Hi. Thanks for all the kind words I have received from Recruitment Agency owners, Managing Directors, and leaders of teams. Agencies, recruitment businesses and executive search firms alike – it’s apparent I’ve hit a sweet spot with the last two articles.
And we start this one at suggestion number eleven:
Focus on your bottom line – daily. Clichés are clichés because they are true. Here’s one for you. “Sales are vanity. Profit is sanity”. Every purchase needs to be an investment in your recruitment agency. If not, it is a cost. If you supply mobile phones for your team so they can work if needed out of hours – check they do or that’s a cost. “Boss I’ve seen a great new job-board. Can we trial it?” If they don’t trial it hard and until you can compare apples with apples with your other job boards that’s another potential cost waiting to happen. You might be better taking time to question what they are doing with the current job boards and why they want yet another one. Taking the team out for a meal after a bad month to reward effort is probably a better investment than taking them out after a good one. Let your recruitment consultants understand the basics of how much it “costs” to have someone run a desk and how much they have to earn the business to break even. Salary, NI, CRM license, phone costs, their share of rent, rates, website upkeep, job boards and management costs. They need to fully understand two blank months doesn’t get put right by one good one. They need to appreciate that every bad hire that leaves the business is money that has to be recouped elsewhere. Consider offering a share of profits at year end with a published target. If they have one eye on the annual prize, they might not be quite so quick to drop their fee rate for a quick win.
12. Outsource everything you can to keep yourself focused on driving the standards (your organisation’s standards) high. Doing the VAT yourself may seem a good idea at the start. Outsource it for a few hundred pounds, and that could instead, be three or four days a quarter working with your team and working ON the business and not IN the business. Chasing invoices? Outsource it. Website. Outsource it. You started your recruitment agency because of how good a recruiter you are/were. Why then be a bookkeeper, an auditor, a web designer and the office cleaner? Play to your strengths and not waste time building up your weaknesses to being simply competent when you don’t have to. Spend your time making your recruitment consultants, resourcers and researchers the very best they can be. I mentioned in a previous article about stopping fee earning as soon as you can to guide your people better. When you outsource things, you can have the best of both worlds. You can spend time with your troops AND lead from the front occasionally or when you want to land the big fish if your team isn’t yet ready to do so.
13. Create a culture where failing is applauded. Be a powerhouse of creativity. If you aren’t creative as a recruitment agency owner, then hire somebody who is. Hire a CCO – a Chief Creativity Officer! If you are reading this article as a team leader or manager, then work in an environment where there is someone creative if it isn’t you. As an agency owner or director, you can box people in. Just make sure the box is big enough to allow room for people to stretch themselves without touching the sides. Of course, you won’t want somebody doing something bonkers that could affect the name of your recruitment agency in the market. That doesn’t mean you should stifle new thoughts and ideas. You only fail when you give up. Coach people to think for themselves and to test themselves. And give them the reign (with accountability) to try new things. Be prepared to and encourage yourself to fail yourself publicly. That’s leadership in action. That’s inspirational! Better to try and fail than not try at all for the sake of a red face. Your staff will love that it’s OK to fail. It’s your job to lead from the front and take a bullet for the troops. Create an IVO culture. Innovate – find a new way to do something that isn’t working particularly well. Validate – test, test and test until you are sure its better or not. And if it is, Orchestrate – ensure it becomes part of process or armoury to use again and again. “Rinse and Repeat”.
14. Get yourself a mentor. No that’s not a pitch for business, although I will be happy to discuss it of course . You need someone outside of the business (and not a family member or best friend who has emotional attachment) to give you a regular business health check/ MOT. You wouldn’t dare take a vehicle on the road that you are unsure whether its safe for you and your passengers or not. Your business needs a regular one as well. After all you are taking yourself and your team on a journey. You should sit down with your advisor/mentor on a quarterly basis as a minimum and ideally monthly. You also want access on an adhoc basis via phone and email. Things happen good and bad and most things can’t wait another few weeks to make a decision. Sometimes its just a ‘sanity’ check that your intended action is the right one. Sometimes it could save you a lot of blood, sweat, tears and money. Find someone that you can relate to (they need battle scars of their own) and who has the right level of experience for your needs.
15. Build a healthy recruitment agency. “Work-Life-Balance” are three words that are great in principal and really difficult to achieve together. When I give a business a health check a quick review of the attendance and sickness record tells me a lot. Lead from the front and ensure people have regular breaks and are “encouraged” to get away from their desk and out for fresh air at lunchtime. Take an interest in how much caffeine versus water your recruiters are drinking. Look for slumps in performance during the day. Give people time to go to the gym, walk their dog or take their kids to school. Things that keep people well. Healthy of mind and of body. When you encourage a consistent hard work ethic, balance that with flexibility of hours. A late start once a week to take their kid to school or an early finish to make a sports or music event. Want a challenge? Give your people unlimited holidays. Yep that’s what I said. UNLIMITED HOLIDAYS. Hold people accountable for results and not hours. Yes the idea needs fine-tuned. “What if they have a great quarter then a poor one?” etc etc. Take the idea of unlimited holidays and see where it takes you and your business. Take the principal of what I’m talking about and just think for a moment. Most recruiters who care, work outside of hours taking calls, making calls, answering emails, posting on LinkedIn and so forth. So the next time you speak to them for coming back 10 minutes late from lunch or needing to leave an hour early to be somewhere then ask yourself: Do I trust this person? Are they doing their best for themselves and this recruitment agency? Do I trust them to go on a client pitch themselves? Can they be relied upon to submit suitable CV’s? And if the answer is yes, yes, yes and yes again then cut them some slack and build a healthy recruitment agency.
If you have enjoyed this series of three articles then please come back regularly for more recruitment tips, advice and ideas. Take a look at the rest of this site too. There are some short vlogs and movies to watch as well. ku.dos itself is jam packed with content try it today for just £1 and get a full 30 days access to kudos online recruiter training. Look at the testimonials, visit more information via https://www.linkedin.com/in/warrenkemp/ and if you ever want some adhoc free advice or need a sounding board give me a call.
Written by Warren Kemp of kudos.training, Recruitment Matters International and The Kemp Consultancy. ku.dos is online recruitment training for permanent recruiters and headhunters. Warren has been helping recruiters recruit better since 1998.