The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Member Blog: 5 tips on achieving steady and successful business growth

Most business owners want to see their companies grow, but if you’re not prepared, it could result in financial catastrophe. Here, Warren Jacobs, MD of Manchester-based Digital Marketing firm ActiveWin Media, gives us his top 5 tips on achieving steady and successful business growth.


Be realistic about what you offer and what you don't 

Some of the best advice I ever received was to be sure about what you do and to not over-stretch yourself. Instead of trying to be a jack of all trades, strive to be the master of one - your area of expertise.

Many businesses make the mistake of offering too many services to expand into new markets. Be true to what you do and focus on what you do best. This will prevent any undue pressure on your team and business.

Set SMART goals for your team and business

Leaders in all industries know how important it is to set attainable and effective business goals.
The SMART system helps both employees and employers understand the goals that have been set and the process by which they will be achieved.

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Relevant
T = Timeline

Breaking objectives down makes it easier to measure outcomes. Target setting is essential to business success.

Have patience

Patience, we are so often told, is a virtue. And sustainable business growth requires not just patience but also perseverance.

While it’s advised that business owners and entrepreneurs enter the market as early as possible when they spot an opportunity or gap, jumping in without sufficient planning can be detrimental to the business.

Take time to consider and develop concepts, invest time and resources in building up the business and focus on your long term objectives and growth vision.

Happy employees make for happy clients (and will help your bottom line!)

Business owners focused on growth and longevity have three bottom line considerations; financial, environmental and social.

It is our responsibility as business owners to discover ways of increasing employee satisfaction, which organically leads to a better service for clients.

It is my mission as MD of ActiveWin to deliver the best experiences - not only clients, but also staff. If business owners engage with, invest in, and nurture their workforce, customer satisfaction is never far behind.

Simple, thoughtful steps can create a culture that induces employee happiness and contentment.

Listen, learn and gain trust

A thriving business understands that customer loyalty and satisfaction drives revenue. Loyalty is achieved when the other party feels connected to your brand and business and they are understood and heard.

When we partner with a new brand, the first thing we do is hold training workshops with the client to understand their business inside out. We then hold regular face to face meetings with our clients in the UK and abroad.

For our overseas clients and affiliate partners, we travel to the USA, Gibraltar, Germany, Israel, Spain and Amsterdam to meet with them. Multiple daily calls ensure our clients know exactly what we are working on. We take great care in setting realistic expectations, and maintain total transparency of activity and results to clients. We firmly believe in integrity, which leads to the building of trust. Customer satisfaction is at the heart of everything we do.

We’ve recently been awarded an International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 9001 certificate, which shows existing and new clients that we are a trusted supplier, dedicated to providing the highest level of quality and service.

http://www.activewin.co.uk/

Friday, 8 May 2015

Member Blog: 5 Reasons Why Asking Just Any Old Young Person to do Your Social Media is NOT Best Practise

By Joanna Booth - Owner of Social Media Makes Sense


If I had a pound for every time a business owner told me ‘I don’t need Social Media training, my son/daughter/neighbour’s child/junior staff member does it for us’,  I would  be well on my way to being a millionaire.  See, the main problem with the social media industry, is most people believe it’s:

A) Just for young people and

B) Therefore young people are the best people to manage it.

These two points are the main reasons thousands of businesses are losing thousands of pounds of potential new business each year.

This type of thinking and attitude are my biggest pet peeve because it hinders so many SMEs from maximising their online potential.  Social media is a fantastic, mostly free, marketing tool that can attract business from local to global markets.

So why do I say that asking any-old young person to do your social media is NOT best practise?

Well...

1) Unless you’ve specifically hired a young marketer (bravo if you have), then this young person isn’t going to understand marketing your business. It astonishes me how many businesses, including the giants, who place a young person as their Social Media Manager without checking they understand any marketing principles. You wouldn’t come home and ask your child to design your new brochure would you?  You would at least check they understand what it is you do and how to best represent that.  Social media is no different.  It’s your online shop-window and it must act accordingly if you want to see results.

2) Granted, there are many young people who are far more mature than plenty of adults.  However, it’s important you ensure the person running your social media is mature and mature enough to cope. They must be able to sound professional, act professional and ultimately be able to handle anything thrown at them. Running a social media strategy (hopefully you have a strategy) takes time, understanding and appreciation.  It also means they have to have the maturity to handle enquiries and especially the odd complaint.

