Retainers: why you need to start asking for them!

Retainers: why you need to start asking for them!

You know what time of the year it is – it’s the time of year when we start talking about the importance of retainers!

Now that we’re in Q2, hopefully, you’ve dusted off the cobwebs from Christmas and you’re back in a great routine with clients and candidates.

Retainers are one of the most valuable things you should be asking for right now, and I’m going to break down how you can start migrating clients onto retainer packages.

“Traditional” recruitment methods don’t need to define you as a recruiter

Although traditional methods such as contingent, contract, and executive search are commonly understood services in recruitment, there’s no reason why you can’t adapt and change elements to create comprehensive offerings that work for you, and your client!

This is where you can start to get creative with retainers.

Traditional retainers are usually used for Executive Search, so a third up front, a third on shortlist, and a third on delivery.

There’s no reason why you can’t create your own retainer packages. Here are a few ideas to get you started and when you can use them:

  • 10% up front, and 90% on delivery: This can be a great way to start moving your current contingent clients onto small retainers. Not only does it secure your time and client commitment, but it will give you a steady flow of billings every month if they’re a regular client. You can then bump them up to higher retainers as time progresses, especially if they’re going through a period of significant growth.
  • 25% up front, and 75% on delivery:  This is a healthy retainer to request from clients with whom you have strong relationships with, preferably those with who you have placed with three to four times. Again, moving clients onto this model can be incredibly effective for your billings as well as ensuring that there is a true partnership between you.
  • 30% up front, and 70% on delivery:  This can be used (and should be used) for roles that don’t require a full-blown search process, but are still business-critical and would take you a considerable amount of resource to find. This can be your replacement for traditional Executive Search.

But, what if they say no?

As a recruiter, you have to be aware of your value – something that we’ve spoken about many times.

If you have a good relationship with a current client, or even if you go to pitch to a new client, you need to ensure that you are explaining your value in great detail to warrant a retainer.

If you do this, and the client still says no… what does that say about the client?

The whole point of being a recruiter is so you can add value to clients and ensure that the partnership is built on trust and quality of work.

There are clients out there who will pay retainers, and the ones who don’t, aren’t ones that you want to work with.

I’ve spoken to many recruiters over the years, and it’s very rare that a client will reject you (especially an existing one) if you break down your value instead of focussing on price.

Think about any premium experience: A holiday, a hotel, even a hair appointment – money up front is considered the norm. Why not in our line of work?

Now is the time to do it…

Finally, you are at a huge advantage right now to ask for a retainer.

So many clients are desperate for great talent, and to do that they need to engage with a recruiter who knows their sh*t!

Now is the best time to start asking for retainers, so go ahead and do it..!

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