In the latest in our series, we meet Paul Smith, director of Fenchurch Insurance Brokers, to find out the secrets of his success – as well as what he likes best about Caterham
Tell us a bit about your business…
We are local, independent insurance advisers, and have been in Caterham Valley for about seven years. As well as providing advice on a whole range of insurance products for any kind of trade, business or profession, we also give advice to private individuals on anything from homes, buildings and contents to travel and private vehicles. We pride ourselves on our first-class customer service – and, whilst it’s true that we are not the cheapest, as we don’t market ourselves on price, our clients know that they can trust us to provide the very best advice; quickly, efficiently and in a personal way.
What made you decide to set up in Caterham?
I grew up in Caterham, went to school here and then started my career in the town, so my roots are very much in this area. When I decided to set up my own business, after almost 30 years’ experience in the insurance world, it made sense to do so here – especially as I already had a great network in the town. One of the best things about Caterham is the people here.
Is there any advice you would have for other business owners in the town?
My advice to those starting out would be to surround yourself with good professional connections. For example, it can really help to join local networking groups such as the BNI (Business Network International) and the Croydon Chamber of Commerce – and, for my part, I also belong to a couple of networking organisations in the City. Also, my biggest tip would be to ask everyone you know – friends, family and contacts – to help when you first start out, and I stand by that mantra today. You definitely find out who your friends are when you start your own business!
Why should someone visit your business for the first time?
Most of our new customers come to us having been recommended by existing connections – and that, to me, says it all. In fact, many of our clients have been with us since we first started, which is the best endorsement possible. As mentioned, we are proud to provide reliable advice to all our customers on the nuances of insurance, which they know they can trust, in simple, layman’s terms. That has resulted in the reputation that we have today.
What would be your top tip for someone visiting Caterham?
One of the things I like best about Caterham is that we are far away enough from London to have beautiful countryside on the doorstep but near enough that you can still be there really quickly. So, it’s a very accessible town. In about 50 minutes, you can be at London Bridge or London Victoria; in 25 minutes, you can be at Gatwick; and in seven minutes on the M25. We also have everything you need shopping-wise, with three big-brand supermarkets in the town and plenty of independents. There’s a good social life, too, with a wide selection of cuisine ranging from Italian and Chinese to Indian and Spanish, and some good pubs.
Describe your typical lunch break to us…
To be honest, we are always so busy that I rarely have time to take a break and usually just grab something to eat at my desk. In fact, one of my greatest regrets is not having as much time as I’d like to call in at other businesses in the town – just for a chat and to say hello.
Finally, tell us your favourite thing about the town…
It’s something that I keep coming back to, but in my opinion it’s the people. Whichever shop or café you go into, everyone is so friendly and welcoming, and you know you are going to get great advice, whatever it is that you need. For example, go into Colairo’s café at the station and not only will you get a warm smile but you’ll probably be greeted by name. It’s the same at Bambino’s, at the restaurants, at the chemist’s… even at the doctor’s surgery where they always do their best to squeeze you in for an appointment. That, for me, is the best thing about living and working in Caterham.
- Find out more about Fenchurch Insurance Brokers in the Caterham Valley business directory.
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Meet more Caterham Characters…
- Meet Stuart Johnston from home-improvements business, Shard Solutions
- Meet The Caterham Cobbler, Stilios Photiou
- Meet Said Yazici from Caterham Sweet and Savoury Waffles
- Meet Andrew Browne from JJ Browne & Son jewellery
- Meet Abigail Pedrick from Pedrick’s Zero Waste Shop
- Meet Erika Giucastro, team leader at Clarks Shoes
- Meet the joint owner of Specsavers, Sundip Patel
- Meet Vitaltone Pharmacy and Vitaleyes Opticians’s Shim Patel
- Meet the manager of St Catherine’s Hospice charity shop, Emma Glass
- Meet Bow Butterfly’s Katie Kennedy
- Meet Time Hair & Beauty’s Katherine Casey-Farmer
- Meet Jade Insurance’s Martin Kemp
- Meet Caterham Galleries’ Jodie Green
- Meet Surrey Strength and Performance owner, Daniel Iaciofano
- Meet Helena Fortley bridal boutique’s Sally Brady
- Meet Wingate’s Ben Clarke
- Meet Huntley Cartwright’s Chris Huntley
- Meet Bib & Tucker’s Togs Ali
- Meet The Wedding LookBook’s Ying Shi