Recruitment during a shortage

Unemployment in the UK is lower than at any time since the 1970s. So how do you find the best people to support your franchise? Sue Tumelty has some ideas.

Recruitment during a shortage

Unemployment in the UK is lower than at any time since the 1970s. So how do you find the best people to support your franchise? Sue Tumelty has some ideas.

Labour market figures show that UK unemployment in Q1 of 2022, at just 3.7 per cent, is at its lowest point since 1974. More people – almost 30 million of us – are in work than ever before.

It’s a stark contrast from, for example, the early 1990s and 2010s, when unemployment peaked just below 11 and 9 per cent respectively. Although it’s generally accepted to be a good thing for the economy, it’s not great for businesses looking to take on staff.

For the first time since records began, there are fewer unemployed people than there are job vacancies. There’s a net deficit of 38,000 people needed to fill the nation’s work opportunities.

The skills shortage across industries such as construction, catering, IT, teaching and healthcare is well publicised. However, across all industries there is a challenge to take on good staff at salaries that businesses can afford. It’s a candidate’s market and the demand for both permanent and temporary staff is high. For franchise businesses, it’s a problem.

In addition, while the cost of living crisis is ongoing one suspects that the worst effects haven’t yet really been felt by the business community.

Meanwhile the pandemic has certainly seen a shift to people setting up their own businesses, making fertile ground for finding people looking to take on a franchise. But in times of economic uncertainty then is taking on a new business something a risk that people are likely to take?

So for both franchisee and staff recruitment, we live in challenging times. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to attract and retain good people.

Finding the best staff 

So given that the market continues to be really difficult, it’s important that you consider your entire recruitment process from start to finish. The key? Think about the experience from the candidate’s point of view.

This can include what might seem like relatively minor administrative details such as prompt responses, due care given to touch points before the interview (such as confirmation of the time, helpful information about location and parking arrangements, and so on) as well as thoughtful contact before the day to say how much you are looking forward to meeting them.

As mentioned earlier – it’s a candidate’s market at the moment so, counterintuitive as this may feel, the onus is partly on you to make them want to work for you. 

It’s a two-way process, so as well as making sure that they’re the right person for you (which of course remains important), you’ll need to demonstrate your employment culture and describe opportunities for eventual career development.

Flexible working is becoming more attractive, so have policies in place alongside training opportunities. And keep them up to date about the decision making process, otherwise you may find all your efforts are in vain and that the one candidate you really wanted has found work elsewhere.

Recruiting franchisees 

Now is certainly an excellent time to think about finding new franchisees. People are embracing a culture of entrepreneurship and independence like never before, empowered to be self-sufficient and with an increasing desire for the work life balance that running your own business can offer.

Still, taking the plunge as a franchisee requires investment and risk. So how do you find those people who can help make your franchising operation a real success?

My first tip would be to be patient. Finding good people takes time and effort, preceded by the widespread public promotion of your brand and its values. Not everyone who applies to be a franchisee will be suitable, so be prepared to interview many candidates and, of course, be selective with who you choose.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, I’d advise you to think as much about the type of person you are looking for than the relevant sector experience that you think they may need.

Running a business requires dedication, a degree of sales ability, people knowledge, organisational skills – these are often quite different attributes to those found in someone who may have worked in a relevant industry for many years.

Some focus on these aspects of a candidate’s profile has two distinct benefits: not only will it help you find candidates who can stay the course during challenging economic times; it also massively widens the pool in which you’re searching for your talent. As we’ve mentioned already, it’s hard to find people right now so the wider you can cast your net the better.

Sue Tumelty
Sue Tumelty