Beyond Her Comfort Zone: Why Carly’s Glad She Stepped Up

[content] Carly Collocott is energetic and hands-on by nature. She left school early for a full-time sales job, before joining us in 2013. She’s grown her career with Tradelink and now leads a team of five as Branch Manager at our Gladstone store. Located 1km from Gladstone Harbour, the store is a busy place, and Carly thrives on the variety in her role and the relationships she’s built.
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Becoming the boss

Carly Collocott’s never been afraid to roll up her sleeves and get stuck in. From the time she was 10, she helped her dad - a tiler - on weekends, carting boxes and sweeping floors. She’s worked full-time since she was 17, and now, as Branch Manager at Tradelink Gladstone, she’s up at 4 am every day to ensure she hits the ground running when the store opens at 6.30 am. 

Tradelink’s plumber clientele is often racing to a job; the construction industry rarely stops. But Carly’s team knows there’s nothing she’ll ask them to do that she’s not prepared to do herself. 

Funnily enough, Carly never saw herself as a manager. She started at Tradelink in 2013 as a showroom consultant, a customer-centric sales role. She enjoyed her job and loved helping people and solving their problems. However, Carly’s Regional Manager, Ian Baker saw she could do more. Firstly, he encouraged her to take on the Assistant Manager position. Then, when the opportunity arose in 2021, he suggested she apply for the Branch Manager role.

I was a little scared to apply; I’d always been the baby at Tradelink. But Ian encouraged me to give it a go. He said he had faith in me and trusted I could do the job. He said, "You don’t know if you’ll be great in the role if you don’t try."

Nine months into the Branch Manager role, Carly’s glad she made the leap.

What I enjoy most is the sense of satisfaction. We’re having some massive wins with clients who’ve never given us a go before. And the feedback I’ve had is that I’ve turned things around. My boss says to me, "l just love how much you love this business."

Up for the challenge  

Carly might never have put her hand up for Branch Manager if her boss hadn’t encouraged her. Being challenged to do more has been a consistent experience for her at Tradelink. Carly’s been encouraged to step outside her comfort zone on many occasions. Like the time Tradelink asked her if she’d be willing to get her truck licence. The thought initially scared her, but now, Carly’s more than happy to get behind the wheel of the Gladstone store’s flatbed.

It still scares me, stepping outside my comfort zone, but it’s also been the best thing. I’ve grown so much as a result.

A perfect example of this was when Carly was asked to manage our Airlie Beach store. Early in 2022, Tradelink’s store in the Whitsundays region was down to one employee due to COVID-19. We asked Carly if she’d be willing to manage the stricken store for a week. Airlie Beach is a six-and-a-half-hour drive north of Gladstone, and for Carly, who’d never been there, much less knew the dynamics of the store, it was a daunting prospect. 

I needed to leave within the hour, so I’d get there before dark and be able to open the branch on Monday. I asked myself, ‘What am I going to walk into?’ Even though Tradelink stores are essentially run the same, I just didn’t know what to expect. I’m not an anxious person but I was thinking, "What have I done?".

As Carly’s manager had anticipated, she did a fantastic job.  The employee she worked with was delighted to receive her help and curious locals welcomed having a new face to chat to. 

I’m so glad I took the opportunity. What a beautiful place to be! I cried when I had to leave. And then I won employee of the month for stepping up. I’m proud of myself for going to Airlie, and it was nice to be appreciated.

It’s the relationships

But perhaps what Carly’s most proud of are the relationships she’s built with customers over the years. Carly is bubbly by nature and has always enjoyed connecting with people authentically. 

We class many of our customers as friends; we get invited to their birthdays - it’s very, very nice. One of our regular customers had a baby recently. So, we went and bought a baby gift and dropped it off. We have barbeques every Friday; our plumbers sit here and have a chat. You know, it’s building those relationships.

Carly says maintaining Tradelink’s customer service excellence requires a consistently positive approach. 

I have learnt to always have a can-do attitude. Our customers are almost always on strict time frames and we need to ensure everything we do runs as smoothly as possible.

This is particularly true for one of Carly’s favourite customers: her dad. Carly’s father works with many of Gladstone Tradelink’s builder customers and often pops in for products. 

When something goes wrong, I definitely hear about it from my dad! But it’s nice. I can relate to what my dad does. He can tell me things about his work, and I understand where he’s coming from. I honestly just love the job.

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