GB Solutions: Looking to a digital future
GB Solutions is an established recruitment agency that has been operating in Gloucestershire for over 20 years, providing both temporary and permanent staff for businesses of all sizes in office roles. Partner, Sue Waters, spoke to us about the compulsory changes in their business as a result of lockdown and the recruitment outlook from their perspective.
When businesses started to close and focus on their immediate cashflow, it is no surprise that GB Solutions discovered a recruitment freeze had begun and their business dried up overnight.
It may seem difficult to see the positives at this point, but the partners found themselves in a position where they were forced to make immediate changes that may otherwise have taken them a few years to progress. Sue explains how they are now moving forward from a stronger, more agile position.
NO STRANGERS TO CHANGE
The last few years have seen some considerable change for the team at GB Solutions, particularly for Sue when an opportunity arose for her to step into a partner role in 2018. With the addition of a new commerce division, a brand refresh, and its strongest first quarter performance, the change around the corner was unforeseen and in stark contrast to the success they had been enjoying.
To say business fell off a cliff edge would not be understating the speed at which contracts were pulled and the GB Solutions offices had to be shut. As with all businesses, cashflow management became key and Sue attributes their ability to get through the first few weeks to the financial astuteness of business partner, Mike Goode.
Amidst cutting costs and furloughing staff, they found that their luck was in; as their lease came to an end on their offices, they were able to hand in their notice, removing long-term bricks and mortar commitment and begin their journey into the remote and digital.
MOVING TO THE CLOUD
The recruitment industry has moved quickly in recent years; the days of paper CVs and meeting candidates in person seem a distant memory, with virtual meetings and social media such as LinkedIn taking over. Sue explains that the most successful recruitment consultants are online and available all of the time, particularly out of hours, and are more flexible to the requirements of candidates.
GB Solutions found that their existing systems and ways of operating had meant they were more desk-bound than was suitable for the job and so had been making a gradual move to becoming more digital and flexible.
Having moved to Microsoft 365 earlier in the year, the enforced pause in day-to-day activities provided by lockdown meant that the business had the ideal opportunity to move to a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) system. As well as being a higher performing option than their existing database, it also means when the business starts to bring staff back from furlough, they will have full access to all of their systems from any location.
Sue describes the local authority discretionary grant as a game changer at this point; they applied for the £10,000 grant and the money was in their account within three days. Just one of the many Government support systems to keep British businesses moving.
The final piece of the puzzle was negotiating with their hardware suppliers, Cheltenham-based IT partners Smart, in order to change their desktop lease to laptops, and accessing new mobile phones through Eurolink. In a process that was planned as a step change over the next few years, GB Solutions now has a workforce that is fully mobile and flexible.
Knowing that the business has the right technology in place means the team can continue to operate seamlessly; however, Sue explains that this is only half of the story. New working practices have to become ingrained, and where working from home offers a great deal of flexibility and benefits to some, others may find it more difficult.
Looking to the future, GB Solutions understands that the work of recruiters has changed; physical networking is currently on hold, which is a tool that is so vital to their work. Social networking, WhatsApp, and Zoom, are welcome replacements but, as many discussions are highlighting, this does not entirely replace the benefits of a face-to-face encounter.
Sue concludes, recruiters are basically sociable animals and if networking is slow to return it will be interesting to see how the recruitment industry further adapts, but if it is more virtually focused, GB Solutions are now well placed to move with it.
MEET THE SENIOR SPECIALIST RECRUITMENT CONSULTANT
Sue started her working life as a buyer for Boots and then Sainsbury’s where she had built up a good understanding of retail, supply chain management and the demands of FTSE 100 businesses.
After a few years working in Switzerland and the US she returned to Monmouthshire, and joined GB Solutions in 2014. Sue bought into the business in 2018 and is now a Director alongside Mike Goode. She is a well-known face to the Marketing community in Gloucestershire through networking and her online presence. Frequently called upon to help organisations with careers advice and CV writing, she is also passionate about helping women find the roles they are looking for in organisations empathetic to their family needs.