For as long as he can remember, Ben Daly has wanted to be his own boss. “My dad’s a builder and as a young kid, I always want to go off with him to help,” he says. “Working for yourself, whatever you put in you get back - it’s hard work but I wouldn’t change it for a minute.”
Ben, 33, set up his own roofing company six years ago. Since then, he’s worked tirelessly to build up his reputation within South Wales and Bristol, where he’s based. At the start of last year, he was all set up for a busy Spring and Summer. But when lockdown hit, everything stopped.
After a month of living on savings, he needed a solution. His wife Rose, who usually works as a nurse, was on maternity leave with their second child. It turned out that his business wasn’t entitled to any government grants.
“A Facebook post changed everything,” he says. After hearing Rose chatting to a friend about how to tackle the problem of collecting waste, while the tips were closed due to the pandemic, he sent out a post to friends and neighbours asking if anyone had any waste they’d like collected. Within an hour, he’d received 65 messages.
As a roofer, he already had a waste carrier licence, meaning that he could still visit the tip while it was closed to members of the public. His new business, BRD Waste Solutions, has been a phenomenal success. He makes more from collecting waste than he did from roofing and has doubled his monthly turnover, less than a year after launching the business. When he first started, he covered a five-mile radius. He now covers a 30-mile radius.
“The most important thing I’ve learnt is to be quick with responding to potential customers and to try and bring your passion for your job to the customer. Most will return many times after if you show you care.”
Growing his business
In July 2020, when Ben was allowed to start roofing again, he ran both businesses simultaneously. But since November, he’s stopped roofing altogether so that he can put all his time and energy into his waste collection business. “It’s much safer being on the ground than up on a roof and I get paid instantly, which makes a big difference.”
Ben collects payments from customers using his SumUp card reader, which he’s connected to his Starling business account. This means that he can see key information, such as the value of the latest payout, directly from his Starling app. SumUp is part of the Starling Business Marketplace, a space where customers can seamlessly connect to third-party products and services.
Ben aims to recycle at least 90% of what he collects. “All timber we receive gets sent to a company that shreds it down and burns it to power a factory. All our green waste is sent to be made into compost and all cardboard and plastic is sent off to be recycled.”