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Archive for the ‘Money Saving Ideas’ Category

selling price

If you own a small business and are trying to maximise sales margins, then one of the most essential things that you must present to potential customers is your “value proposition”.

A value proposition is a clear statement of the tangible and intangible results a customer gets from using your products and services.

The objective is for your potential customer to interpret your value proposition and understand the very specific advantages they will gain from working with you. It should be unique – ie – no other competitor should be able to make the same claims in the same way.

Your value proposition could be comprised of a number of value drivers.

Examples of tangible (physical) value drivers could be – if you buy my goods or services, they will help your business to “increase revenues”, “reduce costs” or to “improve customer retention”.

These are very tangible which increasing revenues or reducing costs leads to improved profit margins for the customer, and improving customer retention can often reduce the need for marketing spend, hence also improving profit margins.

Examples of intangible value drivers could include “improved aesthetics”, “more leisure time” or “conflict free business relationships”. These don’t always immediately appear on the bottom line (profit) of the accounts, but in the long term deliver real value to the customer.

It is very important to note that price should not form part of the value proposition.

Price should be discussed only at a later stage once some form of engagement with the target customer has been formed.

So, when planning sales strategy for goods or services, the value proposition should be a very important consideration to maintain profit margins and is a far more important long term strategy than discounting.

For most successful businesses with healthy profit margins, the value proposition is well understood by the sales staff, and also by the customer.

Finally, remember that the value proposition is defined by the customer, not the supplier. Not all customers think alike and therefore the definition of what is value and value added varies from customer to customer.

At Transform Accounting, our “Value Proposition” focuses on forming long term partner relationships with our most customers who are focused on driving their businesses to success. These are the businesses who value top quality financial advice to maximise their profits and chances of long term business success.

Transform Accounting are Chartered Management Accountants and Tax Technicians able to assist with personal tax returns, sole traders and company payroll whilst specialising in limited companies, consultants, contractors and business start-ups. Fixed fee packages are available as are free initial consultations. Customer references are available on request.

See www.transformaccounting.co.uk or contact by telephone on 01277 365447 or by e mail at info@transformaccounting.co.uk

Epping AccountantTransform AccountingEssex Accountant

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question mark

Starting a new business can often be both and exciting and daunting experience. Whatever your business is going to be, one thing that must be dealt with as soon as possible are the administration and accounting.

Regardless of whether this is your first experience of being self-employed, or another new venture, it is essential to select the right accounting partner to help develop your successful business.

Transform Accounting specialise in helping new start-up businesses. We offer a series of packages with low cost monthly payment terms that enable accounting charges to be spread out evenly during the year. These packages mean that we are able to deliver start up services such as new limited company creation, companies house registration and appropriate tax registrations. We can also give advice regarding appropriate company structures (sole trader or limited company) and also help and guidance on record keeping, invoicing and the filing of tax and VAT returns.

Transform Accounting pride themselves on being approachable, low cost and supportive of new business owners, whatever their level of financial experience.

How to Choose An Accountant For Your New Business?

At Transform Accounting, we often meet clients who have been dissatisfied with their previous accountant, but are often surprised at just how long it can take before the client looks for a replacement.

The most common complaints we hear are;

–          Calls not returned

–          Length of time taken to respond to a question

–          Excessive or unexpected charges

–          Missed Filing Deadlines incurring penalties

–          Accountant not very approachable or friendly when advice is wanted

In addition to these, we also see many clients who were unsure as to whether their accounts and tax returns had been properly reviewed by a suitably qualified accountant to ensure tax payments were kept as low as possible.

Many clients we meet also stick with their existing accountant for fear that a change would be too much hassle. In reality, this change should not cause the client too much hassle and most good accountants will help to handle this switchover on your behalf.

So, what should you look for in a good accountant?

