17/02/2014 11:44 AM
SA Property Owners Association Appoints Rates Watch to Get to The Bottom of Municipal Rates and Taxes


Escalating Municipal Costs: SA Property Owners Association Appoints Rates Watch

Ever alert to escalating municipal costs throughout South Africa, the SA Property Owners Association (SAPOA) has appointed specialist consultant Rates Watch (Pty) Ltd to research municipal budgets for the coming year.

Rates Watch’s mandate from SAPOA focuses on unearthing municipal budget information on key property-related costs, like rates and taxes, electricity, or water in SA’s 11 largest municipalities.

Read the rest of this article >>
13/02/2014 03:49 PM
Re-align your business goals: Customer Service Remains the focus for 2014.

Ask people about the state of customer service, and there is a good chance that they will be able to tell you about at least five stories of terrible experiences – and not many positive ones. In a recent survey of more than 400 South African customers, 72% said that they had experienced rage with a business at least once in the last 4 months. Anyone who has tried to solve a problem with a bank, airline booking, or mobile phone service provider recently will know what this sense of powerlessness feels like, says Aki Kalliatakis of Leadership LaunchPad.

The horrendous state of customer care is not particularly new to most readers. What is new is the fact that companies are going to pay a higher price for not taking care of customers, because rebellious customers become more able and willing to take action. The most important issue for our generation is not humility or frugality, but trust. We feel betrayed by governments and businesses, (as well as many other organisations,) and the trust is gone. What’s made it worse for companies is that customers find ever-easier ways to deal with competitors, to identify and expose the “lies” and “fraud” committed against them by companies trying to separate them from their hard-earned money. There will doubtless be more Wikileaks and HelloPeter.com, (18 million hits every month, making it SA’s most popular website,) that expose companies’ worst practices, and we also have no doubt that customers will take action against any 
business that is vaguely unethical, greedy or abusive. 

But the damage that customers do goes way beyond bad-mouthing a company and affecting its reputation, (in the social media and everywhere else.) Withdrawal of business, taking legal action, contacting consumer bodies and media, abuse of staff and property, and not paying accounts are some of the other negative consequences.  And all this in an environment where comparisons are happening in real time, and customers demand better prices through decreased cost and waste.

What customer care trends do we think will happen in 2014? Even more importantly, how can a 
businessavoid the pitfalls of poor customer management? 

Here are our thoughts:
•    For many years companies have employed “brand police” in senior executive positions to ensure that the company image is clearly defined and communicated. More and more companies will hire senior “customer police” who are obsessed with ensuring that customers are treated right. As author Chris Anderson put it, “A company’s brand is not what the company says it is, but what the customer says it is on Google… The ants have megaphones now.” Early on, amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos brought an empty chair into meetings so that company executives and managers would be forced to think about the crucial participant who wasn’t in the room: the customer. Now that role is played by specially trained employees, and when they frown, executives tremble. As the power of traditional 
marketing and promotion activity fails even more, companies will need to focus on giving customer better experiences.
•    Businesses will be forced to make customers’ lives easier and more convenient. Companies need to look at four levels: What can they do to make it physically easier for customers? What can they do to make things less intellectually and conceptually challenging? What can they do to ensure that customers’ emotional frustrations don’t occur? How can they save customers’ time? Businesses need to look in the real world, as well as online.
•    Customers will definitely become even more demanding about basic customer service issues in 2014: greater reliability, quality and keeping promises; more speed; greater 24/7 availability, (never be hard to reach); more personalisation and humanness in communication; more competence and consistency, (and less unpredictability); more friendliness, warmth and empathy; and a greater sense of security and safety. We also predict that lots of training and motivating people who deal with customers will become a bigger priority for larger companies.
•    Companies make mistakes often, (whether it’s overcharging your credit card, or sending the wrong product,) and customers usually want to hear two simple little words: “We’re sorry.” Business, unfortunately, often have trouble expressing that sentiment, which only leads to more frustration and anger from consumers. Don’t ignore customer unhappiness, and don’t be petty or stingy when sorting it out.
•    Innovation and added value will separate average organisations from the unique, distinct and successful ones. To this we can add customer expectations of memorable and amazing experiences that they will want to repeat over and over. It’s not only about gifts and entertainment: the personal touch has and always will be very desirable for all customers, not just the select few.
•    While social media and the internet will increase in usage, online retailers will not surpass bricks-and- mortar businesses until there is a vast improvement in their half-hearted, excuse-driven service and delivery. With one notable exception - YuppieChef - SA online retailers leave a lot to be desired in service, reliability and delivery. It’s not about fears of credit card fraud, poor internet speed, or an unreliable postal service. It’s mostly because South Africans don’t trust that their orders will arrive.
•    On the other hand, many companies will get cleverer about the way they manage their customers. They will be more adept at creating loyalty and retention, especially for the selected “good customers,” cross-selling and upgrading customers, and using the power of referrals and recommendations. But if those customers don’t feel actively positive about the business, these strategies will backfire, leaving an even darker void for salespeople. And decisions will also need to be made about the “long tail” of smaller customers that have the potential to grow.

