Duncan Williams – Stocktaker South East Wales
Based in Cardiff and covering Bridgend, Newport, Abergavenny
In 1999, after dedicating 21 years to Hotel Management, I found myself yearning for the opportunity to work for myself in a role that would leverage my previous experience while allowing me to be my own boss.
When I acquired my franchise in 1999, I was fortunate to inherit some clients from the previous franchisee. It’s a source of pride that, even 24 years later, several of those clients are still with me. I managed to grow the business rapidly before settling into a more regular pattern that allowed me to strike a balance between work and family life. However, being a “one man band,” extended holidays remained a challenge, especially those exceeding 7 days. As retirement approaches, one of the great advantages of a franchise is the flexibility it provides in slowing down to a pace that makes life more comfortable.
My journey began after studying for my HCIMA in Hotel & Catering Management. I started as an Assistant Manager in 1978, working within the private 3 and 4-star hotel sector. I achieved the role of General Manager before turning thirty. Focusing on Food & Beverage equipped me with the knowledge and experiences that I now bring into my role as a ‘Consultant Stocktaker.’ I can converse with my clients on a ‘been there and done it’ basis, offering suggestions and assistance that will aid them in managing their own businesses.
Building the client base as a Stocktaker in South East Wales was surprisingly easier than I initially thought it would be. In addition to leads generated from Head Office, word-of-mouth recommendations proved to be my most effective sales tool. South East Wales hasn’t been as fruitful for national account work, so I had to work diligently to gain and retain private clients. Maintaining a healthy balance between national accounts and private clients is crucial because losing a contract could leave you vulnerable to a sudden loss of business.
My commitment to my clients is unwavering. They know that if I book a date and time, I will be there without fail, regardless of the weather. I am consistently punctual, thorough, and professional in my work, always willing to go the extra mile. Personality is important, and a sense of humour is indispensable because, on most days, you’ll need it!
My wife often suggests that I should write a book about my experiences. I’ve had some fantastic days and also encountered some absolute horror stories in the establishments I’ve worked with. I remember one incident when, after delivering disappointing results to a pub manager, he called in a local police officer who happened to be passing, accusing me of victimizing him and fabricating the results. Needless to say, he wasn’t there the following month.
Being born and having spent most of my life in Wales, it’s no surprise that rugby is my primary sports passion, closely followed by Test cricket. Whenever possible, I enjoy walking the Wales Coastal Path, a welcome change from being stuck indoors while working. My true passion in life is savouring music, spanning various genres from ’70s Progressive Rock to Classical and Choral.
If I could travel back in time and offer advice to my younger self, I would say, “Do not be apprehensive about working for yourself. If you’re willing to put in the effort, the benefits are there to be enjoyed.”
The support network from Stockcheck Head Office has been invaluable to me on numerous occasions. When I encountered issues with my laptop or software problems on-site, the seven-day support has come to the rescue, ensuring that I could keep working.
Delivering poor results to clients is never easy, but if you can support this with advice, suggestions, and a genuine enthusiasm to help, they will be more appreciative of your efforts. Additionally, ensure you have the discipline to rise early in the mornings!