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How switching energy suppliers could save your business money

Many people are starting to switch their energy providers every year, whilst some people may sit back without knowing they could be saving a considerable amount of money for their business. Whether your business is based in a large built up office or if it’s a small business based in your garage there are plenty of areas to research and find the cheapest energy supplier for you.

A simple way to check the best deal could be by using online comparison websites which will inform you on the cheapest energy providers in your area. Therefore, where your business is based could be the difference between a low energy bill and an expensive one. Despite many people choosing to stay with the same provider, there can be cheaper options and it is worth considering the possibility of switching.

Many businesses are on fixed contracts for their energy supply. When the  contract continues after the fixed term period, this can be known as a “rollover” or “evergreen” contract. Therefore, this means if your businesses energy contract renews without you checking it, it might go up in price and therefore not be the best deal for your company. The reason that many businesses just let their contract continue is that it is convenient and easier to ignore it. They may be put off if they think changing energy suppliers may incur a penalty charge depending on the wording of the contract. So, it’s worth researching into how far in advance you would need let the energy provider know if you were to switch to a different provider. It is also important to note that some energy providers offer loyalty discounts – ensure that you are not benefitting from a discount that you will then lose by switching to another provider. Additionally, check if your current energy provider and any potential new providers offer incentives such as a discount for paying by direct debit.

The further in advance you can plan a switch over the better. You don’t want your business to face possible out- of contract rates, which can result in being charged more than your original contact. It is not the energy providers fault as they are not obligated to give you the lowest rate when you reach end of contract. This is something to factor in, and therefore checking regularly what you are being charged and the current contract length and remind yourself of any exit conditions is good practice. There is normally no charge to get quotations from other suppliers even when you are in contract, so you are able to move quickly when the time comes. Business contracts are not as simple as domestic, so in most cases the supplier will need to obtain specific information to give you different quotations.

Additionally, when obtaining quotations, enquire about combined bundle deals for gas and electricity. Whilst domestic customers benefit from these under the term ‘Dual Fuel tariffs’, these are not available to businesses as tariff products, but they might add some form of discount as an incentive, to encourage you to take both from a single energy company, rather than you are getting supplied from different companies. Sometimes other services such as annual equipment servicing or emergency callout for heating or appliances can also be combined with these deals. This will also make bills easier to organize for your business.

Now move onto to some complicated regulatory changes introduced by Ofgem in April 2018 around business electricity consumers who have metering equipment called Half Hour meters. In simple terms this means if your business uses a HH meter, and your business exceeds the electricity usage in your contract, you could be liable to penalty charges. Again, this comes down to you to understand your energy supplier contract, and in this case, you should know your electricity site meters available capacity and maximum demand levels associated with the electricity supply. To avoid penalties if you go above these levels you may need to agree a revised capacity figure specified in the contact or look at how you can reduce your energy demands during these periods.

So in summary, business customers need to be proactive, regularly review the offering they receive, and need to prepare well in advance in order to switch to single or multiple suppliers if necessary. Before switching though, make sure the suppliers run through all the contract small print, and discuss the impact of any regulatory changes that might impact you. After all the suppliers need your business, so make sure they work hard for you too.

If you’re interested in cutting down on your running costs, energy is not the only area in which you can find a cheaper deal; ensure your bank account is the best option for your business model as well, and consider switching banks if you can get a better deal elsewhere. DLR Accountants can help save your large or small business money; we offer free advice to all of our clients, and work hard to ensure their businesses are as successful as possible; get in touch for more information, or to arrange a free consultation.

Why It’s Important To Track Your Marketing Budget

When it comes to business, a lot of people find themselves operating with a marketing budget slightly or significantly lower than what they would like. In this type of situation, whether we are talking about small business budgeting or the marketing budget of a much larger company, every penny counts.

Taking your budget into consideration and allocating available funds accordingly is just one piece of the puzzle, especially for small businesses. However, tracking your marketing spend will make things operate effectively by allowing you to maintain visibility on what exactly is happening so you can make the necessary adjustments to your budget.

The type of data you should be tracking:

  • Social media; as well as the amount of money spent, you should record statistics such as follower numbers, interactions with your posts, referral visits to your website etc, in order to analyse performance across platforms.
  • Offline marketing initiatives; this will help track target audience responsiveness.
  • Lifetime value of clients; this is important if your business is more dependent on long term clients than new clients.
  • Acquisition cost of new clients; this comes down to how much of your marketing budget you are willing to spend in order to acquire a new customer.
  • Marketing cost; this helps you narrow down on how much you are willing to spend on things like campaigns.

Keeping track of your marketing budget is important especially for a small business’ finances. It helps you in measuring and tracking your marketing success so you can have a clear picture on whether your marketing strategies are working or they still need some polishing. This helps you figure out what exactly is working for your business and what is not. It helps you visualize your entire marketing outlay so you can figure out where your marketing budget is getting lost and where your money is most efficiently used. It helps you narrow down who your target audience is and ensure you are reaching your target audience through the right channels.

