What’s the difference between a commercial and a domestic plumber?

Commercial Plumber Bristol

A plumber is a plumber, right? Not quite. There are domestic and commercial plumbers, offering different services to their customers. It’s important to recognise what you need when looking for a plumber to do the work you need completed.

Plumbers offer highly skilled services and both domestic and commercial plumbers can fit bathrooms, install central heating systems and much more.

The main difference between the two is scale. Commercial plumbers may often take larger jobs, particularly for hospitals, office buildings, apartment blocks, schools and so on. Larger buildings with more storeys invariably have more complex plumbing requirements and this is the key difference.

Analysis of plumbing undertaken in 2010 (http://www.yourspaceonline.net/pdf/Plumbing_-_Jun_2010.pdf) showed that there were 22,000 plumbing business in the UK employing 62,000 people. 90% of plumbing businesses employ fewer than ten people and so the majority of the companies are small.

If you own a home, you are probably most familiar with your local domestic plumber, whether that be in Clifton or Fishponds, who services the boiler, installs a central heating system, checks the safety of your gas, deals with a leak and is on hand when you want a new bathroom suite.

Often, we don’t appreciate the skill involved in plumbing. It’s a science, dealing with the safe installation and maintenance of gas and water supplies in your home, as well as completing aesthetic works involved in your dream bathroom or ensuring that the new state of the art gas oven and hob is safe to use in your kitchen.

As a commercial plumber in Bristol, we place a lot of importance on our Gas Safe recognition, ensuring that our teams can give you peace of mind that you and your family are safe.

Commercial plumbing is usually on a larger scale, and these are often the plumbing businesses that make up the 10% who employ more than ten people. However, commercial plumbers make up about 20% of the workforce.

If you are seeking a commercial plumber, you should look out for the Federation of Master Builders accreditation as well as Gas Safe. This is a mark that is important for the larger jobs that commercial plumbers tend to take on.

Commercial plumbers are most likely the people delivering the hygiene and safety in the schools your children go to or in the new developments going up in areas around Bristol. Apartments and shopping centres, for example, will have an intricate network of pipes carrying gas and water and will require experienced engineers to work with the architect, developer, electricians and others in order to deliver the modern conveniences we all expect, both in our homes and in the public spaces we use.

Regional research in 2010 showed that there were fewer than 6,500 plumbers in the south west of England. Considering the huge area, going out to Land’s End, and the large urban areas such as Bristol, Bath and Exeter, you can imagine how much demand is put on the profession, both domestically and commercially.

Commercial plumbing is more complex, due to scale of job, size of items installed and maintained, and the sheer number of various professionals involved in a large development programme. Clearly, your average domestic plumber, employing fewer than ten people, would struggle to deliver all the plumbing requirements for a new housing development of 1,000 homes or a block of 100+ flats. There are additional qualifications and training required for commercial plumbers and, while both domestic and commercial plumbers go through rigorous testing to ensure customer service and safety, a commercial plumber needs additional skills.

In summary, the main difference between commercial and domestic plumbers is the size of the job that they typically undertake. A commercial plumber can equally deal with domestic jobs but if you are an office or facilities manager, you probably need the specific expertise of a commercial plumbing company.

Everything you need to know about commercial vehicle tracking systems

Commercial Vehicle Tracking Systems

Long gone are the days when companies would need to hire a manager to sit in the passenger seat to monitor the performance of the driver and vehicle. It can now all be done virtually by one software operator who can overlook a number of drivers and their vehicles at the same time using GPS tracking software.

Here is everything you need to know about commercial vehicle tracking systems and how they could help your business:

How does a vehicle tracking system work?

Vehicle tracking systems are not too dissimilar to the GPS systems that most drivers use on devices such as smartphones and sat navs, but it comes with a lot more benefits and ways to analyse performance. It uses global positioning systems (GPS) via satellites, which then send real-time updates and data to the software operator.