Many executives may question what the return on investment on customer 
management activity will be. Our answer is unequivocal. The ROI of taking care of customers is that you will still be around in the next five years to talk about it.

Article by Cape Business News

Read the rest of this article >>
18/07/2013 09:46 AM
Will You Have Enough Money To Retire?

Will You Have Enough Money To Retire?

The global financial recession of 2008/2009 reduced the real value of household wealth significantly and the knock-on effects of this are due to be keenly felt. 


Expressed in years, the recession wiped out five years of household wealth and this will have consequences for the retirement age of individuals and the contributions they are making towards their retirement funds, according to the Momentum/UNISA Household Wealth Index Q4 2012 report.

What this really means is that to realise pre-recession expectations, individuals are going to have to save and invest more and work longer. 

Read the rest of this article >>
03/06/2013 10:04 AM
Sellers beware not to self-sabotage- latest on selling your home

South Africa’s residential property market is showing signs of improvement, as evidenced by increased enquiries from prospective buyers, improved show house attendance and stock shortages in a growing number of areas. 

The value of a property is not determined by what the seller paid for it, how much they need for their next purchase, or what they owe on the property.

This is the word according to Richard Gray, CEO of Harcourts Real Estate SA, following the release of FNB’s April 2013 House Price Index, which reports mildly positive growth during the first quarter of 2013, with the likelihood of further value gains in the second quarter. 

Read the rest of this article >>
17/05/2013 09:33 AM
Cut Years Off Your Home loan

Cut Years Off Your Home loan- Implement this Today!


One of the best investments a homeowner can make is to pay off their home loan as fast as they can to reduce the amount of interest they pay over the term of the loan.

A few simple financial adjustments can make a big difference. Taking a proactive approach and using the right strategy can vastly reduce the term of the home loan, and therefore the interest payable on the loan as well as fast-track financial freedom for the homeowner.

1) reducing a home loan term: splitting the monthly repayment in half and arranging to pay an instalment every two weeks. For example, if the home loan repayment is R5 000 a month, the bi-weekly payment would be R2 500. This saves on the daily interest over the 15 days between payments, while reducing the outstanding capital and shaving time off the loan term. This simple change will cut a 20-year fixed rate traditional bond by around two years, depending on individual circumstances.

How does this work? 

Paying monthly, a homeowner is making 12 payments a year on their bond. However, by paying every two weeks a homeowner is making 26 payments a year as there are 52 weeks in a year.

Considering that each payment is half of the normal monthly repayment, the payments will need to be divided by two in order to get to the number of monthly repayments. Twenty six divided by two is 13. This means that each year the homeowner is making an extra payment, which reduces the compounding effect of interest.(contact the financial institution that holds the bond to ensure that split payments are an option) 

2) reduce the term of a home loan is: adding an extra amount to the monthly instalment. An increase of R300 on a 20-year bond of R500 000 at an interest rate of 8.5 percent will reduce the term of the loan by around three years and save the homeowner a total of R93 937.73 in interest. What is remarkable about this is that if the homeowner had to take the R300 a month and save it for the full 20-year term of the loan at five percent interest, they would only have saved R75 600. This means that it is more beneficial to pay the money into your bond and reduce the interest.

