How to keep pupils and staff safe from Viruses?

The Summer Holidays are now underway, this is a great time to assess your school’s readiness for September.

With all children returning to school in the new school year, I have highlighted some areas which will help you keep our children and your staff safe.

Welcoming Staff and Children into the School Environment.

Prepare your entrance. Parents, staff and your pupils need to be aware of procedures in place. Do you have a new one-way system, are parents required to wear masks for dropping off and collection?

The Importance of Signage.

Parents, staff and your pupils need to be aware of procedures in place. Signage is one of the most effective ways to get the message across. This may be a banner displayed on your school fence, signs mounted on walls or graphics on the floor.

Make sure your signs are suitable for your audience.

For your pupils, make your signs colourful and engaging. Some of your younger pupils will not be able to read so include simple images or even create characters that they can follow.

For staff and parents, keep your messages clear and to the point. Use no more than two main colours in your design.

Messages to think about. Do you have staggered drop-off and collection times? Are visitors allowed in the School building? Encouraging children not to touch their mouths, eyes and noses.

You may have introduced new collection points for different year groups. Point people in the right direction with Way Finding Signs, these can be colourful Finger Post Signs or Wall Mounted Signs.

Keeping Hands Clean

Children love getting their hands dirty, this can bring in viruses and bacteria.

Minimise the risk of viruses spreading by installing Hand Washing Stations at each entrance and exit point.

Having Hand Sanitiser is a quick and easy way of getting rid of any viruses or bacteria, with no need for water or paper towels. Wall Mounted and floor standing dispensers make it easy for pupils to use will little waste or mess.

Keeping ‘Bubbles’ apart

Support Bubbles are now going to be a part of the school day. This could be an entire year group or a maximum number of pupils and staff.

Line Marking Tape is a great way for marking areas, available in a range of colours, you can have a colour for each ‘bubble’. You can separate areas for play or this could also help at lunch times, marking out table areas.

Placing simple ticks and crosses in seating areas clearly show which chairs are not in use. Having just a symbol is easy to understand.

As a parent myself, I am looking forward to my child returning to school. Schools have done an amazing job throughout the pandemic and I hope these suggestions will help you get ready to welcome all of our children in September and continue the amazing work you do.

How will the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme work?

Get ready for the increase custom throughout August.  The Chancellor is determined to help Restaurants, Cafes, Pubs and Hotels with a whopping 50% discount.

How will the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme work?

Here’s what we know about how the scheme will work so far, from the customers point of view.  The Chancellor will update us all.

  1. You’ll be able to get a 50% discount on sit-down meals and non-alcoholic drinks if you’re eating in. The total amount you get off the bill will be capped at £10 per person, per meal (Takeaways won’t be discounted).
  2. You’ll only be able to get the discount at participating restaurants, cafes and pubs. Firms can apply online Monday 13th July, and; the Government says a full list of those participating business’ will be published on it’s website shortly. Major eateries are likely to join the scheme, but; at the moment it is not yet known.
  3. The discount will apply on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays only. It will run throughout August 2020.
  4. You’ll be able to use the discount as many times as you want. There’s no limit, as long as it is on the three days.
  5. Your discount will be applied automatically when you pay. So; you won’t need to do anything to get it – the restaurant, cafe or pub will simply apply the reduction, then claim the cost back from the Government via their online gateway..
  6. Crucially, you WILL be able to use the discount in conjunction with other vouchers. This is important, particularly because many restaurants already offer discounts early in the week. The Government discount will be applied after the other vouchers – so if you use a restaurant voucher, you’ll get a 50% discount on the already-discounted price.

From a business point of view, you need to think it through, will your current vouchers stay in place for use throughout August?  Do you have social distancing requirements in place to enjoy the additional trade that will come your way?  BHMA can help you with all the social distancing products to allow you to follow the law and keep both your customers and staff safe.  Take some time to consider your needs and then log on to and look at the headers.  To the far right, hover over social distancing and choose the section that you need.  Do it now, as there are lots of businesses that will be trying to get ready for the rush.

