Bromak Recruitment is a specialist UK based Recruitment Company and Employment Agency. They have been included in a unique PSL project with the fastest growing housebuilder in the UK, Countryside Properties (UK) Plc. Bromak have been working with Countryside and the newly appointed Umbrella PSL to form a ‘connected’ supply chain with the help of ENGAGE.
Q: How did this all happen?
A: I had been working with Countryside for a couple of years, when I was introduced to ENGAGE and thought it would be the perfect solution to some of the issues I knew Countryside where experiencing with their temp agency supply process.
I was really impressed by the concept & simplicity of ENGAGE, so knowing that there was a need for a solution, suggested that we operate the platform on behalf of Countryside on a regional basis, so they could see the benefits it could bring all parties.
After initial discussions and demonstration of the technology, it was agreed by all parties that ENGAGE could be a good solution and Bromak supported the initiative by providing additional service around the platform.
We ran this for around 12 months regionally and introduced the idea to Vicki Deal, who joined Countryside after the initial launch with ENGAGE in the North West. Vicki and I worked closely, and it was soon established that the neutrality and simplicity of the system suited the vision of the company. Vicki picked up the lead from then to roll it out nationally.
Q: How was that initial ‘pilot’ in the North West?
A: I’ll be honest, it was quick to start and easy to set up, but there were some teething issues as you’d expect. The technology was relatively new to Bromak back in 2017, as well as Countryside. I was introduced to Ben Wardleworth who joined ENGAGE around the same time that Vicki arrived at Countryside and we collaborated really effectively, to the point that the board mandated the use of the system nationwide and so an Agency PSL review was completed by Countryside as part of this process.
Q: What was the process like?
A: There was a lot to do, but it was very well coordinated between ENGAGE and Countryside. The communications were clear and regular, so we were never left in the dark. As a supplier, Bromak strive to offer value and transparency, working in partnership with our clients and business partners, so we were delighted that Countryside made the decision to roll out ENGAGE, as well as to secure our place on their significantly reduced PSL.
It was straightforward for us to get onboard with the technology piece as we were an advocate of the platform and by this time were using this with many other clients, helping them transform their supply chains for the better.
Q: Have there been any drawbacks?
A: We would have obviously been delighted if Countryside were looking to appoint a Managed Service Prover, as we felt we were in a strong position to offer a solution, given that we provide this with other clients partnering with ENGAGE as our preferred technology partner for this. However, Countryside chose to structure their supply chain on a neutral basis with no ‘Master Vendor’. They appointed regional PSL’s, supported by an internal Labour Desk resource at Countryside.
Although we did not have an opportunity to offer our MSP solution to Countryside, we retained a coveted position on the PSL and remained a valued supplier, treated as such by Countryside. It has always been a strong partnership based on solid values. We have also grown off the back of the framework with Countryside, so it’s fair to say that at this time there are absolutely no drawbacks and we are delighted to be part of something so unique in the UK right now.
Q: By that I suppose you mean the recently appointed Umbrella PSL?
A: Absolutely. When I first met ENGAGE and started to build a relationship with them, their passion and energy for what they had set out to do with ENGAGE was clear and infectious. What ENGAGE and Countryside have done with the whole of the supply chain, in the build up to what has undoubtedly been the biggest shake up of the sector for years, is very impressive. Based on the market as we see it, Countryside are visionary and have really got their act together, well ahead of time. They have a very strong proposition to help provide an extremely joined up supply chain, whilst also mitigating risks around worker compliance and tax compliance – specifically IR35. We are very happy to play our part, as was our preferred Payroll Intermediary (Cinch Contracting), who we nominated and were delighted to be included in the Umbrella PSL.
Q: What were the main benefits you saw with Engage and how quickly did you see them?
A: There were lots. The trust you build with a client when you are totally transparent on how you deliver your service cannot be under egged. ENGAGE helps build trust and stronger relationships without a doubt. As such, you tend to find that users of the system, whether it’s Hirer, Agency, or Umbrella, they all collaborate as they see the benefits of being connected and tied into the client, for all the right reasons. Being part of a PSL is no mean feat and what we all strive for, as it provides a degree of certainty and security as a supplier. So, being in that enviable position, I’d say that everyone works a little bit harder, which is very good news for the End Hirer.
