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Manage Seasonal Fluctuations

In business, seasonal fluctuations refer to the peaks and troughs in demand that correspond with different times of year. Most SMEs will experience this at some point, but certain industries can be subject to greater variations due to the nature of their trade. This is especially important during this time with the coronavirus pandemic effecting most businesses nationwide.

The upside is that these shifts are usually predictable, which allows companies to plan ahead and put measures in place to ensure they can fulfil customer requirements however as people and businesses are now learning, it’s not always that easy. It is prudent to review what your business can do to manage cyclical demand effectively.

Here are a few things you can do to control changes in the economic market.

Manage cash flow

During peak seasons, try to reserve cash for the quieter months so you have sufficient funds available all year round or in times of need. Aim to plan at least six months ahead by using historic sales data to forecast levels of supply and demand, although, cases like this are hard to predict. This will help you to better recognise trends in consumer behaviour and account for this in your sales projections.

Control inventory

Regularly monitoring levels of stock can reduce wastage and therefore save costs. Coincide orders with peak periods, so your company does not have surplus stock when business is slow.  

Identify workforce needs

Establish how many employees you need in any given shift, month or season to maximise efficiency and organise staff contracts to reflect business levels. Employing temporary staff can provide additional support during busier periods and this strategy can also keep costs down during quieter months. This may apply to supermarkets and the NHS during this period when they need as much support as possible.

Review payment terms

Long payment terms and overdue client invoices can put a strain on your cash flow. Requesting shorter credit periods may prompt customers to pay for goods and services quicker, giving you adequate working capital to continue trading.

Tips for improving your HGV’s fuel efficiency

Whilst you can’t control the price of fuel, you can control the amount you use with these driving tips for better fuel efficiency.

HGVs can guzzle up fuel, which isn’t only bad for your business’ budget, but also for the environment.

HGV drivers can learn to improve their vehicle’s fuel efficiency by making a few simple changes to their driving habits, here’s how.

Use cruise control

Most modern HGVs are equipped with a cruise control function for keeping the vehicle running at a constant speed. Reducing unnecessary fluctuations using cruise control can help you to save a significant amount of fuel.

Plan the route

Careful route planning can help you to get from a to b quickly and efficiently, preventing you from using unnecessary fuel whilst getting lost and taking detours. It can also help you to avoid routes featuring sharp inclines which require more fuel to navigate.

Reduce speed

The speed that you drive at can have a significant impact on the amount of fuel that your HGV uses. Studies have shown that reducing your speed to an average of 50mph on the motorway can help to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20%!

Don’t idle

Whilst it may be tempting, particularly on very cold days, to keep your engine idling and your heater and radio switched on when you are stationery, this is one of the worst ways to waste fuel!

Avoid braking sharply

Hitting the brakes sharply and rapidly accelerating can both eat up fuel far faster than driving at consistent, steady speeds. Simply paying closer attention to what is happening ahead of you on the road and anticipating when to brake sooner can make for a smoother ride, use less fuel, and reduce the risk of an accident.

Sometimes, if you’re driving a very old HGV, then the most effective way of increasing its fuel efficiency is to upgrade to a newer model.

If you require financial help or advice with upgrading your HGV, speak to our team here at Richmond Asset Finance by giving us a call on 0113 288 3277. We provide a range of flexible vehicle finance and asset finance services.

Should I buy a used mini excavator?

If you’re thinking about investing in a mini excavator, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to buy new or used.

Mini excavators have quickly become a must-have piece of machinery in the construction industry.

They offer the same level of performance as their larger counterparts, but on a smaller scale and with added benefits.

The biggest advantage of the mini excavator is its compact size, which allows for excellent manoeuvrability, even in tight spaces. Generally, they are also more affordable, fuel efficient, and easier to operate than wheeled, tracked or truck-mounted excavators.

New or used?

When buying a mini excavator, you may be able to save a significant amount off the initial price by buying used. This will also help you to avoid the cost of the vehicle’s initial depreciation, which can be as much as 20 to 40% in the first 12 months.

If you do decide that buying used is the right route for your business, then it’s important to do your research and know exactly what to look for when shopping for a used mini excavator to ensure that you’re getting a good deal.

