Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dorset firm's wifi solution increases customer appetite

Ensign Communications, based in Wareham, Dorset, is becoming one of the UK's leading wireless network specialists, working with organisations across the UK.

The company provides enterprise-grade wireless communication solutions to their clients, no matter what the nature of their business, its size or working environment.

Recently asked to provide customer wifi access for a national chain of restaurants, they felt confident in their ability to deliver.

Many of us have a desire to stay connected, wherever we are and whatever we are doing – whether it is to update our social media, check our email or simply occupy ourselves whilst waiting for our food order to arrive.

We're also increasingly looking for free wifi spots, particularly in restaurants and cafes. Reacting to this evolving customer expectation, Ensign’s client realised that providing guest access to wifi would allow them to remain competitive whilst adding another layer to the dining experience of their customers.

Putting free wifi on the menu

Rising to the challenge, Ensign designed and installed a business-grade wireless network using an Aruba solution which brought overall control of the wifi management back to the centre. Put simply, this meant that the client retained overall control of their network, allowing them to manage customers’ local access to the internet through their restaurants’ broadband connections.

Adding a secondary level of control, the Aruba system was coupled with Amigopod (a guest wifi management system) which provides usage reports and password management as well as the corporate look of the application, such as the login prompt and password receipt.

The success of this deployment has exceeded all expectations, with business across the chain of restaurants showing a significant increase as a result. Not only are the diners now receiving free wifi, which may very well provide that all important competitive edge over other restaurants, but it also offers opportunities to market to customers.

A valuable wifi byproduct - customer data

Through tying the username and password receipt to an email or text message, Ensign’s client now has a growing database of  the people who visit their restaurants, highlighting exactly who their customers are and, more importantly, what incentives they are most likely to respond to.

Through this solution, Ensign’s client are now targeting the right people with the right messages and this is paying out the most valuable dividends – satisfied and returning customers.

If a flexible and adaptable wifi solution is something that interests you and your business, you're welcome to contact the Ensign Communication team for a chat. Just mention Bizoh when you do!

The Bizoh blog loves to celebrate business success in Dorset. If your firm has a great story to tell, why not get in touch?

Monday, September 10, 2012

The success of the first Weymouth BID

The Weymouth BID – a new idea?

A replica of George III's bathing machine
  Weymouth seafront
While I was writing a post on the Weymouth BID for Bizoh, I was struck by the similarities between the BID and what happened in Weymouth over 200 years ago, when action was taken to improve the town, preparing the way for it to become the seaside resort of choice for King George III.

The current Weymouth BID

A Business Improvement District (BID) is a government-backed scheme which enables local businesses to generate money to spend on improving the local trading environment. It does this by a levy on non-domestic rates in the BID area and, once passed, has legal force.

The Weymouth BID aims to improve the local area by tackling such issues as improving visitor experience, increasing night-time security, improving information services and extending the holiday season.

The 1776 bid for a better Weymouth

Back in the 1770s, Weymouth’s governing corporation also wanted to improve the town’s facilities. They wanted to attract the growing tourist trade that was developing due to the seaside becoming fashionable, for both health and leisure.

In 1776, an Act of Parliament was passed enabling the corporation to levy a tax on owners and shopkeepers in the town in order to finance these improvements. Does this sound familiar?

Better cleanliness and security

The Act resulted in the paving and draining of Weymouth’s main streets and the installation of street lights, with huge fines against anyone who vandalised them. Taking animals on footpaths was prohibited and fines were levied against those who blocked the road unnecessarily. The Act also provided for watchmen to be appointed and measures were taken against the hazard of fire by forbidding the use of thatch. In short, the Act helped to make Weymouth a cleaner, safer place which was much more attractive to visitors.

The success of the first Weymouth BID

History tells us that the 1776 Act was a success. The Duke of Gloucester visited Weymouth and chose to build a house, Gloucester Lodge, on the seafront in 1780. He lent Gloucester Lodge to his brother George III in 1789 while he was convalescing from his first serious bout of mental incapacity, and George was so taken with Weymouth that he returned almost every year until 1805.

Future success

I hope that the success of the first Weymouth BID will encourage Weymouth to embrace the current proposals for a better, brighter town.

