Are people your business?
Are people your business?
What better way to explain the subtle contrast between a search consultant and a contingent recruiter than through an analogy. In this case, when people are your business, and your number one asset, not just a commodity - do you want a tailor or the department store?
A search consultant vs a contingent recruiter - what’s the difference ?
As search Consultants at Group8 we frequently get asked ‘why you’ and ‘why search?' To this point, when negotiating minor details on a pitch document this week with a prospective client, it occurred to me that understanding the difference and the value of our work is critical for a client to know without going into the detail of a 3 month 52 stage process, where eyes start to glaze over. It’s difficult to portray unless you live in the world of resourcing.
And then my mentor and trainer of 18 years came up with a very simple concept which made perfect sense to me. Think of it this way....
So, Mr or Mrs client you need a new suit. You don’t have many and it reflects everything about you in the professional world - it’s your public image. It could dictate whether you win or retain that great client and it’s not just about image, it’s how you feel in that suit - it makes you feel a sense of pride.
You have a number of choices about where to get your new suit from - you could go to the department store route and select one from the shelf. Chances are, you’ll have to try a handful on before finding one that comes close to fitting and time is money. It may not be a perfect fit and although there will be some things you like about it there could very well be aspects you’d ideally change.
But you’re in a rush and you need that suit quickly. So, after pain-staking hours of trying and retrying suits, you settle on one, knowing there’s a chance there may be others which could be better suited to you - but you pay for it and hope it does the job. Worst case you can return it and get another right? It may come under the guise of a good brand which gives you a bit more comfort that it should last. If you need another, you might have to go through the whole rigmarole again.
From the department store perspective, they’re really not too worried about whether you buy it or not - they’re about having enough volume through the door and encouraging as many shoppers in, knowing that in the end, the suit will sell. To them it’s a transaction, a sale. It’s a successful business because they get the volume but don’t expect too much personal attention because they simply don’t have the time- there’s another 20 customers behind you looking for the same thing. But, because you’ve got to look at so many brands , you don’t have time to brief each brand ambassador in detail - you’ll just do the shopping yourself. You know what you like when you see it…right?
OR you could go to a tailor. Being custom-made from scratch you know the process will take longer and you can’t walk out the door with your suit that day. But it has a better chance of being exactly what you envisaged in your mind - a superior quality investment piece that will stand the test of time. You know that as long as you spend enough time with your tailor explaining all the details you want, it will be personalised just for you - it’s all about you.
The experience itself allows you to pick the fabric wherever in the world it may originate from, measured and structured to reflect every perfection and imperfection you may have. What’s important, is that the tailor really listens. You have to put a deposit down as he’s had to invest time and material cost to create your suit. And he can’t do anything else with your suit beyond you - he can’t just sell it to any old person- it was made for you and he’s in your corner.
For the tailor, how this turns out reflects directly on him and on his personal brand - he’s trying to magic up something out of nothing, especially for you. He may be making a few of them for a small group of customers but getting this right creates his living, his livelihood, his reputation - which means you’ll come back again and won’t even think about going elsewhere. It’s not about scale and volume, it’s about delivery and reputation - delivering that tailored product. He doesn’t do it for whoever walks in the door - he doesn’t agree to create something he knows is beyond his realms of capability. He spends time advising on the best way to get the outcome you’re after and he knows his craft - he has to and his business relies on repeat business.
You’ve bought his commitment, his prioritisation and his motivation and he really gets you. And the best thing, whilst it’s time investment at the outset first time around - time and money - once he knows all your measurements, likes and dislikes, next time around your time investment will be significantly less. Remember, you’re time poor. Go back to him often enough, and you can probably negotiate a deal – you’re now a loyal repeat customer. Win, win.
The tailor is the search consultant. The department store is your contingent recruiter. The suit is that ideal individual who’s going to build your business and is a reflection of you in the market.
When people are your business, and your number one asset, not just a commodity - do you want a tailor or the department store?