How and where to network this season

August 30, 2013

Contrary to popular belief, the vital business skill of networking has nothing whatever to do with crafting rope, twine, string etc into a light-weight lattice-like structure within which to ensnare passing objects, clothe shapely limbs, etc.

On the contrary, it is all about cornering the maximum number of hapless persons with whom one might potentially do profitable business in the least possible time and subjecting them to a) a well-rehearsed elevator speech, b) your not inconsiderable person charm and wit, c) an offer they simply cannot refuse, or any combination of the foregoing.

Networking is a great thing to do. It really is. But the thing is: you have to be in the right place at the right time to do it. Ideally, you should also be with the right people. It’s no good just kicking off with some heavy-duty networking down at Budgens in the middle of the afternoon. Don’t expect to get results at 2am in top Gants Hill nightspot Faeces. Why would you?

No, if you want to do some truly productive networking, the place to be is the Daytona Milton Keynes kart track, and the time to do it is on Friday 13th September. Gathered there, on that very day, will be anyone who is anyone in the world of motor insurance. Plus one or two who aren’t – so don’t worry about feeling out of place.

With 30 teams of top motor insurance people and their guests, and up to eight people in each team, there’ll be an average of 7 times 30 people who are not sitting in a turbocharged lawnmower hareing round the twisting tarmac track at any given time and therefore (allowing for those on a comfort break etc) you’ll have around 200 hand-picked networking targets at your very fingertips, just ready and waiting for you to move in with your clinching move.

If you can’t pick up some useful contacts at the 2013 Insurance Endurance event, you might actually be better off at Faeces after all. You’re sure to pick something up there.

The entry price of £850 plus VAT for a team of up to 8 drivers (discounts for more than one team) includes breakfast on arrival, refreshments throughout the day, barbecue lunch and official Event T-Shirts.

Don’t miss out! Reserve your team’s place on the grid today by calling Mark at Daytona Milton Keynes on 0845 644 550

For further details see our full write-up here.

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August 30, 2013

Bodyshop Mag has many virtues. Sadly, a basic proficiency in the use of the English language is not among them. In its latest bid to clinch the cack-handed headline of the month award, it this week offered up “British most unloved drivers revealed.”

The story that followed imparted the worrying information that Bankstone’s good friends at bike sales overlords ColinGappleHard.com have fallen victim to the prevailing obsession with popularity – and begun carrying out surveys asking which of Britain’s drivers are the most and least loved.

Shockingly, one such survey revealed that people who drive “executive cars” are not very popular. “The British publish are split right down the middle when it comes to luxury cars,” ColinGappleHard.com spokesperson Robin Grapplehard noted pithily: “either you hate them, [or, presumably you hate the people driving them, if we are still talking about drivers not cars] or you own one.”

With the negligible exception of people who may have owned something like a Jaguar X-type and both owned and hated an “executive car” simultaneously, this observation is almost certainly true.

“There is probably a bit of jealousy at play here” Robin concludes. This must also be true. Surely not all executive car drivers can be “rude” and “arrogant” as survey respondents suggest!

When asked which professions most got up their noses, respondents to the ColinGappleHard.com survey cited “sales executives”, taxi drivers and delivery drivers. They also seemed to think that “boy racer” and “school run mum” count as professions. So maybe there’s hope for insurance broking yet!

Least loved of all are BMW drivers, with Audi drivers in second and Range Roverers in third. Bizarrely, ColinGappleHard.com also reveal that despite having gone out of production in 2005, Rover 75s remain among Britain’s most despised vehicles.

In next week’s Bankstone News: British most unloved tea biscuits.

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August 30, 2013

The latest must-have gadget for motor people everywhere is a dashcam. That’s right, a dashcam. Oh, for god’s sake: it’s a dashboard-mounted video camera capable of recording high-quality digital footage of whatever happens to be in front of the vehicle to which is it fitted (e.g. majestic rural landscapes and decent honest folk going about their daily lives if you live in Yorkshire, blustery sea views and grim-faced holidaymakers if you live on the English River Area and are therefore retired, dimly-lit images of dogging, dog fights, fist fights and so on if you live in Essex. Oh, and RTAs, of course, pretty much everywhere).

