Three years ago, Craig Batchelor was feeling dissatisfied with where his successful business had taken him. He shares his lessons about stripping his business back and staying true to his values.
When Craig Batchelor was trying to work out how to transform his business into something he and his staff would want to keep working in, he made a decision that had his accountants questioning his sanity.
Batchelor, the MD of Edge Personnel and Arditi, made the courageous decision to part ways with two of his largest clients who, combined, accounted for some 60 per cent of his annual business revenue.
Two years later, Batchelor insists it was one of the best decisions he ever made.
“At the end of 2015, we were dragged into a messy common law dispute through one of our major clients and it forced me to stop and look at what we were doing as a business and whether I wanted to keep doing that,” Batchelor said.
“I looked at the company and felt that it didn’t fit with the values I had when I started the business back in 2000, where the premise was that we would only do business with people we enjoyed doing business with. I asked myself how much fun I was having and it wasn’t a lot.
“We had basically become a one-trick pony where the fundamental function of our business was servicing two major clients who were sucking up all of our time, energy and oxygen. We had essentially become order fillers; good order fillers, but that really was effectively all we were doing.”
Edge Personnel, originally known as LRS Labour Solutions, started on the back of logistics and warehouse provision. While the company had a small number of clients in 2015, their two major clients required 70 to 100 temp staff each, on a daily basis.
In 2004, LRS Labour Solutions was named in the BRW Fast 100 List. It was a feat replicated under the re-branded Edge Personnel in 2005 and 2006.
“By 2015, most of our energy was being taken up with the sausage factory mentality of finding the staff these two clients needed,” Batchelor said. “So much of our time was dedicated to these clients, we weren’t able to bring in new business and expand our own business into other industry sectors.
“As a result, we were losing staff because they would assess their own situation at the end of the year and know they would be doing exactly the same thing next year. We couldn’t provide them with variety under the structure we had in place and good staff want to be challenged and engaged and quite rightly so.”
At the end of 2015, Batchelor took stock and that meant being transparent with his staff about where they were and where he wanted to take them.
“I sat all my staff down and said to them, ‘when you meet someone at a barbecue and they ask you what you do for a living, what do you say?’ I wrote their answers up on a whiteboard and then asked them what they tell people we do as a company,” Batchelor said.
“Everything went up on the whiteboard so we could all look at it and then I asked if the answers would inspire anyone to want and come and work with us. They didn’t.