A piece of hardware is installed in the vehicle and the data is then beamed back to the manager, who may be assigning jobs or monitoring the performance of a driver.

Is it legal to track commercial vehicles?

Yes. It is perfectly legal in the UK to track your company’s vehicles. The ability to track mileage and other key data has proven invaluable to companies worldwide for insurance purposes and performance analysis.

It is also legal to track vehicles owned by employees and not by the company, providing the tracking stops at the end of the employee’s shift. It can be agreed with the driver that data will not be collected outside of working hours, or the driver can turn choose to turn off data transmission using a privacy button.

However, it is illegal under the Data Protection Act to track a vehicle without the knowledge of the employee.

If you wish to fit coverts tracker on your commercial vehicles to help in the event of theft, you are also obliged by law to inform the employee of the tracker and the data you will be receiving from it.

What kind of data you can receive

As well as the regular features that come with regular GPS systems, fleet management and vehicle tracking systems such as TomTom Webfleet are able to locate vehicles and give directions to the destination that may have been assigned to the driver of the vehicle.

Additionally, a lot more complex data is also detected, such as the speed of the car, driving patterns and the software operator will be alerted when the driver performs an illegal or aggressive manoeuvre, such as speeding or hard braking. This is ideal for monitoring the wellbeing and behaviour of the driver.

A lot of taxi companies opt for the software because most of the systems come with dispatching tools, which have been proven to dramatically improve workflow. The software allows companies to be able to give customers a more accurate ETA and accurate updates if the driver has encountered a problem or is running late.

Accident tracking, roadside assistance and anti-theft features are also vital tools that allow companies to act quickly and effectively if the data is showing that the driver may have been involved in an accident.

Things you should consider before choosing a vendor

Vehicle tracking systems are a big commitment for any company and it’s important to choose the ideal vendor so that your business benefits from the technology.

There are a lot of providers offering systems that are unnecessarily complicated. Always be on the lookout for a solution that has a simple dashboard and doesn’t require much learning to use. Make sure you try the software before you buy.

It’s also important to get the most out of the technology. Some vendors offer alert systems that will send texts and emails when something isn’t right with the vehicle or driver.

Before buying, also ask the vendor to prove that the GPS signal will be reliable and will not drop when the driver is driving through tunnels or has to leave the city.

Third-party integration is also highly desired because it means you can sync all of the data with your accounting and payroll.

Finally, should you ever encounter any problems with the software and require assistance, it can save a lot of time and troubleshooting by selecting a vendor that offers real, live person anytime help!

Xero: Accounting software for small businesses

Accounting software for small businesses

If you’re a small business owner, you’ll know that accounting can be time-consuming, expensive, and complicated, especially if you use one of the larger accounting software packages on the market. It takes valuable resources away from your business and is a hindrance to the growth of your business. If that’s you, Xero might be just what you need to free up your time and take your business to the next level.

Xero is easy to understand, it’s quick and it’s affordable. With Xero, your books can always be up to date and you’ll be able to take a snapshot of your financial affairs anytime you want – even from your mobile device – equipping you to make strategic business decisions on the go.

XeroWhat is Xero?

Xero is one of the fastest growing cloud accounting programs in the world with more than 700,000 subscribers in more than 180 countries. In 2014 and 2015, Forbes ranked Xero number one for the World’s Most Innovative Growth Companies.

Xero can be integrated with other programs, such as point-of-sale and payroll software. With over 500 add-on solutions, you’ll be able to do just about anything in Xero.

Xero is a cloud-based online program, which means that you can access your books from anywhere, on any device. You don’t need to make any backups, and more than one person can work on the books at the same time. You can also give your accountant access to help you with those tricky transactions you don’t know how to handle. For some programs, being in the cloud means that it is slow and not always available. Not with Xero. It’s quick and has a 99.97% uptime rate – by far the best in its class.

