A few years ago over a full English builder’s breakfast in a café, Russell Adams and Giles Gallimore first broached the subject of setting up a business together. In 2009 they left their jobs at an international recruitment company to set up AdMore Recruitment Limited. Here is their story so far….

Q. What was the main reason for starting your own recruitment company?

Russell: Aside from the material side – creating financial security and a decent standard of living for my family – the decision was borne from a genuine belief that there was a gap in the retail recruitment market to do things better than the competition. In larger businesses, however talented the employee, they are tied to doing things the company way rather than the right way for their clients.

Giles: I have always wanted to run my own business and like Russ, I realised that there was a real opportunity to make a difference in this industry.

Q. What about the timing (starting up in the middle of a recession)?

Giles: It wasn’t a conscious decision to set up in a recession! However in a way it worked out well. In the early stages when the market conditions were still very difficult we were mainly planning our strategy. Our larger competitors were affected significantly during this time. We managed to move forward despite the market conditions and we will continue to pick up market share.

Russell: You could argue that the best time to set up a new business is in a recession. I still think it was the right time. The benefits were that there was a greater reliance on personal relationships – clients worked with us because they liked us and knew us – something that can’t always happen in more buoyant conditions. I also think there was a lot of support for us as a small business setting up. People were happy to give us a go. Also it was easier to make the transition from a large well-known brand to a start-up when we were already used to really tough conditions.

Q. What do you love about Retail and Hospitality and Leisure?

Russell: It’s a great industry – fast-moving, ever-changing and challenging. It’s also easy to relate to and something that we all see in our everyday lives. As a consumer, it makes it easy to associate with our clients and to build our understanding of their brand. You need to do this as the industry is so personality based. You need more skill as a recruiter as there aren’t specific criteria like education or technical qualifications. Experience and culture fit are what matter.

Giles: Having industry experience really helps establish credibility with candidates and clients. It is a tough sector and very cost-driven so much more of a challenge.

Q. What are the core values of AdMore?

Both: Quality, Customer Focus, Integrity, Partnership, Passion

Q. What do they mean to you personally?

Giles: Take every person and company I have ever worked for and look at what makes them successful, what drives their culture and what they do well and don’t do well. My summary of these experiences: Do everything to the best of your ability; the customer really is king. Hand on heart, have you done everything that could be done? Working together achieves more than the individual and above all, if you are going to do something, put every bit of effort in you that can

Russell: Giles and I spent a significant amount of time deciding what we felt was important to us personally and those values we wanted the people in our business to live by. For me personally they describe the way I approach recruitment and the way in which I like to work

Q. Why do you feel they are so important?

Russell: I feel they are important for a number of reasons. Firstly from a personal perspective they encapsulate my approach. Secondly they are important as they provide a framework for everyone at AdMore Recruitment about how we work and how we expect people to behave. Thirdly they allow us to communicate to our clients and candidates our philosophy.

Giles: All successful business, whatever their size, can trace their beginnings back to a set of core values that provide the bedrock and foundation for the successful growth of that business. To be sustainable and grow you must have a culture that inspires and enthuses stakeholders. Businesses change significantly over time, however the values will always be there to remind everyone where they came from and what that culture has evolved from.

Q. How do you ensure that these values are demonstrated by your team?

Russell: The most important aspect is to lead by example and don’t become short term or profit focused at the expenses of your values. If you do, those around you will lose belief in the vision and the values. We also have many mechanisms to reinforce this behaviour, from it being included in quarterly appraisals to external quality questionnaires.

Giles: When partners are appointed to AdMore they will have been through a significant number of interview and assessment stages. These values will have been tested, researched, quizzed, lived and identified in each new addition to our team. They are part of their personal and commercial DNA and as such they are demonstrated every day.

Q. What are you most proud of so far?

Giles: We have a combined 45 years of experience and everyone has bought into what we are doing. I’m pleased that all the hard work is paying off and we have been able to attract the people we wanted. And I’m also proud of what the brand is beginning to be known for and associated with.

Russell: I’m proud that we are here now as a team of six in 2012 and that we have been able to hire fantastic people who will play an important role in the business. We will continue growing throughout 2013.

Q. You could make a lot of money just the two of you recruiting on your own – why do you want to grow the business?

Russell: Our capabilities lie in management and strategy so it wouldn’t make sense not to use these skills. I want to build something successful, a legacy if you like. The potential is there for us to have a business with over a hundred employees so why not go for it!

Giles: We want to shape a business and grow it. Our plan has always been to plough any profit back into the business to grow the structure and push forward in order to meet the career expectations of ourselves and our team.

Q. What’s the best thing about running your own business?

Russell: Being in control of your own destiny and no politics. Certainly not the work-life balance!

Giles: Having the freedom to take it where you want and not having to do what you’re told.

