Did you know? 4 Leisure Recruitment is 15 years old this year?
On our 15th anniversary, we thought we’d take the opportunity to turn the tables and interview the Directors, Jean Wing Hing and James Procter to see how they fare under scrutiny for a change.
Let’s see how they did:
What made you get into recruitment?
JP Someone told me I could make a fortune?!
JWH Actually, for me, it was about helping health clubs to find good people as I’d had such difficulty finding them as a manager previously. I didn’t realise it was such a good earner till I‘d started!
JP: It’s my passion and it was a chance meeting with a former work colleague who was well connected within the sector that really sparked my interest.
JWH: We’d always worked in leisure so it made sense to use the knowledge we’d gained. Once we’d established ourselves in the health and fitness market, we were really surprised and excited by what else leisure had to offer. We branched out pretty quickly!
How did you get started?
JWH In all honesty, we probably should have looked for a bit of investment but we were adamant we could do it all ourselves (the fearlessness of youth!). That said, we were fortunate to have some fantastic connections, some of whom we are still recruiting for to this day and that really got us off to a running start.
JP: My Dad had always encouraged me to work for myself to shape my own future. We set up from the top floor of his house
JWH: We only had one internet cable on a dial-up connection which we had to take turns with when we wanted to send and receive emails or send a fax!!
Did you have any experience in recruitment before you started?
JP: Not really, apart from recruiting a few staff during my time with Holmes Place.
JWH: Nope, I didn’t even know how it worked.
Who was your inspiration?
JP That’s a tough one! I was very lucky to work for a couple of great General Managers that developed and believed in me. Jeremy Dahdi – Thank you
JWH I’d love to throw names out there like James Caan etc but I think I took more inspiration from the attitudes of some of the big sports stars. It was always about being as good as you can be and not limiting yourself. Do something every day that scares you. I’ll be doing the tea run for ten people today.
JP: That scares all of us!
If you could have given your younger self any advice about starting a business what would it be?
JWH: Probably to take it slowly and plan properly. I was a real salesman in my youth so it was all about making as much money as possible as fast as possible!
JP: Invest more time, money and learning in technology to drive your business
You must have seen the industry change considerably over the years. What have made the biggest impacts on the industry in your eyes?
JP: The budget fitness operators tore up the script and made every operator think again, those that didn’t are no longer here.
JWH: I’d say there have been three major changes. I’d agree, the budget health clubs really changed the game. The introduction and advancement of the living wage has also had a substantial impact. For a sector that relies on huge volumes of lower paid frontline staffing, it really has forced businesses to consider their staffing models. For us, as the only specialist recruiter providing temporary staff to the leisure industry, it’s been great. There’s been a clear upward trend to outsourcing some of these front-line functions to us so they can use them “as and when”.
Finally, the recent changes in the education system have had an impact on the type and volume of people entering leisure sectors. With rules on post-sixteen education changing, there seems to be a lot of people falling into courses like Beauty Therapy with no real desire to make a career out of it. As a result, employers are reporting increasing difficulties with recruiting and retaining staff.
JP: On a more positive note, it seems frontline staff retention is on the up as they’re feeling more valued and better remunerated!
Can you give me an example of the most challenging situation you’ve had to deal with?
JWH: Every day is challenging in recruitment! In an environment where you don’t have total control of your end product, you’ve got to be comfortable that there’s only so much you can control. In all seriousness, the biggest challenges are when the government decides to change some legislation which results in loads more admin!
JP: Leisure recruitment is a very people-driven endeavour and losing a key member of our team last year and having to step into their role for 3 months while we searched for the right person was a challenge! Temporary recruitment is fast moving and getting myself up to speed with everything was certainly challenging!
What are you most excited about in this industry?
JP: The chance to support new operators and candidates that become clients. When you look at the diversity of what leisure provides now and the explosion of niche markets like trampoline parks and wellness businesses, there’s loads to be excited about.
JWH: I’d agree. When we look at the diversity of what we deal with these days, it’s a world apart from where we started.
So, another 15 years then?
JP: Why not!
Happy birthday to us! It’s great for us all to see how we started and have a think about how we can move forward and embrace the future in leisure recruitment