Here's how we can help your business spring summer2012

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Helping your business this Spring/SummerSpring

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<ul><li> 1. Save time and moneySpring/Summer 2012 with Direct Debitheres howwe can help your business Savings Generally you could pay 2% less for your electricity if you switch to pay by Direct Debit. Because your payments become easier to administer, we can remove the surcharge thats added to bills paid by other means. Service Save time paying bills. With Direct Debit, the payment is automatic so once its set up, you dont need to do anything more. Choice Choose which way to pay. You can opt for variable Direct Debit and just pay for what youve used or, for easier budgeting, you can pay the same amount each month as a fixed monthly Direct Debit. Your account is thenInject fresh life into your workplace: reviewed at least once a year to ensure your payment is appropriate.RefreshSpring clean to help boost productivityContribute To set up a Direct Debit,Get involved with your local community call us on 0845 166 3360SaveCut costs with group buying deals Phone calls: We may monitor and/or record calls for security, quality or training purposes. Calls to 0845 numbers may be free from BT landlines but will vary with other providers, and calls from mobiles may be considerably higher. Please check with your provider for exact charges. npm10000/04.12RF10798 npm10000 Q2 SME Billing 2012.indd 1-2 05/04/2012 13:45</li></ul><p> 2. WelcomeEnergy Market View Energy market viewWith warmer weather on itsway, why not inject some freshlife into your business?Whats insideEnergy market view 3No change in policy, but good news withHot topic: Spring clean your business4 lower gas pricesNeed to know: Employment law 7Refresh Energy Savers: Invest for efficiency 8 Change at the top of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC),Nows an ideal time to spring clean your business and Spotlight on: Community action10 with Ed Davey replacing Chris Huhne, doesnt alter things much for the energyhelp your operation run more efficiently and profitably Quick guide: Online resources 13 market at least for now. see our ten-point plan starting on page 4.How to: Boost purchasing power14Daveys key message as he took over was that thereContributeSave money: Direct Debit16 would be no change in energy policy even taking Janet Wood is editorof Utility Week.Getting involved with your local community provides forward DECCs widely-criticised plans to cut solartwo-way benefits that can help to raise your businesss photovoltaic tariffs. Although it was well knownprofile as illustrated on pages 10-12.that these generous tariffs would be cut in 2012 because the price of solar panels was falling so fast DECCs decision to bring forward the reductions,Saveso they took effect with little notice, caused an50%The rise in group-buying sites for SMEs allowsoutcry. By the Spring, it was still not clear whethersmaller companies to gain greater purchasing powerthe new tariffs would mean solar power installation Reduced demand for gas find out more on pages 14-15. could benefit small and medium users.While the latest government figures show that theUKs reliance on imported gas has increased, theYou can find out how to invest to potentially saveSpotlight on SMEson energy bills and get the lowdown on useful online Group Buying Daveys experience as consumer minister meansanticipated price hikes havent materialised. In fact,we are now in a better position to benefit whenresources, plus see the back cover for more onDirect Debit savings.Discount he brings to his new job an interest in domesticmeasures like buying groups, but less of a trackglobal gas prices fall and thats the situation inearly Spring.Wishing you a great Summer! record of measures for SMEs. Interestingly, itsenergy suppliers themselves who have begun to Reduced demand is partly the cause the UKs gas Group-buying sites bring big-company wake up to the importance of these customers. use in 2011 was the lowest since 1995, according toPam Andrew discounts to the SME sector read moreThis year has seen suppliers like npower offering DECC. And this year we are still well supplied andCustomer Service Manager in our feature on pages 14-15. new products to businesses at the larger end of using relatively little. Energy market watchers Plattsthis sector, so its feasible we may see more choiceforecasts that gas prices are drifting down.coming to the wider SME market in the near future.Regardless of contract type, however, theres someAlso on the way down was the price of coal. So withwelcome news in the form of lower wholesale energy demand and fuel prices lower, now may be aEditorial content provided by Susannah Lawson &amp; Associates (www.slcommunications.co.uk).gas prices. good time to renew any lapsed supply contracts.npower is a registered trademark and a trading name of Npower Direct Limited (registered in England and Wales No.3782443) and associated companies.Registered