The drop in interest rate over the last few years has also given rise to an opportunity for homeowners to reduce the term of their loan by simply keeping their repayments the same. If the homeowner opts to keep their monthly instalments constant, they will be paying extra money into their bond account, without adding any additional payment or affecting their budget. The interest rate drop from nine percent to 8.5 percent meant that homeowners were paying around R159 less on a R500 000 home loan. By keeping the repayment the same they would be saving R54 923.96 in interest and reducing the loan by about a year and a half.”

Utilising these simple methods can assist homeowners to pay off their bond in a much shorter period of time without too much effort. Cutting years off a home loan can save consumers large amounts of money and help to ensure that they are financially secure in the future.

source: property24.co.za

Read the rest of this article >>
23/04/2013 10:39 AM
Use of Hashtags- Social Media

How to Use Hashtags in Your Social Media Marketing

social media how to

Do you use hashtags in your social media marketing?

What if someone else is using the same hashtag about a totally different topic?

Even worse, what if your competitor is using the same hashtag about the same topic?

Before you just throw any word or phrase out there and decide to use it as your hashtag, there are a few things you’ll want to consider to maximize your hashtag’s exposure.

What’s a Hashtag?

A hashtag is a pound sign (#), but it’s also used on Twitter to categorize messages.

According to Twitter, hashtag is defined as follows:

hashtag definition

Definition of hashtag from Twitter.

Since the first person used a hashtag in August 2007, they have become one of the most commonly used symbols on Twitter. People use them to organize conversations, tweet at events and engage in conversations online.

But in order to have a successful marketing campaign using a hashtag, you have to know how to pick the right hashtag.

Here are 4 tips for choosing a successful hashtag.

#1: Choose Something Unique

As a marketer, you want to be able to reach your community with the use of hashtags, especially during events, webinars or Twitter chats.

However, if you want others to join in on the conversation and be able to engage with each other, you have to use a hashtag that is more unique—not something as simple as #marketing or #webinar.

Verizon Wireless is a great example of a company that knows how to pick hashtags that will make them stand out in their industry and are also recognizable.

If you search for just #verizon, there are thousands of tweets that appear. Knowing that, Verizon makes sure they pick a more detailed hashtag for their different webinars and chats, such as #VerizonNOLA10 and #VZWINNOVATE.

When you take a look at the results on Twitter for #VZW, you see a very crowded tweet stream. Many people use #VZW when talking about Verizon, so anything they are saying about the company from getting in touch to customer service to commenting on their phone will be picked up in this stream.

search results #vzw

Search results for #VZW.

In the picture below, you see the tweet stream for #VZWINNOVATE, which exclusively focuses on Verizon’s participation in Black History Month.

search results vzwinnovate

Search Results for #VZWINNOVATE.

By adding the “INNOVATE” to the end of “VZW,” you’re able to understand that the hashtag has to do with Verizon, but also involves a campaign they’re doing.

It’s clear and unique and is not being used by other companies, which is important when differentiating yourself and your social media strategy.

When choosing your hashtag, make sure it is something unique and specific so that it doesn’t get mixed up in other conversations going on.

If you use general terms such as #marketing or #webinars, these updates will appear in the results for everyone using these terms. This can be good, but it also won’t allow your participants to carry on a conversation about one topic.

#2: Choose Something Easy to Remember

When choosing a hashtag, it’s important to make sure that your hashtag is easy for users to remember. With thousands of hashtags roaming the social media universe, the last thing a business wants to do is create a hashtag that is hard to spell or pronounce. Users will end up spelling it wrong and this defeats the purpose of having a hashtag in the first place.

Hashtags should be short, easy to pronounce and spell and give users a better idea about the topic of the conversation or tweet stream.

National television network ABC has a lot of programming, and each show has its own hashtag, allowing people to tweet about the episodes and the actors and actresses.

But ABC is smart and strategic with their use of hashtags. They make sure the hashtags are visible on the website and occasionally have them appear in the bottom corner of the episodes that are playing.

In the case of the show Dancing With the Stars, thousands of people tweet about the different dancers, in addition to the show itself. To bring it all together, ABC promotes the hashtag #DWTS.

