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How twitter can help your business

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 29th May 2012

Social Media – what’s it all about and should I be using it?

Social media, whether your tech savvy or not, is well and truly part of today. The ability to communicate with your friends, favourite celebrities, brand or band all at the click of a button is quite a remarkable prospect. But is it right for your business?

The simple answer is heck yes. As a business you will have day to day pieces of information that you want to distribute to your target audience however traditional methods of marketing and PR can take too long to organise. Maybe the information you have doesn’t quite fit a press release, maybe it can’t be summed up in a print advert? Or maybe your budget just won’t stretch to cover what you want to tell the world? Social media is this vital tool that can give your business an instant voice that has instant access to the world’s inbox. This voice if managed well can grow into a personality that will be able to speak to your customers and give them that personal service or message that they can interact with at their ease. It is this interaction that is invaluable as you will be able to talk to your target audience and build real-time conversations with them directly, which is something you can’t get from other traditional media approaches.

In an attempt to help electricians get online and begin/continue to use these social media platforms I will be writing a range of ‘how to guides’ with an aim of demystifying these sites and reveal how they can work for you.

There are now hundreds of social media platforms that you can use to further your message online. However I will be focusing on what I think are the main ones; twitter, facebook, google + and linked in.

Firstly, let’s talk about Twitter.

Twitter is an information network that allows millions of users to share information in the form of short 140 character messages. Messages are sent instantly to the public and anyone can reply, share your ‘tweets’ helping you to further your message online. Twitter helps you to reach people or brands that you wouldn’t normally be able to contact first hand. What’s more, 9 times out of ten you actually find that someone has already begun a conversation about your business on twitter, so it’s good to get involved and see what’s being said!

In order for you to understand how twitter works, you will need to get on board with the kids and learn the lingo. Here are some of the terms that surround twitter as some of you may not be familiar with the art of tweeting. Well tweeting is how you describe a conversation on twitter. For example: ‘I am speaking to John’ in twitter language would read ‘I am tweeting john.’

Like the phrases speaking, speak and spoken we have tweeting, tweet and tweeted.

Followers – your followers are people that have subscribed to your username and want to be updated with the information you send out. Trade Skills 4U’s followers mostly include professionals in both the electrical and renewable energy industry that want to know about our company, our news and our training.

Following - you too can subscribe to people so you can see what they write all the time. We follow our certification bodies, our customers plus a range of industry news sites so we can keep on top of any news or products that will be able to benefit our followers and/or our business.

Mention – in order to tweet a particular person you have to put an @ symbol before their username (you will have set up your username when you registered) You can track who you have spoken to in your account and see what other people have been saying to you here too.

Mentioning someone is the main part of twitter and is how you engage with others online. As a business you could say ‘thanks for training with us @chloecharlottex’ and as a customer you might in turn say ‘I had a great experience @Tradeskills4u, I will be recommending you.’

If you see a comment that you like a lot you can ‘favourite’it, which pretty much means you’re saving it and filing away in your account so you can see it again. If you followers favourite your tweets – good job – this will mean you’re sending the right tweets to the right people.

Retweet – If you see something online that you like or you want to share you can click ‘retweet’ which is a button that will forward that information to your followers instantly. @Tradeskills4u tends to retweet industry news and funny comments we come across that might make our followers laugh.

Message – Tweeting doesn’t always have to be public. You can privately message members by beginning your tweet with DM or D. For example ‘DM @Tradeskills4u When is my 17th Edition course?’

Hashtag- In order to help others see your tweets and promote your conversation; you might want to include a hashtag which looks like this ‘#’. Hashtags help categorize your comments which will help you to gain followers. For example ‘Check out our offer of the week #discount’

Not only are you able see what people are saying about you and your company, but you can share your latest information to help others make the right choices for them. Twitter is a great way of showing and growing your company presence and helping others find you online. Users generally want to follow brands or companies for a range of reasons. Check out the graph below.

Another advantage for the small businessman is that you can offer unique offers and be able to act fast in implementing them too. If you search ‘electrician’ and spot a user saying “I wish my light switch was closer to my bed! So annoying!” You can tweet them and offer to do the job for a great price.

When you join, you will have the urge to begin firing off random tweets, however the first lesson is to listen. Follow a couple of people who are relevant in your industry and watch how they behave online. They might tweet offers of the week ( like us) which might be really successful or be uploading pictures of their finished work which might attract lots of customers – either way it’s important to listen first and learn from others.