By Rachel Knowles

Rachel is a regular contributor to Bizoh and the author of a blog on late Georgian and Regency history: regencyhistory.net.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Jon’s calculated risk with Smart Accountancy Systems

Jon Jenkins set up Smart Accountancy Systems to
bring the benefits of cloud computing to his clients
After 12 years of working for other people, Jon Jenkins decided that setting up his own business would be better for both clients and himself.

Jon was frustrated by what he felt were the old-fashioned attitudes in many traditional accountancy practices. They lacked a commercial edge, a willingness to change and a commitment to client care. He felt he could do better and in March 2011, he started his own firm, Smart Accountancy Systems, based in Bournemouth, Dorset.

Founded on a desire to deliver outstanding service to clients and offering value for money by using the latest software and technology, it took about a year for Jon’s venture to find its feet.

As with so many small businesses, discovering what the service offering would look like in detail required time. But by early 2012, Jon was confident he had discovered the appropriate approach for his firm.

Results prove the value of the Smart Accountancy Concept

That he’s chosen the right direction has been vindicated by a recent tripling in client numbers. Clarity of vision has also allowed him to focus his marketing on the sectors where he’s already enjoying success, such as start-ups and growing firms.

Jon’s decided to invest heavily in cloud computing, spending a lot of time researching the best solutions available, and not just in accounting packages. He’s won a reputation as something of an expert in cloud solutions across a range of business services.

Having taken the risk of becoming his own boss, Jon’s also decided to restrict his services only to clients willing to embrace cloud accounting systems, such as Xero, KashFlow and FreeAgent. “Calculated risks are good for business,” he said, confident that a highly focused approach will set his firm apart from slower-moving, traditional firms.

“Online accountancy does not mean you never speak to a human,” said Jon, “but completely the opposite, as the technology allows you time to deal with clients’ needs. Our clients have up to date information on which to make business decisions and now spend money on planning, budgeting and forecasting rather than data entry.”

Jon has also put together a business package for start-ups, which has attracted the involvement of many established firms. He intends to begin marketing the package to local start-ups in the near future, helping them to take some of the risk out of their venture by getting support from a variety of organisations, many of whom have helped Smart Accountancy Systems achieve what it has to date.

The Bizoh blog loves to celebrate business success in Dorset. If your firm has a great story to tell, why not get in touch?

Read more Dorset start-up and success stories

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Virtual assistants can do virtually anything

Have you ever wished you could delegate some of those dull or awkward tasks that seem to get in the way of running your business? Those frustratingly necessary, time-consuming yet non-productive jobs, such as sorting through all your expense receipts or filing that growing heap of letters, flyers and scribbled notes.

That’s where a virtual assistant could come in handy. You’re probably familiar with the concept - someone who provides admin support as and when you need it, often working remotely.

To find out a little more about what a virtual assistant actually does, Bizoh spoke to a couple. The first was Andrea Osborne of Cushion the Impact, based in London. Founded 12 years ago, it comprises a core team of four and now also has an office in Scotland.

Andrea said that when they founded the firm, they thought they would largely be running errands for busy people. But the range of tasks they’ve taken on is much wider than that and ranges from writing blog posts through to managing the delivery of domestic appliances to clients’ homes.

Virtual assistants can get their hands dirty

While much of the work is carried out in their office, they do go onsite from time to time. One client needed someone to create order from the chaos of their paperwork, which had spread from their home office into the rest of the house.

Much of the firm’s new business is acquired through word of mouth from satisfied clients, many of whom are now spread across the globe.

Many virtual assistants work alone. That’s how Tracy Swindale of Super-Secretary.com operates. Tracy began by providing virtual assistant services in the evenings and weekends. It went so well that in 2010 she gave up her job to work for herself.

Variety is not optional

Tracy's background as a PA at board level provides the skills and experience she needs to take on a wide variety of tasks from clients. There is no such thing as a typical week for Tracy. When we spoke to her she’d been spending a lot of time debt chasing on behalf of clients, but had also designed a new logo for someone.

Unlike many virtual service businesses, Tracy lists her prices on her website, charging £20 per hour for most of her work. As with Andrea’s firm, she also does some work onsite, although this is in the Darlington area where she’s based.

If you’re tempted to consider using a virtual assistant, it’s worth asking for recommendations. Some are specialists with particular skills and while most are flexible, the best will know their limitations. However, because their job is to make your life easier, if they can’t do something themselves, they will know how to find someone who can.