Want Your Billings to Soar? Set Your Floor…

Jun 1, 2007

The year was 1994. I was attending my first ever Pinnacle Society meeting. I was super excited to be in this room of top producers from all around the country. We gathered on a bright Thursday morning and the sun reflected back off the fresh snow that covered the tall mountains at the resort, my first time in Colorado. I didn’t know a soul at the meeting, but to begin the conference, everyone did a self-introduction. To this day, this is my favorite part of the Pinnacle Society gatherings. A good headhunter is usually part storyteller and part comedian. There are always lots of laughs and funny stories. Each tells a tale of beginnings and their history in the recruiting business.

As we went around the room, people introduced themselves and were asked to include their name, what type of people they recruited, where they were from, and what was their average fee.

After we went around the entire roundtable, I realized that I had the second-lowest average fee in the entire group. I was working harder for less money. I drew a line in the sand that day and made a firm resolve not to work on any searches that were below a $10K fee. I set my floor.

It was one of the best moves I have ever made. That day paid for all of my Pinnacle dues that year and for every year since. Setting your floor is one of the most important principles I teach in the 21 Ways Training Program. Richie Harris says, “In order to be successful, you have to decide not only what you’re going to do, but what you’re going to not do.”

I believe in the vacuum theory of success. To create something new, you often have to give up something existing. I gave up working on searches for A/P clerks and junior accountants and focused my energy on searches at $10K fees and above. I raised my minimum fee every year until it was $30,000. Then 9/11 hit and my minimum fee was a thousand dollars and a Big Mac! Just kidding, but of course I had to make an adjustment. When the job market recovered, I was able to raise my minimum fee again. These are the good times, my good friends. We should all consider raising our minimum fees in the good times. After all, won’t our clients ask us to cut our fees in the bad times?

I’m not afraid to talk about my minimum fee, either. If you call a great attorney, the first thing he or she will tell you is the hourly rate. I have no problem telling a new client my minimum fee. This might work for you or it might not. But EVERYONE can benefit from setting in stone their absolute minimum fee.

Take a moment now and write down your absolute minimum fee. Be conservative and pick a number you know you can stand by. You will turn away anything below BLANK DOLLARS. You can always raise it, but you want to set a firm floor.

Did you do it? Take a moment now and set your floor.

The clarity of knowing in your own mind solidly what you will and won’t do is powerful. It will free you from wrestling with the “should I or shouldn’t I” back and forth on shoddy searches that are below the capabilities you now have developed. Success requires clarity. Soon after setting your floor, you’ll find yourself working higher-level, more rewarding searches.

Joe Pelayo is a true “self-made” man. He began in the recruiting business in 1986 at the ripe old age of 17, when he says he “found every way to fail in the recruiting business.” After finding success with two recruiting firms, he started his own in 1990. As CEO of Joseph Michaels, Inc., Joe works an active desk recruiting CFOs and related financial and accounting executives. He is a longtime member of the Pinnacle Society, an organization consisting of 75 of the top recruiters in the United States.

Joe is also author of the new book Work Your Network! which has received excellent reviews from Les Brown, Brian Tracy, and industry leaders, speakers, and trainers, including Terry Petra, Bill Radin, Paul Hawkinson, and others. He writes a monthly newsletter, The Network, sent to 50,000 executives and is the author of several motivational DVD training programs, including the soon-to-be-released training system 21 Ways to Increase Your Billings!

Joe is past president of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization, a group of million-dollar-business owners under age 40. Joe is available for speaking and training and can be reached through his website or via email at