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By Damian Brady
20th February 2012
“Sure it’ll never happen to me”. That’s an expression we have all used subconsciously. We are unaware that we are wasting money and potentially causing fires. As smart savvy people we all know not to leave a chip pan unattended, let a child play with matches or leave a lighted candle in a window with a curtain. However, how many of us have left appliances plugged in when they are not in use?
We are looking at both commercial and domestic situations. Did you ever notice that when your phone charger is plugged in it gets hot? Check it out the next time you charge your phone. After a few hours plugged in put your hand on the charger. Be careful here, you don’t want to burn your house down! When an appliance is warm the heat builds up gradually and can go on fire. “Not to me” I hear you say. Unfortunately, it can.
Remember in order for something to have combustion, you need three elements of the “fire triangle”, which are heat, fuel and oxygen. With an appliance, the electricity doesn’t burn. The wiring and plastic casing is the fuel. The air that we breathe contains 24% oxygen and the heat is introduced by the electrical current.
Not everything is built perfectly. Excess heat can build up and cause fire not only to itself, but also everything around it. Even if the charger doesn’t go on fire, the excess heat can cause combustion to items beside the charger which are called class A materials. Class A materials include anything made from paper, wood and textiles.
Jim Dunphy, chairman of the Chief Fire Officers Association, warned that there was a risk of a house fire from phone chargers if the heat that built up inside them was unable to escape."Mobile phone chargers and televisions on standby are a risk. They have caused fires," said Mr Dunphy at the Fire Officers Annual Conference in Killiney, Co Dublin. "Don't leave them plugged in. If they overheat the plastic can start to melt and set fire to clutters of paper."
We all use laptops today. I’m sure you have noticed that when your laptop is plugged in and sitting on your lap, it gets warm. You decide you want a cup of tea. You place the laptop on your seat. The seat is made from fabric, a class A material. While making the tea, the phone rings and you go and talk to someone. You have forgotten about the laptop on the cushion. Heat builds up and causes a fire. Poof!
Hair straighteners are something commonly used and highly dangerous. I don’t have to use them, if you know what I mean. In general, girls use hair straighteners. When your daughter is getting dolled up to go out on Saturday night has she ever left the hair straightener switched on and lying on the bed?
Factory runs for example, [one shift, 5 days per week], items should not be plugged in when not in use because they generate heat and can cause a fire. You waste money because the heat being generated wastes your electricity and can in fact wear out the appliance. How? Because as it heats, it can wear out electrical parts and fracture solder points. This in turn creates a spark, called arcing, which can cause a fire.
Relative to businesses, you are governed by The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and The 1981 Fire Services Act. Sections 8, 9 and 10 of The 2005 Act require that “sufficient information, training and supervision is provided to ensure the safety of employees, and also that such instruction, training etc. must take account of any employees with specific needs, to ensure their protection against dangers that may affect them. This includes fire safety management and the use of fire extinguishers. There is also a requirement to prepare an emergency plan that outlines how the workplace will be evacuated in the event of a fire outbreak. The employer must appoint a responsible person known as the Fire Safety Manager to ensure emergency plans are prepared and that training takes place. This includes training in the use of fire extinguishers and training in emergency evacuation. This training is usually in the form of fire warden training”.
Some items need to be left plugged in 24/7, such as some computer equipment, security equipment and some equipment that needs to be kept warm. Even something that is creating cold, like a fridge, generates heat (check out the compressor, normally at the back). Common sense, which unfortunately isn’t very common sometimes, says that those appliances should be in a well ventilated area, as per manufacturer’s guidelines.
In one recent fire, a family were forced to flee their home when their television burst into flames and burnt the house to the ground. Late-night chip pan fires, [often after alcohol has been consumed by the homeowner], lit cigarettes, children playing with matches and electrical faults continue to be the main causes of fatal house fires. The vast majority of fatalities happened in houses or apartments where there were no working smoke alarms present. Smoke alarms are proven to increase survival rates.
We have all been guilty of some of these things in the past. Never give fire a chance. Fire does not discriminate. Being aware of some simple basic facts can keep you safe. The life you save may be your own!
Copyright © 2011, DPNLIVE – All Rights Reserved
The Synergy Group
It’s never easy to make a tele sales call, and now it’s tougher than ever. All kinds of “studies” say it is five, eight, 11, or more times effective to use the phone than any other sales technique.
