Finding the Drive – 6 Steps Toward Perfecting the Car-Buying Process

As anyone who has ever purchased a lemon can tell you, the process of car buying can be like dating – for long term happiness, choices should be more than a whim based on an attractive body shape…

With that in mind, we have honed down the most important factors which go into buying the perfect vehicle for your now and for your future.

Finance freedom 

The cost of financing through a car yard can be notoriously expensive.  This is in part due to the fact that many people haven’t prepared their finance in advance. Finding yourself at the mercy of onsite finance people looking to profit from impulsive buyers, can be costly.

Sorting your loan through an independent finance company like Latitude Financial can save you a substantial chunk of money over the life of the loan.  Car finance from Latitude also gives you flexibility to tailor a payment plan to suit your budget and lifestyle.

If purchasing new, beware of ‘upselling’ of aftermarket products such as window tinting and rust proofing.  Sales people can often pressure you into purchasing things you don’t need, at an inflated cost.

Lifestyle logic

If you are thinking of starting a family or already have a gaggle of children, then a little sports car may not be for you.  Similarly, if the family has grown and gone, this may be the time to buy that convertible you have always longed for.

Consider the needs of your family both now and in the future.  Some pertinent questions which may need asking are:

  • Will this car fulfil my needs in five years time?
  • How will it fit in my garage or carport?
  • Will it be easy to park?
  • Will it hold its resale value?
  • What / who do I need to transport on a regular basis?

Turning green

With the rising cost of petrol, the shift to Hybrid and electric vehicles has finally taken hold in the mainstream market.  Lowered running costs in the long term as well as dropping price tags and an increase in  charging points, is driving the move away from petrol cars.

As these technologies become more refined and buyers move away from fossil fuels, it may be worth purchasing an environmentally responsible vehicle, to futureproof your investment.

Reading, research and recommendations 

Anyone who has been stung by costly car servicing will tell you that researching to find the best warranties and servicing offers can be a true money saving experience.  Capped price servicing and extended warranties or free servicing for the first five years, are offers which are commonly available through some car manufacturers.

It pays to be aware that many European brands will cost upwards of a thousand dollars for a standard service.  If something does go wrong with them you can expect the cost of parts and labour to be astronomical – even on simple items.

The best place to find unbiased advice on a particular model is to ask someone who already owns one.  They can give you a clear understanding of the maintenance and ongoing costs of running a vehicle along with any issues or drawbacks they may have encountered.

Test and compare

If purchasing a secondhand vehicle, take along a knowledgeable and trustworthy friend or car buying consultant and ask plenty of questions.  Check for:

  • oil leaks
  • ‘Clunking’ when the steering wheel is on tight lock
  • Engine temperature running hot – this may indicate a cracked head (an expensive fix!)
  • Signs of body repairs – if the car has been in a major accident it can cause a multitude of issues
  • Signs of rust
  • Excessive mileage (kilometres)

A car history report can be accessed through VicRoads or similar agencies.  It will provide details regarding the car including whether it has ever been ‘written off’ due to an accident or identify whether it has been stolen.

Fine print

Before signing on the dotted line – read what you are signing.  If a used car dealer or seller is offering a warranty or parts insurance, ensure you understand exactly what these cover.  Often warranties and insurances sold through dealers offer limited protection.

Through a little preparation and research you can ensure that your car buying experience is both positive and fruitful.  To get the best value from a car, it is advisable to own it for 4+ years.  Making the right vehicle choice means your new car should remain a viable and profitable purchase for years to come.

Trade Show Tips Expo-sed

Are you thinking of taking your company to an upcoming expo? There are so many great benefits of showcasing your brand and products at these types of trade shows, such as increased exposure and fantastic networking opportunities. Or course, all of these benefits and the success will only come if you put in plenty of effort into your business’s expo booth or stall. Trust me, that isn’t quite as easy as you might expect it to be. But that shouldn’t give you cause for concern – just read through these great trade show tips to find out how you can win big at your next expo!

Carefully Consider Your Stall Design

When you sign up for a spot at a trade show or expo, you will be allocated a pitch in the large hall, and that’s it. In some cases, you might be given a small table to set up on, but that won’t always be the case. It will be totally up to you to bring your own stand or stall. At least that gives you the chance to be as creative as possible! You can design and build your stand however you want it to be. If you aren’t the most creative of thinkers, don’t worry – you can always find a company that knows a thing or two about trade show booth design to help you out with creating it. It’s a good idea to find out the exact dimensions of the pitch before you begin designing it, though, so that you don’t turn up with something that doesn’t fit!

 

It’s All About Location

Sometimes, you will be given a spot in the trade hall and won’t be able to move it or swap it. But there are some expos that give the companies who sign up early the chance to choose their location. This is something you need to carefully think about as it could dictate how many people pass by your stand. The prime locations will be those by the entrance. This is especially the case if the trade show is very large as some people might not be willing to walk all the way around. In this case, you might find that you don’t get many visitors to your stand if you are at the back of the hall.

Be Approachable

You need to make sure that the employees who are manning your stand are completely approachable. They need to be smiling and welcoming so that no one is put off from checking your stand out. Ideally, send a couple of your customer service team, as they will already be well trained in how to speak with customers and clients. It’s also important that they are dressed appropriately for the occasion. They don’t have to wear suits as that could be too formal – instead, smart-casual is a better option for their dress.

Have Plenty Of Business Cards Available

The whole point of attending these trade shows and expos is so more business professionals and potential clients find out about you and your business. But you need to make sure that everyone who you chat to or checks out your stall will remember you once they get home or back to the office. So, the best way to do that is to hand out business cards to everyone you meet. Thanks to cool printing companies like Moo, you can now create some really funky business cards, that the receiver won’t be able to forget about. Make sure that you incorporate your company’s brand into the card somehow, and don’t forget those all-important contact details as well! If you have enough room left on the card, it’s worth adding your business’s social media handles too.

