Furnishing your Properties

Bedroom furnitureFurnishing all the houses in your property portfolio can sometimes feel like a daunting (and expensive!) task, however if you do things properly you will be able to not only make your houses look good but also save on money. The big question is where you should spend and where you should save, as sometimes investing your money can benefit you in the long term. Here we look at the best ways to go about furnishing your properties:

Think about your Tenants

When considering what types of furnishing you want to provide in your properties the first thing you need to consider is what type of tenants you have. For example, if you let your properties to students you will need to make sure each room has a desk and chair, but at the same time you probably won’t want to spend too much on things like sofas which will probably never be cleaned! Likewise, if you rent your properties to families they will need a good amount of storage facilities, so chests of draws and a large kitchen table may be a wise investment.

Knowing where to Save and where to Spend

There are some things you will have to provide in every property no matter who you let it out to such as white goods. There may be a temptation here to go for the cheapest option available, but since items such as fridges and washing machines get used on a daily basis it’s important you buy ones that are of good quality. At the same time there are some things that are always worth buying cheaply, such as small appliances like kettles, as well as other kitchen necessities like plates and cutlery. The best thing to do here is shop around and see what deals you can find!

Damages

Before you let out a furnished property you need to make sure you cover all the furnishings on your landlord insurance, yet make sure you advise your tenants that this may not cover any of their belongings. You should also list everything in an inventory before your tenants move in, and note the condition of each piece of furnishing. This way if something does break you can get a better idea of whether it was because of the age of the item or neglect from your tenants!

Getting Information as a Landlord

information signThere are already a vast amount of rules and regulations concerning the landlord industry, and as the welfare reforms are coming up there is even more information that landlords need to brush up on in order to make sure that they understand the industry and that their businesses are up to scratch. Sometimes this can feel extremely overwhelming for landlords, so where can you go for help? Here we list some options:

Your Local Authority

As a landlord you probably already know your local authority and how to get in touch with them, but most of the time this only happens when there is a problem. However, as there is so much demand for private rented accommodation at the moment local authorities are becoming more and more involved in helping landlords, and giving them all the information they need when it comes to letting out properties. Some are even starting to host information evenings for landlords such as Teignbridge County Council in South Devon, but if there is nothing like this in your area why not contact your local authority and try and arrange setting one up?

Regulatory Bodies

There are so many different regulatory bodies that landlords can turn to for information depending on their needs, and luckily most of their contact details can be found online. For instance, if you need information on paying income tax on the rent you receive you can contact the HMRC, whilst if you need to know more about deposit protection schemes you can go on the government website and find ways of contacting them. Even though this does require a bit of research it’s always worth making contact with a regulatory body if you’re not sure of the rules, as if you do something wrong you could find yourself receiving a large fine!

Publications

Since the housing crisis is now affecting so many families and landlords across the UK, the British press is now publishing a myriad of stories concerning the future of both the property and rental markets, which are always a great place to start if you want to find out the most pressing issues. There are also publications especially for landlords that you can find online or in print, which not only include information on the industry but also opinions and advice that could make your life easier. Don’t forget you can also always contact your solicitor or landlord insurance provider if you ever need more information!

Keeping up to date with everything that is happening in the landlord industry may sound time consuming at first, but as information is so widely available you are sure to find what you need in next to no time, meaning you can relax in the knowledge that your business is the best it can be.

Breaking down in your Motorhome

Hazard LightAt one point or another, the inevitable will happen and you will unfortunately break down whilst on a motorhome trip. Depending on the situation you may be able to get back on the road pretty easily, however even the best of us panic when we are in a sticky situation, which can lead to some pretty disastrous decisions! Here is our advice on what to do if you do break down whilst on a motorhome trip:

Try not to Panic

Even though no-one enjoys breaking down, there are some people that always mange the situation better than others due to the fact that they don’t panic. If you know that you are a born worrier then make sure that you have planned ahead before your journey, so if the worse does happen you know exactly what to do. Make sure that you have all the important contacts you need stored both on your phone and on a piece of paper. You will need the details of your motorhome insurance provider, breakdown cover provider (if different from your motorhome insurance provider), and the destinations you are planning on heading to so you can advise them you will be late. Knowing there is someone you can call when things go wrong always helps in a stressful situation!

Remember to stay Safe

If you do break down your first instinct may be to jump out of your motorhome and inspect the damage, but in doing this you could be acting dangerously. Before you get out of the vehicle make sure you are parked somewhere that is as unobtrusive as possible, that your hazard lights are on, and that you have checked you can open the door safely. If you are driving on the motorway you must get out of your motorhome no matter what, and then go and stand on the other side of the safety barrier, preferably up on a verge as far away from the vehicle as possible.

If you are concerned that there is something wrong under the bonnet make sure that you don’t rush to open it, especially if you can see smoke. Wait at least half an hour to let all the components cool down otherwise you could burn yourself, and if you don’t know what you’re touching then best to leave alone! Not only could you hurt yourself but also make matters worse for your motorhome.

