I Lost a Client. And It Was My Fault

I lost a client.

This was years ago…when both GHS and myself were much younger.

I think about it all the time.

It was a small hospital in Kansas. We had filled a few positions for them over a couple years’ time.

A recruiter in our office had submitted a candidate for a search we were working on. They scheduled a phone interview through us and it went well. Then the site visit went even better. We were optimistic a placement was imminent. An offer was coming and our candidate was ready to accept on the spot.

Then we got the call.

The HR Rep called and told us that they had just realized that they received the resume from another source prior to our original submittal. We had a choice. Either slash our fee or they would not be moving forward with an offer.

I was furious. My recruiter was livid. It wasn’t fair. We did everything right. We had put in a ton of time and effort. We DESERVED a full fee! How dare the Client ask us to bend because of THEIR mistake! I would fight them to the bitter end!

We ended up arguing, and negotiating, and squabbling for a week. The CFO and CEO got involved. Emails went back and forth. Heated conference calls took place. It ended with an offer being made and the candidate accepting.

We ended up with 60% of the fee and one less Client.

I ended up with extra stress I did't need, several fitful nights of sleep, a lot of time second guessing my decision & character, and a great learning lesson.


It didn’t matter who was right and who was wrong. It didn’t matter that we deserved the full fee. It didn’t matter that we did everything right. And, it sure didn’t matter that it was the client who erred.

We lost the Client inevitably. And, it was a poor business decision obviously. One I have learned from.

But more importantly, it’s not worth it for me. I don’t want to be that guy. Fighting for every last penny. Arguing unwinnable arguments down to the minutia. Second guessing my judgment. Asking myself if I am doing the RIGHT thing. Questioning my own character.

I have since stopped making decisions in that gray area, where if you try hard enough, you can convince yourself that your choice is the correct one. It might be, it might not be. I don’t know really. I don’t really care.

Now I try to always give the client the benefit of the doubt. I don’t always need to fight the “good” fight. I don’t always need to win on principle. Basically, I don't always need to win.

I may lose a few bucks here and there.

But it doesn’t matter.

It’s more important to know without question that I make the right decisions for me. When I make tough decisions I make sure I would be proud to tell my parents and my kids about it.

That's my benchmark.

And that allows me to keep my character intact.

And, to sleep well at night.

Roy Munk is President and Founder of Global Healthcare Services, a nationally recognized Retained and Contingency Search Firm specializing in the recruiting and retention of Healthcare professionals.

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