Sunday, 21 April 2013

21st April - The Week That Was

Firstly, huge apologies for not posting anything this week - I can't tell you how full the days have been but I promise normal service will be resumed next week when school is back in session and there's slightly less juggling to do to squeeze everything in. Anyway, here is, as usual, the round-up of my last seven days and fingers crossed for beautiful weather because I love the feeling that warmth, sun and summer days are just hiding around the corner.

  • My gorgeous Mum's birthday complete with gifts and afternoon tea under blue skies at the rather beautiful Danesfield House.
  • Having my first session with my dog and the fabulous trainer Sarah Miles. The blog post I wrote about it came from the heart - it was an amazing experience.
  • Meeting a truly lovely woman this week - someone I know I'm going to just love working with.
  • Writing writing writing - from real weddings for Love Scarlett through to summer holiday activities for families with their dogs!
  • Dinner with Mr Apple at one of our favourite places and loving the drive there in the evening sunlight.
  • Having my heart touched by the story of Shilton the dog, tied to a fence with horrid injuries and left to die. Happily within a few days of her story being mad public, enough money had been donated for Shilton to have her operation and for another dog at the animal sanctuary to have eye surgery too. Faith in human nature - restored.
  • Watching son at cricket coaching and being amazed by him. Bring on the matches (and the teas!).
  • Decamping to the garden and working there. What's not to love about that?
  • Planning a big piece of work and getting that wonderfully smiling feeling that swamps you when you're just so excited.
  • Indulging myself with re-reading an old favourite - 'Frenchman's Creek' by Daphne Du Maurier.
  • Having lots of incredible things to look forward to over the coming weeks and being happy to wake up every day.
I just love this pic of my son and I

20 degrees?! Can that really be right?!

She's smiling at me!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

14th April - The Week That Was

It's an early Sunday start this morning - the combination of a beautiful light dawn and the promise of a bit of Formula One action has me up and about even earlier than usual. It's been a lovely week here - I took a bit of time out and made the most of the Easter holidays with my son before losing him next week to a cricket coaching course and then we're back in the term-time grind. So, here's my week...

  • Taking my son and his friend to play badminton and marveling at how much these boys have changed over the years.
  • Baking baking baking - beautiful gluten-free fruit bread, gluten-free doughnut muffins and teaching Mr Apple to make gluten-free focaccia. All very yum.
  • Starting Gundog & Girl - the blog of my life with my new dog and being amazed - over 300 page views in the first two days!
  • Finding a wonderful dog trainer and booking in for a training session (tomorrow - eek!)
  • Adoring Penelope from Tigerlily Weddings more & more - such a dedicated, determined and inspiring person. Love my e-mails from her.
  • Two fabulous interviews with brides for features for Love Scarlett
  • A wonderful other-worldly walk on Bucklebury Common with my beloved dog.
  • Watching the kids eat sushi with so much gusto and wanting to try more and more new things.
  • A wet-weather day - board games and old-fashioned fun.
  • Time with my Mum and my first writing in the seventy year old family diary
  • Looking in my diary for next week and seeing days full of fabulous and interesting things.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

It's All About The Money Money Money

via Pinterest
This image seems particularly appropriate today after I read a piece in Business Money Magazine saying that 1 in 10 SMEs are owed around £50,000 in late payments.

Apparently, around £30.2bn is owed in late payments in the UK and small businesses seem to be being hit the hardest.

Most small business owners report that large companies frequently ignore payment terms and basically pay up when they're good and ready, banking on the fact that small businesses are unlikely to have the staff or money to spend chasing for payments.

And it's having a huge impact - 23% of companies report that they're concerned about the impact that late payments will have on their business.

It sucks. Totally.

How many of us have been in the position of having done some work, submitted the invoice with payment terms on only to have it ignored? How many of us have been given the "we can't find your purchase order" or "we don't have your payment details" excuses despite the fact that we've got copies of paperwork clearly showing all of this?

