Thursday, 30 July 2009

#Followfriday 31st July - Newbies

Whilst twitter isn't or perhaps shouldn't be all about numbers there isn't much point in logging on if you don't have any followers to engage and share stuff with.

I invested in the @NikkiPilkington Tweetmentor course which has been invaluable but the real truth is that once you get to c.100 followers a kind of momentum occurs simply by tweeting and engaging with a few people

So this week here are some newbies I've followed. Please join me by following them, after all there are only 3 possible outcomes:
1. they'll give up
2. you'll unfollow them because they're dull
3. you'll have found yourself a new twitterer

@bleeky very new, and hasn't updated his bio yet. I can tell you he's into cricket, is a bit of a geek and is expecting his 2nd child, oh and my wife is his daughters god mother

@exeposs100 having another go and looking for help with his twittering. PR company so wow could be a really useful contact for many of us. I found him on a search "looking for new followers" I think we should oblige

@somewherehot my web designer. Another one whose abandoned twitter. Ironically I know that some of my followers would be good for his business and also that he would be good for some of there's. Oooh let's find out

@RAC_Breakdown How can one of the UK's leading UK Breakdown provider have less than 100 followers? They post some interesting, if so far limited, tweets and is CarCare Directs breakdown provider

@srb2003 new and no idea if they want a whole load of followers or not but followed on the back of my favourite tweeter being excited about their arrival to twitter..which is enough for me

I do hope this is the start of a beautiful....well let's just follow for now and see what happens :)

Cool Bananas

Monday, 27 July 2009

Price Protection

Vauxhall have toady announced another price rise of, on average, 2.2% on all cars ordered from 3rd August 2009.

As with most manufacturers, Vauxhall do offer Price Protection on orders before that date, but what does that actually mean? To understand this we must first review how dealers order cars from the manufacturers

To simplify we'll need to generalise across all car makes but recognise there are some differences.Dealers buy in 1 of 3 ways

1. Stock - they pre order likely vehicles. often they have to commit to certain model mixes in order to secure bonuses from the manufacturer. Also they have to commit to their orders well i advance
2. Pack deals - this is where the manufacturer goes out to their dealers and offers bundles of cars, usually with some nice bonus discounts. the dealer hast o commit to the cars and doesn't get choice on colours etc
3. Factory order - the dealer orders a customer specific vehicle direct with the manufacturer. the dealer will have a limit as to how many they can order in a specific month. This volume is generally agreed in advance either quarterly or annually.

It is factory orders that buyers looking for price protection must be most aware. If a dealer does not have the allocation left to order before the price rise cut off then the car will not qualify for the price protection

So when ordering your car, ask your dealer if they have allocation to order a car then and there and if not when they will be able to and secondly get it in writing that your car will be price protected

Friday, 24 July 2009

Follow Friday - COYR - 24th July

Indulge me today with this weeks #followfriday. For it has been a traumatic time since the end of last seasons disastrous relegation for the mighty Saints, followed by administration , 10 points deducted and any number of chances pretending their mum and dad would lend them enough money to buy Southampton FC.

Wonderfully that is behind us now and as we celebrate all things Swiss ("Swiss Billionaire buys Southampton FC" - what a nice sound that has) i would like to recommend some fellow tweeters who went through the agony too.

Southampton FC has always been a club for the neutral, I'd hope it would continue to be, so show your support and follow:

@the_saints it's actually the Daily Echo, the local paper but they do get to hear what's going on and some of the mad comments left are amusing

@officialsaints clubs official twitter site. Hopefully now he that mustn't be named has left the building they'll take a bigger interest in the fans but good source of info for what is going on

@AlGalpin reliable source of early news during the dark days. Interesting non footy tweets too

@thesaintsblog proper football blogger but all about the red and white

@wireframebox jammy sod won the tickets for Saturdays pre season

No matter what your footy team is I hope that you'll spare a thought for the Saints this season and perhaps follow them?

