Strategically, just about every recruitment business will have some form of growth intentions, albeit to different extents, but the challenge many face is how to quickly, profitably and most importantly sustainably create scale across what they already have.

Growth can take many forms, from increasing contributing headcount, to adding more products and services to your portfolio, to increasing customer lifetime value and yield, to expanding into new markets and territories and so on, and every recruitment business will align their strategy differently to one or more of these, depending on where their particular market potential exists.

However, and this is a key reason why many never get the scale they really want, your business has to be structurally and operationally sound before you should look to grow it further.

In other words, you should consolidate the business you already have to minimise candidate and customer seepage, create a well-organized engine room that can continuously churn out a minimum level of bottom line contribution and ensure that the core of your business (where and how you make profit) is both efficient and as profitable as it needs to be before you build it out further.

If you don’t, then you run the risk of small cracks in your business becoming gaping holes as the business gets bigger which, if that doesn’t completely hinder the business’ ability to scale will certainly deplete the profit margin as you do scale.

The preparation of a business for growth therefore lies in your ability to create something that is, in essence, scalable in the first place!

An initial 12-point healthcheck across your business will give you some insight into how ready you are to go to that next level. As an example, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have and are you currently delivering against a strategic plan that has been carefully crafted designed to create profit and momentum, or is your business success just a result of hard work and luck?
  • Are your consultants running at an efficient and profitable level or is your business currently allowing mediocrity or at worst underperformance to exist?
  • Are you maximising customer yield and creating growth from within your existing customer base against their total recruitment budget spend?
  • Are your consultants (and the business overall) focused on doing business where there is most profit and growth opportunity (working with the right clients who value a partnering relationship over a supplier relationship, recruiting predominantly in your sweet spot areas where you can create greater margins, better conversion ratios and faster speed to hire, focusing your sales and marketing efforts on today’s fastest growth markets where demand for your services will increase tomorrow and so on)?
  • Do you have access to the right data in your business to enable profit triggers and create marginal gains across every component of your operational infrastructure?
  • Have you in part solved the internal talent quandary and feel comfortable you have the right people, in the right places, doing the right things and have a clearly defined strategy in place to attract more talent to the business to ensure your growth isn’t hindered by an inability to source the best recruiters (experienced or otherwise) and retain the right people?

There are many more, but in essence you need to feel comfortable that your business is currently running at a level of efficiency across all the key drivers and scale won’t expose holes in your current business model.

From here, you then create a top level plan. Don’t get too fixated on the detail, but instead focus on the overarching potential your business has and where that potential lies. Scale shouldn’t be compared against what you did last year, but instead what you could do next year.

If the plan and the future direction sits well with your aspirations, and is realistic against the current and future market conditions (as well as your cash capabilities!), then every component of that plan should be broken down into a series of prioritised outcome based projects. This is where you need everyone in the business to focus on outputs and deliverables, and not just activity.

Every stage of growth requires a clearly defined outcome to be achieved before you can build on the next one. Those projects sit within a project plan (Gantt Chart) and all the key stakeholders need to know the plan, be bought in and have some accountability for those projects they are responsible for in some way.

Lastly, before you get on with the implementation of the plan (I can’t stress how ultimately you need to get to this point quickly and just get on and do it, not spending endless hours in a board room discussing and debating as over deliberation can be one of the biggest anchors to any business – set the plan and make it happen!) you need to ensure that the plan is clearly communicated across the business.

You cannot expect people to be bought in, enthused by, accountable for something that they don’t know so any change programme, any growth programme, needs to be articulated and shared with everyone in the business. People need to feel part of the journey, willing and able to challenge it and ultimately excited to arrive at the destination with you, whatever that may be.

So, in summary, if you are looking to scale, you need to have a business that is scalable in the first place, has a clear project plan that drives growth outputs and ensure that everyone who has role to play in building the business to the next stage knows that what the plan is and actually wants to be part of it.

About The Recruitment Network

This blog article was provided by The Recruitment Network.

The Recruitment Network is the ultimate support club for recruitment business leaders. We give our members an unparalleled level of support, guidance and tools to help them transform their recruitment businesses with the ultimate objective of improving business performance, increasing business efficiency and significantly growing profitability and shareholder value.

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