John Wanamaker said “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don’t know which half”. Now wouldn’t you like to know which half of your marketing budget goes to waste so you could make the necessary adjustments that would work better for your business? My bet is you would. Tracking your marketing budget is how you find out whether you are meeting your marketing objectives or not. After all, as they say, it’s hard to know if you’ve won the game if you don’t keep score.

If you need any help with budgeting for your business small or large, get in touch with DLR Accountants. Our friendly Colchester-based team provide first class accounting services and expert advice all across the country.

 

How Your Business Can Start Accepting Smartphone Payments

For many businesses, faster and more secure payment methods are key to their success. Smartphone payments can be said to be safer ways of accepting payments in many businesses, and have certainly proven popular. Mobile payment users spend on average twice as much as those who don’t use this technology. Most big name businesses have created their own apps to collect payments from their clients at all times such as Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. Other mobile payment services such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet have made it easier for businesses to engage in mobile payment services.

The system works in a very simple way for both the retailer and the customer. When the buyer downloads the application on their smartphone, they enter their debit card, credit card and bank account credentials. When at the store, they use the app to pay for their goods by scanning it using the cashier’s machine. In other cases, the business may also be registered with the application of their choice and they can select their business from a list on the app. The payment is received by the seller in the same way as swiping a credit card or processing an order online.

Near Field Communication technology is used by the business owner for mobile payment. The POS system in use needs to support the NFC chip for it to work. Mobile payment is considered to be better due to its security and easiness to use. Most consumers are looking for different ways to save on their time as well as need for use of plastic and paper money. The security of the mobile payments is enhanced due to the unique code sent for each and every transaction making it impossible for hackers to pull any money from the clients’ accounts. Some of the best mobile payment apps that are being put into use currently are listed below.

  • Apple Pay

This is a simple to use means of payment due to its time efficiency. The clients can use their iPhones and Apple Watch to obtain goods from different stores. The phone can be held over the reader, which in turn activates the Touch Id to authorize the purchase. For the Apple Watch it can be held on the reader and then double tapped on its button to make sure that the payment is made.

  • PayPal

For those using a POS system that is similar to a tablet, then PayPal is the ideal processing system. The system is able to scan debit and credit cards making the payment much easier. The system also allows for the buyer to pay directly from their PayPal account found on their mobile phones.

  • PayPass

PayPass is MasterCard’s mobile payment solution, which not only accepts MasterCard but Google Wallet payments as well.

 

  • payWave

 

Similar to PayPass offered by MasterCard, payWave is Visa’s own version of the mobile payment POS.

 

  • Google Wallet

 

Google Wallet has become real competition for Apple Pay; they have agreements in place with three of the four main phone companies for all new Android phones to have the technology pre-installed on them.

All you need to do to take advantage of this speedy and secure method of receiving payments is to get a NFC enabled POS system, and watch as your sales increase; you may find you even reach a new audience for your product or service.

At DLR Accountant’s we pride ourselves on providing guaranteed levels of service to our clients through use of the latest technology and dedicated customer care, get in touch to see how we can help your business, from tax management to business advice.

Making Tax Digital Is On Hold: What You Need to Know

In a notice issued on 30th April, it was announced that the government was implementing a new initiative; Making Tax Digital (MTD). However, it was later reported that the legislation had been put on hold.

It was delayed until 1 April 2019. From that day, VAT-registered businesses that would be above $85,000 will be required to keep their digital records and submit their VAT returns using Xero software.

Additionally, other components of MTD such as corporation and income tax had been put on hold until April 2020.

What is MTD?

It is part of the government’s plan to make it easier for individuals with personal and corporate businesses to stay on top of their online business affairs.

In the statement, it was also announced that the aim of the project was to provide a smooth transition to the digital revolution that is set for 2020.  The delay does not affect the VAT registered businesses although it has an impact on MTD for income and corporate tax.

To some, the announcement of the delay on MTD did not come as a huge surprise as professionals had assumed HMRC had taken longer than expected to make the move.

John Thompson, the Permanent Secretary in HMRC, told the Conservative MP Lee Rowley that they had decided to make tax credits an online service for the new tax credit claimant. He informed that due to unavoidable circumstances they had to postpone the project to April 1st 2019.

He also added that the primary drive, which was to introduce MTD for business still remained on the timescale. Conversely, he also informed that the ultimate goal, which was mainly aimed at providing a single financial account for business owners, had been deferred.

As the preparations for the sophisticated project are underway, there were concerns of some of the projects being prioritized over others. As a result, HMRC gave a triple weighting to the planners, a double weighting to cost-efficiency, and another double weighting to the receipts, so that they are prioritized as scheduled. It was noted that projects with lower rates of driving receipts or cash-efficiency were likely to be given less attention.