Come On You Reds

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

How to avoid Car Sickness - tips and advice

Travel sickness occurs when repetitive small movements send the brain mixed messages. The eyes say one thing about the position of the body, while the inner ear balance mechanisms report something different. This confusion can result in feelings of nausea and sometimes vomiting and becoming sweaty.

It's not always motion that triggers the sickness. Smells, such as those of food or petrol, anxiety that it's going to happen may ensure it does and focusing on a nearby object, such as trying to read a book or a map, can make people feel queasy.

Children often suffer more than adults. Try to get them to avoid looking down into their lap. Reading or games that encourage concentrating downwards should be left until the journey is over. Singing along to music, playing games that encourage looking ahead and in car DVD player’s help prevent problems too. In addition try to keep the car well ventilated whilst travelling.

There are things that you can buy such as Travel sickness pills. Homeopathic remedies such as Nelson's travella are readily available. With travel pills it is important to read the instructions carefully, particularly around how long you should take them before setting off on your journey. Ginger is also widely advised believed to help stay off the worst of the effects

Acupuncture inspired relief such as Sea-bands are popular with many not just for car and motion sickness but also as a remedy during pregnancy against morning sickness

Other advice includes avoiding large meals before setting off and trying to keep still with your eyes closed. Drivers should look to adopt a smoother more gentle style in order to ensure the most comfortable trip for everyone in the car and schedule in comfort stops as required. Sadly probably wise to include a plastic bag in the car too. Remember it is against the law to stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway unless you have broken down.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

How To Price Car Breakdown Cover?

Yesterday we set our new RAC Breakdown Cover live. We could have launched it at the same time as our new Warranty plans but the truth is we were locked in a heated debate about price.

Whenever such a debate occurs we try to return to "North" on our business compass bearing. "North" has always been about saving motorists money on great automotive products. Car Breakdown cover proved to be stormy sea's, and hence the delay in launching (I promise no more nautical references)

The issue was cover versus headline price. Google "Car Breakdown" and you are bombarded with Roadside cover from just £27 per year. Affordable yes and to a degree worth having providing the car can be fixed at the roadside. But what if it can't be fixed? Whilst the leading RAC and AA basic cover does include a tow up to 10 miles to a garage or safer place, it doesn't help if you are 40 miles from home with the 2 kids and a dog. To get taken home or to a destination of your choice you need to add Recovery to your plan. How many people notice this when the basic policy they bought was legitimately called "Breakdown Cover"?

Equally basic Breakdown Cover doesn't include coming out to your home when your car won't start in the morning because you've got a flat battery, the most common home call out, or the like. This requires an At Home top up to the basic plan.

Having included Recovery and Home Start to your basic Roadside cover the plans are significantly more expensive, but do then have a full suite of solutions in the event your car breaks down or is immobilised.

So here is where the debate raged. Offer a choice of plans at different prices, lots of description about the levels of cover to ensure the motorists is clear about what is and isn't included or One Plan with great cover, provided by a big name breakdown provider

CarCare Direct are delighted to announce the launch of

RAC Breakdown Cover: Roadside, Recovery and At Home for £95

Shame it took 6 weeks to get there!

For more info visit

Friday, 17 July 2009

Follow Friday - Networkers- 17th July

Follow Friday, already?

What a week I've had. Friends over from Oz ( C,mon England), signing up companies to offer our new car warranty to their employees as part of their voluntary benefit schemes and staff incentives and finalising details on a new RAC breakdown cover which should be launching in next few days.

All of these activities involve a degree of business and social networking and so this weeks follow fridays are some of my favourite newtworkers:

@alexparr - amusing and very supportive lady, great tweets and lovely chats offline too. reputation as a gin monster. True? follow her and find out. has some great music plays late in the day too.

