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There’s No Second Chance To Make A First Impression

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Are you familiar with the saying ‘first impressions count?’ In business, it’s imperative to make a fantastic first impression. You never get a second chance to make the right first impression. If you run a new business or you’re trying to recruit new clients and customers, here are some tips to help you get it right first time.

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Personal presentation

If you run the show, and you’re involved in meeting with potential investors, clients, and buyers, you should always remember that you are part of the marketing strategy. The people you talk to will make decisions based not only on what you tell them, but also on how you carry yourself, whether you look the part, and what kind of impression you give them. Are you a passionate person who can convince investors that you’ll do everything you can to make the business a success? Or do you leave clients in two minds? You have to know your stuff, but you also have to look professional and have conviction in what you say.

If you’re pitching to a buyer, for example, make sure you are prepared. You are trying to convince that person to place an order, but also to put their trust in you. Run through your presentation over and over again, and ensure you have the answers to questions that are likely to pop up. Pin down the numbers, and make sure you can rattle through projected sales figures, market values and proposed RRPs without taking a breath. It’s so important to be slick, but also to be passionate. Share your story, and make your pitch interesting and personal. The panel will sit through endless presentations, so don’t make yours blend in. Dress smartly, make sure you smell fresh, and always arrive on time.

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Your team

If you employ a sales team or you have people going out and meeting clients as part of their day job, the same rules should apply. Promote a dress code, make sure any branded vehicles look smart and well-maintained and encourage your team to be punctual and professional. Whether you run a plumbing business or a restaurant, your clients will judge the company based on the service they receive, and it’s essential that the people who provide that service are on board with what you’re trying to achieve. The food in your restaurant could be fantastic, but if it takes ages or the server is rude or unhelpful, you’re not going to get anywhere.

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Marketing material

If you’ve created a brilliant brand, the last thing you want is your marketing material to let you down. You don’t want an incredible tagline and great imaging to be let down by cheap looking or run of the mill brochures, pens, key rings, notepads or posters. Anything that bears your company name, from a professional looking invoice template to flyers you put through the door and Facebook pages you use to advertise your services, should send the right message. When you’re drawing up a marketing strategy, always bear the aesthetics in mind. Don’t just go for the cheapest options. Think about how you feel when you look at different flyers, adverts or websites. If you were looking for a printing firm, a bar or a building company, what would make you choose one business over another? Put yourself in the client’s shoes, and don’t underestimate the importance of feedback and market research.

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Your business premises

If your day to day business involves people coming into your offices, you don’t want them to walk through the door and be greeted with dirty carpets, unpleasant odours or lifts that are out of order. Your office should set the right tone, and it should be a clean, modern space, which is inviting for clients and comfortable for your employees. If you’re currently renting an office space, which is in serious need of TLC, consider moving or hosting client meetings in alternative settings. You don’t want people to have negative impressions before you’ve even opened your mouth to introduce yourself.

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It’s human nature to make judgements very quickly. Sadly, in business, first impressions often count for everything. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so it’s essential to understand how to succeed the first time around. Make sure you look the part and set a good example for your team. Arrive on time, and ensure you look smart. If you’re pitching or meeting potential customers, rehearse your presentation until you’re confident that you know everything there is to know, and you’ll be able to stand up, speak clearly, and tackle any tricky questions. Focus on producing professional looking marketing materials, and ensure that anything that carries your brand name or logo conveys the message you want to go out there.

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It’s The Little Things In Life, And Business

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When you’re starting out in business is important to nail the finer details. Without them, you can’t begin to be taken seriously as a credible business, or boss. Too many startups walk before they can run and end up skipping the basics and falling flat on their face. That’s not to say that the right office furniture, staff, and uniform policy will hugely impact on your business. However, start as you mean to go on. Take pride in the smaller things and the rest will follow. Here are some of the smaller details that can go overlooked.

Staff Uniform

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For some jobs, this is easier to decide on than others. However, every business needs to have a policy on uniform. It doesn’t matter if you’re for it or against it, but you need to take a clear stand. If you do have strict ideas about what your staff can and can’t wear this needs to be made clear. A uniform section in a staff handbook is a good idea. Be realistic and give reasons for your decisions. If your staff are dealing with clients and customers you may want them to wear shirts, blouses, and smart shoes. If you want to appeal to a younger, more laid-back audience, you may allow your staff do wear whatever they like. These kind of decisions are important and do matter. If your workforce is disjointed and not ‘on brand’ it could affect your work atmosphere and business.