Office: Windmill Hill Business Park, Whitehill Way, Swindon SN5 6PB.2 3RF10798 npm10000 Q2 SME Billing 2012.indd 3-4 05/04/2012 13:45 3. Hot topic Hot topicSpring cleanyour businessTechnical appraisal: review stores of old equipment and sell, recycle or donate any thats no longer usefulPerforming at your best is key foryour company to stay competitive -so SME expert Mark Williams offerssome tips to refresh your business1. EquipmentYou might have an old PC, monitor or printer thatsdoing nothing more than gathering dust and takingup space. If you cant sell it and dont fancy a tripto the tip, some computer-recycling companieswill come and collect (you might want to destroysensitive data first). You might also have othermachinery/equipment you can get rid of, so whynot free up the space and some cash?2. CustomersA customer database can be a vital marketingtool, but only if the information it contains isaccurate and current. Clean your database byupdating names and addresses where necessaryand remove those who are unlikely to buy fromyou. Also, re-organise your database so that you canmore easily target your better customers. And dontforget that as well as keeping information up to dateand relevant, the Data Protection Act also requiresyou to keep all customer data secure too. 4. Brand5. Products or services6. Website3. Business plan Is your brand looking a little tired or scruffy?Now could be the perfect time to replace Do you need to delete any inaccurate or irrelevant Over time this can easily happen, so maybe its underperforming products or services. They might information? Maybe the copy could be rewritten toIf youre in the mood for spring cleaning, dont time to clean up your act. As well as your logo,have had their day. They might never have been make a better job of promoting your business andforget to dust off your business plan. Some of the stationery, website and signage, how your staff dress as popular as you had hoped. Clean them out andits product. Does content need to be optimised forinformation will be out of date. Things change and interact with customers affects perceptions introduce new products or services. Be guided by search engines? Are all links still working? Could youquickly in business, which is why you should update of your brand. Some simple tweaks might make it knowledge of your market. If necessary, speak to upload better images? Maybe you could add newyour plan at least once a year if it is to remain a sparkle again. At worst, your brand may need a totalyour customers to find out what new products ortraffic-boosting features, such as a blog, or updateuseful tool. This can help you to regain sight of your rethink, which should be carried out as part of a services theyd buy. your customer testimonials?business objectives and development strategies.comprehensive marketing review. continues overleaf... 45RF10798 npm10000 Q2 SME Billing 2012.indd 5-605/04/2012 13:46 4. Hot topicNeed to know7. PaperworkIf your office shelves are literally groaning under theEmployment law updateweight of a paper and box file mountain, its time toact. Recycle paperwork you no longer need (shredA summary of key legislative changes that take effect from April 2012.it first). Dont keep printed invoices if you can savespace by storing them electronically (be sure toback-up important files). Is there a tidier way to file F rom 1 April, the standard rate of statutory enforcing authority if the employee suffers anyreceipts? If you can view them online, why retain maternity, paternity and adoption pay willincapacity for more than seven days rather thanprinted bank statements? Introduce a business-wideincrease from 128.73 to 135.45 per week.more than three, as before. The employer mustpolicy of not printing unless absolutely necessarythen report the accident within 15 days (previously it will save you space and money. T he income tax personal allowance thresholdthey had just 10 days).will increase by 630 to 8,105. The higher8. Computersincome tax rate of 50% will be lowered to T he Pensions Act 2007 and the Pensions Act34,371 (from 35,001). 2008 will abolish contracting out of the stateBegin by cleaning up your PC desktops. File awayadditional pension on a defined-contributionstuff you need to keep delete the rest. Runoperating system, software and virus-protection10. Take stock T he lower earnings limit for primary Class basis for occupational, personal and stakeholderAs well as taking up space you are paying for,1 National Insurance contributions (NICs) pension schemes. Employees will be automaticallyupdates to ensure your computers are protected andunsold stock ties up capital. To get rid of it, the will rise from 102 to 107.brought back into the State system and theyllrun smoothly. You might need to get outside helpfirst obvious tactic is to offer heavily discounted start to accumulate entitlement to additionalto spring clean your IT system if its more complex.prices or possibly a two-for-one offer. When T he standard rate of statutory sick pay will State Pension. Those in