How can businesses benefit from using Xero

Working with Xero has many benefits. We can’t list them all here, but here are some of the advantages we think you’d like to know about:

  • You have real-time visibility of your financial position, enabling you to make business decisions on the go.
  • A specialist Xero accountant can access your books anytime from anywhere, and add value as and when you need it.
  • Xero is easy, quick, and it doesn’t break the bank.
  • You can import feeds directly from your bank, so you don’t need to input each transaction manually.
  • Xero supports foreign exchange transactions and it converts a foreign currency into your home currency automatically, so accounting for transactions across borders becomes a breeze.
  • Payments can be linked to invoices, so your customers can pay you with a click of a button.
  • You can attach documents to your invoices or bills – just scan or take a photo of your receipts or any supporting docs you want to keep safe.
  • Bank reconciliations are easy and quick. Bank transactions are fed directly from your bank; all you need to do is match payments and receipts with transactions. It even remembers how you treated similar transactions before.
  • You can customise your reports in a way that’s understandable to you so you can see exactly what you need to know to make business decisions.
  • Xero’s mobile app can be used on any mobile device. You can send invoices, record receipts and expenses and do reconciliations while you’re in the field, waiting for a train or in those five minutes before your dinner date shows up.
  • Managing your contacts is a breeze. You can have all your contacts in one place, make notes, view work history, import emails and even see their location on Google Maps.

Who uses Xero?

Anybody who wants more time running their business, doing the things they really love while still having time for family and friends, uses Xero. It’s perfect for almost any kind of small business, whether you’re a start-up, retailer, creative agency, service provider or a non-profit organisation.

Xero takes the pain out of accounting and frees you up to grow your business. You’ll always know where you stand. Are you meeting your targets, making a profit or having the funds to buy new equipment? With Xero, all these questions can be answered effortlessly and you’ll be able to plan and make decisions swiftly and efficiently.

How to comply with global data breach notification laws

Legislation to protect consumer data exists across the world. The requirements of the law vary between countries and regions, but there’s a broad set of standard ground rules with which businesses need to comply. Thanks to IT support company Evolvit for their help in the creation of this article.

Pivotal to the rules is the action that organisations must take if a data breach has occurred. The aim is to notify everyone affected by the breach, so that the risks associated with the leaking of personal data can be reduced. The global data breach notifications also force organisations to take responsibility for any problems caused by an incident, rather than trying to cover it up.

Data breach

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Following the correct procedures

While the majority of businesses protect themselves against data breaches, cybercrime and hacking, it’s almost impossible to protect against all attacks, as hackers are using increasingly sophisticated techniques. The importance of knowing what to do if a breach occurs is crucial to limiting any damage.

The legislation recognises that any delay in notifying those affected can have serious consequences. Knowing the correct action to take by understanding the global minimum standards for breach notifications ensures that organisations don’t fall foul of the law, leaving customers further at risk.

Data breach notification requirements

When personal and financial data are leaked into the public domain, the concept of data breach notification is often not well defined. It was the state of California in the USA that first passed legislation relating to data breaches in 2002. Subsequently, various countries have implemented similar legislation.

However, none of it is particularly clear cut and businesses must take the time to ensure they fully understand all the requirements. In the EU and the UK, for example, there are different rules. The EU is governed by the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive 2003, a law that requires organisations to notify all individuals affected in the event of a data breach, in addition to notifying a national authority, when the breach affects personal data and privacy.

There isn’t a general requirement in place in the UK, under the Data Protection Act 1998, to notify affected individuals or the Information Commissioner’s Office in the event of a data breach. However, if there’s a serious breach, the ICO recommends that they should be notified, with the main consideration being to combat any harm to individuals.

New regulations planned for 2017

The EU General Data Protection Regulation is due to be introduced in 2017 and will apply to any personal data that’s being used by businesses within the European Union. Under the new laws, any company suffering a data breach must notify the authorities within a reasonable time and must notify every individual who may be affected.

