Well, August is upon us as is the holiday season. It was therefore probably a good result for there to be 18 of us present including Alex Pink who has made an application to join.
A call to Arms! Could all members who are not on holiday make every effort this month to attend every meeting;
I for one in particularly enjoyed the meeting this week. It started off well – Stuart Smallcombe reading what could best be described as his first Epistle to EBF. The subject was trust and how it was a quantifiable business asset.
First of all there were the 3 stages of trust
• Know me
• Like me
• Trust me
Then there was the trust seesaw; on the downside, no trust business slow costs more/on the upside, trust fast business costs less.
Then there were the companions of trust
And finally, give trust, have faith.
All of this might seem slightly evangelical, as I said before, Stuart’s first Epistle to EBF but not only was it well thought out, it was well delivered and any thought of religious dogmatism was immediately dispelled by Stuart wearing what appeared to be a black fingerless glove on his right hand, could there be some strange cult involved here…I felt obliged to make full enquiry and you will be pleased to learn that he has simply strained his wrist…apparently writing the second and third Epistles, which we look forward to in the future.
With Stuart’s exaltations ringing in our ears we dove…yes dove into the 60 second round.
Alan Shaw rose to his feet and appeared to be more confused than usual. A bad week, drainage problems, a nightmare with wrong drawings apparently, and some problem with a little porch; I thought he said little Porche but no, he had a problem with a little porch. Not a good week. In following 60 seconds presentations I was looking for others who had shared a bad week with Mr Shaw. Well Alan Moller found a fault underneath the floorboards. Terry Maylin had returned from holiday to collect debts and obtain possession orders. His clients were ok but those who owed the money and had to get out of their houses had a bad week. Peter Hood has taken someone on 3 days a week so is ready for anything…he should be. The moment you start employing someone your headaches begin; Richard Reed had no special offers for us.
Reasons to be cheerful? Well Marcelle was cheerful enough describing the birthstone for August, the Peridot. It’s green, it was Cleopatra’s stone of choice and is the stone of the zodiac sign of Libra.
Kevin Radford was gleefully launching his campaign against the Meerkats in general and Oleg in particular. David Plumley was quite excited about warning us keeping our business computer separate from our home computer. Janice Bentley-Pearson was emphasising the importance of spending more time on rather than too much time in your business. Kevin Brooks was talking about materials but the rust coloured shorts and holiday style flip flops and casual shirt was a total distraction and Mike Rogers was close to being cheerful. Generally we were upbeat but the Oscar had to be awarded to Alan Shaw, if only as consolation for his trials and tribulations of the week.
Still, reasons to be cheerful included Kevin Radford’s 10 minute slot; never mind what he said, the Bard of Hadleigh is adding song and dance to his poetry in an attempt to make himself the all round entertainer. He turned his attention from Meerkats to Direct Line and Go Compare. A heart warming performance; you do feel that all the risks we all take and face everyday are in safe hands if they are managed by RMK, Kevin was uplifting. He retained his spritely approach to life tripping round the room in the referrals and testimonials round handing out the paper that we wish to have passed.
The figures for the month of July made for good reading. £65,667.00 worth of business recorded and the winner of the performance league by a good margin was David Plumley. One of our hardest working members and it was a popular win.
And so dear friends we are into August, your best efforts for the month please.
20 members present plus Alex Pink, visiting us for the third time with a promise next week to make an application to join. A good turnout given that the holiday season is upon us once again. As with our previous 2 weeks when we had even better turnout, there was a buzz to the meeting.
David Plumley’s Ed Slot was back to basics, in particular, tracking your referrals. Both the ones that you give and the ones that you receive!! The ones that you give, to not only ensure that they are followed up properly but to make sure those acknowledgements for the money are made. On the other side of the coin, make sure that those that you receive are chased up and referred back to the referrer if nothing immediately comes of them and to make sure that they are, at the end of the piece of business, attributed and recorded.
Following such a studious theme I was hoping that the 60 second round would also reveal a theme, whether studious or otherwise. In that I was disappointed, although it was none the less entertaining.
With the Commonwealth Games going on, I seem to have been watching nothing but highlights on TV. I will adopt the same principle and let you have some highlights from the 60 second round.
Marcelle was engaging, as she reminded us of what one side of her business did indeed supply, engagement rings.
Gary Waskett and Jennie Pritchard both declared themselves rushed off their feet. Gary felt this arose from the economic recovery causing overtrading. Clearly Jennie being busy means there is an increase in trading and it presumably means the banks are lending money!!
