Client Partnerships: How to Grow a Thriving Recruitment Business in a Crisis, with James Leighton, Ep #61

While most recruitment companies revenue and profits were down during the Covid-19 crisis, Andersen James Group revenue grew by 35%.  In this interview, I asked Managing Director, James Leighton, how they achieved this remarkable result in an extremely challenging climate. 

One of the key themes that emerged from our conversation was “client partnerships.”  For James, this isn’t an abstract concept — it’s core to his business strategy.  Their new Strategic Partnerships business model was one of the key factors that enabled them to grow during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This isn’t to say it was easy.  There were some significant challenges along the way.  As you are about to hear, Andersen James met these challenges by bringing a lot of innovation and creativity to recruitment within the property and construction sectors. If you like hearing about fresh ideas and different ways of partnering with clients, you are going to enjoy this episode.

Taking the term strategic partnership into a different level, hear how James Leighton of Andersen James Group creatively innovated the partnership approach that enabled his company to gain 35% revenue increase during the pandemic, in this episode of #TheResilientRecruiter! #recruitment #recruiter #training #coaching

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Episode Outline and Highlights

  • [1:40] James shares his motivation and a bit of history of the Andersen James Group
  • [5:05] How having an internal recruiter talent acquisition experience shaped James’ mindset on outsourced recruitment.
  • [8:03] Strategic Partnership – how the Andersen James Group embraced the partnership approach during the covid crisis.
  • [20:15] Discussion on recruitment metrics and tracking mechanisms.
  • [23:32] Three key factors in growing revenue by 35% during covid.
  • [29:44] The difficulty of splitting from a business partner – James shared his experience.
  • [35:22] Removing himself from billing and focusing on the business – what triggered James to take this decision and how it was a game-changer.
  • [39:33] The benefits of hosting webinars for your market
  • [51:01] How James’ group invested in marketing
  • [53:30] What would you do if a client went bust on you? Learn from James’ experience.
  • [1:00:00] Selecting a good business partner.

Experience From Both Sides of the Fence

Prior to becoming a recruitment business owner, James had experience in internal recruitment talent acquisition. This valuable experience gave him an insight into how recruiters are perceived, what they do best for their clients, and what could be further improved from a client’s point of view.  Hear out what he thinks that recruiters should understand in working with clients and how to ultimately make the working relationship better.

Embracing the Partnership Approach

During the pandemic, James’ business was able to sustain significant growth by investing heavily in technology and innovation. One of these innovations was adapting an approach based on partnership.

Going for a partnership approach with your clients can be challenging but this was not the case for James’ company. They have adapted a Strategic Partnership model that gives their client a different way of recruiting. If explained briefly, this is how their business model works:

  • Outsourced recruitment function with a monthly retainer fee
  • Dedicated heads provided for their client – with a profit margin per head
  • Offering efficiency of cost for the client by providing them an internal recruitment team 
  • Internal feel of a recruitment team with an external presence in the market

How does the program work for their clients and their company? What inspired the idea? Listen to the answers from James in this episode.

Growing the Revenue by 35% During Covid

While most recruitment companies are losing around 40% in profit during the pandemic, it was the opposite for Andersen James as they actually grew their revenue by 35%! What are the key factors that contributed to this success? James mentioned at least three, which is heavily investing on:

  • Extensive training for employees
  • Technology – e.g. CRM system
  • Marketing

Sharing Best Practices During Covid

Last year, James did a series of webinars with two main intentions – to create case studies and share best practices with their market. Why did he do it? Rather than just write a case study, they created events to share how they’ve solved certain problems and show the market exactly what it is that they’ve done.  James explains the success of this education based marketing strategy: “there were 900 people to the first one, 500 people to the previous one, and it was really targeted.”


What would you do if clients bust out on you and lose £450k in revenue? Hear the learnings from James Leighton of Andersen James Group in this episode of #TheResilientRecruiter! #recruitment #recruiter #training #coaching

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James Leighton Bio and Contact Info

James Leighton is a Managing Director of Andersen James Group. Andersen James was born out of a desire to bring innovation and creativity to recruitment within the property and construction sector.  Their passion lies in offering added value to their customers. They offer best practice advice and support in the design and implementation of market leading recruitment campaigns and programmes that will not only attract and recruit the best talent but also retain and re-energise existing teams. With the launch of the new Strategic partnerships business when Covid struck, growing that to 3 big contract wins, re-aligning our sales vision and further niching their business into a Housing Specialist across the UK, they have set up really well with the right platform and infrastructure to scale up their business

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