Mainly because it’s a great opportunity to add extra value. It’s also a hugely beneficial way of working on many levels especially during lockdown.
If you would like to discuss a potential collaboration with us please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Claudia Crab’s January Focus
“Your customers and clients have a legal right to know who they are dealing with.” Robert Briggs – Compliance Director Crimson Crab Ltd
This means that they are entitled to know your legal trading entities name, be it yourself as a sole trader, the names of all the partners for a partnership or the corporate name of a registered body.
If you trade under a name other than that of the legal trading entity then you should disclose the full details of the legal trading entity including an address where you will accept service of documents.
For corporate bodies, there are specific requirements to give the full registered name, registered office address, registration number and place of registration.
All of this information needs to go on business documents including lettersand emailsand websites.
We can provide a “letterhead” check to make sure you have it right
As we approach the winter solstice on 21 December 2020, the shortest day of the year, with the least amount of daylight and the first day of winter (astronomically), we reflect on what has been a strange and difficult year.
December is the twelfth and last month in the modern-day Gregorian calendar. Back in Roman times, the calendar only had ten months and began with March. Hence, “December” comes from the Latin word decem, meaning “ten.”
The winter period was not even assigned months because it was not an active time for military, agriculture, or civil life. In some businesses, the same is true now and things can be a bit slow coming up to Christmas making it a great time to get in some business planning, so that is our focus for this month.
Claudia Crab’s December Focus
Resilience is working together when you’re miles apart. Which takes planning and preparation.
Robert Briggs – Compliance Director Crimson Crab Ltd
Bring everything together in a succinct business plan for your best year ever in 2021.
Think about what your customer wants to achieve and what is their challenge in achieving this.
What do you offer to reduce their challenge?
Think about who your ideal customer is.
Describe what makes your businesses unique in terms of values, your unique selling point (USP).
As a result of this thought process, what are your strategic goals for the next 3-5 years? A strategic goal is your long-term, “big picture” objective for your business, which helps improve the way the business operates.
And crucially what must be done now (in the next 1-3 months) to achieve the strategic goals? These short-term goals are tactics that address current problems or challenges, they simply improve or fix what the company is already doing.
If you want a copy of our one-page business plan, please write a review for us on Google and send us an email telling us what your major challenge is.
Top tip – A great starting point for any business planning exercise, is our Business MOT
We are well into the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness so beloved of John Keats. In business, we are contemplating the coming winter but we would like you to invite you to have comfort in the knowledge of what your customer’s cancellation rights are when buying a product or service – that’s our focus for the month along with returns and complaints!
Claudia Crab’s November Focus
Cancellations, returns and complaints.
“Don’t get caught out. Put in place clear policies and procedures so you are not sidetracked or have to firefight things on the back foot.” Robert Briggs – Compliance Director Crimson Crab
It is important to differentiate between cancelling a contract and terminating a contract. Cancellation refers to ending a contract in circumstances set out in the contract or implied into the contract by legislation.
You need to know when a purchaser has cancellation rights and provide the necessary information and the correct documentation at the right time, particularly when the purchaser is a consumer as they have clear rights and there are legal sanctions if you get it wrong.
There are three sets of circumstances where the parties to a contract have cancellation rights.
Contractual cancellation rights i.e. those given in the wording of the contract (terms and conditions or agreement) itself.
Those given by the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 when making sales to a consumer (an individual acting for purposes which are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession) away from trade premises (e.g. in the consumers home or at a trade fair) or remotely (e.g. online)
Where credit is being provided and the customer is an individual consumer, a sole trader or a partnership of three or fewer people.
If you are selling on line to consumers then you need to think about returns.
Your guarantee or returns policy should meet legal requirements and not be open to abuse.
Under the Consumer Rights Act, consumers can return items which are faulty (and in certain other circumstances).
If the return is for this reason then you will have to reimburse the shipping costs (in and out) as well as the purchase price.
On the other hand, if the consumer is exercising their right to cancel the contract if you haven’t told them that they need to pay return postage it will be down to you.
Your policy, procedures and processes for dealing with complaints should support your long-term business goals and provide for continuous business improvement.
Again you need to think about compliance with any rules specific to your industry or more widely.
Finally you need to consider alternative dispute resolution or ADR and how that will impact your complaints process.
Top tip – A great starting point to find out where you are, is our Business MOT
HR management is critical for every business and helps companies succeed in hiring the right employees for a job, keeping team members engaged, and supporting their growth and development.
So why do so many companies fail with effective HR management?
Your workers are your greatest asset. It’s important that you take care of them in order for them to take care of your business. If you don’t, it’s probable that unwanted headaches may arise.
