Archives for March 2014

Creating a Stylish, Practical and Attractive Catering Establishment

Any catering business understands the Health and Safety requirements to keep all their fresh products properly refrigerated. In addition, there are specific hygiene requirements for refrigerated display cabinets. Stylish refrigerated displays and glass fronted refrigerators can help to enhance the appearance of any catering establishment, and this make it more appealing to customers. Through high quality, attractive displays which contain your food you are much more likely to make a sale and impress those that come to you for business.

This is true of coffee shops, pizza places, restaurants, pubs and all other types of establishments, so if you are catering to customers then you will need to invest in quality equipment. This can immediately improve the atmosphere and help to create a good first impression, and in the food industry this is essential. If people walk through your front door and are not impressed by what they see then they will turn around and leave. So, by investing in practical, stylish and attractive equipment you can create a professional and welcoming atmosphere, which can only help you to succeed.

Investing in High Quality Kitchen Equipment, Display Units and more

If you have food and drink on display then you will need stylish units to house them, and these can also keep them cool and fresh as well. The best places to find commercial refrigeration items including fridges, freezers, kitchen equipment, furniture and everything else you need to set up your food service area will be at specialists, like Fridgeland amongst others. These companies provide a range of equipment for different types of establishment, and you may even find that you can lease the equipment instead of buying it outright. This is particularly useful if you are just starting out, or perhaps you only need them on a temporary basis.

Catering is a tough industry no matter if you are a pub, café or any other type of establishment, and the best way to attract customers is through a welcoming area which advertises your food and drink well. The catering equipment that you choose therefore becomes as important as the food itself, and by investing in quality and ensuring everything is clean then you stand every chance of succeeding. By investing in quality equipment it also means that your food will be of a high standard too, and this will help you to keep on bringing customers back through good food and a welcoming environment.

Fire Safety in the Workplace and how to Keep Escape Routes Clear

From a young age we are taught about the dangers of fire and how to react if one were to breakout, and this knowledge is kept with us throughout life. At schools there are regular drills to prepare students, and in the workplace there are fire safety practices that you need to implement. Your company will need to have a plan for what to do in case of fire, and this will include a safe evacuation route, a register of everyone in the building and an assembly point away from the building. Health & Safety regulations require you to test your systems and plan on a regular basis. Fire ruins lives, but with a well thought out plan you can safely evacuate everyone and allow the fire brigade to come in and do their job, and this can also help to reduce damage to your building.

In order to keep your evacuation route free from smoke you will need to install a smoke ventilation system. This is an electric window and vent opening system, which will vent smoke to the outside of the building, keeping stairwells and corridors safe to use. By clearing these routes it does two things; firstly it allows you and your employees to quickly and safely escape the building, and secondly it enables the fire brigade easy access into the building so that they can extinguish the fire.

Getting a Bespoke System Installed

The best way to get an effective and high standard ventilation system fitted is to find a specialist, like Rocburn Limited amongst others, and then provide them with your building plans, window schedule and evacuation routes. A specialist team will then be able to design the best system for your building, and this will include electric window actuators and roof vent openers which will operate automatically in the event of a fire.

Through training your staff, having a well practiced evacuation drill, a British Standard fire alarm system and a high quality smoke ventilation system in place you will be fully prepared for any emergency and will have done everything possible to protect yourself, your staff and your company building. It is hoped that you will never need this protection, but if you ever do then it will allow for a fast and safe escape to the established assembly point away from the building.

How Insolvency Recovery Can help you to rebuild your Business Venture

As a citizen, it is extremely difficult to recover from the accumulation of long-term debt, as this can often result in the loss of your home or other corporeal and high value financial assets. While this can pose considerable challenges to home-owners and everyday civilians, however, these individuals are at least able to retain their jobs, livelihood and a viable source of income when experiencing austerity. With this in mind, imagine the hardship faced by business-owners who incur debt against their ventures, and ultimately pay the price of being declared bankrupt and losing everything that they own.

What is Insolvency Recovery and how can it help Business-owners?

Fortunately, however, modern business-owners have a wider range of options available to them should their ventures begin to accumulate debts and losses. It is important that you are aware of these, as otherwise you run the considerable risk of making an ill-informed decision that has a highly detrimental impact on your financial future. One of the most effective solutions lies in the concept of insolvency recovery, which essentially enables you to confront the financial issues facing your business without being forced to cease trading permanently.