@blogcrazy - well known twitterer behind this which just adds more credibility to the networking possibilities. if you are looking for ways to promote your blog then follow her and submit your blog. She'll then tell her followers and ask for that all important feedback

@bttradespace - on twitter they are very supportive to their followers and the actual BT Tradespace is a brilliant tool to promote your business and improve your SEO (try it, and you'll see the results within 3 months). To be fair all then BT tradespacers on twitter and on their actual site are very supportive, follow and sign up is my suggestion

@Essex_courier - so helpful, making league tables (BT Tradespacers) promoting network meetings. In truth I don't know her I just love how she supports her network and promotes networking opportunities

@pimlico_flats - follow and join in on his own forum. Lots of helpful advice and general observations around your on line presence. Has really helped me with some top tips. Good fun too and super supportive

The joy of twitter is that as followers we are all committed networkers and for that I thank you all..

Have a great weekend
Cool bananas

Monday, 13 July 2009

On line businesses still need to talk off line

What an interesting weekend. I actually met a few of our customers. I've emailed plenty, phoned quite a few, skyped a couple but apart from family and friends this weekend was the first time I met some real life customers and had a good old chat.

In an on line world us non techy types can find ourselves busy trying to learn techniques and skills to "maximise" this and "optimise" that. Everyday we find ourselves thinking about landing pages, cpc, long tail keywords and the like.

Having spoken with real customers, real humans who'd used our website to get quotes and find out more I realised I've been fooling myself a bit. I thought we had been having dialogue with customers. We created a warranty quote systems so people could just get a price without leaving tonnes of personal information or having to speak to a commission hungry telesales person. We've done surveys and follow up calls/emails. We ask for recommendations and encourage people to write in with their experiences. However talking to one lovely, slighter more mature lady, I discovered we have been busy talking and not listening and worse than that, talking electronically to a person who wanted to speak to a person.

This lady has bought a warranty plan from us. She was happy with the price, pleased with the level of cover and had actually found our on line quote system easy to use. However she nearly hadn't. She had read the information, understood it but just wanted to be sure she'd understood it properly.

Our online sales process almost failed with this lady. Once she had bought her warranty plan we treated like a real customer. We made sure she had what she needed and was clear with how her plan would be administered and how to contact us. In turn she now is in our contact cycle so we'll be keeping in touch with her. However while she was only a virtual client we had only been virtually there for her.

So at this fabulous lady's suggestion we've added a simple "call me back" option at the point a customer tries to get their quote.

One real conversation on Saturday with a real person has lead to a real solution by Monday morning. All I can say is "Thank you Mrs Kelly"

Friday, 10 July 2009

Follow Friday - Its a car thing - 10th July

Here we are TGIF except my new commitment to blog my #followfridays means some extra effort again.

At CarCare Direct we are committed to helping the private motorist and small business save money on their servicing, warranty and vehicle purchases. To do this we have a number of strategic partners and a very active interest in the automotive sector..oh all right we love cars! So today's #followfridays are brought to you, in no particular order, with a car related theme:

@Tristian_Young Motoring journalist and editor of one of the better Business and Fleet magazines. The difference about those with a Fleet view is they tend to be more pragmatic than the retail mag journalists. Therefore you get better insight into the ownership story. Also worth following to keep up to date with changes affecting company cars (if you have one of course)

@richardaucock another motoring journalist but one that likes the past as much as today. One of the advantages of following any motor journo is you also get a live feed from whatever launch they are at and Richard is good at posting pics. He also posts other good stuff too.

@BrawnGP the official Brawn site and after the season they've had what a great follow. You've already missed quality tweets about Jensons helmet ( I dread to think what auto follows that post got!) yes it's all F1 with a huge Jenson and Rubi bias but hey a Brit is leading the F1 championship -again!