It’s simple and easy to remember and will also not take up a lot of space in tweets’ 140-character limit. #DWTS is able to organize everything people are saying about their show and engage with their audience, thanks to this hashtag. And fans who are watching the show don’t forget it because it’s so simple.

search results #dwts

Search Results for #DWTS.

When choosing your hashtag, consider your objectives for having people come together for the conversation, and also make sure it is easy to remember and understand.

If you have a hashtag that’s too complicated, long or hard to spell, it will defeat the purpose of a hashtag, because people may forget it or may not be able to fit it in their tweets.

#3: Use the Hashtag on Multiple Social Media Channels

As you work toward making your hashtag second nature for many users, try to adopt it on multiple channels.

Although the use of hashtags may have started on Twitter, they are now used across multiple social media channels including Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Hashtags allow users to organize their content and pictures while also instilling the hashtag into the minds of their audience.

Take Southwest Airlines, for instance. They held a social media contest for filmmakers to submit their videos for a chance to win prizes. They started off by just using the hashtag on Twitter, but soon adopted it into their other social media channels including Facebook.

swa cinema twitter

Search Results for #SWACinema.

swa cinema facebook

Southwest Airlines using #SWACinema on Facebook.

If people see a hashtag once, it may stick in their minds if it is truly memorable. But most likely it takes a couple times of seeing the hashtag to really remember it.

Use the hashtag on multiple social media channels. This helps you in two ways. First, this gives your hashtag more exposure to more people to help spread the word about it. Second, this helps people to remember your hashtag when they see it multiple times on different channels.

#4: Search for the Hashtag Before You Use It

The worst thing that can happen when using a hashtag is to realize after it’s tweeted that the same hashtag is used for an entirely different topic.

Embarrassing situations can occur if you don’t do your research first. What if the hashtag you’re using has already been used in a discussion about something negative? What if the hashtag is associated with a natural disaster in another country, but you didn’t realize until after you sent your tweet?

Before using a hashtag, you always need to search to see if other people are using it and what they are saying.

Entenmann’s learned this the hard way when they used the hashtag #notguilty to talk about their cookies when other people were using it to talk about Casey Anthony’s #notguilty murder trial verdict.

entenmanns tweet

Entenmann's #notguilty tweet.

They apologized and admitted afterwards that they had not researched what people were saying on the hashtag ahead of time and therefore did not mean to tweet something so insensitive.

Take what Entenmann’s learned as a lesson. Always check what people are saying on particular hashtags before you tweet anything. If you want your tweet to stand out, tweeting on a negative hashtag is not the way to do it.

Use Effective Hashtags in Your Social Media Strategy

When you use hashtags in your social media strategy, the key is to make sure you’re using the right hashtags at the right time to ensure you are reaching your audience in a positive way.

By following these 4 steps, you’ll be able to choose a hashtag that’s memorable and unique. But the most important step of all is to see what other people are saying on that hashtag or topic in advance.

Remember that it’s okay to use general hashtags such as #marketing or #webinars, but it’s harder to make those effective when trying to have a unique conversation.

Use multiple hashtags if the topic is right, but do not add extra hashtags in an attempt to show up in as may searches as possible.


By - Social Media Examiner

Read the rest of this article >>
25/03/2013 09:57 AM
R2.5b For 500MW Of Solar And Wind Energy Projects- Cape Business News

R2.5 bn For Solar and Wind Energy Projects

Over the next 20 years South Africa's energy generation capacity will need to grow by more than 40 000MW, twice as much as what is available today.

Cape Town-based Asset manager Futuregrowth Asset Management believes that renewable resources could make up nearly 18GW, or 42% of new generation capacity if the government sticks to targets set out in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), a 20-year plan to add additional mega watt capacity to the grid. The asset manager has provided R2,5 billion in debt funding so far which offers investment opportunities in new solar and wind projects for clients’ funds under management.

Paul Semple, portfolio manager at Futuregrowth Asset Management, says renewable energy projects—funded by private sector capital can play a major role in meeting the urgent need for new generation capacity to alleviate the current energy constraints. "Investing in renewables is a growing asset theme in South African capital markets, offering a unique opportunity for our clients to access a pool of assets not normally available to institutional investors," he said.

