Some thoughts on finder’s fees

Last year somebody reached out to me and mentioned that they had a client they couldn't take on so they wanted to pass them my way. I got some basic details about the project and it seemed like we'd be a good fit for what the client needed, so I said send 'em over. The person said, “OK and then when you land the client, you can send me a 10% finder's fee.” Without thinking much about it, I agreed. After getting off the phone and giving it some thought, I wasn't really sure how I felt about it. On one hand, I may not have ever found that client, so getting 90% of something is better than 100% of nothing. But, on the other hand, the other developer was overloaded and wouldn't have taken the project anyway and I felt like they were just trying to capitalize as they sent the client away. Either way, I wasn't really happy. And, as luck would have it, it didn't work out and we didn't land the client so I didn't have to deal with it anyway.

I go to a fair amount of WordCamps around the country with a bunch of other WordPress developers. When hanging out and talking with non-developers, one question that comes up from time to time is “Who is your competition?” My answer is always the same, “Everybody here. And nobody.”

I'm currently fielding more project enquiries than I could handle. Hell, my current project list is already insane and I'm telling anybody who calls that I'm booked through the middle of next month. And when they say that they can't wait that long to get started, the next thing I do is send them an email with a list of other WordPress developers I know who may be able to squeeze them in. No request for a finder's fee. Just trying to connect somebody who needs work done with somebody who may have time to do some work.

This past week I had another request from somebody asking for a finder's fee. I politely told them that I don't offer a finder's fee and if they wanted to send the project to somebody else instead, that was fine with me. Once again, when I got off the phone, I stopped to think about the conversation. I'm wondering if I'm going about this all wrong? Am I missing out on a grip of cash by not requesting a finder's fee from people I send leads to?

Oh, right, I almost forgot… I don't care.

Here's my thinking; if you are only interested in sending me the lead because you're looking for a slice off the top as the client leaves your hands, do me a favor and just don't send them my way. If you spent time with the client ahead of time and helped them sort out their RFP, you definitely should be paid for that. There's even a word for what you did. They call it consulting. Consultants get paid. By the client. I am not your client.

So, yeah. After having some time to think about it, I'll just go on record and say, “No, I will not send you a finder's fee”. I'll have to list this post right next to my “No, I will not sign your NDA post

I'm curious what you think. What's your take on finder's fees? Do you ask for them? Do you pay them? Leave a comment and give me your angle on it.