INNOVATION IS CRUCIAL TO THE CONTINUING SUCCESS OF ANY ORGANISATION
Ascension Global Recruitment are aiming to innovate the recruitment Industry with their unique model that they describe as a necessary shift in service. Michael Woolnough and Aitch Henry-Doswell are the co-founders of Ascension Global Recruitment. They’re breaking the mould of traditional recruitment with a clear vision of improving the perception of Recruitment Agencies.
Steve Smith and Gemma Cooke from Voyager Software visited the Ascension team at their head office in Chelmsford to find out more about their unique approach.
SO WHERE DID IT ALL START FOR ASCENSION GLOBAL?
MW Right here in Chelmsford, specifically my mum’s house. The focus from day one was always the local market. It’s where we grew up, we knew it well and had a good network of business owners and marketing companies, so it made complete sense. As we started building momentum and a solid team around us we became a recognised brand in the region, which soon led to a merger with a larger local business that we took operational control of, and here we are today.
WHAT MAKES ASCENSION DIFFERENT TO A TRADITIONAL AGENCY?
MW – Shortly after the merger we packaged up what we class as our standout USP, the ‘hire now, pay later’ model.
AHD – This was something we’d inadvertently been working under for a couple of years, but it was great to package it properly and sell it as an alternative product to the standard Perm rebate model.
OK TELL US MORE ABOUT THE HIRE NOW PAY LATER MODEL
AHD – We identified a real problem within the industry of poor client experience, whereby hires were made using agencies that didn’t work out because of a failing in the recruitment process.
We recognised this was damaging the perception of recruitment agencies and we wanted to help change this. We felt the need to offer something different which provided real value for money.
Our answer was to let the client choose how long they needed to assess their new hire before paying our fee. The shorter the valuation period, the lower the fee.
CAN YOU GIVE US AN EXAMPLE?
AHD – Sure. If you’re hiring a Senior Manager, you will need at least 3 months to truly establish whether you made the right decision because those roles require more experience and have more responsibility, whereas if you’re hiring a junior or apprentice, it’s more likely you’re assessing things like attitude and ambition which can be assessed in a shorter time frame. From a risk assessment point of view, we can afford to lower our fees for the shorter valuation periods.
We know the model is risky and so we’re very pragmatic in which clients we opt to work with. Initially there was the worry that people would take advantage of the model, however, what we have found is that they are so grateful that they have had the ability to assess each candidate for a suitable period and for an appropriate fee, they’re happy to pay.
MW – In the time we’ve been using this model we haven’t had a single example of someone exploiting it and I think that’s testament not only to our ethics but also our amazing clients.
WHAT ARE YOUR OBJECTIVES?
AHD – Our primary objective from the start was to change the perception of the industry which brings us back to the ‘hire now, pay later’ model. We’d like this to be recognised by one of the major bodies such as the REC. Currently they only recognise the temp model and the perm rebate model. Within the next 5 years we’d like that to also include ‘hire now, pay later’.
MW – It’s nice to have that on the horizon to work towards. We’re also in the process of going completely paperless in the office, it’s massively important for our day to day running and we insist that all notes are taken electronically and that hard copies of anything are scanned and uploaded centrally to Voyager Infinity. With the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation, just storing data isn’t enough, it’s about how and where we’re storing it.
SO HOW IMPORTANT IS TECHNOLOGY TO THE BUSINESS?
MW – Technology is critical, without it our business would either fail or end up with a hefty fine. From day one we’ve always tried to stay at the forefront of technology and have a good online presence. Over the last few years we’ve explored so many different avenues and different ways of creating leads and finding candidates.
AHD – Working closely with Voyager and having direct access to your insights, extensive networks and bigger budgets is important. Understanding new legislation really helps smaller business like ours and helps to prevent us from making mistakes that could be costly.
MW – We’re also lucky in that we have a sister company that is a cloud provider and so using them in combination with Voyager Infinity SaaS means we’re completely cloud based in terms of our technology. We all know that recruitment is a fluid industry and if you ask any recruiter, having the ability to jump online within a few minutes if the phone rings at 8 o’clock at night is vital and helps make us more efficient. Efficiency leads to profitability; therefore technology is completely necessary.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE VOYAGER INFINITY?
AHD – There are quite a few reasons, starting with the sales process. You had the perfect balance between getting us on board and not pressurising us into a decision. We were in talks with circa 5 providers and Voyager were the only ones who picked us out of a crowd at the Recruitment Agency Expo in Birmingham. I remember Ben appearing from nowhere and introducing himself before asking how the software review was going. Within minutes we were at the Voyager stand having a demo from you Steve where we went through our current issues and were shown how these could be resolved with Infinity.
MW – That pretty much sealed the deal for me as I was still on the fence as to whether we invest in a new system. It was a big decision to make the jump from our current CRM to Voyager Infinity but one I’m glad we made.
AHD – This leads us to the system functionality. The integration with our website and the job boards means from the moment we parse a CV, to the point the invoice is raised, everything is being initiated and logged centrally inside Voyager.
SO HOW HAS THIS HELPED YOU ACHIEVE YOUR OBJECTIVES?
MW – There are hundreds of things we could talk about in terms of the system and how its helped, but in 2018 it’s more important than ever before to ensure the data we hold on both our candidates and clients is accurate and easily maintained. We operate in a hugely competitive industry and if we take our foot off the gas for one second our competition can step in, so to have a system that automates admin and allows the team to focus on what they do best is essential for our business.
We put a clear marketing plan in place last year to increase our visibility to our candidates and clients so the automation and collation of data in Infinity really ensures we do that in a professional way.
Voyager Infinity gives us the ability to get the right candidates in front of clients, and relevant jobs out to a targeted list of candidates within minutes.
Pre-Voyager, everything came through Aitch, with the team passing him data in a spread sheet to upload to a separate mail system prior to send out. They then had to manually update our old CRM when responses came back in. It was fragmented. Now that it’s all integrated, it’s literally reduced a day’s work to an hour. Ultimately, it means we make more placements in the same amount of time.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND VOYAGER?
MW – We have done and will continue to do so. The implementation was refreshingly easy. Our Project Manager Sharon made sure everything was in place when it needed to be, including us.
Mike, who provided our initial training has stayed in touch throughout the relationship and everyone we’ve had dealings with has been consistent and available.
The customer service has been perfect and anything we’ve needed has been dealt with.
Also, the fact that we’re sat here today with you Steve and the way you have always kept in touch is massively appreciated. It’s easy for a supplier to pass customers around from pillar to post but we’ve never had that with you.
It reinforces our ethos that suppliers and clients working in partnership towards a common goal is how business should be done.