In other European countries, the situation may become confusing because of their own individual laws. For example, the German Data Protection Act requires both the regulator and any affected individuals to be informed, but not in every case. The requirement to notify the relevant bodies and individuals depends on the kind of data and the seriousness of the breach.

In the USA, there isn’t a federal standard law. Instead, each state has its own individual variation of California’s data breach notification laws.

Ensuring compliance everywhere

It’s apparent that there’s a wide variety of standards across the globe when it comes to data breach notification laws. In general terms, any organisation’s policy should be to focus on protecting everyone who will be affected in the event of a breach, telling all concerned as quickly as possible.

There are challenges to putting this standard in place, however. One of the major ones is ascertaining what’s been leaked and how major the risks are. For example, should a mobile device be lost, has it been misplaced or stolen? How easy is it to access any data on the device, thus compromising security?

In some jurisdictions across the globe, the authorities would be highly critical of any company that couldn’t confirm how serious the breach was.

Notifying the relevant parties

Notifying the affected individuals and the relevant authorities is a challenge in itself, especially since this must be completed within a specific timeline. Often, it can be difficult to ascertain exactly when the breach occurred.

If a mobile device has been lost and the data has been breached on a Friday evening, for example, there’s a chance the employee may not realise this until Monday morning and won’t inform IT until after the weekend. This would mean more than 48 hours had passed between the device being lost or stolen – potentially compromising data – and the breach being reported to IT.

As the EU requires that notifications of a breach must be made “without undue delay”, then the ICO may be concerned that a delay of over 48 hours is negligent and may potentially cause serious harm to those affected by the breach.

The key is knowledge and technology

In order to comply with all global data breach notification legislation, businesses must be able to say accurately whether a breach has occurred, specifying what information has been exposed in the public domain. It’s also necessary to know how many people are affected by the breach.

This can be completed effectively by using technology that tracks lost or stolen devices, encrypts device data, confirms whether someone has accessed the data and wipes the device if it can’t be retrieved. Organisations must take the necessary steps to ensure they comply with global data breach notification laws, demonstrating to their specific regulator that they’re in control of any breach situation.

Home Business Marketing Made Easy

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Creating an effective marketing strategy will be a test of your leadership skills, because if you fail to market your business, you cannot succeed. However, marketing is surprisingly easy even for small home-based businesses. The following are a few tips you might want to consider to help make marketing easier and much more effective for your business.

A Small Email Marketing Campaign Can Be the Best Place to Start

Customers readily give away their email addresses in order to get special deals or updates about certain products and events, and this is where email marketing can come into play. If you are able to create strong email marketing campaigns in which you send out fantastic content, such as a weekly newsletter or coupons for an upcoming sale, you can market the business effectively. Customers are much more likely to visit your website because of an email they receive.

Combine Efforts with Flyers

Sending physical flyers out to local customers can be a great way to drum up business and help market your brand, but you can also post online. Now, your leadership skills will be tested here through patience, because you aren’t technically posting flyers online but rather posting ads. The two are quite similar, but if you combine your marketing efforts you can see some great results. Home businesses absolutely need to look at all avenues to find success. More details in our post here.

Business Directories

Online directories and even in this day and age, printed directories can be useful for your business. It all depends on who your target market is. Are you looking for younger customers? Then online directories and social media are going to be relevant. However if you’re looking for a more mature customer then printed directories can still play a part in finding local businesses and services.

Just make sure the Bristol business directory you chose has got a good reputation, a modern design and has been updated recently with new listings as well as new content.

Market with Content

If you want to successfully market your home based business you are going to have to consider what content you’re putting out there. So, what have you done? Articles and blog posts are great ways to help increase your online presence and get people to take notice of your small business. However you could always look at guest blogging and posting tweets on social networking sites. If you plan to go down the content marketing route you will need to write quality stuff; but you will also need to keep it short, sweet and right to the point. You don’t actually need to spend a great deal on content marketing.