This is best embodied by a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA), which is available through service provides such as Gibson Hewitt and enables business-owners and director to retain control of their ventures while creditors claims are being assessed. It is a unique arrangement as it also enables any associated shareholders to retain ownership of the businesses registered assets, and this essentially means that you can hold on to your company and make tentative plans for the future. This will also help you to avoid the threat of bankruptcy, which can decimate your credit rating and impact negatively on your ability to operate a business in the future.

The Bottom Line for Ailing Business-owners

Another key benefit of this type of agreement is that the commercial terms are flexible, and can be tailored to suit individual circumstances. Above all else, these arrangements can organise creditor payments from future cash flows, or even the sale of non-essential assets that can be sacrificed for the long-term benefit of the company. This creates a relatively prosperous and progressive set of circumstances for each individual party, as business-owners can continue to turnover money and trade while creditors can rely on a fixed income stream that will help to repay all outstanding debts in full.

Improving the Efficiency of each Business Department

The individual departments of a medium or large organisation are naturally distanced, not only physically but in terms of the different objectives that are held by each sector. Taking regular action to bridge this gap can mean the difference between a deteriorating mess and a competent, well-run business. If your organisation lacks a tight and productive framework, follow these tips towards creating more efficient departments.

Improve interdepartmental communication

Blurring the boundaries between departments (at least in a social sense) is a no-brainer for any company, particularly medium to large corporations. Good communication promotes flexibility within each department and strengthens trust. Ergo, your entire business will run on a foundation of reliability and security. Departments that are in regular communication are ones in sync and are far more likely to be productive as a result.

Host interdepartmental meetings twice a month; ask how you can be of assistance to another department or organise company away-days that feature trust-building exercises with other departments – each of these will strengthen communication and work ethic.


Set up departmental budgets

Implementing a budget for each department and sticking to it not only keeps company expenses under control, it ensures each department is working harmoniously to realize the full-scale plan of your entire organisation. Setting strict monthly and annual budgets for everything from office supplies to energy usage will allow you to make adjustments for the following months. In addition to improving yearly financial projections, you will soon save money where it matters i.e. to the point where you may be able to request an increase in budget funds.

Revise department business plans

Whether or not your original plans have stood you in good stead thus far, there is always room for improvement so it may be a good idea to update and streamline individual business plans. Ask yourself – is a department’s mission statement still relevant now? Has this department achieved everything it set out to in the last year? Could one department benefit from using certain technology i.e. issuing company tablets or using updated software? Constantly revising and improving the ideas and long-term goals of each department is what keeps your business ticking over so take the time to polish individual business plans.

An efficient and productive company is one that appreciates and nurtures each department. Help to develop key departments such as recruitment and contracting for the sake of overall productivity within your company and build your reputation as a compliant and well-structured business.

Restaurant Prices continue to decrease

A study by Horizon’s Menurama has shown a number of changes to the market. This biannual survey has shown firstly that restaurants and pubs have responded to the recession and attempted to keep customers dining out with an all-time high in discounts being used. In winter 2013, a new peak was reached with 76% of restaurants and pubs using discounts, compared to 70% winter 2012 and 59% in summer 2013. For many, value menus have become a staple of gaining custom, particularly in winter where people are already less likely to eat out.

Another new trend seems to be in that the price gap between restaurants and pubs is decreasing. Restaurant prices are down for a second year in a row. In 2013 the average price of a 3 course meal fell by 4.6% which can be separated into a 9.2% decrease in starter prices, a 3% decrease for main courses and a 2.8% drop for desserts. This makes for evidence that restaurants are increasingly struggling, with issues particularly around the New Year period meaning that restaurants are having to resort to both lowered prices and the aforementioned increase in promotions to continue their supply of customers.

Conversely, the price of food in pubs is up for the fourth year in a row, which shows that this part of the industry is clearly confident about pulling in customers. A 7.4% increase in the price of a 3 course meal in a pub is a clear example of this, average price of a starter is up by 2.7%, dessert prices up by 6.1% and most critically there has been an over 10% increase in the average price of a pub main course over this period.


This clearly shows that there is a change in the market. The rise of the casual dining industry will have had some impact on this too. Pubs are generally opting towards a casual dining approach, which is providing them enough custom to not have to worry about prices, although they still use promotions. Restaurants appear to be being threatened by this trend. Fast casual dining in particular has been undergoing growth in the last few years and perception of this as a better value and easier alternative to a formal restaurant has meant restaurants are increasingly threatened by these new companies. This can go some way to explaining how, despite the steady recovery in UK citizens eating out, restaurants are having to severely cut their prices, if they didn’t it would lead to even further problems with gaining customers.


