In-house v Recruitment Agency

Today I read an article on Am-Online dated 28/01/2019 headlined “Outside the motor retail box: How to source managers externally”

In my opinion, the article commenced as a diatribe on Recruiters/Headhunters claiming how the days of using Recruitment Agencies are now long gone, I have too strongly refuted this on the basis that we have many UK Car Dealership Companies who use our services to source qualified professional staff.

As the Managing Director of Spear Recruitment Ltd, one of the UK’s larger Automotive Recruitment Companies established in 2011, we have experienced year on year growth, we have also observed a dramatic change within the UK Motortrade Industry, in-fact I could say that as recruiters we have the privilege of being industry drones hovering above each and every Car  Dealership in the UK.

We are privy to information from incumbent Motortrade staff and we soon become aware as to those companies who experience a lot of movers and shakers as well as the reasons behind this.

Quite often changing employers comes down to the same factors; income potential, struggling to work with a manager due to conflict or something else we hear a lot of is candidates saying that they were sold the dream at their interview and upon joining it was soon apparent that what they were promised was and could not come to fruition.

Melvin Rogers, Sytner Group’s Director of Human Resources opened the article advising that his group appoints 80% of its managers from within its ranks and I have to say that as recruiters this is something myself and the team at Spear Recruitment promote to candidates when we are assisting Sytner with their recruitment of staff.

I am delighted to say that Sytner has a superb reputation in the industry, they are one of the leading if not the UK Leading Car Dealer Group and they have always maintained a transparent relationship with Spear, when we are working on specific projects they have accepted our candidates applications but also made it very clear that they also open their vacancies to incumbent Sytner staff and staff within the group looking to progress their career will always be considered before anyone from outside.

LinkedIn I feel is a recruiters marmite, it would be fair to say that as a company owner I personally have a love-hate relationship with it, in the AM-Online article it reported that many Dealer Groups In-House Recruitment Teams use LinkedIn as a poaching tool in-fact I believe that too many rely on LinkedIn and it was commented that the very best talent is not always looking for their next job opportunity ! however I have to raise a red flag to this, we all know the saying “the grass is not always greener” and whilst this article appeared to promote poaching and reported as to the successes as I said earlier from the drone flying above these companies we as recruitment specialists often hear from candidates who reach out to us for our discreet assistance in saying “Help, I have made a huge mistake, I was poached from a stable job, I was sold a dream (often involving salary and future promotions that do not come fruition) and I need a new job”…

This leads me to the comment from Scott Smith, Recruitment Manager at Swansway Garages who commented

“We are honest and upfront with the candidate from the start about the requirements and the expectations of the role, whereas an agency can try and sell you the dream”.

I was extremely disappointed to hear Scott’s perception of the recruiters especially when his employers have relied on Spear in the past for assistance to recruit many successful staff, many of whom are now key staff members within Swansway but in response to his comment surely candidates are not so fickle as to accept a job just on the basis of what recruitment consultants tell them, surely an hour long face to face interview in-fact often multiple interviews will aide their decision on taking a job and whilst I accept that there are a select few recruitment agencies out there who heavily target their staff to arrange interviews I think it is extremely unfair of him to label all recruiters the with same brush and having viewed on LinkedIn that Scott himself worked as a recruitment consultant for 3 years maybe he is tarring all recruitment consultants with his former recruitment work ethics.

In the article there appeared to be a blatant gloat by Scott Smith as to him poaching a member of staff from a competitor group; Lookers Plc, Spear Recruitment have supplied staff to Lookers for many years and staff retention appears to be excellent, Lookers have completed many acquisitions over the years however somehow they have still managed to adopt a family working environment, it is no surprise that Lookers Plc have been Certified a Top Employer by the Employers Institute.

As for the poaching of Staff Spear are as professional recruitment company and we offer the added security that we will not actively solicit staff from our clients, I have a strict policy in place that I ask my team to adhere, this is set on my personal standards “do not bite the hands that feeds you” and if in-house recruitment consists merely of poaching staff from each other then this industry will simply turn the industry into constantly pinching staff from each other and no loyalty, I have to question if the Service Manager spoken of in the article has since been encouraged by his new employer not to have a LinkedIn profile in fear that he may be so easily poached, knowing of this individual I could not see his profile on LinkedIn upon writing this !