Whilst it is important to listen first to gain some inspiration, it’s also important to be yourself. By talking to people online in real time you will naturally adopt a casual style of writing as everyone tends to leave their formal language in the office. Casual writing is friendly and allows you to be approachable and most of all human. It is this human approach that enables you to begin building strong relationships with your followers which may turn them into loyal customers.

You may find that from time to time you may see a negative tweet that will need to be dealt with straight away to prevent any damage to your brand or business. These should be taken offline and be dealt with personally either via phone, email or Direct Message (DM) though twitter. If you handle them well and quickly you might even find that the user becomes your biggest fan.

David Cameron once said ‘I’m tweeting so much I feel like a tw#t’ which would suggest he felt like he was doing it too much!  There are no rules about regular tweeting so just be natural about it and tweet as much as you like. It is good to make sure your presence is continuous though so even if you think there’s nothing to say you might want to consider tweeting offers specific to your customers to increase sales or just give out handy tips that might benefit you followers. We regularly tweet an offer of the week which is available to our followers both on Facebook and twitter and our customers in house:

As an electrician you might want to tweet things for your customers/followers to consider that may affect the condition of their electrics in certain seasons or festive periods. You could tweet ‘Light up your tree not your home’ at Christmas’ and offer advice about testing Christmas lights. You could tweet about the ‘joys sitting outside in the garden on a summer’s night’ whilst promoting your services on installing garden and outdoor lighting. Pictures are always great too so upload images of you and your staff at work, your company van plus anything you think may add to your following. In the past we’ve tweeted photos of all types of things even pictures of our company dog, Wilson simply because it’s actually been relevant and has added to a conversation (and because he’s really cute).

Let the world know you’re on twitter by putting your username on you van, website, business card, everything! The bigger following you have, the further your tweets will spread.

Tweeting can be fun but you need to know if it’s working for you. Measuring the success of your twitter campaign can be tricky but there are some indicators which are key into measuring your success:

• Are people engaging with you? Are they tweeting? Retweeting? Favouriting?

• Is twitter pushing people to your website? Use Google analytics to see if twitter is helping traffic/conversations?

• Create twitter only promotions. Get your customers to quote ‘twitter offer’ or similar so you know that they first heard of you through twitter – this can help bring regulars to your social space.

• Finally, why not ask your customers? Why are they following you? Are they enjoying it?

If you like what you’ve read and want to get involved sign up at www.twitter.com and begin your conversation!

Just remember to:

Listen & Learn

Be yourself

Advertise

Measure

Add us on @tradeskills4u

 

Imagesource@twitter.com

Categories: social media

Trade Skills 4U Feedback Statistics Released: 1st Quarter 2012

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 25th May 2012

January to April 2012: 99.7% of our customers would recommend us

At Trade Skills 4U we value you feedback. We value it so much that we provide you with these forms so we can uncover exactly what you thought about your experience at every stage of your training. We do this because we care and because we want to make sure that you are getting the ultimate training experience that you have paid for and deserve.

So now that the first quarter is over we thought we’d compile this enormous stack of forms into some clear, understandable statistics so you can see what you and others think of us overall.

From January 2012 – April 2012 we can officially say that of the 1066 feedback forms we collected, over 99.7% of our customers said they’d recommend us!

We can also confirm that during April 2012 100% of customers surveyed said they would recommend us!

Out of these 1066 feedback forms, 67% of our customers said our courses met their expectations with a further 30% claiming that we actually exceeded their expectations. Overall, these figures combined show that over 97% of our customers were blinking delighted with our training.

Out of these 1066 feedback forms, 72.4% of our customers said their overall experience was ‘Excellent,’ and 26.1% rated it as ‘Good.’ When combined this data highlights that 98.5% of our customers were very happy with the overall service they received from Trade Skills 4U.

Pretty impressive stuff huh? The data, even though compiled with blood, sweat and tears has certainly put a spring in our step today and we hope it has yours too.

Allergic to graphs? Don’t worry if you would like to see the things our past and present students say about us you can check our feedback forms our online via our Trade Skills 4U Reviews page.

If you would like to hear about the things our students say about us you can check out our Trade Skills 4U Video Reviews page.

What can we say; we have a habit of going above and beyond to show you what it is like to train with Britain’s Premier Electrical and Renewable Energy Training Company, Trade Skills 4U.

#justsaying

All data has been compiled from actual feedback forms received in the centre.

Data source: In-House Trade Skills 4U Report into Customer Feedback Jan2012-April2012.

