Bobby Kerr is back with some expert business advice for SME employers and employees

The Pros and Cons Payment Up Front
First up this week is a query from a listener who owns a small gardening and landscaping business in the south east. Of late, he has been asking customers for 50% payment up front for big jobs as he has been burned in the past with customers not paying in full. He is concerned however hat this may also put customers off and is looking for Bobby’s advice on best business practice in this situation.
Bobby's Advice
The good news here is that there are big jobs coming in. Secondly, you should never feel bad for asking to be paid for a job that has been completed. I can see his concern about potentially putting customers off, but what I would say is that he might look at having different credit terms with different customer, depending on the nature of the job and the relationship that he has with that particular customer. If he is still concerned about this method, I would advise looking to see if there is actual evidence that he has lost any business as a result of this payment policy. I think he has the right attitude, and he needs to remember that it’s not a sale until he gets paid, and I think that sometimes, particularly in Ireland people tend to forget this. 
Playing the Pub Game
Brendan has been in touch and has just purchased a pub with this brother. The pub is located in a small Leinster town and has been a part of the local community for a number of years. They purchased the pub at a good price from NAMA and is looking for some advice from Bobby on the best way forward for the business. Brendan has an idea to introduce a new food menu, as well as craft beers and go down the gastro pub route to attract new customers. However, he is afraid that this approach may alienate the regular punters and the local community.   
Bobby's Advice
It’s great to see people taking on businesses in rural areas. Pubs are usually a huge part of the community and anything that Brendan can do to revamp and get punters in is great. I would definitely look at introducing food and craft beers. There are very few pubs/bars these days that do not serve food in some capacity. Craft beers are very popular and customers have become used to more choice when it comes to drinks. I think that food these days is almost a given, and the gastro pub has become almost a place of entertainment, and customers are looking for an experience in addition to good food and drink. What I would say to Brendan on the food side of things is make sure to cost up and install a proper kitchen and extraction. There’s nothing worse than entering a pub that smells of food. Another idea would be to install a snug, whereby the regular customers could spend their time. This would be a nice way to preserve the old way but also ushering in a new approach and attracting new customers.

For What It’s Worth
Last up this week is a query regarding the subject of salary, and how to negotiate when applying for a new role or renewing an existing contract. The query comes in anonymously from a listener who has been in a contract role for the past 7 months, which he obtained after graduating last October. As his current contract is coming to a close he will be seeking new roles in the coming weeks. He is looking for some expert advice when it comes to salary, and how to approach the question when asked about salary expectations and disclosing what he currently earns.
Bobby's Advice
This is a very interesting situation, and definitely one that most people have experienced in one form or another. I would be very cautious when approaching this. There are a lot of determining factors at play and it all comes down to how you pitch yourself. If asked in an interview about current salary, I would advise that honesty is the best policy. In saying this, it is always good to highlight salary expectations going forward. In this situation, knowledge is power. If you can get any insight into the position, or indeed if you know somebody within the company to give a steer on the salaries associated with such positions, this could be very useful when negotiating terms with the new employer. It’s also important to bear in mind that there are likely multiple candidates vying for the same role, who may have different expectations and this may help the interviewer in making their final decision. While interviewees are perfectly entitled to ask the question about salary ranges, it’s all about where you pitch yourself. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about the role, and the company, the better position you will be in to negotiate terms.
If you have a business or SME related query you would like answered - you can get in touch with Bobby each week by simply sending a short mail to [email protected]

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