Quickfire with Sarah McKee-Harris

Founder and Director of Kingswood Group
Living in Colchester, Sarah fell into the world of recruitment not long after graduating with a Marketing Management degree back in 2005. Her team of qualified specialists work on a remote/hybrid basis following the pandemic and they meet regularly for team and company wide meetings.
Published in Essex Director magazine, Summer|Autumn 2022
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Kingswood Group has a unique offering whereby they provide support with HR recruitment to businesses across Essex, London and the UK.

We asked Sarah some questions about running a business.

How do you engage and motivate employees and keep them?

Our team is remote but meets regularly. We also have a quarterly meeting for a presentation on what each team is doing and company updates. This is followed by a social event.

We run Employee Engagement surveys twice a year and conduct annual and quarterly 121s with everyone to look at targets and development plans, plus monthly informal catch-ups. The key is recognition. We celebrate wins together, and these might also be shared on our social media. The most effective way to engage and motivate is to say: “Thank you” and “Well done”!

How do you maintain and enhance margins?

Where possible, we review and benchmark what our competitors charge, talk to customers about their expectations and review overheads, including salaries. Above all, we try to look at the value that clients get from us.

How can you put your prices up and keep your customers?

Review running costs and keep an eye on the economic situation. If you see a negative revenue impact, it’s time to review your prices.

With rising inflation, we need to think about the cost of living. If we must increase salaries, this cost has to come from somewhere. Although we want to remain good value for our customers, we still need to protect our business.

You’ve got this great idea – what do you do with it?

Look at local business support provided by Local Government and Enterprise Agencies. There is a lot of funding and resources for businesses. We have been working with the BEST Growth Hub to understand what is available for our business development goals.

How do you protect and enhance your reputation?

Take time to understand and create strong values for your business, ensuring they align with your personal ones. We got the team together to hammer out our purpose and company values. Now, everything we do, say, or post is aligned.

How do you network to your advantage?

I’ve been called the ‘queen of networking’ by the CEO of Essex Chamber of Commerce recently! This made me smile, but how will anyone know about your business if you don’t go out and tell them about it?

How can you shut off from the business and manage the work-life balance more effectively?

A good tip is to block out ‘meeting time’ in your work diary for breaks throughout the day, be that a walk or lunch away from your desk. Treat it as an appointment, and you’re more likely to do it.

How do you cut overheads and outgoings without negatively impacting your business?

Review outgoings and assess what is required for the business to run effectively. Also, check for alternatives and take up offers of a free audit. I did this recently for printing and saved a decent amount on cartridges.

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