Whether you’re a small start-up business or an established company looking to increase your visibility, it’s important to spread the word about what you do, the service you provide and the products you sell. You can do this in a variety of ways, such as online and print. However, you can't beat meeting people face-to-face.
Networking is a way of introducing your company to other business owners. You never know, what they do that might be of interest to you.
There are many different networking groups and each one has their own style. Perfect Layout are members of the Havering Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI). It's a friendly group and each month it has a breakfast meeting. Within each meeting there is a talk/presentation given by two members, as well as the opportunity to network with other members and guests.
HCCI also organises its annual business showcase. (In fact, this is where the start of our networking journey began!)
Come and join us. We will be exhibiting at the Havering Chamber of Commerce Business Showcase 2018. It takes place on Monday 1st October 6.30pm-9.00pm at the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch.
The event includes:
It’s free to attend. All you have to do is register your place on Eventbrite.
Are you interested in exhibiting information? Contact Barry Hicks, Chairman, Havering Chamber: firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01708 560066
Interviewing local businesses is a bi-monthly ritual that the team at Perfect Layout really enjoy. It allows us to become more known in the community and learn from the experiences of other businesses. By undertaking an interview in this way, Perfect Layout believes that we are able to help our readers learn how to run their business better by taking on board the pros and cons of how a business has conducted themselves.
We hope that sharing the personal experiences of these companies will give them exposure to readers that may need their services as well as providing insights into what has worked for them and what they could do a little better…
This month, we interview Jennie Bardrick, Co-Owner and Co-Director of Radfield Home Care Havering & Brentwood.
Lisa and I went to the British Franchise Exhibition in London in January 2017 and we came across Radfield Home Care there. We had an instant connection, immediately aligning with their family values, and from there the business began.
Radfield Care Home is a franchise. What is it like running a business that is part of a franchise?
The support you get from Radfield’s franchise support team is amazing. Any problems that come up, we can call National Office for help. We also have a Franchise Support Manager that comes to visit us and goes through cash flow and other matters that are important to ensuring the business runs smoothly.
Ultimately, Radfield has been in the home care business for many years and, as a result, has developed the systems and franchise support to make sure we run a successful and profitable business.
Lisa and I both didn’t have any background in care to begin with (we now are fully trained carers!) so this advice has been fundamental to us, as well as having a fantastic Care Manager – Natalea Haydon, who has lots of experience and manages the home care operations on a day to day basis.
How much independence do you get to make this your business?
We get a lot of independence and ultimately, we are responsible for growing our business and making a difference in our local community. Our home care clients love the fact that we are local and our office on Butts Green Road is always open for people to pop in. As we are one of the first Radfield franchise partners, we have the opportunity to influence the growth of the network and collaborate in partnership with them.
I imagine you have a business plan. Is this something that came from National Office or something you have had to prepare prior to investing in the franchise?
Ultimately, we developed our own business plan, but National Office and the franchise support team supported us with guidance in terms of expectations for business growth and financial targets. We are very focused on setting targets with our Franchise Support Manager and working with our office team to ensure we deliver and grow the business in line with (or ahead of!) our targets. In addition to having this there was a lot of screening and profiling that took place before we were accepted into the franchise. A big thing for Radfield is family and they liked the fact that Lisa and I are cousins and hold those strong family values.
What has it been like breaking into the home care market in this area?
It’s been very rewarding! Havering has got the highest proportion of over 65’s out of all the London boroughs which means there is a huge amount of people that we could help and support to live independent, happy lives at home. The nicest thing that we can give to families is peace of mind that their loved ones are well looked after. We have families that live far away from their parents that need someone to look after their Mum, Dad or elderly relative and we are able to provide that service and give reassurance.
What do you provide as a service that’s different to your competitors?
Lisa and I are really passionate about our family values, and run the business in memory of our nan – ‘Nanny Fish’. Having solid family values is something that we look for in the members of our home care team, so that they treat our clients as if they were family themselves. Our care proposition is focused on delivering high quality care, where our carers aren’t rushed, but focus on providing companionship support to our clients throughout the visit and building good relationships with our clients.
