We caught up with Start Up Loan recipient Rhian Murphy, founder of SlideFold, a family run design and manufacturer of supreme quality, innovative windows and doors based in South Wales.
Rhian used her loan to develop the business website and purchase new machinery. Here she talks about the lessons learnt when recruiting and the struggle to find the right employee.
When did you start to look for your first employee?
As SlideFold grew, I found that I couldn’t do everything by myself anymore and there wasn’t enough time to complete all of my daily tasks (sales, accounts, admin, ordering, etc.) so finding a new person to join the team as the office manager was very difficult. I must have hired four people in total for the role, each who were due to start work, and then didn’t turn up.
Have you always hired full time staff?
Originally when I started the business I hired contractors for certain projects. As the demand grew, I wanted an employee on the books permanently. Using contractors was great for flexibility, but as we took on more customers I needed someone here full time for reliability.
How long did the hiring process take?
It took us around two months to find a suitable person due to the experience needed. When I started the business, although I needed specialist experience, the fees for a recruitment agency were too much.
How did you avoid the high recruitment costs?
I used free services like Gumtree to post vacancies and successfully hired someone using these services. I have also used my network of contacts in the windows and doors industry to find out if anybody is available. If I come into contact with suppliers in the industry, I will always ask if they have any recommendations. Last month I successfully hired someone through a recommendation from my network.
How does being a small business affect the hiring process?
It can be hard to find someone to believe in your business when you are starting up. We are a specialist business and require some level of experience, so a lot of the time the people would be employed by a larger organisation where there is job security and stability. In the windows and doors industry, people stay in their jobs for a long time so this makes it even harder to find someone.
Have you experienced any problems when looking for staff?
Finding the right people with the right experience has been a challenge. My first fabricator lacked experience dealing with demanding deadline pressures and in the end left SlideFold with an order of windows for a house not complete. Luckily, I did manage to find two new people that could take over the project (through asking my network), and they have worked with me ever since.
What advice do you have for small business owners on hiring their first employee?
If you are thinking of hiring someone, try and get them in for half a day to try the job. I’ve done this with previous candidates, and some have even come in on a Saturday. Especially as a lot of our employees come from larger companies, it helps for the potential employee to see how your business works and to see the fit of the company.