money-purchase/defined-Delete emails you dont need to keep and put theworking out discounted prices be sure to factor inincrease from 81.60 to 85.85 a week.contribution occupational schemes will pay therest into neatly categorised folders. Give your screenall costs if you want to avoid quite literally giving standard rate NICs (not the reduced rate).a thorough wipe and tidy away any cables.your stock away. E mployees will need to have been employed9. Premises within a role for two years to be able to bringWhy not hold a sale of discounted items toan unfair dismissal claim. Previously, only oneRight, theres no more putting it off. Its time to attract customers to your premises or website?years service was required. However, this willroll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty byThis can generate sales of non-discounted items.only apply to employees who begin a new jobphysically cleaning your premises. Involve allSome businesses even use slow-selling goods on or after 6 April 2012.team members and try to inject a bit of fun intoto sweeten bundled offers or as loss-leaders toproceedings. Clear away all clutter pay particularbolster higher margin sales. T here will also be changes to employmentattention to desktops, shelves and other flat surfaces. tribunal procedure. Among them, theIf you dont use it remove it. Make sure anyYou might be able to sell excess stock via eBay maximum amount a tribunal can order a partykitchen, eating, bathroom and customer areas areor another auction website (see Group Buyingto pay as a condition that proceedings willimmaculate. After dusting, brushing and mopping,article on page 14). Bear in mind you will have tocontinue will rise from 500 to 1,000. There-organise the layout to create a more efficient and pay fees and organise/charge for postage. You maximum amount a tribunal can award inproductive environment. Why not consider gettingcould sell to a stock liquidator but dont expect favour of a legally represented party will risethe place decorated in the summer? And dont forget good prices. Did you know?from 10,000 to 20,000.to follow the relevant health and safety guidelines. Although regulations can come into force H ealth and safety reporting requirementsthroughout the year, some key governmentwill also change from 6 April 2012. Followingdepartments implement their changes ona serious injury sustained in the workplace, either 6 April or 1 October (so-called commonan employer must report the accident to thecommencement dates).6 7RF10798 npm10000 Q2 SME Billing 2012.indd 7-805/04/2012 13:46 5. Energy saversEnergy saversIncrease energy efficiency:top five investment opportunitiesThe Carbon Trust estimates that SMEs have the greatest potential of any businessgroup to save on energy costs. Susannah Lawson picks five areas that can bring bigwins with a little investment, from insulation to lighting choice.Insulation can cut up to 50%of heat lossLighting for less Preventing heat lossDriving down costsLighting is a key area to make savings, as it often Unless properly insulated, the National InsulationRunning motors and drives uses almost two thirdsaccounts for up to 40% of a buildings energy Association estimates a building can lose aroundof the electricity consumed by UK industry. In fact,use. According to research by the Carbon Trust, half of its heat through the roof and walls.the cost of running a motor for a year can be teninvestment in lighting efficiency could save UK An approved installer should be happy to providetimes what it cost to buy in the first place. So thebusinesses and organisations up to 700 million a free survey looking at a variety of insulationefficiency of motor operation is critical to reducinga year. Swapping to energy efficient lighting and measures including loft insulation, draught proofing, energy bills. Replacing large motors running at lowbulbs including LED technology and installing cavity wall insulation and solid wall insulation. load levels (ie less than 40%) with smaller higherlighting controls such as automatic sensors can Lagging heating and steam pipes can also help efficiency ones can make significant savings. Ifdeliver impressive savings. to reduce unnecessary waste.the load being driven by your motor has a varyingdemand, installing a variable speed drive could alsoCondensing heating spendEasy equipment savers save energy.More than half a smaller businesss energy spendEffective management of office equipment canOffice light choice can have acan go on heating and hot water. And whilereduce its energy consumption by up to 70%, soFor more information on the most effectivebig impact on energy costssimple measures can help to reduce costs such its an area worth reviewing. For example, accordinginvestments for reducing your business energy billas turning down the heating by 1C to saveto Ovum, an independent technology analyst, and to download your free Energy Efficiency guidearound 8% installing boiler load optimisers orinstalling computer power management solutionsgo to:even replacing old inefficient...</p>