Clients can be real Pr*%ks sometimes…

I can remember Luke’s words ringing in my ears… ‘I wouldn’t bother seeing them… we’ve got more clients than we can service right now… let’s focus on getting the job done for them instead of chasing new relationships… fancy an afternoon pint?’ That’s the way Luke rolls. A healthy dose of professional reality, followed by an unhealthier dose of social interaction…hypno2
But I knew better didn’t I? Of course we need new clients. It keeps the place interesting… the role sounded interesting… and I was offered exclusivity.

So I grabbed the office compendium (the compendium only comes out for new clients and special occasions these days), and headed off.

hypno3The meeting itself was fairly uneventful, aside from me feeling that the office was a little cramped… it felt like everyone was sitting on top of each other… but I digress… After taking a detailed brief… tick… I went through our service, process and fees… tick… I asked if he had any questions… he didn’t… tick… and I told him I would send through our terms of business for signing before beginning the assignment.

I walked out of the office feeling very chuffed with myself and confident I could get the job done… up yours Luke!

hypnoWithin half an hour of sending the terms they came back signed. The rest of the process was fairly smooth and uneventful. I had a brilliant candidate who had reached out to me after… get this… reading our blog. All jokes aside over 30% of our placements come from you guys engaging with the blog and reaching out to us when you’re ready to explore the market… it’s not designed that way… but if you could just stare at the swirl just above and to the right for 93 seconds and repeat after me… ‘I will contact Watson Collard for my next role… I will contact Watson Collard for my next role… I will contact Watson Collard for my next role… Thank you… carry on.’

The candidate went through 3 interviews, some testing and references. I stayed close to both the candidate and client throughout the process, and knew that my next call to the client was going to result in an offer that match my candidate’s salary, commission and expectations. I had covered off the candidate and had full approval to accept the offer on her behalf. It was flawless recruiting… just like the training sessions we offer. At this point I would draw your attention back up to the swirly thing whilst repeating… I will contact Watson Collard for my recruitment training needs… I will contact Watson Collard for my recruitment training needs… etc…

‘Morning Mr Horshack’ I chirp down the phone. ‘Lovely day to add to your team isn’t it?’ OK I was cocky… but not in an arrogant way… and not in a nudge nudge wink wink how’s your father sort of way… more in a friendly, co-conspirator we’re in this together and have achieved the perfect result kind of cocky… Goldilocks cocky… not too much cocky… and not too little cocky… just right… you get me?

‘Yes Craig.’ Mr Horshack replied. He wasn’t quite getting into the spirit of things… ‘I would like to offer Delilah, but…’

What but? Buts weren’t in the script… figuratively, metaphorically or literally… I wasn’t prepared for a but…

‘You are going to need to do something about your fees.’

‘My fees?’

‘Yes… your fees.’

‘The fees we discussed in our first meeting?’

‘Yes those fees…’

‘The fees you agreed to and signed off on in our terms of business?’

‘The very same.’ He was irritatingly patient. My cockiness was being replaced with a spot of bile in the back of my throat.

‘Mr Horshack I took this role on in good faith that we understood the fee structure. There is really no option in revisiting that now.’ I was firm. I was fair. I was equal parts disbelieving, angry… and trying to get Luke’s annoying voice out of my head… ‘I told you so…’

‘That’s a shame.’ Mr Horshack spoke disappointedly down the phone. ‘You see to offer Delilah what she wants is slightly over my budget… and the only way I can justify paying her that and balance the books is to eat into your fee. I’m quite prepared to walk away, but would you stand in the way of someone’s career, because you were too inflexible to negotiate on your fee?’


What would you do? I invite you to respond in the comments section. I will update you in detail about what I did next week… Come on… look at the swirly thing again and repeat after me… ‘I WILL leave a comment… I WILL leave a comment… I WILL leave a comment…’

Craig Watson


12 thoughts on “Clients can be real Pr*%ks sometimes…

  1. Mark Turner on Reply

    Walk away Craig. Once you break the seal of dropping your pants to secure a placement you are done. The clients attitude to your agreements say a lot about him as an employer as well. Actually….. run away, don’t walk.

  2. Stephen Moir on Reply

    Take the reduced fee on the provision of immediate payment and a shortened replacement guarantee in double the proportion as the reduced fee. i.e. if the fee is reduced by 1/3 then the length of the replacement guarantee is reduced by 2/3. If the fee is reduced by 1/2 then there is no replacement guarantee.

