Getting To Know You: James Howard, founder & MD, Yorkshire Payments.

James Howard with Yorkshire Payments client Karen Donnelly of Marshall construction

We find out from James Howard what the inspiration was behind him setting up his Yorksire based payment technology company.

What do you currently do?

I am the founder and managing director of Yorkshire Payments, a payment technology company proudly based in Brighouse, West Yorkshire.

Yorkshire Payments provides card payment, virtual terminal and electronic point of sale solutions for companies of all shapes and sizes. We champion the thousands of small and micro businesses across Yorkshire that use our solutions, and we are big believers in remaining actively involved in the local business community to help our regional economy thrive.

I am also extremely proud of our ever-growing client base of sports and tourist attractions across the Yorkshire, including the likes of Cannon Hall Farm, The Piece Hall, Bradford City Football Club and Scarborough Cricket Club.

On a personal level, being able to say that Yorkshire Payments now works with globally recognised brands including Harrogate Spring water, and Snickers Workwear is a real buzz.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

I established Yorkshire Payments in order to provide cost-effective merchant services for small businesses that would mean they could afford to process card payments without falling foul of the charges associated with the high street banks.

I also recognised the need for a more personal, localised approach to customer service. If you’re a small shop, café or bar, you don’t want to waste time contacting call centres abroad every time your card machine goes down. You want fast, friendly and reliable service that will get the problem sorted asap. That’s the ethos I’ve worked hard to ensure Yorkshire Payments is built on.

As such, absolutely all of our (number) strong team – including customer services – are based at our head office in Brighouse, where they answer calls, solve problems and get out on the road straight away to see clients when any problems arise. In my eyes, that’s how it should be done.

What defines your way of doing business?

My way of doing things – and resultantly, the Yorkshire Payments way – is defined by being trustworthy, straight-talking and having a strong community focus.

We are heavily involved with our local Huddersfield Town Football Club as a corporate partner, donate time and resource to supporting many local charities in our hometown of Brighouse. I was recently involved in organising the inaugural Best of Brighouse awards, which we launched to give local businesses and individuals a platform to shout about their achievements.

We have reaped the rewards of being at the heart of our local community and supporting others, and the relationships we have formed have been instrumental in creating referrals and delivering business growth.

Our clients trust us and know that we don’t beat around the bush when it comes to giving them the best possible advice, and I’m proud that Yorkshire Payments has become known for that.

What do you admire?

The Yorkshire Payments team. We have grown rapidly over the last few years in terms of staff numbers, and we’ve even had people leave and come back to work with us as they miss the unique culture we have created within the business.

I make it my business to get to know every team member personally so I know what makes them tick to help them be the best they can be. I also sit among the team in the main office, to join in the banter and create a sense of transparency so they know what’s going on in the business.

Without the team, the business wouldn’t exist, so we treat them well and do all the little extras like employee of the month and staff nights out. They know we care, but it’s always nice to demonstrate it, too.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

Not necessarily. I believe that the decisions I’ve made on my business journey so far have been for the right reasons at the right time.

The business has enjoyed such rapid and successful growth that I haven’t had much time to reflect on what I might change; most of my time is spent thinking about what else we can do to grow while maintaining the excellent levels of service we’ve become renowned for.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

It sounds like a typical answer, but don’t let anyone make fun of your goals, dreams or ideas. I’m very open with the fact that I left school without much in the way of a formal education or great exam results, but I had an idea for my business and I worked hard to make it come to life.

There have been people along the way that have doubted me and questioned whether I could make things work, but I’ve now got a successful company that serves over 3,500 clients and processed nearly £500million in transactions last year – so I think I’ve proved them wrong!