- WHEN DID YOU START THE BUSINESS?
The idea for the business was conceived some two years before we actually started it. We had worked together for over seven years for a well-known recruitment agency, so we ‘got’ the way in which each other works. However, it was important to get the timing of the new business launch just right.
- WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO START WHEN YOU DID?
We launched the business in April but we had to consider where we were in our personal lives as much as taking into account each of our individual brands too. The business name is taken from each of our surnames and it was important to ensure we had built up our own reputations first and that our names were ‘known’ within the market.
- WHAT MARKETS DO YOU SERVE?
Based in Cardiff, we manage Accountancy, HR, Marketing and Administration roles for clients within the South Wales region only. This is deliberate as we do not want to over-extend ourselves by attempting to service clients further afield – we want to be quickly and easily accessible for our clients and candidates. It’s about being visible, not just a voice on the phone. Not only that, we have worked within this market for considerable time – we are familiar with it and we are known within it.
- HOW DO YOU DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF FROM YOUR COMPETITION?
South Wales has a number of strong, independent recruitment agencies – most of who will say they are different. The reality is that if everyone claimed to be different, we would all be the same by default.
We don’t say we have a clear USP, we simply focus on what we know and we remain true to that.
In fact, we have turned down business on account of it falling outside of the specialist fields in which we operate – this enhances our credibility in the eyes of clients. It also makes clients identify with us more easily as a go-to specialist that can reduce their time to hire because we have access to the talent pools they really want to engage.
- HOW TO YOU GET YOUR NAME ‘OUT THERE’?
We have never considered recruitment to be a ‘sales’ job. Yes there is an undeniable commercial element to it, but it has to be consultative. After all, if we pressure a candidate into accepting a role that may not be right for them, it is our reputation at risk – the candidate is left looking for a new role and the client distrusts our ability to do the best by them.
Clients like the personal touch we provide but we do need to raise awareness of our brand too. Twitter has proven to work well, both in terms of getting the name known and driving online engagement too. We aim to do at least 8-10 relevant posts each day – anything less narrows the opportunities to be seen online. LinkedIn is another great tool for us, again it’s about posting content that is relevant to the people we want to be doing business with.
We take a very direct approach too, with targeted mailshots and e-marketing campaigns proving to be excellent at getting in front of the right people at the right time.
- WHAT HAVE BEEN THE GREATEST CHALLENGES YOU HAVE HAD TO OVERCOME?
Because we had planned so far in advance of setting up the business, we were able to successfully negate some of the obstacles that many new businesses face. That is not to suggest that things have been easy; rather, there haven’t been any unexpected surprises that have come our way for which we were unprepared and being self-supporting without the need for financial assistance has been key.
FINALLY, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER START UP RECRUITERS?
- Know your market better than anyone else, know what you are best at and if there are any gaps in your knowledge – find the answers and plug them.
- Have a support network – being a sole trader can be a lonely existence but having someone to bounce ideas with and receive support is invaluable.
Leave your current employer in the right way – give your boss the respect you would like if you were in their shoes and tell them your plans before the rumour mill takes hold.
David Bowen and Cheryl Eldridge were interviewed by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins