I hear you always warn against having too few clients. We have four clients that provide more than enough orders for us to cover. We are currently only filling about 40% of the orders we are given. Do you still advise to continue marketing our services to other prospective clients?
I strongly advise that you build a client territory of 30 accounts for your business. You should have 10 key accounts and 20 backup clients. The key accounts provide you with multiple orders and you are the preferred supplier of top talent. The 20 backups know you, know the services you offer, but don’t necessarily call you first or give you multiple orders.
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This type of territory is recession proof. Over the past several months, I’ve interviewed many owners who went of business in the years of 2009 – 2011, in order to develop my new Business Breakthrough Tutor. One common denominator was that they had less than five clients providing them with 75% of their business. When those clients stopped hiring, they were essentially starting from scratch. One firm generated 80% of their business from one account that moved to Mexico.
When you represent the same clients for an extended period of time you may not be generating the highest margins or fees, and they may no longer be one of the most desirable companies in your niche. In this candidate driven market, you need to represent the companies that your candidates identify as most desirable.
It is imperative throughout the life of your business that you continue to upgrade clients. If a few clients stop hiring, you have a solid base of other clients who know you, know your services and will prevent you from being slammed by the next downturn. If your job order flow is really strong, consider hiring recruiters who only work the candidate side of the sale to help you fill those orders.
Barbara J. Bruno, CPC, CTS