Big bang start-ups: The rise and fall of FutureYou (parts 1, 2 & 3)  

Building a recruitment agency into a profitable, sustainable business is tough work that, typically, takes many years.

It almost always starts with a founder, (sometimes two or three co-founders) who, after a number of successful years with a leading agency, departs to hang out their own shingle.

Most of these agencies start small and grow organically for the simple reason that the founders are the majority (most commonly, only) shareholders and they have to stump up the cash to get the business off the ground.

Ambition, founded by Michael Page alumni Paul Lyons and Nick Waterworth in 1999, was an exception. They were a ‘big bang’ start-up; they started big and aimed to get even bigger, quickly.

The Ambition ‘big bang’ took the form of an IPO to raise sufficient capital to enable them to start life with a large team of consultants to support the founders. Unfortunately life for Ambition, in the nearly 19 years after they were listed on the ASX (23 November 1999), has been one disappointment after another.

Their (yet again) underwhelming half year financial results announced recently (sales down 25% compared to five years ago, $400k loss this half year) is evidence that a ‘big bang’ start doesn’t necessarily improve the likelihood of long-term success.

‘Big bang’ recruitment agency start-ups were back in the news 17 years later when FutureYou, was launched. On the morning of 5 April 2016, industry news service ShortList (subscriber access required for all ShortList references) led with the headline “Former Michael Page execs launching “ambitious” start-up”.

Around 40 employees were joining former Michael Page Australia MD, Simon Meyer and his co-founders; former Michael Page Regional Director Richard Wynn and former Hudson NSW GM (also Michael Page alumnus) Emily Wilson, for the agency’s start-up phase in Sydney. A Melbourne opening was flagged for later in the year, consistent with Meyer’s stated goal of FutureYou making it to 100 employees by the end of their “start-up year”.

A floor had been leased at one of the country’s most expensive corporate addresses, the MLC Centre in Martin Place, with Meyer and the other founding partners putting up a substantial amount of the capital. Additional capital was sourced from a number of other, unnamed, private investors who I now understand to be former Michael Page Asia Pacific Regional MD; Chris Adams,  Allied Pinnacle CEO; James Ajaka, independent board advisor and investor; Ron Vela and from Pacific Equity Partners; Simon Pillar and Rickard Gardell.

Throughout the remainder of 2016 ShortList reported a further 19 new FutureYou hires, five of whom were joining as partners and 12 as Associate Partners.

Generous base salaries, plus guarantees, commonly in the range of $80,000 to $130,000 were offered by FutureYou, well above market rates, as the company looked to rapidly buy networks and market share in order to reach their lofty short-term goals. Uncommonly, commission was earned on all quarterly fee income, once the threshold was reached, rather than on the difference between fee income and the threshold amount, as is common industry practise.

The other significant carrot was the promise of an attractive equity structure that would enable those senior recruiters joining as partners to have the best chance of creating a long term capital-building position for themselves. This component of the offer was the one that many current employers of FutureYou-bound employees were in no position, or mood, to match.

FutureYou ramped up the PR machine throughout the first half of 2017 with two full length articles, based on interviews with CEO, Simon Meyer, appearing in ShortList.

The headline; Are ‘super boutiques’ the future of recruitment? appeared on 27 April. In the story Meyer revealed that FutureYou had employed “80 recruiters”, “…been profitable for several months now” and has monthly revenue “in the millions” and “…is aiming for headcount of 120–130, but potentially as many as 200 fee earners.”

Meyer went on to say that temp and contracting was a focus for the coming one to two years and that “…..FutureYou has five practice areas in “incubation mode”, including data, alongside the 10 it has already established, and some 15 new hires in the pipeline.”

Meyer was back in ShortList less than two months later with a substantial piece on 5 June headlined Values key to attracting recruiters that stay in which he was quoted at length when interviewed about the FutureYou values.

“We wanted to think about the value systems that we’d worked in previously and come up with new ones that were a little bit different and really reflected the mood and market in 2017,”

He went on;

“….these people joined FutureYou because they recognise the need for change. He considers a contemporary and relatable set of values advantageous when it comes to recruiting like-minded staff members and “avoiding repeating what we have previously done or achieved.”

