Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

How to improve the sales value of your recruitment business by retaining your best recruiters

No matter the size or stage your recruitment business is currently at, having recruiters, especially your top performers leave you, is just bad for business. If you want to improve the sale value of your recruitment business, retaining your top performing staff is essential.

Research shows that a high staff turnover rate can cost you at least “twice an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement.” Not only are there financial repercussions, but losing your best performers can also lower the knowledge base in your company as well as decrease team performance and morale, including your own.

Retaining good employees is crucial to the success of any recruitment business.

Sure, but how do you actually do that?

Well there are some simple and more well-known strategies that help retain your key staff such as:

  • Give them more recognition
  • Give them more responsibility
  • Let them train or mentor the junior staff
  • Give them special assignments/key clients
  • Offer training and development programmes – personal growth and development are a crucial element of what your organisation can offer to any employee, and the benefits extend in every direction. Supporting their development ensures they’ll be more engaged, more productive, and better at what they do.

In addition to the above, I’d like to share with you my top three strategies for retaining (and motivating) your recruiters that I believe will truly help you build a world-class team, including one strategy that will gives you the added bonus of simultaneously increasing the value of your recruitment business.

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You play a key role in motivating your recruiters. Everybody relates to the owner/manager as the pack leader.

A little attention (caring) goes a long way. A lack of attention goes an even longer way (in the wrong direction)!

When a recruitment business first starts out, the owner manager might have two or three recruiters working for her. These recruiters are VERY important to the owner manager. She cares about them and they know it.

The recruiters would kill for her. This forms the basis for what is often referred to as ‘family feeling’ in a small recruiting company.

 Retaining recruiters (and improving sale value) starts with love!

As the years go by, and the business grows, she takes on new recruiters.  Gross sales steadily grow from ½ million, to one million a year to £1.5 million.

She continues to SAY that she cares about her recruiters but in fact she has other more pressing concerns, her new more expensive lifestyle. Her expanding business.

She takes the profits from the business and opens up a new office. She runs the new office herself and appoints someone to be in charge of the old office, which contains all of the recruiters who cared about her so strongly and made the company successful in the first place.

The recruiters feel abandoned. They start saying stuff like “look at all the money we are putting in her pocket!” or “we’re making her all this money and she is using it to take on other people”.

The management of the company meanwhile pay more attention to the new people it is recruiting than to the people who helped build the company.

Soon the business starts to lose senior recruiters at the same rate that it is bringing in new staff.

This is the syndrome that prevents most companies growing beyond one of two offices.

The way to keep your recruiter loyal and involved is to truly care about them, showing them appreciation and giving them recognition for the work they do.  

Also to do everything in your power to build team spirit, because a recruiter is much less likely to leave a team than he is to leave a desk.


Whether you have one office with five staff, or five offices with over three hundred staff, you need to be a strong leader, leading by example and creating the culture you want to thrive in your business.

When you have multiple offices, don’t think this inhibits you from being a leader to everyone, it just means you need to have excellent communication channels running from top to bottom, to ensure your message gets relayed correctly.

Build A Strong Recruitment Team By Being A Strong Leader

Here are six simple ways to be a strong leader:

Enforce rules: Rules make people feel secure and safe. Don’t wait until your recruiters come in at 9.30am to tell them that the office opens at 8.30am

Don’t play favourites: Treat everyone the same. It can be very difficult to practise in our business where personalities are strong but this is vitally important.

Make tough calls quick and fair: Whose job is it? Whose candidate is it? Don’t put off decisions for a day or two. When recruiters come into your office with an issue requiring a Solomon decision  – make it on the spot. As long as fairness and objectivity are your guides there is no need to wait.

Be available and accessible.

Be a source of strength and confidence to your management team: Don’t share your business problems with them. They will encourage you to share them. Then they will worry to death that you have them – don’t!

Team spirit: A strong team is like a family no-one wants to leave. A team promotes sharing, giving, achievement and good feeling. Stuff you can do; birthday cards, parties, pizza lunches, public celebrations of individual and group achievements, awards and contests  and finally GOALS! There is nothing that builds team spirit like setting a group goal. For example announcing at your next xmas party ; “next year we will double our sales and invoice £1 million/2 million/10 million and then achieving that goal together through mutual effort.


Many switched-on recruitment companies have instituted ‘profit sharing programmes’ as a means of encouraging recruiters to stay past the five year mark.

Typically these programs qualify a recruiter after his first, second or third year and don’t fully vest until his eighth, ninth or tenth year. It has been proven that a recruiter will stay at a company and invoice £500k while he is waiting to get his hands on £10-12k in a profit sharing program.

Personally, I’m not a fan of ‘profit share programs’ as they can get complicated around the time a recruitment business is being sold, and I believe there are other simpler and better alternatives out there.

One option is a ‘long term incentive plan’, or as I like to call it a ‘money they can’t touch’ plan!

Not only does this plan lock-in your key top-performing staff making it unlikely they leave you, this strategy simultaneously helps create value in your recruitment business and ensures you get the maximum valuation when you are ready to sell.

If your employees are not in some form of long-term incentive plan, a buyer’s going to want you personally to stay on for a long earn out and not put much money in the deal at the beginning.

So, to have your employees locked into some sort of long-term incentive plans is really important to maximising your valuation.

A long-term incentive plan doesn’t necessarily mean sharing equity. You can give a success fee the day the deal closes, and, if they stay with the company a year after the fact, there’s another bonus in it for them.

It can be a simple, inelegant ‘stay bonus’, or it could be stock options, if that’s the choice you make, but having employees locked in the business beyond your personal tenure is a key element when it comes to achieving a higher business valuation.


Matt Trott is a serial entrepreneur and the Founder / Managing Director of Juice Talent Development Ltd. He has over 20 years experience in the Recruitment industry, after growing and selling his Recruitment company 8 years ago he saw a gap in the market for recruitment training films that were not boring and dull, Recruitment Juice was born with a vision to produce training films that revolved around a comedy drama series, making them much more engaging and entertaining. In 2010 investment was secured (from Dan McGuire and Alex Raubitschek) to develop the Juice Talent Development Platform, a digital video learning platform for recruiters. Today Juice has offices in the UK and Australia and is the global leader in innovative and engaging online learning solutions, video content and learning technology.