Create Short Video Campaigns

Your home business should be marketed in the right manner and that may include video marketing. Now, this isn’t as difficult as you would think and it can be quite effective in getting out a clear message. You could create brief videos telling people about your service or products and post online. Most video-sharing sites are free for both the posters and viewers so you don’t have to pay out anything extra. However, this can market your business very well indeed and your leadership skills will never be questioned if you become a huge Internet success.

Marketing Can Be Simple

To be honest when it comes to business marketing it can be relatively easy – as long as you use the right techniques. When you do use the right and very best techniques available to you, you can easily find your home business a raging success. Your marketing needs to be strong and forceful so people don’t forget your name.

Read more here: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/71910

Environmental Certifications: An Overview

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Environmental certifications are quite important in today’s world. Society is changing rapidly and the need for eco-friendly products and services are growing. However, it isn’t just about reducing the amount of power being used. More people today are looking at the way society works including corporations and businesses, hence the huge rise in corporate social responsibility recently. If businesses aren’t doing their bit for the planet then the consumers want to know why. So what are environment certifications and do we need them?

What Are Environmental Certifications Used For?

An environmental certification is basically a regulation in which a company be assessed in its practices and be defined as meeting certain environmental factors. If a business or company were to prove to the environmental agency they had reduced carbon emissions and reducing the amount of waste, also they would be awarded a certification. However, there are many different environmental certifications available and each will have their own regulations and standards that must be met. The certifications are used to help consumers know a business a little better and see what changes they are making to protect the planet.

To meet the relevant certifications companies are required, either legislatively or by their share holders, to collect huge amounts of sustainability data. This often falls to a person within the business known as the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Officer or Manager. They will be task with producing a CSR report or audit. No mean feat given the global nature of many businesses these days, and supply chains that span many countries.

This has led to a huge rise in CSR & sustainability software, developed solely to be able to collect, track and report on the vast volumes of data. GoMarketWise is an online sustainability software comparison application. Helping CSR officers and managers choose the right tool for their individual business.

Why Are Changes Being Made To The Economy?

It is all about ethics and ensuring the consumers gets the full picture and fair value for money. The certifications are being used to help set out sustainable goals for the future and help with better development with less harm to the world. Reducing emissions is the biggest factor as to why certifications are being used more and more today. However, environmental certifications help to establish a positive future and show progress also.

Losing an Image

Very few people are happy to stick with companies who do not comply with eco-standards. It isn’t just bad for business but also bad for public image. Companies who do not take the time to reduce emissions in some way have a bad reputation and image simply because they lack credibility. Anyone who runs a business absolutely doesn’t want this to happen because it loses them custom; it does happen and it will continue until those ‘green’ certifications are in place.

Are Environmental Certifications A Good Thing?

There is a huge demand for green companies and eco-friendly products and, in all honesty, most people want to know who they are dealing with. That is why more companies today are looking into becoming self-certified when it comes to eco-friendly procedures and matters. If you compare two companies in the same field with identical products, but only one had environmental certification, then consumers would look more favorably to that company. This is just how it works and in reality, it is good to go green. Having certifications can allow everyone the chance to see who is and isn’t doing their part for the planet.

Making a Change for the Better

Most people don’t like change, but when it comes to the planet, it can be a good thing. If nothing was done to help reduce the amount of emissions being released into the atmosphere, then things would only get worse. That is why making small changes to the way businesses run and the amount of energy being wasted can make all the difference. Environmental certifications are good.

Business Management – Top 4 Mistakes

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Having good leadership skills is crucial when it comes to management, but it isn’t always an easy task. Whether you are management a department or an entire business you need to ensure you do a great job at all times. Usually, it’s the mistakes that lead to failure and it’s important to avoid this. Business management consultants HGKC have given us four of the most common mistakes made in business management today.

A Failure to Communicate

Communication is a must-have in business management. You cannot be a good manager or leader without communication and if your skills aren’t good enough you will sink. When there is something that needs to be done you need to sit with the people who will handle the project at hand and explain fully as to what needs to be done. You could set out specific tasks or duties for each team member so everyone is fully aware of what their job is and ensure all questions are answered.

