How to Ensure Members of the Public Can Clearly Recognise your Staff Uniform

HA0476 Traffic Officers New Uniform. August 2009. This set of images describes several subjects including Traffic Officers on the network, in their TO vehicles, helping to the public and working at Regional Control Centre.

Image via Flickr creative commons from the Highways Agency

Uniforms have been around for millennia. They help distinguish employees and associate themselves with a particular role or firm. If a customer is in need of assistance, a uniform makes help easy to find.

Similarly, the uniforms worn by service men and women are practical, safe and, in the case of the police force, represent a presentable public-facing image. Ensuring the public can clearly recognise your staff is easy with trusted suppliers such as Premier Workwear Uniforms.

Image is everything and the right uniform can say a lot about your business – often, it is the first impression a potential customer will get. In Australia, Flight Centre employees all wear the same uniform, regardless of their position in the company.

“No-one is any different, we’re all equal, and that goes for the office fit-outs too – we all occupy 10 square metres – even our founder and Managing Director Skroo Turner. But the uniforms are the most tangible aspect of the egalitarian culture. It helps convey professionalism,” says general manager of property and procurement, Rhonda McSweeney

As an employee, wearing a uniform is a reminder of your personal responsibility. Consumers and clients will also appreciate the way a customer-facing organisation makes efforts to be presentable at all times.

Although there is little to no research regarding what kind of effect a uniform has on profitability or turnover, they represent a culture and an image for a business. They are crucial to brand identity.

Each time a client interacts with a member of staff, it should be treated as an advertisement for a company – because of this the uniform should be individual and memorable. Colour is particularly important. According to a report by the University of Loyola in Maryland, colour can increase brand recognition by around 80 per cent.

When it comes to choosing which colour is correct for a certain business, colour psychologists can help out. According to colour specialists, Colours of the Soul: “If you think about it quickly but without analysing it, you naturally react more formally to someone in a navy suit than to someone in a yellow one. Colour can and does affect our reactions to people whether we want it to or not, the effect is subtle but very real nevertheless.

“You can send a positive or negative message by the shade of colour you wear or use in business.”

A lot of the world’s biggest brand names use uniforms to their advantage and a distinctive colour is a huge part of that. Think of how instantly you identify EasyJet through their bright orange theme. Similarly, all British Airways staff have a smart and distinctive dress code which converys their image of style and class.

There are some cons in the world of work uniforms, they rarely allow an employee to express their individuality and can be an added cost to the already pricey business of running a company. But at the same time, a managed uniform service can be offset slightly with tax deductions.

Keeping Your Whites White – Stain Removal Tips

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Image via Flickr creative commons from brittreints

As well as leaving you exhausted, work in a kitchen can take its toll on your clothing. Especially if you are required to wear chef whites clothing, they are a magnet for grease, muck and oil – keeping them clean and pristine white can be a struggle.

If you think it would be easier just to wear something other than white, you may be surprised that the colour is much more than a tradition. Their heavy cotton protects a chef from the heat of the stove but also stays breathable, keeping them cool. White is also the most reflective colour, repelling heat rather than soaking it all up.

An interesting footnote to this is the double breasted nature of the chef jacket. The idea being that if the front were to become unspeakable dirty, the chef can simply switch the coat around.

But, diversions aside, here are some tips to make sure you stay looking as good as the food – at least at the beginning of your shift.

Don’t use hot water

Especially when it comes to blood, hot water can seal in stains, ruining clothing forever. Use warm or cold water to soak the garment before gently rubbing the stain out. Try not to rub too vigorously here as doing so can just drive the stain into the fabric. Once you have done this, you can put them into a proper wash. Make sure you wash all your whites together.

If once you have finished washing the stain has not yet fully disappeared, don’t put the jacket in the drier. This will make the satin harder to remove next time around. Let it dry naturally before giving cleaning another go.