 

Categories: feedback, company news, reviews

August 1 new deadline for FIT cuts

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 24th May 2012

Last week we announced that changes to the Feed-in-Tariff had been delayed due to recent low solar installation figures. It was first proposed that new cuts would come into force 1st July 2012. However due to the 40 days’ notice required by law to protect ‘unlawful’ moves from the government, we can now expect the cuts to come into play a month later than first expected. This delay could have been caused by a number of factors but consumer confidence and news that the UK has slipped back into recession are thought to be amongst the two main reasons.

Since the revision figures have been introduced, the total installation figures for solar PV have naturally declined. The official introduction of the 21p kWh rate saw the total number of PV installs decrease from a whopping 9,009 in the last week of March 2012 to just 859 in the first week of April. Now more than ever it is important to broadcast positive message to all and try to win back consumer confidence.

The new FIT rate, now announced to come into play August 1st 2012, will be 16p kWh for domestic homeowners. Furthermore, all tariffs will decrease on a three month basis, starting on October 1 and are set to decrease at a rate of 3.5% unless a 'rapid uptake occurs.'

Barker commented, "We can now look with confidence to a future for solar which will see it go from a small cottage industry, anticipated under the previous scheme, to playing a significant part in Britain's clean energy economy."

In addition to the newly introduced lower tariff, other revisions include:

Export tariff will be increased from 3.2p to 4.5p/kWh for those installations with an eligibility date on or after August 1;

The expect FIT lifetime will be now decrease from 25 to 20 years for those installations with an eligibility date on or after August 1; and

Tariffs for installations that do not meet the energy efficiency requirements will mirror the tariffs for standalone installations.

We can now expect a small boom in this 10 week window before the new rate comes into play but it should be enough to get the market going again.

 

Categories: decc, renewable energy, solar pv, feed-in-tariff

Inventor of the Remote control dies at 96

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 23rd May 2012

Born on November 29th 1914, Eugene Polley awoke to a world that slowly dipping into World War I. His love for electronics grew at the City Colleges of Chicago and Armour Institute of Technology, but he left before graduating. Despite not having many physical qualifications, he was offered a job Zenith Electronics in 1935 as a stock boy.

After a couple of years working for Zenith, his skills grew and he transferred to engineering where he began work on the Radar during World War II. His first invention however arose in 1955 when he created the world first television remote control. Named the ‘Flash-Matic’ the device used visible light to remotely control a television outfitted with photo cells in the screen. First marketed at $149.95, the device was a luxury item, saving those who could afford the high price tag of a walk to the television.

John Taylor, spokesman for Zenith Electronics, said: "He was a proud owner of a flat-screen TV and modern remote. He always kept his original remote control with him."

During his career Polley held 18 patents for his inventions and was presented numerous awards for his achievements in engineering; including an Emmy award in 1997.

Mr Eugene Polley died on Sunday 20th May 2012 of natural causes at the Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Illinois, USA.  He is survived by his son, Eugene J Polley Jr, and grandson Aaron who lives in San Diego.

Imagesource@dailymail.co.uk

Categories: electrics

May 2012: Draft Energy Bill Published

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 22nd May 2012

Today the Department of Energy and Climate Change published the long awaited Draft Energy Bill which includes details of the UK Electricity Market Reform (EMR). 

 

The EMR details how the government intends to plan the future of the UK’s electrical market and how we can move our traditionally sourced supply to meet our green energy targets of 15% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

For those who don’t want to flick through the 302 page document, we have outlined the key points from the EMR below and defined the two main revisions.

To secure the investment needed to deliver a reliable and sustainably diverse low carbon technology mix.

To help maintain the government’s long term vision of creating a market full of low carbon energy generators that perform fairly and at stable carbon price’s. This vision is at least 10-15 years away as many carbon generators are still in the midst of development.

Provide key processes that enable us to meet and enforce the long term vision.

Government hope to achieve these objectives through the following two revisions;

The government have appointed the National Grid as an independent System operator to provide analytical basis for government decisions.

The government have also asked the National grid to administer new systems of low-carbon generation revenue support known as ‘Contracts for Difference’ (CfDs) and a Capacity Market.

By announcing these two main reforms, are positives steps towards a safer future and will leave the UK less vulnerable to growing energy prices and relieving some of the stress of the 250,000 jobs in the energy sector.

The full Draft Energy Bill can be read by clicking here.

 

 

Categories: renewable energy, government

Do's and Don't for Electrical Apprentices

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 18th May 2012

These days getting an apprenticeship can be hard. Demand has never been higher for apprenticeship places as more and more people decide that univerisity education isn't for them whilst realising the benefits of working in the skilled trades.

