In this article, you will get all information regarding How Paul Williamson has led Ernest Wilson to long term success by focusing on clients
When Paul Williamson walked through the doors of Ernest Wilson’s offices in Bradford in October 1985, he thought it was just for a short six-month IT contract.
The company needed to update its processes with modern IT technology and so then Managing Director Robert Williamson asked his son Paul, an established IT consultant, to help.
Paul remembers: “Computing was very new at the time and much of the business was still done manually. When I installed an IBM 36 computer system, we were one of the first business transfer agents in the country to computerise our processes.
“My original contract was for six months, but I got everything installed, tested and up and running after just three months. I needed something to do for the remainder of my contract and so my dad asked me to start doing some everyday tasks around the office, including answering the phone and attending property visits and valuations with some of the agents.”
But little did Paul know that 37 years later he’d still be at the helm of the company which over the years has become established as the country’s leading business transfer agent.
The short six-month contract in the business made Paul take stock of what he wanted from life, and which career path to pursue.
Paul explains: “Although I’d set out working in IT, my time spent at the business made me realise that I didn’t want to stay in IT.
“It soon became apparent that I thrived around people – meeting them, talking to them, and hearing their different stories and backgrounds. The sales environment at Ernest Wilson’s was ideal for me.”
Paul worked his way up through the business over the years and, in 1995, was appointed managing director following his father’s retirement. Since joining, Paul has witnessed many changes.
“Things have certainly developed,” Paul says. “The company is now totally unrecognisable from the early days in Hallfield Road, Bradford, when there were just 12 members of staff and we sold to between 80 and 100 businesses.
“Now we’re in state-of-the-art, open plan, modern offices on Gelderd Road in Leeds. There are approximately 30 members of staff, and we sell between 600 to 700 businesses a year.”
But the rapid growth of the business is not the only major change which Paul has witnessed over the years, there’s also the way in which business is conducted.
“Much of the personal touch has gone,” Paul reflects. “I remember when, on a Saturday morning, there’d literally be queues of people waiting to come into the office to speak to an agent, and all would be at different stages of their journey. Some would be on the point of sale or purchase, whilst others would only have just had an initial idea to buy or sell.
“Nowadays, so much is done over the internet which is a shame in a way as it takes away so much of the personal touch and building relationships with people.”
“The other thing I’ve noticed is that when people come to us wanting to buy a business, they’ll already have got the finance sorted out. Years ago, they’d have wanted us to arrange the finance for them.”
Something which has remained constant over the years is the confidentiality surrounding many of Ernest Wilson’s transactions. Unlike the residential property market with ‘For Sale’ signs and large volumes of marketing materials, many of the business’ dealings go
Paul explains: “Publicity can often cause uncertainty and scaremongering around business sales.
“For example, when staff hear that a business is going up for sale, they immediately start wondering if their jobs will be safe and if the new owners will want to keep them.
“In my experience, however, the reverse is more often the case with buyers wanting to keep the staff as part of the business’ assets, instead of having to start from scratch recruiting a workforce.
“Whatever the case, we wholeheartedly respect client confidentiality, and many deals are concluded with no ‘For Sale’ signs on the property, minimal marketing information and only the people directly involved in the transaction knowing the full details.”
In October 2019, the business was sold to leading corporate restructuring practitioner Begbies Traynor, with Paul contracted to remain as MD for the following five years.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, with associated lockdowns, the market slumped. But, as Paul explains, this was only short-lived.
He says: “Gradually, as restrictions were lifted and viewings could go ahead again, albeit with precautions, things immediately picked up. I think that being at home during lockdown, people began to take stock of their lives and reassess their priorities.
“They wanted to become masters of their own destiny and suddenly became interested in purchasing a business. This trend has continued, and the market remains extremely buoyant.”
So, in conclusion, what does Paul believe is the key to the businesses ongoing growth and success.
He comments: “Quite simply, we care about getting results. There’s no point at all in not looking after clients, it doesn’t get anyone anywhere.
“If someone wants to purchase a business then we’re not interested in just flogging them the first thing that comes along. We want to get to know them and build up a relationship so we can fully understand what they’re looking for and get the best possible outcome for them.”
He continues: “It’s the same case when people are selling their business. We won’t hook them up with any potential buyer, but we’ll work with them to ensure there’s the right ‘fit,’ and we can get them the best possible price from someone who’s genuinely interested in buying
“When we have clients who over the years have become good friends, it shows we’re doing something right.”
How Paul Williamson has led Ernest Wilson to long term success by focusing on clients
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