Why Practice Social Distancing?

Information gathered from the CDC (Centres for Disease Control & prevention) says that COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact.  I think we all now appreciate that much now.  The spread happens when an infected person, spreads droplets, by coughing, sneezing, or even talking to another person. The droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the eyes, mouths or noses of people nearby.  The UK Governments ruling is to ‘socially distance’ by two metres is to assist in minimising this possibility.  The droplets can also be inhaled into our lungs, where the virus can attach itself to our own cells.  Recent studies indicate that people who are infected, but do not have symptoms, are likely also play a role in the spread of COVID-19, because they literally don’t know they have it, and therefore don’t avoid others as they should.  We; at BHMA realised these possibilities of the person to person spread a while ago, and were prompted to make screens for business’, transportation and offices, which are now within many businesses already.

COVID-19 can be contracted by touching a surface or object that has been infected by the virus.  If you then touch the contaminated surface with your hand and transfer it to your own mouth, nose, or eyes, you stand a chance of becoming ill.  However, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. The main spread is person to person, hence the Government locking us all down. COVID-19 can live for 72 hours on some surfaces it is thought, dependant on factors such as sun light and humidity.  Again; BHMA has a product to kill germs on a non porous surface, we recommend using a 70% alcohol medical grade cleaner.  Its listed in the Sanitiser link below.  It saves having to buy anti-bacterial wipes, which contain the dreaded plastics.

The risk of severe illness may be different from person to person.  Some seem to have a mild version, others may die from this dreadful disease. Anyone can get and spread COVID-19. Everyone has a role to play in slowing the spread and protecting themselves, their family, and their community.  Business’ play a key role in ‘Keeping the Country’s economy going’ as well as protecting their workforce.  They have a huge responsibility.  Keeping their employees two metres apart can be very challenging in many office, factory and warehouse situations.  It is especially difficult if the business’ interact directly with the public at the same time.  Take-aways, Shops, Banks, Garages, Cafes and many others all have customers and staff together.  The 3 S’s below will certainly assist both customer and staff to stay safe.  Please take a look, and then share this blog.  Your action could help save others.

Sanitiser –


Stay Safe – A message from the Team at BHMA.

Why are Local Pubs on the Increase?

Good news, the decline of the local pub may be at an end! For the first time since 2010 the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has reported a net gain of 320 pubs in 2019 to 39,145*.

The rise has significantly shown a dramatic result compared with the previous years, where the UK pub network declined by an average of 732 pubs each year.

It appears more pubs are utilising technology and using data to understand their customers better, they can then change business hours based on behaviour patterns and try and generate more sales during quieter periods.

Another reason is the increase on beer sales. Craft beers grew by 194,000 pints in 2019 and has created a popular cult following in real ale. Many smaller pubs are now showcasing guest and world beers and are creating tasting events along with food promotions and accommodation. The local pub can no longer rely on the same old regulars and have upped their game! 

The potential revival could gather momentum after Tim Martin, the founder of the Wetherspoon chain announced plans to spend £200m over the next four years on expansion, an investment that will create 10,000 jobs.

The local pub is as much a part of the British culture as the Queen, in fact they are referenced to in the 11th century. They improve community engagement and are the third most popular tourist activity, and we can finally say the numbers are heading in the right direction.

* There are now a total of 39,145 pubs in the UK – based on businesses classified by the Standard Industrial Classification code 56302 : Public houses and bars. Figures are rounded to the nearest five by ONS to prevent identification, meaning these are not exact numbers

What’s the best way to celebrate National Margarita Day?

With a Chocolate Margarita of course! To encourage your customers to participate in National Margarita Day on the 22nd February simply follow my favourite recipe below.  Combine it with chocolate to celebrate World Chocolate Day too on the 9th February and encourage upselling throughout the month of February to help banish the winter blues.

Chocolate Margarita

When it comes to chocolate cocktails, adding complementary flavours such as citrus makes it a little more interesting. Both tequila and orange juice are natural companions to chocolate. By adding just a hint of orange and lime, it goes beyond simply drinking spiked chocolate.


