I've said it before and I will say it again - the Billing Manager has the toughest job in recruitment and I'm happy to argue this one out until the cows come home.
Ok, so that sounds a little bit like I'm looking to start a bun fight on this topic but that's not really the case. I am deadly serious though when I say that this role is undervalued and under-resourced. It is ESSENTIAL to our continued success and expansion across the recruitment industry that we get this right and there are too many firms that are getting this wrong.
Time poor and stress rich, the Billing Manager is personally responsible for producing strong billings while also managing and developing new and seasoned recruits and usually with no more resource than their own Consultants. Just saying that out loud sounds crazy doesn't it? But it is very common - alarmingly so!
Businesses really need to rethink how this role works and how well they will support this role in the future. To really take advantage of growth opportunities this role needs a rethink as too many Billing Managers typically fall into one of two camps:
1. BILLING FOCUSED
This type of manager can be maxed out with too little time to spend on developing and nurturing their teams as they are under huge pressure to produce great results (usually greater than their team members) and so have to focus most of their energy on billings. They set a great example to their team in terms of performance but perhaps don't dedicate enough time to their teams and as a result can churn staff.
2. TEAM FOCUSED
This Manager will focus on the needs of the team and will develop and nurture staff but don't leave enough time to manage their own desk and can run the risk of producing mediocre personal billings. This can result in steady staff retention but poor personal income and low team expectation in terms of performance. The poor earnings can result in a return to a Principal Consultant type role OR a team that is managed well but has low expectation.
Either way the Billing Manager can feel like they can't win - it's hard to be good at both and juggle the time demands that go with the job. The last thing we need is to lose any more Billing Managers from within our industry due to burn out.
There are obviously many Billing Managers that fill into the elusive 3rd category of managing and billing well - if you have these people in your business you must look after them for they are a rare breed indeed.
So what do businesses need to do to alleviate this bottle neck in their business? The fact is that the Billing Manager role will make or break your business and unless you do something radical, you can either lower expectation and cap your performance or you can create some serious churn despite some great personal performance - they kind of both equate to the same thing in the long term.
I am quite fortunate that I can share some ideas with you here - both from personal experience and from gaining insight from what some other agencies do differently and there are four key areas in which the most successful firms seem to have invested in that you could adopt in your business:
Reward your Billing Managers differently.
Commission schemes weighted to personal performance will create Managers that don't dedicate enough time to their team. A scheme that is weighted too far towards team performance will result in low personal billings and therefore lower expectation on the team. Make your Billing Manager schemes equally weighted between personal and team performance.
Expect to pay them more.
This is the toughest job in recruitment and is essential to your success as a business. Therefore it is valuable and you should reward accordingly. Start paying your Billing Managers more - they should have an enhanced basic and team commission on top of their personal commission and this should not be capped.
Give them better resources.
Billing Managers are time poor. Give them better tools and let them have personal Resourcers. This is such an easy way to alleviate strain and stress on the Manager and acts as a great way to more easily train staff. In the short term the training and development of the new Trainee is easier to manage as it on the Manager's own desk and once they have learned enough to progress to their own desk they won't need as much management. The Manager has had help resouricng for roles and should see enhanced personal billings - everyone wins.
Spend more time with them.
These guys are carrying your business day to day. They know your client base better than you and have their finger on the pulse of your business. Spending quality time with the Billing Managers in your business will keep you at the heart of your business and more importantly will show that you value this critical team member. They won't feel so alone and will feel more supported and are less likely to burn out or leave.
So my hat is off to all my fellow Billing Managers (I am one myself), your work is underestimated but is critical to the growth of our industry - without you we don't succeed! But please, if you are a Director or Owner of a recruitment agency , please review this crucial role in your business.
Billing Managers - know your worth and ask for more - you are more powerful than you think!
In the meantime - Keep Calm and Carry On Recruiting.