Ask Barb

Q. I’m an owner of a successful staffing firm and I’ve been in business for eight years. I’ve participated in your free teleconference calls for several months, and although I agree with your advice, there is no time for me to change anything. Every time you say, “If you are your business, you don’t have a business” I cringe. I am still the top producer in my firm, and no one else is even close to my production. How can I maintain my production and turn this into a business? If you were me, what first steps would you take? Leslie S, Cincinnati

A. I hesitate to give you the exact first steps to take because I don’t have access to your P&L or your vision. This is advice I would give to any owner who is the top producer of his or her own business. “You need to replace yourself” if your exit plan is to eventually sell your business. When you individually produce most of the revenues of your company, you greatly diminish the value of your firm.

The most important decision any owner makes is who you surround yourself with in your business. I once heard a speaker refer to this as “who is on your bus and in what seat!” You are in business to make a profit.

You asked one question that I want to address: “How can I maintain my production and turn this into a business?” Often, when you begin to grow your business, your personal production does suffer. You are split between hiring, training, mentoring, managing, producing, and owning.

These would be my first 10 steps:

1. Write down your vision for your company. Why are you in business? What do you want your business to achieve? What is your exit plan? If you don’t have an exit plan, you are making wrong decisions today.

2. Develop a systematic hiring process.

3. Review your P&L and put anyone not making you money on “probation,” giving them specific goals they must achieve. Identify your top talents and “best use of your time.” Now delegate everything else to other people in your office.

4. Hire only individuals with sales experience and a track record of “high achievement.”

5. Close your open-door policy between 9 and 11:30 a.m. to complete the majority of your outgoing calls.

6. Have someone else handle your training. Of course, I would advise you to invest in my Top Producer Tutor, which is an 80-day online course that does take training off your plate. But whether it’s my training or someone else’s, training is not the best use of your time.

7. Start your new hires out working only the recruiting side of the placement process. Let them help you fill the hottest orders in-house so you can view them as an asset quickly. Then have them “earn” their way into the marketing side of your process.

8. When you have a proven producer, start to share some of your clients with this person. You may want to work only the “client side” of the business as you start to replace yourself.

9. Set one hour per week aside to work on your business. Stand back and look at your business as if you were a consultant hired to give advice.

10. Make sure everyone who works for you is very focused on booking send-outs. Also have them all focus on the number of sales vs. the production numbers.

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Q. My owner lets us read The Fordyce Letter, and I hope he reads my question to you. I’m only working the candidate side of the business. I surface great candidates, and the other recruiters in my office work with the clients. They screen out some of my best candidates. Without working the client side, I have no control over the process, and my owner doesn’t want me working the client side. How can I change his mind?
Alan D, Santa Fe, NM

A. Many owners start out new recruiters on the candidate side of the business. If you surface top talent for the experienced recruiters in your firm, who have established relationships with their clients, you have a better chance of production.

There is a shortage of top talent, and the recruiters working the client side of the business are under great pressure to surface candidates. There have to be solid reasons why your candidates are being screened out. I would ask the senior recruiters to let you know what you “missed.” One other tip: Include at least one reference check when you submit a résumé to a senior recruiter.

When you are new, the senior recruiters are not confident about your abilities to match. When you include reference checks, it verifies the credentials and experience of your candidates and also shows that you went beyond what was expected when you attached reference checks.

When you were hired, your owner outlined your job responsibilities to you, which were focused on recruiting. Once you become proficient at recruiting, approach your owner and ask if you can work the client side of the business.

Q. We are having a problem with collections with some of my best clients. How do you handle this without ruining the relationship you have established for years? Ed B, Los Angeles

A. I would approach my hiring authority and ask for their assistance in solving this issue. Thank them for their business and ask them who you should speak with to resolve the AR issue. Let them know that their company is a top priority in your firm and you want it to stay that way. However, your recruiters are compensated on cash in and prefer to work for clients where they know they will get paid.

You might also want to “double your guarantee” if they pay within 10 days. We have clients who want us to invoice them the day the placement is closed vs. start date, so they can begin to process our invoice. I’ve also found that when I send my invoices in large fancier envelopes (I use bright bubblelopes), they seem to get more attention. Also remember to send a thank-you note when you are paid to both your client with a critique form and to the individual who processed your invoices.

Barb Bruno, CPC, CTS, is one of the leading international speakers for the recruiting profession today. Sign up for Barb’s FREE NO BS Newsletter and receive notices on the two FREE teleconferences she conducts each month – one for owners, one for recruiters. Go to

MAY BONUSES: Barb has just released her new OWNER WEALTH BUILDING TUTOR. This is a 26-week program designed to make your business more profitable while you develop passive sources of income. Call Barb’s office at (219) 663-9609 for UNADVERTISED BONUSES WORTH OVER $3,000 FOR FORDYCE LETTER READERS ONLY!

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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