  • 1 cup ice
  • 2 ounces blanco tequila
  • 1 ounce chocolate liqueur
  • 1 ounce cream (or half and half)
  • Splash orange juice (fresh)
  • Splash lime juice (fresh)
  • Dash chocolate bitters
  • Garnish: sugar and cocoa powder (for rim)
  • Garnish: shaved chocolate

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. Rim a margarita glass: Begin by mixing equal parts of sugar and cocoa powder in a small dish until it becomes a consistent brown colour. Then wet the rim with a piece of citrus fruit by running it around the edge. Roll the wet rim in the cocoa sugar to get an even coat all the way around. Tap off any excess.
  3. In a blender, add the ice, tequila, chocolate liqueur, cream, and bitters. Squeeze in a splash each of orange and lime juices.
  4. Blend until smooth.
  5. Pour into the prepared glass.
  6. Top with chocolate shavings.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

To let your customers know you have this amazing cocktail add a simple show card to your tables with a printed cocktail menu..

Recipe credit – The Spruce Eats, Photo credit – S&C Design Studios

What is Recycled Polycolour?

Recycled Polycolour is the latest material to be used in the construction of our notice boards.

It is manufactured from 100% PET plastic, which depending on the colour of the finished material, contains up to 90% post-consumer material, plastic bottles in the main!

The Polycolour FR sheets need to be stored horizontally and kept as clean as possible during storage and manufacture and must be stored indoors in a dry cool, well ventilated area and avoid exposure to heat 65°C or greater. 

Before cutting we inspect the whole sheet for any defects, damage or soiling, we always wear clean gloves when handling the sheets to offer the best finish possible for our customers. The surface texture is very similar to felt and measures 9mm in thickness, messages may be attached using pins. It is flame retardant and has a 0.8 noise reduction rating making it perfect for schools, hospitals and offices.

This material is the best choice for those wanting to be environmentally conscious whilst still needing a notice board!

Our Polycolour notice boards can be mounted on walls and hung from ceilings using standard fixings, adhesive tapes or hook and loop. The acoustic rating also allows the boards to be used as noise reduction screens and at the end of their life they can be recycled in your PET waste stream.

The class B fire rating makes them suitable for schools, offices and public buildings, as explained below.

European Standards Class B (Highest Rating)
Class B fire resistant notice boards have been designed and tested to meet the latest European fire regulations EN13501-1:2007+A1:2009 Class B. These notice boards are suitable to be mounted in corridors, stairways, lobbies, escape routes and dead end corridors. Please note the European Class B replaces the British Standard Class O

British Standards Class 1
Class 1 fire resistant notice boards have been designed and tested to meet British Standard BS476 Part 7, Class 1. The boards have a fire resistant material covering/surface and are suitable for offices and classrooms where the risk of fire is minimal. If there is any risk of fire whatsoever then Class B is advised.

Please visit our website to see our full range of Recycled Polycolour Notice Boards.

Top 10 Food Costing Tips

Getting your prices right is the most important aspect of catering, especially at this time of year! Follow our top 10 tips below to save your business money and add healthy profits to the bottom line.

Every recipe for every menu item, both à la carte and catered, must be standardised and costed correctly. This basic discipline ensures consistency of product and ongoing profitability. While the initial set up requires some effort on the part of the chef or management team, it allows each item to be priced based upon its raw ingredient cost. Some ingredients will change price quickly, so its important to revisit recipe costing on a regular basis. Set up each recipe on a separate worksheet in Microsoft Excel. This way you can amend the ingredient prices and re-cost dishes quickly. Train someone else in your team to re-cost also, this will lighten the burden for you.

The standard method of pricing is to take the cost of each menu item and multiply it by an appropriate multiplier to cover the cost of labour, fixed and variable costs. For instance if you multiply the cost of the ingredients by 2.5, you will yield a 40% food cost, with a 60% profit; 3 times, will yield a 33% food cost and 66% profit. This simple formula is all well and good, but if your revenues are below projections and/or your payroll cost or overhead are higher than expected, you may still lose money. Given the interplay of revenues, pricing, volume of business, and cost structure, these numbers must be tracked closely and reviewed frequently.