Firstly, a good accountant will be able to give you good advice to ensure that you do not pay too much tax. In many cases, the fees of the accountants are actually offset by paying a lower amount of tax. Be sure to choose an accountant who has up to date tax knowledge and qualifications, and one who will be able to give appropriate advice rather than just making a basic filing.

Secondly, a good accountant should prevent any last minute panics by making sure that you have timely reminders about when your tax and VAT returns are due, and should work with you to make sure that everything is filed in plenty of time. Remember, there are no downsides to making a return promptly and no advantages to filing at the last minute. Some accountants will even offer discounts to their fees for making a filing in the middle of the tax year rather than their busy period at the end of the year.

Thirdly – find an accountant who you are comfortable with. Some web based services can appear to offer the cheapest fees, but they will usually offer virtually no advice, certainly no face to face contact and you may find your return is handled by an unqualified office junior.  It is common practice for the cheapest web based services to e mail you a series of spread sheets for the client to complete, and then these are just processed and electronic tax filings are made.

Some clients may prefer a local, one or two man (or woman) qualified accountant who can provide a more personal service such as Transform Accounting, whilst others may prefer to visit a high street practice with multiple accountants and a wider range of services, but possibly higher fees due to higher overheads.

Whichever you decide is best for you, it is essential to find an accountant that you feel comfortable with and who can provide you with the appropriate financial and tax advice for your situation or business.

Finally, ask to be put in touch with other clients who are able to provide references  regarding the service they receive from their accountants.

Transform Accounting are Chartered Management Accountants and Tax Technicians able to assist with personal tax returns, sole traders and company payroll whilst specialising in limited companies, consultants, contractors and business start-ups. Fixed fee packages are available as are free initial consultations. Customer references are available on request.

See www.transformaccounting.co.uk or contact Jacinta Smith on 01277 365447

Accountant Ongar Transform AccountingEssex Accountants

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Petrol Pump

Petrol or Diesel Car?  Which is cheapest?  We do the sums. You may be surprised.

 

According to motorists’ guide Parkers, sales of diesel cars increased from 42 per cent of all vehicles to 46 per cent in 2010, with buyers increasingly believing diesel cars represent better value. So are they right?

There are many car adverts and articles which imply that a diesel car will save you money in the long term, but very few that ever tell you the full life costs.

So, taking the popular Mazda 6 hatchback over a period of 3 years for a UK driver as our example we performed some calculations to prove or disprove the assumption that diesel is the cheapest to run.

Here is our conclusion.

The Cheapest is Petrol.

Surprised? – read on.

Reliability and Risk of Big Repair Bills

Earlier generations of diesel engines quite rightly gained a reputation for higher levels of reliability than their petrol equivalents despite their lack of refinement and high levels of emissions. There are many reports of old diesel engines that have travelled vast mileages.

However, modern diesel engines have made huge improvements both with regards to refinement, performance and emissions.
This has been achieved with advanced mechanicals such as injectors, sensors, high pressure fuel pumps and turbochargers. All of these components on modern diesel cars are very expensive to replace should they fail with repair bills running in to the multiple £1000’s.

In most cases, the petrol equivalent car is far cheaper to repair and often does not have these expensive components.
Modern diesel cars carry a high risk of potentially very expensive repair bills if you are unlucky.

These risks are not factored into our calculations as we have assumed that any such repairs would be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty for the first three years,  but watch out when the warranty runs out.

To quote “Honest John” – the highly respected motoring journalist from the Daily Telegraph –

“The main problem with diesels is that the extra equipment added to them to reduce their harmful emissions seems to have made them considerably less reliable than petrol engines and considerably more expensive to run long-term because of the cost of repairs and replacements. So unless you do a really big mileage, you are probably better off with a petrol engine.”

Do you doubt the validity of our calculations? Well here is how we came to this conclusion.

Fuel Bills:

Of course, diesel fuel cars ARE more economical than their petrol equivalents, so fuel bills must be a factor…. and they are.

The results are different depending on how many miles you do – here are the results for 3 different mileages.