In the article Meyer elaborated on how these values impacted the culture by way of moving right away from the “numbers game’ of having reports listing assignment numbers, CVs sent and client meetings completed, “It’s not a numbers game, it’s a quality game”, Meyer assured ShortList.

Three months later ShortList reported that FutureYou were moving to new premises in Melbourne that could accommodate 40 recruiters. In charge of Melbourne were co-founders and senior partners Joe Vize and Marc Richardson who had built their team to 20.

ShortList reported 12 new arrivals at FutureYou across calendar year 2017, including two partners and seven associate partners.

The following month, on 18 October 2017 Simon Meyer reappeared in ShortList; quoted for the story Lessons from the field: Recruitment start-up founders share survival tips.

“We (FutureYou) wouldn’t still be here unless we also had a very strong focus on the financials and the commercial viability of what we’re doing – building business in a sustainable way and getting beyond the break-even point given our ambition around headcount has been a key focus in the last 12 months and I am very pleased to be past that point.”

It seemed that, 16 months after launching, things were going swimmingly at FutureYou.

It’s now the end of August 2018 and FutureYou have been operating for 28 months. The money, and courage, invested by many has had ample time to bear fruit. How are they going in their ambitious attempt to defy history and build a ‘big bang’ start-up into a sustainable long term one?

From all the evidence I have uncovered it would seem FutureYou is a long way short of their very ambitious goals.

Of the 31 appointments announced in ShortList since FutureYou opened their doors in April 2016, only 14 remain employed there.

Tellingly a large majority of the departures are from the most senior ranks of FutureYou, with a large majority of that turnover coming in the past six months (all employment details as per LinkedIn profiles).

Partner departures during 2018 include:

NameFY OfficeTenure at FYNow employed
Niall O’RourkeSydneyJuly 2016 – August 2018Sharp & Carter
Christy MosesSydneyJanuary 2016 – May 2018Six Degrees Executive
Ed GloverMelbourneNovember 2016 – March 2018LinkedIn
Logomalie Tai IfopoMelbourneFebruary 2017 – May 2018self-employed
Kian MyersSydneyFebruary 2017 – June 2018Sharp & Carter

 

Associate partner departures (updated on 17 September 2018) during 2018 include:

NameFY OfficeTenure at FYNow employed
Simon MarksSydneyApril 2016 – July 2018Sharp & Carter
Rajan ShuklaSydneyMay 2016 – April 2018Morgan Consulting
Karim BenriassaSydneyJune 2016 – February 2018Oceans Group
Aisling WalshSydneyJuly 2016 – August 2018Sharp & Carter
Darren GorrelSydneyOct 2016 – April 2018Gough Recruitment
Banico NicholasSydneyJuly 2016 – Sept 2018Sharp & Carter
Chris BarrSydneyAugust 2016 – August 2018Six Degrees Executive

 

I understand another Associate Partner in Sydney is currently on gardening leave and he will be joining his former colleagues at one of the above agencies in the near future.

This flood of talent heading for the exits, and joining rival agencies, has undoubtedly been a devastating blow to Meyer, his senior partners and the other investors.

Tellingly the parade of publicly-announced arrivals that was a common feature of 2016 and 2017 has dried up with only three such announcements so far this year.

What’s happened at FutureYou?

The seeds of the company’s current state were sown within the first weeks of opening their doors when the various partners, prior to joining FutureYou, were promised that the documented specifics of how they would acquire and build equity would be provided to them soon after the commencement of their employment. The first month went past; no document. By the end of the second month no document was forthcoming. And so it went on, for over twelve months.

Although understanding that Meyer had plenty on this plate in the first year of the company, the continued broken promises were a major frustration and disappointment to many partners. A major breach of trust had occurred.

By the time the relevant paperwork was delivered, well into 2017, a majority of the partners could see the cracks appearing and were already harbouring doubts that the prospective-partner pitch of “build and sell within 8 to 10 years” was neither achievable nor likely.