Security And Safety

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These are two words not to be trifled with! What some business fail to understand, at their detriment, is that staff are under their responsibility whilst on the premises. All staff must be kept safe at all times. This could mean having a receptionist or security guard at the point of entry. This forces all visitors to check-in as it were. That way you have a log of who is in the building at what time. It’s also a good idea to issue staffers and visitors lanyards. This company makes custom lanyards for all kinds of businesses. That way visitors are easily identifiable, and if someone doesn’t have a lanyard they can’t have been through security.

Office Furniture

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This also might sound like a minor point, especially when you have a new business to run, but you have to start from the feet up. The more cared for and comfortable staff feel, the better results you’ll get. Happy and looked after members of staff can be more efficient, passionate, and happy with their work and job. Take care of your staff and you’ll soon see results. That includes their comfort as they work. This is particularly important for staffers who are desk bound for large portions of the day. Comfortable computer chairs will be needed. It’s also important to create desks at the right level. This is so that staff don’t have to crane their neck to stare at a screen.

 

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Why Comfort Is Key In The Office

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There are plenty of things in the workplace that are key to success in the workplace. Communication is one – you need to be able to speak to your staff in the workplace and get the moving towards a joint goal to boost the business. Money is another, a business needs its incoming cash to balance out its outgoing expenses so that it may break even and survive.

One other thing is key though! Comfort. Yes, that’s right. If staff aren’t comfortable in the workplace then they won’t be able to be productive in the office. If you want to get the best out of your employees, the most basic thing you can do is to ensure that the workplace is a comfortable environment for your workforce.

How can you make your office space more comfortable? Well – firstly check your actions. Work should be a safe space for your employees – that means they have a right not to be offended in the workspace. Your office needs to be a safe space for employees of every age, gender, sexuality, race, religion and ability. The thing is, offensive behaviors and discriminatory behaviors and languages really have no place in the workplace – at all. Even as jokes. If you want to isolate, offend and hurt your employees, then you’ll be heading fast towards a lawsuit. What’s more, as a leader you have a responsibility to curb this sort of behavior. As the leader of the workplace, you’ve also got a responsibility to help your employees out. An open door policy works best here and staff should feel comfortable coming to your door with all sorts of problems ranging from problems at home to issues with work and the workplace. If you’re a leader, you need to care for your employees.

It isn’t just your actions though – despite their critical importance in the comfortability of your staff, you should also ensure the office is actually comfortable. Physically.

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This starts with ensuring that the office is cleaned. Nobody wants to work in a dirty office, so keep workspaces free from dust, dirt, rubbish and grime. Also, make sure your furniture is comfortable – this doesn’t just apply to your office chairs only, but also the desk and other pieces of furniture. Temperature regulation is key as well – ensure the office is cool in the summer and warm in the winter to keep your staff happy. If you’ve done all of this, interview your staff on what could be improved and action their requests.

These are the keys to running a happy business. If you staff are comfortable and working in a nice and comfortable environment, not much can go wrong. Build a solid foundation with a great office and some welcoming and inclusive company policy and make your company a great company to work for. You want your staff to be comfortable so that you can get the most out of them, and thus the most out of your business! It makes sense, right? So put comfort first!

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Practical vs Gimmicky: Which New Business Tech Do You Really Need?

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New technologies are constantly being developed and shoved in our faces. In the business world, keeping on top of this new tech can keep your company ahead of the game. However, there are some technologies that we don’t all need and may simply just be gimmicks. Occasionally, such a gimmick can impress clientele, but more often than not it can be a costly waste of money. Here are a few of the times when you should invest in new tech and when alternatively you shouldn’t.

Improving efficiency

Tech that improves the efficiency of your business is generally worth throwing money at. In the long run it could save you costs by saving you time – allowing you to get on with more pressing tasks that make you more money.