So, here are a few tips to help you get your money:

  1. Include your bank details and payment terms on every invoice that you submit and make sure they're so clear no-one could miss them. Also include the date as clearly as possible.
  2. Submit invoices to a named person, not a general 'invoices@' account. Always get a read receipt or call to confirm all is ok.
  3. Start chasing for payment the minute a payment deadline is missed.
  4. Try and keep payment terms down - 7 or 14 days is way better than 30 days (which can then stretch to 50 or 60 before you finally see your money).
  5. Be polite but firm. Ask for a date when the payment will be made and be prepared for all the old "you've missed the payment run" or "the person needed to sign off your invoice isn't in this week". Keep on asking for a date.
  6. A good first step for an overdue invoice is a statement - it list the invoice number/s outstanding and amounts. It allows a company to highlight any genuine issues to you and it makes you look professional.
  7. If you get the 'cheque is in the post' excuse ask for the date of the cheque, the cheque number and the address to which it was posted. 
  8. Keep dated notes of everything you've submitted, asked and been told should anything be needed further down the line.
  9. Keep your focus on the accounts department for payment - it limits the chances of souring the relationship with the people you've been working for but if you're really not getting anywhere, go back to your original client.
  10. If it comes to it, don't be afraid to use the law - it's there to protect you, not them.
You deserve to get your money because [hair toss moment] you're worth it.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Summer Special 2 - Fab Follow-Ups

So, with wedding season upon us, wedding fair season is pretty much behind us. And how was it for you? Lots of enquiries? Lots of contacts? Lots of requests for information?

Today's Summer Special is designed to help you make the most of your information and your investment.

We'll design a brilliant, interesting and attention-grabbing follow-up schedule for you so you can work those contacts and make the most of those enquiries. We know finding the time to send just one follow up to everyone who left their details can be hard but did you know that some experts say you should aim to follow up for at least a year. Yes, that's right - a whole year of follow-ups.

And you know that makes sense - not everyone books everything for their wedding straight after attending a wedding fair or exhibition. So you need to follow up, stay in touch and keep your brand at the forefront of your potential client's minds.

  • If you'd like us to just review your schedule and come up with a plan including ideas and incentives for you, our Summer Special offer is a very budget-friendly £25.
  • If you'd like us to write some sparkling copy for you, it's £15 per message (to a maximum of 500 words).

As with our Brilliant Blogs offer, we've got limited space in our diary so e-mail and let's get started.

When you've invested all that money in attending a fair, you also need to invest in following up your leads.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

7th April - The Week That Was

I hope that wherever you are when you're reading this is as sunny as my kitchen is at the moment. I'm currently curled up into a chair with a morning cup of tea by my side while the sun floods in through the windows. My dog is by my feet and the house is still and quiet. It's quite wonderful! As usual, I'm amazed that another week has flown by - a spinning mix of longer days and a happy hint of warmer weather in the air. Anyway, here's the week that was...
  • A great meeting about something really rather special - news coming soon!
  • Baking a beautiful gluten-free chocolate cake - converting one of Edd Kimber's recipes and tweeting with him about the successful changes. Next up for conversion - Edd's Cinnamon & Caramel cake.
  • Launching our Summer Specials and getting a great response to the first offer - Brilliant Blogs (next offer coming your way on Monday 8th April)
  • Exploring the surprisingly lovely grounds at Reading University with the dog. 
  • Arranging a meeting with a fabulous someone in the industry about a project. So excited as this is someone who, in my opinion, has really got it. Can't wait!
  • Easter egg accompaniment to reading - this week's book is 'Cold Comfort Farm' by Stella Gibbons.
  • Getting in contact with my next 'real bride' for Love Scarlett - love 'meeting' new people and talking weddings.
  • Booking a couple of holidays and planning planning planning. Much excitement.
  • Having a sunny Saturday in the garden, playing badminton with my son (who appears to be better again - hurrah!)
  • Blue skies and some sunshine. Enough said.

Son's legs, not mine I hasten to add!

Friday, 5 April 2013

But I Didn't Say Anything - Thoughts On Communication

As I'm sure many of you are aware, it's the school holidays at the moment. Don't get me wrong, most of the time I enjoy having the kids around - we do stuff, we hang out, we go on trips and try new things. But, now they're all growing up, they're also growing attitude.

"But I didn't say anything" is becoming their standard response when they're called back after slouching out of the room. The fact that they look like they've lost the ability to stand upright or the fact that they're huffing and puffing like a marathon runner and rolling their eyes doesn't seem to count.

But, as my favourite NLP saying goes - you can't not communicate. We're always doing it - our posture, our facial expressions, our gestures all communicate so loudly that sometimes, the words (or lack of them) just don't matter. We can all say words, we can all say what we think people what to hear but the real communication goes much deeper than that. This might be why I much prefer meeting people and getting the whole message than just talking to them on the phone and only getting half the story.

So what is it you're not not communicating? What messages are you giving out to clients in what you say and how you're behaving? Because we're always communicating, we tend to do most of it by habit and as we know, habits aren't always good for us. So this weekend, why not try some of the following to shake it up a bit...

