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Welcome to Fresh Threads, our weekly roundup of the best comments and advice from the forums.
Here are my top picks from this week.
Why do companies provide their employees with company cars? Doesn't the employee have to pay tax on the vehicle as a benefit in kind, so its not as if it's even a ‘perk of the job’? I assume large companies are able to negotiate preferred lease rates on the vehicles so may be able to get a car cheaper than a private individual but I would have thought the car leasing market was already very competitive so wouldn't imagine a corporate discount would be worth much.
Ian J: Company cars are nowhere near as popular as they used to be due to the penal taxes imposed on company car drivers. Most employees who are eligible for a company car find it more tax efficient to provide their own car and charge mileage to their employer.
Mark T Jones: There are a few companies who insist on having their field-staff drive company cars for brand image reasons – they will often be consistent in every detail such as make, model and even colour. Many more will offer a choice of either a car or an allowance and some staff still favour the convenience of having a new car plonked in front of them each year with nothing to worry about.
SERC1204: While the employee pays tax on the benefit in kind this tax is usually a lot less than the cost of a new car. I don’t drive a flash car but if my employer offered me the chance to have my current car as a company car, given the tax I’d pay compared to the actual cost to me, I’d bite their hand off.
inventive: Providing a car also makes an employee think twice about leaving the company. If they want to leave they either have to face buying a car or find another position which also offers them a company car.
Mark T Jones
Following on from one of last week's Fresh Threads, do you ever collaborate with any or all of your competitors?
deniser: I collaborate with two competitors – we send each other stock or customers when we can't fulfill a request ourselves. But these are people that have been around for a long time, that we like on a personal level, that we can have a chat with over the phone and we trust not to step on our toes. We also operate in different marketplaces with only some overlap. But as far as the vast majority is concerned, they are not getting any help from us whatsoever. The amount of competitors emailing or phoning to ask where we source a particular product from is extraordinary. I just laugh and say “That's a trade secret”.
ADW: We are open to it in certain circumstances. We currently have relationships with smaller, larger and similar size companies. If you can establish a good honest relationship you never know what might come of it. There's plenty of business out there so you don't have to step on each others toes and there's no harm in establishing a few key allies. I suppose it partly comes down to personalities. Plenty of competitors would stick a knife in your back to make an extra couple of quid.
MBE2017: I used to help people out for a few years until I realised my competitors gained a huge advantage by essentially borrowing from me at no charge. The only exception, having thought about it, was collaboration in removals and courier work, where instead of being competitors they became assets, on the strict understanding that poaching clients would result in zero payment and no future work.
tony84: I help other mortgage brokers. A few of us have a group on Facebook where we help each other out if, for example, we are struggling to place a case; or if one of us is too busy, we will refer business. If one of us is quiet, we'll share work, too. But I wouldn't tell them where I generate business or anything that could potentially harm my business.
We are thinking of having a free delivery option for orders over £99, using the standard Royal Mail parcel service, second class, rather than using a tracked solution from someone like DPD. We initially tried to ensure that sending all parcels over £149 went through DPD but that's an expensive solution due to the volumes, but we're concerned at the £50 compensation limit on second class parcels. I see companies sending £800-plus parcels through Royal Mail and that seems quite scary to me. Any advice?
Mr D: Yes, I'll send orders up to £2,500 through Royal Mail, special delivery. I'll use couriers when appropriate – on, say, international orders of £100. For the UK, then Royal Mail is the usual carrier.
deniser: We go by the value of the contents rather than what we are charging in postage. We use ordinary second class (untracked) for packages up to a value of £40. We use second class signed for those between £40 and £100. We use a courier for anything over £100. At one point we extended the £40 to £50 but then had a spate of parcels in the £40-50 price bracket go missing, so reverted.
bharris: We find Royal Mail by far the best for lost or damaged parcels. Even the better couriers are still way behind the success rate of Royal Mail. If you have a business account, you get free delivery confirmation which even PayPal accept as a confirmed delivery for the purposes of seller protection. We now always use Royal Mail unless the weight makes the cost prohibitive; then we use UPS or Parcelforce, because DPD excludes almost everything we sell from compensation. We offer free second class post if the order is over £50, with the option to pay for first class.
I'm a commercial photographer specialising in products and my ideal clients are business owners. I've found Facebook marketing doesn't work as it mainly targets the public. Also, to be honest I'm rubbish at social media, and don't want to write a blog. I've been using Google AdWords for just over two years and I bring most of my clients in this way but my budget is limiting me. I've just hired someone to deal with my SEO and my rankings have improved. What advice do you have on these and other methods?
YourCloudAccountant: As with accounting, you buy the person, not the product. Eight percent of accounting leads come via referrals from other clients, although we spend 80% of our marketing budget on Google ads, adverts and so on. I've found I worry about AdWords loads and I get only a few clients from it, but then those clients do refer others. It's a frustration.
Root66 Woodshop: I think Facebook and LinkedIn are the only way to get your name out there. This doesn't work as well for some industries, unfortunately.
Ray272: I use freelancing platform Upwork a lot to find people who can support me on tasks outside my skill set. Lot of creative contractors use this and it seems a very buoyant marketplace.
WeddingsInWales: Last year I read a book on marketing which introduced me to the concept of a ‘buyers parade’. The idea is that every prospect is in a parade of potential buyers but only when they reach the front of the parade are they ready to buy. The writer suggested a series of regular mailings to the prospect list, timed to avoid irritating them but reminding them about your service periodically. When they are ready to buy they will think of you. Given the nature of your business, you would simply write a series of letters about photoshoots and marketing campaigns they were used in, with links to your website. You may not like blogs, and you will have to write all the letters in an intensive month or so of work, but once done the letters are timeless and continue working with no further input from you.
That's all for this week – have a great run into the weekend!
Thank You for sharing this stuff!
After all said and done, not all businesses or websites need to worry about it. Most small businesses will not be affected right?
this is Inflation