If you haven't heard, we're celebrating our 40th year in business this year, and are doing a load of things to celebrate.
From graphics on social media talking about how things have changed and what's happened over the years, to interviews with the head honchos in charge of one of the oldest, most reputable number plate dealers in the UK - National Numbers.
In this blog, we'll speak to David Edwards, AKA Ed, our Director of Operations, asking how things have changed in the industry, at National Numbers, how customers have changed, and what sets National Numbers apart from the competition.
So, let's not stand on ceremony, let's jump straight in with the questions!
Morning Ed. Let's start with an easy one. What was National Numbers like when you started, and how does it compare to today?
NN was always described as a small, family-run business and that’s how it felt when I started in August ’96.
Technology was very different back then of course. That was when your computer monitor used to take up most of the space on your desk!
We didn’t have a website when I joined. We used to mainly advertise in magazines like Autotrader and Exchange & Mart and we also had a page on Teletext. I was fortunate enough to be able to develop NN’s first website which went live back in early 1998.
Mobile phones weren’t commonplace when I started so we’d spend most of our time trying to phone customers without getting an answer. Nowadays, we speak to people on their mobile phones while they’re out and about and we email and text them. Back then, we’d send a fax. How times have changed!
A highlight for me was getting to meet the then Boro manager Bryan Robson and his assistant Viv Anderson when they kindly presented us with our BSI Quality Award at Norton Hall. Another highlight was feeding Pot Noodle to swans on a fork when they used to come and peck on our window. From the bottom floor of course... They certainly seemed to enjoy the beef & tomato flavoured noodles!
I’ve worked with a lot of great people at NN over the years who’ve made a big contribution to the success of the business. On a personal level, it was a privilege to spend so many years working for the founders of NN Eric & Susan Craggs. They’re simply the nicest, kindest people you could ever hope to work for but don’t tell them I said that! Luckily, when they sold the business in 2013, they found a very good buyer in Jepson & Co who have allowed the business to continue with the same ethos where everything we do is about providing a quality service to our valued customers.
In terms of technology, the business has come on in leaps and bounds and it’s been an amazing experience to have been part of it all for almost 25 years. At the end of the day, we still simply do what we did as a business when I first started and that is buy and sell number plates and try and operate to the highest standards we possibly can.
How has the industry changed since you’ve been at National Numbers?
In many ways, the industry hasn’t changed a great deal in terms of competitors. Some dealers have come and gone but most of the big ones who were around 25 years ago are still going strong today.
DVLA are still a big competitor in the market but we also all rely on them for processing transfers and of course issuing new registrations into the market so it’s an unusual relationship.
The biggest change has been the growth of the internet and websites with the constant battle to try and keep in Google’s good books!
There’s little sign of the demand for private plates dropping off any time soon.
How have customers searching habits changed? (What did they used to search for and how has this changed?)
It’s a totally different ballgame for customers as they can easily browse through all of the number plate websites at any time wherever they are. There’s so much information so easily available to potential customers. A different world from scanning down the thousands of registrations listed in the Autotrader each week or sitting watching Teletext rotate through all of the dealer’s pages remembering to press the HOLD button when you found something of interest.
Now, a customer can perform really powerful searches on websites with the functionality to search for initials, names, numbers etc.
Has the word cherished changed over the years? To include suffix and prefix? Or is it still just dateless.
Customers have different understandings of the registration-related terms depending on their own knowledge and interest in the subject. For me, the word ‘cherished’ will always relate to old, original issue dateless plates. Just like antiques!
And finally, what sets National Numbers apart from the competition?
Well, there’s a lot of good competition out there but I’m obviously biased. We employ good people who have a good knowledge in registrations and we try to provide the best service that we possibly can. We like to talk to customers to enable us to use our knowledge and experience to help them find their ideal registration. I think it’s fair to say that our staff enjoy what they do which certainly helps.
Thanks Ed! Now, back to work!
Next time, we'll be speaking to Managing Director of Jepson & Co Ltd - Peter Jepson, seeing what he thinks about the personalised registration industry, National Numbers, and how things have changed since Jepson & Co Ltd took the reigns at National Numbers.
For now though, you can browse our vast range of number plates using our powerful search tool online. We have number plates in all styles an to suit every budget, so you're sure to find something that suits you. Alternatively, you can give us a call on 01642 363738 to bag your perfect reg from one of the oldest and most trustworthy number plate dealers in the UK.