8 Reasons Why Small Businesses should Know Their Worth and Ask for it.

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Perception is Reality.

When I started my first recruitment agency, I actually had a few clients say to me “If you fill this job for free, I’ll give you more work.” Then, bizarrely they would say “I prefer to work with smaller agencies” Huh?  Why weren’t they saying this to me when I had less experience and was working in a larger agency?  Who knows. Maybe I was more confident asking for fees when protected by a larger agency and that showed in my communication. Maybe they were just trying it on as they thought as a startup I would be desperate for work.

To help you shift this client thinking you must be able to articulate your value with confidence and believe it yourself.

This 8 minute TED talk by Casey Brown eloquently demonstrates this point.


So, Your Mission should you choose to accept it is…

To communicate to your clients why not only should they be paying you as much as your larger counterparts, often times there is a case for them to be paying you more.

Think about this

“Understand your value. Don’t be desperate to please clients who are just trying it on.”

You know your market inside out, you can identify, engage and deliver great candidates and you are an expert in your craft. That is why you had the confidence to launch your own agency. Remember what you didn’t know when you started out in recruitment?  That is the level of expertise clients are paying the same rates for in many cases. I am not trying to belittle junior recruiters, we all have to start somewhere. I am just making the point that often as business owners we don’t give ourselves credit for how much value we offer our clients.


8 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Know Their Worth and Ask for it.

1. Experience Counts

You have already spent years building your network, fine tuning your skills as a leading recruiter in your niche and that counts for a lot. You are more likely to fill clients’ roles faster and with better candidates because you have the expertise. In many consulting industries, client fees increase with the experience of the consultant. In larger agencies, they may well have junior consultants trying to fill their roles that don’t have a full grasp of the brief.

2. Consistency & Continuity of Service

How often do we hear clients complain about agency turnover? They just get used to one consultant and then boom they are off somewhere else and the client is now meeting a new consultant. They need to invest time bringing them up to speed on their business. If you are the owner of the business, it is unlikely you are going anywhere soon and the depth of understanding you have of their business is unquestionably worth what you are asking.

3. More Skin in the Game

If you own the agency you are more likely to be doing everything you can to build the relationship with the client and go the extra mile for them. Equally, if you have a team are needing support the client can feel comfortable knowing you are far more accessible. In most small agencies the owner is sitting in the same office with their ear to the ground and can support consultants as soon as issues arise.

4. Specialists

Chances are you are not only an expert in recruiting for your space but because you are often speaking to your clients’ competitors you are also a great source of market intelligence. You are immersing yourself in their market and can be an independent sounding board when it comes to people issues in their niche. For example, you can advise on trends across your competitors on issues such as employee satisfaction, working conditions, salary packages etc.

5. No Red Tape

How frustrating is this for a client? I’ll just have to check with my manager. Business moves fast and it can be annoying when consultants don’t have the authority to sign off on particular requests and keep things moving. In a small business, things can often happen faster for the client.

6. We now have a Level Playing Field

In the past, a recruitment company’s most prized possession was their database. Those days are now gone and whilst I am a firm believer in keeping databases updated and working hard for you, with Linked In and mediocre search skills anybody can find all the relevant talent in their niche.

“The magic isn’t finding candidates or clients, the importance is how you engage them and help them once you find them.”

The days of people sneakily downloading databases before they leave an agency are gone as consultants are either already connected to them via Linked In or other social networks anyway.

7. Less Road Blocks to a Commercial Result

It’s much easier to be nimble and have a personalised approach for clients in a smaller agency. For example, a client has a role that you are capable of filling and in a small agency, you can run it as opposed to being in a larger agency where it may well fall under another consultant’s patch and we have the same problem with consistency of service as in point 2.

8. Less Internal Meetings

Just by virtue of their structure, smaller agencies need fewer meetings. Therefore consultants have more time to do what they want to be doing, and that is focusing on filling roles.

I trust this gives you at the very least confidence to stand behind your fees and a few ideas how to communicate the value for your clients of partnering with your agency. Some of these may not be relevant to you, but if there is one idea that helps you achieve the fees you rightly deserve, that’s awesome.

Thanks for Reading!

Belinda Kerr






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