Not Making Time to Listen To Employees

When an employee is worried about something, whether is about their job or something they have been asked to do, they may come to their manager and ask to speak. The worst mistake you can make is to turn them away because you don’t have the time to listen or you just don’t want to be bugged by their concerns. This is terrible because they may have a legitimate concern and you brushing them away will not solve the problem; even if it’s something trivial you need to make time to listen. Your leadership depends on your ability to listen.

Shifting Responsibility onto Others

Accidents will happen and when something goes wrong and it’s down to you, you need to be the one to stand up and take responsibility. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t take their share of the blame which is a bad mistake. Business management is all about taking responsibility when you make a mistake. Yes your boss might be angry at you but that is all a part of the job. Passing the buck onto a colleague is never a good sign and your leadership will be questioned; and more importantly no one will trust you either.

Playing Favourites

Just because you have a family member or close friend on your team doesn’t give you the right to favour them over everyone else. One of the biggest leadership and management mistakes you can make is to show favouritism. It not only causes tension in the workforce but actually causes you to lose some respect as a leader. If you don’t treat everyone the same you are going to lose credibility which could cost you dearly later.

Be a Successful Leader

The old saying goes, ‘it’s lonely at the top’ and in a sense it’s very much true. When you are a manager you need to be the one to show excellent leadership. You need to be strong, willing to work hard and ensure all colleagues are happy. If you aren’t able to bring a team together and work as a team you aren’t doing a good enough job. Business management is tough but you can succeed as long as you avoid the mistakes.

Find out more in our featured post here: http://www.amherstburgchamberofcommerce.ca/business-management-methods/

Strategic Business Management Methods

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Having a solid strategy when it comes to managing your business can often lead to success in the workplace. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t think too carefully about management and leadership, especially when they’re just starting up. Many believe management is easy, but unless you have some experience, it can be a very steep learning curve. Our friends over at strategic management consultancy HGKC have kindly given us some of their top tips.

Opt For the ‘Management by Objectives’ Method

This is certainly one of the more popular, if not controversial, forms of management today. For those looking to this method of management, they should find it to be a big test to their leadership skills. Management by objectives is all about setting targets and achievable objectives for your team. It can be at times a difficult method to put to practice, especially if those in the team around you aren’t cooperative. However, management by objectives is quite effective when used in the correct working environment.

Measured Performance

Another popular business management method to consider is the monthly goal tallies. Many managers take time at the end of the month to see how the team’s performance has been. This gives them the chance to see what goals are on track, which are failing, and also ways which can be improved. Measuring performances every so often can be quite effective when it comes to improving certain areas. Also, it gives most managers the chance to see which areas are excelling and which are declining.

Use Different Styles in Leadership If One Fails

Every manager has their own style or way of working and usually the people around them adapt to the change. Unfortunately, there may be an occasion or two when your style must change in order to see most results. Now, changes to leadership styles can be important, especially if it helps to improve productivity and creates a strong working environment. You might have a certain way in which you’re used to running things, but as times change, so do your tactics. Successful business management is full of ups and downs and if you do not adapt your style, things aren’t going to run smoothly. People need to see change and while you might not like it, it may be important to achieve success.

Find a Method That Suits Your Needs

It can be hard to take on a management role, but if you accept the challenge you have to be prepared for the responsibilities that follow. You are the one people look up to now and if you can’t do your job correctly or just don’t manage the team right, things will start to fail. That is why you have to think about what strategic business management methods are available and which will work best for you.

Succeed With the Right Methods

No one said business management was easy; and let’s face it, it isn’t in any way simple, but it actually can be. If you take the time to find out about the different management methods and find one which is suitable for you and your business, things can run smoothly. Your leadership will never come into question as long as you have the right management methods behind you.

Find out more informations and methods here: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/main-methods-top-managers-use-control-organization-32342.html