Front-end service key to fast growth in changing market

Front-end service key to fast growth in changing market

Cornerstone HR has grown quickly using a high-touch service delivery model that differentiates it from the companies moving toward greater automation, according to managing director Chris Anstee.

Since opening in 2010, Cornerstone HR has grown its revenue to more than $21 million a year by offering a service-driven alternative to big-name labour hire companies, Anstee told Shortlist.

“If you look at the likes of SKILLED, they’re going the other way and trying to do a lot more from an IT perspective and take away that front-end customer service,” he said.

“We’re still sticking to the old-fashioned: meeting people onsite, being in front of the client, ensuring we’re being proactive when they’ve got certain projects.”

Cornerstone HR was the highest-ranked recruitment company on this year’s BRW Fast Starters list, with FY2014 revenue growth of 44% to $21 million, and the company is on track for $30 million turnover this financial year, Anstee said.

“We’re starting to approach bigger clients. We’re [working on the] eastern seaboard and we’ve got the ability to approach businesses on a national scale now. Once we bring on an eight, 10, [or] 15 million dollar contract – then the business will grow by 50%,” he said.

Cornerstone HR also finds new business through select partnerships with clients in similar market positions, said Anstee.

“We’re in a situation where we’ve got two or three really good relationships and we leverage off each other and provide each other leads. We’re very, very ‘networky’ and we’re getting better at the branding and marketing, so people are starting to see us in the marketplace as a company that can provide a recruitment solution.”

Forming such tight-knit relationships with clients requires Cornerstone HR to thoroughly screen the companies it works with, Anstee said.

“I don’t want to say we’re selective with our clients, but we do want to ensure that both parties are on the same page in terms of effort and what we’re trying to achieve outcome-wise.”

As Cornerstone HR grows, maintaining its front-end service strategy will become more challenging, Anstee said.

The company plans to tackle this problem by relying more on its nucleus of experienced staff, he said.

“I’ve got a spine of employees now that live and breathe the business, and live and breathe the culture. Once someone [new] enters into their branch or their operational environment, I’m pretty comfortable that they’ll instil the right culture into people being blooded into the business.”


Diversify to manage ‘ebbs and flows’

Cornerstone HR diversified into white-collar recruitment earlier this year, and plans to introduce an even broader range of services next year, said Anstee.

Moving outside of its traditional playing field means the company will be protected against a downturn in its core blue-collar labour hire business, he said.

“When you have ebbs and flows, you’ve got a certain space which might be experiencing a decline while another space is on the increase, so [diversifying manages] the ebbs and flows.”

The company is also considering acquisitions to meet its goal of being a $45-50 million business in 18 months, Anstee added.


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