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Big Interview: Steve Crowther
Together in business. That’s the motto driving Steve Crowther’s successful chartered accountancy business based at Pennine Business Park in Huddersfield. And, upon meeting him, it’s easy to understand why.
Steve established Crowther accountants in 1995, having moved from the South to work for another firm before eventually setting up on his own in “a small office that we used for free in Heckmondwike.” After just three months, his business had recruited its first staff and moved to a larger office in Halifax, before moving to Leeds Road in Huddersfield in 2000 and – most recently – to the Crowther’s current home on Pennine Business Park.
“We’re all about working together to support our clients in whatever ways we can”, says Steve. “We’ll often refer businesses to each other of we think they can add value, and this way of working has really helps us to bolster our relationships with clients as a source of potential new business for them, instead of just being their accountant.”
A major re-brand
Key to Steve’s business success has been investing time and money into changing the way people perceive his company and accountancy in general. He and wife Michelle recently invested in a major re-brand that – in addition to a brand new logo, website, marketing literature and tone of voice – saw the company move to its current 3,500 square foot premises in Bradley.
“The re-brand has been a major success”, says Steve. “We haven’t changed the way we work, do business or look after our clients, but we’ve invested time and money into ensuring that we portray the personality behind the business so that current and prospective clients know they can approach us for help and advice that will be delivered in plain English.
Crowther now has a bright, easy-to-use website that introduces the team behind the business, alongside vibrant marketing collateral that is a far cry from some of the overly corporate, complex literature that is often associated with accountancy. Steve’s team works from a bright, airy, open plan office that encourages collaboration an offers plenty of room for clients to call in for a coffee and catch up on their numbers, and there’s even the office dog, Archie, to keep things from ever becoming too serious.
Says Steve: “The feedback from clients and our networks on the re-brand has been fantastic, and it really has refreshed the whole image of the business. Again, it’s different to what people expect from accountants, and that has helped us to stand out and ultimately win new business.”
Charity at heart
Charity work has also been instrumental in helping Crowther to achieve its ‘together in business’ promise. In December, Steve was part of the board that delivered the annual Kirklees and Calderdale Christmas Lunch (KACCL) – an annual, festive fundraiser held to raise vital funds for local charities. The 2016 event raised over £18,000, and the target for 2017 was an impressive £25,000.
“I think it’s important to put something back into the community”, adds Steve. “It’s great to give other local businesses a chance to get together and have fun, while donating and raising money for such worthy causes. KACCL has proved hugely popular, and tickets for the 2017 event sold out without us really needing to promote them, which was great.
“We try and hold fundraising events regularly, and recently held a tennis competition with some clients which raised money for charity and also secured us some new business as a bonus. Getting involved with events like these has really helped us to raise the profile of Crowther across the area, and they’re great for building networks and putting your company front of mind if and when someone requires your services.”
Skippering to success
So when Steve isn’t working on developing new business and managing the accounts of companies of all sizes from large organisations to SMEs and sole traders, how does he switch off from work?
“Michelle and I actually live in York, but we recently bought a house in Huddersfield so we can stay here during the week and avoid the commute”, Steve says. “That has been a massive help in being able to relax more and switch off without spending so much time travelling during the week.”
“We also like to socialise a lot, are keen on exercising and take holidays when we can to ensure I have enough down time from running the business. I’ve also recently obtained my skipper’s license as I enjoy sailing and we are going on holiday to Croatia to sail soon.”
I ask Steve what it is about Huddersfield that ticks the boxes as a great place to do business.
“I believe that the town really does have a lot to offer”, he replies. Obvious points like our positioning on the M62 corridor mean that people don’t want – or need – to travel to Leeds or Manchester for professional services such as ours, and that has proved very beneficial as we are able to maintain lower charge out rates and keep clients coming back to us.
“There’s also lots of opportunity in the town to secure new business, and the money being invested in significant developments such as the HD1 project means it is a very exciting time for Huddersfield. There are some big businesses based here, and I think people are more often saying no to Leeds and Manchester when they realise exactly the scale of some of the people, places and projects that continue to come out of our town.”
Steve Crowther is Managing Director at Crowther chartered accountants. For more information, visit www.crowther.accountants or call 01484 515544
This article is featured in January additions of Topic UK http://topicuk.co.uk/ and Close-Up https://www.mycci.co.uk/close-up-magazine/winter-20172018