Top tips for small businesses looking to benefit from the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games

It is certain that the country will be extremely busy next summer – but it will certainly be open for business?
The London 2012 Games are the equivalent of 46 World Championships happening simultaneously. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity where many small businesses will benefit directly. Even if you aren’t an ‘official’ supplier, a long list of indirect impacts may prompt you to consider the operational changes you need to make.
 
If you are the perfect company to benefit from the current shortage of Portaloos, or are primed to pounce on the predicted retail bonanza, have you considered how your business operations might scale up quickly or how your employees will be able to work around any transport or supply chain congestion?
 
Here, Graham Sutherland, managing director, BT Business provides his top tips to help small businesses prepare for the Games – making sure they are race-fit when London 2012 starts. 
Making your London 2012 legacy work – now!: Visa figures from The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games showed retail sales were up 200% in some sites, and provided clear learnings. Unprepared businesses lost out on opportunities and experienced dissatisfied customers. Businesses that were prepared exploited the commercial potential and the technological upgrades they made are still working hard for them today. 
 
Work flexibly to avoid congestion and use time efficiently: Your customers will still expect the standard of service they’ve always had and you will be trying to deliver great service during a challenging time. Almost a third of organisations were affected during the Vancouver Games. Whether employees face difficultly getting to work or are keen to watch certain events – flexible working could be the answer, supported by mobile devices and field force automation to keep up to date on orders, appointments and product information. 
 
Make your network flexible: They’ll need to cope with the demands the Games will bring. Flexing capacity up and down in a cost-effective way will allow an uninterrupted service to your customers, reinforcing their trust in you and your brand. 
 
Save money by bundling communications costs: If employees are working remotely from a variety of devices, bundling phone, mobile and broadband costs will help you. Also consider ‘unified’ systems allowing messages and applications to be picked up on any device, which are unbeatable to avoid missing calls.
 
Make calls online so you don’t miss out: If you’re lucky enough to be in demand during London 2012, you’ll probably see a high volume of in and outbound calls. Use internet telephony to save money on line rental and call charges.
 
Conserve capital and switch to subscription solutions: A sweeping trend regardless of the London 2012 Games, is the move to cloud computing applications. However, when there is a higher than normal demand for communications software, software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications provide the latest software when you need it, instantly.
 
Analyse your communications spend: The 80,000-seat Olympic stadium costs were revised from £280m to £496m – and your own business costs might rise exponentially too due to the influx of customers, so you need to keep your business costs in check; understand in detail how your business incurs its telephone charges for example – whether fixed or mobile – to cut costs. Advise is available to understand your call itemisation, manage resources and spot call trends
 
Consider different broadband options: Instant access to customers and responding quickly to their needs is the foundation for day-to-day business.  However, during the Games, communications will be stretched. Internet connectivity can be provided in different speeds and with added resilience, to support employees regardless of disruptions. 
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