Hello from a wet summer in the south-west of England.
We are currently working closely with a Gift Trade publication called Gift Focus Magazine where we have regular features on our current and upcoming products and campaigns.
One thing I am doing is to write an Answer to the Questions that are posed to the magazine in the area of Human Resource topics. 
You may or may not know that before I set up from you to me I spent over 20 years working in different HR roles in a variety of organisations including Ford Motor Company, Orange and the BBC. These roles included general HR management as well as specialist roles with responsibilities like Leadership and People development, Organisational development and also, the most interesting for me, helping to create the Brand culture of a business.
I do not proclaim to be an expert, but do have a lot of practical experience to offer in these areas so each month I try to answer one question posed by the readers of this magazine.
You can see more about this magazine at http://www.giftfocus.com/ and I have shared this month's Q&A below in case you want to see it.

Enjoy the summer!


Double Dip recession? More pressure on my business. So what steps can I take to make us more competitive and to gain more of our share of the limited funds people are spending?

This is never an easy answer and there are many things that a business needs to focus on to gain more market share, but one key aspect is your people and the feel they create in your shop.
Creating a business culture is important for any size business and we all know how great we feel when we get that amazing service from somewhere we where shop. 
A good example would be the restaurant that greets you on arrival and instantly takes your order for an apperitif. Number one upsell. The waiting staff are knowledgeable and understand the product and help you to decide on your order. They look after you, they build a relationship with you, they smile and maybe have a laugh with you, but they also understand when to leave you alone. They check back to see how you are getting on and they make sure they offer you dessert, coffees, digestifs - all further upsells.  The end result is that you have a fabulous time and the restaurant has cleverly increased your bill.
So what can you do to replicate this sort of service in your business? Think of your business as having its own personality. How do you want it to come across to your customers? What would make the difference to your customers recognising that not all your customers are the same?
Write down your description of this personality and then ask your whole team to join in. Do they agree with you? Can they add to it? Discuss why this personality is important and how it will encourage your customers to buy more, come back again and more importantly, tell their friends about the experience they had.
Compare yourselves to the ‘personality’ you see and feel in other similar businesses.
Once you have an agreement of the personality you want to portray – the next challenge is to identify the things you need to do and the steps you need to take, to make this personality come to life.
Step one is agreeing how you want to come across. Be proud of this and write it down for your team.
Step two is then helping each other to create this personality – showing each other what to try, training, discussing.  Remember to measure yourselves against it too.
As I said at the beginning, competitive advantage is made up of many factors – but never neglect the customer service and the people influence.