“GrowthAccelerator has given me better skills to enable me to lead the business and helped me become more productive as a strategic thinker.” Phillippa Hart, Managing Director, Hart Recruitment.
The company’s core business is recruiting for roles in administration and customer service, HR and management, housing and the public sector, accountancy and finance and sales and marketing and it also offers value-added services such as interview technique workshops for clients, psychometric profiling and coaching to help candidates settle into their new roles.
Our growth journey so far I fell into recruitment after working in HR management and found that I absolutely loved it. I realised quite quickly that I could do it for myself – and that I wanted to do it very differently to traditional recruitment agencies.
“I started the business with one apprentice and lots of ideas for supporting candidates and clients through innovative recruitment services and pricing. By interviewing candidates face to face and building a rapport with them, we understand their requirements and their long term ambitions to make a proper match. We visit our clients, to get to know their business and culture, so we can recommend people who will be a good all-round fit.”
“As we approached our make-or-break first Christmas, Guardian online featured the business in its gift guide, we got some local press coverage and signed our first corporate partner, East Coast Trains, which meant their two million customers got to hear about us. Then the website started showing up in Google searches and we knew that we wanted to give it more than six months.”
The company grew steadily until the recession hit in 2008. We were a team of 12 by then but business became tough. I knew we’d done well to survive, but also that we had to start doing things differently. I was determined to address the issues that came to light in this period – like not being as profitable as we should be and not retaining people as their personal lives change – and I was still working incredibly hard, 12 hours a day, six days a week. I just lived the business!
In January 2013 we realised that we wanted the business to grow faster than we could achieve with our own resources. A business plan followed and we touted it around the networks we’d built up during our corporate careers. Two investors stepped forward and we were able to move into new premises and employ a warehouse packer and an office manager.
Appointing a new branch manager in 2012 marked a big shift for me and meant my role had to change. I knew I was working too close to the business and I saw this moment as an opportunity to step back, become less hands on and see if I could get a better work/life balance. This in turn meant changing our culture and empowering the senior team. It had also become clear that we needed to bring in new business as we were overly reliant on a handful of clients in a challenging market.
Getting the right advice
I chose my Growth Coach Sue Yates specifically because of her background in recruitment so that when we were talking through issues or looking at strategy she’d already have the base knowledge needed. Sue brought with her insights into different, innovative practices from all kinds of companies and sectors and also helped me see my business with a fresh pair of eyes, which I found incredibly valuable as it’s easy to get stuck in your thinking