Do clients consider you a partner or a cost?

Every recruitment business should be striving for its clients to perceive it as a value add rather than a cost. Some recruitment consultancies are better than others at moving beyond a transactional relationship to become partners with their clients. Ultimately where a recruitment company is able to develop symbiotic, long term relationships based on trust they will succeed in making more placements.

And multiple placements at a client tends to be more efficient than constantly developing new clients. The first placement at any client time generally takes longest and is most complex. Time is sunk into negotiating terms, getting onto approved supplier lists, understanding the client’s business, ensuring clear communication channels etc. Once done it rarely needs to be repeated. The relationship simply needs to be nurtured and this means that time going forward is spent principally on maintaining communication and delivering mandates.

How to build and nurture recruitment partnerships

1.     Understand where you can add value to your client – your business exists to meet your clients’ needs.  Rather than trying to get the client to fit with your proposition and processes, learn what their pressure points are and work out how you and make their lives easier.

2.     Ensure that there is a clear understanding of the relationship on both sides – having pre-agreed terms and conditions reduces the possibilities of misunderstandings arising unnecessarily by making sure that both parties know what is expected of them.

3.     Maintain good communications – good relationships are based on good communications. This is particularly important when the relationship becomes rocky or there is nothing going on. Regular communication with clients reduces the chances of issues arising in the first place but also makes it much easier to address any issues that do arise before they become critical.

4.    Having set clear expectations, live up to them – relationships fall apart when either side takes the other for granted. Make sure that you understand what your client expects of you and then deliver against it or correct any misconceptions.

5.     Try to extend the relationship – the more embedded you are with your client the greater the switching cost for them. As mentioned above, it is generally more efficient to sell more services to the same client than to find new clients to help you grow, so always look for new opportunities with existing clients.

Alex Arnot