Franklin Smith Managing Director Regan Higgins had long-held plans to do recruitment consultancy his way. His experience in the industry came through years of working for a behemoth of a multinational, then a collaborative effort on a homegrown local firm.

Both experiences provided Higgins with lessons learned about the way he wanted to build things from the ground up – and what not to do along the way.

Franklin Smith was established in February 2014

In what seemed like a huge office space (since outgrown twice) with two consultants, a couple of laptops, and a big idea, expansion soon followed with offices set up in Christchurch, Wellington, and Nelson, and Franklin Smith Australia established in Brisbane in 2019.

“The industry was full of recruiters who didn’t place enough value on collaboration as part of the consultation process,” Higgins says of the initial motivation to forge a new way of doing things; the Franklin Smith way.

Almost seven years later

Almost seven years later, the cornerstones the company was founded on remain the same. “Integrity. Transparency. Rock-solid systems. Accountability.  It was important that we take ownership of our results when things go right and wrong. And we always wanted to use best practice – be a benchmark of the industry as opposed to those doing a ‘near enough is good enough’ kind of job.

Mick Donaghy is the managing director of the company’s Australian arm. He started with Franklin Smith in 2016 and says Regan’s approach to business was a major reason he decided to join the company.

“Initially I joined because of the energy, professionalism, and significant network that Franklin Smith has within the industry. Coming from agency recruitment in the UK and Ireland, where it’s largely desk-based recruitment, working in a company that accepted great business is built upon relationships was so refreshing.   

“I loved the fact that [Regan] knew what he wanted and didn’t half-arse his onboarding process. He had a vision for his business that I bought into from day one. There was no red tape, politics, or going back and forth. Fast forward four years we are now business partners. Regan’s vision and ability to build trust amongst his peers in the construction and recruitment community is the best I’ve seen to date.”

Thinking on your feet and an ability to adapt

Thinking on your feet and an ability to adapt have always been fundamental to business success. Business owners and staff alike found themselves pushed to the limit with the implementation of the COVID-19 lockdown in March this year. Higgins says the early days of the lockdown were ‘a completely different kind of stressor.’

There were a lot of rumors with no guidance, no blueprint, and no precedent to tell any of us how to act and react.”

Personal and professional support was the key to Higgins and Franklin Smith navigating the unchartered waters of this very tricky year. “Having a strong team and our connectivity really helped, having the right people in the right positions left me able to ask questions, get smart answers, and be confident I was making decisions based on sound advice. What got us as a company and me personally through two COVID lockdowns is what fundamentally guides us as a business.”

Donaghy believes constantly striving for improvement is what sets the company apart from its competitors in a pre and post-COVID world.

We are always aiming to be 1% better than the day before

“We are always aiming to be 1% better than the day before. Whether that’s through our processes and systems, the way we develop business, how we look after our internal team and external contractors; we are always striving to be better. 

“I feel that we have a really solid foundation of great people in our business who move mountains for their clients and candidates. Through fundraising for charities, sponsoring events, improving employment opportunities within the community, or just going above and beyond to make their lives easier, we really do eat, live and breathe that stuff.”

With regards to what the future holds, Higgins knows the only certainty is that you’ve got to be prepared to roll with the punches. “Business is a moving beast – you’ve got to constantly adapt, reflect on your practices, and review past performance and behavior in order to be the best. If things stay how they always were, you’re just a dinosaur waiting for the asteroid.”

After a stop-start of a year

After a stop-start of a year, Donaghy is ready to sink his teeth into whatever 2021 has in store for Franklin Smith Australia.

“We want to keep developing our brand as the catalyst that brings worlds together. Helping people improve their career prospects and companies invest in Grade A talent is a complete honor. 

“The people we have in the business now are incredible! It’s filled to the brim of business leaders, all of which could stand out in their own right being company owners. The fact that we have been able to build them into entrepreneurs within our company is something I think makes us unique. We are also still very, very young as a business and we have a lot we can achieve, whether that’s in different sectors or different locations; the world post-COVID is our oyster!”

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