Finding a unique selling point can be hard, especially when your business operates in a very busy sector. Jonny Breeze found that having a unique selling point and strong team of staff helped his company, Yellow Cat Recruitment, to survive the recession – and become even stronger.
Yellow Cat Recruitment is a London-based recruitment agency specialising in media and creative, marketing and PR, TV and film and business support vacancies. The company works with both large and small businesses, providing support for them and placing new staff into both temporary and permanent roles.
Jonny Breeze, managing director, knew from a young age that he wanted to run his own business, although he wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do. He ended up in the recruitment sector by chance – a housemate of his was working for a recruitment agency and got him some temp work there. He found that he loved the job, particularly “the buzz of helping both clients and candidates and seeing the rewards both personally and financially.”
He found that the agency he was temping for wasn’t doing things how he would have, given the chance, so he decided to set up his own business. On top of his recruitment experience, Jonny had also worked in media, events, marketing and TV, so he decided to combine his experience and specialise in recruiting for those sectors.
Yellow Cat Recruitment now has a team of six – himself, four consultants and an administrator – and a consultant is assigned to each industry sector. He has found that each consultant can now concentrate on their niche in order to meet targets and push their division forwards, which will enable to company to grow further within these areas.
Issues in the business
While Jonny feels he hasn’t made any major mistakes in starting his own business, he says that there have been a few errors in judgement when hiring the right individual for his business – sometimes the wrong person ends up in the wrong role. However, over time he has worked out what type of personality thrives in Yellow Cat and now has a team full of driven, enthusiastic individuals
While the recession was difficult for business and stunted plans for growth, Yellow Cat has a team of long-serving employees, which allowed it to remain consistent throughout a tough period.
Finding a unique selling point
Yellow Cat Recruitment differs from most recruitment agencies in their method of trying to understand each candidate’s character. Candidates go through a vetting process consisting of a telephone interview, a face-to-face meeting and software testing where appropriate. Candidates for more senior positions also undertake neurolinguistic meta-programming questioning – a method designed to allow Yellow Cat to better understand the motivation and character of individuals. Jonny’s brother studied psychology at university and recommended the method to him –it has succeeded in allowing them to see what roles candidates are ideally suited to.
In marketing the company, Jonny says: “The landscape for recruitment has dramatically changed. Yellow Cat has been going since 2006 and if you’d asked me in the first couple of years; it was very much about placing adverts on job boards, getting brand exposure through this, networking with various individuals and using word of mouth contacts. Now the social media side has become pretty massive. We’re incorporating it into sourcing and headhunting candidates. It’s definitely changed – placing an ad and expecting candidates to respond is still strong but there are other areas of sourcing candidates that are becoming more prominent.”
The company is increasingly making use of social media and find LinkedIn particularly effective, describing it as “Facebook for business”. In fact, they now find that up to 40 percent of their candidates are found via social media sites – up from fewer than five percent only two years ago.
As for the companies with whom Yellow Cat places candidates, Jonny says that he has been fortunate with the people he knows. “Most of our clients come from people I know in the companies who refer them – networking with friends who have worked there and introducing me to relevant people. After getting a few big name clients, others follow” – although he also stresses the need to pitch the company correctly to prospective clients. The company also works with SMEs, often acting as recruitment partners as they sometimes don’t have human resources capabilities. Yellow Cat aims to help SMEs by understanding their growth plans and current positions and ensuring that they recruit the right individuals.
Jonny now sees himself as a businessman and has lots of ideas for new ventures, although nothing is set in stone yet. He intends to grow Yellow Cat over the next year, predicting that it will grow from a team of six to ten staff. He feels that it has taken him a few years to develop a business model that can grow with the company, and as such intends to develop the company accordingly.
In running his own business, Jonny says that the best part is the freedom it affords him. “I can take time out when I need to, which is great. I’m a very passionate and determined individual and it’s allowed me to develop something on my own that I’ve built so I’ve got the job satisfaction I don’t think I’d necessarily get in working for someone”. However, he has found that covering all the areas of running a company has taken some of his focus away from concentrating solely on recruitment – something potential business owners should always consider.
He would advise any entrepreneurs to ensure that they have a business plan and ensure it will actually work by looking at the market sector they want to enter and target market segments, although he warns entrepreneurs that a business is unlikely to take off straight away – “My first day I had literally one call and thought ‘Oh my God, what have I done?’. You’ve got to be realistic – don’t expect it to take off overnight.”