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Escalate case study one : contract dispute client (£107,000)

Background

We recently engaged a contract dispute case in which the client was owed £107,000. The dispute was a few years old and originally the client thought it was delayed/bad debt so they instructed their local solicitor to deal with the dispute. This was unsuccessful and resulted in the defendants counter claiming for £300,000 in attempt to scare the client.

The client tried to negotiate with the defendants and they were prepared to accept a 50% discount to get the matter resolved, but the defendant was unprepared and instead stated ‘take us to court then if you can’. At no point during the last few years has the claimant made any attempt to pursue the counter claim indicating that it was nothing more than a scare tactic.

The client then engaged a well known law firm in Birmingham to help them recover their £107,000 and this was taken on with the client being charged circa £25,000 in fees before the law firm advised that there was nothing more they could do for them and did not litigate because ‘the costs vs returns didn’t stack up’. So the client was left with no recovery, 2 years of lost time and fees incurred equal to 25% of the original claim.

How did Escalate help?

The client heard about Escalate and made contact with the team and we have subsequently engaged the case and are now pursuing. On the basis the client is happy for a 50% recovery (we are looking for 100% plus historic costs if possible), we are hopeful that we will be able to negotiate this through in path A, however we are very certain that if we can’t then the moment it drops into Path B then mediation/settlement will happen.

Why Escalate?

If you have a unresolved dispute, Escalate can help you to avoid wasting your time and money pursuing disputes with unsuccessful outcome.

Click here for more information or email escalate@bermans.co.uk to contact a member of the team.

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Escalate case study two: sports club construction dispute (£450,000+)

Background

A sports club sold off part of its land to a developer in return for the construction of a new club house on the remaining club’s land.

Construction costs over-ran, the developer walked off-site and would not return until additional funds were provided by the sports club to support the club house build. This resulted in a ‘stand-off’ that then saw lawyers instructed from both sides to try and resolve.

The case got stuck in a 12 month plus legal process that didn’t progress, other than to highlight the original weaknesses in the contract drafting which meant both sides had some form of potential argument to keep the lawyers going ‘backwards and forwards’.

The case had gained over £50,000 in legal costs before it stalled due to the sports club running out of money to pursue further. Their incumbent lawyer (national firm) was not comfortable in offering a conditional agreement but certainly were not prepared to cover disbursements. It was also unlikely that the case would have been able to get insurance for the adverse costs (After The Event Insurance) below £100,000 which would have made it prohibitive.

How did Escalate help?

The sports club heard about Escalate through their local accountant and transferred the case to us. Within 6 weeks a heads of term agreement was reached.

Through Escalate we were able to demonstrate that the case was now funded and insured to high court meaning the developer needed to do a deal or risk a significant cash gamble under the court.

Why Escalate?

If you have a unresolved dispute, Escalate can help you to avoid wasting your time and money pursuing disputes with unsuccessful outcome.

Click here for more information or email escalate@bermans.co.uk to contact a member of the team.

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Escalate case study three: marketing company share sale (£220,000)

Background

An entrepreneur sold her marketing company to a UK business with an American parent with the sum to be paid in three stages over a two year period. The final instalment of £220,000 was due in October 2016 but was never received. The previous 2 instalments had been received and there was no prior indication that there would be a problem with the final one.

Upon failure to receive the final payment, approaches were made to the American parent for justification and none were given accept a generic line of ‘breach of contract’.

The entrepreneur engaged legal support in the UK and also appointed lawyers in New York to explore ‘breach of contract’ and non-payment. Approximately £20,000 was spent in legal costs trying to understand the problem and recover the money, but nothing further than an extended previous position which now said ‘multiple breaches of contract’ but none were evidenced despite requests.

The entrepreneur had taken the view of not ‘throwing good money after bad’ and had decided to write off their final payment and sought advice from their accountant in relation to the tax treatment.

How did Escalate help?

The clients accountant informed them of Escalate and the case was engaged. Within 6 months the entrepreneur secured a recovery of £290,000.

Why Escalate?

If you have a unresolved dispute, Escalate can help you to avoid wasting your time and money pursuing disputes with unsuccessful outcome.

Click here for more information or email escalate@bermans.co.uk to contact a member of the team.

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Commercial Lease Review

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Client Focus Q&A: Checkd Media

We met up with Jamie Knowlson (right) CEO and Lee Struggles (left), Marketing Director at CheckdMedia for our latest Q&A.

