Editor’s note: Jeff Allen has heard every employer excuse you can imagine for not paying up — and dozens more that defy imagination. A few years ago he began documenting them in a weekly collections column. Because of the importance of collections, Fordyce will periodically reprise the most common situations he addressed. The complete collection is here.
What Client Says:
You didn’t follow up on the referral.
How Client Pays:
Once you’ve disclosed contact information, you lose all control over the placement.
Where does your control — your power – come from? Contact information. That’s your inventory. Part with it, and you must get a receipt from the customer.
Documentation is even more important than when you’re dealing with the sale of goods, because the client and candidate are meeting. And you’re not invited. Then they marry. But no invitation to you.
Legally, this is known as prevention. The law recognizes that a party can’t interfere with performance of a contractual obligation, then use the failure to perform as a defense.
At this point, your “receipts” should be:
- Interview confirmations by email with the fee schedule attached. Don’t have a signature line on the schedule, because it will backfire when it’s not signed.
- Confirming emails from you to the client and candidate. Even though they’re not signed, your documentation will be better than nothing.
- Replies by email if you can get them It doesn’t matter whether they’re particularly nice. Even obscenities are fine, as long as they demonstrate your involvement.
Then these can be connected up with your sendout confirmations, debriefing notes, placement workups, etc.
Classic headhunter rhetoric is that you “make placements happen.” You do — but often by letting them happen after you’ve made the right match.
Just showing a client this documentation means a fast five-figure fee!