As Bespoke HR celebrates its 17 year anniversary, Founder Alison tells us about the milestones and the tips she has learned along the way in building the Surrey-based outsourced HR provider.
How did Bespoke HR begin?
I started off as a sole trader after being made redundant from my in-house HR role on my return from maternity leave. I recognised the fact that there were few options at the time for businesses to get affordable outsourced HR. I set up as a consultant and went along to some local networking events and picked up a few clients. We built the business up slowly, but I registered the company name immediately as I knew it was perfect for what I was doing and wanted to keep it. I designed my first business cards myself with a logo I downloaded from Vista Print!
What did the first few years look like?
The first couple of years running Bespoke HR were crazy, my oldest child was just under three and I was pregnant with my son. I was networking a lot and trying to get new clients with no idea how much to charge or how to market myself.
What external support did you enlist?
None during the initial stages, I just relied on trusted friends for support.
When did you move into the first office?
After about four years I was lucky enough to be given some office space in one of our client offices. This was the first real milestone as it allowed me to take on my first employees.
What was the role of your first member of staff?
What are some of the major milestones?
By 2013 we had grown big enough to start properly thinking about marketing and we paid for ads on Eagle Radio which was so exciting. It was also brilliant when I would speak to someone I didn’t know who would tell us that they had heard of us. Nowadays we frequently comment in the press about HR topics and advise on webinars which is great to be able to share our expertise.
What sets the business apart from other outsourced HR providers?
The reason I chose the name Bespoke HR so readily was that I always knew the type of service I wanted to provide. That hasn’t changed in 15 years, and we pride ourselves in customising our service to our clients. We know that a ‘one size fits all’ approach just doesn’t work and our clients like the fact that they are assigned a dedicated consultant, rather than speaking to a call centre, when they have a problem or need some advice. That’s the essence of our business model and something we won’t ever change. We also match our consultants with clients depending on their backgrounds and skills which works really well.
What sorts of clients do you work with?
We work with businesses spanning numerous sectors from hospitality to healthcare. We’ve worked with start-ups taking on their first employee to large businesses like Ben & Jerry’s.
“We have worked with Bespoke HR for over a decade and they have become an extension of our team. Happy anniversary!”
Cat Collins, Managing Director, Elmsleigh House Dental Clinic
What advice would you give others who are in the early stages of growing their business?