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1. What is your business?

CheckdMedia is a privately-owned Social Marketing company, operating from Manchester city centre. We look to help brands engage with our established communities. We have several brands within our portfolio which are active across various social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as well as having their own websites. These are the tools we use to advertise our clients.

2. Which solicitors do you use at Bermans and how do we compare to other firms?

We established the relationship with Bermans back in 2012, from our experience of working with them they have been a great support to the business. We acquired Oddschanger in August this year and Robin Hastings & Jon Davage were extremely helpful in making the process efficient for both parties.

3. What are the biggest challenges you face in growing your business and maintaining profits?

Maintaining the growth we’ve achieved Y.O.Y. Each year the company has grown 40% Y.O.Y for the past 5 years. Looking ahead, Lee and I are trying to maintain that number whilst bringing in the right team members to contribute to that magic number.

4. Tell us about your typical working day?

Well each day is usually different but I usually get up at 6:30am and get a train in to work. I grab a bowl of porridge and check my emails before 8am. I like to get into the office before anyone else, just for a bit of thinking time and all that. Then my day is usually made up of meetings with the managers or potential new clients, I like to get involved in most areas of the business. Home for 6:30pm then it’s either, football training, dinner, pub or gym. Repeat 5 times a week!

5. Highlight for CheckdMedia over the last 12 months?

In the last 12 months we’ve seen 40% growth Y.O.Y, increased headcount by 42%, made an acquisition and taken on a number of new partners. We are creating a highly motivated and highly skilled team, and are employing people with great CV’s who can bring experience and make us a stronger unit. Our staff work extremely hard and we reward them with external events, such as a trip to Chester Race Day or Dublin which we laid on in 2017.

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6. What are the business plans for the year ahead?

Grow our communities, stickier content/technology and overseas!

7. Is there a sector or industry that you are strong in or looking to develop?

CheckdMedia is very strong on Social Media, it is one of our key channels, but we also have clear development plans for working in overseas markets. We launched our first white label in 2017 with a company in the Netherlands, which has been quite exciting so if that takes off that will be a focus

8. Do you find social media assists with your business and if so, how?

40% of our business is Social Media driven. The company was founded through Social Media and so it is a great asset to us and what we’re doing. I’d encourage all businesses to look at Social Media and see how it can benefit your business goals.

9. If you were chancellor, what single change would you make to help improve the economy and/or your business?

The uncertainty around Brexit is the single biggest “drag” on UK economic growth, it cannot be coincidental that before the Brexit vote, the UK had the fastest growing economy in the EU, and now has the slowest growing economy. The chancellor and the rest of the government should be focusing their efforts on negotiating the right Brexit for the UK, and communicating that to the wider public and business.

10. What are your passions away from business?

We both enjoy a round of golf or game of football. We are keen football fans and go to matches where possible, with one of us being a Liverpool supporter and the other following Sheffield Wednesday. Health and fitness in general is a big part of our lives, but we aren’t adverse to an evening in the pub either!

11. Do you have a business tip for our readers?

Work hard, set clear objectives and KPI’s, break down the key drivers to achieving those objectives, focus on them and how you will deliver them. Looking after the small items, ensures you don’t get distracted by what seems a big and scary objective at the top.

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WANT TO BE FEATURED NEXT TIME?

To feature your company in the next issue please contact our Marketing Assistant, Emma Bartram on 0151 224 0506 or email emma.bartram@bermans.co.uk

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Start collecting and investing in art

matthew

Matthew Palentine is a private Art Consultant from Manchester. Over the last five years he has worked with companies and private collectors from all over the world to build incredible investable art collections. In Spring 2018 he will be opening his first permanent gallery space in the heart of Manchester, exhibiting some of the most interesting artist of our generation.

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Bermans Social Media Masterclass with Tunafish Media

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On Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st June we were delighted to welcome Sam Jones, Managing Director of Tunafish Media ( pictured above), to our Manchester and Liverpool offices to deliver sessions on using social media for business.

The session started with some myth busting on B2B and social media. For example, by spending as little as six hours per week, 66% of B2B marketers see lead generation benefits through social media.

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Sam then shared his knowledge on 5 of the main social media platforms and we learnt some interesting facts in the process! (Please note, there are many more platforms out there and these should be selected to suit your industry and target audience.)

Twitter: 54% of users have taken an action once seeing a business named in a tweet (e.g. visited a website)

LinkedIN: Responsible for 80% of B2B online lead generation.

