Childcare support for budding franchisees

CNA International is offering help with childcare for potential franchisees in its headhunting recruitment business. Workingmums.co.uk spoke to one woman who has piloted the scheme.

CNA International is keen to attract more women franchisees to its headhunting business and it is targeting working parents in particular because of their professional experience and contacts and their desire to have more control over their working lives.

The franchise is offering a package to new franchisees who are parents which includes £800 a month for the first six months towards their childcare fees.

Georgina O'Connor was the first person to pilot the childcare package.

She has a lot of experience in the recruitment business. She began working as a payroll administrator for a recruitment company when she was 17. She worked her way up from being a consultant for a temporary industrial recruitment company, where she worked for six years.

She then became a headhunting executive. “I didn’t know anything about headhunting at the time,” she says, “but I thought I’d give it a go and I was mentored through it.” She stayed in the post for five years until she got pregnant. “I realised it was not possible to work 12 hours a day with a young child,” she says.

She had her son two years ago and since then had set up her own business selling personalised invitations. She wanted to use her recruitment experience, though. She had a chat with a CNA executive and came on board as a franchisee around six months ago, specialising in headhunting in civil engineering in the Middle East.

She had the contacts and experience and she wanted the security of the Pertemps name – CNA is its headhunting arm. Plus her husband worked for Pertemps.

Middle East
Her business involves working with individuals who earn over six-figure salaries and are in executive director roles worldwide. It’s a business, she says, that doesn’t tend to be much affected by the international economic situation, even though civil engineering was one of the first industries to crash in the recession. “At middle management level people are being more considered about appointments, but at higher levels it is very much a buoyant market,” she says.

Around 70% of Georgina’s work is with the US and Middle East and 30% in the UK. Most of it is done on the phone from her home office. She meets some clients in London, but says it is rare to meet candidates face to face. “It’s part of the mystique of headhunting,” she says.

She operates what she calls a “360 desk”. She rings clients about candidates they may be interested in and finds out if they have any positions they are looking for people for. She uses her contacts and researches projects that might be looking for candidates. She has three companies in the UK that she is retained by to find candidates.

“You have to have an eye on business development all the time,” she says. “It can flip easily from looking to place candidates to looking to find them.”

Georgina says the CNA childcare package was an important factor in her taking up the franchise. The senior partner franchise costs around £30,000 and CNA says the average franchise business nets around £100,000 a year. “To set something like this up takes time,” says Georgina. “It takes three months or so to get the bigger placements coming through so you need support ad this package gives me the flexibility and confidence to do that.”

She adds that CNA gives her the kind of backing she wouldn’t get if she had set up a business on her own. She has the CNA headhunting experience and the Pertemps name which both give her confidence, she says. From an HR perspective they can help out if a client doesn’t pay up. The package also includes a PC and phone, use of the Pertemps business systems and a week's training. Georgina says the support means she “can focus on doing what I do best”.

Her son goes to nursery three days a week and her mum helps out on other days. Sometimes she has to work on Sundays because she is dealing with the Middle East. She also works when her son has gone to bed. “Homeworking works for me,” she says. “I am quite disciplined and I had a home-based business before.”

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