Taking on an electrical apprentice means an extra set of hands for many electricians and the best thing is apprentices usually get trained for free and don’t cost the earth in wages. However, in reality many electricians are not keen on taking on an apprentice. Much of this is due to the incorrect perception that 'apprentices are unmotivated teenagers who don’t really want to work, but have been pushed into it by mum and dad.'

However times have changed and the calibre of apprentices is on the up. In fact, many of the country’s top students are turning away from the academic route and looking at apprenticeships as a real option to achieve their goals.

We have done our research and compiled our top do’s and don’ts for electrical apprentices to help new apprentices keep their employers happy. These are taken directly from electricians themselves and give you an understanding of the perception of apprentices by employers:

Do’s

Show interest in everything. Look keen and make sure you engage whenever possible.

Listen carefully to all instructions.

If you do have your own tools - use them and if you borrow tools make sure you put them back!

If you have nothing to do ask for something or show some initiative and find something that needs doing.

Ask lots of questions. Don’t be afraid to ask if you are unsure of something as long as you are able to listen and implement the answer.

Practice in your spare time. The quicker you learn the quicker you will be of use to your employer securing your position.

Read as much as you can in your spare time. Keep up to date with you training materials and if possible read ahead.

Be diligent and punctual.

If you make a mistake admit it and correct it.

Don’t

Keep checking your mobile phone, texting friends and receiving calls during working hours. In fact this is listed as one of the most annoying things an apprentice can do and came up more than anything else on this list.

Borrow tools and then leave them around where they can be easily lost or damaged.

Don’t stand around with your hands in your pockets.

Continue doing something even though you are not sure what you are doing. Electricity is dangerous, don’t guess how to do something, simply ask someone for help.

Run out the door the second the clock hits five.

Don’t try to hide or cover up your mistakes.

Of all these do’s and don’ts the top ones come up time and time again. So if you keep you phone off and show a keen interest in everything you can’t go far wrong.

If you are looking for an electrical apprenticeship be sure to check out our City & Guilds 2357 course. If you are already training with us be sure to take on board this advice.

 

Categories: apprentice, apprenticeship

Another interval in the solar show?

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 17th May 2012

After the 21p kWh Feed-in-tariff rate was finally introduced 1 April 2012, we have all been preparing ourselves for the next reduction set to take place in July this year. However Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Greg Barker, seems to have had a change of heart and confessed his feelings towards the projected decrease on twitter on Wednesday 15th May. "Having listened carefully to industry, we are looking at scope for pushing back a little the next proposed reduction in solar feed-in tariffs.”

One could argue that this ‘delay’ in announcing future cuts to the subsidy could bring back another bout of uncertainty however Mr Barker has reassured the nation by responding “On the contrary, we are listening carefully to industry & full details of new much improved FITs regime will be published v shortly.”

On one hand this delay could been seen as another blunder in the way the government has dealt with the popular Feed-in-Tariff however it does mean that installers will be able to supply their customers with the higher rate of 21p kWh for a little longer than once expected.

As for when the cuts will be announced? Government are required by law to provide 40 days’ notice to Parliament of any changes to the scheme and as a result ministers would have to delay cuts until Mid-July at the earliest or else risk legal conflict which could result in future dismay.

It is no secret that drops in the demand for solar PV installation has been of direct consequence of feed-in-tariff reductions however numerous trade bodies have confirmed that ‘solar PV remains one of the best investments around.’ It is thanks to the falling costs of the technology combined with the rising cost in energy bills, the existing rate of gaining 21p kWh is actually proves to be a better investment than if you were to have had the cells installed when the higher rate of 43.3p kWh existed.  A 4kWp system, the largest size for which the highest tariff is available, can be purchased today for under £9,000, whereas only one year ago it would have cost upwards of £15,000.  An average domestic system is around 2.5kWp and it is these positives that need to be held up so that we as an industry can begin to win back the all-important consumer confidence.

Whichever way you look at it, hopefully we can all agree that this delay, even if only for a short period, will benefit the installer as they will be able to provide this higher rate of 21p kWh to their customers for a touch longer. Hopefully a little rush to install PV before the new rate comes into effect will allow solar installers to enjoy a last minute flourish which is the least they deserve after solar has seen as 90% drop off in installations since the cuts came into effect in April 2012.

 

Categories: solar pv, feed-in-tariff

Take Control and Get Smart

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 15th May 2012

75% of consumers are ignoring the benefits of installing a smart meter

According to recent research compiled by energy giant E.ON, 75% of British consumers are missing out on up to 4% savings on their energy bills by not having smart meters installed. Further to this, 60% of people don’t even know what a smart meter is.

