Posted on 14/04/2019 by David Owen
A day in the life of… Lee Collins, School Relationship Consultant
What better introduction to the team at Uniform Education than with someone who was there right from the beginning? In our first feature, Lee Collins sheds some light on what makes Uniform Education special.
My alarm goes off….
…at the same time it has for the past ten years – 5:35am! It sounds early, but I like to get my commute underway before the morning rush.
My train journey takes about 40 minutes, and I use it to prepare myself for the day ahead. It’s not uncommon to get messages about sickness or temporary cover (particularly on Mondays!), so more often than not, I’ll be working on the train. Then, it’s a ten-minute walk to the office and I’m at my desk for a 7am start.
I take care of…
I look after the recruitment needs of 32 primary schools in the North London and Hertfordshire area. I’m lucky that I get to work with a lot of really good schools, and some fantastic people.
Recruitment is known for its ‘hard sell’ approach, but with schools you have to focus more on service and quality. It’s all about developing strong relationships and building trust. I do this by setting high standards and being honest – if for any reason I’m not able to help with a request, I’ll explain why. I do my best to take care of the people I work with, which is the best way to get results.
My first steps into education started…
My career started as a runner in the film industry, and later in mobile phone sales – both of which gave me a good grounding in people skills! I then moved into recruitment after some encouragement from a friend.
This led to my being the first person officially employed at Uniform Education, three years ago. Since then, we’ve grown into a strong and hardworking team of thirty, with a cool office and an even cooler office DJ (me!)
The first thing I do when I get to work?
First thing’s first, it’s whacking the radio on Magic – Ronan Keating soothes the team into the day ahead!
Later on, we might enjoy an indie singalong or a bit of disco fever. But for the rest of the morning, it’s all about checking available candidates (a process I actually begin on the evening before). This means I’ll know exactly who’s around when my schools call for cover, meaning I can be quick and efficient at helping people out when they need it. “Leave it with me” is my motto!
My normal days looks like…
The phone ringing. Early mornings usually fly by, then suddenly it’s 9am and we’ve already worked hard for two hours.
After a short breakfast break, it’s time to focus on booking confirmations and admin, then on strong candidates looking for longer-term placements. I’ll target one or two really good ones, then call or email the schools I think would suit them best.
I’m always mindful of the amount of calls schools get, so I make sure each one I make is meaningful. Either I’ve got just the right candidate, or there’s a deal I can offer them, such as a brand-new football kit.
Lunch is around 11:30, then it’s time for future-planning and ensuring the right levels of cover. For example, if someone’s off sick today, they might be again tomorrow. I need to make sure everything is covered.
Officially, I finish at 4:15, and I’m always out on the dot. It’s an old-school attitude these days, but it works! Though I’m always on call, I feel a lot less stressed if I can make it home before the evening rush.
My toughest moment….
Trying to build a reputation for Uniform Education at the very beginning, in schools that didn’t know us. These days, our teachers know and (hopefully!) love us, so that part’s easier. The one thing that remains tough is having to say “no” when I can’t fulfil a request.
My proudest moment?
Looking around the business we’ve built from scratch, to see a fantastic team of people and hear the wonderful buzz of people constantly on the phone!
What’s the best part of my job?
Working with my schools brings me real satisfaction. I love building those relationships, placing staff and offering deals I know will make a genuine difference. It’s so rewarding.
What’s the worst part of my job?
Making the tea!
What I would tell myself on my first day…
Try hard, but don’t stress. If a booking can’t be filled after I’ve done my best, it’s not the end of the world. Keep knocking on doors and keep making the most of every opportunity.
In my spare time…
Apart from office DJ-ing, I love a few beers in the pub with my friends – I’m the original social butterfly! I also adore spending time with my niece and nephew plus they keep me out of trouble on the weekends! They really are my two most favourite humans in the world, EVER!