Setting up for Success in 2024: A Proactive Approach to Strategic Planning and Growth

Posted on Thursday, February 1, 2024 by Alison Humphreys - Award winning NED and strategic advisor

In Spring last year, I started working with a client who ran a small business (25 staff) placing tech infrastructure and UX specialists.

They’d done pretty well during the job-rich year of 2022, and the owner was ambitious for 2023.

In fact, he wanted to increase net profit by 50%. His cost base for candidate generation and marketing had risen a lot, so he had calculated that he should be able to achieve this with a 20% increase to headcount, as his less experienced hires would become more productive and his investment in his tech stack started to produce returns.

About this time last year, he told me that he had presented the new sales budget and the “future organogram” to the team. Everyone, he said, was totally pumped. He saw no reason to revisit it with the team.

 I am sure they were pumped. In their boss’s presentation, they just saw more of what they knew.

More people filling more jobs, generated by more marketing, and filled with more candidates from advertising. Producing more commission.

 I asked about the meeting. He told me he hadn’t wanted to clutter the meeting with too much detail.

So everyone left that (short) meeting and went back to their desks to do exactly what they did in 2022.

 Of course, 2023 did not work out so well for them.

  • The job flow became much tighter.
  • There was a lot more pressure on fees.
  • Candidates became reluctant to move.
  • The cost of generating candidates went up.

This year, he has a slightly smaller team, and a much closer eye on profit. What’s he going to do differently in that meeting this year?

1. First, he’s going to explain not just what further sales results he believes they can achieve, but also where they are going to come from. We have taken account of the market data that’s available, and what we know of client plans and candidate behaviour.

That’s quite detailed- it includes new markets and territories.

Better account development.

Enhanced lead and referral gathering.

2. Second, he is going to have to cut some non-productive spending. After a review, for example, we decided to keep in conferences (expensive) and reduce job ad spend, because we had in excess of 40,000 candidates in staff inboxes and on the CRM who had no contact with us for at least 6 months. Some of these candidates had been shortlisted for our jobs in 2023, and never contacted again.

3. Third, this time we have made a detailed plan about what sales processes (and yes, a limited number of important KPIs) we expect. We’ve already scheduled training to support this.

4. He then made time for all the staff to discuss in small groups with their manager how they would need to change. Written down.

5. Finally, we’ve built the big goals (and our progress) into management meetings, staff reviews, and sales reports.

 I think he’s much better positioned this year than last.

The “big picture” needs detail.

If you haven’t thought through the detail, and would like experienced support, reach out to Alison Humphries today; a seasoned and award-winning NED to recruitment business owners and directors.


Alison Humphries is a highly experienced MD and NED, with 35 years at the top of the recruitment sector. She advises directors and owners of recruitment businesses on strategy, finance, sales and management to maximise performance, enter new markets, prepare for sale and work more efficiently. 

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