Standardised recipes are costed based upon specific portion sizes. If untrained or poorly supervised employees routinely serve larger than costed portions, you can kiss your profitability goodbye. Costly meat and fish products should be weighed to ensure correct portion size. Ladles of specific sizes should be used to plate menu items. Pies, cakes, and other baked desserts should be cut and served using templates to ensure the correct number of portions are realised from a multi-portion. All kitchen staff must be trained to serve the portion size that has been costed.

Labour, both front-of-house and in the kitchen, is the single largest expense in a food service operation; it is also a continuing challenge to control. Electronic timekeeping systems make it easier for supervisors to verify employee hours, but regardless of system used, supervisors must monitor payroll hours daily. In my experience a ceiling of 20% of VAT exclusive income should be adhered to, to ensure profitability if a 66% profit is achieved.

Benchmarking is the act of measuring and analysing operating performance. In a food service operation there are many things to benchmark, such as meals served and average spend per meal period by day of week; payroll hours by position by meal period or day; and beer, wine, liquor sold per meal period and day of week. When tracked over time, these statistics become the baseline to project and monitor future performance. Benchmarks also allow measurement of customer reaction to foodservice initiatives such as new menus or pricing. Most importantly, benchmarking makes supervisors more knowledgeable about their operations. Such knowledge translates to improved operations and bottom lines.

Inventories are critical to monitor stock levels, avoid shortages, control pilferage, and determine cost of goods sold. Inventories can also be time consuming and inconvenient for hard working chefs. Inventories sometimes get delegated to poorly trained subordinates who miss or miscount key items. Sloppy inventories contribute to erratic cost of goods sold. Poorly organised storerooms contribute to sloppy inventories. Keys to accurate inventories include well-organized storage areas, knowledgeable individuals conducting inventories, routine and timely inventories, and organised receiving documents, invoices, and credits slips. Delegating counts is acceptable if employees are trained. However, having the same employee conduct all inventories without spot-checking and oversight will invite problems.

Service employees who are trained in the techniques of suggestive selling can improve your average sale value and bottom line. Whenever a new menu is put in place, all servers should be provided a “selling sheet” that gives key information about each entree. Such information should include cooking method, ingredients, time of preparation, and enticing descriptors to help sell each item. Just as standardised recipes are important in the kitchen for consistency of product, selling sheets provide the service staff with the knowledge and information they need to sell the product. In addition to entrees, special training should be given for the suggestive selling of appetisers, desserts, wines, and speciality alcoholic beverages. The time spent providing servers with the information and confidence to sell your food and beverages will yield consistently higher average sales values.

Every month’s budgeted food sales is made up of how many meals are sold and how much each guest spends on average for a meal. By breaking your projections down into meals and average spend per head and posting your daily targets prominently in the kitchen, you provide your servers with goals that connect their daily efforts to your profitability. By comparing month-to-date actual meal counts and average spend per head to projected, you give your employees a day by day record of their progress. Most people are competitive by nature and this simple technique will become a powerful incentive to servers. The same technique can be applied to appetisers, desserts, and bottles of wine sold.

By tracking key benchmark statistics and keeping a daily log of business levels and staffing, foodservice supervisors can develop a routine system of forecasting business levels. While some level of volatility can always be expected in guest patronage, the act of forecasting, when formally done and evaluated after the fact, will assist in maintaining service levels while controlling labour cost.

While some guests are vocal with their opinions, many are not. Food service supervisors should make it easy for guests to provide feedback. Comment cards must be readily available, periodic surveys should be conducted, revenue benchmarks should be analysed to measure guest responses to offerings and initiatives, and employees should be trained to routinely report comments made or overheard to supervisors.

