Effective digital marketing – Facebook

Make the most of the new Facebook cover page

In the latest digital marketing article from Lewis Smith & Co. client Arrowsmith Marketing, the focus is on Facebook.

Arrowsmith’s Gareth Edwards says that Facebook has made a small but significant change to the layout of cover pictures (the large banner picture) at the top of company pages.

“Previously the profile picture and a row of tabs overlapped the cover picture.  That obscured the picture and made it awkward to add text to appear in the right places.

Now you have the full picture to show off something about your organisation and its products or services.”

making the most of facebook cover picture with CanvaIn the past creating nice looking graphics would have involved getting to grips with complex software like Photoshop.  Now there are free and easy to use tools that give everybody the chance to make their Facebook pages look great.

One of the best of the free tools around (there are paid for elements – but you won’t need to use them) is called Canva (www.canva.com).

Canva has a variety of templates that match the size and proportions of pictures used on many different social media tools including Facebook.  It can also be used to create graphics for lots of other marketing uses as well.

All you have to do is is select a template, upload a photo if you want, and then add text, shapes and icons. Canva provides a range of free (or cheap) templates that have been pre-filled with attractive picture, text-boxes and icons that you can then edit.

Here’s an example of what can be achieved.

Facebook cover picture for The Friends of Alfie JohnsonLocal disabled children’s charity, The Friends of Alfie Johnson,  held its annual Summer Ball and raised a massive amount of money.  It was really important for the charity to promote the success and to say thank you to all of the people who helped out.

It was straightforward to upload a picture of the beautifully decorated function room and then add some relevant text.  The “Thank You” call-out is a free option and Canva boasts a selection of up-to-date fonts, which in this case were used to give a “friendly feel” to the message.  Colours were chosen to match those used in the charity’s logo.  As an added tip there is a Google Chrome (browser) extension called Eye Dropper that makes it easy to find out exactly what colours are used on websites.

One of the big benefits of the ease of use that Canva offers is that you can change your Facebook cover page in line with your marketing activity.  The Friends of Alfie Johnson Facebook page is now being used to promote its next big fundraising event, its annual quiz.

You can use it to show off new products, promote special offers or highlight new customers.

Remember Canva can be used to create graphics for use right across social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  It also helps to provide a splash of colour and eye-catching information on blogs and websites.  Take a look at some of the news items on this site: the graphics are frequently Canva-produced.

If our posts about tax, compliance or business issues have raised a question your minds contact Lewis Smith & Co. today.

Call 01384 235549 or email info@lewissmith.com to set up an initial discussion.


Lewis Smith & Co. – Tax planning and reporting experts.

ACCA gold training status pays off

Dan’s ACCA Accolade

Another ACCA qualified accountant for Lewis Smith & Co. Lewis Smith & Co. is delighted to announce that Dan Bayliss has passed his ACCA qualification to achieve the status of chartered certified accountant.

Dan is the latest member of member of the team to benefit from our long term commitment to training. The company achieved Approved Training Practice gold level status from our professional association, ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) back in 2009. It has enabled us to nurture talent from within and ensure we continue to deliver the highest professional standards to our clients.

Lewis Smith & Co. director, Craig Beale, says he is delighted with Dan’s progress:

“Dan has worked hard to achieve this qualification so soon after completing the minimum 3 years of relevant experience.

The ACCA exams cover a wide range of topics; although the prime focus is on technical aspects of accountancy you also have to know about subjects like business analysis, corporate reporting and financial management. There’s plenty for Dan to bring to the table in terms of our ability to help clients.”

From Dan’s perspective it’s time to savour his success before putting it all into practice.

“Studying for ACCA does mean putting life on hold. As a keen golfer those weekends stuck in the library were a bit of a struggle.

The great thing though is that the study definitely helped me in my day to day work, especially in taxation, as well as providing insights into area that I would like to pursue in the future.”

At least we can report that Dan’s golfing ability wasn’t harmed by his time away from the greens. He recently won the club championship at his home course in Dudley. Of course he now realises that his reward for gaining his ACCA qualification is the same as if he hits a hole in one – the next round’s on you Dan.

For more information on how Lewis Smith & Co. can help your business, arrange a meeting today. Call 01384 235549 or email info@lewissmith.com.


Lewis Smith & Co. – Qualified accountants for Kingswinford companies.

Supporting the Mayor’s Cricket Match

In and out for Team Alfie

Several members of staff from Lewis Smith & Co. were drafted in to play cricket on behalf of local charity The Friends of Alfie Johnson on July 1st.

Team Alfie had been invited to participate in the Mayor of Dudley’s charity cricket match at Stourbridge Cricket Club and needed a few extra hands to make up the numbers.  Up-stepped Adam Baldwin, Dan Bayliss and Craig Beale to take their place in the line-up.

