Christy O'Rourke - Crime Control

Crime Control is a wholly Irish owned company founded in 1991, whose growth and expansion within the Security Industry exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit which first launched the company in 1991. Crime Control grew and evolved through commitment, ethos, standard of service, technology, research and development but most importantly – people. Today, Crime Control is a security company with operations in Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare and Wexford employing over 75 people. Christy O’Rourke is the captain of the Crime Control ship and took a spin in the Enterprise Hot Seat for our October slot. Thank you Christy.

What led you to starting your business? I always wanted the freedom to make my own decisions and to control the direction my life was taking. When you work for someone else you don’t have total control over the direction of your life.

How did you raise the start-up funds you needed? When I left the Irish Aer Corp I was given a lump sum gratuity. I had also saved some money from the time I spent in the Lebanon 6 months before I left the Aer Corp. One of the best things I did at start-up was to get a loan from the bank. With this loan I bought a van. Buying the van this way meant I was able to claim the VAT back in one lump sum. This lump sum actually paid for the van repayments for the first 6/7 months!

What was the most significant lesson you learned in starting your business? ALWAYS put things in writing. Confirm everything via email. Verbal conversations can be misinterpreted differently by everyone. If there are 5 people in a meeting for instance, each person will walk away with a different “take” on the meeting. However, if you follow up the meeting with an email then it’s YOUR version of that meeting that takes precedent.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read, business or non-business? “If it was easy everyone would be doing it,” and “It’s not rocket science.” I don’t know if there are 2 books of that name but if there isn’t there should be! Running a successful, sustainable business is hard work however you should never try to make it complicated, a lot of it is common sense, it’s a pity common sense is not more commonly used.

Who is the entrepreneur you admire the most?

I think Michael O’Leary had the right idea however he has lost his way. If you want to tell a customer to fe*k off at least you can be polite about it!

What have been the biggest challenges in your business to date? Trying to keep the personal touch with my clients as our business grew. It’s very easy to lose touch with your customers. You should be able to stop any of your customers as they walk down the street and ask them how their kids are etc.

What has been the proudest moment in your business so far? Succeeding in business when everyone said I couldn’t do it and surviving two (or is that three?) recessions in the process.

What was the best piece of business advice you ever got? Never say “I don’t have the time.” Time is the one thing everyone has the same amount of, you have the same amount of time per day as Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. You may say that they have lots of people to delegate to however they still had to get to that point and they still have to monitor what is been done on their behalf.

I may have finessed the above quote a little bit however I am sure that Blaise won’t mind.

Can you recommend a good time management technique for other entrepreneurs out there? It may not seem like time management at first glance however if you start the day with the hardest job you have to do the rest of the day gets easier and your mind is free to get other things done.

What magazine do you never miss each month? I don’t read magazines…

What is your favourite film? Top Gun, I know I am showing my age now but it’s a film that has everything, it’s a love story, it has great music and the good guys kick the bad guys’ ass, kind of what Crime Control does, but without the music!!!

 

What is your favourite ad? The Specsavers ads are very funny and quite effective. I especially liked a photograph I saw on the internet a few years ago when a bus crashed into a Luas, the add on the side of the bus read “should have gone to Specsavers”, I am still not sure if that was a real add or if it was photo shopped but it was a great ad for Specsavers.

What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs thinking of starting a business? I have always thought it was stupid of successful entrepreneurs (especially TV entrepreneur’s, yes you know who you are!), to say “Don’t take no for an answer.” That’s easy for a successful business person to say but what if you have a really bad idea or if you are going about it the wrong way?! For all the people that were turned down by 20 publishing houses or turned away by 15 banks, most of them went on to fail because their idea was ill-thought. You will ALWAYS get the exception but you should NEVER base your business idea on exceptions, that’s like betting on the lottery, someone has to win it but the chances are it won’t be you. Now that’s not me being pessimistic, it’s being realistic. The best advice I could give is this: Adapt your idea to fit the market. There is no point offering a service or making a product if people don’t want it, or if you put so much time & money into it that only a select few can afford it.

What do you like to do when you’re not running your business? I like to spend time with my children and my partner. I spent too many years not doing that and I think that sometimes you can get lost in work and lose sight of the important things in life. That being said, I am a workaholic so I have no significant hobbies and even when I am with my family I am always thinking of work ideas or fitting some work into our leisure activities. The one thing I will say is that you need 2 weeks holiday per year, 2 weeks were you can de-stress and recharge your batteries. There is no point in me saying “Don’t contact the business,” because that’s not practical, but you should keep your contact with work to a minimum.

Have you found the self-employed formula for a work/life balance? When my partner, Kathy, tells me to stop working and give her some attention I do exactly that. That seems to work, however I do try and mix pleasure with work when I can get away with it (see Q. 14)!

What’s your website?http://www.crimecontrol.ie/ and http://www.celticinvestigations.ie/

Do you have a Facebook page?Facebook.com/CrimecontrolCelcicinvestigations

Are you on Twitter?@CelticChristy

How has Wicklow CEB helped you and/or your business? I have done a number of courses and seminars organised and part funded by Wicklow County Enterprise Board and I have found them to be very informative and proactive. They have formulated their courses & seminars to suit the economic circumstances. Their mentoring and advice service is second to none.

If you could start up all over again, would you do anything differently? Very little actually, don’t get me wrong we have made mistakes and there are a number of things that we could have done differently or better, but I believe that you have to make mistakes in order to learn. The mistakes we have made have helped us to become the successful company that we are now, Certified by the National Standards Authority of Ireland, Licenced by the Private Security Authority & Corporate Members of the Security Institute.

Thank you again Christy for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. It’s great to hear what life is really like for someone who started up over 20 years ago and has survived the ups & downs in the economy.  The services available include:

Security ServicesStatic & Mobile Security OfficersKeyholding & Alarm ResponseOpening & Closing of Business PremisesContract Cleaning

Private Investigation ServicesInvestigation of false or exaggerated Insurance claimsServing Court PapersTracing personsInvestigating internal company theft