V batteries…..it’s a bloke and Faye thing …..placing your tongue on the battery and getting a rivet of shock running through you.  Once just isn’t enough. 

Ginger Nuts….. now, I do love to dunk a biscuit into a cuppa, certain biscuits can only be dunked once, like the chocolate digestive, any more and you will end up with a mush at the bottom of the mug, not good! however, the gingernut is a whole different ball game – go on, double dip, I know you will agree

So perhaps we’ve already mentioned your favourite double dip but if not then please feel free to let us know….I, for one need cheering up from all this rain……!

Let the cash, see the flow……….

This week’s guest blogger is Chris Lowe, Principal at Colobus, a London-based firm of Experts in Company Turnaround, Finance and Negotiation Support.

These are difficult economic times with many companies struggling to make ends meet. If you supply capital goods you are trying to sell into a market where customers’ budgets are constrained; retailers are faced with the combined threat of consumers with less cash to spend and online competitors eating into revenues; all companies are having to manage in the face of stricter and more expensive bank lending.

As a turnaround specialist, we see the effects of the current economic downturn but some fundamental problems keep cropping up, in good times and bad. We see these things tripping up companies time and time again: Poor debt collection –  If you supply business customers you are likely to give credit. You’ll rank as an unsecured creditor. Too often companies allocate the task of credit control to untrained staff. This is particularly true in small and growing companies where the emphasis is on growth and building sales. We see two tendencies: • Wait until the invoice is due, then chase aggressively, which risks aggravating an otherwise happy client • The timid “hope and pray” approach, on the basis that asking for YOUR MONEY might upset customers! If you’ve provided something valuable, you should be paid for it. Effective collection is a skill and skilled credit controllers will be polite, persistent and perceptive. Good collection will get your invoices paid and it will keep your customers.

Excess stock holding stock (or unbilled work in progress) is expensive. The longer you keep it the more likely it is to become damaged, to disappear or to become obsolete. Your target should be to reduce stock to a minimum. You’ll reduce financial holding cost, space costs and loss due to damage and theft. As a minimum benchmark you should monitor slow moving items and by slow moving we mean anything that hasn’t moved in 90-days. You should do all you can to keep your investment in stock low.

Poor payment record – If you’re cash is tight, you’re likely to be paying people slowly. It’s a fact of life that you’ll lose some goodwill by being slow but the mistake we see frequently is being unwilling to talk to your creditors. This is the reverse side of your own debtor position: if your debtors won’t talk to you or your credit controller, it’s frustrating. The same is true for your suppliers. However hard it is, however pushed for time you may be, you should ensure that you respond to suppliers’ calls. You get more good will from your creditors by taking their calls and telling them honestly when they can expect to be paid than by not, and some of the working capital improvement should be used to improve payment of your suppliers. Self-payment at high watermark. This is a problem across all sectors and more particularly for small growing businesses. There is nothing that consumes capital like growth so it is no surprise that small growing companies are frequently under-capitalised, there is always more need for capital than there is cash available. If you, as an entrepreneur, pay yourself from the profit figure and especially if you live to the full extent of your pay, you will find it very difficult when you suffer a cyclical down-turn (which you possibly will), suffer shock such as a bad debt from a large customer or losing a key client to a competitor (which will also probably happen). The implicit deal you need with yourself and your family is that you live lean while your business grows.

Build value in the business and take it out over the long term. Inadequate internal reporting Managing your business with historic data is impossible. If the only numbers you see are last year’s financial accounts or even last quarter’s VAT return, you’re unlikely to be close enough to know what’s going on. Well managed companies will see accurate, timely, fully analysed monthly accounts; there’ll be a mechanism for monitoring the sales pipeline (and some procedure for checking that reality matches up to expectations).

Good companies have systems for managing working capital and cash at least weekly. These are simple systems and they need to be in place. Using creditor’s funds to address inefficiencies. Most of the previous points are about managing your working capital and knowing where your business is at any point in time. We see companies where the proper tools are not fully used. Those businesses tend to use other people’s money to get by. Cash demands will be met by delaying payments to suppliers, dipping beyond the limit into bank facilities or by underpaying HMRC. This is risky. Suppliers can withhold product, banks can withdraw funding and HMRC can recover unpaid tax.

Chris Lowe March 2012

Westcombe Park Cougars – A team to be proud of……

ACCL has been actively involved in sponsoring what is now the Under 13’s team at Westcombe Park RFC, our local Rugby club, affectionately known as ‘Combe’. The club is based at Goddington Dene in the heart of Orpington. The club was founded back in 1905 by Dudley E Roughton, a disabled man who was unable to play the game himself, founding members included family, extended family and friends.  The club takes its name from the Westcombe Park area of what is today part of the Royal Borough of Greenwich where it was originally founded. The club subsequently played in Lee, Shooters Hill and Sidcup and finally settled on it’s current location after a spell in Avalon Road, Orpington in 1990.

The club has 5 rugby pitches, a grandstand, fully equipped gym, 3 football pitches, 2 cricket squares plus 6 tennis courts…not bad eh? out of breath just saying it!!

‘Combe’ aims to be a club to suit all standards and levels from its ‘mini’ team (age7) through to its National League First Team.

Most of the youth rugby occurs on a Sunday with the club fielding at least one team per age group between the ages of 7 and 19. It has built a strong reputation amongst other Kent clubs, boasting International representatives at several levels.

ACCL have been proudly  sponsoring The Cougars for the past 18 months, I have to admit when Wayne first mentioned that we were looking to support the local Rugby team my heart did skip a beat, I was thinking lean, fit, muscley young men 🙂 …… but, honestly, I’m not disappointed 🙂 encouraging kids into sport and away from computer games can only be a good thing, and for boys especially, a contact sport is a great way for relieving some of that built up energy and testosterone…I would know, have 2 of my own! Little darlings……

This season has seen the boys jump up from ‘mini’ rugby to junior rugby where the team increases from 13 to 15 players, same as for an adult team…..not all the same rules apply yet as the boys are still a bit young….! 4th March saw the boys gain their first win in a couple of years and first as a 15 man team, they beat Aylesford 31 points to 10…get in 🙂 !! this was in spite of losing one of their best players of the season through injury…..

The team has been steadily gaining strength, with dedicated coaches on hand to support the boys. We wish them all the best going forward…. “COUGARS!!!” 

Who is that gorgeous man, centre back row???….oh yeah, it’s the boss 🙂