Monday, 04 July 2022

Let's Get Down to Business: Nic Barclay Wood, Barclay Wood Motor Co

Let's Get Down to Business: Nic Barclay Wood, Barclay Wood Motor Co

NIC BARCLAY WOOD is the proprietor of the Barclay Wood Motor Co at White Hill Garage on Remenham Hill. He was born in Maidenhead and was educated at Reading Blue Coat School in Sonning. At 18, he moved to London and became a DJ. He worked in many well-known clubs, including the Ministry of Sound and Café de Paris in the capital as well as in many other cities around the world. After a variety of other ventures, he eventually left London in 2011 and moved back to Henley. He now lives in Watlington with his partner Nicki and their daughters, Belle, six, and Wren, four. Nic enjoys cycling.

Describe your business

We buy and sell quality used cars, focusing primarily on the family market and first-time drivers as well as people looking to upgrade.

How many people does it employ?

There’s just me and Chris but we bring in freelance mechanics, body shop, tyre and paint teams alongside valeters. Chris specialises in detailing the cars we buy to bring them back up to showroom standard.

What did you do before you started this business?

After seven years as a full-time DJ, my hearing began to suffer so I decided to change course. I got a job selling cars for Joe Macari, a leading London dealer in high performance cars, particularly Ferraris. I moved on to importing Ferraris from Europe. I then opened a photographic studio in north London specialising in family portraits, which I ran for 15 years.

When did you start your business?

In 2012.

What was your objective?

I wanted another change of direction but using some of my previous experience.

Who or what influenced you?

Other than Joe Macari, it would have been my dad. He was a builder and property developer. My parents owned the Copper Kettle on Thames Side, Henley, which became Villa Marina after they sold it. I come from a family of entrepreneurs.

Do you have a mentor or role model?

My partner Nicki is a force of nature. She has always been a hard worker and stays so positive. Together, we get a lot done.

What would you do differently if you could start again?

That’s hard to say as I think you have to learn from your mistakes. This is a complicated business as there are so many manufacturers and different models to study, so I’m continually learning.

What impact has the coronavirus pandemic had on your business?

I’m aware that it has been awful for so many people but for us it has had a positive impact. So many people are understandably reluctant to use public transport and have become dependent on a car. During the first lockdown we couldn’t open the showroom but were still able to deliver cars, especially to key workers, so I consider myself to have been very fortunate.

How is your business doing compared with last year?

We are up on last year. Last month we had our best month ever.

How do you market your business?

We use the internet and our website. Many leads come from Auto Trader.

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

I enjoy the freedom it gives me and time with my family when I choose.

What’s the most challenging aspect?

Buying good quality stock. We want cars that are in good condition inside and out with a full service history and few previous owners.

Where is your business headed?

I would like to buy and sell even more quality used vehicles but finding sufficient stock is difficult. We get lots of repeat customers who sell us cars they had bought from us when upgrading.

How important are online sales?

Really important. That’s where 80 per cent of our business comes from.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?

The importance of looking after your customers. You have to be transparent with them at all times. People respect you for being honest.

What would you advise someone starting a business?

Do your research. Make sure it’s something you want to do and have a passion for. Work hard. Business these days is hard and very competitive.

What three qualities are most important to success?

Being prepared to work hard, knowing your market and caring for your customers.

What’s the secret of your success?

Hard work. You can’t take your foot off the gas.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?

There have been plenty of mistakes but life is too short to ponder the past.

How organised are you?

I’m pretty organised.

How do you dress for work?

Smart casual.

What or who can’t you be without every day?

Chris, my right-hand man.

Lunch at your desk or going out?

Chris and I grab it when we can. We generally go out to pick up something and often go to Lawlors or Spoon in Duke Street.

What do you read?

I mainly listen to audio books. I particularly like books by Charles Martin.

How are you planning to spend your retirement?

Spending time with my kids and watching them grow up but as they are still so young I’ll probably be working for many more years yet.

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