David Plumley talked about a Funeral Director in Hadleigh that represented good business whilst Kevin Radford explained that his business based in Hadleigh was not the Hadleigh in Suffolk which apparently is a very pretty little town but the Hadleigh in Essex which is not. Presumably because amongst other things it contains lots of Funeral Directors.
Richard Reed was advocating “cruising” and some special offers that lead into 2016. When he named the Cruise Line and the extent of the deal he started speaking quietly so I couldn’t pick up the details. Maybe it’s one of the travel industries best kept secrets.
Through the recent months we have not had our fair share of whimsy; Alan Shaw, its principal exponent however put that right and was at his whimsical best. It perhaps had something to do with his having to turn up early to “man” the door. He forgot to sign in the members register, until they were packing up at 7 am.
He then started his 60 seconds by telling us that he written a poem last week. This looked promising! He then however declared that he couldn’t remember how it started and therefore…. told us of a recent visit to Kent where he had seen Ellen Terry’s house. Unfortunately he had to explain that this was not a relative of this famous footballer but a well known film star of yore and thence a visit to a pub that had not changed since the Second World War. Not to the tune of threepence a pint but both buildings apparently (and here’s the architectural bit) exhibited fantastic spaces.
For the casual visitor or reader of this Blog Alan is in fact an Architect and provides architectural services…what else can I say!!
The final thing that I can report to you about the 60 second round is that I won the Oscar; largely because I pointed out that I worked from an office in Hockley which not only sounds like Hadleigh but is also a grotty town in Essex that also boasts a funeral director.
Vivienne Nwalema was the 10 minute presenter and it gave her an opportunity to introduce herself fully to the group and also show us a very slick video that promoted her business. At the same time,
so slick was the video that it also promoted Alex Pink’s business as he had produced it……Her presentation resulted in a good response with many questions being thrown at her by the members. Alan Shaw wasn’t letting us off the hook on whimsical stakes. He asked a very pertinent question about whether she could transport cats to the Cayman Islands…yes that rights cats to the Cayman Islands, not caymans to the Isle of Dogs. Apparently she can…. transport cats that is. An excellent 10 minutes that allowed us all to understand her product and hopefully enable members to spot referrals for her.
She even finished off her presentation with a little dance. Part of the limbering up process for running in the referrals and testimonials round. A reasonable number of referrals and monies recorded produced a return for this month of £65,000. If not the dizzy heights, it was a very solid performance this month, it will be difficult to replicate it in the month of August when holidays hit us but let’s see if we can beat it next month.
Until next week…
Chairman’s Blog Thursday 10th July 2014.
A good turnout, 20 members plus 1, Vivienne’s guest Aaron Foster who deals with commercial property investments;
The Ed Slot had David Plumley, back to basics and extolling the virtues of 1-2-1. His challenge for everyone, to arrange a 1-2-1 before they left the meeting, seemed to have a fairly good take up as I spotted people scurrying around at the end of the meeting and making appropriate arrangements. Congratulations to David for a very focused, productive Ed Slot.
In a topsy-turvy sort of way I will begin my description of the 60 second round with the Oscar winner- Marcelle. She extolled the virtues of the Ruby which is the stone for the month of July. It is apparently chromium that gives it its colour, useful for 40th wedding anniversaries and a most valued Ruby type colour is “pigeon blood”. The fact that I was interested to note the above facts down explains why she won the Oscar, awarded to her by last week’s winner Michael Adelizzi who immediately followed her and talked of low level baths and high level toilets. I am sure I was only one of many with the mental image of people transferring to the latter to the former.
Peter Hood has been changing nappies and burping, this he declared made the breakfast a departure from his normal routine although I had noticed the burping at previous meetings.
Dean Caldon talked about houses (‘cos Howard suggested it) Howard Bullock talked about pensioners (‘cos Dean suggested it). Alan Moller talked about electrical installations (‘cos he thought that’s what people would suggest if asked).
Richard Reed talked of cruises, in particular a company that was having a summer sale that take boats to places that other cruises don’t reach. It would appear that this accessability is gained at the expense of size. Although the word “cosy” cruises comes to mind, in fact the company is called Crystal Cruises and a cruise is yours from £2,000 upwards (come on Richard you can’t get a better plug than that!!!).
David Plumley was not going to let us off the hook after his very effective Ed Slot; he maintained his up beat manner by getting excited over “network sockets” and someone called NAZ who sounds like someone who is going to join a Jihad, but is in fact something that is very useful to small businesses (I do have some trouble concentrating at times in the early morning). Indeed as my concentration waned only certain things pierced my consciousness which were as follows:
Tina said she has 30 years of experience;
It was Stuart Smallcombe’s wedding anniversary;
Kevin Brooks has been installing a lift to take someone’s mother in law up into a loft…I did expect him to get more referrals in the light of this particular area of expertise but members were restrained in this.
