Before I started Purple Ink in 2010, and for many years to follow, I only made one phone call asking for work; and, technically, I didn’t even ask for it in that one. At the time, I was debating on whether I should begin as a specialist or a generalist, and I truly wanted advice.
I called an acquaintance of mine, the CEO of a large, privately held healthcare organization, and asked him, “If you were going to hire an HR consultant, what types of projects or services would you want them to do?” His answer was, “When can you start? My VP of HR just accepted another position.” Without a VP of HR, the CEO needed someone he could go to for human resources advice and someone who could fill in and take care of the organization’s HR needs.
I quit my job the following day.
Two weeks later, on Monday, June 7, 2010, I drove to my new client’s office and spent about six hours with the CEO. I kept waiting to share all of my worldly HR knowledge with him, but he did most of the talking. I was getting nervous because I was asking a lot of questions, but not sharing answers, and I thought that’s what consultants did…provide all the answers. Toward the end of the day, I was wondering how I could possibly bill my time for the day when the CEO said that he was so thankful to have me there to be a good listener and to ask good questions. What a great first lesson for Purple Ink: listen.
I knew in my heart that I wanted to be a generalist, but if I had a specialty, it was recruiting – the only service I thought I would NOT provide, since we were still in the midst of the recession. In Purple Ink’s second week, the same client asked me if I could help the organization hire a CIO. I said, “Of course I can!”, and Purple Ink recruiting services began.
Because I had encountered many frustrations with outside recruiters in my previous roles, and because I had already set up an hourly fee arrangement, we agreed that I would continue to work under the same agreement. The fee for this service ended up at about 8% of the CIO’s first year annual salary; we were paid for all of our time, and the client was thrilled with the timely service and lower fees (competitors were charging 20-25% at that time). We continue to offer hourly recruiting services to all of our clients to maintain lower fees.
Over the last 10 years, we have continued to serve as a trusted advisor to this client’s executive team by assisting them in hiring eight corporate office positions at greatly reduced fees, serving as an outsourced VP of HR to allow them immediate access to HR services and advice, leading their performance evaluation and incentive bonus plan processes, providing training on recruiting initiatives when they needed to update their own practices, and leading and participating in creative-problem solving sessions. They have continued to call us for assistance with our HR services and to provide them recommendations for other service providers as well. 10 years of service and counting!