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How to ruin your own business in one easy step
Posted by: Billy Hollis on Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Internet has changed many things, but we're still in a period of lag when lots of people don't yet understand just what those changes mean. Exhibit A is from my hometown of Nashville. JL Kirk and Associates is a firm that claims to help people find jobs - for a very stiff fee. A Nashville blogger who visited this firm posted about her experiences, and she wasn't very complimentary to JL Kirk.

So they threatened her. And word got out pretty quickly about it.

I don't know squat about JL Kirk, or about their law firm King & Ballow. But I can say with some confidence that neither of them has a clue just how information is spread in the world today.

For many firms in the service industry, their reputation is the single most important asset they have. And how do most modern people assess reputation? By Internet searching, primarily Google.

You can literally destroy your own company overnight by doing something really stupid, if the results of that stupidity will be one of the first things that show up on Google when a search of your company name is done. It looks like JL Kirk has just done this.

Their business model apparently depends on high-pressure salesmanship. In that case, the last thing you want is a reputation on the Internet as a bully, and that's exactly what they've managed to acquire. And it has taken less than five hours to do it.

Bill Hobbs, another Nashville blogger, is on the case, and points out that right now there are more than thirty posts on various blogs about this, and it's rising fast. Thirty unknown blogs might not do much, but one of them is Instapundit. And, being a lawyer, Glenn Reynolds speaks with some authority when he ventures that the threats against the blogger are ill-advised from a legal point of view.

If JL Kirk had ignored the whole thing, they would be merrily going about their business tomorrow. But they tried strong-arm tactics that look to me quite out of proportion. As a consequence, I expect their executives to spend a lot of the day tomorrow reading and responding to very inquistive and critical emails, some probably from local news media.

Can't say I have any sympathy for them.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Tell me someone besides me read the linked posts and said ’no... No... NO!!!!’ when they started talking about money. I am sorry for their loss and the position they are in, but I’ve been unemployed twice over the last 8 years. Each time someone was trying to get money from me, and each time I ignored them and looked for someone who was going to make something happen for both of us.
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
This deserves a link
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
Becoming an Internet verb can be a bad (fisk) or a good (google) thing. It’s up to your behavior. "Kirked" is already on the bad side.
Written By: Jeff Medcalf
That link’s a good one, Chris. Very funny.

This one is not nearly so funny, but worth a read if you want an unbiased view of JL Kirk’s Nashville office.

And I bet it’s going to get a lot of hits in the next few weeks.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
From the BBB page, it doesn’t look like the company is all that bad. There have been complaints, and the company appears to have tried to resolved them in good faith. Sometimes, the people complaining wouldn’t be satisfied; that happens to every business.

If the blogger really did make false statements, she’d be smart to take them down and let this issue die. She’s made her point.

One of the commenters on her site said he’d never heard of a placement agency charging the job seekers. I ran into that in Denver when I lived there some years back; almost every agency charged the applicant upon placement. BUt nobody is forced to go to an agency, especially one that charges applicants.
Written By: steverino
From the BBB page, it doesn’t look like the company is all that bad.
Depends on the size of the customer base. If they did twenty thousand people a year, then you would be right. However, in a response to the original posting, a representative of the company said "Our business model provides that we are able to grant services to approximately 225-250 clients per year." (Look in the comments here.) The BBB says they got 20 complaints in the last eighteen months.

So it’s about 14 complaints to the BBB out of less than 250 customers total. If about six percent of your customer base is complaining to the BBB, I’d say that’s indicative of a significant problem.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
There’s a sucker born every minute, make sure you aren’t one. There are more scams on the Internet than stars in the sky. Many are up close and personal. They play on greed. If it sounds too good to be true. It is. Remember that stranger you are talking to, is not your friend. He is in it for himself. Act accordingly.
Written By: James E. Fish
"Becoming an Internet verb can be a bad (fisk) or a good (google) thing. It’s up to your behavior. "Kirked" is already on the bad side."

Oh, dear. Now they are really in trouble. They have courted the wrath of legions of trekkies, who will not look kindly on their besmirching of the name of Kirk.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
timactual: My thoughts exactly.
Written By: Bryan Pick
So it’s about 14 complaints to the BBB out of less than 250 customers total.
I think it’s more than 250 customers. They say they can "grant services" to that many in a year; I’m taking that to mean that they are finding jobs for that many. There’s no telling how many came through the door looking for jobs. Maybe I’m wrong, but 1 client a day is a very low number.
Written By: steverino
I’m taking that to mean that they are finding jobs for that many.
It is virtualy impossable for the company to have a 100 percent ore anything like that. If they served 250 customers and recieved 18 complaints, that’s extraordinerly large. Based upon the BBB record, I would not do busisnes with them.
Written By: James E. Fish
I hereby declare and assert original credit and status for the creation of the ephorism "net lag".

For the record: "Net Lag" refers to the failure of an individual or group to match the speed of multisource commentary on the internet which exposes their professional or otherwise general incompetence on an issue which they or their representatives have addressed.

Oh, and also for the pseudo-clever variant term "ephorism", while I’m at it. Regarding which, I just can’t help it — I like that sort of thing, and keep coming up with new ones.

Now! That being said —

I 100% support Mrs./Ms. Coble’s right to characterize these people’s behavior however she might wish. They suck. She rules. They deserve considerable suffering and punishment for daring to attempt to restrict her freedom of speech!

She’s right, they’re wrong, end of argument.
Written By: Acksiom
At least they didn’t Frisch themselves...
Written By: Robb Allen
Maybe I’m wrong, but 1 client a day is a very low number.

Not if you’re able to charge them $4K a pop...
Written By: I R A Darth Aggie
URL: http://
Oh, and I forgot to mention, I also suspect that the headhunters in question are also double-dipping, and getting a fee from the employer as well. So that could be whole lot more than $4K a pop.
Written By: I R A Darth Aggie
URL: http://
I was involved with Bernard Haldane, before they went bankrupt...I wish I hadn’t been. I spent a LOT of money on an nice résumé. It couldn’t happen to a nicer company...should anyone wonder Kirk USED to be BH Haldane & Assoc.’s. Do NOT use them.....
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Thank you for the information. I recently recevied an offer from JLK-A and was in the process of my 2nd meeting. While going to the meeting, I called up another headhunter I’ve been dealing with and she read me the article from the city paper.

When I got to the office, the person I was to talk with was 15 minutes late and a gentleman walked in and sit down. Looking a bit desheveled, he asked if I were a client of JLK as well, and when I said no, he replied “Good luck, I’ve been here for a year and have yet to get the first interview”. He then proceeded with “you know 2400.00$ is alot of money to pay for this service” I responded, “2400.00$!!!!, are you serious?” Yes he said, and “I’m very dissapointed”. At that point, I said “Well, I believe I’ll be pro-active and LEAVE NOW”. Which is exactly what I did.

You need to keep this up, and even call the I-Team to expose this. Taking money from folks who are down on their luck is a bad deal.

Thanks again.

Written By: barely_escaped
URL: http://

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