What to look for in a used mini excavator

Before investing in a used mini excavator you’ll want to ensure that the machine has been well cared for, maintained, and still has plenty of life left in it.

Bear in mind that mini excavators generally have a maximum of about 10,000 hours of usage in them, and that’s only if they’ve been well maintained and not run into the ground.

Most experts will advise you to only buy a used mini excavator with fewer than 2,000 hours on the clock to ensure that you get your money’s worth from it.

A thorough inspection should be carried out on the mini excavator to check for signs of leaks, rust, excessive wear, dents, and repair welds, all of which could signal that there are problems with the vehicle.

If you require help or advice with financing a mini excavator for your business, speak to our team here at Richmond Asset Finance. We provide a range of flexible vehicle finance and asset finance services to help you to grow your business. To discuss your requirements in more detail, give our team a call on 0113 288 3277.

How to protect your tractor from theft

Your tractor is one of your farm’s most valuable and useful pieces of machinery, so it’s important to protect it from thieves.

Last year, rural crime in Britain hit a seven-year high, with theft of farm vehicles and livestock costing the UK £50m according to the insurance company NFU Mutual.

The report found that the sharp rise in rural crime was mainly caused by a huge increase in theft of tractors, quad bikes and farm vehicles, which rose by 26% between 2018 and 2019.

Tractors and other farm vehicles are often targeted by thieves because they have been left unsecured in an isolated and remote location, making them easy targets.

A stolen tractor is not only very expensive to replace, it will also cost your farm business in downtime as well as causing you a headache.

Don’t leave your tractor or other valuable farm vehicles unsecured, use the following tips to protect them from criminals.

Always store your tractor indoors

Where possible, always store your tractor in a locked building. Not only will this make it harder for thieves to access it, it will also help to maintain its condition and extend its lifespan.

Secure your boundaries

Don’t leave your perimeter open to thieves, install a high fence to make access more difficult. If your property is too large to install a boundary around the whole thing, then ensure that the area or building that your tractor is stored in is secured by a fence.

Use a wheel clamp

Always fit a wheel lock on your tractor when it is not in use to prevent thieves from driving it away.

Fit an alarm and tracking device

Fitting your tractor with a motion-detector alarm is an effective way of deterring criminals and preventing theft.

Security mark your vehicles

Use a service like DataTag to get a unique security ID to mark your tractor with, making it easy to identify if it is ever stolen.

If you require help or advice with financing a new tractor, speak to our team here at Richmond Asset Finance. We provide a range of flexible agricultural finance services to help you to grow your business. To discuss your requirements in more detail, give our team a call on 0113 288 3277.

Maintenance tips to prolong your tractor’s lifespan

Your tractor is likely to be one of your business’ most expensive assets, so it’s important to take the time to care for it to extend the lifespan of your investment.

These quick and simple tractor maintenance tasks can help to keep your tractor running costs down and prevent damage to prolong your tractor’s lifespan.

Regular inspections

One of the most important things you can do to look after your tractor is take the time to inspect its condition regularly. This will help you to spot any signs of wear or damage early on and take steps to repair it and prevent further damage. Check your tractor’s manufacturer’s manual for advice on how frequently it requires servicing and specific maintenance tasks to be carried out.

Store in a dry place

When your tractor is not in use it should always be stored in a dry place where it is protected from the elements. Being exposed to moisture for prolonged periods can cause your tractor’s parts to rust and corrode, causing damage and shortening its lifespan.

Clean the air filter

Your tractor stirs up a lot of dirt and dust as it is working, so it’s important to keep any eye on its air filters and clean them regularly. Blocked air filters can cause a build up of debris to gather on your tractor’s internal components, causing them to fail and shortening your tractor’s lifespan.

Top up the oil and coolant

Your tractor requires coolant to prevent it from overheating and oil to lubricate its moving parts. Without either of these liquids you could find yourself faced with expensive damage to your tractor’s engine. Create a maintenance schedule to help you to remember to check the levels of these important fluids regularly and top them up when necessary.

Check the tyre pressure

Without the right level of tyre pressure your tractor could end up working harder than it needs to. Check what the correct tyre pressure is in the manufacturer’s manual and get into the habit of checking the pressure regularly to keep your tractor operating efficiently and protect it from damage.

