Technology has transformed every business sector in recent years and recruitment is no exception. In the past week, Ian Buckley has conducted a Skype meeting with a client in Houston, Texas, and held Skype interviews with candidates from all over the UK and Italy, Indonesia and Singapore.
“That has been the biggest change not only in recruitment, but every other sector, during the past few years,” said Ian who runs Liverpool-based Fort Recruitment with Kate Birmingham, Senior Partner. “Although we are based in Liverpool, because of technology, we now successfully recruit for any business anywhere in the world. I think the best advantage is that as the majority of our clients are based on Merseyside and in the North-West it means we find the best candidates from anywhere and attract them here.”
Fort Recruitment was set up just over three years ago by Ian Buckley and Kate Birmingham. Between them they have a combined 34 years of experience in the sector and in all the company comprises four people.
Despite its size, it could be said that Fort punches above its weight, with over 40 regular clients, big and small, across a range of sectors including maritime, engineering, oil and gas, utilities (water and gas), food manufacturing, construction and renewable energy.
“Most of our clients recruit on a fairly regular basis but it is pleasing to see that some are going through a period of fairly rapid expansion so are asking us to find staff on an almost weekly basis.” added Ian.
And that success was recognised at the Mersey Maritime Industry Awards 2018 in March when they scooped the Micro Business of the Year accolade. According to Ian, who is Managing Director of the business, the relationships they have built up with clients over a period of time is one of the keys to their growth.
Ian & Kate accepting Micro Business of the Year at the Mersey Maritime Industry Awards 2018
Fort offer an ‘intelligent recruitment service’ which both Kate and Ian believe makes the firm stand out from most of its rivals in the industry. Kate explains: “We both have first-hand experience of being business owners which means we understand, better than most, how businesses operate and the challenges they face. As a result, what we strive to do is one simple thing – find the right people with the right skills for our clients.”
“Getting to know our clients and what they want is so important. It saves time, money and ultimately means our clients recruit the right person.”
One part of Fort’s business that perhaps is never mentioned is retention rates. Improving staff retention underpins everything Fort do. “Our job isn’t just recruitment but more importantly it’s about staff retention for our clients.” added Kate. “Our current retention rate with the businesses we work with is around 90% which is something we are very proud of.”
Fort Recruitment take a more long-term approach to finding clients; Getting to know people over time and letting relationships grow organically.
Ian said: “We are not just members of Mersey Maritime and the Propeller Club but Sponsors. Very early on we both made the decision that we would become very active members in these organisations as we not only want to grow our business but support the region. Of course, if any member needs support then they know that with complete trust and confidence they can just pick up the phone and ask for our help.”
Ian and Kate are keen to expand the business and over the next 18 months they have plans to employ extra staff and open a new office. They are also keen to increase their already expanding client base particularly in the renewable energy and shipping sectors. Another plan for growth is to work with businesses in the horizontal maritime sectors – accountancy and law.
“There are clients who were with us in year one who are still working for us in year four and I think that speaks volumes about the service we offer them,” added Ian.
And Kate also spoke of their pride at playing a role in the progress of other local firms, saying: “We are proud to be helping in the Merseyside area and utilising the huge talent pool that already exists here whilst also bringing the best candidates from the UK and abroad to the city region.”