Concrete conversation with Daniel Mitchell

Daniel Mitchell Headshot.
Daniel Mitchell, Managing Director at RedRock Recruitment.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Daniel Mitchell, Managing director at RedRock Recruitment.

“RedRock Recruitment Ltd are a specialist construction recruitment company based in Waltham Abbey, Essex. RedRock Recruitment specialise in the supply of temporary, contract and permanent staff to London and the South East. We cover all sectors including Trades & Labour, Mechanical & Electrical, and Professional & Technical.”





IM What is your role within Redrock Recruitment?
DM I am the Managing Director.
IM And did you set up the company by yourself?
DM The business was started by myself and my Brother in Law, who is married to my sister. We have both been in recruitment ten years plus each. Completely different ends of the spectrum though. He worked at Randstad so the more corporate side of things and I worked for a new company in East London which supplied trades and labour and Driving and industrial staff.

We were right in the middle of the Olympics and that’s when we really took off, I supplied staff to both Westfields. One over in Shepherds Bush first then Stratford second when we had in excess of 600-700 guys out at one time. We also worked on the London Olympics and the Shard and since RedRock has been going, we have worked on the Walkie-Talkie building, various Amazon depots nationwide, stuff like that.

IM So, when did you start up the company? Did you have a pipeline to work on these impressive projects?
DM When I left my previous employer  I had a good relationship with my Managing Director and actually negotiated my largest client out of the company so we could start trading with them from the off. So, day one I had five men out at work, week two I had ten men, week three 15 and so on and that was about 30 men worth. Obviously to do that I negotiated a bit of a peace deal with my old director to use some of his services to secure that contract because I felt it was important. That was our first client. After around 6 months there were clients that we went and signed contracts with but, of course, we didn’t want to poach any from my old company, I was very loyal in that way which I feel is the only way to be especially as we took out a big client of his business. So yes, we did have that one client which helped us in our infancy but since then it has been all new clients.

The initial client worked out well for the first three months then it completely dropped off. We were really banking on having around 60 to 70 men but that actually shrunk in size to around ten men. The client, rather than looking to an agency went down the sub-contracting route to try to achieve larger projects and more valued work. We quickly realised this and really went out aggressively winning new clients. In June we were at about ten men out, within three months we were up to 100 men, we completely turned it around. After relying on that contract and it falling through, we went to the phones to generate a stream of new clients. I think we had around eight new clients sign up with us in a week and we haven’t looked back from there!

IM That’s great. When you started the company did you have any infrastructure in place to handle the number of men you planned to have out?
DM In my previous company, I had worked up from a trainee to construction manager. Within my tenure there I also set up a building cleaning sub-contractor to add to the group of companies. I had an understanding of how a business works, creditors and debtors and the back office side of things. I knew what needed to be done and how it needed to be done, that put me in good stead moving forward. We started the business out of my spare room, turned it into an office, shared one desk, a couple of laptops.

We did invest initially in a CRM system, which we didn’t get on with very well. At the beginning of May we had moved into our first office, just a little two-man office, we were in there until November. We then upgraded to a four-man office and took on our first member of staff. Since then we moved once more and are now in a ten-man office. So overall, we have the basics covered between the four of us. It is our intention in the new year to bring on a couple of new consultants to grow the business from the level that it is at now to the next…

IM Was that a challenge when you set the company up the retention of staff?
DM It’s been a learning curve. When I was at my last company, I found that when I was interviewing staff and taking them on and training them that they were successful. I don’t think I had many unsuccessful consultants. But since we have started RedRock, I don’t know whether it’s because it’s our own money or if it’s because it’s our own business we have a slightly different mentality but they just don’t seem to be grasping what’s required to be a successful consultant.

It’s all trial and error, you’re not going to get the perfect candidate for your business every single time. It’s about going through and seeing who is out there. We provide good training, straight from the directors, there are not many people who can get first-hand direct knowledge from 25 years of recruitment experience. It is definitely a challenge. I think it is one of the biggest for all business owners, finding staff that can operate at a level similar to your own.


IM In the next five years, how do you think things will change within the industry following the big topics of Brexit and the Skills Shortage?
DM We don’t know the outcome yet. So, it’s very difficult to plan. Ultimately the construction industry is very busy at present. I’ve just been made aware of a million homes which have been improved between Cambridge and Oxford. London is in its own bubble compared to the rest of the country anyway, there is always going to be work.

I personally don’t think it’s going to change a great deal. Unless things go badly and they stop letting a lot of the foreign workforce into the country, that will dry up. They will have to invest a lot more in colleges and getting people trained up with apprenticeships. I think they should have done that a long time ago. This has been coming for a long time, they used to have certain agencies, like “Train for gain” that would give free training and place them into construction companies or agencies, like ourselves. They stopped doing that and cut the funding in 2010 I think. I’m not aware of it being re-introduced.

In my opinion that is where they need to invest. They need some point system that will let not just people from Europe but all over the world come into the country and work. I believe our business should continue to run in the same way as it has been.

IM Do you have dress down days at work?
DM We do yes. Our dress code is fairly laid back. For consultants and salespeople, when they are in meetings and out of the office representing the company they are to be in smart attire, shoes trousers and a shirt.

I don’t expect a tie and a blazer. If they are going onto site they have their PPE on, I’m not averse to allowing them to wear jeans as long as they wear their RedRock uniform. We provide uniforms such as RedRock t-shirts, jumpers, fleeces and coats. So there is no excuse for not wearing the correct attire. Friday you can wear what you want within reason. We don’t allow people to come in wearing luminous tracksuit with orange trainers!


IM What was the last book that you read?
DM I read fiction, mostly crime stories. The last was from an author called Simon Kernick, I think it was called the Bone Field. He’s a really good author, I don’t read too much unless I’m relaxing on holiday!


IM Do you support a sports team?
DM Yes, Arsenal fan. I have season tickets so I go on a regular basis with my nephew and we also entertain clients. We also have some Tottenham tickets as my business partner is a fan. So you can imagine the rivalry that floats around in the office. We also like boxing.


IM Finally, what are your top tips for scaling a recruitment business?
DM Hard work, I would advise having some sort of mentor who has been there and done it. There are lots and lots of things that can go wrong but ultimately, if you know your industry and you have a mentor in place, you’ll succeed. I think that should be the way forward to upscale a business

To find out more about RedRock Recruitment visit their website here.

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