If you require help or advice with financing a new tractor, speak to our team here at Richmond Asset Finance. We provide a range of flexible agricultural finance services to help you to grow your business. To discuss your requirements in more detail, give our team a call on 0113 288 3277.

Benefits of wheeled excavators over truck-mounted excavators

Could upgrading from a truck-mounted excavator to a wheeled excavator make your business more efficient?

Wheeled excavators are easy and affordable to operate and transport from one area to another. They are ideal for use in a variety of fields including forestry, construction, farming, landscaping and demolition. Their mobility also makes them an attractive choice for small contractors.

The core functionality of a wheeled excavator is just the same as a truck-mounted excavator, but instead of being mounted onto a truck they move around independently on their own wheels.

Long-term cost savings – Whilst the initial outlay for a wheeled excavator tends to be a little higher than for a truck-mounted one, they offer more long-term savings as they don’t require additional vehicles or machinery to move them from one site to another. Fuel costs for transporting a wheeled excavator are usually lower than a truck-mounted excavator too.

Increased lift capacity – Wheeled excavators typically have a better lift capacity than truck-mounted excavators, particularly when using a two-piece articulated boom.

Movability – Rather than having to be transported by a large, lumbering truck, wheeled excavators can simply be driven across the site or on the road from one location to the next, usually by the same person who operates them. The small and nimble size of the wheeled excavator also makes it more agile and manoeuvrable when working on-site, allowing it to work efficiently in tight spaces.

Versatility – Wheeled excavators are available with a variety of different attachments, including the mono-boom, two-piece boom, dozer blade, rototilt, cleanout bucket, and outrigger. The huge variety of attachments available for wheeled excavators makes them extremely versatile and reduces the need to invest in multiple machines.If you require help or advice with financing an excavator, speak to our team here at Richmond Asset Finance. We provide a range of flexible vehicle finance and asset finance services to help you to grow your business. To discuss your requirements in more detail, give our team a call on 0113 288 3277.

5 reasons to invest in a mini excavator

Are you using your excavator to its full potential, or could you do the same job using a mini excavator?

Mini excavators are practical, affordable and hassle-free pieces of machinery.

Whilst they’re not always suitable for largescale jobs, if you can get away with using a mini excavator over a bigger wheeled, tracked or truck-mounted excavator then there are plenty of benefits to be had.

Manoeuvrability

The mini excavator is the perfect piece of machinery for working in small or tight spaces. It offers the same level of performance as a larger excavator but in a more compact and practical design. The small size of the mini excavator makes it nimble and agile on-site and means transportation is simple and hassle-free.

Easy to operate

Mini excavators tend to be very simple and intuitive to operate, reducing the amount of time required to train an operative to use the machinery and minimising the risk of errors being made.

Cost-saving

Mini excavators are more affordable to purchase and operate than their larger counterparts. They also offer higher fuel efficiency and lower fuel costs. Their relative ease of operation means training operatives will cost your business less time and money. 

More environmentally-friendly

The small size and increased fuel efficiency make mini excavators more environmentally friendly to run than larger excavators. They also produce less noise pollution, making them ideal for use in noise and pollution sensitive areas.

If you require help or advice with financing a mini excavator for your business, speak to our team here at Richmond Asset Finance. We provide a range of flexible vehicle finance and asset finance services to help you to grow your business. To discuss your requirements in more detail, give our team a call on 0113 288 3277.

4 signs it’s time to replace your tractor

Is your tractor holding your farm business back? Here are four signs it’s time to replace your tractor.

Whilst a new tractor may be a big expense, using outdated machinery can seriously impact your farm business’ profitability, so it’s important to know the signs that may indicate that it’s the right time to bite the bullet and invest in a new tractor. 

Your business is growing or changing

As your business grows and evolves so will its requirements, and you may find that your existing tractor’s capabilities no longer cut it. If you now have more crops than you used to, you may require a tractor with a higher capacity to get the job done more efficiently and save time and money. Equally, if you have diversified into farming a new crop, you may find that you require a new tractor with different capabilities.

