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How I Built My Client Database: A Case Study

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 19 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Recruitment Business Agency Client

Any recruitment agency worth its weight appreciates the importance of having a great client database. Yes, we all know it’s about ‘spinning plates’ – with the golden trio of job, clients and candidates needing plenty of attention – but having good clients can really help the other two categories, so it’s worth paying attention to building a solid client base.

When Lindsay Stone set up her own creative recruitment agency after years of working for a major high street recruiter, she knew that she couldn’t simply rely on past clients, especially as she had signed a confidentiality agreement that stopped her from contacting many of them for at least six months.

Lindsay told us, “I’d worked in recruitment for about six years when I left to set up my own agency and I’d built up a really great client base, so it was really frustrating not to be able to contact them because of my confidentiality agreement. But it also made me more determined to find new clients in order to prove my new business could be a success, so I was more tenacious on the phone and followed up every single lead.”

Use What You Have

Lindsay started building her client base by going through all of her past placements to see if there were any leads she could legally contact. While there were not very many, it focused her mind on the potential of contacting people that she had not dealt with for a while. After a few hours on the phone, Lindsay was confident in her cold-calling technique for her own business, rather than simply echoing the style required by her previous employers.

Lindsay continued, “This was a real revelation to me! I hadn’t truly realised that it was my own business and, even though I started out small from my spare bedroom, my recruitment agency was just as valid as any other. I knew that I wanted my business to be different – no squeezing square pegs in round holes – so working out a new way to build my client base was simply an extension of that.”

No Need to Spend a Fortune

The most effective way that Lindsay found to build her client base was also the cheapest. Rather than spending a fortune on advertising, she made sure to read all the trade press and follow up every possible lead with a call. She also quickly got to grips with the latest on-line marketing tools to boost her business, using social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to keep people up to date with jobs that she was looking to fill and new candidates she had interviewed.

Lindsay concluded, “It made me realise how much good business is about common sense. When I worked in an office, there was so much presenteeism and number crunching – having to make a certain number of calls within a certain time frame. But when I started my own recruitment agency I was able to be far more open minded and flexible about what worked and, as I was keeping all the commission rather than handing the lion’s share over to the company, I was able to be more dedicated to the briefs I handled, which, in turn, helped to build my client base too as I had only had very satisfied customers.”

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