Mark Trimbee

CEO of Regtransfers

Mark Trimbee is the CEO of Regtransfers, the UK’s largest supplier of personalised number plates. His 27 years at the company began with a role as a company Sales Advisor. Over time and with dedicated and hard work, he progressed through the ranks, becoming a Sales Manager and Operations Manager before finally arriving at the role of company CEO. Trimbee’s career and entrepreneurial spirit has been influenced, since birth, by his family life. The entrepreneurial energy of his father and grandmother – who ran multiple businesses through the 70s, 80s and 90s – taught Trimbee the importance of business acumen from an early age. His grandmother, now an impressive 107, continued to run a guest house in her 90’s.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

I’ll start my day early, make myself a coffee and catch up with the morning’s news. I’d imagine this is something many people do, and I think it’s really important to keep up-to-date with the events of the world and know what’s going on outside your doors. I get to work early and make my way through any emails that may have landed over the evening or weekend. From there, I’m quite lucky in that I don’t have a typical day, as my role in the company is so varied and covers so many different disciplines. This does require me to be very flexible, and maybe to be involved in a lot of different tasks or projects, so I’m a keen advocate for making lists to keep track of your day’s “needs” and progress.

When I get home, one of the first things I’ll do is get changed into different clothes. It’s purely for psychological reasons, and just helps me to get out of the working mindset. I’ll spend time cooking a nice meal and make sure that I take the time to relax and recharge before the next work day. Taking time for yourself, to do the thing you love, is really, really important. You can’t – and shouldn’t – work 24 hours a day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Discuss them with like minded people – or perhaps even those who might not think similarly to you! Ideas generated in isolation can often be fantastic, but the real magic comes when you combine the creativity, logic and ideas of multiple people, each of whom will add their own flavour to the mix. Pooling together and working as a team is where you’ll be able to breathe the most life into your ideas.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Tackling climate change. There are everyday issues around finance, politics, employment and so on, but there’s nothing more important than the health of our planet. It’s true that the movements being made to reach net zero present challenges for all businesses, and it’s not going to be easy. That said, the prospect of a fully sustainable future – and the idea that we’re working to repair the damage to our planet – are all reasons to be very excited.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

I mentioned this earlier, but lists are a huge benefit in maintaining productivity. Depending on your work, you’ll have to juggle tasks of varying size on a daily basis. It can be all-too-easy to overlook small but vital tasks when faced with larger, more immediate issues. Lists help to keep everything in scope and in order, as well as acting as a daily checklist. Make a list every day and work through it. Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t get ticked off at the end of the day, but be sure to add it to the top of the list on the next day as a priority.

What advice would you give your younger self?

“Slow down, listen and don’t jump to conclusions.”

Our professional lives move at an incredible pace. We’re constantly presented with tasks, responsibilities, meetings and more – often requiring a timely response. It can be very easy to become overwhelmed and try to speed through your workload, but doing so will only result in avoidable mistakes. Slowing down might seem counterintuitive when you’re pressed for time, but you will be far more focused in your work, make better progress and be far less likely to overlook things.

Listening to others is key. There is so much that others can teach you – and sometimes, the most valuable lessons come from the most unlikely individuals. As for jumping to conclusions…it’s just never a good idea to act on incomplete information. Always make sure you have the full picture of things before you make a decision. That’s advice not just for your professional life, but your personal life as well.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.

I’m certain there are those that will agree with me on this, but it’s a divisive topic nonetheless; I believe there’s life on other planets, but I don’t believe in God or any other sort of divine beings. I believe the existence of life on our planet was purely “accidental” – the right combination of events happening in the right order at the right time. But it’s hard to imagine that we’re really alone in this universe – there’s got to be other intelligent life out there.

Gods, on the other hand, I find less easy to put my faith in. I have the same argument many others do – there are so many terrible things that happen in the world it can be difficult to say that they’re all part of some divine “plan” for humanity. If that were really the case, it’s an incredibly cruel design and I’m not sure I like it.