Looking after your team may come naturally to you as a business owner or manager, but having the appropriate policies and procedures in place ensures clarity and fairness.
Without the correct policies and procedures, you can make your business susceptible to various HR issues.
An example of such a problem that Crimson Crab has had to deal with related to the apparent lack of understanding of a leave policy. Something both employees and employers must be on the same page with.
The director received a text from an employee outside of the business working hours, with a request for leave.
The employee had already booked their holiday while expecting the response from the director to be an approval.
The request was for a significant break at a busy time of year. There was an unwritten rule that all such leave should be brought up first to avoid putting pressure on other team members to provide cover.
Quite rightly, the director acknowledged the request for leave, saying they would think about it.
A little while later, the request for leave was declined, and you can imagine the discomfort and uproar this caused between the employee and their boss… not to mention the workforce too.
Some time later the employee left the company. This triggered a formal complaint via an Employment Tribunal.
Eventually, the former employee withdrew their case and didn’t lead to a ruling. However it had consumed much time, energy and money which may have been used more profitably elsewhere
A lesson was certainly learnt. And what might that lesson be?
It’s important to have a robust policy which is clear to all staff and most importantly is consistently adhered to, and applied without fear or favour in a timely way.
If it was crystal clear how leave requests and there approval worked within this particular business – which forms an important element to any company’s HR management– none of this would have taken place.
It’s essential that everyone understands the HR policies and follows the processes in place.
For more information on how to keep your HR policies up-to-date with Crimson Crab, and to avoid the horrible consequences of issues which may arise, get in touch with a member of our team today.
Our word of the month for October is Value. As we focus on HR management throughout this month, we believe having a team who know and feel appreciated can have a huge positive impact in many areas of your company. So make sure you show your staff that you value their work.
Claudia Crab’s October Focus
“If you are taken to a Tribunal and don’t have policies in place to cover such things as grievances and disciplinary matters – it’s too late and all you can do is damage limitation.” Robert Briggs – Compliance Director Crimson Crab
Make sure you deal with your greatest asset, the people who work for you, through appropriate Human Resources policies and procedures. Our sister organisation HR Wise provides a suite of documents which create a framework to facilitate good management including:
an employment contract (statement of particulars)
a staff handbook with a full set of procedures
access to an email support line
Top tip – Visit the HR Wise website for more information
Our focus this month is on outsourcing. The business practice of engaging an external party to perform services or create goods that traditionally were done in-house by the company’s own employees.
For example, a business may take the decision to outsource bookkeeping duties or the functions of human resource departments, such as payroll or recruitment, or health and safety activities as doing so may be more cost-effective than retaining an in-house specialist for each area or for a business owner trying to become an expert in each.
When used properly, outsourcing is an effective strategy to reduce expenses, and can even provide a business with a competitive advantage over rivals.
Whatever your outsourcing strategy you need to make sure that the company carrying out the work you require will not present additional risks to your business.
Claudia Crab’s September Focus
“To make sure you do everything possible not to get let down by someone else, do your diligence before selecting an outsourcing partner.”
Robert Briggs – Compliance Director Crimson Crab
Outsourcing can be used to reduce labour costs, together with the cost of overheads, equipment, and technology.
Skill and knowledge gaps can be filled using third party experts.
Outsourcing may also be used to focus on the core aspects of the business, trusting the less critical operations to outside organisations.
On the downside, communication with the outside provider can be hard, and security threats can escalate when multiple parties access sensitive and personal data.
What has been your biggest learning in recent weeks, and how will this change the way you present yourself to people?
Our word of the month for July is PROFILE, it’s all about how youwill present yourself so as to stand out from the crowd in a digital-focused world?
Crimson Crab is on your side and ready to help you meet the challenges ahead.
Claudia Crab’s July Focus
“A website is a shop window to the world – it is also a great way to showcase breaches of the law”
If you have a website you need to make sure that you comply with the law in the following areas:
You should identify yourself correctly and give an address at which you can be contacted, there are specific requirements for a registered business, (e.g. Ltd, PLC, LLP).
Businesses have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to help disabled individuals access their goods, facilities and services. The Equalities Act 2010 requires that websites are accessible to disabled people including Blind people. One way of meeting this responsibility is for website owners to comply with the WCAG 2.0 standard at Level AA the UK Governments recommended best practice for accessibility.
You need to make sure that you comply with the Data Protection laws (including the GDPR) for all contact forms and any personal data collection. You also need to make sure that you have an appropriate Cookies policy detailing the cookies used and their purpose (and for example use a pop-up or other means to obtain ‘consent’).
