Alison King : We Are a Team of HR Consultants Working With Hundreds of Clients Across a Industries Ranging From Healthcare, Hospitality and Finance to Media, Manufacturing and IT

September 4, 2022

We provide flexible HR advice and guidance. We are a team of HR consultants based in Guildford, Surrey and work with hundreds of clients across a range of industries ranging from healthcare, hospitality and finance to media, manufacturing and IT.

Our consultants are all CIPD qualified and we match clients with HR consultants based on their expertise, background and experience. This means our clients benefit from a dedicated consultant who understands their business, with the back-up and support from the wider in-house team.

Tell us about yourself?

I started Bespoke HR in 2015 after being redundant when I returned from maternity leave. I had previously been in a number of in-house HR roles in the hospitality industry.

At the time I looked around but was unable to find anything that would allow me to continue with my career but also offer flexibility to look after my young family, so I set up as a consultant.

I also realised at that time that there were very few affordable options for small businesses looking to get external HR support.

The business steadily grew and I started taking on employees and Bespoke HR was born. Fast forward to today, where I now run the business with my husband and employ a team of 12.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Make sure you have good people around you and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Always help others as it may pay you back in future. If there’s something that’s not within your skills set or out of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to outsource it.

Ultimately, it will save you time and money down the line.

What problem does your business solve?

We help businesses small and large to solve their HR issues.

We work with start-ups through to large corporates and assist with everything from recruitment and training to disciplinaries and redundancy. We work as an extension to the business; sometimes we act as the in-house HR manager and in other situations we work alongside the existing HR team.

Because we are a small business ourselves, we understand the challenges and can flexible – offering a bespoke service depending on what the clients need.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

I was inspired to start the business when I realised how difficult it was for small business owners to find affordable, but good HR advice.

Start-ups and small businesses don’t have the budget to employ an in-house professional, yet anyone employing even one member of staff needs to make sure they are protected legally with the right contracts and policies.

It can be a minefield if you don’t get this right at the start. We often solve issues for clients who come to us when they an urgent HR need, and for others we work with them to develop a proactive strategy.

What is your magic sauce?

We understand small business and start-up challenges and constraints because we’ve been there. We have deliberately structured our offering to cater for everyone, large or small.

We offer flexible plans so that smaller businesses can only pay for what they need.

We also don’t tie clients into lengthy contracts which larger suppliers do (some clients come to us having been stuck in a contract for three years or more, which is a massive commitment when you’re starting out).

We also only employ CIPD-qualified consultants from diverse industry sectors. This means that we match new clients with consultants who have experience in their industry which works well.

Lastly, our clients all know their consultant, but our wider team are also familiar with our clients and sectors.

We know that some businesses have worked with HR suppliers who offer advice from a call centre. This can be extremely frustrating if you’ve got to explain your issue every time you need advice.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

We will continue to grow the business in terms of the number of clients we work with and consultants we employ. We have already launched a training arm and employed a Learning and Development Manager to deliver bespoke training for clients.

We’ve also started a payroll service so that companies can outsource that task to us. We’ve got some great partners such as Breathe HR and Wellness Cloud who we work closely with to extend our offering.

Our aim is always to take away the headache of HR for our clients to allow them to get on with running the business.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Growing the business from being a sole trader to a ‘grown up business’ which involved formalising and tying down plans, strategy and pricing.

Before that it was just me attending networking events and using business cards I have printed myself! We’ve had to grow fast and apart as we rapidly acquired businesses across lots of different sectors.

We haven’t had to change course, but we’ve learnt some interesting lessons along the way about the kind of clients we are most successful with. As a partner, we definitely achieve the most with employers who recognise their teams and understand the value of HR.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

Even if you only employ one member of staff then you need to make sure your HR is up to scratch. By getting the right contracts, policies and procedures in place from the start you will keep your business protected. We offer 15 mins of free advice to anyone with an HR issue. You can book an appointment online here. We also have lots of free advice, guides and downloads on our website, including HR deadlines and reminders – sign up to our monthly newsletter to make sure you’re in the know.

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