That’s enough of the 60 second, round suffice to say it was upbeat lively and entertaining. Surely it could not get better…but it did! In the10 minute presentation Nick Cooke produced a memorable presentation. First of all he set himself up with a small “occasional table”…yes that’s right, one that you only see occasionally. This table contained the following items; cup, saucer, teapot, telephone and bottle of wine. Yes, I own up to it, I was once a contestant on Bull’s Eye. Anyway he proceeded to receive a telephone call when he had a discussion with what I think was an imaginary caller seeking his services. His caller thought he needed a Home Buyers Report from a surveyor. Nick was having none of it, he explained to the deluded individual that he needed a structural engineer who would be able to provide advice on the structure of the house he was proposing to purchase. These presentations can always be open to ridicule and I certainly am not going to miss out on such an opportunity but this telephone call was well prepared and was an excellent presentation. There was thererore a spring in his step when he did the running in the referrals and testimonials round.
There were finally 14 referrals and business written of £36,750 which sets us on course for a good July.
One or two little extras to report on this week;
Paul announced the results of the keepy –uppy completion but only after Michael Adelizzi had given us a demonstration of his own particular skills in that area. Most of us completed our test prior to breakfast and demonstrated more putty-downy rather than keepy-uppy skills. I think I recall Peter Hood making double figures but the winner, despite doing it whilst wearing a suit, was run away with 39 thus fuelling the suspicions that many of us have, that Dean Caldon is not only a look alike for Mehmet Ozil but is the man himself who had popped back briefly from his world cup duties to brighten up our morning. It perhaps explains why Howard Bullock had to tell him what should be the subject of his 60 seconds. Don’t worry Dean your secret it safe with us.
With every benefit comes a burden; I was the lucky beneficiary of the Good Egg Award for June and I thank all those who voted for me. I just hope that the votes weren’t prompted by the burden side of the award, namely the responsibility of looking after the egg until it is delivered back for next month’s award in the first August meeting. The responsibility doesn’t just extend to the egg, there is a rather attractive stand and the bag that is was purchased in. It should be safe in my lounge provided as it is sitting comfortably on my mantle piece…unless I have a keepy-uppy completion in said lounge.
A truly great meeting, let’s see if we can repeat it next week.
Windows XP was released in 2001 … and it is still on over 30% of all PCs out there. It is a testament to how “loved” it has been. Support for Windows XP is ending on April 8, 2014. If you’re running this version after that, you won’t get security updates for Windows. Microsoft have been very fair in supporting XP for 13 years. Since XP we have had Vista [spit, spit], Windows 7 and now Windows 8. Windows 8 is getting mixed reviews and sales have not been high. It certainly is more secure, more stable and faster but many have found the user interface just too different. It looks like MS have a revision for Windows 8, codenamed “blue”, on the way later this year. Window 7 is also still available and has had very good press since its release. For advice on upgrading or replacing PCs that are currently running Windows XP do get in touch with us at Integrate Networks
Microsoft’s latest version of it’s ubiquitous “Office” product now presents us with a choice. We can either go for the yearly subscription model by choosing Office 365 (in one of its many variations) or we can instead pay once, up-front, for the full Office 2013.
Whether for home or business the correct choice is not straight forward. If you “Google” Office 2013 and follow nearly all the Microsoft links you will actually be sucked towards Office 365 … i.e. the subscription product. It can be quite hard to find the correct link for Office 2013. It does seem that MS wants us all to move to a yearly payment.
For advice regarding the correct choice for you, do contact us at Integrate Networks. David Plumley
10 point I.T. Health Check
Information Technology and computing in general … possibly the fastest moving aspect of the modern world. Much of the equipment we are using right now will be outdated and slow within 4 to 5 years simply because of changing demands and new approaches. Programmes and processes constantly evolve to increase efficiency and productivity. But older hardware struggles to keep up.
We need a simple strategy which will help us stay in control of our I.T. and computing requirements. Without a plan we can end up wasting endless man-hours trying to cope with systems that don’t quite deliver what our businesses need. This may be due to outdated hardware, incorrect software and poor implementation.
The B2B power group met this past Tuesday 28th August. The group is free to attend and has an organised yet relaxed approach.
In attendance were Jason Nortey, Graham Wright, Dawn Ribnell, Aidan Squire and David Plumley.
Apologies from Terry Maylin, Tina Walker, Claire Greenslade, Suzanne Riches, Neal Lewer and Richard Reed.