Among some of the main reasons for introducing MTD was to assist in reducing the $34 billion tax gap. Up-to-date, around $10 billion is said to be lost through mistakes made in the SME sector.

In fact, statistics reveal that it accounted for 46% of the tax lost, hence the introduction of MTD. Its original goal was, however, intended to target smaller traders. Basing on the MTD timetable on income tax, it was regarded as the best choice for any business.

While for corporate and individual businesses not registered for VAT it still remains unwelcome news, to some business is still going on normally as they wait for the MTD scheme that is scheduled to change over 250 projects and transforms 15 programs. Although 11 projects have already been completed, there will be an additional 81 projects that are scheduled to be completed by 2020.

If you need helping getting your company ready for the expected start of the Making Tax Digital scheme in April 2020, get in touch with the expert team here at DLR Accountants; we serve clients large and small nationwide, and can help your business no matter its size.

 

Are you Losing Money Because of Finance Management?

It’s entirely possible that your company is leaking thousands of pounds every year due to simple financial mismanagement. You’d be surprised how a few basic alterations to the way you prepare will have a great impact on your operation, saving time and therefore saving money.

To assist with this process, it pays to take a step back from the business and reassess your methods. Hiring a professional accountancy firm is the recommended approach at this point. They’ll take an objective overview of your bookkeeping and highlight areas of finance management that could be improved.

To help with the process, here are a few quick tips to help your business perform to its maximum level.

Employee Duties

A feature commonly overlooked by business owners is the time lost by staff when conducting their own work finances. Business tech company Soldo conducted a survey of over a thousand UK companies in 2017, discovering that employees spend an average of 4.1 hours each week on invoicing, expenses and budgeting.

By crunching these numbers down, it’s estimated that the time wasted costs companies £31,732 each year per employee – roughly what it would require to hire an on-site accountant to take care of these affairs full-time. The results ultimately show that SMEs are losing a collective £8.72 billion every year.

This indicates that helping staff organise their own financial matters is just as valuable as rearranging the company structure itself. In this sense, hiring an accountant to help create a bespoke accountancy system could greatly increase productivity.

Financial Planning

The key element of efficient financial management is forecasting and planning. This takes time, effort and a fair deal of patience to get right. By setting up a profit/loss spreadsheet and cash flow forecast, you’ll be able to assess your margins with greater clarity. Note which areas of expenditure can be tightened up and ways to address the problem, i.e. by negotiating with suppliers or buying in bulk.   

We understand this process isn’t something that comes naturally to some business owners, but it’s strongly advised to have financial forecasts documented and maintained over the long term. Business accountancy software can be purchased to help with this, allowing you to update data automatically and even on-the-go with smartphone apps.

Tax Affairs

Financial mismanagement will undoubtedly arise in the form of tax neglect, especially with the new quarterly returns requiring more attention than before. Your business plan must factor in the correct monies owed to ensure there’s no nasty shocks when the HMRC come calling.

There isn’t just an issue with paying what’s due on time, but also with becoming as tax efficient as possible. This could be by making the most of your personal allowance to using your annual pension to save for retirement. It pays to contact a professional accountancy specialist who can advise on these matters, as well as ensuring your business doesn’t unnecessarily lose money due to finance mismanagement. Why not get in touch with DLR Accountants today? We offer expert accounting services and advice nationwide.

Everything You Need To Know About The New £20 Note

Money notes cash New £20 note coming soonHot on the heels of the new style £5 and £10 notes, the Bank of England have announced their plans to introduce new polymer £20 notes. They have been unveiled to feature a very prominent British artist, who was chosen using a new character selection process. Read more ›

How To Prepare Your Business for Brexit

Brexit is looming large, and business owners who haven’t already embraced the challenge of Britain’s departure from the EU should really begin to re-evaluate their approach when possible.   Read more ›

What You Need To Know About Gender Pay Gap Reporting

With gender equality a hot topic right now, employers in the UK should be aware of their responsibilities when it comes to any disparity in pay between male and female members of staff. Read more ›

Ipswich – The Best Place to Start a Business?

ipswich train station

It may be a surprising choice, but Ipswich has recently been named the best place to start a new business in the UK. The results come from a survey conducted in September 2017 by business-support group Informi, taking the latest available information from the 63 largest towns and cities in the country

Read more ›

How to Safeguard Your Finances if You’re Self-Employed

Although being self-employed brings many benefits, there are potential downsides also. Not only can work dry up and cut off your only source of income, but there are further worries over retirement, tax and insurance – aspects many full-time workers take for granted. If you’re one of the UK’s 4.5 million self-employed workers and worried about how to safeguard your finances, here are a few things to consider. Read more ›