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starting a recruitment agency – a trilogy. volume 3

on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 11:38
giant rubix cube

Around 400 recruitment agencies open their doors every month, which tells us that a) starting a recruitment business isn’t unachievable and b) lots of people are currently doing it. With low barriers to entry and few initial overheads, this career path is open to anyone with a phone, laptop and access to the internet.

At giant finance+ we have a long history of working with agencies to help them grow and achieve their potential. For more than 15 years we have helped recruiters avoid some  of the common growing pains and have compiled a list of some of the common ways we have seen some of our clients grow at a faster rate than the competition.

1. find a specialty

Establishing what your agency is good at then sticking to it is key for longevity. Diversification, when needed, can be a strong growth strategy, if you have the knowledge, brand recognition, structure, contacts or clients to bridge the gap but it can also be a distraction and detract from your priority vertical making it less productive in the long run. Become a recognised expert in your chosen field with clients and candidates alike and build on it. Our Social Sauce service can help you develop your presence and stand out in your chosen sector.

2. strong mission, vision

Often people think a business’s mission, vision and values, are little but a marketing exercise. However, your vision is far more than just lip service, and instead acts as the framework that allows your consultants to work around. It gives focus and direction, as well as purpose to your employees. In short, it keeps everyone working together in the same direction.

3. optimise your consultants’ performance

Let’s face it, recruitment is still about human interaction. The launch of Google jobs and other on-line recruitment tools won’t replace the need for humans. Your human resource is therefore still probably your most important, but attracting and retaining talented consultants is a challenge that almost every recruitment business owner faces, probably on a weekly basis. 

To grow, agencies should look to improve the performance of their existing hires before they direct their budgets to new ones. Attraction, optimisation, reward and retention are all interconnected so with the right tools in place to improve the performance of your consultants, you will increase their motivation, performance and in turn encourage attraction from others that like what they see.

4. customise your KPIs

A successful brand, high earning potential, and ongoing development will carry more attraction to talented recruiters than soft furnishings and a pool table. And the best way to drive this is through appropriate target setting.
I say appropriate because we all appreciate that at its core, recruitment is a target driven industry. It relies on key performance indicators (KPIs) which are a long- standing measurement tool that record activity against objectives to drive results forward. They should be constructed to improve performance, rather than  being an enforcement tool. KPIs need  to reflect a consultant’s focus, job role, experience, sector and client base. This will allow them to demonstrate performance rather than shortcomings. To  improve performance you have to be accurately measuring the right activity. Set personal, accurate and
achievable targets that can transform KPIs into an optimisation tool instead of a barrier.

It’s then up to agencies to incentivise this process with recognition, rewards, and the insights to upskill. By communicating performance data visibly and directly with consultants, you will motivate them to drive their success

5. clients, candidates and jobs

These three elements make up the eco-system that can make or break an agency. Simply put, your top revenue makers aren’t necessarily your most profitable clients. Top billing clients will usually receive the lion’s share of time, resource, and effort from an agency. The most profitable agencies  develop a deeper understanding of their clients to enable them to allocate resource according to their lifecycle, for example focusing on a client that’s investing in growth rather than entering a hiring freeze.

Good candidates, like consultants, are increasingly hard to find if we are to believe current rhetoric.
Unemployment is relatively low, candidates are in the privileged position of picking and choosing their next career move, so understanding those on your books and leveraging this power is key to successful – and profitable relationships. Again, a decent CRM in place will allow you to score, track, engage current and previous candidates against a client’s requirements.

When it comes to the jobs themselves, focus your effort on the jobs you can fill. This may seem obvious but Successful agencies make sure they are working the most appropriate jobs.
Our last blog covered some doesn’t mean you are prioritising your efforts on the right jobs or increasing the number of profitable placements. It’s important to know how many candidates have been submitted and how they’ve progressed, but also how long each stage takes? All of this information is an asset.

6. systems and processes 

Process isn’t just for global businesses, but for smaller agencies too. It can be a lack of defined process and inconsistency when it comes to client and candidate engagement that can prevent growth and stall an agency. When it comes to new business, can you easily identify what the sales pipeline looks like? Does your web site deliver a number of high-quality leads on a regular basis? And if so how good is your process from lead to sale? Small inconsistencies can equal large losses, so protect your assets; you have worked hard to find and place candidates, make sure you have the systems in place to verify their timesheets; even at the weekend, ensure they are paid accurately, on time and your credit control process means you have the ability to cut or avoid bad client debts.

7. use of technology

There is so much technology available to make your workflows easier, and more efficient. It  might be technology that helps with scheduling payment runs, allows your remote staff to stay in touch  and on top of their workload, or something as simple as automated email marketing to support customer service. The most successful recruiters identify tools that will help them to optimise everything they do in business to help it grow and keep up with requirements and new tech.

In the last blog we spoke  about the need for . Marketers love good clean data, so while you may not need a huge CRM system or spend
thousands on an ATS, CRM systems can often unlock the power of your candidate data while an ATS can demonstrate the most effective route to market by tracking which job boards provide the most successful placements, what the average fill time is per client you can predict allows you predict where to allocate your resource and budget and deliver a higher ROI.

8. access to cash

I’m making this my final point but in reality we all know cash is king, and it’s probably the biggest thing on your mind whether you are starting up or moving into year three, four or even five.

Yes, the market might be in good shape and there is indeed a wave of technology available to help you support your business, engage with clients and differentiate yourself from your competitors – but if you really want to get a business to scale, you’ll need readily available access to cash. (100% finance)

Lack of capital is still the key reason cited for why 1 in 3 business don’t survive past the two-year mark. Essentially, if you’re planning on starting a business, you need to make sure you have access to a good finance partner that will support your cash flow but if you want to grow, make sure they can grow with you.