Data on Retirement Planning Not very Encouraging

A new survey  by the Employee Benefits Research Institute shows that worker’s confidence in their retirement plans in the beginning of 2014 has recovered from some of that record lows seen during the past five years, although frankly that confidence is limited mostly to people who are higher earners and have 401(k)s and IRAs.

Unfortunately, confidence overall is still quite low and only 18% of American workers are now “very confident” that when retirement comes they will have enough money. That’s up from 13% in 2013 but still isn’t very promising. The survey also showed that 37% of workers are “somewhat confident” but that 24% of American workers are “not at all confident”.

Top earners had the highest confidence, unsurprisingly, and those with $75,000 or more in income per year were more than twice as likely to say that they were “very confident” about being able to retire comfortably than those with incomes between $35,000 and $74,000 a year. In another finding that was also less than surprising, only 7% of workers that made $35,000 a year or less were “very confident”.

The survey showed that workers with retirement plans were also more confident about retiring and were more than twice as likely to report their confidence being high than workers who have no IRA, 401(k) or other retirement fund working for them.  The survey showed that workers who did have a retirement plan of some sort were 24% more likely to say that they were very confident about retirement while only 9% of those without an IRA or 401(k) responded the same way.

While there was a bit of a recovery in terms of retirement confidence, according to Ed Slott, the founder of,  that confidence “is absolutely because of the stock market.” Slott is also the author of “The Retirement Savings Time Bomb and How To Diffuse It” and says that “It’s a false confidence, which is more devastating than anything. Many workers have the same habits as they did after the 2008 crisis.”

Those habits, unfortunately, often do not include any type of financial planning. The survey found that even though many workers and their spouses had a retirement plan in place, most don’t spend very much time calculating the exact dollar amount that they’ll actually need in order to retire, or plan how to invest their money to grow their “nest egg”.

Indeed, financial services provider TIAA-CREF surveyed Americans recently and found that most spend more time choosing a restaurant, tablet computer or flatscreen TV then they do planning for their retirement. They also found that, between the ages of 18 to 34, more than one third of the people they surveyed had no real understanding of what an IRA is and also did not know the difference between an employer-sponsored plan and an IRA.

If you’re one of the people who fall into the “no plan for retirement” category, and you’re feeling a little anxious, drop us a note or give us a call and we’ll answer any questions for you that we can as well as give you some excellent financial planning advice.

What 18% of Americans are doing for Retirement

As study after study is released showing that American workers are ill-prepared to support themselves in retirement, a new study is offering a glimpse into what 18% of Americans who feel “very confident” about retirement have that the rest of Americans don’t.

First and foremost, these “very confident” Americans know their number. The fact is, in order to know how much you need to save, you need to know how much money you will actually need during retirement. It’s not simply saving money but taking the time to calculate what your retirement needs will be ahead of time so that, while you’re planning for the future, you know how to stay on track.

Indeed, when workers in the new study checked that they had ‘run the numbers’ through a retirement calculator, most had a 40% bigger retirement “nest egg” than the rest.  The fact is, using a savings calculators is a really important trigger for improving actions and savings rates. You don’t need to hire a pricey financial planner to get your number either.  There are free tools offered by EBRI, Bankrate, the AARP, and Kiplinger.

This 18% also have money and know how to use it. It’s obviously easier to save for the future when you have more money to start with, and workers who earn over $75,000 a year were much more likely to report feelings of confidence about retirement. Simply put, in order to have the best opportunity to save a person needs to develop an understanding and a plan for managing their spending as well as their savings. It’s not always easy but it definitely is possible and, if a person makes the effort to understand their spending patterns as well as having a good command of their spending, they normally do much better than people who don’t.

These ”very confident” people also have a designated retirement account according to the survey.  In fact, an impressive 90% who have designated retirement accounts like IRAs or 401(k)s actually contribute to them, according to EBRI. The reason? Saving is much easier when you’ve got a vehicle in place to do it.

Another thing that these confident consumers want to do is work through retirement, but they don’t count on having to do so. Most, according to the survey, have a more realistic idea of when they’ll actually have to retire and, in most cases, that time period is earlier rather than later.

The survey also showed that there is a bit of a “reality gap” between when a consumer believes they’ll retire and when they actually do. For instance, the survey showed that 9% of workers plan to retire before the age of 60 but nearly 4 times that amount, 35%, actually reported that they had retired that early.

