I have nothing against bikers. I had a motorbike myself, until I drove it into a hedge at 60 mph on the way back from the rugby club.
Bikers are only an analogy in my tale today, so Rev Heads… take no offense please.
But to the business at hand. Consider this and then run the figures for your own business if you need convincing. In most of the recruitment businesses I have run, 70% of your business will come from the top 20% of your clients. In fact, often over 50% of your Gross Profit (NDR) will be generated from less than 10 client companies. Even on an individual consultant desk you will find that a high proportion of fees will come from between 3 and 5 clients.
Maybe we know this already. Why then do we spread both our marketing dollars, and our personal business development efforts, across all our clients and prospects equally?
You will no longer survive by spreading yourself so thin. The superficial phone call and the multi-listed, non-exclusive job order – and then we move on, is not a strategy that will work any more.
It’s transactional. It’s superficial. It’s dangerous for your financial health. What we want to focus on now is “share of wallet” not market share.
What is important as the market recovers is targeting long-term clients with fee-generation growth potential. We want to work with companies that will use our services regularly. We want to partner with companies that themselves are growing. The best client is a client that has a need for all or most of your service offer.
But it’s much, much more than that.
We need to understand that the best business is often the hardest to win, but the most profitable once you have it. The future requires us to invest time, resources and brainpower on developing, nurturing and retaining these key clients.
But it’s much more than that too.
We need to build different relationships with our clients. Engage in fresh conversations. This means providing value-added activities for your clients (webinars, blogs, salary surveys, skills testing of candidates). The goal is ensuring a regular pattern of meaningful contact and it also means developing proactive recruitment strategies specifically for them.
But it’s more than that too. Do not try to be all things to all people. Very few recruiters I know, have managed to survive as generalists and it will not get easier.
And the bikers? Well bikers are those hairy, ugly, anti-social clients. Clients who jerk you around with sketchy job specs. Clients who demand the world from you and give nothing in return. Clients who pull jobs half way through assignments. Clients who fail to return your calls and who use three other agencies in competition with you. Clients who unfailingly try to negotiate fees – especially after you have gone to the ends of the earth to fill their job. Clients who show no respect for what you do or say, who abuse your guarantee and who in the end, refuse to pay the bill.
You are smiling as you read this! And yet we still work with these guys. Why? They absorb your time and they torpedo your self-esteem. They take your focus off where it should be – your targeted clients and prospects who can offer you long term, sustainable, profitable business.
Why do we keep on giving these pseudo-clients another chance? Why do we defend them within our companies? Why do we say “they are not so bad –they will get better – next time we will earn a fee”?
Frankly, trying to pretty up these bikers is a bit like putting lipstick on a pig. A pig is still a pig with or without makeup!
Kill off these bikers – fire these so called clients –these renegades and buccaneers – and put your effort into those key prospects and clients who you have identified as the sorts of employers you want to do business with.
Business is like dating – you do have choice who you go with.
- Posted by Greg Savage
- On March 22, 2010
- 6 Comments