Lewis Smith & Co. raising money for local charity

L to R. Back row. Mark Smith (FOAJ), Dan Bayliss, Mayor Mohammed Hanif, Adam Baldwin, Gary Johnson (FOAJ), Mayoress Zabeda Khanam, Ian Marrey (FOAJ). Front row. Craig Beale, Alfie Johnson (himself) and Paul Johnson (FOAJ)

After a rain-delayed start Team Alfie took to the pitch and much to their surprise put in a stunning performance that saw them finish as runners-up.

The match was one of number of fundraisers organised by Mayor Mohammed Hanif.  He has nominated The Friends of Alfie Johnson as one of three charities that he his raising money during his tenure, along with  Diabetes UK – Type 2 Together and Dudley CIL.  The Friends of Alfie Johnson are becoming well known in the Black Country for their work in providing equipment and services to children with disabilities and their carers.

Craig summed it up when he said:

“As a Black Country business we are delighted to support the local community.  This kind of event gives us the opportunity to get out of the office and directly participate.  It’s fun and serious at the same time.”

Lewis Smith & Co. will be announcing more support for The Friends of Alfie Johnson in the coming weeks.  Standby for an announcement soon.

To find out more about Lewis Smith & Co. call us today on 01384 235549 or email info@lewissmith.com today.


Lewis Smith & Co. – Working with Stourbridge businesses.


Tax Free Childcare

Are you tax ready for the new childcare scheme?

tax free childcare schemeA new scheme to help families meet the costs of childcare, Tax-Free Childcare, is due to launch in early 2017.

It is designed to eventually replace the Employer Supported Childcare Scheme and offers to pay working families 20% of their childcare costs.

The government has issued a top ten list of things that you should know about the new scheme;

  • An online account will be available for families to pay into to cover the cost of childcare with a registered provider.
  • Payments into the account can be made flexibly and can come from other stakeholders such as grandparents.
  • Money can be withdrawn from the account if people’s circumstances change.
  • The government will top up the account with 20% childcare costs up to a total of £10,000.
  • Tax-Free Childcare will be available for children up to 12 years old and for disabled children up to 17 years old.
  • Parents must be in work and each earning £115 per week and a maximum of £100, 000 per year.
  • Any eligible working family can use the scheme regardless of employer.
  • The scheme covers the self-employed plus parents who are on paid sick leave, maternity, paternity and adoption leave.
  • If you receive Employer Supported Childcare then you don’t have to switch.
  • The scheme is designed to be as simple as possible to operate.

Although the scheme is open to more parents than Employer-Supported Childcare, there are circumstances where the current scheme is advantageous, according to the Money Saving Expert website.  These include;

  • Couples where one parent doesn’t work and the employed parent is eligible for childcare vouchers.
  • Basic rate taxpayer parents with childcare costs of less than £9,936.
  • Higher rate taxpayers with childcare costs under £6,252.

Understanding the best approach to take when planning for your children’s future while ensuring you pay no more tax than you are required is hard. That’s why Lewis Smith & Co. offers a comprehensive tax planning service to sort out the complexity.

Why not contact Lewis Smith & Co. today to arrange a free, confidential discussion on how we could help. Call 01384 235549 or email info@lewissmith.com.


Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountancy for Kingswinford businesses



HMRC Taskforces Map

Are you on the map? HMRC’s map.

Lewis Smith & Co. frequently highlights HMRC’s drive to uncover tax evasion and the knock-on impact of investigations on, completely innocent, small businesses.

Now HMRC has created a site (http://hmrcdigitalpilots.com/) that shows the locations and the business sectors targeted by its investigation taskforces.

These investigators reclaimed as much as £248m in evaded tax in the 2015-2016 tax year, helped by the introduction of sophisticated new IT systems.

If you want to know how likely it is that you or your business might come under scrutiny, then the top ten investigation targets are as follows;

  1. Hidden wealth
  2. Adult entertainment
  3. Tobacco sellers
  4. Property sector
  5. Shops
  6. Income tax repayments
  7. Taxi drivers
  8. Waste industry

If you are concerned about getting a call from the taxman or you have already received one, remember Lewis Smith & Co. can help. We can act as your representative in all dealings with the HMRC, and use our knowledge and experience to respond to queries concerning accounts and tax returns.

Contact Andrew or Craig to arrange a free informal discussion of your needs today. Call 01384 235549 or email info@lewissmith.com, today.


Lewis Smith & Co. – Stourbridge business? Need an accountant? 

Self-Build? Reclaim VAT

New builds and property conversions could be a little cheaper

reclaim VAT on new builds and property conversionThe popularity of programmes such as Grand Designs shows that there is an appetite for people to create a home that’s just that bit different.

What you may not have realised is that you can get a refund of VAT on building materials and services for your project, under some circumstances.

