Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Using Docmail to make the phone ring and grow a franchise business

Allan Simmons is the MD of a Chem-Dry franchise which he has been running for the last 28 years. His franchise is one of the most successful in the UK. One of the main reasons for his success has been his proactive and innovative approach to marketing, expertise which he has always shared through his mentoring and support of other start ups.
 Allan says ‘One of the biggest learning curves for anyone starting their own business (who has not had the benefit of sales or marketing training), is knowing what is needed to make sure the phone rings.'
‘The key to success is making sure you build and effectively market to your database whether by letter, email or phone. I've found that even in today's online world direct mail is still a crucial part of the marketing mix. One of the tools that has helped us to grow our Chem-Dry business has been using Docmail.  It's a hybrid mail system that allows you to print and post letters, postcards and now folded newsletters directly from your computer.  What's even better is that postcards and letters cost less than the price of a second class stamp, and that includes the printing and folding and stuffing. We use it for single mailings and also larger mailshots.  By maintaining your database and setting up timed reminders to ensure that you contact customers when they are likely to need your service again e.g. have their carpets cleaned before Christmas or in the spring, we've built a large repeat client base.

‘Docmail is actually a massively useful service for master franchises to set up and cascade to their franchisees.  It will add value to their proposition and ensure that their franchises are properly supported with the correct marketing templates "ready to go".  It's an easy to use online service which will help franchisees make the most of their time and ensure they are not bogged down with printing and post. Importantly it costs nothing to set up. There is no minimum spend to maintain an account, no minimum quantity to mail, and it ensures professional delivery and no risk when you are starting up your business. We love Docmail so much that when we had our own software developed to help us run our business we included using Docmail as an integral part of that because of the benefits of Docmail.  We now licence that software (GetBookedUp) to other businesses in many industries and in my mentoring capacity with users I speak to many small business owners.  Many of those are franchisees in other industries and many of them are frustrated by the lack of marketing help and support from their master franchisee.  Many were promised marketing support but found it lacking when they needed it.  A master franchise offering Docmail set up and "ready to go" to their potential new franchisees, would have a benefit to their offering, and for those who looked to add it for their existing franchisees it could be the shot in the arm they need.’

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Productivity Series Part One: Focus.

In today’s busy world we all have a lot on our plates; it can be hard to stay motivated and on top of everything coming our way.  With unending emails, unnecessary meetings and the obsession with multitasking, it can sometimes feel overwhelming.  At Docmail, we take organisation and productivity seriously - all our services have the fundamental aim of reducing your workload.
We also know that taking steps to regain control of our tasks and our time can help us not only to stay ahead, but also to feel more motivated to do the tasks and happier in our work.

So we asked around our office and found the advice came pouring in, we've pulled together some of our top tips and planned this series to help you to regain control of your day.


This is one of the hardest things to do in the modern world, where mobile working allows us to be always contactable, however it is also one of the most important things we need to try and do, that’s why it’s our number one. Regular multitasking is not good for productivity, in fact a study from Stanford University[1] found that it makes it harder for people to filter out what is and what isn’t important to the task they are currently working on making it very hard to stay focussed.

The obvious answer is don’t multitask, but this isn’t the easiest thing to do when you’re working in a modern office, with emails constantly pinging in, the phone ringing, endless meetings and colleagues asking for help or just a chat.

But your time is important. So important in fact that you should schedule in important work. Based on the Pomodoro Technique[2] (so called because of a sauce timer) blocking out a short period of time to focus on and individual task is a good way to keep on target without ruining work relationships, missing important meetings or ignoring customers.
Choose a task, schedule out 45 minutes (Pomodoro recommends 25 but we did say it was “based on” Pomodoro) and then focus on that task and that task only for that time. Don’t answer emails, in fact turn them off for this time period if it’s urgent they will call, and keep paper and pen handy.

Why a paper and pen you ask? Whenever you get a phone call or a colleague asking a question politely take down a note of the task and information, tell them you are in the middle of something and that you will look at it in roughly however many minutes you have left. If you had booked this time out for a meeting they wouldn’t expect you to answer immediately so why sacrifice your work, it’s definitely more important than meetings.
The paper is also useful for stopping you from detracting yourself. Just when you start your task your traitorous brain will drop all kinds of useful reminders on you such as “what time does the local supermarket shut? We need milk!” this usually results in a google search then 2 hours on Facebook looking at cat videos. So when your brain hits you with a time consuming hint write it down. Just make a note and move on. Do this for all internal distractions your brain throws at you, you can deal with them once the time is up.

