Buckshaw Village hospitality recruitment company on weathering the Covid-19 storm: "I thought we’d lost everything after all those years"
As a company which specialises in helping businesses recruit chefs and a wide range of expert hospitality staff, the Covid-19 pandemic hit Perfect Recruitment particularly hard.
“Overnight, one booking cancelled, then another, and another and, as our clients folded, we folded,” says director Lisa Brady, who founded Perfect Recruitment in 2006. “I cried daily because I thought we’d lost everything after all those years.
“Covid absolutely crucified us.”
Thankfully, after an inevitable wobble as the world first went into lockdown, the company has since risen again.
Based in Buckshaw Village, Perfect Recruitment is in the business of providing workplaces of all sizes with the right person for the job, be they nursing homes, food manufacturing companies, schools, hotels, restaurants, or hospitals.
They personally interview all their candidates, who themselves cover the entire spectrum of skilled workers from chefs, porters, concierges, and bartenders to managers, spa therapists, housekeepers, and marketing professionals.
Put simply, if you’ve got a hospitality sector job, Perfect Recruitment has a candidate for you.
“Back in 2006, I was working for a multinational recruitment company across the whole of the UK and Ireland, but I was pregnant with my daughter and I knew I just couldn’t continue to do the job with a small child,” says Lisa, 50. “But I also knew that, if someone had the belief in me to give me the job in the first place, I could go off on my own.
“When redundancies came, I took it,” adds Lisa, who is from Orrell in Wigan. “It was a huge, huge step because, obviously, you’ve no income.
“It was a risk and I had a bit of redundancy payout and savings behind me, but it took five years to get the company off the ground properly and to the point where it was making an income. For those five years, it was very much about firefighting and wondering if and when it would take off. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into it but eventually it took off and started to grow.
“It was a huge relief to have funds coming in because previously I’d been paying the staff but not myself, which is the hidden side of starting a business which people don’t see. I’m very proud of what we achieved.”
Now boasting a six-person workforce with over 70 years’ experience in the recruitment sector, Perfect Recruitment had reached the point where they typically had between 60 and 80 chefs out on jobs on a weekly basis.
While the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns put paid to that, they adapted to survive during the pandemic and are starting to see green shoots.
“We put chefs through enhanced DBS so they could support nursing homes and schools and we had a great Eat Out to Help Out,” explains Lisa. “But I just knew that, when everything reopened, it was going to boom. We’re starting to see that now: people got rid of staff but now need to recruit as they start to reopen.
"Trouble is, people have been furloughed and don’t want to come back to the kitchen.”
According to the Office of National Statistics, there are 335,000 fewer people working in the hospitality industry compared to last year as a result of Brexit, furlough, and job cuts in the sector.
But, with lockdown easing, Perfect Recruitment has seen a 95% rise in job adverts over the past month as businesses scramble to fill positions ahead of a busy summer.
“Companies need to look at the salaries and working hours to better incentivise work in hospitality because, for years, people have been overworked and underpaid,” Lisa says. “Despite it being highly-skilled work, it can be an industry that people fall into, not grow into.”
The key, Lisa says, is grassroots pathways.
“This industry can open so many doors - I started as a hotel receptionist and now I own my own business,” she explains. “We need to show kids that good careers can be forged in hospitality.”