Thursday 18 July 2019, Exeter

What are family-run businesses looking for in their adviser?

For the first event organised by the new Exeter Committee of PM Forum, attendees were able to hear from a successful local business on what they had looked for when appointing their own professional advisers.  With the South West having the second largest concentrations of family-owned businesses after the South East, how professional advisers work with these businesses is crucial. 

Seth Whitford, Sales Director of Plymouth based Pepper Communications is one of four sons of the founder of the business set up by their father nearly forty years ago.  Seth talked about how their business had developed from traditional print business into a wider marketing services company providing printing and direct mail and data marketing services for South West and national businesses. 

All four sons had entered the family business and following their father’s retirement in 2013 the brothers journey of reviewing the business and planning for the next stages of its development.  They identified the need for professional advisers but had limited links with local solicitors, accountants and other professionals, with much work having traditionally been dealt with in-house. There had also been very limited marketing from local advisors to the firm.

Following recommendations from their bank they met with various local advisers in a formal process.   Although costs were a key consideration, Seth stressed the importance for them of choosing the advisers they felt most comfortable with and could work with as the firm develops.

In professional services marketing we often talk about value for money and building links between the client team and the client but Seth’s presentation stressed how crucial this had been.  The worst part, and the greatest opportunity for everyone in the room, was the failure of local professional advisers to have identified and targeted a growing local family firm, instead relying on them to search for assistance.

Steve Jones
Porter Dodson