Product

Try to avoid using bleach unless absolutely necessary. Although you don’t have to worry about it staining clothes – them being white already – it will weaken fibres and, over time, will lead to yellowing of the fabric.

When soaking, use an oxygen-based detergent for about an hour. If your jacket happens to be covered in grease stains try using a dishwasher detergent. For stubborn stains like tomato or red wine, try going at them with a bit of vinegar before soaking. Leave them for about ten minutes and this should help get rid of the stain.

After you have gone through the soaking process, then was the jacket in a non-bleach detergent.

Handy tips

There are a few things you can do that may seem strange at first to get your whites whiter than ever. Adding a half cup of lemon juice to a medium load in the washing machine can work wonders. When soaking hard water’s minerals can lead to the greying of your chef whites – if you live in a hard water area half a cup of vinegar can soften it up.

Dealing with yellowing fabric

If, despite your best efforts, your whites are starting to turn a murky shade of yellow, there are a few things you can try to get them back to normal. After you have washed the garment as normal, rinse the fabric in a little bit of vinegar mixed with water. Once you have done this, hang it out in the sunlight to dry.

Wear an apron

It goes without saying. But an apron can be your very first line of defence.

Making Your Morning Routine Work

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Image via Flickr creative commons from swruler9284

Are you the sort of person who jumps out of bed each morning when the alarm goes off, eager to start another day? Or are you the kind of person who dreamily rubs their eyes, hits the snooze button and turns over for a precious few more minutes in bed? The former probably doesn’t need help with making their routine work, but if you are the latter, you will be pleased to know that there is a way to ensure you are not so late every day, and to help you feel more energised in the morning. So read on to find out how to make your morning routine work.

1.      Make Lunches the Night Before

Whether you have young kids, or require sandwiches for yourself for work, you can shave minutes off your usual morning routine simply by making the lunch the night before and storing it in the fridge overnight. What’s more, this will prevent any early morning arguments with kids over what they want on their sandwiches as they will just have to eat what you’ve made them. And if you’re the kind of person who likes an extra few minutes to come round in the morning, making your lunch the night before will allow you that precious time to properly wake up. Plus, you’re less likely to have to run around getting everything ready so you’ll get out of the door feeling less stressed.

2.      Set Your Alarm Ten Minutes Earlier

If you always struggle to come round first thing in the morning, but hate that you’re always rushing to get out of the door, a simple way to solve that is to set your alarm to go off ten minutes earlier than usual. That way, you’ll be able to hit the snooze button and you’ll still have time to get ready and get out of the door and arrive at work for a reasonable time.

3.      Shower in the Morning

You can make your morning routine go faster if you take a fast shower in the morning. Make sure to use some citrus shower gel as well to really help wake you up. Those who prefer to have a bath; you should do so in the evening as it calms you down and is a good way to relax before bed. You have to remember however, that showers should be fast, not a chance to really pamper yourself, so if you have hair that takes ages to wash, try to do it the night before.

4.      Cycle To Work

Are you fed up of battling the jam-packed commuter train or bus every day on your way to work? Do you find that you often arrive at the office feeling super stressed and frazzled before the day has even begun? If this scenario sounds familiar to you, you may like to consider the prospect of cycling to work. The government has introduced a cycle to work scheme that employers can get on board and encourage healthier habits for their employees. Cycle gear at Halfords is affordable and will ensure that you are kitted out properly – plus, once you arrive at work, you only need to change into your usual work attire.

5.      Benefits of Cycling to Work

There are a great many benefits associated with cycling, including the obvious improved fitness and weight loss. Cycling to work gives you the chance to avoid the busy and over-crowded commuter transport and arrive feeling less stressed and frazzled. That means that you can start the day feeling a lot more refreshed and ready to face the daily challenges. Many people find it hard to fit regular exercise into their hectic schedules, so what better way to ensure that you get your recommended amount of exercise than by taking advantage of the fact that cycling is a mode of transport? What’s more, by increasing the amount of regular exercise you do, you will feel more energised and revitalised, so you’ll find that getting up each morning actually is not as hard as it once was. If you do start cycling to work, you’ll need to ensure you have the correct gear – you can get your mtb shoes at Halfords.com.