If you want to speed up your possibilities for retirement then you simply need to save more. Opening an online trading account is the first step in saving after tax dollars, and most companies can combine your pre-tax retirement savings accounts within the same online portal. Once you open your account I would check out all of the investment options available to you. For instance, binary options signals keeps you updated on all your binary options opportunities, making it that much easier to invest in them now.

If you are unsure of your retirement plans, have questions about your personal finances or would simply like to chat about finances in general, drop us an email and we’ll get back to you ASAP.


House passes Flood Insurance Bill

We of course talk a lot about personal finances here on our website. Since your home, and its related expenses, are certainly a very big part of your personal finance picture, today’s blog definitely  falls under the category of “important to know”.

It’s about flood insurance and, more specifically, the dramatic increase in flood insurance premiums that is affecting millions of American homeowners nationwide. In Washington the House recently, and overwhelmingly, passed a new bill, the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014, in a rare act of bipartisanship. (The vote passed 306 to 91.)

This is incredibly important to many Americans because of the premium rate hikes, in some cases up to 10 fold, that many are facing. The new bill would, under the National Flood Insurance Program, limit the annual increase of any individual policy to no more than 18% per year. This new legislation also has provisions to instruct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to create an “affordability target” limiting the flood insurance policy cost to 1% of the total coverage amount for any single home.

The bill was initially approved by the Senate earlier in the year but Democrats and Republicans came together to revamp it, so that it would include the new wording for the “affordability target” and 18% cap. One of the main reasons that the new legislation was drafted was due to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, a law that was designed to reflect the high risk of having a home in an area that was considered to be located in a “high flood” area.  It affected approximately 5 million people, most of whom were negatively affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Unfortunately, shortly after the law was enacted in 2012, the Northeast was hammered by  Super Storm Sandy.

The new bill was applauded nationwide by many banks, real estate brokers and homebuilders as well as individual homeowners. Because it continues to subsidize insurance rates however, quite a large number of conservative groups had actually opposed the bill, a point that is now moot.

The Congressional Budget Office, nonpartisan government entity, said that the newly passed House bill would have almost zero  impact on the financial standing of the National Flood Insurance Program over the next 10 years, as well as saying that the bill would pay for itself with annual annual assessments to the program’s reserve funds. That includes $25 a year for primary homeowners and, for businesses and vacation homeowners, $250 a year.

Fastest Ways to Build Debt Straight Out of High School

Graduating high school is a big milestone in life. It is an exciting time that often makes young adults feels a bit of freedom. Along with the excitement of freedom and going off to college is the sense of requiring more financial assistance. This can be in the form of credit cards, vehicle loans, store credit cards and a variety of other options. Debt can build up fast, below are the main ways that it happens.  It is important to avoid going into too much debt.  You may need to find quick ways to make money so you don’t fall victim and find yourself in financial trouble.

Student Loans for College

Student loans do not have to be paid back until college is complete in most cases, but this is instant debt right out of high school. For those that choose to leave college, the debt is still there. These are low interest loans and your wages or bank account can be garnished if they go unpaid. Court judgments can also be made against you if they are unpaid. Paying for education is important so finding employment during college and immediately after is important.

Taking Personal Loans

Personal loans are often sought by those fresh out of high school, as well as payday loans. These types of loans are intended for quick cash to help you when you’re in a bind. Keep in mind, personal loans do often have higher interest rates and have to be paid back much faster than other types of loans or credit. Garnishments are also possible with this type of loan if they are unpaid.

Credit Cards

Students or those that are freshly 18 often go on a credit card application spree. While having money when you need it is great, the debt builds up really fast. The interest on a credit card or store credit card is much steeper for younger applicants. Minimum payments are ideal but the interest continues to build on the remaining balance so your debt continues to build. Be careful with the type of credit card you choose right out of high school.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is different from a student loan and is often scheduled to begin repayment immediately following graduation from college or secondary school. Once you are approved and accept the financial aid this is debt. Most college students apply for financial aid as soon as they are accepted to an institution, which is generally before high school graduation.

These types of debt are the most common for those that are fresh out of high school. Immediate debt in the way of student loans and financial aid are nearly inevitable but do at least allow you to finish your secondary schooling before they have to be repaid. Watch your debt and keep track of interest rates, spending and maintain a budget to keep your debt to a minimum. If you take payday loans, make sure that you can afford the increased repayment amount and that you can make it on time.