3) In order to run your social media within UK law, they must also understand the legalities.   Simple things like data protection need to be considered, as well as more complex matters like Impressums (displaying your VAT Number, Company Number, etc). Not to mention libel and other pesky potential legal pitfalls!

4) As well as being a marketer, the person implementing your social media marketing should understand sales.  As I said earlier, your social media platforms act as a shop-window, is your Social Media Manager capable and happy to make sales for you?

5) And finally, and possibly the most common issue with asking a young relative or junior staff member to handle your social media, what is their level of commitment?  Any successful social media strategy takes commitment, patience and consistency.  Is this person dedicated to your business’ success?  Do they appreciate the value to you of your social media marketing? Can they dedicate the time to implement it?

All that being said, you’ll notice I highlighted any-old in the paragraph above to emphasise my point. There are many, many qualified, quality young people who will do a fantastic job of your social media.  In fact, young people typically do have a better grasp of the technology and principles behind social media.  What’s most important is that you select the right person for the job, spend time training them and supporting them within the role.  We use young people all the time for implementation but we also spend the time making sure they are confident and competent before doing so.  I myself am only 25, after all!


Joanna Booth is the owner of Social Media Makes Sense, Social Media Training Company. Joanna and SMMS have just finished their massively successful social media campaign for the BBC’s hit series Poldark!

Contact her on: 07935 636 839 or on jo@smms.guru. Facebook/SocialMediaMakesSense


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Member Blog: ISO Standards and Certifications – what are they and most importantly, how can they help your business?

By John Keen, managing director of RKMS


With thousands of different ISO standards and versions covering pretty much every industry imaginable, it’s no surprise the prospect of gaining certification can be quite daunting. Where do you start and which one is most appropriate for your business?

Amongst this vast range of standards, ISO Management Systems present organisations with a set of procedures to follow in order to meet business objectives. The potential benefits speak for themselves:

Increased opportunities and eligibility to apply for tenders
Reduced costs
Increased profits
More efficient use of resources
Improved risk management; and
Increased customer satisfaction as services and products consistently deliver what they promise.

Like all standards, ISO Management Systems are the result of international, expert consensus that ultimately benefit from global management experience and good practice. They can be applied to organisations of any size, regardless of the product, service or sector of activity.

The most popular quality management system standards are:

ISO 9001 – Quality Management System

This is probably the most common and can be applied to pretty much any industry. ISO 9001 requires businesses to focus on: developing continuous improvement; customer satisfaction through the use of management systems and; internal processes.

Advantages include:
- Increase in profits because of the reduction in waste
- Increase in sales through the sourcing of new clients, but also due to the reduction of lost orders
- Effective management
- Increases prospects – some tender opportunities are often restricted to ISO 9001 certified suppliers

ISO 50001 – Energy Management Systems

This standard addresses the impact your business has in terms of energy usage.

Benefits include:
- Reduced use of energy and lower carbon footprint
- Demonstrating social responsibility
- Financial

ISO27001 – Information Security Management System 

As the name suggests, this standard deals with all aspects of information security within an organisation, from physical to intellectual and electronic.

Benefits include:
- Mitigating the risk of data security breaches; and
- In the event of a breach, establishing an efficient back-up plan

ISO 14001 – Environmental Management System

By having this standard, a business is showing commitment to reducing the impact its day-to-day operations have on the environmental.

Benefits include:
- Reduced insurance costs
- Improved environmental focus
- Cost savings – reduction of energy use

OHSAS 18001 – Health & Safety Management System

By identifying the risks associated with your business operations, this standard guides you to focus on mitigating their impact.

Benefits include:

- Adhering to the Corporate Manslaughter Act which states all companies must do their upmost to ensure no injuries or fatalities are caused as a result of negligence.
- Give you customers confidence that your services will not be compromised by health and safety issues

Think ISO Management Systems as business tools that reduce your costs. This could be through minimising waste and errors, increasing productivity, improving efficiency and adopting effective management approaches. They can also help organisations access new markets and for businesses operating internationally - facilitate free and fair global trade.

Put simply, by achieving an ISO Management System Certification – you are sending a message to your customers, suppliers and potential investors/funders that because of robust internal systems, your products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality.