Another bugbear that Spear often hear about is candidates being contacted by internal recruiters some who are not actively looking to change job, they are invited to a meeting/interview and we hear of many candidates feeling that their time was wasted, it is felt that the interview was more an opportunity to find out about their competitor and some also frustratingly report that at the end of the meeting it is summarised that there is in-fact no job vacancy at this time however their details will be kept warm for when a position arises, surely in today’s hectic work and personal lives candidates do not have the time to attend what can only be described as fake job interviews whereas any job interview that you attend arranged via a recruitment agency is always for a live/open job vacancy.

We hear in the news as to high street closures as well as the collapse of companies; Mothercare, Toys R Us, House of Fraser and whilst I personally believe it is fantastic to attract new talent to the Motortrade Industry and train those who will become future managers at Spear we often hear as to those experienced, loyal industry professionals choosing to leave the motor-trade because they find themselves working with the new industry talent and having their salaries reduced or targets increased forcing them out, many who contact Spear Recruitment often advise that they are now earning less of a salary compared to 3 years ago

Recently I saw reported in the media as to one car dealer group who held a parents evening/graduation ceremony, please don’t get me wrong I am all for rewarding staff something I personally do with Spear Recruitment and I am all for continual education however this hearing of a parents evening made me cringe, it led me to believe that this particular company must rely on a much younger generation/millennials to their business and if a company is seeking to cut costs so heavily in their use of recruitment agencies then it has to be asked is the problem the cost or s the problem the amount of staff that the company is having to recruit especially during these tough times.

It is a comical myth that recruitment agencies are 100% profit but like any business even comparing ourselves to Car Dealerships the more professional recruitment companies out there have significant operating expenses such as office lease, utilities, IT Systems, Staff/Payroll, Pensions, Insurances not forgetting the extortionate costs that we recruitment companies have to invest in advertising/candidate attraction.

On 27th December 2018 Ed Hatt, Spear Recruitment’s Operations Director received an email from a UK Car Dealer Group it read:

After discussion with the Directors, my initial brief is to reduce the 15 plus agencies we use down to two very focussed preferred recruiters. The bulk of our recruitment is around Sales Executive, Service Advisor and Technician level, therefore, having reviewed your terms and conditions, with immediate effect from 27th December 2018 for all new placements presented to me, we will pay a one-off fee of £900 for these positions. We will pay the invoice only when the candidate has worked a minimum of 30 days for us. In addition, if a candidate is no longer in our employment within a 3 month period after starting we would expect a 50% rebate. As part of this partnership together we would not expect you to be approaching our employees for any position.

This email was a shock to receive and quite honestly as the Managing Director of Spear Recruitment my initial thoughts were “who on earth does this company think they are in telling me what prices I have to charge, do I dare walk into their dealership and say I am buying that used car outside but this is the price I am paying ! or do I arrange a service but again tell them what I am prepared to pay !”


With this specific company we had endured a 7 year working relation and many of this companies  management team knew that they could pick up the phone to Spear and ask for our assistance, the average fee that we were achieving for a vehicle technician was £2200 yet in this email we were now being told that our fees would be cut by £1300 !

As a business it made us reflect and we decided that we did not want clients who operated under these constraints, we know that the industry is becoming much hard to find the right talent, we have seen a heavy decline over the past 2 or 3 years in candidates registering their CV’s on many of the UK Job Boards but again this is dealerships falling on their own sword because it has now become common knowledge that if a job seeking candidate uploads their CV to many of the UK Job Boards it is highly likely that many of the UK In-House HR Recruitment Teams within the Dealerships will be able to see which of their own staff are looking ! what effect has this had ?, quite honestly as a business we have seen a huge increase in traffic to our own website in-fact comparing January 2018 to January 2019 we saw a huge 232% increase in applications resulting in Spear having more exclusive job seeking candidates than ever before and if we were sensible we would use the supply and demand formula however at Spear we have an ethical team in place and we want the client and the candidate to have a win-win solution.

If you are an Automotive company based in the U.K. and you are actively recruiting for professional experienced staff within your business, staff that we can guarantee will have no industry skeletons then contact Spear Recruitment on 01983 564880 or email

Written by Darren Street, Managing Director, Spear Recruitment Ltd