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Business Spotlight: ThinkRed Recruitment

I am so excited to be sharing this Business Spotlight because this next guest is one very special person, who also happens to be an INCREDIBLE businesswoman! Meet Shonleigh Draper, founder of ThinkRed Recruitment, specialists in Real Estate and Property Management Recruitment.

I met the amazing Shonleigh many years ago when we both worked for the same Real Estate Agency - her as an Agent and me as a Marketing Coordinator and from the very beginning, I was in awe of her professionalism, drive and energy. It comes as no surprise that she’s been able to successfully build ThinkRed Recruitment to what it is today and I am so excited to be sharing a snippet of her story here today.

Q: Shonleigh, tell me a little bit more about yourself and what you do.

My name is Shonleigh and I’m from the Gold Coast however I’ve been living in a bus on the road with my little family for the past (almost) year! I have a 4-year-old son and a hubby who loves to cook which makes me a happy woman as food is my love language. I am the Founder and newly appointed Director of ThinkRed Recruitment after selling the company in 2021 after owning it for 5 years, and then re-investing back into the company in late 2022.

Q: How did ThinkRed Recruitment come about and what was the one thing that made you take the leap to start it?

I was working as a real estate agent back in 2015 and I had a lot of really uncomfortable and quite frankly awful calls from recruiters trying to poach me from my agency. I found the whole thing to be super awkward and 9/10 times the recruiter didn’t know anything about me, and I felt they were almost bluffing their way through the conversation with me.

My Dad had been in recruitment for 15+ years and could see that being a real estate agent wasn’t lighting my fire so he suggested we go into business together, recruiting in the real estate and property management space. I didn’t really hesitate at all even though I’d never owned a business or been a recruiter but I was 25 years old, ambitious, hungry for success and looking back… super naive!

I worked on the business behind the scenes for 3 months, told my boss what was happening and that I was leaving real estate and he was super supportive of me. By July 2016 I had flown the nest, leaving behind job security and a stable (albeit low) income to start ThinkRed Recruitment in Brisbane. And, I’ve never looked back.

Q: What has been your biggest achievement so far?

My very first placement a few months into starting the business felt VERY surreal and it was a huge achievement for me because I had no clue what I was doing, and I managed to do it anyway! Second to that, my biggest business achievement would be selling ThinkRed Recruitment in 2021 to a client (who is now my business partner) that I was working with at the time. We sold the company for 6 figures and I still pinch myself daily that someone saw the potential in it and bought it.

Q: What were some learning curves when it came to selling your business?

According to my accountant we had the ‘quickest business sale in history’, so there weren’t too many curveballs for us - it was all very straight forward and it happened really fast. The business wasn’t officially ‘on the market’ for sale, however, I was about to pack up my life and hit the road with my family for a year and I was starting to wonder whether running ThinkRed from the road would be the best thing for my clients and candidates.

My business mentor suggested that maybe it wasn’t, and that maybe it was time I handed over the reigns. Within about a week, I had spoken with a client that I thought would do the business justice and take care of everyone the way that I did, and within 48hrs of seeing my business prospectus she had written me an offer. My accountant nearly fell off his seat when I told him, I nearly fell off my seat when I got the offer!

Lyndsey and Shonleigh ThinkRed Recruitment Founders
Lyndsey and Shonleigh - ThinkRed Recruitment (Photo by Britt Spring Photography)

Q: What has been your biggest struggle?

Just the ups and downs of day to day business can be quite taxing, it’s an emotional rollercoaster at times - especially in recruitment! For a long time I struggled with doing everything solo, and then I struggled with bringing in employees that I had to manage because this isn’t a strength of mine nor is it something that I enjoy. I’ve been insanely lucky to have incredible employees join the business who I’ve had beautiful working relationships with over the years but at the end of the day i'm still needing to ensure the company can pay wages and put dinner on the table and that comes with plenty of challenges in itself.

Q: How did you overcome it?

I have worked with a business mentor/business coach since 2016 and it is hands down the best thing I have ever done. It’s the best investment you can make as a business owner, the accountability piece is imperative to your success because there’s nothing quite like having someone else on the journey with you who is committed to your success. That’s what a great business coach/mentor will provide you - accountability and plan of attack to reach your goals!

Q: How have you been able to manage your time effectively?

I’ve struggled with that over the years on and off because I suffer from ’shiny object syndrome’ at times! My brain works on overdrive 24/7 and I always have a million and one ideas, and a million and one people that I need to speak with about the day to day tasks in the business. My best tip for managing time is to put EVERYTHING in the calendar, and to carve out ‘white space’ throughout the day where you can stop and take a breather and get your head right, and back in the game.

I have been guilty of running through my days non-stop, forgetting to each lunch, forgetting to eat water, forgetting to leave my desk for 8hrs and it isn’t a healthy, productive or sustainable way to work. I am all about segmenting and blocking out my time in my calendar and getting on with one task at a time as opposed to trying to multi-task all day everyday.

Q: What has been your best marketing hack?

Find their pain point and press on it… hard! Marketing is all about telling your audience how you’re going to solve their problem, and why they need what you have. I’ve always been big on figuring out what my target markets pain point is (i.e wages are too high for employers, hire one of our less experienced people for less money!), finding a solution to that problem and then telling them what that solution is. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to do this or you might feel you’re coming across as very ‘forward’, but these kind of messages get people talking and that’s what marketing is all about!

Q: Do you feel like you've achieved your marketing goals?

Absolutely not, and I don’t think I will ever feel like I have! Marketing a business is ever-changing, and always a work in progress. I think we’ve done a great job at getting in front of a lot of people over the years but there’s still so much to do, and so much opportunity to do things bigger and better and with a much more potent and targeted approach.

Q: What has been your biggest source of generating new business?

Facebook and EDMs! We are super consistent on our Facebook page and we also have a group of 2000+ women working in property on Facebook so we talk to them daily, and we generate a lot of business from Facebook due to this. Second to that is being consistent with our EDM campaigns that we send out weekly, it would be rare for us to send one out and not get a warm or hot lead from it - it’s amazing!

ThinkRed Recruitment Founder and Director Shonleigh Draper
Shonleigh Draper - Founder and Director of ThinkRed Recruitment

Q: What is something you'd try if you had infinite resources and/or time?

Ohhhh great question! I’d love to bring in a full time marketing guru who is BIG on video, and who knows how to capture beautiful moments on video. I feel there’s a big space in our business to ramp things up with video marketing and I would love to have someone on-tap to be able to work with me on developing beautiful, eye-catching video campaigns.

Q: What is next for you?

We’re taking ThinkRed national! We have a really strong presence in the QLD market and have recently put plans in motion to launch ThinkRed in other cities across Australia. We have been working in the Melbourne market since the start of 2022 which has been incredible and we have been able to very easily transition what we’re doing in QLD, into Victoria. Our plans to move into all the other states will be rolled out within the next 12 months which we’re really excited about. Our little baby, will no longer be little!

Thank you so much Shonleigh for sharing your knowledge and expertise with us. If you're on the hunt for talent, I would highly recommend working with Shonleigh and the incredible team at ThinkRed Recruitment. Find them here or contact them directly on 0447 412 480.


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