A good example is book-keeping. If you regularly spend hours a week slaving over spreadsheets with a calculator, it could be worth speeding up the process with software. Accountancy programmes and apps can automatically calculate taxes and expenses, taking away the headache. Programmes such as Quickbooks can help you learn more.

Some tech is more expensive to justify but may still produce a massive return in the long run. For example, in the manufacturing industry you could be spending a lot of time and money using saws and drill chisels when you could be using something advanced like a laser cutter. Laser cutting has a lot added perks such as greater precision and less waste – those interested can read about it at LaserLight.com/services/laser-systems-integration/. There may even be options you hadn’t considered such as outsourcing a laser cutter from another company.

Of course there are times when the efficiency may not be worth the costs. Buying an app for your company such as a loyalty card app might be economically viable if you’re an international business, but if you’re an independent retailer the cost of developing and marketing the app might make it a waste of money when a plastic loyalty card or a stamp system could be just as effective.

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Saving costs

Certain technology can save you money. One example, of a good piece of tech that will save you money is video communication software. Programmes such as Skype allow you to talk to someone face-to-face without having to meet in person. This can save time and costs on both parties having to travel. You can give interviews with applicants over Skype, give guided tours, give live demos or even hold conferences.

Other technologies may save you money on the surface but may not be as much of no-brainer as you might initially think. For example, virtual currencies such as Bitcoin can help with those making international transactions,allowing you to save money on transfer rates. In some businesses, where all parties use Bitcoin and there are regular transactions, this technology could be very useful. But if you’re only making a few international transactions and you’re not even sure if the other party deals in Bitcoin, you could be wasting your time by overcomplicating things – creating extra hassle when it comes to book-keeping and invoicing.

Keeping you safe and secure

Safety and security are vital within business and there are lots of technologies out there to protect our businesses. However, whilst some of this technology is based on true risks, others may exaggerate the risk.

A burglar alarm is important for protecting your business from thieves. However, paying extra for CCTV and gadgetry such as fingerprint recognition could all be taking things too far. In many cases, the lowered insurance premiums won’t even make up for the extra installation/rental costs.

Cloud computing is a technology that has divided many businesses. To some, the idea of putting all of one’s files on a remote server seems risky. However, others argue that cloud storage can protect against a physical burglary or a fire, protecting all your sensitive information remotely. In such cases, weighing up the risks with the advantages is necessary. When it comes to cloud computing, there are many advantages beyond the backing up files such as being able to work from multiple locations and devices at the same time and freeing up hard-drive space, all of which for many outweigh the risks.

Hiring a risk assessor or a surveyor may help to establish which technology your individual business realistically needs, and which is just gimmickry.

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Improving your reputation

Some technology can have the bonus of improving your reputation. One big area where this is the case is green technology. Customers are swaying more towards businesses that think and act green.

If you run a manufacturing plant and are using up a lot of electricity, opting to run off a renewable energy source such as solar power or wind power could improve how the public perceive you. You could insert solar panels or make small adjustments such as LED lighting.

Similarly, many businesses are taking the decision to go paperless. Sending newsletters via email, sharing documents online and even using electronic signature tools such as Docusign can all have a positive effect.

There are other ways of improving your reputation through technology that may simply rely on the ‘cool factor’. Justifying such technology can often be a lot harder. For example, VR virtual tours are being used by some trades – largely by real estate companies for offering virtual tours of properties and construction companies for providing virtual tours for investors. Whilst embracing this technology may impress certain people, there are times when it may simply serve as a costly gimmick. Weigh up whether you’re use of technology is likely to impress your target audience, or if you’re simply satisfying your own love of gadgetry. This applies to technologies such as apps, drones and the ‘internet of things’.

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Without Trust, Your Business Is a Bust

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People worked hard for the money in their pocket. (Well, most of them, did, anyway.) So they don’t want to just hand it over to anyone, right? They want to make sure they’re giving their money to trustworthy businesses that will give them precisely what they paid for in a timely and satisfying manner. That means you need to work on ensuring that people can trust your business. Here are some quick tips

 

Humanity

 

People are more cynical than ever these days. I’m all for a little bit of cynicism, but sometimes it doesn’t work well for new businesses. People assume that all businesses are cold-blooded, nearly robotic entities that only care about grabbing money from them. You don’t want to be seen as some faceless corporation – precisely because it makes people more apprehensive about contacting you, and thus doing business with you. Use social media and blog posts to make your business feel more fun and approachable – but remember to keep some levity, because if you just seem goofy, then no-one will want to give you money!