By missing out on this technology, consumers are ignoring the benefits they could receive by having the devices installed. Being able to visualise your energy consumption, receive accurate bills and obtain a greater management of your finances are just some of the ways this new technology can be of benefit. In a modern age where enthusiasm for technology is paramount, E.ON is calling for people to ‘mirror the use of technology in their everyday lives and gain greater visibility into their energy use through smart meters so they can make positive behavioural changes and benefit from energy savings and cash savings.’

Jean Fiddes, Head of Customer Learning for Smart Meters at E.ON, said: "Technology is playing an empowering role in our lives and our research highlights people are keen to extend this to their energy use. Smart meters allow consumers to easily visualise their energy consumption daily, weekly and monthly, meaning they have increased transparency into their daily energy habits, providing accurate bills and greater management of their finances."

E.ON’s commitment to the smart meter rollout recently saw them celebrate the first anniversary of the launch of their first ‘Smart Meter Centre of Excellence’ in May this year. This centre stands as a dedicated contact point for customers who would like more information on the devices and how they can improve their cash savings by actively installing.

If you would like to know more about smart meters, visit www.eonenergy.com/smart

Data Source - E.ON Press release 09/05/2012

Image Source -Guardian.co.uk

 

Categories: electrical, smart meter

Case Study: Kevin Hird

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 14th May 2012

Kevin Hird

Course Choice: Domestic Installer Platinum Package

Goal: To change career.

 

 

 

 

 

1.       Describe your previous career and experience before you made the decision to retrain?

Whilst I have a degree in Chemical Engineering I decided to move into payment cards. I previously worked for American Express where I was responsible for the merchant side of the payment card business across a number of countries including Turkey, Greece and sub-Saharan Africa. I worked with many banks in a business development role which necessitated a lot of long haul business travel. The travel coupled with a having a little daughter meant I wanted to cut out the travel and have more flexibility in my job.

2.       What made you take the new direction and begin training as a domestic installer?

I've always enjoyed the practical side of things and as my dad was an Electrical Engineer I've learned a lot over the years.

3.       What are your plans for business now you are fully qualified?

I believe it's important to differentiate from the competition and whilst my company provides a full range of services I specialise in lighting design and installation and electric central heating.

4.       What is the best experience you have had so far in your new career?

Winning a major contract to design lighting schemes for a successful chain of estate agents in London.

5.       Any advice for anyone thinking of training as an electrician/domestic installer?

It's important to stand out from the crowd. This means not just being a good electrician but developing your brand and having a range of sales channels coupled with an online and real world marketing plan.

6.       Any regrets?

Not making the change sooner.

Want to hear more from Kevin Hird and our other customers? We have a range of video reviews avaliable to watch online as well as plenty of tutorials and centre walkthroughs. Take your tour today!

 

Categories: company news, case study

Get exclusive NAPIT discounts when you train with Trade Skills 4U

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 11th May 2012

Because everyone loves a discount don’t they? 

That moment when you realise that your purchase is actually cheaper than you thought it would be? It’s a good feeling that can make all the difference in difficult times like these so we make sure we do our best to save your hard earned cash where ever we can. By building relationships with contacts in the industry, such as tools suppliers and accreditation bodies, we are able to pass on some great discounts to you, our customer.

So in addition to all the wonderful things we offer you, we’ve just added one more.

Building on our customer offering, we’ve teamed up with accreditation body NAPIT to offer you exclusive discounts on their competent person’s scheme, defined scope AND MCS accreditation schemes!

By bringing the cost of joining NAPIT down from £480 to £380 (Excluding VAT) those saved pounds will allow you to stretch to tool purchases, extra training needs or even that important tradesmen’s insurance that we all have to pay.

If this is something that interests you, contact Mr Mark Pearce on 01623 812984 or email him at mark.pearce@napit.org.uk and he will be able to talk to you about the discounts that can be applied to your NAPIT account having trained with Trade Skills 4U.

Why Join NAPIT?

This great offer is not the only reason to join NAPIT. This one flat fee also includes the following:

PIR, commercial & industrial work

Free technical helpline

Free legal helpline

Access to NAPIT online forum

NAPIT Trade Association Membership

Work quality guarantee on all notified work

No extra charges for periodics

So whatever you spend your savings on, spend it in the knowledge that you’ve trained with a company that has a habit of doing things properly and goes beyond their means to make sure your looked after long after you’ve left us.

Feels good to get more for your money doesn’t it?  Check out our full range of electrical courses and  renewable energy courses today.

Want to join NICEIC instead? Don’t worry we have built a similar relationship with them. Visit our NICEIC Fast Track Discount Page for more information.

 

Categories: napit, company news

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