We are also really proud of our cutting edge technology systems, where our carers use a mobile phone app to log in to their care visits and log their notes, which gives immediate feedback to the office and means we are a highly responsive service.
What have you found to be the biggest hurdle since starting this business?
I’d probably say dealing with the emotional side of the business, when a client you have built up a good relationship with passes away. It can be very sad for our care team as they see some clients every day, so to pass on this kind of news can be really tough.
Describe your typical day?
I’d say no two days are the same for sure! At the moment I’d say I get up around 6am and may have a couple of clients to visit. I’d then be in the office, working with the office team to ensure they are set up for success and clear on the priorities for the day. I use Trello to manage my to do list and this seems to work well as it allows me to focus on the strategic business priorities but also to get the smaller tactical things done on a day to day basis. The office shuts at 4pm which is nice and early compared to my previous corporate jobs, but as we are a care operation we are open 24/7 really. In the evenings I spend time with my dog, see friends and family and like to do yoga.
Since starting this service, have you found yourself exhibiting talents that you never knew you had?
I think that’s a great question. I think the biggest difference in having your own business is the amount you learn and the confidence it gives you, and for me I would say that’s around the financial management of the business. I would also say that you definitely end up doing jobs you never thought you would do, but ultimately the reward comes and it is so worth it!
I note that you have a website that is part of the franchise? How well does it work for you, or would having more control of your own website make it easier?
National Office control the website, but this works well for us, because the Radfield Home Care brand looks strong and we have consistency with all the other offices. We are responsible for providing content to ensure our microsite is up to date and fresh, and this means our site is relevant and has that local feel to it.
Would you like your business to be found by more customers online?
Definitely! We have seen a trend that more and more clients are doing their research beforehand, which is great as we are really proud to have a 10/10 score from our customers on Homecare.co.uk. I’d say at the moment we get most customers via word of mouth, but most of the time these people have Googled us and read a bit about the company beforehand.
Are you promoting your business in any other ways?
We advertise in the Romford Recorder newspaper and on their website too. As well as this we hold community events to support local charities such as Saint Francis Hospice, as well as national charities like the Alzheimer’s Society.
Congratulations on winning the New Business of the Year Award in 2018 at the Havering Business Awards and the Judges Award at the Thames Gateway Business Awards. You were also awarded the ‘Top 20’ Home Care providers in the whole of London at the annual Homecare.co.uk awards in 2018 too. Most recently you were awarded Business Woman of the Year and Franchisee of the Year at the National New Business of the Year Awards. These are phenomenal achievements.
What else is in store for you and your team?
Our current plan is to continue to grow the business in the Havering area and ensure we are supporting as many elderly people as we can to live independent, healthy and happy lives in their own homes. We have recently expanded our office team to support this growth and are excited to have our new Marketing Apprentice and Care Coordinator on board to support this.
Where do you see yourself and this business going in the next 5-10 years?
Longer term, we have big growth plans to expand beyond Havering and across Essex to help more people, and ultimately support Radfield Home Care to become a national brand with a network of passionate franchise partners.
You can find out more about Radfield Home Care by logging onto their website or by accessing them via: Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
If you have a business that you would like to feature in this regular slot, why not get in touch? We’d love to hear from you!
Search Engine Optimisation, also known as SEO, is the techy way of describing how to make the most of a website’s online visibility. Imagine you have purchased a house that was in desperate need of repair. How would you go about getting it to look it’s best?
There are various things that you could do. You could: replace the windows, build an extension, re-plaster the walls inside out and landscape the garden. After completing these jobs, the house would serve better as a home. It would also be more comfortable and functional. That’s what SEO is. It’s a way of making the purpose of a website work better and be found by people looking for it.
If you have a website, blog or online store, SEO can help your business grow and get your business found online. SEO techniques vary. It’s a good idea to make sure that you put in place the basic strategies and check them regularly. The process of optimisation is not a one-time process. It requires regular maintenance and fine tuning alongside continuous testing and monitoring.
SEO can increase the quality of a website by making it user friendly, faster and easier to navigate. In today’s competitive market, undertaking SEO is more important than ever. Search engines serve millions of users per day. They look for answers to questions and solutions to their problems. The job of a search engine is to come up with the best options for its users. When applied correctly, good SEO will bring in online traffic and grow your customer base.