 

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Increased exposure

 

People often wonder why marketing works. After all, most people who watch a Coke advert don’t suddenly crave a Coke, right? Well, a big part of it is simply getting the name of the business in your head. If you then come across that business in the future, you’ll remember having seen them advertised on a prominent platform. This makes the business seem more “legit” and trustworthy. Obviously, companies like Coke have long passed the need for this approach, but many other businesses increase marketing for this very reason.

 

Solid payment systems

 

If your payment system looks at all shifty, then people aren’t going to make any payments to you! Which is the right decision for them to make, by the way. No-one should use a payment system that doesn’t seem solid and trustworthy. So how do you ensure that your system is such a way? Well, ensuring that your website is using SSL to establish a secure connection that is visible to the person visiting the website via the green padlock next to the URL box. Additional measures such as an ID scanner can also help a lot.

 

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Customer feedback

If there isn’t any customer feedback to be seen anywhere on the Internet, then people are going to be hesitant when it comes to working with your business. Getting testimonials from satisfied customers that you can host on your website is definitely a good idea. You may prefer to do this using video customer testimonials. If you can convince customers to get in front of a camera and praise your service, then this can be more effective than a block of text on your website that could have been written by just about anyone.

Ease of communication

If you don’t have contact details clearly placed on your website, then people may suspect that something odd is going on. Customers should be able to find your business address, your email address, and a business phone number without having to jump through any hoops.

 

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A Bit Of Trust Goes A Long Way In Remodeling

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If you’re in the remodeling business, you’re going to soon find out that it’s not enough to do a good job. You have to have a good image, as well. The single most important reason is that potential clients need to be able to establish a bit of trust before they spend so much on hiring someone for such a larger project. So, how do you earn that trust? More importantly, what can you do so that you don’t have to spend time and effort earning it anew with each new client?

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Be a real professional

You might have the skills but you’re going to need the professional appearance to go with it. In the often rough and creative world of remodeling, some contractors come across too casual. While you might think your work will speak for itself, that’s not always the case. Clients like reliability, which is what professionalism shows. This goes for the online marketing efforts like building proper websites for home remodelers but extends into the offline world as well. Be courteous and professional above all else when talking to clients about their needs and be transparent about the methods and the costs of how you fulfill those needs. Lacking the finish or a real pro is going to cost you more jobs than your charm might win you.

Be loud and proud

That said, professionals aren’t quiet about what they do. You need to be forward in demonstrating your value to the target market. One of the best ways of doing that is building an online community around yourself and producing content that is designed to catch their eyes and assure them of the kinds of services you offer. For instance, many businesses now maintain blogs on their sites alongside the other pages. Your business is all about building a better home. Home décor and maintenance tips or news on the latest fashions could give you plenty of ground to cover. It not only makes for an interesting read that gets potential customers on your site. It demonstrates the fact that you know what you’re talking about when it comes to helping them achieve their dream home.

Inspire loyalty

Your best tool for building trust and a reputation as a reliable service is through the customers you’ve already satisfied with your services. As they say, the proof is in the pudding and good word-of-mouth and proof your services are easier to find in renovating than in other industries. Acquiring testimonials from happy clients and asking them if they’re happy for other potential clients to contact them is a start. Your website should also contain an extensive portfolio of the work you’ve done so future clients can see the results for themselves. It’s a good idea to wait until you have at least five examples or five testimonials to include on the site, however. If you only have one or two, then potential clients might think you’ve only done a good job one or two times.

Establishing a trustworthy image and building a good reputation should be a top priority for any remodeling contractor. Maintain a professional image both online and offline, be loud and active in your community and get loyal customers spreading the word for you.

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The Next Step: Everything You Need To Know About Franchising Your Business

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Growth is something that every business should be constantly thinking about. Without it you’re business is almost certainly going to end up falling behind the competition. However, no two ways of growing a business are the same, and it’s important that you’re aware of which methods are right for you. One of the most effective ways that many people have found to grow their business is through franchising. Franchising has a lot of benefits, not least the idea of strength in numbers. By being able to spread your business across multiple locations then you’re going to be able to build not only your brand but a reliable network that keeps your business afloat. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s always going to be easy. With that in mind, here are a few things to think about when you’re considering franchising your business.

