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Fresh Threads: Contract termination, work-life balance and the 10pm rule

  1. Jas Sensi

    Jas Sensi Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi UKBFers,

    Welcome to Fresh Threads, our weekly roundup of the most popular threads, comments and advice from the forums. 

    Here are my top picks from the past week.

    1. Thinking of hiring social media marketing services


    I am thinking of hiring a local social media/marketing company. On Google, they have 11 five-star reviews, but these could be family or fake reviews.

    My business is a limited company selling tea. It isn't making much money. The money just about covers the cost of accounting, hosting and packaging.

    What should I be aware of when approaching a social media/marketing company? How do they work? How can I measure and confirm that they're doing a good job?

    Mark T Jones: From your questions, I'd suggest that what you want is somebody to help you to put together a strategic marketing plan – very few social media companies will help with this.

    Good ones will operate in line with your plan, bad ones will just spam their favourite platforms. As with any service, the first thing I'd pay attention to is the questions they ask, and how much they challenge you.

    Quick, cheap, easy is generally the hallmark of an incompetent or a scammer.

    AstEver: You can identify a few potential marketers or agencies and have them pitch for your business, but you would need to know how to evaluate them.

    I concur with Mark T Jones on the marketing plan. In general, the money and time spent on planning will bring much better results long term than the money handed to marketers and praying that they know what they are doing.

    Alison Moore: In our experience, social media companies will talk the talk but rarely walk the walk. They never guarantee any return on investment.

    So, you end up spending a small fortune with them for nothing in return.

    Naheed Mir: In my opinion, it is better to give the task to your employee for social media marketing instead of outsourcing it.

    Many marketing companies will give you the opinion that they have the best social media managers, but they use a "packaged" style approach to social media. You will also get an idea of their organizational skills when they are making a social media plan for you to review.

    2. Contract termination due to coronavirus pandemic

    Claudia I

    In June 2019, my husband and I opened a bakery in London. Considering this situation, in January 2020 we accepted a collaboration proposal from a marketing company to advertise the business.

    We were forced to permanently close at the end of August 2020, so I informed the marketing company and requested the termination of the contract which was signed in January 2020 for 1 year. They sent me a contract termination confirmation with the date of May 2021.

    I emailed them a few times explaining that the bakery does not exist anymore, so there is no object for the contract, but they keep sending invoices.

    Mr D: They chase the company for payment. The company pays or not pays based on its circumstances. If it has no money it doesn't pay. They could go for a CCJ against the company. The company still doesn't pay.

    MikeJ: If your company has assets then they could force you to sell those that and pay them, unless you want to challenge their performance in the contract. Without anyone reading the contract, it's hard to know what they actually promised.

    Alison Moore: I'm guessing there is some sort of retainer or monthly fee on the contract, which is why they're invoicing you? As long as the company exists the contract is still valid and whatever you originally signed will still stand regardless of your business situation.

    obscure: You closed your company and by doing so you prevented them from fulfilling their obligations. Under contract law, if you, through action or inaction, prevent the other party from fulfilling their obligations then they are still entitled to payment under the contract.

    3. The 10 o’clock rule


    Is there anyone here that is running a pub, club, bar or restaurant that has been ordered to close by 10pm? If so, how has it affected you? Have you seen a big reduction in customers and takings?

    Sam Kumar: Not an owner but definitely there is reduction in customer count on pubs, at least by 30%.

    Mark T Jones: I work (used to work?) extensively in this sector. The impact of 10pm closing is extremely varied. My local pub sees it as an opportunity to get rid of their few late stragglers and close early, with minimal impact on takings. At the other end of the scale, anything the city centre, particularly when reliant on students, is being hit very hard.

    Paul Norman: For some city-centre pubs, this is big. A lot of customers arrive at 10 and order a late meal and some drinks. For some pubs, it will have a minor impact. For my local pub in the village, it will make no difference at all. They didn't make it through the lockdown and it is all boarded up.

    Alison Moore: Most pubs I go to these days stop serving food at 9am and start tidying around you by 10.30pm as they want to close up and go home, so I can't see the 10pm deadline is a major issue for them. Before 24 hour drinking, pubs used to close at 11pm anyway, so it's only an hour earlier. Party towns and cities will have a whole different perspective on the restrictions.

    4. Work-life balance when you’re self-employed


    So this may sound ludicrous in the current climate but I'm due to enter self-employment within the next year, completing a buy out of a company in the weddings and hospitality sector the UK.

    I am fairly happy with everything, coming to terms with accounting terminology and fully accepting this will hit me like a tonne of bricks, but what are everyone's top tips on how to get some kind of work-life balance?

    paulsears: One of the things with the hospitality and entertainment industry is that they are not 9-5 businesses. Pre-COVID, calls would come up to maybe 11.30 at night, texts and emails at any time and you just get used to it.

    BustersDogs: Get an answering service if you don't want to answer calls but don't want to miss work. I look after pets and sometimes calls late at night are customers asking for help with health issues. In some industries you just have a closer relationship with clients than in others. I used to have one client book in after she chatted with her son in the States – usually 2am my time.

    interestedobserver: Many weddings have been postponed because numbers were limited. No guarantee that's going to change in 2021, sadly.

    JEREMY HAWKE: Seriously, if you are starting up and you want to be successful you should not be asking these questions. To make it work you have to give it everything for two or three years, absolutely everything. Put the hard work in and you might be able to take it easy in the future and enjoy life a bit more.

    That's all for this week – have a great run into the weekend!