Cost Total Based on
3 Years Ownership
 8,000
Miles pa
 12,000
Miles pa
 18,000
Miles pa
Mazda 1.8 TS (Petrol)               £12,768                £14,497               £17,090
Mazda 2.2d TS (Diesel)               £13,556                £15,008               £17,187
Cheapest? Petrol £788 Petrol £511 Petrol £97

Once the mileage used for this comparison rises above 18,000 the calculations begin to favour diesel.

Cost:

Prices have been taken from the target price from UK What Car magazine.
The only optional extra is metallic paint at £420.

cost
Petrol               £14,955
Diesel               £16,428

The petrol is clearly cheaper by £1,473

Running Costs:

Service costs over 3 years and Road Fund license taken from UK What Car magazine.

3 years 3 years
service Road Tax
Petrol                    £697                    £495
Diesel  £848  £345

Petrol is cheaper to service, but diesel is cheaper to tax in this case (although not always).

No difference in running cost.

Insurance:
You may be surprised that the diesel model sits 7 insurance groups higher.
For this example, it has been assumed £400 pa for the petrol model, £500 pa for the diesel.

3 years
Ins Grp Insurance
Petrol               18          1,200
Diesel               25          1,500

Petrol is cheaper by £300

Depreciation:

Always the biggest cost when running a car is depreciation.
For our example, depreciation rates are taken from UK “What Car magazine”.

3 years
Deprn Depn
Petrol 62%          9,272
Diesel 60%          9,857

Petrol is cheaper by £585

The diesel has a lower depreciation rate, but this is offset by its higher purchase price.

Fuel Costs:
Average Fuel prices taken from the Automobile Association June 2012

Fuel 12,000 miles
mpg Price / gallon fuel cost
Petrol 42.2 £6.08                       £5,187
Diesel 52.3 £6.33                              £4,357

Diesel is cheaper by £830

Whilst diesel fuel is 28p per gallon more expensive, the greater fuel economy of the diesel engine results in a significant win for diesel.

Financing Costs:

Assuming a competitive financing rate of 6.5% APR over 3 years (less an assumed deposit of £3,000)

Financing Costs 6.5% APR
Less £3k deposit
Petrol                              £1,235
Diesel                                         £1,387

Petrol is cheaper by £152

This is a cost which is often overlooked. The higher the APR rate and the greater the difference in purchase price, the more this will favour petrol.
If the car is being purchased out of savings rather than financing, then this difference will be much smaller due to investment returns being on average considerably less than 6.5% apr.

Conclusion

Add all of the above together, and the petrol model will save £511 over 3 years.

Of course, these are just the finance numbers.  Some drivers prefer the torque of a diesel engine, some prefer the smoother quieter engine in a petrol engined car and some don’t like refueling with diesel.

Car dealers and manufacturers in the UK would prefer that you buy the more expensive car which is always diesel. In many countries diesel is cheaper than petrol (unlike the UK) so the argument for diesel is a stronger one.

But in the UK the finance numbers surprisingly show that petrol just edges it for private buyers.

Accountant EppingTransform AccountingEssex Accountants

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Olympic BMW

For anyone who travelled anywhere near the Olympic games during July and August, you can’t have missed the fleets of gleaming brand new BMW cars used to transport the athletes and VIP’s around London.

The fleet was largely made up of the most efficient 320d and 520d models which are very popular in the UK.

But just what will happen to all those cars once the games are over ?

Will we see a flood of nearly new cars for sale at bargain prices to Londoners ?

Unfortunately it appears not.

All of the cars used during the Olympic games are going to be returned to BMW UK.

A BMW spokesman said

“Post games, the vehicles will be returned to BMW and in most instances sold as Approved Used Vehicles over a period of time to our corporate partners, employees and the London 2012 organising committee and volunteers.”

So, unless you are lucky enough to be a member of this list of individuals, it looks like there will be no bargains for London residents.

