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A regatta to the bottom – Why discounted superyacht recruitment fees mean low quality

Tim Clarke
July 1, 2021

When it comes to superyacht recruitment, not all agencies are created equal and it can be hard to spot when you’re getting good value for money.

Whilst this is probably a slightly controversial subject, when it comes to superyacht recruitment, not all agencies are created equal and it can be hard to spot when you’re getting good value for money.

The funny thing is, compared to ‘traditional’ land-based recruitment, crew agency fees are extremely low, often equivalent to one month’s salary instead of 15%+. Yet we are often seen as a necessary evil rather than a partner, and when this happens, it spurs a race (or regatta) to the bottom.

And while recruitment fee structures are fairly consistent across the superyacht sector, service levels are most definitely not. So if the amount of discount is normally the deciding factor when it comes to recruiting crew, think about whether you’re really going to be getting good value for money.

Time vs. Money

As with any service-led business model, it always comes down to time – a commodity that few have, let alone superyacht recruitment consultants.

Imagine you negotiate a really good discount with an agency, but another superyacht who works with them hasn’t asked for a discount. Who do you think gets the best and most suitable candidates? The yacht receiving a 50% discount or the yacht paying full recruitment fees?

No matter how good or ethical that crew agency is, they will always spend more time finding the right candidate for the full paying customer, even if it’s only subconsciously.

Without the right incentive to work in your best interests, crew agencies will most likely cut corners, carry out a simple candidate search and ping you a shed load of CVs in the hope one will stick.

This has a negative impact on your time too, as you’re the one left to filter through all the applicants with very little detail.

Unfortunately, this is the service level you can expect from some crew agencies who charge full fees as well, but thankfully, there are also some amazing superyacht recruitment specialists out there who offer great value for money too. Like us for example…. 😊

How can you spot the poor agencies?

Good crew agencies DON’T…

  • Offer huge discounts on their recruitment fees – All those agencies proactively bombarding your inbox with discounts aren’t doing it because they are busy and have a long list of satisfied clients. They are doing it in a desperate attempt to drum up business. You have to ask yourself why? Those who are confident in their service levels and ability will not need to discount their fees and know that what they can provide is more than worth the recruitment fee.
  • Go for quantity over quality – On the rare occasion, a candidate that’s been blindly put forward to you might work out. If you got a discount for that crew member, your quids in (or euros). But more commonly, a crap crew agency will send a large number of CVs hoping for the best, rather than a select few that they genuinely believe will be a great fit.
  • Leave the filtering process up to you – If a crew member has been put forward to you without any detail as to why you should consider them or references from previous captains or employers, then steer clear. You’re supposed to be paying the agency to do the work for you, which takes time and effort, so you should see that in the service you receive.

Superyacht recruitment fees are just a drop in the ocean

The global superyacht industry accounts for billions of pounds, euros and dollars every year so when you’re managing the safety, security and servicing of an extremely valuable asset such as a superyacht and the guests onboard, why would you be looking to cut costs on the second most important asset, your crew?

In the land-based corporate world, companies pay through the nose for staff whose skills and experience are far less niche and specialist than crew, and who don’t have responsibility for the safety of others. It might sound extreme, but one bad crew member hire can not only be an expensive recruitment mistake, but it can also put the safety of the yacht, crew and guests at risk.

Believe it or not, pretty much every week we encounter crew who look great but after taking a verbal reference, are genuinely shocked at what we hear.  

For me, it seems obvious that recruitment isn’t an area to try and cut costs on. In my opinion, crew are the single most important factor in whether a yacht is great or not. As someone who is very influential within yachting said to me the other day ‘put great crew on a shit yacht, they will make it work. Put crap crew on the best yacht in the world and it will still be a disaster.’ Sounds obvious but not everyone realises this.

Good luck in your hunt for crew and drop me an email at tim@quaycrew.com if you want to find out how Quay Crew are different to the competition.

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