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

Drink water. I think lots of us are drinking more water nowadays, but it really is vital for overall health, especially when working. Staying hydrated leads to better concentration and memory overall, while being dehydrated – even a little – can have the opposite effect. It can be an easy thing to forget, especially when you’re “head down” into your work, but it’s a habit I’d recommend everyone get into. Make sure you have a big bottle of water on or near your desk, and use it.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

Tell myself I can only do one thing at a time. Humans are great, but we’re not perfect and we’re certainly not without our limits. When things start to feel overwhelming, or I’m not focused, I take a moment. I lock my screen. I move away from my desk to just pause, take a deep breath and collect my thoughts. I work out what needs to be done, versus what would be nice to have done, prioritise my tasks based on that, then refocus and get back to it. It’s important to allow yourself room to breathe.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

Having a keen eye for detail. If you can train yourself to be better at looking at things than most other people, you will stand out in meetings and on the office floor. It’s important not to be cocky or condescending when you point out errors or missed details, but if you can do so in a diplomatic and positive way, you will almost always be thanked for it. Attention to detail isn’t just about spotting mistakes, though – it’s also about identifying great opportunities for business, growth or improvement – all of which are important.

What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

I actually left the company for a while to pursue other interests. I suppose I was following the hope that there was more out there for me to achieve, more “land to conquer”, so to speak. Alas, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and eventually I came back. Some might see this as back-peddling, but I think it’s more that I came to realise, understand and appreciate what I had before – I was in a good position, I enjoyed my role and there was still more left for me to achieve. I didn’t necessarily need to go looking elsewhere to progress my career, I just needed to change my direction in the role I had.

In this day and age I think it’s all too easy for professionals to “jump ship” when things stagnate in their current role. They’ll look to other positions in other companies to refresh their day-to-day jobs. While this can certainly work, it’s not necessarily the best action to take. Sometimes you just need to work on building what you have, rather than seeking something new.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’ll share something else – more of a generalised “way of thinking” – but I’d always be looking at the world we live in and trying to think “how can I make this process easier?”. Is there anything you can think of that would cut down on the time it takes to do something, or the number of steps involved? Can any of it be automated or are there any unnecessary steps that can be cut out?

Once you start looking at the world in this way, you’ll start coming up with ways to make your own life more convenient. If something really sticks, you may be able to scale this up and transform it into a legitimate business idea.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I use Google Suite for pretty much everything – it’s unparalleled when it comes to sharing information with other individuals or departments, and having everything available in the cloud has proven to be a life-saver on more than one occasion.

What is the best $100 you recently spent?

ALWAYS a record. I’m a collector. I mainly collect jazz, on all the good labels like Blue Note, Impulse, Prestige etc. I like to buy well mastered records that are decently pressed. I always hate it when people talk about the crackle of vinyl being good. If it crackles then you aren’t looking after your records! I do like buying rare pressings and have built up a decent collection over the years (I started collecting when I was 13). I have rare first pressing of artists such as Joy Division and Nick Drake, very collectible artists. My favorite record of all time is Laughing Stock by Talk Talk. I have about 7/8 pressings of it! It’s an incredible piece of music that has grown in stature over the years.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?

Recently I’ve been listening to a podcast called “Smashing Security”, with Graham Cluley and Carole Theriault. It’s got absolutely nothing to do with my work, but they discuss various topics around cyber security, which is a really important area with the increasing number of smart devices we bring into our homes. They’re often informative, a little geeky and very funny. They’re really accessible as well, you don’t have to be a tech expert to learn from them. The value I’ve gotten from them? I’ve been able to beef up my online security!

What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?

I’ve really been enjoying Mare Of Easttown. It’s got a great plot following a police detective investigating a murder, and has some great characters; Kate Winslet’s acting jumps out of the screen, as you might expect. I love a good drama and this has definitely delivered – I highly recommend it.

Key learnings:

  • Discuss your ideas and get input from others. You might gain some useful insights or new perspectives that otherwise would have escaped you
  • Lists are your most powerful tool. They’ll help you keep track of your progress and keep you focused.
  • You are amazing…but you’re only human, and that’s okay!