Starting a recruitment agency: how to attract new clients


You’ve made the decision to launch your own recruitment agency, you’ve got your business plan in place and your website is up and running. Now comes the truly frightening moment: trying to land your first set of clients.

It goes without saying that a recruitment agency is nothing without a strong customer roster, and inevitably it will take time to build up your client base. However, as a recruitment start-up, there are things you can do to speed up this process and find businesses that can benefit from your skills and knowledge.

Here are a few ideas…

1. Leverage your black book

Very few people start a recruitment agency having never worked in the industry before, so chances are you’ll have some good connections already. Use those contacts to start spreading the word about your new business and find out if they are happy with their current agency.

Even if your contacts aren’t actively looking for staff right now, you never know when their priorities might change – or who they might bump into. You can even offer a referral bonus to former clients, such as a discounted fee on their next placement, to encourage their support.

2. Network online and offline

The more people you meet, the greater your chances of securing new business. Networking is critical to the success of start-up recruitment agencies, and unfortunately this is one area where you really can’t cut corners.

Spend some time researching relevant regional and industry events that you can attend. Equally, look for digital networking opportunities. An increasing number of companies are finding their partners and suppliers online, so make sure you explore social networks and industry forums to see if there are online discussions that are worth your input. Job websites are also a really useful start point to see which companies are in the market for fresh talent.

3. Build your own profile

As well as starting conversations with potential clients, it pays to think about how your business and individual profiles come across, as these could generate inbound opportunities.

In addition to a good website, make sure that your agency has a good set of social media channels, and that you’re actively using these channels to share expertise and interesting content. Rather than spread yourself thinly across multiple platforms, you may choose to focus on a couple of social media channels initially – Twitter and LinkedIn, for example – and then expand to other sites when you’re up and running.

Your social media output doesn’t always have to be a sales message; in fact, many of the most respected influencers shy away from sales-based content. The more you can use your platform to help businesses recruit the right contractors, the quicker your following will grow.

4. Perfect your elevator pitch

All the opportunities in the world will not convert into business if you can’t convince a potential client why they should choose your recruitment agency over another. Therefore, what you say is just as important as who you say it to.

Take some time to practice a short summary of what makes your recruitment agency unique, and why your approach is better than your competitors. You may also want to consider some of the questions potential clients might ask you, so you have confident and informative answers to offer them in return.

It’s also very important to get your facts straight, so if company bosses ask you practical questions about your business model or placement fees you are able to provide a comprehensive response.

5. Ask for feedback

Sometimes something really small and easily fixable can stop good entrepreneurs from winning new business. Never be afraid to ask for feedback, or to take on board what people are saying, because a small tweak to your strategy can make a big difference.

Equally, when you start securing your first client contracts, ask them to support you with a testimonial or case study once your working relationship is up to speed. This will provide you with unique and powerful marketing materials to showcase on your website and social media channels, and their endorsement will empower you to keep building your customer base.

6. Make client relationships the main focus

When you’re starting a recruitment agency with limited resources, you may find yourself trying to manage every aspect of the business by yourself. In this scenario, it’s easy to become weighed down by day-to-day admin tasks that keep the company ticking over, without finding enough time to go out and prospect.

Seemingly simple back office tasks such as processing timesheets and co-ordinating invoice payments can end up dominating your workload, and the burden will only increase as you onboard more clients.

Bringing recruitment back office technology on board to manage your agency admin can take the weight off your shoulders and ensure that everything is running smoothly from an administrative perspective. But most importantly, with this technology in place, your time is free to focus on nurturing new client relationships.

ETZ is a leading provider of recruitment back office software, and Startup 20/20 is our specialist technology platform for start-up recruitment agencies. Book a Startup 20/20 demo to see how our solution can automate your operations cost-effectively.

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