By following the above tips, you should find that your morning routine is not only faster, but that it is also a lot easier to manage, leaving you far less stressed and more ready to face the day.

How much pollution could be prevented if we all cycled to work?

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Image via Flickr Creative Commons from Brett Jordan

Any regular commuter must surely have noticed that more and more people have opted to switch from driving and public transport to cycling over the last few years. There’s been a concerted effort on the part of central and local government to get more people to take up cycling. Employers have also been invited to participate by setting up a cycle to work scheme, which enables them to loan cycling equipment to employees. Employees can then, if they wish, buy that equipment at the end of the initial period at a low price. The physical and mental health benefits of cycling are well documented, but equally important is the impact it can have on reducing carbon emissions.

In an era where it seems we’re all worried about our individual carbon footprints, it’s not hard to see why so many people are opting to ditch the car, bus, train or tram in favour of cycling into work. An article from Bikeradar.com makes clear just how much difference switching to cycling can make to the environment. It takes just five per cent of the materials used to manufacture the average car to make a bike, which gives you some idea of the difference taking cars off the road in favour of cycling can actually make. But there are more environmental benefits of cycling than just that.

The article also points out that around a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions come from road transport, which is rapidly overtaking industry as Britain’s biggest polluter. Around 70 per cent of air pollution in UK towns and cities is produced by road transport – whereas cycling produces absolutely no emissions whatsoever. It also points out that if all journeys of less than five miles were completed by bike rather than by car, 44,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions would be saved every week. This is the equivalent of heating 17,000 homes. Average rush hour traffic speeds in London stand at around 7mph, and reasonably adept cyclists can be expected to average around 13mph. This makes cycling almost twice as fast as taking the car.

Another article from the Worldwatch Institute observes that the popularity of cycling varies quite widely in different parts of the world, but singles out northern European cities as being the global leaders in encouraging more people to take up cycling. According to a study from researchers at Rutgers University and Virginia Tech University, a number of cities in the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany report cycling rates of above 20 per cent for urban trips, with some reporting rates of more than 30 per cent.

It wasn’t always that way, though. In fact, cycling in Amsterdam declined from 55 per cent of trips after the end of World War II to 25 per cent in the 1960s as a consequence of suburbanisation. From the 1970s, a series of measures aimed at encouraging more people to take up cycling were adopted in the city, including secure cycleways, traffic calming, and secure parking. As a consequence, 85 per cent of Amsterdam’s residents now say they ride a bike at least once a week. This is surely testament to what can be achieved by careful long-term planning.

10 ways to give your business card a touch of originality

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Image via Flickr Creative Commons from Ran Yaniv Hartstein

Business people – and designers in particular – love the idea of having something shiny and individual to leave as their calling card.

The sheer capability of modern desktop publishing and design software packages means that just about any original idea can be transformed into a two-dimensional, wallet or purse-sized card which can be given out whenever appropriate.

The following are all genuine ideas which have been put into practice to produce business cards with a difference – although the author can’t vouch for the success or otherwise of any of them:

  1. Vary your card from the usual staple of stock typefaces. You might, for example, want to include the card-holder’s name in a type of script designed to mimic handwriting. Be sure, though, that the important information – full address, email and website details – are in a typeface which is easy to read.
  2. Add a subtle, but distinctive border. This can be very effective in making it easy to find your card from among a pile of plain ones. It’s a good way of emphasising the details contained on it too.
  3. Vary the colours. If members of your workforce have differently-coloured calling cards, you might even bring out the inner collector in some people, and prompt them to want to build up their own set.
  4. Experiment with textures. You can use some embossed lettering or a logo to give a card a different feel, which will make it easy to pick out from a wedge of boring, 2-D designs.
  5. Make your card a play on a familiar theme, such as a playing card, or a collectors’ card
  6. Include some distinctive, even unique, artwork. Technology has made it easy to reproduce any design, so why not adapt a shape you find especially eye-catching to make an original motif?
  7. How about trying a different shaped card? Nowhere does it say that your business card absolutely has to be rectangular. It does, though, have to fit into a wallet, so you could make it an oval shape or that of a perpendicular triangle perhaps. That way, it’s sure to stand out in anyone’s wallet or purse from all the more run-of-the-mill designs out there.
  8. Why not have a 3-D business card, in the shape of a keyring, coin-holder or similarly useful small device? If your business card has another use aside from the obvious one, then you’re well on the way to getting the attention you seek.
  9. Have a business badge, instead of a card – If you were a fan of pin or stick-on badges when you were younger, you could carry your enthusiasm through into coming up with an original business card idea. You don’t have to include all your relevant details on the outward-facing side of the badge, just as long as they are on there somewhere. Maybe your company logo will make an eye-catching badge design?
  10. Finally, how about not making your business card a card at all, but a sew-on patch? That way, you’ll certainly grab the attention, and again, you can break out of the usual conventions regarding its shape to come up with something that’s equally attractive yet still does the job of the traditional calling card.

 

SOURCES:

http://www.myinkblog.com/100-awesome-and-original-business-cards-from-designers/

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/05/20/effective-business-card-design-better-than-a-plain-ol-business-card/

SEO For Small Businesses

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Image from Flickr creative commons via Phillie Casablanca

Having an online presence is something that is critical for businesses of all sizes these days. Even in the last year or so, the spread of smartphones and tablet computers has had a major impact not only on the number of people who have access to the internet, but also on the way that they connect and where they do it from. Buying products and researching goods and services on the go is now second nature to many people, and thanks to our busy lives it is not difficult to understand why consumers want to make the most of what would otherwise be dead time, sitting on a bus or travelling home on the train after work.

As a result, having a strong internet presence and ranking well for keywords that are central to a business’ trade has become more important than ever. The techniques employed by digital marketing agency specialists differ, but there are some essential elements to constructing a search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy for a small business that will always feature strongly.

Strategy

Rather than diving head first into trying to rank for the most competitive terms out there, step back and consider what you are actually hoping to get from an SEO campaign. Different goals will require different approaches, naturally. For example, if your main aim is to sign people up to a mailing list then you might well take a different approach than if you already have plenty of traffic coming to your website but are struggling to turn visits into conversions.

Budget

Small firms are always going to be at a disadvantage against larger competitors who have far greater budgets to work with. That’s not to say that a small businesses cannot launch an effective SEO campaign though – simply that sole traders and partnerships will have to think carefully about how money is spent and what areas are targeted to maximise the return on investment.

Website design   

Getting the design of your site right is key. There is absolutely no point putting an SEO campaign into place to attract visitors to a website if they are likely to click away from the site immediately because of the way it looks. A good website will appeal to consumers, not drive them away and so the design of a site is always going to be a crucial element of a successful SEO strategy for small businesses. Likewise, a site also needs to be easy to navigate – if it looks great but a potential customer can’t actually work out how to contact the firm or buy a product then there’ll be trouble.

What’s right for the business?

Another important thing to get right is deciding on the approach that fits with the business. Many individuals who run their own firm are not only acting as managing director, but also as accountant, PA, packing department and customer service representative. Time is something that people running small businesses are short on, so launching a social media campaign that will require constant monitoring could well be a bad idea. In fact, if customers are trying to get in touch and are asking questions on social media and you are not answering them, this could well do more harm than good.

Marketing With Leaflets – A Beginner’s Guide

When it comes to marketing, you need to reach out and communicate with your target audience. You want to ensure that your product or service sells. Instead of trying to be cutting edge by using all of the latest technological advances, use the tried and tested leaflet method. Marketing with leaflets is one of the easiest and most effective ways of engaging with your audience. It is a low-cost marketing strategy that places information about your business directly into your consumer’s hands – what better way to market your company? Read our helpful guide for ideas about how to use leaflets to market your business.