@DealDrivers actually a partner and I use them to help me when I can't find a car for a client. A proper new car broker that is based on an ethical proposition because they plan to be around for years to come. Some of their posts are a bit cryptic as they "share" tit bits of information around price increases and availability, but this information that they get is quite sensitive so hence why they are careful, but also why worth a follow to keep in the know

@CarDealerEd ok so he's on holiday so his recent tweets look a bit thin but well worth a follow. His mag is for the motortrade and as such gives us, the retail punter, an interesting insight into the challenges and changes facing the franchised and non franchised dealers. Sets the occasional best car type challenge too which is always good for challenging your motoring grey cells

@In51der this is a great blog site full of tales from the motortrade. Sharing tricks of the trade and market trends. This has much more useful tips for the potential retail buyer than any parkers mag could hope to offer plus armed with his information you won't p**s any garages off just help get a good deal and understand the process better.

@ToyotaPR there are a few Car manufacturer PR bods on twitter but Scott is much more engaging and also willing to offer personal opinions and not just talk the corporate line. Toyota are an innovative company and have used twitter as part of their recent prius and IS convertible launches which was a bit of fun listening in and interacting with the actual test drives

If you're into cars then twitter has lots of excellent people to follow. It's also interesting to watch the number of new motor related entrants as manufacturers, dealers and leasing companies explore this medium as a way of engaging with customers. If you follow my #followfriday suggestions you'll be in pole position to keep up to date with these changes

Cool bananas

Friday, 3 July 2009

Follow Friday 3rd July 2009 - Twitterers only

I love #followfriday on Twitter. It is a great way to thank your followers and to find people you might like to follow. (If you're not sure what it's all about read this #followfriday from my tweetmentor @NikkiPilkington)

However as it's popularity has grown so has the noise and to be honest it has lost some of it's meaning as people resort to long lists of people without adding a reason why you're recommending the person.

Now don't get me wrong I understand the list mentality, after all you want to recommend followers who you've built a rapport with. You feel bad if you get an #ff and you haven't reciprocated, well I do anyway. Plus it's not always easy to articulate why you're recommending that person in 140 characters. So, on the advice of my tweetmentor @NikkiPilkington, I am blogging my #followfriday recommendations. It takes longer to do but that way I'll be sure to have given it more thought and it will therefore reflect the tweets of that week. If you're a follower 2 things:

1. Thanks for the follow, I know you don't have to and if I'm being dull or can do anything for you just ask
2. If you're not on the list this week it doesn't mean I don't like you nor that you won't be on it next week :)

So eyes down for this weeks #followfridays: @mykitchenstore has a couple of great online kitchen and bedroom businesses plus a DIY store nearly ready. But that's not the reason to follow her as she Never plugs them. Instead she twitters for the joy, knowledge and engagement with her followers. Always supportive of other small businesses tweeters, she should definitely be followed @neets68 what a week she's had. Fell asleep on a train, got in at 4am but still sent out her daily cheery tweets about the people on her commute, copious fag breaks and chicken soup addiction. She's good fun, no business content, no meaningful quotes, just fun:) @percythepigeon. Percy is a bird on a mission, doing his bit to raise awareness about the issues of bullying. He has a book that your kids, school, children's club might want to consider buying, and lots of advice and links on the subject matter. Always helping his followers and promoting what they are doing @balloonbaboon This is a lady making the enormous step of getting behind her unique gift business and leaving the security of paid employment. In these difficult times why not support this kind of enterprise? The balloon models are fun, well priced and definitely different. You probably won't need one today but follower her as the aide memoir for when you want that unusual gift @shuangisbourne is worth a follow if you think you could/should be using the telephone more effectively in your business. Great mentor, lots of tips and advice. I took up his phonementor course ( more detail than you'll ever need). Anything not covered or you need to know he'll answer for you. If you have a phone calling related business you need to follow him @givemestrength just for fun nomination but be warned he is rude and does swear ( in fact he swears a lot lol) However his irreverent humour ( cue a mocking tweet) amuses me and his rants are epic. Couple of half decent horse racing tips too;)

That's my lot for this week, next week my recommendations will be around what is dearest to me CARS

So thanks for the follows and have a great weekend

Cool bananas