The concept of the ‘super boutique” was predicated on having a large number of well-established leaders from other agencies, predominantly Michael Page, join a business with strong cash reserves; capital that would enable each leader to rapidly build headcount in their specialisation. This rapid growth would be the foundation of how each leader could build a significant equity stake in the company and then cash-in within a decade.

By mid-2017 FutureYou had established 17 specialist areas but without critical mass in any of them. The revenue that was projected to flow from the buying-in of networks and relationships had not materialised at the required level and partners were now finding their growth plans curtailed or put on hold as the finances tightened. Many of the partners had previously led large teams, divisions or regions in their position prior to joining FutureYou but now found themselves relegated to the role of a glorified team leader with little prospect of that changing in the near term.

It appears that the financial results for the 2016/17 financial year became the catalyst for a number of decisions that, ultimately, led to the mass exodus of senior staff in the first eight months of 2018.

Unhappy with the financial results they were seeing, the external investors parachuted their hand-picked CFO, Billy Shi, into the Sydney office in July 2017. Clearly the investors wanted a direct line to the consulting floor and an unfiltered picture of what Meyer and his executive team were up to.

Shi’s arrival saw the monthly partner meetings removed from the agenda and cost-reduction measures introduced. Complete and transparent financial information proved to be hard for the partners to come by. The ongoing frustration of cost allocation, which they had little or no control over, was not helping the morale of the partners.

Kicking off the 2018 calendar year was the 18 January announcement in ShortList of FutureYou launching “……a new division focused on temporary, contract and interim roles, a move the firm says highlights its confidence in a “buoyant” Australian market.

The announcement continued “Partner Kian Myers will head up the new Sydney-based team, which will focus on technology and digital, business support, accounting and finance, HR, property, procurement, supply chain and logistics, and engineering and manufacturing. Meyer expects it will expand to additional industries, and launch in Melbourne, in the next 12 months.”

After a promising first three months the division was quietly shut down and contracting returned to each individual team. Kian Myers left FutureYou shortly afterwards. The long term patience that building a substantial contracting division requires was clearly in short supply from the investors as the focus returned to the more cash-flow friendly permanent placements.

The ShortList story of 17 April 2018 FutureYou appoints executive chair was the formal recognition that Meyer had lost the confidence of the external investors. Chris Adams moved from his background role as investor and advisor firmly into the chief executive’s role as Executive Chairman, responsible for the company’s operations. Meyer was shunted to the side, along with co-founder Richard Wynn, both now responsible for planning the launch of FutureYou Advisory, set up, as ShortList reported on 9 May 2018, “….to assist clients with developing and retaining their executive talent.” How this was going to be achieved, within what timeframe and why it needed the company’s two most senior executives to do it, were questions left unanswered.

It was a face-saving exercise for Meyer and Wynn. Meyer was now CEO in name only. Adams and the other external investors had taken complete control of their investment; an investment that was now seriously underperforming in a boom market in which many agencies were reporting surging sales and profit.

Adams’s arrival completed the change from “super boutique” with no KPIs, minimal accountability and a family-friendly focus to what Meyer had promised they wouldn’t become – a mini-Michael Page with clear KPIs, high accountability and pressure to work hard and long to deliver the fees necessary to stop, or at least slow, the cash drain.

Adams was in a quandary. As an original investor he was, no doubt, fully aligned with the FutureYou values and the “super boutique” vision that Meyer had articulated for FutureYou. Having backed Meyer on this basis, and having known him since their Michael Page days together, it must have been tough for Adams to watch Meyer struggle to deliver results consistent with the vision, and even tougher for him to tap Meyer on the shoulder and tell him that investor confidence in his leadership had reached the point of no return.

However, after two years in charge, Meyer was unable to deliver the budgeted financial results. With no positive shift in the trend line as the company’s staff turnover was starting to mount, Adams, on behalf of the investors, was left with no choice but to take over the day-to-day running of the business and implement what had worked for him across a 20 year career at Michael Page.