If you’d like to know more about ISO Management Systems, which one(s) are right for your business and how you can gain certification, why not book an initial consultation with RKMS? They have a team of expert consultants with a vast range of experience in many sectors. You can contact them on phone: 0844 815 77 65 or email: info@rkmsuk.co.uk

www.rkmsuk.co.uk

Friday, 1 May 2015

Member Blog: Unblock the Blockage with Email

By David Wright, a Director at BSA Marketing

I was recently in one of our regular quarterly planning meetings with a client, when they told me about an event that really demonstrates the power of email as a tool to help you get a response and unblock the blockage.

It also reminded me of a tip I gave a while ago: http://www.bsamarketing.com/getting-the-answer/

Here’s the story:

Background

Having received a specific enquiry for some engineering work from a large process company, our client responded promptly with their quotation and then, after a reasonable period, called to follow up on the quotation. Unable to get through, they left a message. The response….nothing!

Over a further couple of weeks, more follow up calls were made, all with the same outcome – no response.

We’ve all experienced the frustration

I’m sure many of you have been in this situation and know how frustrating it is.

1. Your prospect sent you the enquiry for a specific requirement

2. You respond promptly with a comprehensive, competitive quotation

3. Despite your best efforts, you just can’t get an answer

After a while you come to the conclusion that clearly they aren’t interested and move on to the next opportunity.

WAIT! – Don’t just leave it at that. At least bat the ball back to them.

Back to the story…

Our client didn’t just drop it. Although they were pretty confident that the quotation was dead, they sent the following email. I repeat it almost exactly (words in italics have been changed to protect identities)


Good Morning John

Just checking that you received your quotation for the engineering work?

Would it be possible to give us some feedback please. Could you help with the following

- Won/Lost

- Percentage difference

- Response Time

- Information within quotation letter/ technical detail

We try to be as competitive as possible and the information you provide will help us in the future. 

Thanks in advance.

Kind Regards
Stephen



There, job done. Stephen didn’t particularly expect a reply but he hadn’t just abandoned the enquiry, though he was willing to ‘let it go‘. He had been as positive as possible – and now he could constructively cross it off his ‘To Do’ list – (always good in my view!)
but four days later….

After two weeks of no response to several phone calls, This email arrived in Stephen’s inbox:



Hi Stephen,

Please see below for feedback:

- Won/Lost

Decision not yet made. If we decide not go to with you it will only be because there is a local
company who can do a full turn key job on the install as a whole.

- Percentage difference

You were 10% lower than one quote and 7% under for another so happy with your pricing

- Response Time

Excellent, a lot quicker than the other two companies I went out to quotes for. It is particularly nice to have someone let me know they are working on the quote rather than just silence until a quote turns up.

- Information within quotation letter/ technical detail

Again excellent I feel like I will get what I want with your quote.

Regards,
John


The Moral

Don’t give up, but don’t keep banging your head against the wall.

Have a joined-up process and use it. Don’t assume your efforts will fall on deaf ears. If you have a good proposition, relevant to your customers, you will get successes.

Hope this inspires you to have a process to never drop an enquiry but always be willing to constructively let it go. You never know….

www.bsamarketing.com

 

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Member Blog: Why feeding your workforce can make you money

By Laura Jones, Marketing and Communications Manager – Good Mood Food
At Good Mood Food we actively promote the importance of healthy eating and a well balanced diet on mental health. As the social enterprise leg of mental health charity Manchester Mind we provide catering for a whole range of occasions from corporate events and business lunches through to canteen catering, private dining, festivals and markets. Our menus are intentionally healthy as we recognise the impact this can have on our overall wellbeing.

The majority of people know the benefits that a good, healthy diet can have on their physical health including weight management and energy levels. However less people are aware of the positive impacts nourishing food can have on mental health. Most people will identify with the ‘mid afternoon slump’ after a carb-laden lunch or the mid morning mood swings and grumpiness after skipping breakfast, ultimately leading to an unhealthy snack from the office vending machine(!)

With many organisations looking to save money and increase efficiencies, investing and committing resources to ensuring employees remain well can actually save money in the long term. According to ACAS, with mental health issues costing employers in the UK in the region of £30 billion a year (through lost production, recruitment and absence) committing these resources can also prevent staff absence and increase productivity – so a business no-brainer.

