James Howard, Yorkshire Payments
Managing the team at payment solutions provider Yorkshire Payments, James has learnt the art of patience in his time as a leader. From initially building credibility against the high street banks, he's now looking to the future for his growing company.
What is it the company does?
Yorkshire Payments is a payment services provider, supplying businesses and business owners with electronic payment services. We offer a variety of secure digital payment options from hand held terminals to online payment platforms.
Through fast growth we expanded to new offices in September 2014 to our now current Brighouse base. Yorkshire Payments now supports thousands of businesses and our strong customer service has ensured we have grown at a phenomenal rate with forecast projections to turnover £1.7 million this year.
To date we now recruit a team of 33 full time employees, with the aim to increase recruit more positions this year.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
Managing the team, I ensure that the people employed at Yorkshire Payments in turn look after our customers to prioritise the excellent customer service and Yorkshire values which the company is founded on.
I am a proud employer of more than 33 local people, several of whom have not simply worked for the company since formation, but have equally gained valuable training and experience in their roles. My vision to support the local community through apprenticeships and links to local schools has resulted in investment in the workforce. I am keen to be a good employer and train staff, rewarding hard work with progression.
As well as managing the growing team, I continue to get involved in sales. I have ambitious plans to continue to grow the business further with forecasts to turnover £1.7 million this year.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I started in mobile phone retail sales working for Phones4U. I was a good communicator and listener with a real passion for technology. This was a great move for me as I wasn’t particularly academic or knew what I wanted to do after school. The role proved that I was a natural born sales man, as I won national awards within the group at a young age for my sales performance.
I then went into Phones4U’s sister industry, BSkyB, again a technology-related, commercial sector. This was my first experience working business to business and even though I was only in my early twenties I excelled within the role and then moved into payments working for large corporate banks and larger independent payment companies. The service levels didn’t sit comfortably with me so it was then that I decided to set up my own business and create a Yorkshire brand based on strong, local customer service.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I am proud that my company’s growing success has been recognised and will continue to grow. This stems from my tenacity, determination, and driving and rewarding a team who excel at providing strong customer service to local businesses. I am a natural born sales man and leader and with a great team behind me, we have big plans to continue this growth.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Building credibility was certainly a challenge whilst setting up. I was entering a market which has been dominated by the banks for the past 50+ years. To offer a product like the well-known banks do, and ask new and established businesses to work with a new and unknown firm over a high-street name, was initially a tough ask.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I work extremely hard Monday – Friday so I make sure that I switch off on a weekend. We have a caravan holiday home in Flamborough which I enjoy going to with my wife and dogs Friday evening to Sunday.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to run my own business. I associated wealth and health with success and looked to entrepreneurs as successful people. This gave me the drive to ensure that I have that level of success with the freedom and flexibility to lead a team who respect me too.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I don’t like bad debt - people who are poor payers and you need to chase them to pay what you’re owed, however, I’m not afraid to do this – it is the Yorkshire element of being a straight-talking payment solution.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
Over the next five years we will be rolling out a number of franchise opportunities for other geographic areas across the UK. Developing a similar strategy based on the success of Yorkshire Payments, this will provide other emerging entrepreneurs the opportunity to take the reins in their local areas, to provide a local option for businesses rather having to rely on the banks.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Be focused. Find a discipline, product, or service that you want to offer, are passionate about, and specialise in it. Focus on it primarily and don’t let yourself get distracted.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
The importance of patience. I didn’t have a lot of patience when I was younger, I expected things to happen. Because I have always been so passionate, hardworking and driven, I put a high level of expectation on myself both personally and professionally. Business is about relationships and time is often needed so I have gradually learnt to become patient.