Here at Esme, we believe that advice from experienced business owners is priceless. That’s why we’ve teamed up with three successful business owners to tap into their recruitment knowledge and find out how you can hire the right staff. The first business owner is Adrian Hitchenor – recruitment guru and owner of HW Global, a Leeds-based recruitment agency. The second is Angus Shaw – shareholder in IT solutions company, Brigantia. And, the third is Wendy Hepworth, owner of Espada Boutique – a fashion retail business.
Read on to find out the top tips from business owners when it comes to recruiting the right staff and how to get the most out of your new recruits. They’ll also talk about how they started their business, the hurdles they were faced with and how they overcame them.
Adrian: We’ve found quality applicants through a range of platforms such as social media and recruitment websites. For us though, the best is always through word of mouth, we are then able to get feedback from those who have worked with that individual rather than purely going off a CV.
Angus: We’ve hired some great staff through graduate advertising, but also working with recruitment companies when resources on our side are low. They take a lot of the workload by only referring candidates who they think have the skills we’re looking for. Physically looking through each CV for potential applicants can be a very time consuming process.
Wendy: Word of mouth definitely works better for us. Both of our stores are in a relatively small town, so if we have any vacancies, word will quickly spread. This method suits us, and we can find out very quickly if an applicant would fit in well with our business and team.
Angus: Invest in your new recruit’s training to ensure they have the best possible start, it’s an opportunity to mould then into the employee that works best for your business. It’s also crucial to give them that support early on and encourage them to succeed within your company.
It’s also really important that new recruits know exactly what they’re going to be doing and what their job will entail each day. You can make any role sound great on the job advertisement to get more applications through the door, but if it doesn’t reflect the true nature of the job, it probably means that new recruits won’t stick around for long as the job may not be what they were expecting.
Adrian: Do all the vetting to make sure they are the right person for your business. Interview them correctly beforehand making sure the fit is strong for your business, if you can’t imagine them integrating with your business, they are most likely not the right fit. It’s also vital to get a couple of references on the candidate.
Wendy: I would say follow your gut-instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. Someone can be amazing on paper, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be right for your business.
Angus: Most of our positions are sales based, therefore we believe it’s crucial for our candidates to have a good level of confidence and communication skills. We also offer commission to our sales team, so a thirst to earn money is also appealing as that will usually mean they’ll work hard and stay focused.
Adrian: We really look for a person’s hunger to succeed and a drive that will push them towards that success. Relevant experience is also important, but all our candidates must have a good sense of humour, honesty and good values/ strong ethics to ensure that can be a good fit for our business.
Wendy: Because our shops are based in shopping locations I think it’s really important for all our team and future employees to have good conversation skills and all round confidence with the general public. They have to be friendly and have the ability to hold a conversation with our customers. We want all our customers to leave the shop feeling happy and like they’ve been well looked after. I think this is important for any business that deals with customers regularly.
Angus: Now – training and setting expectations of day to day tasks from a very early stage. By setting targets and expectations, our team know what they are working towards which usually motivates them and keeps them focused.
Adrian: As we want ambitious self-starters, we would expect new starters to be highly motivated. We provide them with a key mentor who can guide them along the way to harness their ambition. We encourage all colleagues to evolve and develop according to their skills and abilities. This is the key to the growth of the company. Easier to grow a company from within than bring in outside fresh talent.
Wendy: We ensure that all our staff go through thorough training when they first start. It’s important for our team to know about all the products and what we have available, especially as this affects the customer. We encourage our recruits to ask us as many questions as possible to ensure they feel comfortable and confident within their role.
Adrian: When you’re growing your business it’s important to keep tight control of your spending and make sure you surround yourself with good positive people. It’s also crucial to reward the people within your business properly.
Angus: Be prepared to work hard during the expansion period. The more work you put in, the more likely it is to become a success. I would also re-invest in training your staff, even if they’ve been there for a long time. An expansion usually means that your business has to change slightly so you want to give your staff the opportunity and a chance to be able to succeed by ensuring they are fully prepared and trained.
Wendy: I would definitely say research the market thoroughly, including competitors. Even if your product or service stays the same, the market is constantly changing, and therefore, your business needs to adapt to that. I’ve grown my business with shops in multiple locations, but each time I have had to do significant research to ensure the new location is a right fit and my business will be profitable.
My second tip is to ensure you have significant funds available. I find that when you’re expanding there are always unexpected costs or small hurdles to jump over that may require extra funds. By being prepared for it, you reduce the risk of delaying the expansion or adding stress to yourself and the team.
Angus: I have always had an interest in cyber security which has grown over the years. I was working for Brigantia for a number of years and then became fortunate enough to buy into the company. When the business first started, we benefited from a strong financial backing, so we immediately formed relationships with vendors who’s products we wanted to sell and hired a couple of salesmen to bring Brigantia to life.
For our business, training new staff has been a major issue. It’s costly, the quality hasn’t been as high as we’d hoped for and we weren’t proving a large enough range of skills for them to adopt and thrive within the company. We saw that this was an issue for our business, so we began to heavily invest in training and our recruits. This then created a better and more progressive working environment, as well as a more productive and specialised experience for our clients.
Adrian: I have always been entrepreneurial and wanted to work for myself from an early age. I worked for a large recruitment business, which made the transition to working for myself much easier. I approached a colleague who was running the Scotland branch for the same company and proposed starting our own business together. Luckily, my Father was able to provide us with the cash that we needed to set up the business.
Every business has its own hurdles and each one has to learn how to get over them. For us, it was running short of cash, hiring the wrong type of people for our business and even paying the wrong people too much money. Over the years we’ve seen the importance in creating a good workplace culture and maintaining team spirit to make sure the best people stayed with us. Overall, the key is to be resolute and keep being focussed on what you do best as a business.
Wendy: I’ve always had a passion for clothes and shoes, so I knew I wanted to do something that involved fashion. My children had grown up and I had more free time to open my own shop. My first step when starting my business was to find a premises that was affordable, but also attracted the right customers. The second step was to find the right brands that I wanted to work with that fit in with the type of shop I wanted.
Once I decided on which brands to stock, I had to place a number of large orders to get the shop fully stocked ready for the opening day. That was probably my first and biggest hurdle. But getting all the amazing feedback on my first day of opening made it all worth it.
At Esme, we offer business loans ranging from £10,000 to £150,000* over a 1 to 5 year repayment period. A business loan can offer you a quick injection of capital that can help your business expand in exciting directions without having to worry about major hits to your cash flow.
Think you’re ready to make the next move? Just fill out our 10 minute application form or try our business loan calculator to get an idea of how much your monthly repayments could be.
*From £25,500 for Sole Traders