Reaching new customers

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One of the main reasons behind franchising a business is to create a nationally recognized brand. But you can’t rely on the reputation of your business as it currently stands to spread out to other locations. Local franchise marketing is incredibly important. The brand of your business has to be built up on a local level from the ground up. Only as time goes on will, it’s presence as a national brand start to become more prominent, at which point the sheer act of a new franchise opening constitutes a piece of marketing in and of itself.

Risks

Don’t assume that franchising is always going to be the most successful and useful method of growing your business. It has a lot of benefits, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t also come with a fair amount of risk as well. For one thing, franchising can cause you to lose a degree of control over the business. Many people set up their own businesses in order to have complete control over how it functions but by franchising you’ve got to be willing to compromise that. A badly run franchise could well end up being outside of your ability to deal with it, but it is still going to have a pretty significant impact on the overall image of your business. Not only that but you’ve got to think about the way in which profits are divided when you franchise your business. You might be increasing your profits overall, but you’ve got to be careful that they are not being divided so much that it’s not actually worth it.

Are you actually ready?

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The biggest mistake that a lot of businesses make is that they attempt to go ahead with something like franchising before they’re really ready. When this happens the extra financial burdens, legal complexity, and lack of an existing presence can lead to the business pretty much collapsing under its own weight. Make sure that you’re completely honest with yourself about how ready your business is to take this next step. It’s far better to be cautious and wait for a while than to try and dive in head first before you’re actually ready.

 

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The Major Goals Of All New Businesses

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If you have recently set up a new business, or you are in the process of doing so now, then you probably have a lot on your mind – and on your plate. The fact is that starting a business is one of the most stressful things you can ever do. And yet, get it right, and you will have successfully made it into the world of entrepreneurs – something anyone can be proud of. In this article, we are going to look at some of the major goals that all new businesses are looking to fulfil. As long as you have these at the forefront of your minds, you should find that you are able to do some incredible things with your new venture. Let’s take a look and see what they are.

Keeping Costs Down

Something that all businesses are always ken on doing is keeping their costs as low as possible. The money you spend on all the various parts of your business should be well accounted for, and you should never feel as though a penny is wasted, or at least not for long. One of the most important things in this regard is to keep a decent budget. Budgets ensure that you are able to know exactly where all of your money is going, and that is important if you want to keep costs down as much as possible. You should also constantly be on the lookout for ways to make your various processes as cheap as possible. Remember that nothing is too small or insignificant in this respect; even changing the images you use to free ones from a stock photography website is going to make a difference in the long run. Make whatever changes necessary and it will help you out massively overall.

Bringing Customers In

You can’t get anywhere very fast without a decent set of customers behind you, and that is something that is worth remembering if you are keen on improving your business as much as possible as quickly as possible. The best thing to do is to ensure that you are bringing customers in as fast as you can. If you are struggling in this respect, you might want to take a look at your marketing. Marketing is an essential part of bringing customers in, but it is only effective if it works in the right way. It helps if you have a dedicated marketing team, or if you outsource it to professionals to do for you. Either way, bringing customers in is important for business growth in the long run.

Long-Term Expansion

At some point, you will want to expand your business, and when you do it helps if you know how exactly to do that. Expansion is something that people often struggle with, but with a basic understanding it is quite simple. You need to make sure most of all that you have a strong base from which to expand, otherwise you could cause your business significant damage. Then it is just a matter of ensuring that you have a strong plan, and that you take it as slow and as carefully as you possibly can.

 

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Profile of a WordPress Developer

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Finding the perfect WordPress Developer can be a real struggle, especially if you are looking for the first time or have been let down by a previous WordPress Developer.

The first thing to be aware of is the difference between a WordPress Developer and a WordPress Designer.

Whilst it may seem as though they are one and the same, often they can be, but when working with a bigger web design company or web design agency then you may find that the roles are split completely.

