If you’ve been in the recruiting industry long, you’ve had the experience of fighting like a rabid dog against other recruiters to win a client. Once you become a client’s go-to firm or make it on their PSL (Preferred Supplier List), why would you ever voluntarily opt-out of working with them?
Because it’s not worth it. You may win clients that aren’t really WINS at all. It’s your job as a recruiting leader to recognize clients that are a waste of your time, money, resources and talent and cut them loose. It’s not easy to do when you had to slay like a gladiator to get them in the first place, but knowing when to fire clients will make you a better recruiter and ultimately help you grow your business. Below are some client situations in which the best thing you can do is say sayonara.
1. They Take More than they Give. If a client consistently requires more resources than they provide revenue for and do not provide any other benefit, such as referrals, testimonials or growth opportunities, you need to let them go. Andrew Fairley, a U.K.-based recruiting consultant recommends doing a client audit. Rank your clients based on the amount of revenue they bring in. It’s likely you have a small percentage of clients bringing in the majority of your revenue. If you’re spending time and resources on clients that are not driving much revenue, consider eliminating them from your client roster, especially if they do not provide value in other ways.
Recruitment management software allows you to accurately tracking client revenue and the corresponding resources dedicated to serving them so you can perform an audit with ease. It’s hard to give up clients that are bringing in any revenue, but if clients are costing you more than the revenue they’re producing, it’s time to cut them loose.
2. They’re not a Fit for your Core Competencies. We’ve discussed targeting your prospects that fit your ideal client profile, but you may have clients that you won before you identified your ideal client profile or ones that you took on despite them not meeting those parameters. If you consistently find it difficult to make placements for a client, chances are they are not an ideal client for your firm and therefore, a drain on your resources.
Focus your energy on the clients that fit your industry, specialization or area of expertise, and serve them really well. Your time and resources are better spent developing business with clients and prospects that fit your optimal client profile than serving those that don’t. Remember, clients’ needs and your business model evolve. So it could be that clients who were once a good fit for your firm are not any longer. It’s okay to simply grow apart.
3. They keep Changing the Rules. Continually delaying the hiring process, frequently changing job descriptions or requirements for candidates, or changing payment terms are ways clients can suck resources without providing any return. Small companies whose processes and roles aren’t as clearly defined and large companies who feel they are alpha enough to push around their suppliers may frequently try to change the rules
Don’t waste your time with clients like these as they are unpredictable, frustrating and not sustainable. Requiring Service Level Agreements (SLAs) can help prevent delays and keep clients from making time-consuming and costly changes throughout the recruiting process; however, if finicky clients refuse to agree to the terms of an SLA, you’re better off without them.
4. They are Dishonest or Unethical. If a client ever asks you to participate in any recruiting practices that are unethical or illegal, they are not worth your time no matter how much revenue they produce. Additionally, if they are not honest with you about your competition for filling positions, their hiring process or details related to the company or requisitions, they should be fired. Your reputation with candidates is just as important as your reputation with clients. Don’t let a client’s unethical request or dishonesty ruin your reputation as a recruiter.
5. They are never Satisfied. While it may take a couple of placements, you should be able to hit a stride with clients that makes the recruiting process fairly smooth. If you find that making placements is always a rocky road or clients are continually dissatisfied with the candidates your submit or the placements you make, you may be dealing with an implacable client or one that does not have realistic expectations. These clients can damage your reputation, reduce team morale and drain your resources. Even if they are producing revenue, your business will suffer from them. Say goodbye to these clients.
Are there situations that warrant firing a client? Yes. Is there a right way to go about doing it? Yes. You always want to be professional and polite when ending client relationships and when appropriate, refer them to another agency or recommend a future course of action. Always have a conversation over the phone or in person rather than sending an email. You don’t want to burn bridges or give clients any reason to speak negatively about you. Do everything you can to end the relationship amicably and control the conversation.