Many recruitment consultancies operate their budgets to coincide with thecalendar year or the financial year. Either way it is cirtical that you take stock of where you are againt your budgets at the end of month one. If you are behind budget then it is imperative to act quickly.

If the company falls, for example, £110k behind budget in its first month then targets for subsequent months need to increase by £10k in each of the next 11 months (although I would front load this). If the company is still £110k behind budget six months later then you need to make up £22k per month.

January – a dangerous month

January, for all apart from certain interim businesses, is a dangerous month. Recruitment and recruiters start to wind down from mid December and are rarely operating at speed again until the end of the first week of January. Not only do some interview processes get fast tracked at the start of December, for around four of the nine weeks from 1 December until 31 January both recruitment process and business development activities stall.

Although a rush of New Year’s resolutions candidate registrations can mask the issue, for many companies the pipeline of both candidates and roles at the start of January is a fraction of what it needs to be to hit target for the coming months. To compound the situation while February has an extra day this year, Easter falls early meaning that by the end of the first quarter targets may look more than daunting… unless you act now.

Act now

If you are already behind budget or worried about hitting targets over the next three months then here are some actions you can take now to get on track:

  • Share the company targets with the team and incentivise them – sharing targets with the team will make them feel vested in its success. Ensuring that some element of their incentivisation is based on the company as a whole making target will further engage them. For example, create a bonus of some form that is dependent on the company as a whole  exceeding target at the end of the year.
  • Put in place micro targets – you know how many calls lead to a role. You know what percentage of roles you fill. And you know what your average fee is. Do the maths and then set targets for the number of calls each consultant needs to make each week. Many companies now have the means to track calls made and database updates per consultant – use that functionality.
  • Hold yourself to account and get advice – when running a business it can be hard to make the time to see the wood from the trees. Find an experienced mentor or non-exec who will make you take time out from action to reflect on what needs to be done and will make the biggest difference to the business.
  • Hire early – if your target requires growth then hire those team members now. It will take time to get them on board and then likely be at least three months before they start covering their costs.
  • Address any faults in the business – if there is a weakness to the business, then deal with it early. If a member of staff isn’t up to the job or disrupts the wider team then don’t wait for the issue to rectify itself. Replace them now.
  • Up your marketing activity – make sure you have a steady stream of marketing activity to support your consultants. Leverage your database, invest in LinkedIn licences, run events, push your refer a friend scheme… it all helps.

Best of all if you start beating your targets in the coming months and don’t then take your foot off the gas, then you can look forward to a very merry Christmas in 11 months’ time.