Physical conditions can be a source of long term sickness but the majority of long term illnesses are actually mental health related. Most commonly depression, anxiety and stress, as employees are ever more asked for better results and quicker turnaround times plus the increasingly 24/7 nature of many jobs with smart phones and wi-fi. So the importance of preventing these should be paramount to businesses. In addition, poor nutrition is not just linked to mental health but of course can increase the risk of conditions such as coronary heart disease, some types of cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Businesses can easily help their employees to stay healthy both mentally and physically through promoting a good diet, perhaps healthy treats in the vending machine, a free fruit bowl or teaming up with local companies, (such as ourselves) for a healthy meeting buffet selection, including plenty of fresh fruits, salad and other buffet items.

An employee’s wellbeing is a main category in the Times Top 100 companies to work for. Those listed place a real emphasis on how their employees feel, including stress management and overall welfare, which includes things like offering a breakfast club, mid morning fruit rounds, ensuring employees take their full lunch breaks and ensuring canteens offer healthy and reasonably priced food

About Good Mood Food:

Good Mood Food is a catering social enterprise and part of Manchester Mind. We cater for a whole range of events and occasions and deliver across Manchester.  We can also cater for special dietary requirements from vegan and halal to gluten free and low carb.

As part of Manchester Mind, by placing your order with Good Mood Food, you will also be helping to fund vital services for those with mental health problems. We use all of our profits to promote positive mental health, teach new skills and provide volunteering placements.

Please visit www.goodmoodfood.org for further information.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Member Blog: The importance of compliance with new waste regulations

Mick Ashall, Director at B&M Waste Services, warns Greater Manchester Chamber members of the importance of compliance with new waste regulations.


At B&M Waste Services, we are continually working to ensure the service we offer is at the cutting edge. 2014 saw the introduction of our new Refuse Derived Fuel facility, furthering our commitment to zero waste to landfill by generating energy from residual waste.

Our ethos is to always ensure that both cost efficiencies and the environment are at the forefront.

New legislation came into effect on 1st January 2015 whereby all businesses operating in the UK are required to introduce separate collections of recyclables (paper and card, metals, glass and plastic) when ‘technically, environmentally and economically practical’ (TEEP)*

The underlying principle of TEEP is to improve the quality of recyclable materials to continue to develop the resource recovery sector and progress the principles of a circular economy.

B&M already offer separate collections of paper, card, metal, glass, plastics and food in compliance with the waste hierarchy.

Our highly trained waste auditors can assess your waste, checking for both non-conforming items to ensure you do not breach your Duty of Care, and also looking for items that may be recoverable.
TEEP applies to all commercial businesses and at B&M, we are here to help you comply with this regulation.

Is it Technically Practicable? For example, you may have limited room for waste and recycling containers, therefore a mixed recycling container (of paper, card and plastic film) may be all that can be accommodated.

Is it Environmentally Practicable? Is there an added positive environmental benefit? An example: if you have a small amount of plastic bottles that are not separated at the moment but could be in a separate container, this would give a recycling benefit. However, this could be at the expense of virgin materials being used in making more containers and the fuel to undertake the separate collections. Therefore, the benefits need to be weighed up carefully.

Is it Economically Practicable? Would the segregation result in an excessive cost in comparison to a non-separated waste stream? There is normally a benefit in terms of cost per tonne on most recyclables over a general waste stream. However, this should be balanced against the cost of more containers and separate collection costs (i.e. fuel and wages).

Please bear in mind, this is not the kind of recycling you do at home. A lot of customers may have small volumes of canteen waste (e.g. yogurt pots, empty food tins) but often, these do not make up a substantial enough volume to pass any of the three tests noted above.

This is a general introduction to TEEP. If you feel that your waste streams, or type of waste, may warrant an audit please contact us on 0808 100 2434 or visit www.bagnallandmorris.com. What’s more we aim to reduce your current waste bill by up to 10% if you decide to switch to B&M waste services for your business’ waste management.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Member Blog - Return On Investment: Still alive and well in events!

By Barry McTierney – Right Events

Events have played a key role in communications strategies, both internal and external, across virtually every facet of industry. Whether it be an exhibition, client focused incentive or a company sales conference; events have still delivered significant return on investment – when done right…

This seems fairly obvious, but the ROI associated with events has come under considerable scrutiny in recent years with the value of events to organisations being questioned. But the ability to generate revenue and engage staff and clients still lies at the heart of good communication and a well-developed event strategy can deliver results that are, not just tangible, but also rarely achievable through any other medium.

The principle concerns when considering your event ROI should not just centre on the cost of the events themselves, however, yes; events can come with a significant price tag, but the mistake is to assume that a high spend will achieve the results you require. With this in mind it is invaluable to consider the core message you wish to communicate and the goals you expect to achieve from running your events.