Trend-setters like lorry drivers and the police all have them already, obvs. But now the craze is spreading like wildfire with motorists the length and breadth of Britain hoovering up digital footage of their crazy in-car adventures and then just as quickly discarding it. Unless, of course, said footage happens to include a C4C fraudster slamming on the brakes in front of you, some idiot overtaking recklessly in the opposite lane, or (as apparently happens all the time in places like Coventry) some naked bird prancing about on a horse, for example.

With the UK’s citizen surveillance system still riddled with worrisome gaps, this latest contribution to the monitoring of everything everywhere all the time is, of course welcome. Any road users objecting to have their front-of-car behaviour captured and recorded may be reassured by reflecting a) that if they are not doing anything wrong (or embarrassing or whatever) they have nothing to fear and b) that modern science has conclusively proved that cameras cannot in fact steal your soul (not in any literal sense, at least).

Thanks to dash cams, ordinary citizens who pass damning footage on to the authorities can now see those who bother them on Britain’s roads borne down upon by the full weight of the law. Middle England’s voice of common sense the Daily Mail reported this week that one motorist was disqualified for 12 months thanks to dashcam footage supplied by a member of the public (via a private firm called Police Witness) that showed him attempting a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre. Several others have reported have been given penalty points and fines after footage of their bad driving was sent to police.

Some insurers have welcomed the coming of dashcam by offering premium discounts (typically of around 10-15%) to anyone who’s gone to the bother of fitting one. As with the black box recorders so popular with today’s premium-challenged young drivers, dashcam take-up will soon reach the point where reluctance to have one fitted could be construed as a damning indictment of a person’s readiness to have their on-road behaviour subjected to scrutiny, on the “something to hide” principle.

The next step, logically, will be to fit two-way dash cams that will benefit responsible road users by confirming that they are not talking on their mobiles, eating sandwiches, doing their make-up, picking their noses, taking frequent sips from a selection of miniature spirits bottles, being pleasured by a passenger etc whilst at the wheel.

In places like Russia (where the rule of law remains patchy, arbitrary, venal and sporadically draconian), virtually everyone now has a dashcam (see previous story), common sense and the demand for entertaining scenes of motor vehicle mayhem on YouTube categorically require that we should all follow suit and fit a dashcam without delay.

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August 29, 2013

In an ideal world all forms of insurance would, of course, be compulsory. Sadly, very few are. Even the ones that are (specifically, motor insurance) too often get opted out of by misfits on the margins of society. Thankfully, crack police teams are stepping in to put a brake on premium dodgers’ antisocial antics.

In Staffordshire* alone, police have seized 500 uninsured vehicles in just three months. Such initiatives are welcome, of course, but count for little without a media-friendly name. Just as well, then, that Staffs cops have come up with the instantly unforgettable “Cars Behind Bars” tag for their premium dodging crack-down.

Thanks to newfangled Automatic Numberplate Upload Systems, “People who drive without insurance have nowhere to hide,” trumped Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Alias. “They are being caught and dealt with,” he confided reassuringly, with “their cars seized and in some cases scrapped.”

“It’s about fairness for law-abiding motorists,” he explained, noting that, if bad people weren’t going to pay insurance premiums, someone else would have to be made to pay them instead. Thankfully today’s Big Brother surveillance technology will soon put an end to this an all other forms of law floutage.

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* A real place somewhere near the “Midlands”

August 16, 2013

There’s only one place to be on Friday 13 September this year!

Whilst probably not true in a literal sense* this statement is surely as reasonable and rhetorically apt a way as any other to begin an important piece of advice for anyone whose professional life in any way implicates them in the shameful and grubby business of motor insurance and who is looking to make the best possible use of their time on the inauspicious date in question.

