A Time for Reflection!
Posted on 9th September 2020 at 16:07
AMB Recruitment in Cheshire Reflect
During lockdown AMB saw their industry go from a thriving recruitment business to a complete stand still. Like all businesses work life changed in an instant with the massive impact of COVID-19. Although they were forced to close their doors, they remained positive and used the time to reflect, review and plan.
In this time of reflection, it really gave them a chance to consider their humble beginnings. AMB began from a ‘light bulb’ moment that John and Martyn had while working on sites. Starting their construction life through apprenticeships they gained on-site experience, working their way up through various roles within the industry.
Whilst working on sites both Martyn and John noticed that agencies supplying staff often seemed to lack an understanding of the industry. It was common for them to supply the wrong tradesman or try to fit someone into a job they clearly couldn’t do, which caused knock on effects to the project and deadlines.
These continuous recruitment frustrations made by agencies gave Martyn and John the idea to start their own recruitment consultancy. Although, they lacked the knowledge and experience of running a recruitment consultancy, the wealth of knowledge they had of construction, engineering and gas & oil sectors, gave them the confidence and insight they felt would make a lasting impact within the recruitment industry.
‘AMB launched in January 2018’
At the start they didn’t even have a desk never mind an office. With no initial investment both Martyn and John had to continue with their day-to-day jobs and work on AMB on their breaks, lunches and after work which was one of the first obstacles of running a business.
‘First goal…obtain clients’
With every new business venture the idea and opportunities that can be seen need to be turned into reality. Martyn and John knew although they could see a huge potential the first goal was their most important one. Using all their contacts they had and after weeks and weeks of cold calling they obtained their first job of contracting 16 workers for a six-month contract. A massive opportunity as they took their first steps into the recruiting industry and an exciting one.
Both remember that first contract well and describe it as “A make or break moment – a real exciting but scary step, as although we had a contract, we now had to find the people.” AMB's ethos from the start was not only to supply the right person for a job but also to ensure they supplied the best workers.
At the same time as landing their first contract they also realised the mammoth task a recruiting consultancy and new business has with admin, from the legalities, resourcing, timesheets to most importantly the worker’s payroll. If they wanted the best workers on their books, they knew they need to ensure without fail that they were paid on time.
Although this was a steep and sharp learning curve for them, both knew from the start that they had loved every minute of the challenge. It was a no brainer… they took the plunge, quit their jobs and put all their time, passion and energy into building the recruitment consultancy they had envisioned.
‘The next goal was to get the agency into some structure and gain more clients’
For both Martyn and John this was now a no return moment. They had taken a huge leap from secure jobs and work life to the unknown. Instead of fretting both of them focused their energy on the on the positives. They knew what they needed to do to move the business forward.
Martyn recalls this period at AMB “I will never forget those first six months! For anyone starting a new business I can only say that we had days when we felt like giving up, where there was so much to do, and the workload never seemed to go down. Our agency became a 24-hour job and even when we weren’t physically at work there was always something that needed to be done. Our passion and vision kept us pushing ourselves forward, we were constantly learning, growing and trying to better our knowledge in recruitment and sales.” Over time they gradually started to get new clients and for them some went well and others not so well, but both knew that learning from their mistakes was just as important as celebrating from the successes.
‘A turnover of £700k in the first year’
To achieve a turnover of £700k in the first year was a huge achievement for AMB and definitely a celebratory moment for Martyn and John. However, the pair weren’t going to stop there. Having put great foundations in place for the recruitment agency, their vision for the second year was growth.
Their first step was to hire their first employee Andy, who was originally taken on as a business administrator. Andy’s dedication, knowledge and determination quickly made a huge impact on AMB’s business and within a couple of months he became Operations Manager.
Over the coming months of AMB’s second year things started to really grow and develop as they began to win larger contracts including a huge contract in Liverpool, placing 45 temporary staff.
‘With every business you have to roll with the highs and the lows’
Although AMB were doing really well they were about to hit a brick wall and one of their biggest learning curves.
About a month into winning their biggest contract one of their clients fell into administration leaving them in a total debt of £147k. This was absolutely devastating for the team who didn’t see it coming. “Our trusting nature took a company’s word for payment even though they had only been trading for a year” John remembers the utter dismay and a blow as they realised that not only had they lost such a large sum, the insurance company would only cover £100k of the debt, leaving AMB with £47k to find. This left a whirlwind of devastation through the business after working so hard to create a strong foundation.
At first the team where in ‘fight or flight mode’, with pure grit and determination they tried to continue to trade but everything they were turning over was going straight into paying the £47k debt. Martyn and John decided not to take a wage from the business in the vein hope in helping to bring down the debt. This wasn’t a quick or easy situation to solve and it seemed that no matter what the team did there was no light at the end of the tunnel. After many sleepless nights and with debts rising at home for the two directors, it was time to consider bringing in the administrators.
‘One final push’
The administrators were due to come in within five weeks. The team had always fought every challenge they had and instead of feeling disheartened and giving up the team decided to give their agency one last push. The whole team worked night and day, calling in all favours and on their phones non-stop with the aim to secure new contracts and clients. Over those five weeks AMB managed to secure four new big clients and it finally seemed like their nightmare was over as they managed to shift the outstanding debt and more importantly call off the administrators.
‘No time to stop’
The lessons learnt from nearly losing AMB was pivotal in understanding the recruiting business. The directors feel that this experience has only made them stronger, resourceful and steadfast in succeeding. Instead of sitting back after such a traumatic period, AMB Technical went on to employ three more members of staff to continue to push forward the expansion drive they had set out for their second year. Danny, Ross and Will joined the team in 2019 and at the end of their second year the team were thrilled to announce they hit £1.1 million turnover.
So, when COVID-19 hit this year, you can probably guess how the team approached the crisis. They took the time to reflect learning from their past adversities. In the lockdown period they:
- Reviewed their business plan, considered their business strategy – which has led to the development and launch of their new website.
- Continued to work together as a team with an understanding of how each family has been impacted.
- Support and advise clients and candidates on government initiatives.
They are extremely proud of how far the team has come and have recently been nominated for a NORAS award (The Northern Recruitment Awards). The nomination is for ‘the most impressive recruitment consultancy growth outside of London’. They are extrmely excited to be down to the final in this category. The winner will be announced at the NORAS Ceremony in Sheffield,
fingers-crossed towards the end of 2020 if COVID-19 doesn’t push it back.
When speaking to the directors John and Martyn it is clear that their determination, drive and strong spirit has guided them through every adversity they have faced. They believe “that this period has been a time or reflection and it has really enabled them to regroup after having so many ups and downs.” It is clear they’re extremely passionate about the construction, engineering and oil & gas sectors. The knowledge and expertise the team have between them has established AMB's reputation for being honest, transparent and reliable. The relationships they build with both their clients and candidates is second to none, sticking to the strong company ethos of always ensuring they place the right workers with the right client. In their 3rd year even with the pandemic, AMB Technical are continuing to focus on moving the business to the next level and are forecasting to turnover £1.2 million.
It is great to see such a small firm grow so experientially and we hope that they continue to go from strength to strength.
Tagged as: business, challenges, construction, construction recruitment, covid-19, determination, entrepreneur, experience, failures, growth, launch, lessons, lockdown, next steps, reflection, start up, strategy, team
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