The mistake is to consider the event “delivery” without actually understanding what it is you want from the event itself. When you can outsource the delivery, take the time to consider what YOU as an organisation want achieve from your events. What is the goal, what do you want to communicate and what do you, inevitably want to achieve.

It is this consideration that should be taken into every company events strategy; whether it be an outward-facing client event or your staff Christmas party. The content, the image, the feel and outcome are important; not how much you spend (no matter how little), or how many meetings you had to get there.

Making your events pay for you and your organisation relies on a number of delivery methods as well as understanding and managing your expectations.

Events really can be the way forward for your communication needs but make sure you do them Right and with the Right people.

Barry McTierney
Right Events Ltd
t:  +44 (0) 7739 002 958
e:  info@rightevents.co.uk
w: www.rightevents.co.uk


Thursday, 2 April 2015

Member Blog: Top ten tips for getting to grips with intellectual property

By Laura T West, Trade Mark Attorney at Mathys & Squire Intellectual Property


Getting a handle on intellectual property can avoid costly problems and deliver long-term financial benefits to your business. Here are my top ten tips on getting to grips with intellectual property:

1. Think of your intellectual property  as a business asset

Intellectual property is an important but usually underrated business tool.  It can be what differentiates your business proposition, why your customers buy from you, and how they recognise you. Intellectual property is an asset that can be bought, sold, traded or potentially borrowed against.

2. Take professional advice

Whether your business is just starting out or is growing and successful, cost-cutting is always a temptation, but usually a false economy. Taking advice from an IP expert will ensure your intellectual property is properly protected.  A good IP expert will also advise you on what not to invest in and why.

3. Keep your ideas to yourself

Think of your intellectual property as valuable secrets. The more people know about your ideas, the more difficult it becomes to prove who owns them. Secrecy is particularly important for inventions, as they can only be patented if there is no evidence of it already existing in the public domain or having been disclosed.

4. Do your research

There are a number of Government initiatives related to intellectual property that offer businesses funding, free advice and tax breaks, so a little research could go a long way.

5. Protect your identity

Many businesses mistakenly believe that because their business is registered at Companies House, they alone have the right to use all or part of that name as a brand.  Others think that as their business is small, or not related to consumer products, they do not require trade mark protection. Without a registered trade mark, it is possible for someone else to register your company name (or something similar) and take legal action against you for using it.

6. Don’t buy a lemon

When putting together a business deal, such as a merger or acquisition, most businesses scrutinise the physical assets of a company, but take intellectual property at face value. Get professional advice to clarify the validity, value and ownership of all intellectual property, so that its impact on the deal can be established.

7. Think global

Intellectual property rights are territorial, so if your business is expanding (or is likely to expand) its operation overseas, protection must be sought in all territories that form part of the international strategy.  If you are looking to export or import, conduct searches beforehand as the rights to your brand may already belong to someone else and you may be infringing other IP overseas.

8. Check the small print

Businesses will often outsource work that is not part of their core function, such as research and development or design work, but many do not check the small print regarding intellectual property on contracts.  Savvy sub-contractors will often state that they own the rights to any intellectual property they develop/create, and charge a licensing fee to the business that commissioned the work.

9. Treat all ideas (even the bad ones) as valuable

One person’s trash is another’s treasure, as they say.  Many ideas that end up ‘on the cutting room floor’ have value, perhaps in another sector or with a different application, but are often discarded during the development process.  An independent third party (particularly an experienced IP expert) may be able to identify value in rejected material that can be sold or licensed to others.

10. Spread the word

Mistakes regarding intellectual property are usually made through ignorance than by conscious decision. Businesses should educate their staff regarding brand protection and provide them with clear processes to avoid disclosing or discarding valuable ideas.

For more information contact: LTWest@mathys-squire.com

https://www.mathys-squire.com/contact-us/manchester-office.asp

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Member Blog: The social media journey that just keeps on giving

By Dylan Moore - Aqua Design Group
Going back to the start of my experience on social media I was more used to LinkedIn and never thought of Twitter as a tool for the business. Thanks to a conversation with a client, the fantastic Becs McNeill @becsmcneill, instilling some insight during a 1-2-1, I created a profile and went from there. Bit of a rocky start but these things take a bit of time. When the journey gets interesting was a year plus in - I was at a healthy 1,200 followers and heard about Theo Paphitis #SBS (Small Business Sunday), so decided to join in.