I won’t go into the entire tele sales process or psychology used, but I’ll go through some of it.
Pick a phone number from your database... call it. Even though you’ve made the call, you’ve no idea why you want to end it quickly, do you?
It happens all of the time. Particularly with new sales reps who are prospecting. Because they are so surprised that someone answered and will talk to them, they’re ill-prepared to take it further.
Once they finally get a decision maker, they begin the call, then move into something like: “Well, I’d like to schedule a time with you to do a web demo.” Or: “I’d like to email you some material and then call you back.”
Here’s my advice: If the music is still playing, stay on the dance floor. Take the call as far as you possibly can. Don’t be the one to end it. If your pitch is of interest and value, the person will stay with you.
The weak follow-up call
In addition to now proactively stretching out your sales cycles, wasting your time with those who will never buy from you, not taking the first call, you’re en route to a weak follow-up call.
Many reps send out letters, literature, white papers, web links, samples and so on after the first contact and begin the follow-up with the standard: “Hi, I was checking to make sure you received the information I sent” – followed by the equally ineffective, “Uh, do you have any questions?”
After hearing “No, no questions,” they end: "Well, keep us in mind.”
The listener responds with the fiction: “Oh, OK, I will.”
Useless, ineffective, a waste of time – and a morale destroyer for your rep. Communication is not working.
So, let’s look at it. Because the initial call was ineffective and prematurely stopped, the follow-up is not much warmer. But here’s how you can correct your problem.
As I said earlier, go further on the first call. Granted, unless you are selling something simple and your sales process is transactional, you probably do need a multiple call process.
But be sure it’s worth it for you to enter the prospect into your funnel and agree to call back. You should have a variation of this criterion as part of your follow-up litmus test.
- The prospect should do something between the initial call and the scheduled follow-up that would make this call worthwhile, such as check your prices versus what they pay, or use the sample you send, or,
- A future event will take place that would make the follow-up more appropriate, such as a new budget year beginning, adding more personnel.
- Next, the call opening needs to bring them into a conversation that readdresses the hot points fuelling their interest in the previous call. It also serves to move the process closer to the ultimate objective (the sale or appointment)
- Here’s a simple format for the opening.
- Identification. The easy part – name and company will do: “Hi Pat, this is Bob Tallent from DPNlive.”
- Bridge. You need to bring them back to where they were emotionally when you ended the previous call. Remind them of their interest. “...I’m calling to pick up where we left off last week, when we went through the benefits you’d receive from...”
- The Agenda for This Call. This needs to be proactive: “I’d like to go through the material I sent you to point out the precise cost-cutting features that apply specifically...” Use words like “discuss,” “analyse,” “cover,” “review,” and “walk through”. Know what makes your product different, what makes you stand out from the crowd.
- Also include some value-added reason for the call. So if interest has waned since the last contact, and/or they didn’t follow through with what they said they’d do (which often happens) you still have a basis for continuing this contact. For example: “And I also did some research and came up with a few other examples of something you showed interest in the last time we spoke: how other printers have used this process.”
To summarise, take advantage of the opportunity when you do get a decision maker on the phone. Move the process as far as you can, have a good reason for following up, and you will turn prospects into customers more quickly, and not waste time with those who will never buy from you.
Make it your best week ever!
Copyright © 2011, DPNLIVE – All Rights Reserved
The Synergy Group
A well-written sales letter can generate sales or open doors, but only if the letter is actually opened. These strategies will help increase your success rates.
1. Address the envelope to an individual
This sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many times I get letters addressed to a title as opposed to me. If your envelope is addressed to The Manager, then in real terms your saying: “I am junk mail. Don’t open me. Throw me out.” Address the envelope with the full and correct name and title of the recipient, and make sure you’ve got the spelling right.
2. For small campaigns, handwrite the envelope
You could argue that this does not look professional. I could argue that it shows personalisation. A handwritten envelope sparks curiosity because it reminds us of a bygone era when we used to receive correspondence purely via snail mail. Most handwritten mail gets opened.
Make sure your handwriting is neat. If your handwriting makes the letter look like a ransom note, then it’s not good for business.