Once the time is up, stop. If you do manage to go distraction free for all that time take a quick break. Researchers at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business found that frequent short breaks keep you sharp and energised. They also found that it doesn’t matter what task you do in your break. Contrary to common belief that the break should not be work related the researchers at Baylor said you should just do what you prefer to do, whether that’s work related or not. So check your email, or your phone it’s up to you, but limit your break to 10 to 15 minutes. Once this is done take 5 minutes to check what you need to work on next, does your current task need more time, are there urgent emails to answer for the next 45 minutes, and is there something else that needs your time?
Keep dividing you time into 45 minutes block of complete focus, keep planning and make sure you take the breaks!

[1] http://news.stanford.edu/2009/08/24/multitask-research-study-082409/
[2] http://cirillocompany.de/pages/pomodoro-technique

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The RUH Forever Friends Appeal.

Once more our fundraising appeal for the RUH Forever Friends Appeal is under way and the team are busy training, come rain or shine.  We thought it might be nice to share a few words from Chairman, Dave Broadway, on the involvement of CFH Docmail with this wonderful cause.  

"CFH Docmail has supported the Forever Friends Appeal to build a new Cancer centre at the Bath Royal United Hospital for several years now, either as a main sponsor for the Forever Friends team in the Bath Half Marathon, or in other years, just entering a fund raising team.

Like most families, we have lost a number of family members to Cancer over the years, so this appeal was always one I was happy to support. 

In February 2015 I managed to crash a bicycle at the Olympic Velodrome and broke my hip. That summer, I lost a good friend to Cancer, then as the year went on we lost a colleague from work, and heard of the death of an ex colleague at a young age. I decided to turn my misfortune to some good by aiming to run the half marathon the following year to raise a significant sum for the Appeal. 

I managed to achieve my goal of raising £10,000 and running the half marathon. That, combined with our previous donations, and CFH’s main sponsorship of the Forever Friends entry raised our total donation to over £26,000 and made us a key sponsor. It was humbling to go to the awards at the RUH and see just how much others had lost, and how much they had put back into the Cancer centre in memory of their loved ones.

This year I am hoping to increase the £10,000 to £15,000. It’s difficult to ask people that have already donated to donate again, so I felt I needed to set the target a little lower this year. Hopefully, with the help of friends, colleagues, customers and suppliers, we can once again succeed!" 

To see Dave talk in person on the subject, watch our YouTube video here 
If you would like to donate, visit the Just Giving page here.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Pulling Power of The Postcard

Docmail clients are huge fans of the postcard as a way of generating new clients and staying in touch with valuable customers. We’re always surprised at the creativity that’s possible from such a simple marketing format.

As part of our 40th birthday celebrations we’re holding a postcard competition to showcase the very best designs and copywriting which we hope will provide some inspiration.

We’ll be rewarding the winning entry with a £50 voucher at a store of the winner’s choice.

To take part simply email your entry to denise.white@cfh.com with the heading Postcard competition. Don’t forget to include your phone number.  If you haven't yet used the Docmail service, click here to get started!

All entries must be received by March 31st 2017.

Terms and Conditions

Competition open to all UK adults aged 16 or over.

All entries must be received by 31st March 2017.

Proof of entry is not proof of receipt.

Entry details form part of the terms and conditions.

The judge’s decision is final.

The winner will be notified by April 14th 2017.

Entrants agree that their entries can be used in any promotional material.

Promoter CFH Docmail Ltd, Radstock, BA3 3UP

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

How to make your business more sustainable in 2017

Sustainable development means minimising the environmental and social impact of your business and ensuring financial stability.

It’s a strategic approach that will help you to:
  • Reduce Costs
  • Control Risk
  • Improve your reputation
  • Help with business growth

7 steps to business sustainability
  1. Achieve buy-in from all senior management to ensure that sustainability is at the heart of all business processes and decisions.
  2. Involve stakeholders including employees, clients and suppliers. Employees like to work for businesses that care about their environment and community, customers prefer to source from sustainable suppliers.
  3. Review your environmental and social impact. Including:
    • your use of raw materials, water and other resources
    • your energy use and its impact on climate change
    • the waste and pollution your business produces
    • the impact your business has on your employees and the local, wider and international community
    • Do you source sustainable materials from suppliers who are committed to sustainable development?
    • Do your suppliers treat their employees fairly and ethically?
    • How much energy is used producing and delivering materials to you - and delivering products to your customers?
    • How are your products used and disposed of? Can your products and packaging be easily recycled or reused?
  4. Create a sustainability plan with short and long term targets. Look at the short terms wins but create a more detailed action plan for ambitious changes.
  5.  Monitor and review regularly and report success to stakeholders.
  6. Review the social impact of your business as an employer and as a neighbour. Employing local staff, treating them fairly and helping them develop will improve your profile within the community.
  7.  Become involved in local community initiatives, help with fund raising or allow staff to volunteer.

Out of little acorns, great oaks grow. The first steps to sustainability will provide the firm roots from which your business will flourish and help secure the future of our environment.