The main thrust of the meeting was to discuss the categories we should invite to the group. The aim being to increase the group’s size and effectiveness and to hopefully encourage attendees to consider becoming EBF members. If we can increase the group to at least 15 members we should have a reliable attendance of at least 10 for each meeting.
The following categories were thought to be the main ones to concentrate on:
- Car Servicing
- Car/Van Hire
- Events Organiser
We also want to encourage newer EBF members who fit the B2B category to come along each month.
We finished the meeting with each member describing their most recent work. This sparked quite a number of questions.
First some questions
- What are the purposes and goals of the power group?
- What is the function of the monthly meeting?
- Who is eligible to be a part of the group?
- What sort of commitments is required of a member?
Purposes and goals
There are two primary goals of the group. First, knowing that our business types have a natural empathy, we make an effort to bring referral-based business to each other. Second, we feel we can eventually market ourselves as a group … of “trusted traders” … a one stop shop for consumers. We aim to build better working relations among members. The size and diversity of the group will be crucial to its effectiveness and so a subsidiary goal is the need to increase the membership in order to fill the gaps in services we can offer as a group. We need to be able to offer complete solutions.
Why the monthly meeting?
To keep us on track and to maintain motivation and direction. We meet to generate, discuss and refine our goals and to then create action plans so that we really do accomplish something. Discussions will include how we can promote the groups as a whole as well as our individual businesses. Each meeting is part of our further business education and growth. We run through a structured agenda which ensures we grow increasingly knowledgeable about each other’s businesses and also learn how our own business is perceived by others. The monthly meeting is also the time to formalise referrals that we may have already given or are about to give. At each meeting we can also be reminded of the categories of business we need to invite as guests.
Who can be a member of this power group?
The core members of the Business-to-Consumer Power Group are drawn from Essex Business Forum. The power group is also happy to accept other local businesses which are not members of EBF conditional on there being a genuine level of commitment. Also, past members and outside professions can be invited if they are identified to be of benefit to the group. The members mostly run businesses which, in whole or part, trade and deal with the end consumers of goods and services.
All members of the group are expected to make reasonable effort to attend all meetings through the year. If a member cannot attend it is good form to let the Chairman know well in advance.
The commitment also involves being an active, contributing member, bringing guests when possible, striving to further the group as a whole and looking for qualified referrals for other members.
The EBF biz-2-Consumer power group met on Monday 20th and were joined by members from the property power group. In fact we are now an enlarged single group which brings the combined membership to nearly 20. Looks like we’ll stick with the B-2-C group name.
A full write up from Jason Nortey will come later but just to say that 9 were in attendance … Brian Painter, Graham Thurston, Mike Rogers , Nick Cooke, Richard Reed, Marcelle Saad, David Plumley, Jason Nortey, John Probert … and the following apologies … Kevin Brooks, Steve Carmichael-Brown, Aidan Squire, Suzanne Riches, Jamie Nye, Claire Greenslade.
We have decided that we will move back to monthly meetings, the next being 17th September and then sticking with the third Monday of each month [December excepted]. Time and location are 4.55 pm [5 mins to get drinks in for a prompt 5.00 pm kick-off] at the George and Dragon Mountnessing. We try to gather in the mezzanine area of the restaurant.
Windows 8 will be commercially and domestically available from Late October. It is a big move forward in speed, efficiency, and new possibilities. But it is VERY different!
Windows 8 [the full version] will probably have a very slow initial take-up within businesses. The interface is so very different that it will confuse users and slow them down. Enterprise will look at the support and training costs as quite a barrier. The change in interface is bigger than the entire accumulated transitions from Win95 through to Win7.
This does not mean Windows 8 is bad … but it might have to permeate the domestic market first. Enterprise [and even SME] may wait until users have been using Windows 8 for a while [maybe 2+ years?] on their home PCs and tablets. The less difference between home and work PCs the better.
By the end of the year new PCs for the home will increasingly ship with Windows 8. Also some will choose to upgrade an existing PC. Businesses will be wise to wait until a good percentage of users are familiar with the total change of interface.
Windows RT [the version running on ARM based tablets] will probably grab a quick slice of the tablet market … but it will not run line of business apps … except for the built-in version of MS Office.
I’d encourage domestic users to embrace Windows 8 early on. Early learners will be valuable at work. Also businesses may want to upgrade or introduce just a few Win 8 PCs 8 to get on the learning curve and to discover if their applications run.
I’m also wondering if third party apps will arise enabling a more traditional look … including the start button. Not sure if that is good or bad. Might be better to accept and learn the new interface from the start.
David Plumley, Integrate Networks