A WordPress designer will typical be a web design expert who exclusively designs WordPress themes and templates. They often do not touch any code at all, they may know HTML will usually just design the master PSD files and pass the designs on to a WordPress Developer who will then do the integration of the designs into WordPress.

A WordPress developer on the other hand will have a completely different skillset. It’s highly likely they will be of the “scientist” persona and feel more comfortable writing line after line of code than they would designing a WordPress layout. A coder is very functional and practical orientated, they typically struggle to make things look nice and are happy as long as it functions as it should.

You can see the contrast in the 2 personalities, so you can see why it’s difficult to find one who does both, however they do exist!

To get the maximum out of your WordPress developer you probably want to go for someone who is just a pure WordPress Developer.

You will need to research locally and maybe even nationally to find someone who meets your level that you can trust and you may not hit upon them first time.

When interviewing your WordPress Developer you might want to ask some questions such as:

What’s your HTML/CSS skill level? Is all your CSS/HTML W3C validated?

Do you code 100% from scratch or do you build on top of an existing template?

How do you handle creating the responsive/mobile friendly elements of the design? (check examples!)

How long have you been working as a WordPress Developer for?

Can I see your WordPress Work?

Can I have 5 references from 5 of your WordPress only projects?

You will be surprised at how many people ignore these basic questions. Having validated code is important for usability, obviously you need to see their WordPress work to understand what they can do and the most important of course is to always get those references from 5 of their WordPress projects.

Do not get general references, you want WordPress Development specific references.

A great WordPress developer will have no issues what so ever with answering the above questions and providing you what you need.

Your WordPress developer will also be able to advise you on things such as web hosting and optimising your website for speed.

Most web hosts these days offer WordPress specific hosting which comes with WordPress already installed or at the very least a 1 click installation button which makes getting started super simple and takes the work load off your developer straight away.

Once your website is complete and live, it’s vital that you get your developer to optimise you WordPress website for speed.

There are lots of plugins available such as TinyPNG and WPCache which help make your WordPress website load super quick.

You will also need to protect your WordPress website from hackers, ask your developer to recommend security plugins such as Sucuri which help protect vulnerable files and folders and keep your website safe from hackers.

 

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After Hours: What You Need To Think About After Everyone’s Gone Home

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Like most business owners, you probably think that you can stop worrying about your business once 5 pm arrives and everyone goes home. After all, the working day is over, and you can get back to your family as well!

Well, actually, there are a few things that you might need to organize for after business hours to help keep your company running smoothly. Some can even help you to increase your business’s security as well. Here are some things that can help your business stay in top shape even once your employees have all gone home.

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24/7 Security

Your company is most at risk when there is no one in the office anymore. Sure, your computers won’t be on so there is no way an online security breach could affect your system, but there are some other security issues to worry about. And the main one is burglars. So, how exactly do you keep your office and property safe when no one is there? The best thing you can do is install a burglar alarm. These are often placed above the main entrances to buildings and are highly visible. Once a burglar notices that a property is alarmed, they probably won’t risk attempting to break in as they might cause the alarm to go off. Other means of after-hours security include CCTV cameras.

Cleaning

Do you think that your office could do with a dusting or hoovering? You can’t ask your employees to sort the cleaning of the office out as they aren’t contracted to do this kind of work, and you probably won’t have time to take care of it either. Because of this, many business owners look for companies who offer services for office cleaning and contract out all their cleaning jobs. You can’t expect the cleaners to clean up through the day while everyone is busy working, so it’s a good idea to schedule them for after hours once everyone has left the office. Alternatively, you might prefer them to come early in the morning before people start work.

Electricity

It’s worth making sure that the last person who leaves your office ensures that all of the lights are switched off. This will help you save a whole load of money on your monthly electricity bill! Not only that, though, but it also ensures that your company is a lot more environmentally friendly. Every year companies are wasting a lot of money and using too much energy by leaving their lights on overnight. However, this isn’t necessary anymore even when it comes to your office’s security. Most burglars have now wised up to the fact that there is no one in your office even if the lights are on. And, if you get a top-quality CCTV or burglar alarm system, they will be deterred enough to stay well away from your property!

So, just because there is no one in your office doesn’t mean you can stop thinking about your business. There are all these things to consider and put in place!

 

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