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An interview with the managing director of William George, Robin Gray, about his life in the online auction business.
3 Mins

An interview with our MD Robin Gray

Helen Marvel
Helen Marvel

We grabbed our busy MD Robin for a chat about his life in the auction world.

What does a typical day in your life look like? 

A typical day is not something I really experience or strive for. I wake up, take my dog Colin for a walk and drop my little boy Oscar off at nursery.

At present, on the days I work from home I go to my home office with a coffee before the rest of the team has started, so I know I will have a bit of time to work on things before everyone else starts. Then the day-to-day of managing a fast-paced growing business kicks off and the inevitable questions that go with it. 

If I’m heading into the office, I have an hour long drive and I listen to science podcasts - The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is my go-to. 

I am always juggling multiple tasks and this has been accentuated by the Covid situation. My time is split between running the normal daily activities and planning and developing long-term growth. 

Tell us about your favourite and least favourite parts of your role? 

I would say the best bit about the job is the people I work with. I think everyone at William George really wants to be here and tries to make a difference every day. I am proud of the team we have and it’s a pleasure to work with them all.

I personally love seeing something start as an idea and grow into something that completely changes how we operate, whether that be an innovative suggestion or a new system to improve our customer service.

I am also a bit of a data geek. I can pore over spreadsheets or analytics for hours learning what it means for us and how I can use that information to do something better. 

How did William George get to where it is today?

William George was born out of experiencing poor customer service from other auction houses. We had participated in auctions with several auction houses online and the experience had been woefully bad. This led to us thinking we must be able to do this better and here we are, eight years later and I feel we have not lost that drive to do it better than our competitors. 

What lessons have you learnt along the way?

  • Always scope out every project down to the last detail 
  • Hire the best team you can afford - you get what you pay for
  • Always try to do better
  • Always pay your bills 
  • Work with the best business partners

How has lockdown impacted the business?

We were planning for the worst in March and really had no idea what was going to happen to spending habits or consumer behaviour during the lockdown.

I’m very pleased to say that we have done extremely well during this time and we are currently significantly up on what we forecast to do over this period. Traffic to our website is around three times that of pre-Covid times. 

Our team has done incredibly well to cope with being home based whilst dealing with a large upturn in the amount of work we are all doing. 

If you weren't running William George, what would you be doing?

I'd be running a little dive shop on a small Indonesian island.

Tell us about a few of the most memorable items sold by William George 

We have sold many special items in our auctions but I think the things that I always take a special interest in are the classic cars, especially when we get a 1960's Porsche or an early TVR.


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