  • Choose the right type of leaflet: leaflets come in all shapes and sizes, from A7 to A3; the size you choose will depend on where it is being distributed or displayed, and your budget. If you’re planning to hand out leaflets then A7 proves to be the most popular size as it neatly fits inside a wallet. However, if you want to display your leaflets for customer’s to pick up, A6 or A5 is a good size to choose, as the target audience will notice them more.
And make sure to entice your customers!

And make sure to entice your customers!

  • Designing the leaflet: a successful leaflet will grab the attention of potential customers; sell the benefits of your business; ensure the person keeps it; make someone buy from you. Bear all of the above in mind when you design your leaflet.
  • Make it look professional. Anyone can print off a leaflet from their home PC; by making it look the part, you’ll be showing your customer how highly you value them, and how much pride you take in your company.
  • It goes without saying that all of the writing must be grammatically correct and contain no spelling errors. Poorly worded leaflets reflect badly on your company. Invest time and care in your leaflets.
  • Use an attention-grabbing headline to draw in the reader. Keep information condensed, after all, you’re not writing a thesis. By using several sub-headings and bullet points, or by splitting up your information into small chunks of paragraphs, your audience will find it much easier to read and will digest more of the information. If you lump the entire blurb into one endless paragraph, your reader will get bored, fast.
  • Remember to include ‘power words’ to attract the reader’s attention. These include: avoid, free, bargain, bonus, discount, easy, exciting, profit, save, special, win. If you naturally incorporate some of these words into your text, the reader is much more likely to be persuaded to choose your company.
  • A picture tells a thousand words: choose one relevant image to help encapsulate the brand image your company is trying to portray. Don’t be tempted to fill all of the blank spaces with extra text or images; a bit of space makes the leaflet appear easier to read.

Lastly, use a call to action phrase. Remember, you’re looking to sell or promote your business. You’ll generate a much higher turnover by using an active closing line, such as ‘book before (date) and receive 20% discount’.

Distributing your leaflets – there are a number of distribution options available when it comes to leaflet marketing.

  • –          Through letterboxes
  • –          Placed in magazines
  • –          Placed on car windscreens
  • –          Handed out to passers-by
  • –          Left in public places for people to pick up

Each of these methods has advantages and disadvantages. See what works best for you by testing and trialling each one.

Leaflet holders are another great way of reaching your target market is to display your leaflets in a leaflet holder. Place the holder next to the till if you’re a retailer, or on the reception desk of your business. The main thing is to ensure you display them where customers will notice them. Actively boost your marketing campaign by placing a leaflet in the bag with the customer’s purchases, and have a member of staff standing by the door to welcome customers with a leaflet about your new promotion as they enter your store.

Try leaflet marketing to help promote your business and see some quick results. Follow the above steps to get you started; remember to trial different things to help determine what works best for your company and watch the sales start pouring in.

Top 10 Tips For Relocating Overseas For Work

Image from travels of a monkey at Flickr

With little sign of a rapid rebound in the strength of the UK economy, it’s perhaps unsurprising that so many people are casting their gaze overseas in search of new career opportunities. Britain has been dogged by persistently high unemployment over the last few years, and even many of those who have been able to find work have had to make do with part-time roles. Although the prospect of starting afresh in a foreign country may well be a very tempting one, there’s certainly a lot to think about before you move overseas for work. Here are some tips you may wish to bear in mind.

1)      An article at Jobs.ac.uk notes that one of the most important things to think about before you decide to move is whether relocation would really help your career prospects. Think carefully about your future career trajectory and what opportunities are likely to be open to you in the years ahead.

2)      Leaving family and friends behind can be a real wrench, so you’ll need to think about whether you’re really prepared to start out in a new country. Settling into new surroundings is always a challenge, particularly if you don’t know anyone else over there. You’ll need to prepare yourself for the possible culture shock you may experience.

