Chuma Qamba-Madyibi, co-founder of BlackPearl Recruitment, describes herself as a born sales person. She’s determined,straightforward and outgoing. “My approach is far softer than Chuma’s,” saysher partner, Busi Sibiya. The combination has well worked for them in anindustry renowned for being oversaturated and extremely competitive, securingthem the likes of SABC, Barloworld and FNB as clients, to name a few.
Corporate HR departments are harassed on analmost weekly basis by new recruitment agencies. Black Pearl has succeededthrough a combination of networking, relationship-building, patience andtenacity. With previous experience as recruitment consultants, Qamba-Madyibiand Sibiya made use of the contacts they had developed over the years but, asQamba-Madyibi points out, “As much as we have networked, we have also cold-calledand knocked on new doors. You do get turned away but you can’t let itdemotivate you. You have to be a bit like a rash sometimes and just not goaway!” That said, Sibiya points to the importance of building long-termrelationships. “When we call a client, it’s not just about getting a job specthat day. It’s an opportunity to introduce ourselves to the prospect and get toknow them and their business. If you build a relationship with them, the jobspecs will eventually come.”
Before they even picked up the phone, thepartners firmed up their marketing strategy. “We knew that our profile was keyso we didn’t make one call until we were happy that it was perfect andto-the-point,” they say. “But we also knew that many companies will turn to theback page because they’re only interested in cost, so ensuring we were pricedcompetitively was also important,” adds Qamba-Madyibi.Getting job specs, however, was only halfthe battle won. There are many recruitment agencies in the industry, but thereare very few good ones; a new agency has to work hard to prove it’s not justanother appalling service provider. In this regard, Black Pearl has doneeverything right. “Face-to-face contact with the client is something we believein strongly,” says Sibiya. The company prefers to meet with clients for a newjob spec instead of getting it over the phone or via email. “Not only does itgive you a chance to cement your relationship with people, but it also offersthe opportunity to ask questions so that you can make sure you’re on the samepage as the client. And visiting a client’s offices gives you a good feel forthe corporate culture. This is so important when choosing candidates,” sheadds.
One of their challenges has been convincingbig corporates that they are up to the task, in spite of being a young, smallcompany. But youth has its plusses – it generally goes hand-in-hand withtenacious confidence and self-belief. Being small has also worked to theiradvantage – clients are assured that the partners handle each job specpersonally. “Clients know that dealing with Black Pearl means dealing with oneof us,” says Sibiya. “The thing we’re most proud of is the confidence and trustclients have developed in us. The fact that they give us repeat business is immenselysatisfying,” says Qamba-Madyibi.While they’re happy to remain small fornow, the partners have big plans for Black Pearl and want to expand theirservices to include training. “We want to be a one-stop outsourced HR partner,”explains Sibiya.