Castle Employment Group are a hugely successful, values-driven recruitment consultancy based in Scarborough and operating throughout the Yorkshire and Humber regions. As a highly-valued and long-standing customer of Reclaro, we jumped at the chance to interview the MD, Kerry Hope, to discuss all things strategy-driven and goal-orientated, including how Reclaro works well for them amidst their ambitious growth plans.
So, here goes…
First of all, could you just give a quick introduction to yourself, please?
Sure. I'm Kerry Hope, Managing Director and Owner of Castle Employment Group. We're a recruitment agency based in Yorkshire with an £8 million turnover and 45 employees.
Perfect. Can I first ask why you chose Reclaro? Were there any specific problems you had within your business that you thought Reclaro would be suitable to address?
Yeah, sure. So, at the start of every year, we've always gone through a business planning process, and that's quite comprehensive, researching previous years and looking to plan for next year. We use specific goals to do that, which would have been logged on a Word document, and for some people, that would then be filed away and not hugely referred to again!
This wasn’t necessarily a problem, but I knew there must have been a better way. I joined Vistage in 2021, the world’s largest executive coaching organisation for CEOs and MDs leading small and medium-sized businesses. Within that group, the Reclaro concept was shared amongst us all, and we use that as a Board of Directors to ensure that we deliver what we say we will.
I saw what the Reclaro product could do and knew that it would definitely help my team get more focused and be able to deliver on their goals. Also, because it was a referral as well, that was really important to me, I really wanted to embrace it and embed it into the company.
Yeah, it’s all good when you hear about it firsthand from somebody else, as it were, somebody that you trust because building this into a business model can often be quite tricky, I think, if it’s a new product for people to use.
That’s great. So, can I ask how you’re using Reclaro in your business and what specific problems it’s been able to tackle? If you could elaborate on any of the issues you had previously, that would be great.
Yes, of course.
So we have, I think, 12 to 13 employees currently using Reclaro. We have a Group business 1-3-5® plan in the system that really allows all of my senior leadership team to access our central vision and overall goal, which is our five-year vision and goal, that’s then broken down into what we said we would do of our five-year goal this year. So, parts of the goals within this centralised 1-3-5® plan have been delegated to other leaders within the business because they head up specialist areas. And so monthly, in our managers’ and senior leadership team meetings, we look at the centralised 1-3-5® plan to see where people are at against what they’re doing for the Group. So that’s how it’s used at a Group level - focusing on delivering more project-based work.
And then, the managers and the other leaders within the business are using it to replace their business plan, so they’re sharing it with their team. The team has helped them put together their main goals and key results, and they’ve all agreed on the milestones, so they share that monthly with their teams. Their teams can see the performance progress dials moving forward, and they can all see how what they’re doing monthly relates back to the centralised Group 1-3-5® plan.
We really use it in three ways; actually, in addition to this, I use it personally for my own personal goals and find it’s really powerful for that, and I’m held to account on that with my Vistage team. So, yeah, that’s really effective.
Can you elaborate a little bit on the personal goals? Is it personal development?
All of it!
What’s my purpose, and how do I ensure I’m doing what makes me have a purpose? So, whether that’s how many times I want to go running a week, whether that’s what I’m eating, whether that’s how many holidays I want to go on, whether that’s making sure I have a date night with my husband.
So, I look at my own 1-3-5® plan every day. It comes up when I open Google, and it just reminds me of what I knew and what I know I can do when I set my mind to it and when I’m focused in the right way. It’s really helped provide a clear focus on daily goals.
I’m not going to say everybody bought into it immediately. I think that we were quite a sizable team. Some of the leadership team are smashing their progress; they’re nearly 40-50% through their yearly goals for their divisions, and some others are still trying to get away from the Word document, or they’re still in the moment rather than looking a little bit more ahead. So, I think it depends on the person and where they are strategically, to be fair. But it’s really clear in terms of what they need to do to get to that goal from a milestone point of view.
Yes, I completely agree. And can you just give me some examples of any results that you’ve seen directly or indirectly as a result of using Reclaro within your business?
So, at the beginning of the year, I spoke with my Head of Finance, and we talked about areas of improvement that needed to happen. So we’re using it much more on a project basis, I would say, rather than a day-to-day basis. And we had identified that there were some areas of improvement required. So, for example, we really wanted to improve the credit control process. We’d had a couple of unfortunate areas last year where we’d lost money because we’d chosen to work with the wrong clients. So we knew we needed to tighten up on that. Typically, what would happen is we’d have a conversation about it, and we would catch up monthly, but it wouldn’t be as prescriptive. This time, we sat down together and decided how we wanted that process to be, where we wanted to log it, establishing what software we wanted to explore and all of those milestones were agreed with the timeframes. As a result, Joe has completed that and completed it in the timeframe that we’ve both been really happy with.
Whereas before, she would have completed it because she’s brilliant at her job, but she’s completed it in a shorter timeframe, which has meant we can now move on to the next project and really start to move the business forward at pace. We have quite an aggressive growth plan, and lots of foundations need to be laid well before we can really make that happen. For example, invoicing credit control and ensuring the right people press the buttons at the right time. Specifically, I would say of something that we’ve started and finished and got an end result that will really help move our business forward, I can very quickly demonstrate the return on investment that Reclaro has brought because Joe has started and finished that project by using the goals and the milestones in the 1-3-5® plan.
Perfect. And would you say, even just as a larger, bigger picture, do you think there’s any clearer outline for the direction that Castle is going in? Is there anything even quantitative that you can see business-wide that Reclaro has improved, maybe the business’s day-to-day goal setting or longer-term goal setting?
That's exactly what we're speaking to Pete and Zoe about at the moment because we are a sales organisation, ultimately, and so we already use a CRM that's got all our intelligence within it and goal setting within the CRM from a hands-on salesperson type of scenario, so Reclaro won't ever replace that. We do quite comprehensive monthly reviews with the salespeople, and lots of additional notes need to be written alongside setting a goal, maybe on why it hasn't been achieved or what we would want to see next month to ensure it was achieved.
We gave that feedback back to Pete, and I just received an email yesterday detailing some of the feedback we’ve given him that you guys have implemented with immediate effect. It’s just what you guys do to service us in terms of listening to the ideas that we put forward that make the use of the software much easier.
We will look to use it more right across the business. As I say, there are 45 of us, and 25% of the business is using it. How do I envisage the rest of the business using it? I do see that coming soon; we just need to make some tweaks to move our process into the Reclaro process, really.
Yeah, perfect, and one thing I would say is that we’re always entirely open for any kind of feedback, any way that you feel that we can improve our product; we’re always open ears. We can implement any tweaks to the app or introduce anything else that you feel will improve the app for daily use for all your guys and not just yourself.
I’ve already seen that you’ve evidenced that already, so there isn’t an element of we say we’ll do that, and then that doesn’t happen. I can absolutely vouch for Pete coming down, listening to the team, and understanding the improvements that could be made. He also did a training course with the team to guide them further on goal setting, which was really impactful. It was a feedback session, and he took all our feedback on board, and as I said, that was less than two weeks ago, and it’s already been implemented. Some things we said we absolutely appreciate can’t all be done, and what we want might not suit every one of your clients, so it needs to be well considered. But we just like the fact that we’re really listened to and we feel really important. We feel valued, and that’s why we chose Reclaro ultimately.
Perfect. Thank you very much for your time, and thank you for the feedback.
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