The following is a list of some SEO techniques that you can apply to your site:
- Your competitors are doing it
If your competitors appear above you in organic search, it’s likely that they are applying SEO techniques. If it can work for them, it can work for you too. Invest time doing it yourself or employing someone to do it for you.
Backlinking is a key feature of Search Engine Optimisation. Also known as ‘incoming links’ and ‘inbound links’. This is when a link from an external website is directed towards yours. Websites that link to a variety of authoritative sites will rank higher in search engine results pages compared to those who have links to sites that are not as powerful. Getting it right is key.
If you have inbound links on your site that don't relate to the content on the page, they will be considered irrelevant. Your website could be penalised. The higher the relevancy of inbound links, the greater their quality.
- Internal linking
Linking to related articles, or pages, on your own website helps search engines better understand the importance and topical focus of each page. Creating links this way assists Google in determining the relevancy of your website. The more people like and share your content, the more visibility you’ll receive from these social media channels. As you develop quality backlinks, it will help to boost and sustain your rankings over the long term.
- Back end SEO
Complete the page title, page description and meta keywords for each page of your website. Search engine algorithms select websites with keywords that match the users search terms.
- Page titles
Keyword-based titles help establish page theme and direction for your keywords. Choose a title that reads naturally and effectively. Make sure it communicates the topic of the page’s content.
- Meta tags
Meta description tags can influence click-throughs but aren't used for rankings. Meta tags contain keywords or phrases alerting search engines of a website's content.
- Place strategic search phrases on pages
Integrate selected keywords into your website's content. Make sure the tone sounds natural. Doing this will help the search engines quickly determine what the page is about.
- Sign up your websites to online directories
Find directories where you can list your business for free. This method will get links to your website quickly and naturally. It also helps get your site indexed by the search engines. Start with directories such as yelp, Yellow Pages and Thomson Local.
It’s important to continually review the movement of your website. Where does it sit alongside your competitors? You will achieve good results if you consistently undertake these SEO principles. A common mistake is to focus on the quantity, rather than the quality, of backlinks. If you’ve ranked for a particular keyword, there is no need to build excessive backlinks to that page. Google can detect if a site is gaining links at an unreasonable pace. Building links too fast is like waving a red flag that can potentially get your website closed down. If you want to maintain your keyword ranking, try to expand your inbound links to the various pages on your site. This strategy will diversify your backlinking profile and increase your website authority.
If this sounds confusing, fear not. The team at Perfect Layout Digital Marketing, would love to help fix your website with some SEO TLC. Give us a call on 01708 578 015
This blog has been inspired following a friend’s recent experience with the medical system in the UK. Said friend went in for a routine operation about seven weeks ago. The procedure lasted only five minutes and the recovery was supposed to be a week.
To cut a long story short. She was nowhere near better by the end of that first week. In the past seven weeks she has been back and forth to GP’s, consultants and hospitals, being misdiagnosed. It took four days of waiting in a hospital bed and a lot of pain-relief drugs before they did any scans. As it turned out she needed another operation. I am keeping my fingers crossed that she is now on the path to a full recovery.
As this story unfolded, I despaired at the way things were being run. It seemed such an inefficient use of time, money, medication etc. It got me thinking. How can hospitals - or any business for that matter - afford to be inefficient? And so, I have identified some areas that you might want to look for in your business.
Check if you are running an efficient and profitable company.
Maybe the institution itself has such rigid and old ways of doing things. Just because ‘that’s the way we always do it’, doesn’t mean it is still fit for purpose. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:
1. Bad financial management
Many businesses find themselves running out of money. Cash flow is key for all businesses. How this happens usually falls into one of these categories:
To avoid this, you have to know your figures inside and out. You need to keep an eye on them regularly, so that you can spot dips or downward trends. Make sure that your financial projections are on track. If you see things changing, then something elsewhere may need to change too. Try to stick within your budget. Cut any unnecessary expenses. Always invoice straight away and get paid on time. Where possible set up automatic billing that you can be in control of.