Many tweets and over four months later, I won on the 16th October 2011; email went on meltdown for a night and the week was spent responding and spending as much time getting to know those that had followed, fellow winners and lots of new glorious contacts. I'm a firm believer in grabbing opportunities and one win led to another and more time on Twitter led to getting to know more fellow winners. I saw that a few winners were offering #SBS badges to winners and thought I might offer an alternative.

The #SBS benefits started happening shortly after the new year in 2012, when a fellow winner wanted to talk about a re-brand and stationery. Others contacted me based on seeing my award badge styles and a few just wanted to chat. All benefits as it's not just about direct business where the business has come, it's come from fellow winners referring and pointing people towards me.

So my advice to anyone taking part in the variety of Twitter competitions is simple: be a business and not a 'diva'! Follow back all those that have spent time to do the same, communicate, get to know them and the benefits will come and might bring some unexpected surprises too.

The business has been fortunate to network with a variety of different businesses both in the UK and across the world, which has resulted in work from overseas. Being involved with a variety of other competitions and networking on Twitter has resulted in a variety of different award badges which bring daily exposure to the business.

Inspired by the activity on Twitter the business designed a range of #TwitterGeek and #TwitterGeekette graphics and promotional items, which in itself has opened some very interesting doors, and on a Sunday during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II, the business decided to start its own Twitter competition (started as a bit of fun and has grown from there). That has proven to be royally fruitful for both the business and the competition entrants.

The results of the #SBS win and other social media activity have been the following: being introduced to new contacts, some of which have become good friends and other clients; increased my Twitter followers which are now over 23,000 over the 3 business accounts; passed over 100k tweets; had the opportunity of working on internal communications projects for Ryman Stationery; general awareness of the business on social media has grown; moved in to an office and the business' website SEO has gone through the roof.

http://www.aquadesigngroup.co.uk/

Friday, 13 March 2015

Member Blog: Energy Solutions for Business

By Ciara Taberner - Managing Director, Taberner Consultancy Company Ltd


We all look for ways to save money within our businesses but somehow energy saving does not seem to feature high in cost reduction programmes in UK business.

Studies have recently shown that a further £1.6 BILLION collective business savings could be made on energy bills through greater energy efficiency. Going Green is no longer seen as an overhead and businesses are increasingly realising that it’s now a way to make a profit.

“Making your business green is now a way to make profit"
    
There are lots of simple and cost effective ways your business can save money by reducing your energy consumption. Below are some of the examples; this is not an exhaustive list by any means but I hope some of this information will help you realise some of the potential savings that can be made by making a few changes.

“An industry building could be losing approximately 60% if its heat through the building fabric”

Payback Period

All energy efficiency improvements have an average payback period which is given in years. The payback period is a calculation worked out by taking the total cost of any improvements and dividing it by the estimated annual bill savings for that improvement.

The cost of installing any improvements will vary on any quotes you may receive, as an installer will tailor the quote to meet the needs for your particular building and every building is slightly different. As with any other business expenses, it is always worth shopping around for a few quotes to ensure best value.

You will receive information on your payback period within your energy assessment.

“Payback periods can be less than a year for some energy efficiency improvements”

Solar PV

There are lots of models on the market to help you install a Solar PV system for your building/s. The first and most important thing to understand is: Does my building face in the right direction? Simply get outside your building with a compass! Most smart phones have a compass on there or you could download a compass app onto your phone.

If one side of your building is South, South East, South West it is more than likely to be suitable for Solar. That is your starting point. There are other factors to take into account like the pitch of your roof, shading, your roof type and size, but that this is something that can be looked at during a survey.

There are two options available for Solar PV:

Fully funded model where the system is paid for by an installing company/investor
Purchase the system outright

These will depend on your own business circumstance but my advice from here would be to get a survey completed and ask the provider to detail out the different options that are available. Remember, not every company will be able to provide a paid and funded model so shop around to find the right solution for you.  

Fully installed and maintained system

This would consist of the panels being installed and maintained for 20/25 years free of charge and your company gets the savings on your electricity bill. The provider/investor would get the Feed in Tariff and they would make the profit out of the Feed in Tariff giving them a return on their investment over the agreed period. Savings on your electricity bill will depend on your roof orientation and size.