Facebook: 74% of users say that they use Facebook for professional purposes.

Medium: A personal publishing platform used for sharing your knowledge.

Quora: A platform to see what people are querying and use to create your own content.

Tunafish Media is an award winning creative social content agency based in Manchester and servicing the North West, who believe in generating ideas and content that gets results. They create content for use on social media platforms and your website that matches a business’s culture and speaks to their audience, in order to drive traffic and deliver results.

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If you are looking to take the first steps in social media or seeking to develop your social media offering get in contact. Sam would be happy to devise similar presentations or training for Bermans contacts.

CONTACT:

Email: s.jones@tunafishmedia.co.uk

Twitter: @SamJonesMCR

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Driving Faster

Tom Cheesewright is an Applied Futurist and the author of ‘The Book of the Future.’

His recent keynotes and talks have covered ‘The Future of Money’ (Finextra, London), ‘The Future Office’ (OPI, Amsterdam), ‘The Future of Language’ (ALTO, New York) and ‘How to Apply Futurism’ (Institute for Leadership and Management, London & Manchester).

In the media you can catch him most weeks on BBC TV and radio, across BBC Breakfast, 5live, Radio 4 and other local and national stations. He’s also featured in and worked on shows for Channel 4 (Sunday Brunch, In the Future, Home Hero), Channel 5 (Saturday Show) and Sky News, and been quoted in The Guardian and Entrepreneur Magazine (US).

He spends his time helping people and organisations to answer three questions:

  • What does our future hold?
  • How do we tell that story?
  • And what do we do about it?

He does this through consulting, speaking, writing, and the media, appearing on telly, on the radio, online and in print, explaining technology and tomorrow.

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When driving faster, look further ahead

The faster you’re travelling, the further ahead you need to look. When we get behind the wheel of a car, we all do this automatically. But we don’t seem to do it in business.

The reality is that all of us in business are travelling faster now. We may not notice it. The effects are subtle. There are no trees whizzing past the window to give us the impression of speed. But it’s there. Information flows faster. Disruption happens quicker. You can see it in everything from the speed of the delivery to your door, to the turnover on the stock market.

This places an imperative on every business leader to look further ahead. Not necessarily at the far horizon – the rate of disruption is so great that it is further clouding that already-unclear picture. But certainly beyond the next quarter or year.

Expand your field of view

Not only do we have to look further, we have to expand our field of view. To return to the driving analogy, we’re not on a long, straight motorway. We’re crossing a constant stream of intersections. Industries are colliding at an unprecedented rate. The threats to the safety of our journey do not come from our competitors coming up behind us. They come from the unexpected entrant to our lane, veering in from elsewhere.

Few – too few – leaders have gotten to grips with this new reality.

From a vision to a mission

I confess a level of self-interest here. This is what I do. I help businesses to see the future and expand their field of view. It’s called Applied Futurism. I’d like to do it for you. But even more, I’d like you to do it for yourself.

Because this belief in the need to look beyond has gone beyond a business proposition. It has become a mission. I genuinely believe the way that most people do business now is broken.
Firstly, we spend far too much time worrying about our competitors. To return again to my driving analogy, this is like watching your rear view mirror instead of the road ahead. You’re so focused on who might overtake you that you miss the turn that could put you on a much faster route.

Secondly, we spend all our time focused on incremental improvements when there’s an existential threat around the corner. This is like concentrating on your fuel economy when there’s a crash in front of you. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a few more MPG than your peers if you’re all headed for a pile-up.

Be a futurist

I can’t fix every business. But I can share what I’ve learned in the last five years working with organisations around the world to address these problems. That’s why I now license my knowledge to consultants and business leaders, so that they can address these problems in their own businesses and those of their clients. And I teach the tools I I’ve created to professionals on one-day courses at the University of Salford.

Whether you choose to use my tools or not, I’d urge you to do this: next time you get in the driving seat of your business, stop and look up. Look ahead, not one year but two, three, five. Look around. Look to your left and to your right, at your customers, at the businesses you interact with at home and think: what could these people, their processes, their technologies, do to my industry and my business?

Look ahead and then act. Make change. Steer around that potential crash. Be the first to take that new route.

Tom writes about the future at https://bookofthefuture.co.uk. You can find out more about his consulting and speaking at http://tomcheesewright.com. And licence his tools or book a place on his courses at http://futurism-tools.com.

