Social media could go ‘viral’ …

0833-business-1100021594-10182013Nearly a year ago we made the point that like it or not, social media is here to stay. Some folk use it much more than others – either as tools to help their business, others, merely as a means to stay in touch with gossip and frivolous communications with friends.

One person (and maybe there are others too) use it as a form or revenge to vent their ire on bad or non-existent service. The case in point is when a Bristol graphic designer ordered and paid for a PS3 console from a Gumtree advertiser but his item never arrived. And when he couldn’t get hold of the ‘seller’ he realized he’d been conned out of his money. The police felt that there was little hope of ever catching the conman so Mr Joseph used his unlimited O2 contract to extract his revenge by sms. Having the conman’s mobile number he merely copied and pasted the entire works of Shakespeare into one message and sent it to him – all with one click. Mr Joseph’s iPhone automatically breaks the message down in over 29 000 messages of 160 words and merrily sends them on their way.

So if you happen to spot a Gumtree ad where someone is selling a “fully functional mobile that recites all Shakespeare’s plays” perhaps it would be the conman trying to relieve himself of an sms deluge.

One of the most well-known, some would say notorious, sites that people consult about checking on good and bad experiences, is Tripadvisor. Laughing Buddha owner Jin Cheng tells of how he spent years building his reputation on Tripadvisor but seems to have only negative reviews now owing to his ‘losing it’ with his customers and having 43 patrons walk out en masse without paying after the row over service. Police have commented that it is a ‘civil matter’ – some might suggest to the Kent Police that events were decidedly uncivil.

So with the Laughing Buddha’s decided lack of humour going viral in the most negative way, consider how a social media trend has had the opposite result and raised over £8m for charity. The idea of ladies with no make up,  posting ‘selfies’ on the internet was the unique idea of Fiona Cunningham. But it went further by her urging some friends to make a donation to a cancer charity when posting a ‘bare-faced’ picture and then issuing a challenge to some other friends. She said she was inspired by Kim Novak’s decision not to wear make up to the Oscars and she just took it further.

The recent good news the Chancellor declared also went viral – the news that the alcohol duty escalator was scrapped and the price of beer coming down spread pretty rapidly. The news was being ‘Tweeted’ as it happened so those sitting in pubs and following events knew about it straight away and probably ordered a celebratory pint immediately.

Jon Rutter and the team of professional stocktakers welcome this news with their customers – and they are also working on getting their own “How our stocktaking service can help YOU!” video on YouTube to spread the word too.

It seems that using social media is the effective way to share all types of information, not at all “Much ado about nothing,” it’s more about dealing with a tempest. We have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more, is there a social media platform named ‘Shrew‘ yet?

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This £ is genuine, Guv – it has 12 sides to it!

Image: Chris (chidsec)

Image: Chris (chidsec)

Over the centuries there has been the cry for education – and that it will make a difference. It will be the factor that allows one to move forward. To be successful. But even with 17 GCSE’s it didn’t stop a young lass from Blackpool looking like a right plonker!

Her ‘education’ saw her referring to the President of the USA as ‘Barraco Barner’ but she blamed this misnomer as a fault with the predictive text function on her mobile phone. As one does. She was also quick to point out that politics was not her strong suit. But that she had gone ahead anyway and voiced a political thought on ‘something that wasn’t her strong suit’ could point to the idea that young folk are trying to become more politically aware especially with an election coming up in the next year. 

One wonders what names she’ll assign to the current crop of politicians sitting in Westminster – Cameron Davies, or Edmund Miller?

It’s a very good thing that spreadsheets and accounting packages don’t have predictive text – or maybe they do – if you glance at the comparison prices recently revealed in the latest supermarket war. The poor stocktakers must be tearing their hair out at the way things change. Morrisons have slashed the price of certain foods, forcing others to follow suit in order to stay competitive.

And the consumers raised a collective cheer!

However, the downside for the consumers is that they might have to supermarket-hop in order to take full advantage of the lower prices. These days most shoppers are too street-wise to fall for the ‘loss-leader’ strategy implemented years ago that attracted customers with really low prices on selected items only to catch them on the other things they chucked in their trolleys that were much dearer than in other shops. This was the way things levelled out for the supermarkets and they continued to make profits. But looking at the price comparison charts it appears Lidl and Aldi still have the lower prices.

Some changes take longer than others. The £1 coin is going to change …. but not yet …. only in 2017. Her Majesty approved the change yesterday but one wonders why it takes so long to make a new one? After all, the artwork and mock-ups are done, George Osborne didn’t take the Queen a rough pencil sketch to approve did he? And the reason for the change is apparently the new coin will be harder to copy. So the chaps circulating the counterfeit ones have another 3 years to ‘make hay’ so to speak.

Of course not everyone is happy with the proposed new coin. A whole phalanx of Councils and vending machine owners are already saying the thicker coin will mean they have to modify their machines at huge cost. But people like Jon Rutter and other forward thinkers who know about keeping up with technology and trends will be advocating using things like apps, smart phones, pre-paid credits and scanners to pay for things that vending machines vend. If they’re going to change the machines they might as well change them to the type of technology that can handle future changes ad infinitum instead of just making the slots bigger.

