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

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Guest Blog: When it comes to photocopiers, time is not the great healer

By Aaron Warham, Director of the Nationwide Association of Photocopiers and Printers (NAPPS)

The UK photocopier market has been thriving for nearly 60 years, but ask any buyer about dealing with photocopier re-sellers and they will all have at least one horror story.

The UK photocopier market is a multi billion (£) industry which sustains nearly 1000 companies, employs over 100,000 people and has an impact on every UK company. The problem however is that a small number of those 1000 companies have tainted the rest with the persistent use of unprofessional and unethical practices.

NAPPS has been set up to give the companies who are doing things correctly a chance to stand out from the rest. These are the kind of companies who do put the customer first.

All our members have to pass a rigorous UKAS backed certification process and voluntarily sign –and follow- our Code of Practice. This means that for the first time in 60 years dealers and re-sellers can gain independent accreditation for their customer service and support.

The benefit for fellow Chamber members and buyers across the UK is that they can have total trust and peace of mind when dealing with our members.

We want to give the industry a reputation that befits its importance and age. But more importantly we want to give the consumer a level of protection which they have never had.

We may be a trade association but protecting the consumer is one of our core principles. If any Chamber member wishes to confidentially discuss their thoughts, please feel free to give me a call.

Aaron Warham, Director, 07896 117 058,

Friday, 22 June 2012

Friday Guest Blog

By Craig Dean - Chief Executive, Web Applications UK

I’m a technologist. I have an iPad and an iPhone, I have Android and Windows devices, I have an Xbox, a PS3, a Wii and even an AppleTV. It would be natural to think that I believe in technology as the solution to our woes. You would be very wrong. I believe in people.

When gadgets ‘do something clever’ it is because a genius told them to. Why worship the created when you can admire the creator? The only problem is that creators are distressingly in short supply. The reason for this is not a lack of desire or passion, according to the CRA the number of Computer Science graduates continues to rise. Young people still see I.T. as a rewarding career. The problem is our failure to inspire and develop the next generation to their true potential. Traditional training has flourished in industries which change little from year to year but it is wholly inappropriate for the world of I.T., where what you know today is out of date tomorrow. The concept of I.T. courses delivered by trainers is dated and unsuccessful, what developers are crying out for is I.T. courses delivered by developers not trainers.

Developers are too expensive to waste time on ineffective training, but something has to break the impasse. For that reason, we’re training our software engineers to train rather than trying to teach trainers to develop. It’s a revolutionary concept and requires some juggling, but it is vital to the future of our industry.

On the 29th June we’re opening the Centre of Excellence, an I.T. training facility where you won’t see any trainers. The professionals delivering the courses all work in industry – writing software all day – they’re taking a break to introduce you to an exciting new world. I hope you’ll join us.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Friday Guest Blog

Chris Fletcher, Policy Director at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

The Butcher, the Baker, the Economymaker

A couple of weeks ago I spent a very pleasant Sunday with Mrs F visiting the Fantastic Food Show at Ewood Park in Blackburn. It was really good to get to meet in person the people behind some of my favourite local food brands, from small artisan cheese makers to some larger enterprises all making great (and tasty) products.

I’m quite sure though that if I’d had my work head on and gone round asking the other visitors to the event to name a manufacturer, I doubt whether they would have picked up on the fact that the room we were stood in was full of them. Ok so there is a world of difference from making hand-cooked chips in packets to high tech aerospace engineering. At their core though these businesses are intrinsically linked - they take raw materials, use training and skill, add value and make something that can be sold or used.

Next week I have the real pleasure of hosting the Chamber’s first Engineering & Manufacturing Sector Conference. The event, on Wednesday, at the Salford City stadium, is the first of what we are planning will be a series of further events looking at how we can put the focus firmly on the sector and get the key decision makers to stop paying lip service and get serious. Some places remain but are going fast, so don’t delay, book now using the link at the bottom of this page.

One of the issues that we are looking to tackle is the overall image and perception of the sector. We realise we are not going to get this sorted by lunchtime on Wednesday, but we have to start somewhere. I’m sure that, like the attendees, many of the exhibitors at the Food Show may not class themselves as manufacturers. Does this matter? Probably not as they are already “walking the walk” but the problems start with how other people see the sector. If the public (and politicians) don’t “get” what is involved and what we are talking about then we’ll find ourselves in a constant battle to win hearts and minds nevermind progressing beyond this to start getting the help and support that is so desperately wanted.

But please don’t read this and think that the begging bowls will be out. Local engineering and manufacturing companies are holding their own at present in ridiculously tough conditions. The harsh decisions many were forced to take in the “good times” actually put many in a good position for when the downturn happened four years ago. The Government, I think, understands this but a fingers crossed approach that things will pick up is not what is needed.

I’m not sure how many candlestick makers will read this (if you are one please let me know) but whether you are a butcher a baker or even a satellite maker, all businesses in this sector make much more than their products and we should be celebrating this.

Manufacturers and engineers make real things, that sell for real money, employ and create real jobs for real people and for too long have gone unnoticed. Starting next week it's time we got them a real deal.

Book your place at the Engineering & Manufacturing Sector Conference here:

Friday, 1 June 2012

Friday Guest Blog

Bank Holiday Bonanza

Jenni Malley, Email Marketing Consultant at Extravision

Since I began working life at Extravision in 1997 I have always relished the prospect of Bank Holidays, with Easter being a particular favourite of mine.

But with Easter now a distant memory, there is the Queen’s Jubilee double Bank Holiday to enjoy.

But having discovered that school half term holidays have been organised so they are exactly the same week, it leaves me to wonder, will there be anyone at work next week.

You can imagine there will be some key people who just won't be around. Numbers of staff will dwindle as parents take time off for the school holidays and others will simply want to capitalise on getting five days off for the price of three.

Will all the offices and commuter routes in Manchester become ghost towns?

Based on what happened in 2011 with a similar extra bank holiday for the Royal Wedding, I can safely predict it’s going to be particularly quiet next week – but what can we do about it?

Plan around it. If you are looking to get a project off the ground, or promote an event around this time – be prepared to hear the phrase “I think we’ll just leave it to next week when everyone’s back”.

It’s not just a UK phenomenon either. An American client once told me that they notice this kind of effect towards the end of the year in the US. People begin winding down at Thanksgiving at the end of November and nothing picks up properly until the New Year.

Having said all that, when we're enjoying our four glorious (but probably rainy) days off, I don’t think we'll dwell too much on the disruption it's causing to our working life. There's one thing for certain for us Brits: B&Q will be busy!

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