Trobs: The innovative startup bringing digital recruitment to the construction industry
Having run his own construction company for ten years, Martin Jones was no stranger to entrepreneurship when he launched online recruitment platform Trobs, which connects building companies with available workers.
Inspired by recruitment sites focusing on creative projects, he wanted to create a similar offering for the construction industry, a sector with very specific recruitment challenges and where contractors are often needed at very short notice.
Jones had been thinking about the concept for three years before he passed on his construction company to his cousin and took the leap of launching the platform in mid-2015. It was scary, but I think Trobs has a really good chance of success. I knew I had to commit to it fully because otherwise I wouldnt have been able to take it forward you can’t start a company with 20 hours a week. Im now spending 60-70 hours a week on it, which I think you need to do if you want to be a success.
The process of outsourcing the technical development of his site has been a learning curve for Jones, who explained: I started off using developers in India, but I found that things were progressing too slowly, so I ended up using Upwork to find some people in Ukraine instead. He emphasised that it is worth being thorough and diligent when trying to find the right people, because once he did, the process really sped up, although there are still changes I want to make on the development side.
Marketing to recruiters has provided an additional challenge, though it is also the most exciting aspect of the business for the Trobs founder, who cited Facebook and AdWords as his main tools in this area although he believes that the latter can work out expensive because it means paying for lots of irrelevant clicks. He is also looking at the potential of Twitter to grow the profile of his company in future.
I already had lots of experience of SEO through running a construction company, but it takes trial and error and lots of time to work out what’s delivering the best marketing return-on-investment. Ultimately, I think referrals are the most effective way to reach more customers a big focus of mine is on getting users to promote the site themselves? he said.
Jones is hoping to take on an intern to help with this area of the business as soon as he is comfortable that his revenue can comfortably support the wages it would entail.
And the site has proved incredibly popular with contractors, and now has over 1, 500 registered. A big advantage of this platform over something like Gumtree, which I previously used for recruitment and a lot of people in the industry still do rely on, is the way it grows every time a job is posted, because users have to create a profile to apply for a position, so even those who arent successful can be contacted about other jobs, Jones said.
Jones has made Trobs stand out from the competition by speeding up the recruitment process applicants selected receive a text message to let them know as soon as a job is available for them. Construction companies will often need someone tomorrow, so it’s a big advantage for them to be able to search for contractors and make instant enquiries to find out who is available, he explained. In contrast, Jones said that recruitment using a more traditional job board model could often take a week.
Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics as well as running a tutoring company.
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