    Then never do business with the prick again!

    1. Theodoros on Reply

      I agree with Stephen. My first thoughts would be to walk away, but there is a way to get somethings from all this – apart from a painful lesson, that is. Take some money, adjust your offer accordingly and don’t do business with them again.

  3. Mat Gollop on Reply

    Unfortunately this is not uncommon in recruitment In any industry. My take (for what it’s worth):

    First and foremost, in this situation, it’s the candidate’s circumstances that come first. As a recruiter this is one potential fee in many over the course of a career – for a candidate this is hopefully one of a small number of opportunities they will likely take.

    There’s also a big difference between a client trying it on and one who genuinely has budget challenges. Options we would generally look at would be:
    – Swallow the fee reduction on the premise it builds a loyal partnership if the client seems genuine
    – Delay payment of the additional fee amount til when the candidate first bills
    – Take the fee reduction but explain you can’t work with them in the future

    Look forward to seeing how it panned out!

  4. Lachlan on Reply

    Interesting. I have experienced that one and capitulated. Although it may or may not have been the right thing to do at the time, it really has labelled us the weaker party – many deals since then tended to go south at the very last minute from then on, culminating in them reneging on payments for a significant search project.
    The fact is, that he has asked you to reduce your profits so he does not have to reduce his.
    Most people will tell you to turn it down – easy to say for them. I feel the best thing is to say. “OK, if we agree that we will benefit from this staff member starting, I am prepared to meet you halfway on this occasion provided we agree this is a one-off” and then absolutely stick to your guns next time.” That way you get the paid. If it’s a lot of money, then get on the the phone to see if you can find her another opportunity – if the firm does that to you, they will probably not be the best to work for.

  5. Neil Bolton on Reply

    Tell him to go away. I was thinking of other words, but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t print them.

    And if Delilah is good enough to get that job, she can get a job with a non-penny pinching company who sticks to their word. You would be doing her a favour.

  6. Colin Grant on Reply

    Ouch! Tough decision. Was there an add value opportunity for a consult? For example “Mr Horshack I cannot move on my fees but what if we assisted you with XYZ? He gets a bonus you get the fee?

    It is a tough decision. My first reaction is to kill the deal and see who else would like to hire the candidate, but then again…

    I concur what a Pr#@k.

  7. Mitch Sullivan on Reply

    I’d put the fee up.

    If he argued, I’d put it up again.

    If he asked me why I was being a prick, I’d tell him that he started it.

    Then I’d put the fee up some more.

    Eventually and hopefully, he’d fuck off and never bother me again.

  8. Jarek on Reply

    Explain the candidate about the situation, it’s a recruitment business at the end of the day and she will understand. She may also want to know how the company does the business and it may be something she won’t desire as may have an impact on her career in the future. If she really wants it despite, give them solution.

  9. Murray James on Reply

    It’s actually Mr Horshack who is standing in the way of someone’s career by not being honourable enough to stick to his side of the signed contract…………… I am not sure Delilah would be so grateful of the opportunity if she knew the type of person she’d be working for.

  10. David Thornley on Reply

    If they’re asking for a drop in fee you have to get something in return. I’ve faced similar situations previously and it comes down to ‘Negotiation 101’; if I do that for you, what can you do for me? If they ask to drop the fee, then you have a range of things you can come back with – reduced guarantee period, quicker turnaround on invoicing etc.
    I have found that by using this simple negotiation strategy, not only does will it compensate if you do agree to drop the fee – but it also puts a halt to any further demands; the client will understand that if they ask for something, they know you’re going to ask for something in return which can deter any further ‘nibbles’.

    Tough decision in any case. Good luck with that, Craig.

  11. Erick Peterson on Reply

    All the above who state walk away, are the ones who should be ashamed as you are the exact type of recruiters that give this industry a bad name and reputation.

    As some, more experienced, recruiters above state, its all about negotiations and any recruiter worth their value here will be able to come to some workable long term arrangement I’m sure.

    To turn and walk away from this just for a fee and therefore lose this candidate a role in which she is clearly interested in, is a disgrace and the sooner this industry is rid of the no value, no long term relationship, fee grabbing only type “recruiters” the better.

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