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Client Focus Q&A: Steve Barber

We met up with Steve Barber (pictured below), Managing Director of Bridging Finance Solutions, an independent finance house providing short term property finance solutions to individuals, investors, property developers, professional advisors and intermediaries for our latest client focus Q&A.

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1. What is your business?

Bridging Finance Solutions is a premier independent finance house providing short term property finance solutions to individuals, investors, property developers, professional advisors and intermediaries.

All of our loans are secured on residential property for between 1 and 12 months, from £25,000 to £5m. We are fully regulated by the FCA and we are able to lend to individuals, partnerships and companies throughout England and Wales.

As principal lenders, we lend our own funds, which means we can offer our clients flexibility and a speed of service which we consider that you will rarely find elsewhere. We pride ourselves on fast, consistent decision making and are totally committed to transparency, clarity and the retention of the administration to a necessary minimum.

The company’s ethos is to provide the best possible service. Our success is based on our reputation for speed, flexibility and personal approach delivered with care and courtesy.

We specialise in Short Term Finance for Fast Property Purchase, Refurbishment Funding, Auction Finance, Immediate Capital Raising for all purposes whilst property is sold or refinanced and Development Finance. We often compliment the banks and long term funders to get deals done quickly, often within 7-10 days, whilst long term funding is arranged.

2. Which solicitors do you use at Bermans?

Our principal point of contact is Fergal O’Cleirigh and we have had our cases looked after by Guy Pattison, Andrew Palmer and Melanie Morris. Nicky Benson looks after our HR and we have also been advised on various corporate matters over recent years.

3. What are the biggest challenges you face in growing your business and maintaining profits?

The short term finance sector is very price sensitive sector and our principal drive is to deliver transparency of pricing to all clients which genuinely adds value to projects. Over 40% of our loans are to repeat clients which is testament to this, along with an increasing number of referrals from professional advisors.

4. Tell us about your typical working day?

We are very client focused organisation and by definition need to be ‘fleet of foot’ and react quickly to our client’s requirements so no individual day is typical. One thing that can be assured as typical, however, is that days are long, particularly when working to a deadline which requires co-ordination of several parties …

5. What has been a highlight for your business over the last 12 months?

The growth and development of an extremely professional, client focused and experienced team alongside considerable growth in the size of the business, which has seen turnover double for the past three consecutive years.

6. What are your plans for your business for the year ahead?

Bridging Finance continues to retain an out dated stigma of ‘lender of last resort’ and ‘expensive’. Much of our growth has been based around education of finance brokers and professional advisors who are increasingly seeing the use of bridging as a mainstream and commercially viable solution to clients requirements, often complimenting a long term funding solution. This education process continues to be central to our growth plans for the coming year and we have invested heavily in IT to ensure that we continue to offer the same personal service as the business continues to grow.

7. Is there a sector or industry that you are strong in or looking to develop opportunities?

Whilst we have funded refurbishment and conversion projects for many years, we launched a development finance product this year, specifically aimed at schemes less than £2m in the North West. These schemes often fall under the radar of large financial institutions who perhaps do not have a strong appetite for these smaller schemes, and that often need to be completed very quickly to secure the best available terms for the client. We believe that this product fits into a growth area in which we are seeing considerable demand and hope to develop on.

8. Do you find social media assists your business and if so, how?

We use social media to raise the awareness of our brand and keep clients and advisors up to date on products, case studies and networking events. I think it is difficult to measure the tangible benefits other than the adage of ‘out of sight…out of mind.’

9. If you were chancellor, what single change would you make to help improve the economy and/or your business?

I would stagger corporation tax rates to encourage the growth and development of the SME sector, by way of investment and growth incentives.

10. What are your passions away from business?

I have a 9 year old son whose social activities tend to keep me occupied as a taxi driver, but I am also a keen fell walker and runner and take part in a number of endurance challenge events….slowly. I am also a keen follower of all sports and we are a principle sponsor of Tranmere Rovers FC locally.

11. Do you have any business tips to share with our readers?

Leave enough money in a deal for the next person……

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To feature your company in the next issue please contact our Marketing Assistant, Emma Bartram on 0151 224 0506 or email emma.bartram@bermans.co.uk

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Client Focus Q&A: Gnatta

We met up with Jack Barmby (pictured below), Founder & CEO of multichannel customer interaction company, Gnatta, to find out about his typical working day, business challenges, and what he would do if he was chancellor.