Unfortunately it was too late to stop the rot. Kevin Richardson, the first partner to depart, left in November 2017 to return to Gough Recruitment. He was joined in the in the ‘FutureYou ex-partners club’ by five others across the first eight months of 2018. Rachel Shermer and Chris Martin are now the only remaining partners (at the time of writing), outside of the six co-founders, from the original ‘start-up’ partnership team.

It wasn’t just the departures themselves that were damaging. The way highly respected colleagues Kian Myers, Simon Marks and Niall O’Rourke were spoken about by some senior leaders in the company, during and after their departure, was unhelpful to employee morale in the Sydney office.

As the new financial year kicked in employee numbers in Sydney dropped below 50, Melbourne’s headcount stalled at 20 and the 17 niches that FutureYou had established teams in throughout 2017 had now been slashed to around eight.

The staff turnover, the headcount reduction and the investor intervention all point to a company that has conspicuously underperformed against the benchmarks that it had, very publicly, set for itself.

However, most damning of all, has been the continued bull run of the most critical external factor impacting the company’s performance; the Australian labour market.

Meyer et al. could not have had better timing even if they’d been in sole possession of a special labour market crystal ball.

Launching a new agency, of any size, is best done in a market that’s on the verge of a boom and that’s not something that can be predicted with any degree of confidence.

Yet a boom market, perfectly timed with FutureYou’s life as an operating company, is exactly what landed in their lap.

Using Australian labour force data is an imperfect measure of a boom market but combined with the results of the market leader, Hays, you a pretty clear picture.

24 month periodGrowth in total employed persons
May 2016 – April 2018                     586,000
May 2014 – April 2016                    342,000
May 2012 – April 2014                      43,000
May 2010 – April 2012                    456,000

 

Hays Aus/NZ results (Hays financial year is July – June)

  FY 2018  FY 2016increase
Gross profit$353 million$279 million  26%
Operating profit$129 million  $99 million  30%

 

The incredible labour market growth, across the first 24 months of FutureYou’s existence, fed into demand for the services of agency recruiters, leading to a surge in sales and profit across the industry. Unfortunately for the fledging FutureYou, they were unable to take advantage of their good fortune.

Where does that leave FutureYou now?

FutureYou’s short term prospects are uncertain. The partner and associate partner ranks have both taken a huge hit across the past 12 months. Due to the cash crunch it seems unlikely that FutureYou are in a position to pay what would be required to attract additional high performing recruiters from other agencies. Looking at a number of new hires in the past few months it seems that recruitment consultant roles at FutureYou are now being filled with people who have no prior recruitment experience.

The two most senior executives in the business are focused on a business unit which appears to offer little leverage for their respective talents and consequently has little likelihood of becoming profitable anytime soon.

Only a small number of FutureYou’s existing niches have anything close to a critical mass and, most concerning of all, current staff morale leaves the remaining high performers at FutureYou vulnerable to the approaches of rec-to-recs and other agencies.

It’s hard to see how the FutureYou cost base can be substantially further reduced outside of cutting staff, which impacts revenue. The Sydney and Melbourne offices are both a long way from capacity and both occupy premium CBD office real estate.

There’s a breaking point in there somewhere and all the available evidence would suggest it’s not far away unless Chris Adams can conjure up a miracle.

As history suggests, the “big bang” approach to launching and building a recruitment agency (in this country at least) is a high-risk one. The likelihood of succeeding is small and to do so requires much to go right and little to go wrong.

Unfortunately for FutureYou too little went right and much went wrong.

Those critical things that went wrong being:

1) Continued broken promises (especially with respect to issues impacting people’s earning and potential ownership): Existing goodwill only goes so far. If promises are not delivered on then trust is fatally undermined. It’s a long way back from there.

2) Behaviour inconsistent with stated values: When you make a big deal of your values you have to walk your talk. When you don’t, a culture of cynicism, politics and, ultimately, disengagement inevitably sets in.

3) Lack of accountability:  Nothing wrong with paying big dollars to attract the right talent but with the big dollars needs to come high accountability to perform. Too many people were employed for too long, earnin too much and delivering too little.

4) No reality check: The right action to improve results only comes from being fully cognisant of the coal face reality, where the cash is generated. It appears rose-coloured glasses were being worn by too many (too senior) for too long.

