Coaching Club Member's Question:
How do I politely tell a client that it doesn’t make sense for me to work on their search unless they pay a retainer?
"Joe, I wanted to let you know of my availability right now, and for this particular search, based on the work that has already been done on it, I will not be able to spend time working on it on a contingency basis. In my business, I have to be very careful about each search that I work on, and if the odds are low that I will be the one filling it, then I cannot do more than a quick scan of my database of existing candidates. It does not mean that I am not open to other contingency searches from you in the future, but I felt that I owed you the courtesy of extending realistic expectations about what I can do for you on this particular search. Now, if this search is a priority, I can do it if you engage me on it on a retained basis through the form of a retainer, or an engagement fee. This fee is deducted from the balance of the search, so the total fee due is exactly the same. What is different about this type of option is my commitment. I am committed to working on it until it is filled. It also gives you two other advantages. Those who are on the fence about going forward because they are concerned about confidentiality will feel safe because they see it as a real search and not just another recruiter trolling for names. And those who are usually not open to other opportunities will at least want to hear about it because retained searches are perceived to be higher quality openings, and those who might not even take a recruiter's call will at least want to hear about it. And that's just enough for me to build a relationship with them and convince them to move forward on an interview."