In this first time interview with Mark Bulmer - Director and Co-founder of CDM, we find out what it really takes to succeed in the world of recruitment.
When did you start up CDM?
In 2001, we’re currently in our 14th year.
Can you give me a brief history of CDM Recruitment’s start up?
It was a classic start up scenario. We had very little capital, no personal income and no safety net. We had no experience of running a business and I remember that myself and Chris (Chris Wall, co-founder and Director) had just bought our first homes weeks before we launched (we knew the banks wouldn’t give us a mortgage once we launched!).
For several months we worked from a small windowless office “The broom cupboard” which was too small for us to fit in at once – unless we sat sideways. We had one phone line for incoming and outgoing calls (we had to take turns making sales calls) and two knackered PCs. We did everything ourselves, from processing payroll to admin and book keeping – and then there was business to win, candidates to register and jobs to fill.
We needed to make it work quickly and it did. Growth was rapid and CDM was soon well established with a strong portfolio of clients within twelve months, many of whom we still work closely with today.
Looking back it sounds daunting, but at the time I remember having absolute faith in our ability to make CDM a success.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
It’s safe to say that there have been plenty of challenges over the years from opening new offices to navigating the recent recession, but the current challenge always seems to be the “big one”.
We’ve recently outlined our growth blueprint for the next few years and we are currently implementing the various elements involved. It’s been an interesting process and I feel the same passion about the next phase of growth as I did when we set up CDM originally.
How would you say CDM differentiates itself from the competition?
I’ll avoid clichés and flannel here and stick to facts – across the business we retain and develop staff very well – and as high staff turnover is the norm in our industry this gives CDM a key competitive advantage.
I’ve just been to a client meeting this morning with three colleagues. Each one had worked with that particular client for over 10 years via CDM. Our client cannot replicate that depth of knowledge elsewhere. Our longevity also gives new clients reassurance that they will receive consistency and reliability of service.
Unless you can retain and develop staff, it’s impossible to build real quality into your client relationships, your business processes and stability within your team structures. Or establish trust between management and staff for that matter.
Everything else we feel that we do well, such as candidate acquisition and service delivery, is built upon the foundations of staff retention and development.
We go to great lengths to support and develop our staff, more so than in many other recruitment businesses. Sometimes it’s a culture shock to those joining our business, they often wonder “Where’s the catch?” Other than explaining that in return we expect your best efforts consistently, there isn’t one. People flourish when they feel supported and can see where they fit into the company’s plans for the future.
What does the future hold for CDM Recruitment?
Growth and progression.The recruitment marketplace is constantly changing and we need to embrace new ideas and schools of thought. We’re fortunate to have many talented people within the business at all levels; who I’m sure will become our leaders and influencers of the near future.
What achievements are you most proud of to date?
There isn’t the time to rest on your laurels in recruitment, so as with challenges, I tend to not to focus on past achievements.
The things we achieve, such as last year’s record financial performance, are not achieved by the Directors or management team in isolation; they are a company wide effort made up of many thousands of transactions, decisions, and judgements across the year which makes the performance possible. I am very proud of the hard work and dedication of our staff across the business who consistently “make it happen” on a daily basis.
If you had some advice for someone entering into the recruitment industry, what would it be?
It’s what you do that counts, not what you say you’re going to do.
Always remember this when you’re building relationships with clients and candidates (and your line manager!).