5) Going wide, not deep: Attempting to build capability in 17 different niches rather than initially building three or four niches to a critical and profitable mass each, looked risky on paper and simply reckless in hindsight. It seems unfathomable that more than one or two of the original FutureYou team of co-founders and investors would have regarded that this was a risk worth taking; yet collectively they clearly did.

6) Critical competencies missing in the executive team: The six people that make up the FutureYou executive team have all come from big multi-national agencies. Although all would have grown new markets only Marc Richardson has started, as a co-founder of iKas, a recruitment agency from scratch. Only Richardson, of the six, has the experience of worrying about cash-flow or making tough decisions that could be end up being company-saving or company-killing ones. In the respective careers of the other five co-founders, regardless of whatever strengths they each have (and they clearly have many), there has always been a direct up-line report who was looking out for them, ready to step in and redirect if things were starting to go off the rails. Lacking these critical start-up leadership competencies is, I suspect, as much the source of FutureYou’s current woes as any of the other five factors listed above. That Richardson, one of the two senior partners in the Melbourne office, is (jointly) responsible for an office that has clearly outperformed its northern counterpart, is a pointer to what was critically lacking in the Sydney leadership team.

None of the FutureYou ex-employees I spoke to were bitter or angry or held a grudge against Meyer for what had happened. Nor did they express any regret that they had accepted Myer’s invitation to join FutureYou. They were each more disappointed, sad even, that what they had signed up for had not worked out. Each clearly retained respect and affection for Simon Meyer. They all hoped FutureYou would eventually become a success but only a minority thought this was likely.

On 20 November 2015, ASIC records show that thirteen parties invested over $7 million to fund the ‘big bang’ start-up of FutureYou. Five of those investors tipped in just over, or under, $1 million each. It was an impressive show of optimism and confidence by the investors that, nearly three years later, has yet to be vindicated by way of a satisfactory profit stream.

Craig Watson has been an employed recruiter, a self-employed recruiter, a recruitment agency owner, an RCSA Vic/Tas Counciller and is now the co-founder of rec-tech start-up. Craig’s been around the industry over 20 years and watched many companies come and go in that time.  When I spoke to him about where it all went wrong at FutureYou he summed it up perfectly:

“They tried to set up Utopia: A recruitment agency with the best base salaries, the best commission, a family-friendly focus, no KPIs and no accountability. But it doesn’t work like that. When you give people all that then they have to perform at a high level, quickly. It was a big risk and, unfortunately, it didn’t pay off”  

 

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16 Comments

  1. Kevin Chandler on 03/09/2018 at 4:18 pm

    Hi Ross
    See my comments below , which seem now highly relevant to the Future You position.
    I will chat them through with you at the conference

    “The recruitment industry has weathered many changes in the use of technology since 2000. The technology push started with the growth of job boards, which quickly despatched the newspapers as the primary source of candidates. Then came more sophisticated candidate management and applicant tracking systems. Then the plethora of social media players, all purporting to extend the reach of employers and minimise or cut out the need for recruiters. These were followed by the aggregators and other HR tech entrants, all jockeying for a share of the recruitment market.

    The sales cries were that the new technologies would put pay to the recruitment sector – it hasn’t happened. Instead, we have an expanding industry because of the need to interface people in the HR decision making process. However, one issue remains: Recruitment outcomes are no better today than they were 20 years ago.

    All the technology has focussed on changing the way we identify and communicate with candidates, but not how we better identify the winners from the losers. The recruiter is still focussed on filling a job, not filling it with a high performer. Recruiters who understand the important difference between these two approaches and those who choose to practice the latter, break-away from the ‘commodity’ trap. It is these professionals who are seen by their clients as a strategic business resource versus a ‘sales person’ typifying the biases associated with the ‘recruiter’.

    The question is ” what did they think they could do better”

  2. Rod Hore on 03/09/2018 at 8:33 pm

    Very interesting Ross. Looking forward to the next episodes.