Why? Because the place we have in mind is Milton Keynes – more specifically Daytona Milton Keynes – where, on that very day, takes place the keenly anticipated Insurance Indurance participatory karting extravaganza. You and your team of crack people positively need to be there – or risk very much regretting that you weren’t at some point subsequently.

In case the point needs stressing:

THIS IS A QUALITY EVENT! YOU NEED TO BE THERE! EVERYONE ELSE WILL!

QUALITY NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES. QUALITY CORPORATE ENTERTAINMENT VALUE. QUALITY BACON ROLLS. AND ABOVE ALL… QUALITY FUN!

BOOK YOUR TEAM IN TODAY – WHILE WE STILL HAVE GRID SLOTS AVAILABLE.

The entry price of £850 plus VAT for a team of up to 8 drivers (discounts for more than one team) includes breakfast on arrival, refreshments throughout the day, barbecue lunch and official Event T-Shirts.

The event will be given a full report in Bankstone News including the official race results.

So – really – don′t miss out!  Reserve your team’s place on the grid today by calling Mark at Daytona Milton Keynes on 0845 644 550

As previously noted:

For more details see our full write-up here.

For fewer details, too late. Sorry.

For a top-hole Indian meal next time you are in Brighouse, why not try the exquisitely ambiguited fusion flavours of The Taste of Gandhi, next to Arbuckle’s Discount Meats on Backalley Way.

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* That would just be silly – unless. of course, one chose to define ‘existence’, narrowly, as that particular version of being commonly practiced by Homo Sapiens, and ‘place’, rather broadly, as ‘on or around the planet known to (Anglophone members of) the aforementioned Homo Sapiens as Earth’)

August 16, 2013

It has long been understood that there is virtually no end to the amount of abuse consumers will put up with from their banks before switching. The same, unfortunately, does not apply to insurance. Bankstone News blames the scourge of the annually renewable policy.

That and comparison sites, obviously. For it is they who have done more than anyone to create a culture in which anyone who doesn’t change insurer every year is looked upon as some kind of numpty.

And – according to  a press release put out by ‘call centre technology provider’ Aspic this week – if the constant search for lower premiums isn’t enough to convince consumers to dump their incumbent insurance providers, the merest hint of the tiniest failing on the customer service front is sure to do the trick!

Aspic’s latest Consumer Satisfaction Benchmarking Report indicates that consumers are more likely to change their insurer than any other service provider. Bizarrely, this non-revelation has received widespread coverage in the insurance press this week.

The fact that consumers are also (marginally) more likely to switch their insurance provider than any other provider after “one bad experience” is – if anything – even less of a revelation.

Given that consumers were probably going to switch insurer anyway before too long, the fact that only 33% said they would dump a “one bad experience’ insurer could be seen as comparing pretty favourably with the 30% who said they’d drop their credit card provider or the 27% who said they’d change internet service provider, faced with equivalent provocation.

Marginally more interesting was Aspic’s finding that, when asked which of a range of service providers gave them the best service, only 3% cited their insurance provider – compared, worryingly, with banks (equal top position along with mobile phone providers) on 13%.

Should insurance firms be worried at this unflattering comparison with bankers? Probably. But, luckily, Aspic’s press release offers some invaluable advice for insurance providers keen to boost their customer service satisfaction levels.

Aside from buying or renewing a policy, Aspic notes, “the main reason that people need to interact with [insurance providers] is to claim, which is often a period of stress and worry. Emotions are heightened, and customer service should be handled carefully.”

So there you go. Simple really!

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August 16, 2013

Further evidence of the general dishonesty and untrustworthiness of the Great British public emerged this week as market research firm Consumer Intelligence revealed that one in twelve motorists is a self-confessed liar and a cheat when it comes to filling in their motor insurance application form.

It’s a wonder insurers can bring themselves to deal with this nation of liars at all.