The fact that ENGAGE is easy to use, clean and fresh looking, makes the experience of having to work in a digital environment a cinch.
We spend less time on doing the admin tasks, as ENGAGE provides a lot of automation for all parties. Data is on tap for the End Hirer and suppliers.
Also, the billing is simple and has allowed the payments process to be streamlined. Whenever we supply clients who are using ENGAGE, we always spend a lot less time doing credit control, with all the heavy lifting done by the system and the controls in play. Countryside is no exception. Invoices are paid on time, every time and as a result, we are very happy.
Q: Engage state that it facilitates the ‘collaboration’ across the supply chain. Have you seen this?
A: As I mentioned, it does exactly what their marketing suggests. Notwithstanding there are often a lot of big personalities and a degree of scepticism initially, when you bring in suppliers that are new to the ENGAGE network. However, with effective communication and messaging, we have seen the whole supply chain get very comfortable in a very short space of time.
I know my client better and I can also work with their other suppliers, as they can with Bromak.
Following the effective roll out of ‘Phase 2’, we also now have a wider PSL of Umbrella to be able to consider for our workers, so whilst we have our preferred choice of providers, there are also alternative options that have been vetted and approved by the End Hirer. The Umbrellas are now using the same system and data, so it has really brought the supply chain much closer together. A huge benefit when trying to mitigate risks around IR35 and tax avoidance.
It is early days though, as this is all very new and ground-breaking. Credit to Ben and the team at ENGAGE for bringing this to market and proving that this can be done. Also, credit to Countryside for leading the charge and having the confidence to do something completely innovative.
It’s true to say that IR35 was probably the main driver and the accelerated the need for collaboration. The tooling in ENGAGE has turbo-boosted the ability for businesses to collaborate. As a result, it’s a great system for managing risks up and down the supply chain, given we all have a part to play.
Q: So, what’s next for Bromak?
A: We are very busy, as you can imagine. There’s so much more than ‘business as usual’ happening right now and so we are focused on providing the best levels of care and support to our clients as we can, whilst we also help educate our clients on what Bromak can do to support their own digital transformation journeys.
We have chosen our partners carefully and work with what we perceive to be ‘best in breed’ to offer all our customers a bespoke and complete package when it comes to labour supply and managing the risks that are now associated with this, in the advent of Brexit, IR35, the Taylor Report etc. There is a lot to consider and we are being very pro-active in helping our clients weather the storm.
I am delighted that Bromak are in an enviable position of being fighting fit as a business, having gone through (hopefully) the worst of the effects that the pandemic can bring the UK economy.
The government has really supported our sector and for that we can be forever grateful. We are seeing the green shoots of recovery and poised for a bounce back. The recruitment industry is resilient and full of tenacious, energetic, positive people. Our team at Bromak certainly is. I’m very proud to be part of it and helping deliver value to the business and the industry as we all look to the future.
If there was any advice you could offer anyone thinking about technology, what would it be?
A: Technology can make or break your business and the businesses you connect with. We continue to use a number of different technologies that enhance our business and proposition. As an Agency, we also have experienced a lot of different Vendor Management Systems used by MSP’s/RPO’s, so we have a fairly rounded view of what looks and feels right as a supplier.
Considering technology partners is like dating. You wouldn’t get married after the first date! If your technology partner is looking for a big commitment up front, is expensive and needs a lot of your time, it’s probably not going to be a great relationship built on the right foundations. Choosing a technology partner that is low maintenance, does not cost the earth and allows you to test it with a pilot is a very good start to any relationship wouldn’t you agree?
Heavy capex and long-term contractual tie-ins doesn’t necessarily guarantee a commitment from your provider, or that the tech is going to do what you need. That said, if you do the right level of due diligence, you should know exactly what you are getting and if it’s right for your business.
Technology is developing rapidly, so a partner that is willing to evolve with you and listens to your feedback as a user is very useful. You should feel you are able to ‘evolve’ together in these ever-changing times.
– speak to Engage!