  3. FutureWho? on 06/09/2018 at 7:00 am

    I find it amusing how a bunch of extremely average billers/managers who were paid very hansomly to build FutureYou, subsequently failed and then moved (or were moved) on are the same people running around giving this article legs.

    Look forward to the article about Sharp and Carter in two years Ross as majority have headed there.

    Recruitment industry hey?

    • Tai Ifopo - Connector - ConnectingUs on 10/09/2018 at 3:47 pm

      Extremely average?

      Funnily enough, as a Partner at FutureYou, I took a substantial pay cut to join the business. I am not sure if everyone was in the same boat as me, but I can assure you that people left their environments in good faith hoping that the vision was going to be executed.

      Giving the article legs? Both articles are factual and contain very few opinions. I am sure FutureYou will comment in due course and you’ll get a different point of view.

      The one thing that you are guaranteed in Recruitment is that no one gets it 100% right all of the time.

    • Anonymous on 10/09/2018 at 5:01 pm

      Also as a previous Partner at FutureYou, what is more amusing is how the Senior Leadership Team in the business took a Ferrari and treated it like a lawnmower (yes Bourne Identity quote) until it ultimately broke down. Its no coincidence that the Partners all left at the same time when the deep seeded issues with the financials of the business became more evident.

      The culture deteriorated as the Managing Partners and above failed to address its short comings and blamed anyone except themselves for the poor business decisions and subsequent results (17 disciplines as a start up is laughable).

      As it stands, FutureYou is in panic mode, promoting anyone who suggests leaving and has very quickly become a laughing stock in the recruitment industry with comments such as ‘extremely average billers’ that they use in their defense.

      Whoever is in charge of their social media should very quickly plead insanity and remove the above post to avoid further embarrassment.

      Recruitment industry eh? No…..just Future You.

  4. Annon on 06/09/2018 at 5:59 pm

    Making numerous appearances on Sky News and spending time making “What I love about xxx” YouTube videos over a long lunch in swanky Sydney restaurants, does not a successful recruitment company make.

    Who knew?

  5. Guy Sigston on 10/09/2018 at 12:45 pm

    I applaud the team at FutureYou for giving it a go. Numbers on a spreadsheet rarely manifest as one predicts and building a strong foundation with healthy cashflows takes time. It is only when this is in place that one can scale rapidly whilst investing in people for longer term success.
    Don’t be shy about reaching out for advice – there are plenty of willing individuals who have paid the price making poor decisions on their way to success.

    • Brett Iredale on 26/09/2018 at 3:00 pm

      Great comment Guy. I don’t know many of the individuals in this story but I do think that as an industry we want to be encouraging people to have a go and to try different things.
      I am not supporting broken promises or poor behaviour, but these high risk ventures are a two way street. I would imagine that everyone who went into it, and is in it, knew full well the potential risks as well as the rewards.
      Good luck to all and I am sure this is not the end of the story.

  6. Interested observer on 10/09/2018 at 7:00 pm

    Having watched Meyer first hand during his stint as MD at PageGroup, I’m in absolutely no way shocked by any of the developments at FutureYou.

    He, alongside the rest of the senior leadership group there, did their level best to turn Page from what had previously been a market leader into a “super boutique” – although I sense that this wasn’t their stated goal.

    During my time under their leadership I watched a business go backwards year on year, talented people leave and multiple profitable clients terminate their relationships due to poor (or non-existent) account management.

    Alongside this – and perhaps more damning than anything else that happened on their watch – were a series of disastrous strategic decisions made by senior management to move away from profitable and growing market segments (public sector, professional services etc), that saw the firm lose millions of dollars in potential revenue, with no serious plan in place as to how to recoup it elsewhere.

    Their mantra of “we’re Michael Page, we’ve always done it like this & that’s what made us successful, so we won’t change” was a critical error in their decision making – especially at a time when the recruitment landscape was evolving so quickly.

    The only thing “Super” about Messers Meyer and Co were their “Super”-sized egos.

    I suspect its that exact same misplaced sense of self-importance that’s gotten them into the state they find themselves now.

