In The Spotlight With Chris March Of Remember Media
Tell Us About Your Role In The Business:
My role within Remember Media is Publisher and Managing Director.
First and foremost, I’m responsible for growing a sustainable and profitable publishing business for the companies’ shareholders. I’m on my second innings having created and sold a successful publishing business back in 2012, tough lessons learned within that businesses have set me in good stead with Remember Media and our rate of travel is significant.
I’ve always insisted I make a pretty crappy MD but an excellent leader of people, I’m sure those who’ve worked for and with me over the years would agree.
Secondly as publisher I act as a composer within the orchestra, bringing all the strands together that make a magazine or publication special, Editorial, Design, photography etc. I constantly challenge my team in search of perfection, quality in everything we do and touch is paramount within our business, it sets us apart from our competitors.
I set punishingly high standards for myself and others around me, something common in entrepreneurs I’m told.
How Did The Business Start?
Remember Media was my fall-back position which I’d kept dormant for a couple of years whilst working through the earn out of the previous business, I suffered a health scare back in late 2013 which made me re-evaluate my position. In hindsight I should’ve seen it coming but I was so focused on maximising the business sale and growth I’d stopped listening to my body. By spring of 2014 I was putting my plans in place for Remember Media’s resurgence and formally re- launched the business on the 1st of December 2014.
What Are The Biggest Challenges To Your Business?
Staffing, profitability and project creation. It’s incredibly hard running a publishing company - that’s why we publishers have grey hair.
Firstly, any sales staff we employ have a bedding in period of six months before they’re up and running and creating profit, so we’re carrying their cost in this period and as the business grows it feels like you’re constantly investing and putting pressure on cash flow.
I’ve invested in and chair a couple of other businesses. Both from the outset have been more profitable than the publishing business. I’ve often asked myself why I do it and, essentially, it’s the love for my craft which I hope shows through in our products. I’ve always thought if we could sell products in the tens of thousands price bracket not the thousands we’d be a good sized business circa £10m – £20m. Think about it - you’ve got to sell an awful lot of adverts to achieve £1m turnover in publishing!
Project selection is another challenge. If we’re creating a new magazine the research phase for me could last 6 to 12 months, every detail needs to be carefully checked and my assumptions vetted. Mistakes are costly and hard to reverse. Contract publishing is just as perilous, we’ve developed the Remember Media criteria selection process, if the project fails to meet our criteria we’ll walk away knowing it was the safest thing to do.
What Are Your Biggest Achievements In The Business?
At Remember Media we’ve achieved so much in such a short space of time, the key highlights for me are;
* With Luxe magazine: redefining the Luxe offering and pushing its profitability beyond our assumptions, creating commercially successful online platforms.
* Launching the first ever Rockliffe Life magazine and Fenwick magazine - both projects feature high on my top 10 best projects of all time. These projects allowed us to engage with Ramside Estates, Gainford Group, Hooker & Young NE1, Jules B and 21 Hospitality Group and create bespoke publications for them.
I have the highest regard for the individuals who run these businesses, I enjoy being around them, their work ethic and their attention to detail is infectious. We work with International brands across Europe and the USA yet we are Remember Media, based just outside of Sunderland and very few people have heard about our business.
What Did You Want To Be When You Were At School?
I didn’t have a clue! I wasn’t the best of students at school; my time was mainly spent gracing the corridors, having been excluded for letting my mouth go and outsmarting my teachers. I was very immature and thought I knew best, my boredom threshold was low and I’d become disruptive and act the class clown.
The work was too easy for me and I was forever daydreaming about being anywhere but school. I once got caught selling out-of-date raffle tickets - I’d collected all the unsold tickets in from my classmates and was unfortunately caught having sold some to a school governor who lived around my area - needless to say I had a difficult conversation with the headmaster the following week.
Looking back, I’d argue this was my early attempt at entrepreneurship!
I had no intention of going to college or university, I just wanted to get out and earn some money and enjoy my life as a teenager. Eventually this caught up with me in the end and I wished I’d paid more attention at school.
What Was Your First Job?
I’ve always worked, from a paper-round to stacking shelves in the Co-op. My first real job was a YTS scheme at sixteen working in a warehouse for Pilot Housewares a company whose HQ was Hong Kong based, they’re a UK distributor of cookware – my salary was £29.50 per week and I loved it. Getting the chance to drive a forklift and spending my wages every Saturday in town.
What Job Would You Like To Have Other Than Your Own & Why?
I’d honestly make a great hotel manager, my attention to detail and customer experience was driven into me working for Orange in a call centre many years ago. I love being hospitable and our house is the go-to place across our family and friends. We regularly cater for Christmas for everyone and have friends and family congregate each weekend for a bacon sandwich and proper coffee! I quite like cooking, it helps me relax and I enjoy seeing other people have a good time.
What Do You Love Most About Working In The North East?
The North East is a great supporter of enterprise with a community that genuinely wants to see people succeed in business. I wouldn’t have flourished without the support of many people in the region today.
What Do You Love Most About Living In The North East?
People, places and house prices!
What Do You Do In Your Down Time Away From The Office?
My downtime is spent with my family, Rachel my wife, Jack (15) Ava (10) and Ruby (7) and Jake the Cockapoo. Having a young family inevitably leads to weekends spent running them around and entertaining.
We love our home. It’s on the River Wear so lots of dog walking, blackberry picking and generally spending time together. I work incredibly hard which often results in long hours at the office or locked away at home so it’s nice to have a weekend to ourselves. We often summer in France - I love it, life is so much more relaxed and I feel at completely at home there.
What’s Your Number One Piece Of Advice For Anyone In Business Or Wanting To Start Up?
If you’re already in business keep one eye on cash flow and the other eye on innovating; running out of cash will kill you quickly and running out of ideas will kill you slowly.
If you’re looking to start a business, have courage. Better to have tried and failed than spend your time regretting it. Many people don’t start their business because courage fails them, the what ifs are too great, the salary too comfy. Get off your arse and just do it, you can always find another job!
Epitaph or Quote to Live By:
He loved living life! He was a loving father, husband and friend. Professionally, he set the standard for publishing across Northern England.
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