Recent News & Updates
A note from Nick Chudley, Chairman of Welcome Computer Systems
“For 6 years up until August 1983 I was running the family business, Highgate House Conference Centre, in partnership with my mother. She built it up from a run-down, deserted country house in 1964 to an 80 room conference centre in ’77 when I started. However, working in a family business is not all roses and, that Summer, I got to the end of my patience and launched myself into the wild blue yonder.
“That was when I started to write the first Welcome B&B system, in BASIC. I worked in the attic with 2 jumpers on and the heating off. My wife worked as a temp and I got some part-time teaching work. By September ’84, I said: “If I haven’t sold a system by Christmas, I’m giving up.” I didn’t get an order till February ’85. That was the Grosvenor House at Stratford-on-Avon, a 50 room hotel run by 3 sisters and their mother. The sale was agreed with one sister and, when I arrived to install, another sister said: “We don’t want it, you can take it away today.” That day was the very slender thread by which this whole company hangs. If I hadn’t succeeded in selling it all over again, I would have been in the Job Centre the next day. Those three sisters were at one another’s throats continually and they eventually sold up to a small group which installed Welcome throughout.
“I re-wrote most of the software within a few weeks. And it needed to be rewritten. During the same few weeks I also installed and trained at the Percy Arms, Otterburn and the Westcliff at Sidmouth. As a one-man-band with a Ford Fiesta I drove about 50,000 miles in 1985 and there were 12 installations by the end of the year. The 300th installation was in 1991, by which time a network of POS tills was an option, including the U-key which is a chip in a key that could be credited with money paid into a till and spent later at other tills or vending machines. Then there were 6 of us, including someone called Sam Matthews, who has changed her name to protect the innocent and is now known as Managing Director, Sam Wright. We were operating in the bungalow at 15 High Street, Spratton instead of my home at 12 High Street.
“Something I learnt very early on was that nothing commercial ever happens without someone to make a sale. My dad was a salesman and when I got my degree I thought I would never do that. Believe me, the world doesn’t go round without salesmen. The job is satisfying and exciting if you’re getting paid for spreading reliable and useful information. It took a great deal of stubbornness to keep developing and fixing until it slowly started to dawn on me that Welcome Software was actually pretty good.
“We made a profit! We paid for everything out of revenue and we never borrowed anything. Welcome became a limited company and I now have an investment that represents my pension as well as a sociable and satisfying part of my life.
“Welcome has a great future ahead. If times are tough for us, they’re worse for our competitors. We’re investing more than ever in new developments and also, crucially, in the goodwill of our existing customers. Everyone who works here knows at least as well as I do that the shape of our marketplace is changing fast and fundamentally.
“Everything depends on our co-operating, communicating and learning from each other. Fortunately, we now have the best team we have ever had. The Investors in People program together with other systems we have in place mean that we can work like a well-oiled machine. And that is what we do.”