    I have to say, having seen them work their magic previously, I’m not surprised in the slightest…

  7. Giving this article legs on 12/09/2018 at 9:21 pm

    Joining FutureYou and being part of the ‘start-up’ year was genuinely an exciting opportunity and a time which I’ll look back on fondly. At that time, employees were galavanised with one common goal of success and growth, spurred on by Meyer and Co.

    However, in order to achieve these long term objectives, a business needs not only inspiration, but actual results from its seasoned (and well connected) leaders. In FutureYou’s instance, within 12 months, the opposite occurred. This resulted in a rapid cultural decline, mainly due to the unaccountability of senior partners in opening doors in order to build long lasting and (profitable) relationships, or assisting with the many verticals FY was trying to penetrate. Consultants were left to effectively fend for themselves, scratching the surface of businesses with no brand awareness behind them.
    Combine this with some very, very toxic employees (who still work there) and questionable promotions/recognitions which completely went against the original values and ethos of the business, ultimately led to the disengagement and multiple resignations of staff.
    Overall, FY had a great idea but executed it poorly, and is now suffering what I think may be irreparable damage. It’s a shame really, but certainly an interesting business case to review when businesses try to enter the recruitment game!

  8. Richard HIllberg on 13/09/2018 at 9:09 am

    Great read. There is no such thing as a super boutique. Scale and size usually equal commodity offering

    A recruitment business has to at least equal the value of its superstar recruiters by investing in technology, process, brand and systems to be sustainable and contribute to the overall customer value proposition. Failing to do this and relying on the capability of individuals is a risky tactic that will distort the power balance between business and recruiter

  9. Annon on 14/09/2018 at 12:04 pm

    Having observed this “super boutique” closely and knowing that employees have long been encouraged to do all the things that go against best practice (avoid meeting people before sending CV’s, poaching from clients) in my opinion, they are reaping what they sow.

    Another group of overinflated egos with promises of grandeur, lots of show ponying around the market with videos stating how much they have changed the market for the better, and in fact, they have taken the profession backward at a rate of knots through poor service and unethical behavior. Certainly not an approach aimed at longevity and more importantly, helping change peoples lives for the better. I hope their actions aren’t too damaging for the rest of us wanting to do some good and to help move our profession forward.

  10. Anita Ziemer on 14/09/2018 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks Ross, a useful case study for aspiring business owners. I wish them all the best in trying to turn it around as I’ve learned that the three C’s (which seem to be the missing pieces of their picture puzzle at the moment) take hard work – inch by inch, day by day:- culture, clients, cash flow.

  11. Phil Isard on 17/09/2018 at 5:12 pm

    Thanks for the 3 part series Ross. It’s your best work.

    $7mil bucks is a lot cash to lose (that’s circa $13mil before tax). To put it into perspective, If one person was being paid $1 a minute, it would take under 75 years to earn $13mil (based on an 8 hr day, 7 days a week). So to think that in potentially under 3 years, they could lose the lot, the phrase “…up and disappeared like a fart in the wind” comes to mind.

    Some many past quotes or comments come to mind:
    “A business should be judged by it’s profitability, not it’s size” – Nigel Harse (he told me that one anyway)
    “Only recruit when you got your team average to a certain level” – Greg Savage (it’s was that effect anyone)
    “Revenue is Vanity, Profit is Sanity” – Probably an accountant

    I’m sure time will pass, and someone else will do it – funny how things repeat.

    Thanks Ross.

    • Ross Clennett on 18/09/2018 at 4:02 pm

      Thanks, Phil. Glad you enjoyed it. I think it was Greg Savage that said “Revenue is vanity. Profit is sanity. Cash is reality.”

  12. Paul Hamilton on 19/09/2018 at 8:57 am

    Great article again Ross.
    A successful Recruitment Consultant once told me that he likes a Manager “who leads from the front, not pushes from behind.”
    This again is another example of why it’s important to be speaking to a reputable Rec to Rec when considering a career move. All of this comes as no surprise to me. I’ve been hearing stories for the last couple of years from vacating Future You employees in both Sydney and Melbourne. I’m only too happy to share what i know from reputable sources when it comes to company cultures and management styles when speaking to Recruitment Consultants.

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