VAT is refundable if you are constructing a new house, or converting a property into a home.  To qualify the home must be separate and self-contained and not be for business use (single-room home offices are OK).  VAT for builder’s services on new buildings is already zero-rated.

Unless planning conditions state that facades or features must be retained, existing buildings must be demolished to qualify as new build. Refunds for builders’ work are also provided where a non-residential property is being converted or if a residential property has been vacant for more than 10 years.

Remember to keep records of all of the building plans, planning permissions, inspection reports and invoices associated with your project, to back up your claim for a refund.

If you need any help sorting out VAT associated with your self-build project just get in contact.

Call 01384 235549 or email info@lewissmith.com today.


Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountants for businesses in Tipton

Charity Begins at “Cardiac Hill”

Lewis Smith & Co. director-duo complete 8.5 fun run

Dudley accountants charity fun run

Andrew Smith and Craig Beale from a previous Fun Run

Directors Andrew Smith and Craig Beale yet again dragged themselves around the Great Midlands Fun Run recently.

The run, which starts and finishes in Sutton Coldfield town centre, is renowned for its “tricky” moments as it traverses Sutton Park including the oh-so steep Cardiac Hill at mile 6.

This year Andrew was running in support of Cancer Research while Craig carried on the tradition of supporting local charity the Friends of Alfie Johnson.

Although your memories of June 5th will almost certainly include blue skies and hot sun, it was surprisingly cold on the start line.  Things only hotted up as the course approached the entrance to the park, and the clouds parted.  Fortunately there were a large number of spectators on hand to offer encouragement and, in some cases, sprays of cold water to keep people going.

In previous years the rivalry between the dynamic duo has seen some very close finishing times.  This time around Craig took a family-oriented view of proceedings and made his way round, children in tow, at a comfortable 2 hours plus.  Andrew on the other hand showed his normal determination and shaved a minute off last year’s time to make it round in 1 hour 23 minutes.

As always Craig provided words of praise for his colleague:

“It was a fast time by Andrew’s standards.  But there were still 1, 623 people ahead of him. Better luck next time.

Most importantly their efforts have contributed greatly towards their chosen charities.  This year Team Alfie’s ranks were swollen by the addition of over 200 students from Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls.  This is likely to have massively increased the amount of donations they receive to help disabled children when the final tally is made in November.

Lewis Smith & Co. is continuing with its community spirit as it sponsors two tables at the forthcoming Friends of Alfie Johnson Summer Ball in July.

You may not want to contact us for advice on running but we are available to help you on accountancy, tax and business advice matters.  Just call 01384 235549 or email info@lewissmith.com.


Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountants for Dudley business




Logistics Client Drives 60% T/O Increase

Making Sense of the Numbers

Birmingham pallet freight businessLong standing Lewis Smith & Co. client “Möbile – people.powered.logistics” is reaping the benefits of a modernisation and rebranding programme it started last year.

The Birmingham-based company, which was founded 35 years ago under the name Mobile Freight Services, has seen turnover increase by nearly 60% to £4.1m.  That is an incredible achievement in such a competitive industry as transport and logistics.

Commercial Director Ian Jolly says that the company’s new name holds the answer to its success:

“We added to our vehicle fleet and the technology that goes with it, but more importantly we continued to invest in our people.

Möbile has an excellent working environment that brings a high standard of customer care and low staff turnover.  We are known for getting deliveries right first time and sorting out queries straight away.”

Palletised Freight Distributors in Birmingham - Send it Möbile 2016-06-03 10-28-14Lewis Smith & Co. has been able to help the company manage through this growth phase by providing regular financial analysis and reporting.  It’s very much a hands-on service with our people operating as part of the Möbile team.

Ian says that Möbile benefits from Lewis Smith & Co.’s objective financial perspective:

“Andrew (Smith) and his staff supplement our understanding of the business with their skill in making sense of the numbers.

The detailed budgets, clear forecasts and effective reporting that Lewis Smith & Co. have helped us develop are key tools in enabling our expansion.”

Möbile is heading towards a further 25% increase in turnover by the end of the year as it continues to win contracts for palletised freight distribution and dedicated transport systems.  It is showing its commitment to growth by setting up a driver apprenticeship scheme to develop the skills of some young recruits.

Andrew Smith, director at Lewis Smith & Co. believes that Möbile is a great example of what happens when you put passion and precision together:

“Möbile is really serious about delivering excellence.  The business operation is set-up to exceed customer expectations and the financial operation makes sure that what happens is profitable.  This is a company that will go far.”

For more information about Möbile – people.powered.logistics visit www.senditmobile.com.

To discuss how Lewis Smith & Co. can help you grow your business set up an appointment today. Call 01384 235549 or email info@lewissmith.com.


Lewis Smith & Co. – Moving accountants is easier than you think. Try us today.