Every professional food and beverage manager is aware of these necessary elements to success. Unfortunately, in the ongoing rush of business they are often overlooked. At its root the problem is one of organisation. By taking the time to establish systems to address each guideline, by training and delegating tasks, by making each guideline part of the daily routine, each of these steps can be easily integrated into your operation. While the initial exertion may be great, so also is the ongoing payback.

Useful formula – To determine profit percentage = Gross Profit cash multiply by 100, and then divide by VAT exclusive sales price.To achieve a particular profit percentage = Take your desired % figure from 100. Then take the cost price of your portion/product and divide it by the number you have left. Then multiply that by 100.

How big should the lettering on my sign be?

This is a common question and there are essentially a number of answers, in order to work out which answer is correct for your situation we need to consider various factors such as…

Fire Assembly Point Signage

What type of sign is it?

The type of sign will determine if there are any specific requirements you will need to follow in the design/creation of the sign. If the sign is a Health & Safety sign then there are guidelines you should follow with regards to the text size, font colour combination and even the position of the sign. For an in-depth look at Health & Safety Signage please read this article, Health & Safety Signage. If the sign is for a business, such as a sign above a shop window or on the outside of an office block you are probably not restricted in terms of font or colours. However, you may be limited by local planning laws, the local council or even your landlord if your premises are rented, be sure to check before you spend hard earned money on a sign that you are ultimately not able to erect.

How far away will people be when they see the sign?

This is probably the reason you are reading this article as this will ultimately determine the lettering size. We need to assume that we are talking about a person with 20:20 vision (or they are wearing glass/contacts to achieve 20:20 vision), we can then use the table below to work out the optimum lettering size based on the distance from the sign that we expect people to read it. Let’s take a sign that we want people be able to easily read from a distance of 25m, this could be a sign on building in an industrial estate and we want it readable as they come through the gate. You would need to make the letters 8” or 203mm tall for this to be easily read at the gate (25m away), however the sign would still be visible and potentially readable up to 106m away, ensuring that your business is also visible to passing traffic on the main road. If the sign is for a shop on the high street you may be looking at distances slightly less, maybe around 20m so you would look at a letter height of 6” or 150mm.

Table of reading distances

How big is the area available for the sign?

Another consideration factor is the area you have to mount the sign and what content you need to add to it. You now need to take into account the distance from which the sign will be read, what the important content is and ensure you do not make the sign bigger than the area you have. This can sometimes cause a trade off between the company name and the strap line, it is recommended that you ensure the company name is easily readable at the distance you need, this will bring the customers to your door, as they get closer they will be able to read the strap line.

Will it be illuminated or reflective?

Halo Illuminated Sign

Think about illumination of your sign, will you need it illuminated, probably in the winter months, but not so much in the summer. Think about how your sign could be viewed by the passing business, if it was illuminated would that turn peoples heads more than an unlit sign? If you have traffic that comes down the road towards you and their headlights shine towards your sign, you could be clever and add some reflective vinyl to your letters causing them to reflect back towards the traffic effectively popping off the front of the building and grabbing potential customers attention.

Health & Safety Signage

As you read this take a look around your environment, if you are in a commercial or industrial environment you will probably see health & safety signs that are there to direct you in the event of a fire, stop you from hurting yourself on some machinery or even indicating what vehicles and the speed they should be traveling at as they pass by your window. When it comes to health & safety signage there are some guidelines that need to be followed, these cover the colours, the text size, the font and in some cases the symbols that are used.

Health & Safety signage falls into a few categories, each has a specific colour.

Blue signs are an order. Red signs are a prohibition. Yellow signs are a warning. Green signs are a safe condition.

Blue signs are an order. Red signs are a prohibition. Yellow signs are a warning. Green signs are a safe condition.

The font used on the signs is important as it must be clearly legible from a distance, Arial is usually used as this is a clear text when used in both upper and lower case. The colour of the font is usually white or black depending on the sign colour, ensuring the greatest contrast and legibility. Blue, red and green signs will have white text yellow will have black, white on yellow is pretty difficult to read.