Breaking down can often be fixed simply, however having a plan of action for when the worst happens is always beneficial. Also, if you do find yourself in a stressful just remember to take things slowly and breathe!

Need help training your waiting staff?

Having worked as a waitress myself I know how hard it is to encourage staff to turn up to training mornings. Here I have a few tips to help encourage your staff in order to get the best out of them which will hopefully create better relationships with your customers and therefore generate more money. We all know more money means life becomes a little easier to pay those bills, including restaurant insurance.

One way we encouraged more staff turn out at the training sessions was to have them in the afternoon during the quieter period of the day. This meant that food could be provided and it turned out to be a more informal lunch with suggestions of the best ways of creating good customer service. Usually after a successful training session the teams were more up-beat and willing to work harder so having them at least once a month is also beneficial.
Another great way of training staff is to encourage them to try a variety of the meals that you serve. This way they can recommended dishes to the customer without feeling obliged to and often will give a better, honest description of what is being served.

Although this isn’t training, it does boost team moral, monthly socials. Having evenings out once a month encourages your team to bond with each other which should make working with one another a lot easier. In a restaurant this is difficult to arrange but even if you spread the socials over a couple of nights and mixed up the groups it is still well worth doing. A team that works well together boost efficiency and again improves customer service.

We also found that by staff being able to choose to some degree what they wear to work makes them feel more comfortable and more personality come through rather than a repeating programmed script which everyone needs to follow.

At the end of the day, making your team feel comfortable and offering a more relaxed working environment in what is usually a very stressful one will encourage all your staff to offer brilliant customer service which inevitably is what you are training them for in the first place.

Interior Design for Restaurants

restaurant interiorWhen going to a restaurant your customers are not just looking for good food, they want a whole dining experience! Therefore how you decorate your restaurant can make a huge difference when it comes to customer satisfaction. Whilst it may sometimes be expensive to decorate your restaurant, the long-term benefits can be well worth the initial spend. So how do you make your restaurant look its best?

Think about Themes

The first thing you need to do is think about what type of restaurant you own and what market you are trying to appeal to. If you run a small, family owned establishment then putting up a chandelier could make your customers feel uncomfortable and out of place, so think about the whole theme of your restaurant before you make any decisions. Think about where you are situated, who your main competition is, and why customers choose to go there instead of you. This could give you invaluable insight into what changes would be the most profitable!

Add something Original

After you have chosen a theme for your restaurant you need to think of ways to add something that will make your establishment stand out from all the others. If you are on a busy high street there may be dozens of restaurants for customers to choose from, so you want to give them a reason to pick yours! Maybe you could introduce a water feature, invest in some interesting artwork, or find some quirky furniture. The possibilities are truly endless; just make sure you cover all your new buys on your restaurant insurance policy!

Are you being Served?

So you’ve decorated your restaurant, and added some new and exciting features, but just before you decide to open to the public you need to make sure you have a meeting with all your staff. Depending on the theme you chose you want to have all your staff wearing a certain uniform so they fit in. If you’ve moved all the furnishings around you should do a quick run through to make sure nothing is getting in the way of serving your customers. Having a quick chat with everyone before the restaurant opens will make sure everything runs smoothly on the first night.

Sometimes it can be difficult when choosing the interior design for your restaurant, but if you ever get stuck you can always look online for some inspiration. And if you ever need to make a decision just think: would I like to eat in a restaurant like this?

The Importance of Organisation for Landlords

paperworkIt may sound obvious, but keeping organised is of the utmost importance when you are a landlord. Juggling the maintenance and care of a number of properties is sometimes tricky, which means that it’s highly likely that things could build up. Here we give some simple yet highly effective tips to keeping your property portfolio in order.

Times and Dates

The problem with having multiple properties in your portfolio is that they all were probably bought, registered, maintained and let out at different times, meaning that in order to keep everything up to date you need to have an in depth knowledge of the times and dates for each transaction. There are many ways you can do this quickly and easily, such as using a calendar which you update at the beginning of each year to remind you of when things such as landlord insurance need to be renewed. If you are a bit more techno savvy you could even set up a calendar on your computer or smart phone which will automatically remind you when things need to be done!

Debits and Credits

As a landlord you probably have a good idea of when money is due, however it’s always beneficial to actually make a note every time you receive rent from your tenants, and every time that you have to use that money to pay for something. Keeping a log of all your credits and debits will not only give you a better idea of your finances, it may also help you spot ways that you are losing money! Furthermore, when it comes to filling out your self-assessment having a clear list of all your earnings will really come in handy and save you a large amount of time.

Invest in Storage

Keeping your paperwork organised is usually difficult if you don’t have a specific place where you can store all your documents neatly and safely. It is wise to invest in a filing cabinet that includes a lock as a lot of your paperwork will have private and confidential information concerning not only you but your tenants as well. For this reason it’s also necessary to invest in a good quality paper shredder so that you know any sensitive documents are disposed of properly – the last thing you need is to find someone has gained access to your accounts!

Looking after your paperwork is easy once you have a system in place, so why not go through yours today and ensure that your business is as organised as possible!