3. Use a coloured envelope
Standard, white, DL-sized envelopes are what most sales letters are put in. Therefore they can be thrown straight into the bin. If the envelope is coloured, however, it hints that there could be something exciting inside.
4. Mark the letter ‘Private and Confidential’
An envelope marked ‘Private and Confidential’ should only be opened by the recipient – in theory at least. On the other hand, if your recipient has a secretary or PA, those words might actually be interpreted as, ‘Dear Gatekeeper, I am a sales letter’. Also, because your sales letter is not actually P&C, it may upset your recipient. So you decide.
5. Include an item that creates a bump in the envelope
I’ve used this tactic a few times. I remember I sent a letter to a person I’d been trying to arrange a meeting with and he said: “I get hundreds of emails every week that I never read, and I get junk mail that I never open. But I loved your card with the gift inside.”
Be creative with the item you include. Ensure that it ties in with the theme of your sales letter.
Here are some ideas:
- We did a promotion for a fork lift company in which we designed a leaflet and stuck a fork to it, with word “lift” after the fork.
- A business mentor like me could include a mini Toblerone in each letter, with the idea: ‘Mountains are easier to climb with a mentor by your side’.
- A de-clutter consultant might include a promotional pen, writing something like, “Lost another pen? Use this one for now, and we’ll help you find the rest”.
- A professional cleaner might include a sachet of all-purpose-cleaner in every letter, writing “Don’t you have better things to do than clean your office?”
Including an item in your envelope may cost more in postage, but it also might inspire more people to contact you.
6. Don’t send too many out at the one time
Consider sending just 20 mails per week instead of 200. That way you are able to research your prospects better, personalise the letters, examine the results of your efforts every week and modify as necessary – and it won’t cost the earth. You are also able to follow up each letter better with a phone call and then a face-to-face call. Hopefully, your conversion rates will be improved.
Consider following these tips to the letter (no pun intended!)
The next time you’re considering sending a sales letter out in a flat, white, DL-sized envelope, consider adopting some of the imaginative strategies above. But remember, your sales letter is only the first step in your direct mail campaign. Be sure to follow it up with a friendly phone call. See other article.
Will these tactics work for you?
Copyright © 2011, DPNLIVE – All Rights Reserved
I remember back 25 and 27 years when I had two brand new kids. I was absolutely knackered every day going into work. Over the years, friends of mine have said exactly the same. Well, that got me thinking about safety in the workplace and on the road. This article applies to every employer out there.
A report I found says fathers of new babies are often so tired that they pose a safety risk at work and on the road. A team of researchers at the Southern Cross University has analysed and found that those fathers are at greater risk of accidents.
In addition, these fathers were 36 per cent more likely to have a near miss at work and 26 per cent more likely to have a near miss on the road. I wonder if the Road Safety Authority is aware of this.
Dr Gary Mellor from Southern Cross University in Australia, who conducted the study which focused on 241 fathers, says the findings are ground-breaking because new dads are a “notoriously hard group of people” to get hold of.
He says many of those surveyed found it difficult to achieve a work-family balance.
“They were displaying a lot of conflict in that they were trying to put family first,” he said. “They don’t want to be that distant sole provider that their father was.”
Despite this, the fathers in the study worked an average 49-hour week. Most were employed in the construction trade and as office workers. Dr Mellor says each workplace has its own set of risks.
“In an office it might be that you fall down some stairs, or you trip over cords, but it’s also about the decisions you make,” he said. “On a construction site it’s working with heavy equipment, diggers and other dangerous machinery.”
He discovered the more men got tired, the more their attitude to health and safety changed. “The survey was completed once by the fathers at six weeks and then again at 12 weeks and we found that while fatigue was increasing, the way fathers thought about safety at work changed,” he said.
Dr Mellor came up with the idea for the study at a barbecue just after he and his partner had their second child. “I was telling the guys how tired I was and how I had nearly run off the road,” he said.
“The guys at the barbecue then told me similar stories and I checked the research and not much had been done about sleep deprivation in fathers and how that affected their safety at work or to and from work.”
He suggested that parental leave may need to be reconsidered to help new dads cope.
“Most of the men in the study had time off at the birth but perhaps parental leave for fathers should be taken later in the baby’s life rather than the first two weeks. This is when fathers are most fatigued and it would allow them time to overcome it,” he said.
