Sometimes, to get something truly unique and innovative, all you have to do is turn what already
exists on its head. World barista champion (i.e espresso making champion) Gwilym Davies issues a Disloyalty card to
his customers which encourages them to try out different coffee houses in the surrounding area. Once they’ve had
their card stamped or signed in 8, they can come back to Gwilym’s place and get a free coffee.
The key to this of course, is getting the other coffee houses to participate in the same scheme. The end result
will inevitably be more coffee drunk and more profit for all concerned.
This is a concept which can easily be adapted to other markets. Might you be able to get together with some of your
competitors to do the same?
How To Get
Out Of Debt
It's a slow day in a little North Yorkshire town. The sun is beating
down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit. On
this particular day a rich tourist from down south is driving through town. He stops at the motel and lays a
£100 in cash on the desk saying he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the
As soon as the man walks upstairs, the owner grabs the cash and runs
next door to pay his debt to the butcher.
The butcher takes the £100 and runs down the street to repay his
debt to the pig farmer.
The pig farmer takes the £100 and heads off to pay his bill at the
supplier of feed and fuel.
The guy at the Farmer's Co-op takes the £100 and runs to pay his
debt to the local prostitute, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer her "services" on
The hooker rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill with the
The hotel proprietor then places the £100 back on the counter so the
rich traveller will not suspect anything.
At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the
£100, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town.
No one produced anything. No one earned
However, the whole town is now out of debt and now looks to the
future with a lot more optimism.
Lots of investors aim to buy into shares which not only rise in
value but, sometimes overlooked, pay decent dividends too. I was interested to read an article this morning
from IFA Online which focuses on this; ‘Dividends provide the ultimate sign of a company's financial
discipline and its commitment to shareholder value.’
Those investors who want consecutive dividend increases year-on-year have a limited number of companies to choose
from. In the UK, there are five companies with 25 year track records of consecutive dividend increases: Tesco,
Halma, PZ Cussons, Royal Dutch Shell and Greggs. The US has 92 including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and
Johnson & Johnson.
As IFA Online states, ‘These ‘dividend achievers' have significantly outperformed the market. During the last
decade when the return from US equities was negative overall the average return from the US dividend achievers was
positive in terms of capital appreciation - not just positive, they have risen by 90 per
Steve Latto, head of pensions at Alliance Trust Savings, suggests
that it’s a good idea to just spend some time comparing pension costs. "People spend a lot of time analysing
the cost of their car insurance, yet they might only save £50 a year. But they may not realise that they can
also switch to a cheaper pension provider and save hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds a year, which could
easily translate to an income in retirement 20 per cent higher,"
Let me share a startling fact with you - according to Money Management, an annual management fee of just 1.5 per
annum on your pension can knock as much as 40 per cent off the value of your pension pot over its lifetime.
Cavendish Online, as just one example, cuts the cost of many personal pensions by 0.36 per cent per annum;
potentially, a big saving over the lifetime of the pension. Of course, and please note carefully, this is a
highly specialised area and there are many ifs, buts and maybes and you must take professional advice before doing
anything. But do take advice as you may be losing a heck of a lot of money in charges.
Shares guru Tom Winnifrith offers his view on where next for gold.
‘The fact is that gold is being driven by fundamentals. On the supply side for the past ten years, shortfalls
in production have been met by sustained selling by the central banks of the west who were - for reasons we
cannot comprehend - keen to switch into dollars and euros. The central banks of the west have now stopped
selling but still production declines.’
‘Meanwhile the central banks of the world's growing economies in Asia are buying gold heavily as are their
increasingly wealthy populations. And who can blame them. Why should they buy euros when the evidence of the
structural flaws in that currency grows by the day? And why buy dollars as the US prepares to embark on yet another
bout of quantitative easing (QE).’
‘The issue of the dollar is interesting. Short-to-medium term QE is bound to cause further weakness. Our view,
however, is that the greenback is now in long-term decline. The US is simply spending beyond its means with the
twin deficits (trade and state) at alarming levels and widening. Right now the trade deficit is being offset by
China buying dollar assets but for how long will it continue?’
‘At some stage buying dollar denominated assets has to be viewed more as an act of charity rather than a sound
economic proposition. If the Chinese start selling dollar assets just imagine what will happen to the dollar. It is
a when and not an if. We maintain our view that anyone without any gold exposure in their portfolio is crackers and
that the best way to maximise on that is with a carefully selected portfolio of UK, ASX and TSX mid caps and high
quality juniors. We suggest visiting www.t1psim.com’
I've been sent some bumph about the Viceroy, a condominium complex
in Miami which has sold something like 300 of its 400 units since January. I'll quote. 'The math is
seductive: Prices at the Viceroy are roughly 52 per cent off the 2007 peak. Units once sold for as much as
$670 a square foot. Today, the average price is $319. The idea is to rent out the properties and then sell
them once the economy turns around.'
Sounds sensible enough but I do wonder where the exit strategy is going to be when, by and large, 300 to 400 units
come to the market at the same time. You see, the buyers are, for the most part, not local - 'investors from as far
as Argentina, Canada, Colombia, France and Israel, Italy, Norway and Venezuela make up almost 90 per cent of the
buyers.' So where's the exit strategy? Something to think about!