Web fitness checks

An Internet consultancy in the North West has launched a website service for fast-growing small businesses, allowing finance departments to quantify return on investment from web-based ventures.

Bolton-based e-str@tegies offers an Internet ‘clipping’ service for business information and rival company websites and a website appraisal service to judge the effectiveness of commercial websites.

Monthly charges range from £50 per month for the information service, to £350 per month for the full consultancy service.

The company is keen to expand its virtual services to finance areas including tax advice and financial services. It is in discussions with a handful of top 50 accountancy firms, but refused to reveal details.

David Turnbull, chief executive of the UK 200 group of accountants, said it would be interested in discussing the service with e-str@tegies. But he warned the service faced fierce competition from rival advisory bodies. ‘There are so many IT advisory services such as Business Links. But a lot of the time small businesses couldn’t be bothered to use them,’ he said. The profile of e-commerce has been given a shot in the arm recently with companies such as Sage and Access Accounting incorporating web access and e-commerce modules into their software.

But little attention has been paid to maintaining the websites and judging their performance against rival companies.

Andrew Magee, managing director of e-str@tegies, said its UK research had shown around 40% of small manufacturing companies already have an Internet site and use email.

‘There is a gap in the market and the vast majority of SMEs don’t work with the Group A firms until they get bigger,’ he said.

Executive Network, a Bolton subsidiary of recruitment consultant Pertemps Group, has updated its website following an appraisal from e-str@tegies. ‘The key issue is being one step ahead of competitors,’ said Geoff Critchley, managing director of Executive Network, who added that it was interested in future consultancy services, including tax advice.

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