“Or perhaps parental leave could be taken over a period of time with fathers taking a long weekend or two over the first months of the birth.”
Perhaps employers could also make changes so that new dads are not doing dangerous jobs.
The research has been published in the American Journal of Men’s Health.
Copyright © 2011, DPNLIVE – All Rights Reserved
Nowadays you’ll hear a lot of people say that ‘cash is king’. Well, they’re right. Without sufficient cash to operate a business even the most profitable ones fail. It’s important to realise that profits are not the same as cash in the bank...
Now for the good news. By implementing some simple cashflow strategies your business can very quickly safeguard its position.
Here are five of the most effective strategies that I’ve implemented with my clients:
1. Reduce your stock
Most companies hold too much stock just so they can meet every customer’s demand.
Age your stock regularly and discount the slow-moving items. Unless absolutely necessary, don’t re-order these unless you know of an incoming order.
Meet your suppliers to discuss improving delivery times and try matching these as much as possible with incoming orders.
What products do you stock most of? What products contribute to the highest proportion of your stock? Focus on improving your stock procedures for these items first and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can release some cash.
Remember not all customers expect their orders to be issued straight away. If you have a lead time make sure they’re aware of it – that way they can order in advance.
2. Improve cash collection procedures
Issue sales invoices straight away. If you wait until the end of the month and then offer 30 days’ credit your customers are effectively getting up to 60 days (and that’s assuming they’ve paid on time).
Issue customers with monthly statements. Invoices do go missing or are sitting on desks waiting for sign-off. Statements also act as a further reminder for customers of their credit terms.
Call customers before invoice due dates for payment schedules. This is especially important if your customer is a large company, for instance insurance or multinational. These usually have only one or two payment runs a month and you want to make sure your invoice is approved and in that payment run.
Improve your procedures for opening new accounts. In other words, insist on credit checks and other supplier testimonials before you agree credit terms with them.
3. Check your VAT status
VAT is normally accounted for on a sales invoice basis, that means payable to Revenue based on the total VAT on sales invoiced during the period regardless of whether you have been paid in that period.
Some businesses, however, can return their VAT based on the sales invoices paid to them in the relevant period – meaning you don’t pay your sales VAT until you’ve been paid. This has huge cashflow benefits if you offer generous credit terms to your customers.
To avail of this your turnover for the year (exclusive of VAT) must not exceed €1 million. Businesses which supply unregistered persons, and these account for at least 90 per cent of their turnover, can also avail of this, for instance hairdressers, hotels, retail outlets and so on.
If you are only registering for VAT you can simply select this option on your TR1 or TR2 form.
If you’re already making VAT returns simply send an email to your local tax office with all your details, why you want to switch to cash receipts basis and from which period.
I’ve also attached a link to Revenue with more information on this but if you’ve any questions please contact me or your tax adviser.
4. Use supplier credit terms to the full
If you have 30 days’ credit then use them.
Try to match your supplier and customer credit terms. If you have only 30 days with your supplier but you offer customers 90 days then you are putting a lot of strain on your cash flow. Talk with suppliers about extending credit terms – not all will but even if some do then it’s to your benefit.
Try not to pay suppliers in advance – this is very relevant with service companies, for instance marketing and advertising, consultants etcetera.If you must pay in advance (dealing with one-man operations) inform your client and get them to pay that element of the project in advance also, otherwise you are in negative cashflow from the beginning!
5. Stage payments
This is particularly relevant for builders, architects, web designers, machine automators and designers, marketing companies and so on.
If your service / project is likely to span a few months then issue a sales invoice at each stage. When taking on the contract discuss the stages involved, devise when each target is met and then issue a stage invoice straight away. Once you are upfront with your customers that this is your company policy they will more than likely accept it. Why not also ask for a percentage payment up front? Once agreed make sure you build these terms into your engagement letter or your terms and conditions.
There are lots more ways to improve cashflow that I haven’t included and I’d love to hear what works for your business. Some of the tips above won’t be relevant for all businesses but if you decide to take some on board I’d love to hear how you get on.
Alternatively contact me and I can design a cashflow improvement plan tailored for your business!
Copyright © 2011, DPNLIVE – All Rights Reserved