Groundsure celebrates its 20th anniversary

Following 20 years of innovation and transformation, Groundsure is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Long-serving team members Stuart Telfer, Catherine Shiers, Dan Montagnani, Ceri Sansom and Malcolm Smith discuss their journey ahead of anniversary celebrations in London on September 9.

Having worked at the company for a combined total of 63 years, they discuss the changes they have witnessed over the years, and what makes Groundsure so successful.

Groundsure is a location intelligence business, providing high value, property-specific advice and analysis of land use based on the best data in the market. Founded in 2001, Groundsure has grown in stature to become a market-leading environmental search authority in the UK, helping clients to make residential or commercial property decisions and advise them with confidence and clarity.

From just half a dozen employees in 2001, to over 100 in 2021, the company has witnessed both organic and acquisitive growth to become a global leader in its field.

Malcolm Smith, Chief Operating Officer said:

“Not only has the business grown in terms of the size of our operation, but also culture. We are now a much more sophisticated business compared to 20 years ago.” When asked what helped grow the business so exponentially, Ceri Sansom, Head of Consultancy, said the customer experience was at the heart of everything they do. “We don’t try to second-guess a customer’s needs or adapt them to a template” she said. “We have become more connected with our customers, listening to them and tailoring our service offer to meet their precise needs.”

Groundsure is committed to delivering market-leading products and customer excellence, with customer satisfaction at the heart of the business. Understanding the customer and building products and solutions that they would use is pivotal to helping the business grow. When asked what the best thing is about working for Groundsure, CEO Dan Montagnani said:

“Our ultimate motivation is the fact we are helping people buy their homes, even a commercial property is a future home of a business or enterprise. That’s quite a personal thing. Although we don’t necessarily have much contact with the individuals, to me there’s a huge humanitarian aspect, and that we are helping people make great life-changing decisions.”

This approach and genuine belief are recognised by everyone in the business.

Groundsure has changed significantly over the years, not only becoming industry leaders, but also by making small changes within the business to get there. Catherine Shiers, Head of Customer Support, said that the digitisation of the company transformed the way the team were able to work. Stuart Telfer, VP of Operations, agreed with this, saying that one of the biggest changes was establishing their digitised map collection and creating a historical land use database.

“Historically, Groundsure would have maps photographed in the British Library. Digitisation has boosted efficiency, but more importantly, has changed the types of analysis we were able to give customers, leading to the delivery of more accurate data,”

Stuart explained.

Change doesn’t come without its challenges, and Groundsure has faced a few over the past 20 years, from the 2008 financial recession to the recent global pandemic. All interviewed recognised the need to be agile and quick to respond to changes, while also being part of a fast growth company and maintaining a culture of innovation in the process. This can be a tough ask!

Malcolm said:

“The easiest path is to see what our competitors do and just follow their lead. That’s not the Groundsure approach. We push the boundaries and we lead the charge.”

Ceri added:

“We have an ambitious and creative team, who work collaboratively so we can continue to evolve.”

In an ever-changing setting, Groundsure continues to face challenges and push boundaries, pushing the business to grow. Catherine welcomes this approach, saying:

“We have seen a huge growth in our people and they continue to handle challenges brilliantly!”

And it is the hard work and agile nature of Groundsure employees that has resulted in the success of the business today.

Looking ahead to the next 20 years, Groundsure is destined to grow even further. The property transaction market is predicted to change significantly over the next five to ten years. The team wants Groundsure to be at the forefront of the industry, facilitating the digital revolution as the industry goes through this change. Moreover, CEO Dan Montagnani sees Groundsure becoming regarded as a single source of truth for customers. He said:

“People seek us out for the truth. We bring authority and authenticity to the proceedings. We are a kind of stamp of approval in the same way that people want to see an energy certificate for a property.” Across the board, all agreed that they see Groundsure becoming established as an indisputable authority, while continuing to evolve and putting customers at the forefront of the business.

And what’s the best piece of advice that the team would have given themselves 20 years ago?

Stuart Telfer“Keep smiling and everything will be OK.”

Catherine Shiers“Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. The biggest thing I have learnt is that even if you are not right, it’s the journey to understand everyone else’s opinions that matters most.”

Ceri Sansom“Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. Unexpected things happen and more often than not, they are positive.”

Dan Montagnani“Think big and go for it!”

Malcolm SmithDon’t think about what you are about to do but think about what happens when you’re finished. Focus on the end game, I wish I had realised that sooner. The only thing you need to fear is fear itself. Everyone started off where you are and were probably equally as scared. Don’t worry about it.”

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