On the plus side: Britain’s drivers may be dishonest, but at least they’re disarmingly open about it. Fully 8% of those interviewed by Consumer Intelligence blithely confessed to lying about where they lived (9%), where they parked their cars at night (16%), how many points they had on their licence, and – alarmingly – how far they drove each year (10%).*

The disturbing possibility remains, however, that, if one in twelve happily admit they lie to their insurers, the other eleven may be lying too – but are so shockingly dishonest (brace yourselves) that they even lie to market researchers!

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* Things are no better on the household insurance front, incidentally, where one in three consumers admitted to the heinous crime of “guessing the value of their contents” and a further 20% thought that they were “only accurate to within £5,000”.

Don’t expect to get any of those claims paid!

August 15, 2013

If you thought this week’s other stories were dull, wait til you get a load of this one! The ruck-ruck-ruck of dull metal on damp splintered wood fills the Bankstone News offices this week as we doggedly scrape and re-scrape the very bottom of the motor insurance news barrel.

The latest pitiful morsel we’ve dredged up is the shock finding that quite a few people have driven at some point without a valid MOT.

Our old friends (they’ll claim they’ve never heard of us – but don’t believe them) at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traitors (or ‘Smut’ as they’re affectionate known) “revealed” this week that “one third of UK motorists have knowingly driven a car without a valid MOT”.

Unwisely in retrospect, we sourced this story from a version we found in Insurance Times, whose reporting initially confused the hell out of Bankstone News. “A study of 1,000 motorists across the country found that 67% had driven for up to a week without an MOT, 7% for up to six months and 2% for more than six months,” the paper reported. How does that equate to “one third” driving without a valid MOT?, we wondered.

It was only after consulting Smut’s own website, and finding the crucial “of those that have driven a car without a valid MOT” excised by Insurance Times from in front of that figure of 67%, that statistical sense and order returned to Bankstone News’ world. If only other publications could show the same tyreless attention to detail as Bankstone Newt!

The research also proved, yet again, that men are worse (a bit) than wo-men, that those in the South East are worse (marginally) than those in other parts of the country, and that young people are worse (infinitely) than old people.

Perhaps we’ll have some proper news next week. Or not.

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August 9, 2013

Alright, we’ve tried doing this the nice way.

But you wouldn’t listen, would you?

Well, you’re going to have to listen now, you… you… uncharitable swine!

Let Bankstone News be absolutely clear about this:

From now on there’s no more Mr Nice Guy.

Oh, no!

We’re not asking, we’re telling you to go immediately to our justgiving page and donate generously (or even slightly parsimoniously, if you must) to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA), for whose thoroughly deserving sake we all spent an entire August weekend traipsing round Yorkshire on stupid little monkey bikes.

Do you imagine we do this for fun every year?

Well do you?

OK, fun might come into it to some marginal degree.

But, all the same: just imagine how much better you’ll feel about your miserable self if you get online now and send a few quid to the YAA, who are, after all, out, day in day out, come rain or shine, performing their helicopter heroics, saving lives and generally making things better.

You know it makes sense.

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Humanoids pose with YAA mascot Hannibal the Helicopter

August 9, 2013

There are certain circumstances in which it is, of course, perfectly acceptable to allude to the fact that everyone in the motor market has gone slightly insane over the so-called “LASPO windfall”. Circumstances in which such comments tend to go down less well, however, include when publicly traded insurance companies are announcing their results.

Speaking to Post Magazine this week, Ade Webb, comms director with recently floated Esure Group (the firm responsible for the dreaded Sheila’s Wheels) professed himself mystified at the market’s negative reaction to interim results showing premium income up a bit, combined ratio down a bit, and profits of £60m odd. How could that possibly lead to an 18% drop in share price?

Could it perhaps have been those alarming references to widespread discounting in the motor market? Was it ominous comments like “In the light of current conditions, the group now expects full year premium growth to be lower than that achieved in the first half of the year.” Who knows, but mystifying it certainly is.

Or maybe it was just that an interim dividend of 2.5p seemed a bit stingy.

Either way, perhaps Esure should simply advise shareholders and analysts to Calm Down, Dear! (TM)

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