“They saved my business career.”

Our relationship with Gilligan Sheppard began 20 years ago, when my brother Paul and I had a very successful business called Ballantyne Directories. Ballantyne Directories was a Yellow Pages advertising agency with a multi-million-dollar turnover, designing and placing ads for over 500 clients throughout New Zealand.

So, what led us to engage with Gilligan Sheppard?

Telecom Directories Ltd, who owned Yellow Pages, decided that they were going to cut agency commission from 20% down to 8.5%. They launched an aggressive campaign to all of our clients and told them that if we didn’t pay them, they would chase our clients directly for the money.

We were their biggest customer, so it was pretty obnoxious behaviour and quite unethical in our view. A great example of corporate bullying.

The problem for us was that many of our largest clients were on payment terms, and after Telecom Directories had approached them directly, they stopped paying us and we were left in a very difficult situation. We had a bill of $4.5 million coming up for the Auckland Yellow Pages Directory and our cashflow was drying up very quickly.

Things were not good. I went to bed every night exhausted from trying to come up with options, selling the family home being one of them. Each morning I dragged myself out of bed, exhausted from lack of sleep. I felt physically sick, and I was withdrawing from family, staff and clients.

In one of my clearer moments, I confided in a colleague about our predicament. He told me about the accountants he used.

I told him I need more than an accountant. He smiled and slipped me a name and number to call. The firm was Gilligan Sheppard.

I called and set up an appointment to see Bruce Sheppard, my friend’s recommendation. Bruce immediately struck me as having the balls and brains to take corporates head on, and this was exactly what we needed. I recall leaving that first meeting with this almost euphoric sense of relief, and we got to work on saving our business.

Through some brilliant strategic maneuvering and Bruce’s deep knowledge of the law and accountancy to successfully leverage our position, Telecom ended up purchasing our business and we walked away with a bit of money in our pockets. Whilst we had lost a business that was extremely profitable, this was a great result in the circumstances.

I am eternally grateful to Gilligan Sheppard for saving my business career, and we’ve had a great business relationship ever since. Over the years, they have continued to help me when I’ve needed clever thinking and seasoned experience to help me solve complex business issues.

The whole team has a deep and real understanding of business, and a willingness to use unconventional strategies when needed to get results for their clients. They are passionate about fairness, fighting for the underdog and righting wrongs in business which makes them quite unlike any other accountancy firm I know of. There’s no doubt that had I not made that first appointment, my career would have taken a very different course.

So… What were Steve’s biggest learnings throughout his career?

Steve Ballantyne, Director of Brand IQ
“Untangle your messaging and create a smart brand your customers will love.”
Visit the website here; https://brandiq.co.nz

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