You’ve used it for 12,000 hours

Check how many hours you’ve racked up on your trusty tractor. It is generally agreed that standard-sized tractors have around 12,000 hours of use in them, whilst compact tractors have considerably less. If your tractor has done over 12,000 hours, it could be reaching the end of its lifespan.

It keeps needing repairs

If your tractor keeps breaking down or needing maintenance, this could also be a sign that it has reached the end of its lifespan. Rather than shelling out regularly to have it repaired, it may be more cost-effective to simply invest in a new machine.

It uses old technology

If your tractor uses outdated technology, it could be holding your business back from reaching its full potential. New agritech is being developed at a rapid pace and tractors are constantly being made smarter and more efficient. Investing in a tractor that uses modern technology could help to boost your business’ productivity and profitability. 

If you require help or advice with financing a new tractor, speak to our team here at Richmond Asset Finance. We provide a range of flexible agricultural finance services to help you to grow your business. To discuss your requirements in more detail, give our team a call on 0113 288 3277.

Ideas for supplementing your farm income during the festive season

Cash-in on Christmas by diversifying your farm business during the festive season.

According to NatWest, two thirds of farms have now diversified their business to generate alternative revenue streams throughout the year and boost their income.

Many farms that have successfully diversified report that their additional ventures have become a vital part of their business.

Whilst the winter months are typically much quieter for agricultural businesses, with a little creativity they can offer excellent opportunities for exploring new business ideas.

Here are a few of our favourite ideas for diversifying your farm business during the festive period.

Holiday letting

Many families and friends book holidays and weekends away to meet up and celebrate together over the Christmas holidays. Rather than letting unused land or farm buildings stand empty and unused during the winter months, why not convert them into holiday lettings. This can be particularly lucrative if your farm is in a scenic location.

Grow Christmas trees

Nothing beats the smell of a real pine Christmas tree, and according to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association over 7 million trees are sold in the UK each year. Choose a type of fir tree that will thrive in your farm’s land and soil type and start growing fir trees to sell locally each Christmas.

Run Christmas events

If you’ve got the land and buildings, why not run a series of festive events for the public in the lead up to Christmas? Popular activities and events could include turning a kids’ petting zoo into Santa’s grotto, running kid’s Christmas craft activities or adult wreath making workshops.

Turkeys and geese

Rearing free-range turkeys and geese can provide an additional source of income around Christmas time when demand for high quality meats for Christmas dinner soars.

To find out if you can apply for rural finance to help with your diversification project, get in touch with our team here at Richmond Asset Finance to discuss your plan in more detail.

What to expect from the new John Deere combine harvester

Agricultural tech and machinery company John Deere unveiled details about their new X9 combine harvester at the recent Agritechnica 2019 event in Hanover, Germany.

If you’re thinking about updating your combine harvester and are looking for a state of the art machine that can improve output and efficiency, then you may want to consider John Deere’s new X9 model.

The X9 was designed to help farmers with large farms and tough harvesting conditions to improve efficiency.

John Deere’s product manager Matt Arnold said: “the machine is suitable for small grains crops, pulse crops, canola, high moisture crop, soybeans, anything that’s either tough to thresh, green-stem material, high-material content.”

The company reports that the new model is capable of harvesting more than 100 tons of small grains or wheat per hour, with losses of less than 1%.

To help you to decide whether the new model would be suitable for your requirements, we’ve taken a closer look at some of the X9’s key technical details.

Greater inside width – The X9 is said to have the widest body in the industry, offering larger threshing and separation areas for improved capacity and crop flow.

Optimised chopper – The X9’s chopper is designed to maximise air flow volume and reduce the amount of energy required.

Data tools – The X9 is equipped with a selection of data tools including Operations Center, JDLink Connect and Combine Advisor to improve efficiency and make the machine simpler and more comfortable to operate.

Dual-axial rotor – Improves the combine’s separating ability to reduce density and maximise performance.

The X9 combine harvester is due to go on sale in June 2020.

If you require help or advice with financing a new combine harvester, speak to our team here at Richmond Asset Finance. We provide a range of flexible agricultural finance and asset finance services to help you to grow your business. 

To discuss your requirements in more detail, give our team a call on 0113 288 3277.

How can telematics improve your commercial fleet’s efficiency?

Installing telematics in your business’ commercial vehicles could help to significantly improve your fleet’s performance and efficiency.