Q. …and the worst?

Giles: Currently having to apply cost benefit to everything when sometimes you just want to run with an idea and see what happens

Russell: The financial pressures. I feel that we have a responsibility to the people working for us to make a successful business. It weighs heavily at times.

Q. What do you see as your main point of difference in such a competitive market?

Russell: Recruitment is recruitment and therefore it is difficult to offer something totally different to your competitors. However it is not difficult to act and operate in a way that sets you apart from your competitors.

Giles: Our values driven approach to all commercial activity, our outstanding candidate focus and career management consultancy, our expertise, market knowledge and flexible approach in delivering for our clients.

Q. What feedback are you getting from candidates and clients?

Russell: The feedback from them has been fantastic, We send out quality questionnaires to both our candidates and clients to ask for feedback on our service and the people we employ. The key feedback is they appreciate our honesty, integrity and market knowledge. One of the biggest failings of recruiters is not doing what they say they will do and I am delighted the feedback tells us that we do what we say!

Giles: Every candidate we place and every client we place with, is sent a feedback questionnaire, asking them to grade the service they have received over a specific range of Key Performance Indicators. Results are aggregated, discussed at monthly directors meetings and are integrated into all partners’ quarterly appraisals.

The consensus is that we are engendering long-term loyalty, providing service above and beyond the market expectation, customers are liking our down-to-earth flexible approach and above all they are understanding the value that our multiple years of combined retail and recruitment experience can make to them.

Q. What do you think you can improve upon?

Russell: We are still investing in systems and technology to ensure we have all the tools available to actively manage our service levels to candidates. In the current environment it is a real challenge with the volume of individuals seeking new opportunities but we remain focused on providing the best possible service.

Giles: We are not getting our full proposition to a wide enough audience and some customers are still not understanding the different solutions we have for the different recruitment challenges that they face. We need to continue to educate every customer that accepting mediocre recruitment in retail, just because they always have done, isn’t necessary anymore and that AdMore brings an alternative proposition to the market.

Q. What will be the biggest challenge for the next phase of development?

Russell: We need to get our productivity to the right level so we can grow further

Giles: Obviously the economic conditions – can it get any worse? Cash flow and ultimately finding the right people to become future AdMore Partners.

Q. What are the key attributes you look for in future AdMore employees?

Russell: First and foremost to work at AdMore you must demonstrate the right values. Cultural fit is critical to us given the importance we place on values and how we expect people to operate. We look for people who are natural relationship builders and who are service focused in their approach. It is also important that people are driven to succeed and hungry to develop because as we grow the business we need people who can grow and develop with it.

Giles: They must subconsciously live the AdMore Values in their personal lives and their commercial success to date. They must have the potential, awake or latent, to be a future managing director of AdMore and they must be committed to developing themselves and those around them. The desire to win and above all have a great sense of humour, humility and the ability to not take themselves too seriously.

Q. What is your personal vision for AdMore?

Giles: We are famous for delivering outstanding flexible recruitment services across multiple job functions in retail, hospitality. leisure and consumer markets. I will be surrounded by an operating team of committed and inspirational people, who are all much better at what they do than me.

Russell: Our vision is for AdMore to be famous for delivering outstanding flexible recruitment services.

On a personal level my vision is to grow AdMore to become a true market leader over next few years by living and breathing our values. In doing so this we will deliver a great service to our candidates and clients alike and we will deliver the career and rewards our people aspire to.

Q. What challenges and opportunities does the industry face in the next few years?

Russell: There will be a continued move online… will companies need such a large store footprint?

Giles: Retailers will reduce the number of stores which will affect jobs. Also, the market is evolving. I think there will be resurgence in markets and town centres with people choosing local shops for their fresh food and buying heavy goods online. Click and Collect is an interesting proposition and is set for much more development as technology changes our daily patterns. I think the industry will become more professional and more of a ‘destination’ career choice as more technical and specific job roles become available and the industry as a whole becomes more segmented.

Describe in 3 words the sort of company you want AdMore to be:

Russell: 1. Successful 2. Profitable 3. Fun

Giles: 1. Quality focused 2. Flexible 3. Market leader across multiple disciplines

Q. Lastly, what are you excited about for 2013 and beyond?

Russell: I’m looking forward to feeling the step-change with all the team delivering. Also hiring more people and developing our talent management proposition.

Giles: The continuing development and growth of our website and our additional services proposition. Getting real depth of market penetration and geographic breadth. And of course exceeding our revenue target!

I nearly forgot. How long did it take to come up with name AdMore?

Giles: Four months. This was the hardest part of the whole process….

Russ: You are not kidding! I now know every Latin phrase that could ever possibly be associated with recruitment terminology….

www.admore-recruitment.co.uk

www.twitter.com/admoreretail

www.twitter.com/admoreleisure

Specialties

Recruitment Partners, Candidate Profiling, Manpower Planning, Retail Operations Management, Succession Planning, Tailored Salary Surveys, Retail Head Office Positions, Search and Selection.

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