Provision of Services
If you provide any services on or offline you have to make sure you comply with the Provision of Service Regulations. They require service providers to make available contact details where information requests and complaints can be sent, together with other specified information. One way of complying is to include the required information on a web page and proactively provide the link to clients when discussing your services.
When using a website for e-commerce purposes then you still need to comply with the law that relates to a bricks and mortar outlet along with some special rules for an online business.
So there must be for example no unfair commercial practices and suitable control of sales of age-sensitive products (e.g. alcohol, tobacco, fireworks, knives, solvents, videos & games). If any products are sold to which safety legislation applies, for example, toys, bicycles, electrical goods the rules have to be followed, as they do when food of any type is sold.
The Consumer Contracts Regulations require that you provide certain information when selling online, and also require you to tell the customer about their right to cancel the purchase within 14 days (not 7 any more). Failure in this respect can mean that the customer can enjoy a much longer cancellation period (up to 12 months)!
You also have to be careful to comply with the requirements of Card Providers and you cannot make additional charges for using such payment methods.
There are also rules around the way that complaints are dealt with and the provision of access to Alternative Dispute Resolution and the European Commissions Online Dispute Resolution Platform.
Love your business – we do! As companies across the UK prepare for the ‘new normal’ we’ve just made our word of the month ‘Restoration’.
How are you going to restore your services while also taking account of and adapting to what was for most very difficult times?
Remember we are here for you, to help you meet the challenges ahead.
Claudia Crab’s June Focus
Personal Data Processing
“When it comes to data protection, small businesses tend to be less well prepared. They have less to invest in getting it right. They don’t have compliance teams or data protection officers. But small organisations often process a lot of personal data, and the reputation and liability risks are just as real.”
Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner
The Information Commissioner is the UK regulator for data protection and can impose substantial penalties for infringements. Data subjects also have a right to claim compensation if a company has caused the damage by a breach of the rules.
When you collect data you need to be transparent about why you are collecting it and how you will use it. This should be set out in an easy to find (and read) privacy notice or policy.
Where you share data with anyone else you need to make it clear with whom you are sharing it and why.
There are specific requirements and guidance if you outsource your data handling to a third party data processor. You must carry out suitable diligence and have written agreements in place which cover defined points.
If you use CCTV, cloud computing, cookies or engage in direct marketing, to name but a few, there is also specific guidance which must be followed.
Our top tip is if you process personal data, make sure you pay the data protection fee and give the correct privacy information to people, don’t forget employees and suppliers as well as customers and clients.
Terms and conditions (T&Cs) – the small print – is understandably not the most exciting of issues for you to focus on, but they are crucial to safeguard your company and its clients.
Trusting peoples word is good, but it’s not enough if things go wrong.
What is the point in having Terms & Conditions for my business? Are they required by law? When did I last read the small print before signing on the dotted line?
Questions like these may be floating around in your head – so let’s clear up some of the negative connotations you may have when it comes to terms & conditions, and work towards building your understanding of their value.
Even when your terms are written and signed, it doesn’t necessarily make them legally secure. When you are dealing with a non-business customer, according to the Gov.UK website: “A contract term and notice has to be fair to be legally binding on your customer. If it isn’t, they can challenge it – including in court if necessary.” There is also legislation which limits the extent to which one party can avoid liability through the use of exclusion clauses such as disclaimers in any contract.
Terms & conditions which are fair to your client have the power to protect your business if or when someone that has agreed to purchase your services doesn’t stick to what was originally agreed. It would be unwise to provide a service without terms & conditions with thorough but fair terms you will have more of a leg to stand on to protect yourself.
For example, if you sell something online a non-business customer gets a right to cancel the purchase for any reason within fourteen days of delivery. If you don’t tell them about that right they can have a year to cancel. You have to give a full refund including all postage charges.
Protect your clients
Whether you are operating as a B2B or B2C enterprise, nothing you achieve now would be possible without your customers. Every business needs the money to prosper – it’s economics – so why would you not want to protect your clients and reassure them in the process?
When you invest time to write your terms, place yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask yourself about how they may read and access them.
Review your Terms & Conditions
It’s best practice to review terms on a regular basis – perhaps once a year or every time you change an element of your service – make it a part of your annual plan, to ensure they continue to be robust for your business, they are fit for purpose and continue to reassure clients who purchase your product or service.
It’s also worth noting and understanding what ‘force majeure’ means. It’s written into contracts to cover situations where unforeseeable circumstances prevent a person from fulfilling a contract. So – in a nutshell – when something goes pear-shaped your business and clients remain protected.
For more information or to discuss this topic further, get in touch with our team.