Telematics are small boxes that are fitted inside commercial vehicles to collect valuable data and information.

This information can then be used by your business to monitor vehicle and driver performance.

Just some of the information and data that can be monitored using telematics includes:

  • Fuel consumption
  • Speed
  • Driving patterns
  • Routes taken
  • Vehicle performance

You can then work together with your fleet drivers to make changes to the way they work in order to improve performance in several key areas including:

Efficiency – Telematics can be used to help drivers to work more efficiently by choosing the fastest routes and avoiding traffic. A more efficient fleet will also reduce operating costs by increasing fuel efficiency.

Safety – Telematics can help to flag up unsafe driving habits including harsh breaking or accelerating and speeding. Ensuring that your drivers are driving safely can help to reduce costly damage to vehicles and the risk of accidents occurring. 

Vehicle performance and maintenance – Set up your telematics to send alerts about your vehicles’ performance to help you to keep on top of maintenance tasks to reduce the need for repairs and keep your vehicles running smoothly.

Operating costs – By honing driver and vehicle performance using the data gathered by telematics you could significantly reduce your fleet’s overall operating costs. This is achieved primarily by improving fuel efficiency, reducing the number of accidents, and keeping up with vehicle maintenance.

Driver job satisfaction – Telematics provide fleet drivers with the data they need to perform better in their jobs. Providing your drivers with modern telematics technology can help to make their jobs easier and more rewarding, resulting in happier, more productive employees.

If you require financial help or advice with updating your commercial fleet, speak to our team here at Richmond Asset Finance by giving us a call on 0113 288 3277. We provide a range of flexible vehicle finance and asset finance services.

CNG Fuels to provide UK’s HGVs with first carbon neutral fuel

A carbon neutral fuel will soon be available to businesses running HGVs to help them to dramatically reduce their carbon emissions.

Based in the West Midlands, CNG Fuels are the UK’s top supplier of environmentally friendly bio-CNG (compressed natural gas).

The firm recently announced that they would be launching a new carbon-neutral fuel for heavy goods vehicles in 2021.

The new fuel will use manure to produce carbon neutral biomethane. Manure gives off the powerful greenhouse gas methane, but by using this methane as fuel it prevents it from entering the atmosphere.

With HGVs accounting for 4.2% of the UK’s carbon emissions, the introduction of a carbon neutral fuel has the potential to significantly reduce the UK’s overall emissions.

Philip Fjeld, CEO of CNG Fuels said: “We want to help decarbonise freight transport and enable fleet operators to meet net zero targets now, supporting the UK’s climate targets.”

CNG Fuels already supplies many businesses operating HGVs with a renewable biomethane fuel sourced from food waste. The company has become the fuel supplier of choice for several large companies including John Lewis, Hermes, Asda and Argos.

The company reports that switching from diesel to bio-CNG can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 85% and cut fuel costs by 35-45%, making it a win-win for businesses operating HGVs.

CNG Fuels are also developing a network of public HGV refuelling stations on major routes throughout the country to support electric and hydrogen powered HGVs in the future.

Need some help financing new HGVs for your business? Here at Richmond Asset Finance we provide a range of flexible vehicle finance and asset finance services.

For more information or to discuss your requirements in more detail, give our team a call on 0113 288 3277.

Fleet management tips for a more efficient fleet

Fleet managers are responsible for employing techniques and processes to help maintain a productive and efficient fleet.

An efficient commercial fleet will get the job done quickly and cost-effectively with minimal hassle. Maintaining an efficient fleet of vehicles is no simple feat though, it is a process that requires constant monitoring and continual improvement.

Use the tips in this blog to reduce running and maintenance costs and increase your fleet’s efficiency.

Service vehicles regularly

Keeping on top of vehicle servicing and maintenance will keep your fleet looking great and running efficiently whilst also helping to prevent costly accidents and breakdowns.

Recruit experienced and professional drivers

Driver behaviour and habits can have a big impact on fuel efficiency and the amount of maintenance a vehicle requires. Only recruit experienced drivers with excellent references and make it a habit to give all drivers regular training and feedback on performance.

