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Melber Flinn’s 2nd birthday (2/2)

On Wednesday I published part 1 of this blog. I’ve bravely requested questions from colleagues Mel and Kathryn, and promised to answer them as best I can. Part 2 follows below:

What do you have planned for year 3?

Expansion. Me, Kathryn and Mel have formed a great unit, and the structure, process and functioning of the business is exactly how I imagined it to be when I was planning Melber Flinn a few years ago. And I have discussed this with Mel and Kathryn – we could stay as we are and continue being successful, but there is a limit to how big the company would get from a turnover perspective. I need to professionally challenge myself, and growth should help build the resilience of the business particularly if (God forbid) Kathryn or Mel should ever decide to leave. So we hope to hire certainly 1, but hopefully 2 more people in our third year.

Have you been surprised by the impact of IR35 this year?

Yes and no. We’ve known since November 2016 that it was coming, I think the whole industry was in the dark too late about how it would be practically applied. The publication of the test and associated guidance was late in coming, and I remember even in March, candidates still speculating that the legislative change would be postponed or abandoned. I’ve been surprised that demand doesn’t seem to have been too badly affected. I really didn’t have high hopes for 2017, I thought it would be a year for toughing it out and getting by. We had a meeting in January where I talked to Kathryn and Mel about the financial position of the business, and we plotted some worst case scenarios in terms of cashflow and the minimum business levels we would need to keep going. Thankfully, its never got close to that bad, and against all our expectations, we saw a 30% uplift in new roles in April/May/June compared to Jan/Feb/March. The composition of work has changed, and we have been placing candidates in scope, out of scope, on outputs based contracts, on day rates on trust banks and on fixed term contracts. Having those contractual discussions with clients lengthens the recruitment process, but you can act in more of an advisory capacity to support clients. We had made 1 more placement year to date at the end of June 2017 compared to June 2016, but our interim numbers have dropped. That’s because for more of our placements, we’re charging one off fees instead of margin on day rate, and those fees are compensating for the drop in fees associated with our day rate interim numbers.

If you asked your children what is Daddy’s job what would they say:

I asked them independently so they couldn’t influence one another’s answers

Finn (aged 9): “You get people jobs” Flo (aged 6): “You work in your office, doing work on your laptop.” (Me: Can you remember, is it something to do with hospitals?) Flo: “Oh, you call people in hospitals and look after people”

Given the added benefit of being able to spend more time each week with the hilarious Kathryn and Mel, would you consider opening an office?

Its not on the horizon yet! We are all networked up on cloud based systems, and of course WhatsApp is one of our main communication tools. I’m honestly not seeing the benefit at all yet of an office. Mel was most wary of not having an office to go to, but I think even she now sees the benefit of walking upstairs to work and staying in your pajamas all day. I know another consultancy business that had a virtual / home based model until they hit 60 people and it worked well for them. I recognise some of the benefits of working in the same space together, but frankly for Melber Flinn I don’t think they come close to outweighing the benefits we all enjoy of home working.

How many cans of Monster have you consumed since starting Melber Flinn?

Ouch! I know this is a terrible habit, but in my defence its my only real vice, I don’t drink tea and coffee. It’s probably an average of 1.5 cans a day, so over 5 working days a week and two years, its going to be around 660. Do you think Monster might sponsor Melber Flinn? How would you describe your current work / life balance?

Very good! I think home working plays a really big part, I’m generally on the road 2 days a week, but when Im not, I see Mary and the kids every morning and evening. Not commuting gives me an extra hour in my day. Im very passionate about Melber Flinn, but life is for living and I don’t want to put things off in life because Im too busy working. Working for yourself also gives that flexibility to take holidays away from holiday day entitlements, or to go and see school sports days. You always have to keep an eye on the balance, but good planning and organisation helps, and Mel and Kathryn make sure Im out seeing clients and candidates when I need to be, but that also the workload of the company is well distributed between us.

Do you struggle to fit in work around your holidays?

Ok I see a theme here. Kathryn also recently emailed me to say that instead of keeping a holiday diary of when I was out she would keep a work diary of when I planned to be in!? I am definitely going on more holidays whilst at Melber Flinn, but as per above life is for living and its nice to plan holidays without worrying about entitlements or whether they overlap with colleagues. And whilst it is nice to be away, I never truly switch off – the mobile and laptop are never far away.

Pick your favourite moment from year 2: 1) Mel Brown joining the business 2) Kathryn Kitson attaining Platinum Standard in the Health Trust Europe Audit 3) An evening in the hot tub with one of your favourite clients

This is easy, 2 out of 3 answers will alienate a colleague, 1 out of 3 will compliment a client. Answer = hot tub night.

Would you rather be attacked by a massive badger of a gang of angry squirrels?

Squirrels. Badgers have pretty big claws for digging. I think they could do some serious damage. I’d hope you could at least pluck the squirrels off you and throw them away.

Which dead celebrity would you like to have dinner with?

Kim Jong il. I have a mild obsession with North Korea. He was in a warped position of power – propped up by a state that needed a figurehead for communism, and yet he knew it was failing despite the country’s propaganda to its citizens about how well it was doing.

I feel exhausted. I think next year (provided we make it to our third anniversary) I will ask candidates and clients to set the questions, I hope they will be kinder.