And seeing as they have three years before the new twelve-sided pound hits the streets, they’d better get on with it! Let’s see who starts innovating – could this be a “Dragons Den” opportunity?

“Does my bum look big on this bar stool?”

vegetablesA recent Oxfam report indicates that the Netherlands is the best place to eat. But before all the gastronomes rush to cross the Channel from the country in 13th position (Britain) the report is not referring to the quality of the restaurants. No, the study is taking all kinds of other factors into account like access to food and produce, affordability, and diet-related diseases etc. It’s referring to ‘healthiest diet.’ Other countries in the top 12 were Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Australia, Luxembourg and Portugal.

But the report indicates that the Dutch show tendencies towards obesity with nearly 20% of the population having a BMI (body mass index) of more than 30. In case you didn’t know, the ideal BMI is between 18 and 25. But just how the average person measures this is not made clear … “he looks like a 23 to me.”

“Never! Much closer to a 20… hardly any wobble at all!”

The good news for those who are watching their calorie count is that the JD Wetherspoon chain have made it easy to pop down to the pub and have a meal of under 500 calories. They haven’t limited the calorie count on their drinks yet, so it’s up to the diner to watch that part of their intake. Their dishes sound quite appetizing – not at all like a friend who was on a 500 calorie-per-dish diet and remarked that the pile of leaves on his plate served up by his missus didn’t look like it was enough to keep a slug happy!

Hopefully the kitchen staff in the Wetherspoon pubs have one of those ultra sensitive Blumenthal-style scales that measures everything to the grain. All they need is someone in their eating area whipping out their own Propoints scale and checking that their Caeser salad (sans bacon) is not a fraction over “the allowance for the day” and then kicking up a fuss. One wonders whether ‘calorie count’ is in Jon Rutter’s stocktaker’s brief when they comment on profit margins and discuss ways of maximising value.

More good news (of sorts) for punters is that the Government plan to extend opening hours beyond the final whistle when England play in the World Cup. (Remember the concern a while back about closing times and the relationship to when England play their matches in Brazil?) The curve ball regarding the relaxing of the hours the pubs can stay open is that the Whitehall spokesman said that they have allowed for England being in penalty shoot-outs. Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to that!

And for those pubs who don’t have sports channels to share football or other sports with their customers, Money-Makers have come up with some ideas of pulling in more business. One is that you could install a cinema room in your pub to keep the kids happy and occupied while mum and dad socialize with friends (… or weigh their salads). Another idea is to introduce ‘tribute dishes’ that let you share favourite meals or cuisines that famous people enjoyed. These, and other ideas have already been implemented by some establishments and they can attest to their success. Reports are that some of these moves “stimulate customer interest and also generate strong emotional attachment to the pub.”

If England have to go to penalties at 1 in the morning it would be hard to imagine what the “Roy Hodgson tribute meal” might be. The “strong emotional attachment” to certain pubs might backfire on the landlords!

Two iced teas and a ginger tom, please …

(Update: the butcher in Sudbury who was pressured by one person to remove his dead animal display from the window of his butcher shop has received so much support and encouragement from the local residents and businesses that he has put the display back up. The local businesses say that his display actually brings visitors to the area to see it and that there is a spin-off of increased sales to the neighbouring shops. It’s good to know that one complainer has basically been told to mind their own business – or words to that effect.)

Kiddy Kat 1There were two situations that caught the attention of the courts recently, and possibly also the attention of some stocktakers.

The first was the case of the ‘greasy-fingered’ McDonald’s customer. Mr Lucas is suing Ronald McD for $1.5 million because they neglected to give him more than one napkin and the incident caused him so much mental anguish he is now unable to work. Was that Californian McDonalds trying to save some costs on their overheads by cutting down on their paper napkins? Was it a suggestion from their stocktaker or Franchise holder? We’ll probably never know as unsurprisingly, they have declined to comment on the incident.

The other case was probably where a stocktaker (we have to blame someone) urged the management of an Essex school to make tomato ketchup freely available. So available that it was lining the corridors – or that’s how it sounds. One teacher was awarded £230,000 because he wasn’t looking where he was going and he slipped and hurt himself as he walked out the staffroom. With that type of payout, perhaps the rest of the staff will now diligently be looking for any stray sachets of tomato paste so they can also ‘hit the jackpot’ so to speak. And they said teaching wasn’t dangerous!

In other news, it is probably a first for some professional stocktakers like Jon Rutter and his team if they were asked to add ‘cat food’ and ‘kitty litter’ to their restaurant customer’s inventory. What has been popular for years in the Far East has arrived in London – the first ‘cat café’ where customers can have their cake and tea while cuddling a cat at the same time. And it seems to be very popular too, seeing as their website crashed from booking enquiries within hours of it opening. The owner does say that she is unable to own a cat herself where she lives – so I suppose the next best thing is to stock up with moggies at work. The cats are ‘resident’ so anyone wanting to visit can’t BYO (and if Jon Rutter does happen to visit there he would be well advised not to take Unique Billy with him – it could cause a bit of a stir)!

Hopefully, no one allergic to cats will visit either – it would be a test case if Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium were to be sued by someone because they had started sneezing uncontrollably as a result of the décor.