“A unique aspect of these projects is the social impact that they will have on local communities. They will own a minimum 2.5% stake in the project and payment for this will be generated from dividend payments.” added Semple. This is combined with a minimum local content and preferential procurement requirement in respect of each project which will support small enterprise development and job creation.

The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (RE-IPPP) has been designed by the Department of Energy (DoE) to procure private-sector participation in power generation through a competitive process of various bidding rounds occurring approximately every six months. Given the ongoing drive to reduce the carbon footprint of South Africa, of which thermal energy generation contributes approximately 47% of the country’s carbon emissions, there is an urgent need to develop clean energy. The renewable energy projects will also be constructed far more quickly than the new coal-fired plants, Medupi and Kusile, and are a great opportunity for South Africa to increase the energy capacity of the country in a short period of time.

Under the first round of the programme, 28 renewable energy projects awarded preferred bid tenders totalling around R45bn and financed mainly by private finance institutions including Futuregrowth, reached financial close in late 2012 and are currently being constructed around the country. “This is a large undertaking,” said Semple. “and a great opportunity for South Africa to put material megawatts on the grid in a relatively short amount of time. 

Draw downs under the financing arrangements are made monthly on each project as construction progresses, first for purchasing equipment, then for laying the foundations. Once the electricity produced starts feeding into the national grid, the tariffs paid to the energy projects by Eskom will be utilised to begin repayment of the debt over an average of 15 years

Last year, the government awarded preferred bids to a further 19 projects under Round 2 of the RE-IPP programme, comprising an aggregate project value of around R30bn, in respect of which Futuregrowth is currently considering various investment opportunities for its pension fund clients.

The growth in renewable energy is driven by a number of factors, including the fact that renewable energy technologies are increasingly competitive with fossil fuel options. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which promotes the accelerated adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, the Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) is declining, especially for solar photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar power (CSP) and wind power. This has encouraged governments and the renewable energy industry to adopt effective—and ambitious—policies to promote renewables.

More importantly, says Semple, it is an example of the efficacy of public-private partnerships (PPP). “The roll-out of the RE-IPP Program is an example of the government and the private sector working hand-in-hand to fulfil a real need, when procuring alternative sources of energy was in danger of becoming increasingly difficult and costly for government.” REIPP projects have a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Eskom that guarantees payment of an agreed tariff for power generated, on a “take or pay” basis, i.e. Eskom will pay for energy generated by a renewable plant irrespective of power demand by the grid. 

While electricity supplied by renewable energy developers is more expensive than conventional power, it will not be a significant contributor to consumers' increasing energy costs. "The so-called grid-parity—the price at which tariffs for coal- and renewable-based energy intersect—is not that far off," said Semple. "Given the cost of building the new coal-fired plants at Medupi and Kusile plus the maintenance of existing plants, the tariff for wind power will achieve grid parity by 2015 and solar power by 2019." 

Read the rest of this article >>
07/03/2013 08:45 AM
Going to school in Century City

Property Demand on Increase with New Curro School- Century City

LISTED private school company, Curro Holdings, has opened a new school at Century City which is expected to further increase demand for residential and commercial property in the burgeoning precinct.

Read the rest of this article >>
28/02/2013 08:06 AM
Budget Speech News



Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, delivered the National Treasury's budget for 2013/2014 at 14h00 this afternoon. From a property law point of view, it is business as usual as transfer duty, donations tax, the capital gains tax inclusion rate, VAT and estate duty have remained unchanged!

newsflash: STBB Attorneys


Read the rest of this article >>
22/02/2013 07:53 AM
Tough New Laws- Electric Fencing

New Electric Fencing Laws

Non-compliant electric fencing is now also illegal in South Africa and property owners – including homeowners, body corporates and businesses – are at risk if someone gets hurt because their electric fence installation is faulty, or non-compliant, says John Graham chief executive office of HouseCheck.

From 1 December 2012 all new, upgraded and repaired electric fence installations in South Africa must be compliant and the government has now established strict new regulations for this industry.

Read the rest of this article >>