News that Kru Live had made Sarah-Jane Benham CEO to oversee international expansion for the business has been swiftly followed by further news of Kru’s expansion into Hong Kong. There’s clearly no time like the present for the CEO so we asked her about the past, present and future to get the full set.
In the time you have been at Kru, what have been the major landmarks?
I’ve been with Kru Live for over a decade and have witnessed some incredible milestones in our company’s growth. Before becoming a staff booking agent in 2010, I worked as a Brand Ambassador in the field. Since then, we’ve frequently revamped and expanded our services to better serve our clients and staff. In 2012, we launched Kru Talent, our Entertainment and Specialist Act division, and in 2014, we created The Staffing and Entertainment Collective (TSEC), a network of like-minded agencies worldwide. These innovations have helped us establish a strong reputation in the industry and continue to drive our success today. Looking ahead, we’re excited to launch Kru Live Hong Kong in 2023, which we believe will be another landmark moment for our company.
How have you and the team steered Kru to success after COVID?
Our success in the post-COVID era was rooted in upholding the core values that define Kru. We treat our staff well, pay them great rates of pay and faster than anyone else. 2021 was our most challenging year to date given that we were in a world of limited resource but our resilience, people-first mindset and positivity saw us through. It was an ‘all hands on deck’ year which saw our senior team leading from the front. We scaled the agency team from 5 to 50 within 3 months and found that regular and clear internal communication was critical.
At Kru, our mission to deliver a service of excellence to both staff and clients alike has always been our guiding principle, shaping the way we behave and the decisions we make. Post-COVID, our senior team advised new members to ‘trust the process,’ confident that the strength of our relationships, quality control management system, and the ‘Kru Promise’ would continue to deliver outstanding results on site.
What examples are there of Kru at its best in the last year or two?
Kru’s commitment to excellence is reflected in our long-standing relationships with clients who come back to us time and time again, and who refer us to others. One of our most successful partnerships has been with Amplify and Sky Glass. Our tech teams have been at the forefront of promoting Sky Glass during a nationwide roadshow since its launch in 2021. Sky Glass is a stunning smart TV that not only boasts an exquisite design but is also certified carbon-neutral, making it an eco-friendly option for consumers. As part of our support for their Sky Zero mission, we created an innovative carbon calculator for staff travel that we later introduced to all of our clients. Moreover, for every staffing day we book, we plant a tree; demonstrating our commitment to sustainability and responsible business practices.
Another example of Kru at its best is our ‘Pay Guarantee’ to staff. We are so confident in the consistency and reliability of our payment process to staff that we promise to pay a goodwill gesture should there be an administrative error behind the scenes which causes a delay to staff members pay. It’s a rare occurrence, and in our 18 years of business, we have had to do it only a few times. Our staff can count on us to provide hassle-free payment, meaning they can focus on delivering their best performance.
What are the biggest challenges in staffing at the moment?
The current staffing landscape is facing a challenge wherein some agencies are still paying their staff on a self-employed basis, despite it no longer being allowed. This creates an uneven playing field as such agencies avoid paying employer National Insurance contributions, pension, and accruing and paying staff members holiday pay. While this may allow them to charge clients less in the short term (undercutting those who are compliant), long term, the client could end up paying more. Choosing to work with a non-compliant staffing agency could lead to substantial fines relating to the lack of due diligence. It’s crucial for clients to choose compliant staffing agencies, ensuring the protection of both themselves and their staff members.
How much of an opportunity is ‘global’? Why?
The Staffing and Entertainment Collective (TSEC), is our global network of agencies spanning 34 territories. Between us our global community has over 55,000 staff and as a collective, we deliver more than 200,000 experiential staffing days each year, making it a significant area of growth for us.
If we spoke again in 12 months’ time, what would be a good indicator of a successful first year as CEO?
A good indicator of a successful first year as CEO would be a combination of factors. Firstly, achieving or exceeding the company’s financial targets and seeing a positive trend in revenue growth would be a strong indicator of success. Additionally, maintaining a high level of client satisfaction and retention, as well as attracting new clients to the business across a range of categories and sectors, would be important. Another key factor would be team wellbeing and retention, as well as creating opportunities that enable us to promote our top talent from within. And finally, a great first 12 months for our new office in Hong Kong.