Often the biggest challenges new recruitment entrepreneurs have are growing their business from being the top biller to billing manager and then on from billing manager to managing/directing through managers/team leaders.
These are the two big hurdles at which many recruitment leaders fail.
If truth be told it’s probably at these hurdles that we receive the most calls for assistance to support business owners make the step. Part of the challenge is that often business owners have to change themselves, their attitudes, behaviours and their leadership/management approaches and it’s very hard to be objective. Hence why a qualified coach is essential. Every manager is different and every business is unique but here are a few tips if you are planning to make that move.
Top Biller to Manager
This is the first hurdle new recruitment business owners face and it comes usually in the first 2-3 years of their existence. There is no universal panacea as often every business is different due to many reasons including:
· Niche vs. Generalist Models (see blog)
· Directors “take-out” & levels of profit/surplus
· One or more founding directors
· Temp/Perm/Contract proportions
· Market Sector
· Previous Management experience
Whatever your starting point there are solutions to all of these challenges, which are tried and tested, that can help you make the step up.
Continuity of Revenues
One of the secrets is to develop a strategy that ensures continuity of revenues and therefore profit. It is important that the pressure on new staff to deliver is not business critical in the first three to four months. We have written a blog on this called - Are you overpaying consultants and impacting profitability and growth? Where we discuss how you should spend the proportions of gross profit between earnings, general business costs/overheads and surplus.
Before recruiting people we recommend you create a surplus to fund the new starters for their first six months that way you and they are not under pressure for them to generate funds too soon and you too are not putting the business at risk.
It is also important that your personal fees are secure for the first few months of a new starters time in the business otherwise this puts added pressure on the business and can mean you have little time to support your new starter. Even experienced recruiters will require some support to bed in and you will have to adjust to performance managing people weekly.
Depending upon your market sector and whether they are temp/perm or contract, typically new starters with previous recruitment experience will take 3-6 months to get their personal fees (paid) to a level where they are covering their costs.
Some may come with an existing pipeline, which sometimes shortens this, but make sure you check out their restrictive covenants, as you don’t want to find yourself being jointly sued in any legal claim for breach of contract by their previous employer.
Obviously raw trainees take even longer to bill. Jo Gregory and I have considerable experience supporting new starters via our Rookie Academy product, which many of our clients have purchased in full. Typically we can get people billing inside 4-6 months and up to £10,000 GP per month inside their first nine months. Every formula for achieving this is different depending upon market sector, temp/perm/contract, niche or generalist recruiter but again there are guiding principles which we can talk you through if you would like to contact us.
Temporarily Remove Commission Thresholds
Another tip is to remove all thresholds and standard requirements for the first 4-6 months and bring them in gradually. Yes you pay commission on all revenues at the beginning but this incentivises consultants to bring revenue forward rather than push it back. In turn this helps with cash flow and builds confidence. It is our experience that this is a WIN/WIN and leads to extra effort and focus from new recruits. It sees them go flat out from the first off. This is especially useful we find with temp and contract consultants.
Otherwise there is an incentive for people to hold back sales where they are cumulatively below thresholds and make it land in one big month to ensure they get “some commission”. This can be bad for the business and also not a good habit to encourage.
Use Structured Day Plans
When you recruit new staff they can become a drain on your time. To prevent this we recommend using a structured day plan for the office and your sales team, including you, is a great way to manage new starters to ensure they do not consume your time and significantly reduce your own productivity. Experienced recruitment consultants should be used to this but trainees will typically need their daily routine setting up with you either the night before or first thing.
A great book to read on this is Ken Blanchard’s The One Minute Manager. In this he talks about goal setting, praising and reprimands. Using his formula if you do your “goal setting/set-ups” first thing, “praising” at lunch and “reprimands/wash-ups” at the end of the day this is a good basic structure.
Naturally you must plan for some interruptions outside these times but there are strategies we can teach you to manage these interruptions including negotiating people into one of the three sessions we highlighted. Over time by learning to manage and coach your staff you will be able to keep these interruptions to a minimum and therefore not impact your own productivity.
Whilst your team is small we recommend you also keep your non-recruitment activities to a minimum during core hours and do your “management” activities as far as possible outside these hours. Using a back-office provider like Simplicity-in-Business will help with payroll issues.
You are the main role model for your recruiters. They will take their lead from you and as one of my clients loves to say “Monkey-See, Monkey-Do” therefore be focused and lead your people from the front. Never expect them to do anything you wouldn’t.
Agreed Daily Activity Targets and Outputs
When you employ staff you need to have agreed daily activity targets and outputs. With young Millennial recruiters (those born 1992-2000) having boundaries and consequences is essential to ensure their productivity, focus and motivation. We have written a blog on this topic too called Millennial Recruiters need flexibility with boundaries and consequences.
This will also give you a few tips on how to handle this issue but its key to have these agreed daily in your daily “goal-setting/set-ups”.
Again on the basis of “Monkey-See, Monkey-Do” you too need to be seen to participating on activities alongside your consultant.
This is the Twenty-first Century and the days of “Do as I say, not as I do!” are gone!! This is not always possible if the bank manager calls for example or the landlord but you need to uphold the principle as best you can.
Work your Consultants Jobs with them
This is a great way to learn so much. You will learn how your consultants think, their attention to detail, their strengths and their weaknesses. If you adopt a collaborative coaching leadership style then your people will follow you. You will engender loyalty and commitment. It’s also difficult for people to leave early when the boss is working their job alongside them and staying late!
A word of caution when you first do this you may learn loads of issues with your consultant’s that you are not happy with. Try and avoid the temptation to correct everything at once. Work on the critical skills that need developing to start with and then progress to the ones that have a lesser impact on the recruitment process.
Sometimes it maybe that working this way you discover that your consultant is not at the level you need and conclude that they are not right for your business.
You must be the judge of that and react accordingly. Either way this is a great technique when your business is small.
Encourage them to have a Sales/BD Strategy for their desk
Always ensure both experienced and trainee consultants have a quarterly plan/strategy for developing their desk. Work with them to develop it. Typically ensure they include many of the following:
· Target Clients
o Key clients they wish to open up
· Candidate Sourcing strategies
o Ensure a steady stream of placeable candidates/workers
· Activity Targets for
o New candidate registrations, , Candidate Referencing
o New Manager Additions, Lead Generation, Client Visits
o “Out-Reach” Activities, Spec-in CVs, E-shots, Mailers
o CV Stripping
· Daily, Weekly and monthly Milestones
It should also include anticipated outcomes and projection for interviews/bookings and sales.
Work with your consultant to develop targets that stretch them but also make sure they are achievable.
A very important part of this is that they attach a personal goal at the end of this quarter, a reward for achieving a significant target.
This can be an activity like a day at a health spa, golfing, corporate hospitality at a sports event or it can be an item that they want like an iPad, Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones, Mulberry Handbag. It needs to be compelling for them.
Encourage them to have a picture of it on their desk. It also helps if you contribute to it or even agree to buy it.
There is a whole load of psychology on why this works and why it helps build resilience in most consultants, which we can go through over the phone if you want an immediate response or at a later date in another blog but this approach works.
There are many more techniques and tips to help recruit and build a successful business such as, recruiting the right type of person for your business, creating clear promotion pathways, performance management frameworks, personal development plans not to mention leadership and management training for you as the business owner but these are a few.