Loughton AccountantTransform AccountingEssex Accountants

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Apple iMac

For those who love becoming the owner of a new piece of technology, nothing really competes with a new purchase from Apple.

Be it an iPhone, iPod or a shiny new iMac, all are objects of desire with just one snag – the price.

Apple products are notoriously expensive, although their millions of fans feel they get value for money in the long run even if it is very painful at the time of purchase.

If you try shopping around, there are usually very few retailers who will discount any Apple product, but there are a few ways that can save some money when it comes time to treat yourself.

Here are 6 ways to save money when making your Apple purchase. Be sure to post a comment and let me know if you know of any more.

1 – Buy a Refurbished Machine.

Refurbished Apple products can be purchased from the on-line Apple store.

These machines have usually been returned to Apple for a variety of reasons, they are refurbished and then sold through the Apple on line store at a discount.

They always come with a warranty of some description and can be a good way to save at least 15-30%.

In the UK – here is the link.

http://store.apple.com/uk/browse/home/specialdeals/mac

2 – Student Discounts

Apple have always offered discounts to Students and teachers through their Apple Education Store.

These vary according to product but are usually at least 10%. Apple’s definition of a student can include both University students and school children and as with the refurbished machines, these need to be ordered from the on line Apple store.

Apple doesn’t seem to be especially rigorous about checking up that the machine is being purchased for a student so there is no need to get letters from schools or universities or to send any documents.

Here is the link for the UK Apple education store.

http://store.apple.com/uk/browse/home/education_routing

3 – Buy an Apple computer with minimum RAM and purchase it online

Apple are quite notorious for charging very high rates for memory upgrades at the time of purchase.

It takes less than 5 minutes to upgrade the RAM memory on an iMAC, and at current prices, you could save nearly £100 if you upgrade to 16GB RAM from the standard 4GB.

RAM memory modules can be purchased from a number of on line retailers – Transform Accounting recommend “crucial.com”.

http://www.crucial.com/uk/

If you are scared of taking a screwdriver to a computer, then this money saving tip may not be for you.

To decide if this is an option for you – take a look at this demo on youtube showing how to install RAM on a 2011  iMAC

http://youtu.be/ac4b3vZg4aw

It really is very easy and even easier if you have seen someone demonstrating how to do it.

Take a look and then compare prices !

4 – Purchase Cables and Peripherals on line from non-Apple sources

If you need to purchase any additional items such as cables and adaptors, these will always be very (and many would say outrageously) expensive if purchased from the Apple store.

There is no doubting that the Apple store will only sell official, approved and high quality accessories but it is not uncommon to pay in the region of £30 for a cable or plug that can be purchased for just a few pounds from a retailer on Amazon or e bay.

The quality is often not the same, but very often the cheaper quality is good enough and the price saving makes this a worthwhile option.

5 – Purchase Software from Software 4 Students

If you have a school or university age child, then you are eligible to purchase software for your Mac from “software 4 students” where you can take advantages of considerable discounts.

www.software4students.co.uk

This web site will require your childs name and also needs to have their school registered but most schools and universities in the UK are already registered.

Savings vary depending on the software authors, but can often be considerable.

This company serves the UK, if you are not in the UK, it is worth searching for companies offering a similar service with similar discounts.

6 – Fill Your Shopping Basket and be Patient

This is a little known tactic that I learnt a number of years ago. At first I was sceptical, but I tried it and found that it really did work.

It goes like this;

Log onto the Apple web site – it is important that you register with your up to date details including a telephone number and e mail address.

Then browse the Apple store on line, and add the items that you want into your basket, but do not complete the purchase.

Be sure to save your basket of goods.

Then all you have to do is wait….

Now this does not always work, but if the items in your basket are high value items such as a new iMAC or laptop and it is approaching Apples quarter or month end, then there is a chance you will get a phone call from an Apple sales representative asking if they can help you to complete your purchase.

This may take several days or even a week or two.

If a nice person from Apple calls to enquire why you didn’t complete the purchase, you just need to say that you would like to complete the purchase, but that the price is a problem for you.
In my experience, and in that of my friend who told me about this ploy, discounts are often forthcoming to help you complete your purchase.

Of course, this depends on a few things – firstly the sales targets for Apple for that month or quarter in the region where you live, and secondly the items that you are attempting to purchase.

Remember – even Apple have sales targets that their sales department are desperate to meet.

But remember, if you are attempting to purchase that shiny new iPAD or IPhone just before Christmas or just when it has been released as a new product, and people are queuing around the block to get into the Apple store, then there is no chance of getting a discount, and I have not heard of this tactic ever working for a new iPhone.

But when it comes to purchasing a high value computer from Apple, give the above a try and you just might save a few Pounds, or Dollars or even Euros !

What have you got to lose ?

Good Luck!

If you know of any other ways to save on Apple products that I have missed, please post a comment.

Accountant Loughton Transform AccountingAccountant Essex

Now also on Facebook at

http://www.facebook.com/TransformAccounting

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iMac

6 Ways to save money on Apple Products

Part 5 – Software 4 Students

For those who love becoming the owner of a new piece of technology, nothing really competes with a new purchase from Apple.

Be it an iPhone, iPod or a shiny new iMac, all are objects of desire with just one snag – the price.

Apple products are notoriously expensive, although their millions of fans feel they get value for money in the long run even if it is very painful at the time of purchase.

If you try shopping around, there are usually very retailers who will discount any Apple product, but there are a few ways that can save some money when it comes time to treat yourself.

Here is the fifth in a series of six ways to save money when making your Apple purchase. Be sure to check back for the rest of the series.

5 – Purchase Software from Software 4 Students

If you have a school or university age child, then you are eligible to purchase software for your Mac from “software 4 students” where you can take advantages of considerable discounts.

www.software4students.co.uk

This web site will require your childs name and also needs to have their school registered but most schools and universities in the UK are already registered.

Savings vary depending on the software authors, but can often be considerable.

This company serves the UK, if you are not in the UK, it is worth searching for companies offering a similar service with similar discounts.

Good Luck!

Once I have posted all 6 tips, add a comment and let me know if there are any other ways to save on Apple products that I have missed.

Accountant OngarTransform AccountingAccountant Essex

Now also on Facebook at

http://www.facebook.com/TransformAccounting

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Apple iMac

6 Ways to save money on Apple Products

Part 4 – Dont buy cables and adapters from the Apple Store

For those who love becoming the owner of a new piece of technology, nothing really competes with a new purchase from Apple.

Be it an iPhone, iPod or a shiny new iMac, all are objects of desire with just one snag – the price.

Apple products are notoriously expensive, although their millions of fans feel they get value for money in the long run even if it is very painful at the time of purchase.

If you try shopping around, there are usually very retailers who will discount any Apple product, but there are a few ways that can save some money when it comes time to treat yourself.

Here is the fourth in a series of six ways to save money when making your Apple purchase. Be sure to check back for the rest of the series.

Purchase Cables and Peripherals on line from non-Apple sources

If you need to purchase any additional items such as cables and adaptors, these will always be very (and many would say outrageously) expensive if purchased from the Apple store.

There is no doubting that the Apple store will only sell official, approved and high quality accessories but it is not uncommon to pay in the region of £30 for a cable or plug that can be purchased for just a few pounds from a retailer on Amazon or e bay.

The quality is often not the same, but very often the cheaper quality is good enough and the price saving makes this a worthwhile option.

Good Luck

Once I have posted all 6 tips, add a comment and let me know if there are any other ways to save on Apple products that I have missed.

Accountant Chelmsford Transform AccountingAccountant Essex

Now also on Facebook at

http://www.facebook.com/TransformAccounting

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