Matt Crowson established The Modern Man, an online men’s grooming and fashion store, in 2009 with his business partner. Initially, the business was run as a sideline, with Matt continuing to work in a separate IT-related role. Today, the business totals 11 people with everyone aside from the two directors joining as an apprentice. Here, Matt tells us what apprentices have brought to his business and why he chose apprenticeships as a recruitment route.
“When I first left my IT job to focus on The Modern Man, I ran the enterprise from my bedroom. Once we were a bit more established, we moved to Bristol and there was so much work I just couldn’t do it by myself. Affordability was one aspect of choosing the apprenticeship route but we also thought it would be a good option to find employees who’d stick with us. I was concerned that a graduate may be in and out in six months.”
Matt, who had been paying a marketing company to spread news of the Modern Man, decided that the cash would be better spent on having a dedicated marketing apprentice. He recruited Stuart Voisey and quickly appreciated the benefits, as he explains:
“Stuart’s arrival meant we could manage additional work and orders started to increase dramatically, to the point where we hired our second apprentice, Nathan Dorney about four months later. Ever since then we’ve hired apprentices in a variety of roles within marketing, administration, accounting and the warehouse.”
In fact, both Stuart and Nathan have proven themselves to be exceptionally valuable members of staff. In his first year at The Modern Man, Stuart was shortlisted in the Apprentice of the Year Awards and named runner-up in the South West. Nathan’s Tdesign work meanwhile, has seen the company reach the finals of the UK Packaging Awards; The Modern Man has been nominated along with its supplier DS Smith Packaging, to win an award in the Online Retail and Consumer Goods category. This is excellent news for Matt, and the apprentices have also had an impressive impact on that factor that can make or break an SME; the bottom line. He says:
“The business has grown 700% in the last two years – growth that can be attributed almost solely to the work of apprentice employees. Depending on the role an employer wants to fill, I would certainly recommend apprenticeships as a recruitment route. I went to university and didn’t get a ‘proper’ job until I was a bit older. So, when I think of what I was doing at the age our apprentices are now, I didn’t have anywhere near the responsibility – they’re very advanced for their age. The average age in our business is just 19, including me and I’m 30!”