PART 1: YOUR BUSINESS
- “What is my Value Proposition?”
- “How do I grow my recruitment agency?”
- “Which growth strategies work for me?”
- “What is the best recruiter software for agencies like mine to use?”
Bootstrap Recruitment is a forthcoming handbook from eBoss. It is a free, downloadable ebook for recruiters, which considers agency growth strategies for smaller enterprises.
In this preview, we look at the earliest stages of growing a recruitment agency in 2018 and beyond.
It all begins here.
‘Bootstrapping‘ is a phrase often associated with the start-up community. A reference to “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps”, it means any business that launches with little or no seed capital. And that’s where we’ll start from.
We have not written this book only with start-ups in mind – it is for any recruiter who has an eye on expansion. But this is going to be the starting point for our guide. We’re going to assume that you do not have an abundance of resources to draw upon. Any assets that you do have – well, they will just be a welcome bonus.
In this chapter, we look at the very first stages of planning your recruitment agency growth strategy. What are your objectives? Where will you source new candidates? And who are your clients? These are the questions that we will need to answer.
(Roll your mouse over the image for explanations.)
Why does any business succeed? Because it offers something that people want, but are unable to get for themselves.
Then, it scales that offering.
That’s it. That is the foundation of every commercial enterprise that enjoys growth. That is known as your agency’s value proposition.
As a recruiter, your value proposition is always going to be the quality of your candidates. It is your task to attract a pool of talent which meets the needs of your clients. Then, you repeat your success stories and learn from your mistakes.
It sounds pretty straightforward. But the reality is one of far fewer certainties – and constantly shifting variables. But we want to introduce some sanity into the chaos of today’s jobs market.
Together, we’ll develop a system of consistency and thorough analytics. We’ll find innovative ways to discover new opportunities, and we’ll draw upon tried-and-tested approaches to assess our performance and measure our progress.
The short-term goal is to ensure we always know what our enterprise is doing; why it is doing it – and whether it is working for us.
So step one is simple enough. Identify your offering. Who are you, as a recruiter? We want to know this because, once we are chasing growth opportunities, this starting point will always be the factor that informs our next decision.
Start by answering these following questions:
From this, you can build something that’s a bit like a mental Venn diagram of your business. Some aspects of the jobs market will already be covered by multiple overlapping parts of your processes. Other areas of the job market may fall outside every part of your business. Is your growth strategy best suited to targeting areas of existing expertise, or expansion into new spheres? This exercise will give you half of the answer. Eventually, you will conduct market and industry research, and that will provide the full picture, (see Section 3: Markets).
Every answer reveals a set of opportunities and limitations. By addressing these questions, you are drilling down to the fundamentals of your business and exposing the priorities of your enterprise as it currently stands.
For example, executive level candidates bring the higher fees for every successful placement. But clients are likely to run more rigorous screening against each candidate,too. Even a successful placement can prove a time-consuming process. If you’re seeking growth, you would do well to ask yourself whether high value, low turnaround is the right model for you, at this point in your enterprise life-cycle? Expanding into this area could be an alluring, but inconsistent, venture.
Some sectors operate on a high degree of trust and reputation. Consider professions like the legal, or financial, services. If you have not built up a solid track record of quality hires, then success in high-trust industries may prove a slow grind – despite the attractive fees.
By contrast, focusing on temporary staffing solutions will let you play the volumes game. You could make hundreds of short-term placements every week; perhaps every day.
But there are countless agencies delivering temporary workers; your services can easily be replaced. And remember our overall objective: to deliver a service that our clients need, but cannot source elsewhere.
Setting out your company identity will help you to channel your time and resources effectively. But where should you focus them? And more importantly: what are your resources?
This is where we start getting down to the realities of your recruitment business. Who do you have on your team? What are their skills? How are your resources and your budget? What, even, are your weaknesses?
All of this will help to inform your business decisions. Not only will it help you to focus on playing to your strengths, it will also mean you can set targets that are realistically achievable. Aiming high and falling short is never a smart way to motivate your team into trying harder next time. Doing so will prove demoralising over time. Worse, setting unachievable benchmarks will rob you of the valuable results data and analytics that you would have if you had set your objectives more sensibly. Keep it real.
When you are targeting growth, you should make reporting an integral part of your management duties from day one. Start early, and you will be thankful in the long-term. But what should you be looking for? Let’s take a case study example.
When eBoss developed our suite of business analytics tools, we wanted to support agencies that took a granular approach to reporting. We introduced extensive Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that cover every aspect of a consultant’s life.
How many emails are you sending each week? How long are your consultants spending in telephone calls with clients? And then, what are the outcomes of those? We wanted you to be able to see at a glance how many of your candidates are making it through to the interview stage, and on to placement.
When we talk about email counts or phone minutes, this might seem like the minutiae of your enterprise. But remember that the collection and analysis of this data is all automated, so it takes no additional time or effort to store. Pretty soon, you are gaining a solid insight of your enterprise: what is working and what isn’t – but also how it is working.
At the same time, you will want to pay attention to your sales metrics, too. How many new clients have you attracted? Of your existing clients, which have spent more this month than they did in previous months?
Next, factor in costs and revenues on an organisational level. What are your annual, or monthly, recurring revenues (ARR/MRR) from clients? Your aim is growth, but do you have a spreadsheet of individual customer acquisition costs (CAC)?
From here, it is a relatively simple task to calculate your performance in the real terms of margin, profitability, and sustainable growth.
This might seem like a lot of initial work for little immediate return, but you will be surprised at how easy it is to compile complete reports, when you have the right tools. And remember: by gathering business metrics at an early stage, your measures will already be in place when you do begin to grow. The historic data that you collect now will become a valuable yardstick by which you can assess your performance and growth over the long-term.
If we have established anything in this first chapter, it is that agency growth does not happen by chance. Careful, meticulous planning and attention to detail could be the difference between your agency’s success or its struggling to survive.
What you will find, however, is that the elements examined in this chapter are essentially the foundations of your business. And, like the foundations of a building, you only have to put them in place once. After that, your market insights, business data, and automated reporting require little more than regular updates to keep them ticking.
Next, we will look at the way the market could influence your management decisions as you plot a course towards agency growth.
The second part of Bootstrap Recruitment can be found here.
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