Growing Pains 2/2

Earlier in the week I blogged about using an invoice financing company to cashflow my interims, and the expectation from the company that I am beginning to develop some basic corporate infrastructure including management accounts. With my retrospective accounts now built, hopefully it becomes a maintenance job, and actually the maintenance is less labour intensive than I anticipated, because of great products like Xero, which automatically generates invoices and Receipt Bank, which scans receipts and extracts the data to build your expenses claims – no more envelopes bulging with receipts to process!

But as the company grows, the administrative burden increases. With Melber Flinn I wanted to have a strong customer service ethos, particularly around processing pay and invoices. My preference is to pay interims monthly and invoice clients weekly, because it helps with cashflow (or at least minimises the interest payments to the invoice finance company) but if a candidate is accustomed to weekly pay, or has cashflow issues of their own and needs weekly or fornightly pay before transitioning into a monthly cycle, then that’s fine. Of course someone needing weekly pay creates four times as much admin as an interim on monthly pay but customer service is key, and that additional administrative burden is a small price to pay for a placement to happen and for the interim to be happy. Happy candidates recommend their agent, and when they are deployed in a client for 6 months it does no harm to have them acting as remote advocates.

My timesheeting process is beautifully unsophisticated, candidates email their days to the client, who forwards that email to me if they are authorising the days. No log ins, and no reliance on a third party system, I record days performed on a spreadsheet which was helpfully built for me by a candidate with better excel skills than I, thanks very much to R for his input.

All of the systems and processes are working well, and are fit for purpose for a business of my size, but maintenance is time consuming, and this is not to mention the other administration generated by recruitment activity – formatting CVs, transcribing references, arranging meetings and drafting contracts. I’ve calculated how many hours of my time each week this takes up, and I know approximately how much revenue this time would be worth if I reallocated it to sales activity instead. Enter support from family, my mother a former medical secretary, coming out of retirement for one last job, and my wife who helpfully is a former recruiter. Melber Flinn feels very much like a family business at the moment, and it’s great to be able to involve family members more directly in the journey. Its not sustainable in the long term, but for the time being their input releases capacity for me, to hopefully facilitate further growth in 2016.