Ask Barb

Q. I have two experienced top producers who work for me and each individually produces over $500,000 annually. They have their dream home, cars, money in the bank and aren’t motivated to reach new heights of production. I’m out of ideas on how to retain them. Additional money is not a motivator? Judy G – Kansas City, MO

A. When an individual reaches financial independence, money is not necessarily a motivator. You need to find out what IS important to these two top producers. Often, the ability to work virtual one or two days a week, to have a private office, to be involved in “other” areas of your business, or to obtain an “equity” position in your firm can enhance retention. Have these top producers share their top thirty goals with you for 2007. The first ten are their “A” Non-Negotiable Goals, the second ten are their “B” Goals and the third ten are their “C” stretch goals. When you review their thirty goals, you will KNOW how to retain them!

Q. I’m in my late fifties, and after listening to your Free Teleconferences every month for Owners, I realize my business is an extension of me. I basically AM my business. I have four employees who together, produce what I do individually. I’m so busy working my desk, I don’t have time to run my business. When I listened to your call on Exit Strategies – I realized I don’t have one. I don’t know where to start to turn this around. 100% of my income comes from my business. I have little or no other investments and realize how volatile this makes my situation. I was the owner you described who just intended to make placements the rest of his life. Can you give me three specific things I can do to start turning my office into a viable business? Carl M, Omaha, NE

A. The great news is you have finally realized you ARE your business and you want to turn this around. Let me give you three specific actions you should take immediately.

1. Write down your Exit Plan – Without the END in mind, you will not make the correct decisions you need to make NOW. The choices are pretty simple . . .
– Sell to the highest bidder
– Sell to your employees
– Close the doors

Your goals should be as specific as this: By _______ (date), my net worth will be $_______.

This financial free date gives you unlimited CHOICES!

2. When you have “NO TIME,” there is only one solution – HIRE A TEAM! You need to figure out the 20% of what you do that gives you 80% of your results. During the coming year focus the majority of your time using the top 20% of your talents. You need to delegate the tasks that are not BEST USE OF YOUR TIME! Your goal should be to replace yourself as the top producer of your firm. You can still remain in production, but you don’t want to be the Top Producer of your firm, if your plans are to eventually sell.

3. Take 10% of all cash in and open a Reserve Fund. This money is NEVER to be spent – it is targeted for you to invest in PASSIVE SOURCES OF INCOME! You need to have money coming in from numerous sources, not just your business.

If your ultimate goal is to create as much PASSIVE INCOME as ACTIVE INCOME, your Reserve Fund will help you achieve this goal. You need to accomplish these three action items NOW considering your age! (I’m there too which is why I can make that statement!)

One more thought, if you are planning to SELL your business, you might want to consider adding a temp or contract division to increase the value of your firm.

Q. I have produced slightly over $300,000 for the past four years. Everyone is saying that 2006 was their best year – and that was not true for me. I actually did less in 2006 than 2005. I don’t know if I’m burned out, and don’t know what else I would do if I left recruiting. I’ve been a recruiter for seven years – maybe this is a seven year itch? My owner informed me at our annual kickoff meeting that I’m expected to produce over $500,000 this year. That is obviously HIS goal, not mine. I had no input in that decision. I’m ready to quit and work from home, but I’m not sure if that’s the answer? I would really like to know how you’ve kept your enthusiasm about this profession for so many years. What would you advise a tired recruiter who feels like she’s been set up for failure this year? Anonymous (for obvious reasons) from Seattle

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A. There are several serious issues here and I’ll address them one by one. First of all, working from home is NOT the answer. You’ll lose the momentum you can build in a team environment and you’ll lose your benefits and working alone from home takes an extreme amount of discipline. If you feel you’re tired and burnt out, you might not maintain the work habits to produce your $300,000 this year.

Secondly, you need to realize your personal “Financial Thermostat” is set at the income you earn by producing $300,000 annually. In order to increase your average production, you must realize what specifically that would mean FOR YOU! I would guess you’re pretty much on “automatic pilot” at work and in order for you to produce more you need to make CHANGES. To go through the pain of CHANGING, you need to know what’s in it FOR YOU! The great news . . . if you are a consistent producer, you would only need to increase all of your personal statistics by 10% in order to realize a 35 – 40% increase in your production!

To answer your question about my enthusiasm for this business . . . I love our profession. We change people’s lives for the better. We are a driving force in the lives of our clients and candidates and I find that extremely rewarding. Your self-talk needs to change or you will continue to feel tired and burnt out! Take time to write out the twenty best memories in our profession and read them every morning. You will soon regain your passion for this amazing career!

Lastly, you need to meet with your manager and ask why your goals were increased by 66%. Have your monthly as well as annual goals written down and ask for a compromise. I would set your goals “lower” than you actually want – so there is room to increase your number and still feel confident you can hit your goals. Also, share your renewed enthusiasm for our profession. Your owner may have sensed you were tired and set high goals to motivate you. Any owner welcomes feedback from employees, especially when they come to the meeting prepared.

I would also suggest that you tie in a “PERSONAL REWARD” for yourself every month you hit your goal – to put the FUN back in your career.

After 30-plus years, I still get such enjoyment each time one of my candidates is hired! When you focus on the knowledge and skills you have in recruiting, the unlimited potential and the impact you have on others . . . you will regain your enthusiasm and passion for our profession.

Barbara Bruno, CPC is one of the leading Recruiting/HR Training Professionals today with thirty years of experience in the “trenches.” If you want to receive a FREE training article from Barb each week and e-mails announcing her two FREE monthly teleconferences, sign up for her popular NO BS Newsletter at Barb is also the author of the Top Producer Tutor – the first step-by-step 80-day online training program that would take training OFF YOUR DESK forever. Visit

Barb Bruno, CPC, CTS, is one of the most trusted experts, speakers, and trainers in the Staffing and Recruiting Professions. If you want to receive FREE training articles from Barb, sign up for her NO BS Newsletter! Barb has spent the last twenty years focused on helping Owners, Managers, and Recruiters increase their sales, profits, and income.

Her Top Producer Tutor web-based training program jumps-starts new hires and takes experienced recruiters to their next level of production. Barb's cutting-edge program, Happy Candidates, provides you with a Customized Career Portal in less than 10 minutes. Happy Candidates allows you to help the 95% of candidates you don?t place and eliminates the greatest time waster in your business.

If you'd like to contact Barb, call (219) 663-9609 or email


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