- Rob Houghton
Clients…The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Updated: Dec 13, 2021
Clients…Clients…Clients…Customers…Customers…Customers…yeah…yeah…yeah. They are always right, right? Bullshit. I’ll say it again, “bullshit.”
Let me tell you why.
There are good clients and there are bad clients. You keep the good ones. You embrace them. You throw everything you got into them. You nurture them. You take them to ball games. You invite them to dinner. You send them books. You buy them good whiskey. You give them gratuitous discounts and extend their payments terms when they have liquidity issues. You may even take stock in lieu of a fee. You call them back by the time the sun sets. You bring THEM your best candidates.
The bad ones. You fire them. Without hesitation.
Executive search is not a game of life or death. This is not military special operations deploying downrange. But this IS a business where we do affect people’s lives. Candidates put their trust in us. We are dealing with someone’s livelihood. And I take this very seriously. They trust us in their decision-making process to trade a known for an unknown…a new position with a new company in a new city, perhaps. They trust me to put them with a good company with good people in hopes of performing well and having the opportunity to be the best that they can be.
Do I want to place them in a dysfunctional company with bad management? Hell no!
And that is why I fired two clients this past week. They turned out to be total losers.
One had a Human Resources manager so inept that I wrote the CEO, a personal friend, and advised him to fire this person. He said he could not do it for reasons he could not explain over the phone. So I fired him. There is no law against that.
Another client had a hiring authority who insisted on working outside of our process. He ended up trying to negotiate with the candidate directly. He disregarded our process. He screwed the pooch. The candidate took another position with a different client of mine. The hiring authority called me to find out what happened. I fired him too. I enjoyed that.
Oh well, instead of having 26 clients, I have 24 really good ones now!
So…about this notion that the “the customer is always right?”