  1. Get self-aware - when you're chatting with someone, try to really notice what's going on. How are you standing? What do you do with your hands? Are you letting your eyes wander elsewhere? If you're trying be encouraging, is your body language being encouraging too? 
  2. Change a little thing - so now you know what you're doing, you know what you can change. Try changing one little thing - maybe tilt your head a little or unclench your hands. Does that get a different response from the person you're talking to?
  3. Ask someone - without knowing how you come across, to others, it's hard to know what to work on. So ask someone you trust to give you some feedback. They might be getting a totally different message from the one you think you're giving out.
  4. Get a plan - so now you've got some awareness and some feedback, try planning what you might do differently. See how people react to you now.
Now, I'm going to practice what I preach and let's see how the kids react to something different...

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Summer Special 1 - Brilliant Blogs

Here's the first of our Summer Specials and it's a great offer for all you wedding professionals who know that  regular, new and engaging blogs are a great way to drive traffic to your site, demonstrate your expertise to your audience and build a great on-line community of supporters for your product or service.

Finding the time to keep writing over the busy summer months can be tricky - with weddings to attend, meetings with clients, family commitments and everything else, it can be tough to find the time to sit down and type. You might not even find writing terribly easy or you might suffer from the odd burst of writer's block. Whatever the reason, can you afford to neglect your blog?

So, let us help you with some bright and breezy blog posts. Here's what you get:

  • A post written just for you - you can either give us the title or let us make some suggestions.
  • Up to 500 words of copy, delivered to you as a Word ready for you to style and upload when you want.
  • If there's specific messages, offers or information you want included, just let us know.
  • Total flexibility - book as many as you want to really get your blog moving or just request a couple of posts to make sure you've got plenty of content to get you through a really busy period.
  • Each post costs just £10.
We've only got so much space in our diary from now until the end of August so if you'd like to book in, e-mail us now to reserve your slots - We'll send you the necessary booking form and payment can be made either by cheque, bank transfer or PayPal.

Shhh, don't tell everyone but we might have put a special offer on our Facebook page for those extra lovely people that 'like' us there...

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Summer Specials - Starting Thursday 4th April

Another quick post this morning to announce that as of tomorrow, Candid Apple are launching the first of our Summer Specials...

What are Summer Specials I hear you ask? Well, we've been speaking with our lovely clients and other wedding professionals over the past few weeks to find out what help they'd like from us over the coming months and it seems like there are certain things lots of you would like. Things that it can be really hard to find the time for over the busy busy summer months but things that are oh-so essential.

So, we've put together some special offers to help. To help you keep on growing your business while you're out making wedding days wonderful for your clients, to help you keep up all the momentum you've built over the winter months and, most importantly, to help you keep some balance over the crazy summer.

The first Summer Special will be launched tomorrow morning - here on the blog and on our Facebook page. We'll be adding special discounts and promotions for all our Summer Specials on Facebook too so make sure you 'Like' us now (because you're going to love us for the Summer Specials, that's for sure!)

Summer 2013 - it's going to be a good one.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

31st March - The Week That Was

It's a slightly belated catch-up this week - following my own advice from last week, I let myself off the 'e-leash' over the Easter weekend and it was great. Quality family time without the incessant beep-beep of phones, mails, messages and other things demanding my attention. So, I'm not sure whether it's that dose of headspace or the beautiful blue sky outside my window that's making me smile this morning but actually, it doesn't matter. So, on with the catch-up...

  • Some amazing conversations with my son whilst he was home from school poorly.
  • Watching the dog watch over my son - that dog would make a great nurse.
  • Starting the 'Woodley & Earley' Clandestine Cake Club & setting the date for our first get-together.
  • Writing approximately 15,000 words for various projects & assignments.
  • Signing up for the 60km South Downs walk to raise money for Hounds For Heroes.
  • The kids breaking up for Easter holidays and planning lots of activities.
  • Easter egg hunts, Easter baking and other Easter-ish fun.
  • Lots of family visiting for Easter lunch - 6 hours of cooking for a great feast!
  • Dog walking through the daffodils.
  • Son purchasing a huge Lego set with his saved up pocket money - a great project for cold holiday days.
  • Taking two brilliant enquiries for work and getting lost in phone conversations with the people in question.
  • An evening reading by the fire - the upset at finishing 'I Capture The Castle' has been somewhat repaired by starting 'Peaches For Monsieur Le Cure'