3)      When looking for work overseas, you may also need to supply additional information about your qualifications. You may also need to have references translated and possibly your CV as well. It’s a good idea to explain your situation to the HR department of the organisation you’re applying to work for, as they should be able to provide you with some useful assistance.

4)      If you’re moving to a non-Anglophone country, acquainting yourself with the local language can make a big difference when it comes to settling in. It might be tempting to simply surround yourself with British expats, but getting to know a new culture is an experience you should be careful not to shut yourself away from. Learning the language can really help break down barriers.

5)      Once you’ve decided to make the move, it’s time to start planning it. A guide at eHow.com recommends first of all that you think carefully about which belongings you want to take with you to start out on your new life. Draw up an inventory and then decide which items you can’t do without, and those which you can.

6)      Your best bet is to then get in touch with a specialist overseas home removals firm to do the legwork when it comes to the move itself. You can probably imagine just how stressful and time-consuming making those arrangements by yourself can be, so recruiting professionals is advisable.

7)      Make sure you’ve got your visa sorted out well in advance. Take a look online to find out more about the process of applying for a visa and what you’ll need to do.

8)      Ensure you have the paperwork you’ll need – which includes your birth certificate, tax information, insurance documents and any relevant medical records.

9)      Arrange any necessary vaccinations for yourself and your family before you set off to start life in your new country. You can find out more by looking online, or speaking with your GP.

Ensure your mail is redirected from your old address to your new one starting from the date you move – that way, any important documents will be sent straight to you rather than languishing on the doormat at your old home.

How Much Can You Save By Cycling To Work?

Image from ubrayj02 at Flickr creative commons

If you’ve been thinking of ditching the bus, the train or the car and using a bicycle to get to work instead, then you are not alone. It seems the London 2012 Olympic and Payalympic Games have done a great deal to push the sport to the fore, and cycling has never been more popular. Bradley Wiggins, Victoria Pendleton and Chris Hoy are now household names and many cycling retailers have announced a spike in sales following the impressive gold medal haul by Team GB during the games. One leading company said recently that it had seen a 15 per cent increase in like-for-like cycling sales, which it attributed directly to the Olympic fever that gripped the nation during and immediately after the Games.

There are many reasons why people are choosing to take up cycling. One of the main ones is to become more active and increase the amount of exercise they’re getting each day. After all, cycling is widely known to be a fantastic form of aerobic exercise. And when you think that 70 per cent of car journeys cover a distance of less than five miles, there really is no excuse for many of us to dust off the bicycle and get pedalling.

But improving your fitness isn’t the only reason to start cycling to work – it can also save you a considerable amount of money. Of course the exact amount depends on your personal circumstances, but one thing is for sure and that’s the fact that you will save money!

Think for a moment about how much it costs to put fuel in your car these days. It was only a few months ago that petrol and diesel prices hit their highest level ever and they have not fallen by much since then. Take a bike to work and you’ll be able to forget about heading to the pumps every few days. But while fuel is one of the major costs associated with driving into work every day, it is by no means the only one. To get an accurate figure of exactly how much it costs per mile to insure and tax your vehicle, you’ll also have to take into account things like annual maintenance costs and depreciation.

Also consider how much you spend each month paying for parking if you work in a town or a city. A large number of workplaces now have facilities for cyclists, so not only is it simple to find a space to securely park your bike, it is of course free. And due to the increasing number of people who are choosing to cycle into work each day, some cities are introducing schemes that provide cyclists with showers and changing facilities to make things even easier. No one wants to sit in work sweaty and smelly, so these kinds of initiatives are set to bring even more people around to the idea of commuting by bicycle.

It’s also possible to save money when it comes to purchasing a bike thanks to cycle to work schemes. These initiatives allow employees to save up to 42 per cent on the cost of a new bike and safety accessories, which is going to make a significant difference if you are in the market for a new bicycle!