Jack graduated in 2014 and has been focused on learning the keys to disruptive growth. His background comes in the form of social media consultancy during his University studies, and since has paved the way to re-imagine and reshape the way businesses and customers talk to each other through the use of Gnatta. This, as well as growing an outsourcing customer service team of 350, FM Outsource and Gnatta give businesses all around the UK and the world the ability to connect with their customers more effectively than ever.

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1. What is your business?

Gnatta is a web based application that let’s businesses deliver a more intelligent customer service solution. We act as a thin layer between the customer and the customer service team to help ensure the business is answering the right customers at the right time. Focused on large scale customer service operations, Gnatta will automate a large part of the information gathering and routing that teams would otherwise have to facilitate, letting the advisors focus wholly on the customer query, helping provide a service that works for the customer and the business.

2. Which solicitors do you use at Bermans and how do we compare to other firms?

We’ve been working with Jon Davage as part of our demerger. Jon and the team have been phenomenal with quick turnaround and a really high standard of work.

3. What are the biggest challenges you face in growing your business and maintaining profits?

For us it’s all about sales. From day one we’ve been a product first business focused on delivering a product that is ahead of the market, fit for purpose and can wow our clients. Where we’ve spent a lot less time is in developing our sales pipeline; profits have been invested back into product development but our sales strategy as yet, hasn’t matured. We’re profitable and are making a product fit for the market and a leader in its sector, but to continue to grow we need to find the right people that need the solution we provide.

4. Tell us about your typical working day?

It’s a mix of helping resolve BAU issues with clients, speaking with new prospects and thinking about the strategic direction going forward. As a quick developing team, most of my time is taken up in helping keep everybody focussed and keep the team working synchronously as we continue to grow.

5. What has been a highlight for Gnatta over the last 12 months?

As a product first team, it’s got to be some of the features we’ve implemented. We’ve had some great clients wins including Missguided and ASOS, but we’ve been really excited about our AI functionality that we can start rolling out to our customers. AI is a new endeavour for businesses, and our take on it is going to be a real game changer; we can implement AI to get involved in the customer journey only in very specific scenarios to make the customer journey slicker. For example, let’s say you want to know where your order is, the bot will ask you for DPA information instantly, and once it has it (or can’t get it) it’ll pass that to a team member to give you the personalised service. Customer wins, business wins.

6. What are your plans for Gnatta for the year ahead?

We’ve got a great product, but we’re never as far ahead as we’d like to think and so the answer must come in two parts. Firstly, we need to keep developing new, exciting things that wow people, because if we’re not doing it, someone else out there is. Secondly we need to mature our sales process and get some new clients involved and on board; we know we can provide something truly innovative and we’d love the opportunity to show what we can do to more businesses.

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7. Is there a sector or industry that you are strong in or looking to develop opportunities?

We’ve had great success in fashion retail and would love to develop into other retail sectors. Any business who has a strong digital presence on multiple channels would benefit from using Gnatta.

8. Do you find social media assists your business and if so, how?

Certainly! A big arm of what we provide is a platform for businesses to speak to their customer via social. One of our focuses is the impact of social for businesses. As a medium to let a customer vent, compliment, berate or otherwise a business or product with no barriers or say from the business, it impacts everyone in a massive way.

9. If you were chancellor, what single change would you make to help improve the economy and/or your business?

I’d love to implement a system where startups had access to development resource. Big businesses would be obliged to contribute a small portion of their development resource to small start ups (validated by the system first, of course) to give them chance to get their ideas off the ground. How many people do you know with a great idea that will never have the capital of attraction to get the right talent to get a prototype? Imagine the number great ideas would crop up if the barriers to entry in terms of development resource were lowered.

10. What are your passions away from business?

I’ve always had a big swimming background, so I like keeping fit. That aside, I yoyo between reading socioeconomic behavioural books and epic fantasties (not the classic combo), spending time with friends and family and networking with like minded guys and girls.

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Whether you’re looking to better understand and listen to your customers, improve your customer experiences across all channels, seeking a third party customer service provider or planning a social engagement campaign, contact Gnatta:

t: 0333 344 0659

e:jack@gnatta.com

w: www.gnatta.com

Twitter: @Gnatta

Connect on: LinkedIn

WANT TO BE FEATURED NEXT TIME?

To feature your company in the next issue please contact our Marketing Assistant, Emma Bartram on 0151 224 0506 or email emma.bartram@bermans.co.uk

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