The Beach Chair Close

I recently spoke at the Capital Area Staffing Association meeting as part of a Pinnacle Panel, and one of the questions that came up was about fighting fee reduction.

We are rapidly heading into the summer months and I have started to dream of a few moments with a good book on the beach. This got me thinking about my favorite beach chair…

My husband and I bought a condo a few years ago in Miami, and one of my favorite things to do when we visit is settle into a beach chair for a few hours with a good read. I’ve seen and gone through a number beach chairs since buying the condo, but about a year ago I happened to spend more than I usually have on some beach chairs for the convenience of getting them quickly, only to find that my new chair has become one of the highlights of my trek into the sun and sand.

Features and benefits:
First, it has a backpack on the back allowing me to more conveniently travel with my essentials such as beach books and sun block. Second, it has a cup holder, this keeps my beverages at hand and free of sand…no one wants to drink a sandy drink. Third, it has plastic arms; a surprisingly enjoyable switch from my usual preference of wood since cleaning is effortless. Fourth, it folds up quickly and easily and shuts securely for transportation. Fifth, it has a comfy pillow on the top so you aren’t resting your head on hard (or hot) metal. Last but not least, it’s made of a material that dries immediately, so when you sit in it wet then decide to head out, you aren’t dragging a sopping wet chair.

The things I love about my favorite beach chair and the benefits each feature offers led me to think about our services and fees in the same way. We all sell beach chairs, right?

They have a pretty standard function: they fold out, people sit in them…But it’s the specific features of a chair that make it a perfect fit for its owner. If you concentrate on buying based on price alone, you will end up with an old woven strap beach chair that you just throw away instead of take home. There’s nothing special about those cheaper chairs; they have hot arms, they aren’t comfortable, and the bands often break soon after purchase.

Isn’t the same true of service deliverers who are cutting their fees?

They often don’t perform the full service for the job, and cut various corners, in order to offer those lower fees. The placement eventually breaks (usually shortly after completion) leaving the client to reluctantly buy a replacement from another store, ultimately spending more time and money on the cheaper chair.

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Know the features and benefits you offer that set you apart from the competition.

In my office, we use a list of nine features and discuss their benefits so my staff is clear on what makes us unique to our clients. I’ve recently assisted several companies across the country with the exercise of identifying the features and benefits of their services, and they are seeing amazing results now that their staff is able to discuss their individual identifiers as selling points to prospective clients. There’s no need to cut your fees to complete with the cheaper beach chairs if you train your staff so they know exactly what features go in to the fees to make a great beach chair and the benefits those features produce for clients.

Offer your clients a better chair, it might be a little more expensive, but it will last more than one summer.

To schedule a facilitated session on this topic or for other customized recruiter training, visit my website at or email me at

Carolyn Thompson resides in the Washington, D.C. area and has been an executive recruiter since 1988. She is Director of Human Resource Services Dixon Hughes Goodman, one of the largest CPA firms in the US. A creative entrepreneur and a certified career coach, she is frequently called upon by national news organizations such as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and AOL Jobs among others to contribute content on a variety of topics. Her articles on career development and the employment industry have been published in various national magazines, trade journals, and on the Internet. An enthusiastic motivational speaker, she is a member of the National Speakers Association, The Pinnacle Society, and The International Coach Federation. She is certified by both the National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS) and the American Staffing Association (ASA) as a continuing education provider. Carolyn is an alumnus of Kansas State University and author of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME and TEN STEPS TO FINDING THE PERFECT JOB, and TEN SECRETS TO GETTING PROMOTED available in select bookstores and on Her blog can be found at