2. Bad Management
Every organisation needs someone at the helm, leading, taking charge. They have to ensure that no matter how big the company is, that the right processes and procedures are in place. The entire organisation should be seamless and efficient. This is true for both the staff and its customers.
For that to happen, there needs to be regular training, communication and policies. Everyone must be on the same page. No one person or department should be the ones doing it all. Every role should work as a cog to help the wheel roll smoothly. There also has to be a single point of authority. Larger companies often appoint department heads and team leaders to make decisions.
So, do you have the right staff in place? Do they do the job with pride, care and attention. Are you paying them what they deserve? Do you offer rewards and incentives? Your staff are your biggest asset, so you need to treat them well. Good management also recognises when they don’t have motivated staff. First you need to address it to see if you are able to change this, otherwise you face the tough task of letting them go. Dead weights can also hinder a company and have devastating consequences.
Can you honestly say that your company is working as efficient as it could be? Do you conduct regular days on the business with staff? Do you ask them how things are, what could be better, what needs to stop, what to introduce? The people on the ground can often find solutions. Do you spend time thinking about what the business might look like in 12 months’ time, or in five years? Be forward thinking, be proactive.
3. Bad customer service
It is surprising to see how many businesses have bad customer service. This could be because of what we have discussed about management and procedures. Yet, without any customers, you wouldn’t have any business. Giving good customer service should come easy. Ask yourself, how would you like to be treated and map that out. Use your common sense. Good customer service doesn’t need to be expensive. If you do get complaints, listen to your customers and put it right fast. Then tell your staff what you have learned from the experience. Explain how you want them to do things from now on, so that you ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Good interdepartmental communication will pay dividends. You don’t want to end up with a bad reputation. Some businesses never recover.
4. Staying up-to-date with technology
Technology covers a wide range of things. Computers, phones, broadband and IT servers. It can also include websites and social media platforms. Whatever it is, make sure that you invest in the best technology and support that you can afford. If all your computers are old and staff are struggling to complete simple tasks, invest in new ones. This downtime could start costing you thousands. Is your website current? Does it reflect your business as it stands today? Is it mobile optimised? If the answer is no to any of these, you need to plan to change this. If you are not active on the right social media channels, you could be missing on potential clients. I know that social media is a hungry beast that needs feeding all the time, but it’s essential to do it these day. Now more than ever you must have an efficient website, that it is mobile and SEO friendly. You need to be active on social media and posting every day (or more). If this is not part of your expertise, don’t hesitate to seek advice from a professional, like us at Perfect Layout Digital Marketing.
Running a business is about always being willing to learn. Things around us are changing all the time. We all will make mistakes. It’s those that carry on doing it, ‘because that’s the way we do it’ will find that they will get left behind. Acting fast and making necessary changes can determine the future of your business.
Regularly check that your business is in good health. If there are signs that things need a reboot, then do something about it before it takes over.
Wow, so the six-week summer break comes to an end this week.
Families up and down the country have had a chance to break from the usual routine, spend more time with loved ones and recharge the batteries. With the glorious summer weather 2018 has given us, we've had plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors, go for days out and do things that we don't get to do the rest of the year. Holidays also give you the chance to ponder life and what you want out of it.
For me, it feels like September brings a chance to start afresh...almost like the feeling the new year brings. For our children, they get to start a new adventure as they embark on the next school year; new teachers, new uniform, for some it might even mean new schools. It's even a chance to shake up the routine a little, as the things that you may be doing in this final stretch of the year, may be different to what you were doing just a few weeks ago. Will your children start new after-school activities? Do you want to start a class and learn a new skill or spend time developing a talent? Do you want to get fitter / eat better?
For us at Perfect Layout, we have spent part of the summer break reflecting on where we are in the year, we've looked at what we have achieved and we are looking forward to this next period to push ourselves harder.
We are dedicated to learning about our industry and looking at what strategies we could implement to make the websites that we look after perform even better. Off the back of an industry conference we attended just before the summer break, we are eager to put those tactics into practice at to see how it improves the rankings of our clients.Today is not just the start of another week, it is milestone week.
We could easily slip back into old ways and habits or we can take this week as a way to begin on a new path and take those ideas that we had over the summer and work towards making them a reality. What will you do?