Fee Splitting can boost your business and earnings
In times of skills shortages, which look to remain for the foreseeable future, it can be a good business decision to form partnerships with other agencies to fill more of your clients’ vacancies.Something I’ve often wondered is why recruiters do not network more or share more information. If you look at the credit industry for example, they readily share information with other companies including their competitors. If a company is a bad debt or in a precarious financial situation, the well connected credit managers know about it before it becomes public knowledge.In the recruitment industry, many guard their client list as though it is a matter of life and death while my philosophy has been; if a competitor can take a client away from you, then frankly you deserve to lose them. If you have not been giving your clients value, outstanding service and TLC, then you will lose them. If you have been doing the right things, you have absolutely nothing to lose and actually lots to gain.I used to deal with one of the largest electronics companies and the HR Manager would regularly tell me what competitors were doing, saying and offering in their attempt to crack the account. If you build a strong and mutually beneficial business relationship, your competitors only strengthen the bond you have with your client.So let’s say one of your top ten clients has a vacancy you cannot fill; you have the choice of going to another agency, filling the job and earning half a fee instead of a full fee or you do not fill it. What are your considerations?Pros of splitting:
- You get half a fee as opposed to no fee at all
- You fill the client’s need
- You maintain the client relationship by providing your service even at a perceived disadvantage to yourself
- If you are a smaller boutique agency, this form of partnership gives you the advantages of a branch network of the bigger agencies where they do internal fee splitting.
- You do not open the door for a competitor to fill the job and cutting you out
Some recruiters are against splitting simply out of fear that the other agency may end up “stealing” the client. Fear based thinking cheapens your relationship as it does not give the client enough credit.Having said that; there are some critical things you must discuss with the other agency, if you are to split a fee. For any relationship to work, you must set out expectations and lay the ground rules at the outset:
- The client must be told of the arrangement and you “sell” them the benefit by saying that your network allows your client to access an even bigger database without having to deal with more agencies. You explain that you will only receive half a fee, but you are more than happy because you have their interests at heart.
- If it is your client, then all contact must come through you i.e. the other agency does not phone your client at any stage. This allows you to maintain control but also doesn’t disadvantage your client by having to deal with more people.
- It is imperative that you discuss with the other agency what the terms and conditions of the agreement are e.g. if the fee is 18%, you each get 9%, but what happens if the candidate falls off during the guarantee period? Does the other agency have to replace? What happens if they cannot, but you can? Do they pay half their fee back? Or do they get paid on a pro rata basis or at the end of the guarantee period?
- If it is a temp placement, you may pay the other agency a flat daily rate of $25.00 for “borrowing” the temp and you take care of the rest and earn your margin outside of that rate. The other agency is to contact you to check when your assignment finishes before they can offer the temp another job.
- You have to determine what happens if the temp goes perm. Do you split the fee? If there’s a guarantee, then what happens if the temp falls off?
- The placed candidate or temp needs to be told of the arrangement so they don’t have a different perception to the client.
- For this to work you and the other agency must have the same values and ethics with a high degree of trust and respect. This is the most important aspect to consider when looking for someone to split a vacancy or fee with.
To satisfy more clients, sometimes you have to think laterally, but for these partnerships with potential competitors to work, you must network regularly and build relationships with like minded people.