Next is the size of the text, this is dependant on how far away the sign must be easily read. Think of a fire exit sign, these need to be large enough to be readable from the other end of the corridor that they are in to ensure that everyone can see them. To this end there are also guidelines to follow, the table below gives you the letter height based on the distance the sign needs to be legible from.

Recommended letter size based on viewing distances

When you are talking about health & safety signs you need to ensure they have a symbol as well as the text, this ensures that people who can not read English still have the opportunity to understand the sign through the symbol. There are a number of standards out there for symbols and these are constantly being updated, so ensure you are keeping up to date with the current recommended symbology.

For a full range of Health & Safety signage please visit our website, if you need a sign that is not listed we can always design and produce it for you.

Where Can I Get ZIG Posterman, Illumigraph, Woodcraft, Acrylista and Posca Pens from now?

The manufacturer of the ZIG brands of pens for blackboards chalkboards and crafts is no longer in the UK, but; BHMA Limited are!  We are now the importer for these pens.  What’s more, we have a huge range of colours and pack sizes to offer too.

What are all the Brand Names and why?

Initially; BHMA limited brought Posterman and Illumigraph into the UK for use on blackboards in pubs, clubs and restaurants.  The reason for the two was that Posterman pens were waterproof for outside use and Illumigraph were wet-wipe, easy to change for inside use.  Sales of these pens rocketed, as they replaced chalk, which washed off outside unless you coated it with hairspray to fix the chalk to the board.  Also; another consideration was able to be made by Environmental Health Officers in food areas, as chalk dust could be a physical contaminant of food, which would breach the Food Act 1984 and the subsequent revisions of the regulations within it.

Posterman Waterproof Pens

To Summarise to this point

Posterman are Waterproof and Opaque Colours

Illumigraph and Wet-Wipe and Luminous under Ultra-violet light

The next stage was that the manufacturer saw an advantage of developing a range of Posterman pens in wet-wipe.  Here is where the confusion started.  However; the colour range of the Posterman Wet-Wipe are opaquer than the Illumigraph, so it did make sense, if you had the time to work it out.

Illumigraph Wet Wipe Pens

To Summarise to this point

Posterman are available in either Waterproof or Wet-Wipe and both Opaque Colours

Illumigraph and Wet-Wipe and Luminous under Ultra-violet light

Colour range was then thought to be holding back the waterproof pen sales, so; the manufacturer then introduced a new range of lovely colours.  Unfortunately, they didn’t call them Posterman, which would have made sense as they were waterproof opaque inks.  Instead, they called them Woodcraft to try to capture the crafts market.  However; these pens are amazingly good on blackboards.  Adding to the colour range.

To Summarise to this point

Posterman are available in either Waterproof or Wet-Wipe and both Opaque Colours

Illumigraph and Wet-Wipe and Luminous under Ultra-violet light

Woodcraft are Waterproof and Opaque Colours

Next came the rebrand of the Woodcraft pens, a crazy move once more. The new name for the Woodcraft range of pens is Acrylista, still a fabulous colour range and good quality pens.  It just added more confusion to the ranges.  In my opinion the Woodcraft should have been rebranded Posterman.

Acrylista Waterproof Pens

To Summarise to this point

Illumigraph and Wet-Wipe and Luminous under Ultra-violet light

 Posterman are available in either Waterproof or Wet-Wipe and both Opaque Colours

Woodcraft are Waterproof and Opaque Colours – Discontinued

Acrylista are Waterproof and Opaque Colours, replacing Woodcraft.

Posca Waterproof Pens

So; that leaves Posca. Posca pens are very good pens but their colours are different to Posterman.  However; the white is probably the best white available.  Posca are also made by a different manufacturer.

At BHMA Limited, we stock them all to allow you to choose exactly what you would like.  Single Pens, Wallets of 5, Wallets of 8 and multiples of course.  Please refer to the website for the varying nib sizes and costs.  You will also see videos showing you how to use the pens to promote sales and to affect quality notices.  If you need more help just ask our team on the live chat, or on the phone on 01353 665141.

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