Offer Some Freebies

You might need to try and use any way you can to persuade some people to check out your stand. There’s one method that will ensure a queue of interested people come to meet you – hand out some free products! Of course, you don’t have to give away your main product for free as that could end up losing you a lot of cash. But it’s nice to have some goodie bags on hand that you can give to your guests. You might want to keep it really simple and just offer some free bottled water and snacks. People love getting freebies and will really appreciate whatever it is you can give them!

Live Tweet From The Trade Show

It’s good to have a couple of different social media campaigns going at once so that you can widen your reach on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. One cool campaign idea is to live tweet the whole conference or trade show. That way, you can give all of your customers an insider peek into what it is like to run a business. Not only that, though, but you might pique the interest and attention of some industry insiders who might want to follow your tweeting. This will inform them of all the ins and outs of the trade show, and it also introduces your company to them.

Run A Competition

Another great way to persuade people to visit you at your stand is to run a competition for the duration of the trade show. You can guarantee that everyone will be super interested in having a go to see if they can take home the prize! Your competition can be as big and as lavish as you like. For instance, some of the larger tech firms like to give away a car as the prize. But don’t worry if you can’t afford a prize that decadent. Most people will be happy to just win a goodie bag or some chocolates. It’ all about the taking part that matters. Not only that, though, but it gives you the chance to collect emails and contact details for your mailing list.

Hopefully, this blog post has inspired you to make the most of your next trade show stand. Don’t forget to have fun while you’re there!

10 Ways To Make Home Repairs More Affordable

Keeping your home in tip top condition can be challenging. On top of general wear and tear, you may have to deal with emergency damage as the result of an accident, a storm or even a burglary.  Some of this damage can be very costly, but you may not be able to ignore it. This is where it pays to know a few cost-cutting repair methods. Here are just a few ideas to help afford home maintenance costs.

Take out home insurance

Home insurance may be able to cover damage as the result of bad weather, burglary and fire. Providing that you don’t live in a high-risk area, insurance rates can often be found at affordable prices if you shop around. Make sure to always read the terms and conditions so that you know exactly what is covered. Tricks like upping your deductible can lower your insurance rates, but you could end up spending a lot of money when damage actually does take place.

Shop around for contractors

When choosing contractors to work with, shop around for prices. Many contractors won’t give a quote over the phone and will want to visit your home to assess the damage. Get lots of quotes so that you can negotiate a price match. Make sure to read online reviews if they’re available – some companies may charge low rates as a way of making up for a bad reputation. You want a cheap price, but you also want the job to be done right.

Check for guarantees

Some contractors will offer a guarantee. If repairs aren’t done to a good quality, a guarantee ensures that you will get a refund. This could save you money if things go wrong – you don’t want to be spending extra to repair a botch job. Shop around for companies with guarantees.

Source your own materials

You can save money on the cost of hiring contractors in many cases by sourcing your own materials. There are lots of places online in which you can buy materials cheaply in bulk. There’s also the option of reclaimed materials. These are materials that have been used in previous construction projects and are still in condition enough to re-use. Reclaimed materials aren’t just more eco-friendly – they’re also much cheaper. Buy materials from honest sources so that you know you’re getting good quality.

Go DIY

Those brave enough to go DIY can often save a lot of money. There are lots of tutorials online including blogs and Youtube walk-throughs that can guide you through many home repairs. You may have to own certain tools in certain cases, which could add to the costs and possibly make a contractor more economical. That said, you may be able to improvise certain tools in some cases. Basic leaks, roofing repairs and flooring flaws can all be repaired oneself. More complex jobs like faulty electrics and complex plumbing may require hiring a professional and could be unsafe to DIY. Know your limitations – you don’t want to screw up and end up paying more to repair the extra damage.

Take out an emergency loan

A popular way of affording home repairs is to take out a loan. There are many cash advance lenders out there that can offer you money if you can’t wait until payday. You should always shop around for loans to find the lowest interest rates in order to avoid paying more in the long run. Certain lenders may offer specialist home improvement loans with cheap interest rates. If you have a mortgage, your lender may also contribute some money to spend on home improvements.

Part-pay on credit card

Paying for home repairs using your credit card could be another way to afford these out-of-pocket costs. Many credit cards have limits to how much you can borrow, so check that expensive repairs don’t exceed this limit. Even if you part-pay for repairs on credit card, this can have several advantages. Credit cards offer a certain security, giving you the option to refund if a job isn’t done to spec. In a way it’s almost like creating your own warranty. As with loans, make sure that you’re using a credit card with a relatively low interest rate in order to reduce debt.

Start up a rainy day fund

A rainy day fund is a savings account to be spent only on emergencies. This could include home repairs, medical costs and car repairs. A rainy day fund can be a more economical alternative to insurance and borrowing, although it does require a certain amount of discipline as you need to make sure that there is always enough money in your rainy day fund to cover emergencies. High interest savings account can help you to grow this fund without having to keep contributing money.

Check for grants

There are home repair grants out there for those on a low income. These grants usually only cover repairs to serious damage such as a broken roof or dangerous wiring faults. In some cases, these grants could allow you up to five grand to use on home repairs. Get in contact with grant organisations and see if you are eligible.

Know your legal rights

There are times when you may be able to seek legal action for damage to your property. This could be damage caused by a neighbour such as a tree belonging to them that’s fallen into your garden or a fire that was caused by your neighbour and has caused damage to your property. There are also other times in which you may be able to seek legal compensation. If you hired a surveyor before moving into your home and they failed to identify certain faults, you may be able to make a negligence claim and cover repair costs this way.