It is often said you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Should the same be said in business? How would you feel about actually working in partnership with a direct competitor? Can you achieve your end goal with the same ethics, your dignity intact and do you publicise this to your clients?
Such a contentious subject raises many questions. I have recently been asked whether this is something I advocate and I surprised the person by answering in the affirmative! In fact, I have had such partnerships in place since I started Qui Recruitment in 2005. Naïve or actually quite shrewd, I’ll explain and you can decide.
You probably don’t cover all locations
Why and how? I hear you ask. Well, if you are very niche in your offering and/or geography as Qui have always been (until 2012 focussing totally on North West with recent extensions in 2012 to cover the Midlands and Yorkshire), it makes sense surely to find a business with the same ethics and credentials in the location you don’t cover?
I have a reciprocal relationship with businesses in Australia and London, it’s sensible as neither of us have any plans to overlap in each other territories and strategically smart as essentially I have expanded my network with no risk or cost. Rather than fork out for an office down under or in London, I have someone I trust who can act as I would in their network.
We have no expectation of each other. No targets to hit. If we can’t help them, we have someone who hopefully can. Of utmost importance we ALWAYS get the permission off the candidate! We have also gained a couple of new clients who are in our region so if you are open-minded enough it can strengthen your full 360º vision.
You probably don’t cover all niches
I also have a partnership with a very niche competitor in the North West who only focuses on one specific industry sector within R2R, so they pass me any valid candidate, with their permission of course, if they aren’t in their sector. It’s a “win win” for everyone involved. As my collaborative competitor said last week when I informed them we had just placed a person they had referred, that they would rather have a percentage of that something that the whole of nothing. This is the critical point, incremental additions to the bottom line.
You make a conscious and considered business decision when you act on anything in recruitment; whether it is choosing a client to work with, or a candidate to represent. The same can be said for collaborations with competitors. Be selective, do your due diligence and if you can find an ethical partner who mirrors your service, then why not?
Would you sleep with the ‘enemy’?
This is my view and my approach to working selectively and collaboratively with competitors. I genuinely want to know what YOU think. Have you set up similar partnerships? If so, have they worked? What advice would you have for other recruiters considering this action as a means of expansion? Please do leave a comment below or tweet me your thoughts @Lyshaholmes.