Purchase the system outright 

The alternative is you pay for the system up front and your business gets the reduction on the electricity bill and the return on investment from the Feed in Tariff

What is the Feed in Tariff? 

Feed-in tariffs (FiTs) make the business case for installing renewable energy for electricity generation more attractive. They were introduced to encourage the use of small scale electricity generation from renewables to help meet the Government's renewable energy generation targets.

The Feed in Tariff (FIT) provides three financial benefits for your business:

1. If you generate your own renewable electricity you are paid for the electricity you produce and the excess exported to the grid, you also don't have to buy as much electricity from a supplier.

2. A generation tariff pays for every kWh of electricity generated. The level of the tariff depends on the type and size of technology used, and when it was installed. You are "locked into" the tariff level that is current when the equipment is installed for the life of the installation or the life of the tariff (10 - 25 years).

3. An export tariff pays for any electricity exported to the grid. You can either accept a flat rate or try to negotiate a better rate with your electricity supplier.

To recap…. when you have the system installed for free you get the savings on your bill and the investor gets the Feed in Tariff.

When you pay for the system yourself – you get the savings plus the Feed in Tariff. As you have paid for the system up front it will take a few years for you to move into profit but once that original is paid off you will start to see your return on investment. How quickly you will start to see that return will depend on a number of factors such as the size and orientation of your roof but you will make a return on your investment!

I am not suggesting you take that option. It is obvious that for some businesses the free model will work better and you will still be receiving the big savings on your energy bill therefore whatever model you choose, if your roof is suitable, I would still encourage you to install as many energy saving technologies as you can.

Insulation

I would encourage you to have a survey completed on your property to establish if your property is suitable for any kind of insulation measures such as solid wall insulation, cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, flat roof insulation.

Most of these measures are relatively low cost and provide huge bill savings.

LED Lighting

Again another simple, low cost solution that can save approximately two thirds of the cost of your lighting bills! Payback periods are normally as low as one year.

Other Energy Saving Tips and Advice 

Make sure your boiler is regularly serviced; every 12 months is a must to ensure it's working effectively and efficiently.
Draught Proofing - do the one pence test. If a one pence coin can slide between a window and its frame, draught proofing will be cost effective.
Draught proofing doors
If you do need to replace your boiler make sure you use a GASSAFE registered installer. Shop around for quotes and ensure your installer sizes the boiler correctly for your building size, usage and radiator numbers.
Keep windows and skylights clean to maximise daylight
Add loft insulation to any uninsulated roof space
Check internal wall insulation and consider upgrading
Take advantage of any refurbishment work to make energy saving improvements
Get online and check out British Board of Agrément Website. You can check your insulation installer on here to ensure they are accredited to install the different materials  
It is also good to check the National Insulation Association website. There is a public area where you can check out your installer.  It really important to select a good company as incorrect installation can lead to problems in the building later on: http://www.nia-uk.org/

What next?

Get an EPC or ESOS assessment completed on your property to establish which technologies are best for your building.  It’s important to choose a suitably qualified individual who can look at your building and advise the best possible ways for your business to save money and reduce energy consumption.  Make sure this is someone independent.

You should ask them to produce a report on your business, along with which technologies would be best suited to your building, payback periods on each measure and your energy usage.

Ask them to include an analysis on your gas and electricity tariff to see if you can make any savings on that too. You will then need quotations/funded models for each of the measures and you can make an informed decision the next course of actions.  You might decide to get one company or various companies to do this. Make sure you get a few quotes from different suppliers.

If you are a large undertaking you must carry out an ESOS assessment every four years. ESOS is the Energy Savings Opportunities scheme. ESOS is a mandatory energy assessment scheme for organisations in the UK that meet the qualification criteria. These assessments are audits of the energy used by their buildings, industrial processes and transport to identify cost-effective energy saving measures.

A large undertaking is an organisation that carries out a trade or business which either:

employs at least 250 people
employs less than 250 people but has an annual turnover in excess of 50 million euro (£38,937,777), and an annual balance sheet total in excess of 43 million euro (£33,486,489)

Helpful Links:

www.decc.gov.uk
http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/
www.carbontrust.com
http://www.greatbusinessdebate.co.uk/environmental-impact/
https://www.gov.uk/energy-savings-opportunity-scheme-esos
http://www.bbacerts.co.uk/
http://www.nia-uk.org/
http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/

Contact Ciara at Taberner Consultancy Consultancy Ltd via ciara@tabernerconsultancy.co.uk