Use telematics

Telematics collect data about driver and vehicle performance to help you to monitor driver performance for training purposes. This data should then be regularly reviewed and used to help drivers to adopt safer and more efficient driving techniques.

Invest in the right vehicles

Choosing vehicles that are best suited to your business’ specific requirements will have the biggest impact on your fleet’s efficiency.

Just some of the factors you should pay careful attention to when shopping for a new vehicle are:

  • Size – An unnecessarily large vehicle will waste fuel.
  • Type of journey they suit – Will your vehicles be travelling short or long distances? Some vehicles will be more efficient for short journeys and others for long distance journeys.  
  • Emissions – The more environmentally-friendly your vehicles are, the less tax you will be required to pay.

It’s also important to recognise when updating your fleet is the most cost-effective option.

If you require financial help or advice with updating your commercial fleet, speak to our team here at Richmond Asset Finance by giving us a call on 0113 288 3277. We provide a range of flexible vehicle finance and asset finance services.

How to prepare your commercial fleet for winter

Prepare your fleet of commercial vehicles for the colder weather to keep them running efficiently through the winter months.

Treacherous wet, icy and windy weather can pose significant problems for drivers and fleet managers during the winter.

The key to keeping your fleet operating smoothly during this time is good preparation.

Service

Putting your fleet through a thorough inspection or service prior to the cold weather kicking in can help to pick up any problems or damage to the vehicles. Making sure your fleet is in tip-top condition and are all topped up with engine oil and wiper fluid can help to prevent accidents and costly down-time once the bad weather hits.

Inspect tyres

When inspecting your vehicles, be sure to pay careful attention to the condition of the tyres which need to be in excellent condition to manage wet and icy roads. Look out for signs of damage or excessive wear and make sure they are pumped up with enough air.

Winter tyres

Many fleet managers use winter tyres if their fleet are likely to be visiting remote areas frequently. Winter tyres have better grip and can help to reduce the risk of accidents and breakdowns in ice and snow.

Educate drivers

One of the best ways to keep your fleet safe during the winter is to educate your drivers in how to drive in poor weather conditions. Refreshing their knowledge of safe stopping distances and how to adjust their driving for snow and ice can help to minimise breakdowns and accidents.

Emergency packs

Always make sure that your fleet are kitted out with winter survival packs for when they’re out on the road. At minimum, all emergency kits should contain a blanket, de-icer, scraper, torch, high visibility jacket, and extra screen wash.

If you have concerns about the condition or efficiency of any vehicles in your fleet, then it can be a good idea to update them before the winter season. 

If you require financial help or advice with updating your commercial fleet, speak to our team here at Richmond Asset Finance by giving us a call on 0113 288 3277. We provide a range of flexible vehicle finance and asset financeservices.

JCB’s fully electric compact digger wins prestigious award

JCB’s fully electric compact digger has won the construction industry’s prestigious Dewar Award for ‘Outstanding Technical Achievement in the British Automotive Industry’.

The one-ton digger is thought to be the world’s first ever fully electric compact digger and represents a breakthrough for the industry in combating emissions and climate change.

The RAC’s Dewar Award is only awarded during years where the committee believe there are worthy contenders. This is JCB’s second win, as they also received the trophy in 2006 for their diesel land speed record-breaking JCB Dieselmax car powered by two JCB engines.

John Wood MBE, chairman of the Dewar Technical Committee, said: “Awarding the 2019 trophy to JCB was a unanimous decision by the Dewar Technical Committee. It represents a bold commitment to the introduction of novel technology in the off-road sector.”

JCB’s 19C-1E electric digger is now in full production and has already sold over 200 units. The digger can do a full day’s work on a single charge, produces zero emissions and is five times quieter than its diesel equivalent.

The 19C-1E is ideal for using inside cities to reduce noise and air pollution and for building projects taking place indoors or in enclosed spaces.

As the impact and consequences of climate change become more severe worldwide, the construction industry is under increasing pressure to review the effects that their equipment, machinery and vehicles are having on the environment.

If you require help or advice with financing electric diggers, excavators, or commercial vehicles, speak to our team here at Richmond Asset Finance. We provide a range of flexible vehicle finance and asset finance services to help you to grow your business. To discuss your requirements in more detail, give our team a call on 0113 288 3277.

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